What to Expect at a Meeting
Meeting formats vary, but the purpose of all groups is the same: to share recovery through the Twelve Steps on three levels-- physical, emotional and spiritual.
Meetings usually open with a prayer such as the Serenity Prayer or a reading such as “Our Invitation to You,” which describes the disease of compulsive overeating and the Twelve-Step solution. Some meetings feature a speaker sharing their story; others focus on OA or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) literature. Time is also set aside for group members to share.
Sharing at Meetings
You may recognize your own story when you listen to others share. You will find that you are not alone, that there is a way out of your desperation. Our meetings are guided by the 12 Traditions of OA, which emphasize that the only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively. Because anonymity is a critical principle of the OA program, you are assured that what you share will be held in confidence. This provides the safety you need to share your experiences honestly.
During OA meetings we avoid “cross talk,” which is commenting or giving advice to someone who has shared; speaking directly to another person rather than the group; or questioning or interrupting one another. Members simply listen supportively when others share. If you are new to OA and have questions, look for meetings that have newcomer times before or after (as listed on our meetings page); or talk with other members outside of the regular meeting time.
We recommend that you try 6 different meetings before you decide if OA is right for you.
Support Beyond Meetings
In face-to-face meetings a “we care” sheet is typically passed around for participants to add their names and phone numbers so they can offer each other support between meetings. During Zoom meetings the “chat” feature is used for this purpose. If you request a call in the chat someone from the meeting you attend will call you to answer your questions. You are also encouraged to take phone numbers so you can reach out for support.
The most important support outside of a meeting is a sponsor. A sponsor will share the experience, strength and hope they’ve found in Twelve-Step recovery; guide you through the steps; and help you work the OA program. By attending several different meetings you can find someone you identify with. Don’t be afraid to ask that person to be your sponsor or to share at the meeting that you are looking for a sponsor.
During readings and when individual members share, you will hear references to a Higher Power or to God. OA is not a religious program and does not subscribe to any specific religious ideology. It is a program that practices spiritual principles, and members individually approach these principles with a Higher Power of their own understanding. [See “What if I Don’t Believe in God?” to learn more about this topic.]