The spiritual experience in recovery may be a sudden awakening or a gradual unfolding. Today’s guest post on this topic, curated from Anchored Recovery Community, is deeply insightful. We had a “WOW” moment when reading it, and we think you will, too. You may read the original article here.
In gratitude, harmony, and support,
What Is a Gradual Spiritual Experience in 12-Step Recovery?
12-step recovery stresses the importance of have a spiritual experience as a means of achieving sobriety. Many people may interpret the spiritual experience as a sudden “white light” awakening. However, for many men and women in recovery, the spiritual experience occurs gradually over time.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous quotes famed psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s description of the experience. Jung, when speaking with a man who has tried and failed to achieve sobriety multiple times, states:
“Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. To me these occurrences are phenomena. They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.”
Jung, whose work in psychiatry, literature, philosophy, and many other fields, recognized the limitations of human resources and power of spirituality in regards to overcoming addiction and alcoholism.
The spiritual experience can be in the nature of a sudden emotional displacement, but it does not have to be. A gradual experience over time occurs to a majority of people in recovery and is no less effective. Alcoholics Anonymous recognized that the main text of the Big Book may give readers the impression that the spiritual experience must be “immediate and overwhelming,” and added an addendum to clear up any confusion.
The addendum, entitled “Spiritual Experience,” explains:
“Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself. He finally realizes he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone. What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self-discipline.”
We will often realize at some point in our recovery that we have had an entire spiritual shift in our reaction to life but it occurred so gradually that we did not notice until it was pointed out by others. Some may have an immediate and overwhelming awakening, while for others the spiritual experience is more akin to the gradual warming of a cold room. Regardless of whether it is immediate or gradual, it is an effective experience in our journey of recovery.