This is the format for our Steel On Steel Group
Steel on Steel
Introduction: Emotional Sobriety and Food Steel on Steel Group is a specific spiritual exercise for members of AA/OA who have already completed the steps and are seeking to continue to grow along spiritual lines. The purpose of this group is to create a safe place to seek the Truth about our spiritual condition. We utilize the principles of the AA program and literature, together with contemplative listening, in order to assist with creating positive changes and spiritual growth.
The name of this group is derived from the spiritual principle found in proverbs 27:17: “Iron sharpens iron, and a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Meaning, we are stronger and more effective when we interact with each other together and seek to support each other’s spiritual growth and development. The original Steel on Steel Group format was created by Mark H., and is our source of inspiration.
The Steel on Steel Group is designed around an intense personal commitment of each member to the group. It is suggested that the group meet monthly and include no more than 4 participants. This spiritual exercise is founded on the premise that we receive God’s guidance better through a group than as individuals. The group serves as a “spiritual mirror” through which we can see our honest and true selves.
The integration of prayer, meditation, contemplative listening and feedback fosters a special bond among members of the group. Approached with a spirit of reverence, we will be guided to what we need to do and where we need to be. The group itself becomes transformed into a spiritual experience rather than just a mundane meeting. Our lives become better than we could have ever imagined!
AA 2nd Tradition states: For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.
In this group, we believe that one can come into contact with God through any activity with the right intention. God is present in all things and in all people. Therefore, any of our interactions in the world, including our interactions with each other are opportunities to become aware of and truly feel God’s presence in our lives.
When we are connected within ourselves, we can reach out to others. When we reach out to others, we are emulating God, and we can come to know Him better.
This spiritual exercise is similar to a combined group fifth, ten, eleventh and twelfth step, as:
72:2 In actual practice, we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient. Many of us thought it necessary to go much farther. (AA Big Book)
Following a silent meditation, we will have the opportunity to share how we are feeling, mindfully listen and validate each other, and then create an appropriate program of action in order to strengthen our recovery and connection to God. With spiritual intensions, we allow the group considerations, followed by meditation on these considerations, to be a voice for God, through which, He gives us guidance for our lives. The group then concludes with a silent meditation and the serenity prayer.
Group Rules: Confidentiality, Continuity and Commitment are critical in order for this group to be successful! Group members must be able to trust that anything that is said in the group, stays in the group.
(A different type of group could include this: When people speak, they may invite responses, or they may simply want to share what they are currently thinking, feeling or experiencing, without feedback. Confidentiality also means that a listener should not follow up on a remark that a speaker has made afterwards, unless invited to do so by the speaker. In addition, what is shared is not a topic for future discussion unless requested.)
Group members must commit to regular attendance, arrive on time and remain for the whole session, unless there is an emergency. Each meeting builds on the preceding/ previous meeting and missed groups cannot be made up. Please inform the group beforehand if you are unable to attend.
Group members are expected to be abstinent. Coming to the group while “still in the food” can be disruptive to group interactions and tend to put the focus on the non-abstinent member rather than the group as a whole.
Do not talk about group members who are not present. Discussions about absent members can undermine trust in the group, since they are not present to speak for themselves.
Participation is very important: all members need to actively participate during the meeting. This is a “we” program – We are stronger and more effective when we work together and support each other’s spiritual growth and recovery.
Group members need to be respectful to one another and speak politely. This means we must be sensitive to the feelings and honor of each other, take turns speaking, and respect each other’s opinions.
If we keep in mind our true purpose for doing anything, ultimately, we will be guided to what we need to do and where we need to be.
Let us begin with XX (usually 1-2) minutes of silence/meditation. During this mediation, let us try to clear our minds and invite the God of our own understanding into our hearts. We are not alone in this room. God is present too. Within the silence, we have an opportunity to become closer to God and gain a deeper awareness of His presence within.
Optional Guided Meditation:
Choose a quiet place. Sit comfortably, with your back straight, but not rigid.
Align your head, neck and shoulders with each other. Place your feet on the floor and rest your hands gently on your lap.
Take this time to silently connect to God and feel His presence. If you like, visualize a connection to God like a stream of water.
Now, bring your attention to the room where you are sitting.
Hear the sounds. Feel your body. Notice your breathing.
Without trying to control your breathing, pay attention to the incoming and outgoing breath. Feel the movement of your breath, the actual sensations of breathing. Feel the air at the tip of your nose, over your lip, and the stretching of your abdomen as it rises and falls with each breath.
Keep focusing on your breathing and count from 1 – 5 forwards and backwards, silently repeating the number with each inhalation and exhalation. Count 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 as you breathe in and breathe out. If your mind wanders, observe your thoughts as if they are bubbles of air under water floating to the surface. Then, gently return your attention to the breath and counting from 1 – 5.
Take a few moments and ask God “what should I share during this meeting today? What do I need to know in order to become closer to You, God?” Allow yourself to be surprised by what floats to the surface of your mind.
Before we close this meditation take a few more breaths. Silently thank God for this opportunity to become closer to Him and to hear His guidance through the members of this group.
Return to once again noticing yourself in the room where you are sitting.
When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and return to the room.
After a XX minute pause, we will invite God into our meeting by reading “The Set Aside Prayer”…
I’ve asked _________________ to invite God into our meeting with a set aside prayer.
Dear God, we invite you into this room, to guide and direct each of us as we seek Your Truth. Please set aside within each of us anything that would block us. Lay aside our prejudices about what we think we know about ourselves, our disease of COE, this meeting, the steps and our spiritual condition. Remove our fears that we may hear Your Truth through the members of this group. Give us the strength and courage to share Your Truth with each other in a real spirit of Love and Compassion for our fellow man.
We ask that we may have a truly open mind, so we might have a new experience with these things and come to know You better. Please help us see the Truth. Amen
To start off, we will read a passage from the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous. This reading should remind each of us of: What the problem is; who causes the problem; what the penalty is for leaving the problem unchecked; what specific decision we made in step three; why we are here; and who makes our recovery possible.
I’ve asked _________________ to read a section out of the Big Book to help us find more focus for our meeting.
(62:2) So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help.
62:3 This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life — God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.
63:1 When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn.
63:2: We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Marker, as we understood him, “God, I offer myself to Thee–to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!
We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.”
As we read the 3rd Step prayer each member of the group should reaffirm their decision by joining in during the reading of the prayer…
Sharing, Considerations & Corrective Measures:
Each person now has a specific amount of time, usually between 5 – 10 minutes to share how they are in general and how they are applying the principles and tools of the program in their life. Individuals determine for themselves how much of their allotted time they would like to use for sharing or receiving feedback.
It is recommended to use a timer in order to stick to the time limits.
We share with each other our current problems or challenges, and we ask for God’s guidance to speak to us through the members of this group. There is a list of suggested topics attached to this format that may also be helpful.
After we share, we will go around the room, (starting on our left) and each person will have the opportunity to comment on possible “corrective measures” or “considerations” for us, which based on their experience, might be helpful in our growth towards God.
The group offers “considerations” and “corrective measures” input usually in the form of “is it possible that…?” Or, “would you consider…?” questions.
(Some people might find it helpful to preface their questions by saying, “When you said__________, I noticed/ was struck by/ felt/ got an image of: _____________.” Followed by: “is it possible that…?” Or, “would you consider…?” questions.)
These questions are used to softly address our natural resistance to change and our tendency to respond defensively when challenged.
If there is a natural pause during the group, return to focusing on your breath. Inwardly, invite God to direct your thinking as to what you should share next. Allow new solutions to emerge from the “still quite voice inside” and share what floats to the surface of your mind. (I Kings 19:12; AA BB 55:2)
One of the greatest challenges of this process is for us to simply, deeply, and radically listen to each other, and focus on the spiritual growth of another person.
Each group member needs a “potential corrective measures” notebook to jot down the feedback questions from your group.
When receiving feedback, silently listen with an open mind and take notes about what is being said. There is no need to justify or defend yourself. We will take the group’s comments back into meditation and prayer with God, until our next meeting. In meditation, we let God be our final judge. Again, we DO NOT defend ourselves. We just listen silently and take notes to use later in meditation.
At the next meeting, we will start off our individual sharing with what came to us during our meditations about the previous meeting’s questions and what, if any, actions we have taken to correct the issues which were discussed, followed by 10 minutes of new sharing with the following question format. (This is possible only if the meeting has extended time. Otherwise, we will include this information with any new information, during our time to share in the group.)
We complete the spiritual exercise at the end of the group with a silent meditation and the serenity prayer.
This is a program of action. We believe that it is though our actions that we reveal who we are and what we value. When we begin to DO differently, we begin to THINK differently, and we also begin to FEEL differently.
The spiritual transformation as the result of these steps is a process of acceptance, releasing expectations, patience, tolerance, love and service. Together, we will pray, meditate, and ‘check’ each other, as we each trudge our own “road of happy destiny.”
Optional: Contemplative guidelines for the person giving feedback
- Intend being useful. Realize that the other person has to be able to relate to your feedback, has to be able to use it to develop further.
- Describe, don’t interpret. Giving feedback is like holding up a mirror. Leave personal opinions and concerns out of your message.
- Pay attention to both positive as well as negative feedback, so that your feedback is balanced.
- Be specific as opposed to general. Describe specific behavior rather than an overall impression.
- Describe your own experience. Give your own reaction to the other person’s behavior and see this as your personal experience.
Optional: Contemplative guidelines for the person receiving the feedback
- Be open. Simply listen to what is being said. If necessary ask for clarification. Do not justify yourself.
- Regard all feedback as something that is being offered. Appreciate the opportunity to learn and develop. Don’t be afraid to cast aside feedback that you don’t experience as being helpful.
- Think about what you have heard. Use your basic goodness, your basic intelligence. Another’s view is no more and no less accurate, no better or worse than your own.
Suggestion: During our 10 minutes of sharing, we should comment specifically on where we are CURRENTLY in the following areas:
- The Circle and triangle – Mind/Body & Spirit together as one. The symbol above was removed from the AA Big Book in the middle of 1994 because of copyright complications. The circle and triangle are also an ancient spiritual symbol meaning mind, body and spirit, together as one.
- If program consists of the meetings, the 12 steps as outlined in the AA Big Book, and working with others by taking them through the steps, where am I in program?
- Is my program balanced in all areas of the steps, the traditions and the fellowship?
- Am I physically, mentally and spiritually balanced with respect to my program and arresting my addiction?
- Promise: If action in these 3 areas are taken, I can become whole.
Unity/Body/Fellowship & Meetings/ Traditions: refers to the set of 12 spiritual principles in the 12 Traditions, pp. 562-566
- Do I go to two or more AA meeting weekly?
- Do I have a group that I am committed to?
- Am I involved with other members of AA outside of meetings?
- Do I understand the common problem and common solution (See Page 17)?
Recovery/Mind/Steps: Refers to the set of 12 spiritual principles in the 12 Steps, pp. 59-60; AA BB xxv – 164
- Have I continued to actively work the 12 Step process as outlined in the AA Big Book?
- I am is willing to admit personal defeat?
- Do I have a sincere desire to change?
- Have I taken all 12 Steps?
- Do I take all 12 Steps on a daily basis?
- Do I teach others the program of recovery as outlined in the 12 Steps?
- Am I abstinent? If not, am I willing with prayer to “act as if” and try to eat sanely and normally?
- Am I committed to practicing this program through daily prayer, meditation, doing an inventory and being of service to others?
- Do I admit that I am powerless over food?
- Am I willing to believe that there is a Power greater than myself who can restore me to sanity?
- Have I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to God’s care?
- Am I practicing rigorous honesty in all my affairs?
- Do I take a moral inventory daily?
- Have I admitted all my wrongs to at least one other person?
- Do I take positive and forceful action in making restitution as soon as possible for those wrongs?
- Do I continue taking inventory, admitting my faults, and making restitution on a regular basis?
- Do I pray and meditate every day? How often since our last meeting?
Service/Spirit/Concepts: Refers to the set of 12 spiritual principles in the 12 Concepts, pp. 574-575
- Am I doing service within program?
- Am I of service to people outside of program?
- Am I working with others, and taking them through the 12 Steps?
- Am I actively working the 12th step by carrying the AA message to others in trouble?
- What am I doing to carry the message?
- Has the mental obsession/physical obsession been lifted?
- Am I in fit spiritual condition?
- How many people am I sponsoring? Where are those sponsees in the steps?
- Are the principles of this program and the practice of this program integrated into who I am and how I am living?
- Am I living to recovery, or am I recovering to live?
- Am I willing to go toany lengths for victory over alcohol?
2) Prayer and Meditation –
- How many times did I do evening review and meditation since our last meeting?
- How many times did I do Morning Prayer and meditation since our last meeting?
- Have I been using my evening review to help with my vision in my morning meditation?
- How is my relationship with God?
- How is my spiritual life?
- What specific things am I doing to deepen and broaden my relationship with God?
- Have I been praying for others?
- Have I invited or have I been praying with other members of my family?
3) My A.A. Program-
- How many meetings have I attended since we last met?
- Do I have and am I a member of a home group?
- Am I of service to my AA group? (coffee, cleanup, speaking, group officer)
- Am I of service to those OUTSIDE of AA? (work, family, friends)
- Am I spiritually accountable to some people in my life? (sponsor and spiritual advisors)
- Do I have a sponsor? How do I use my sponsor? Am I accountable to my sponsor?
- Am I a sponsor? If so, what am I doing for my sponsees?
- How are my relationships with others going? (friends, fellow A.A.’s, neighbors, coworkers, strangers in traffic, etc.)
- Have I been short, hard to be around, easily angered, sarcastic, etc.?
- Am I frequently having to apologize for what I’ve done?
- Have I been lusting after or coveting my neighbor or my neighbor’s things?
- Am I happy with what I have or am I obsessing about what I want?
5) Home Life-
- How is my home life?
- Have I been kind, considerate, understanding and loving, even when I don’t think the other person “deserves” it?
- Have I needed amends lately? (did I raise my voice, was I sarcastic, did I angrily brake something, slam doors, etc.) If so, did I make the amends?
- Have I been in fights or arguments at home? (Wife, kids, parents)
- Am I having any sex problems? Is there intimacy (or is it more closely described as “In To Me See”) with my lover? Would your partner agree with your opinion of this?
- Am I fantasizing about others? Am I acting out sexually? (pornography, selfish gratification, masturbation, affairs)
- How are things at work, school, or my career?
- Am I having problems with my boss or co-workers? Am I being short, grumpy, or acting out of silent scorn?
- How am I doing with my money? Do I have enough to pay my bills? Am I overspending?
- Am I carrying money on credit cards or lines of credit? Am I in debt?
- Am I giving to charities? (things, time and/or money)
- How is my physical health? Am I overweight? Am I exercising my body? Am I exercising my mind?
- Do I keep my word? Am I where I say I will be? Am I on time?
- Do I have a good attitude toward life? Am I living life on my terms, “life’s terms”, or on “God’s terms”?