The Gradual Spiritual Experience


Twelve-Step Recovery fellowships focus on having a spiritual awakening as a means of achieving and maintaining lasting sobriety. The idea of an “awakening” may imply a singular, spectacular event where a person suffering from addiction or alcoholism makes an immediate change in their internal life. However, these experiences often come gradually, and are of the “educational variety,” as described by William James. Over a period of time, one’s spiritual connection and contact with their higher power grows and develops, rather than coming in an immediate “white light” moment.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains, “The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe.” Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, described his spiritual experience as an immediate and spectacular event: “I felt lifted up, as though the great clean wind of a mountain top blew through and through. God comes to most men gradually, but His impact on me was sudden and profound.” In the 2nd printing of the Big Book, an addendum entitled “Spiritual Experience” was added because many members of A.A. believed that they had to experience a spiritual awakening in the same immediate and profound way that Bill Wilson describe. The addendum explains, “Yet it is true that our first printing gave many readers the impression that these personality changes, or religious experiences, must be in the nature of sudden and spectacular upheavals. Happily for everyone, this conclusion is erroneous.” While some members do experience spiritual awakenings in a moment of an “immediate and overwhelming ‘God-consciousness’ followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook,” a majority of spiritual awakenings as a result of working the Twelve Steps occur overtime. In fact, many members have a spiritual experience that is so gradual that others become aware of their changes before the individual does. The Big Book explains, “Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself. He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone.” Whether gradual or immediate, a spiritual awakening is one of the greatest experiences we could wish to experience, and brings us into a sober life of happiness, joyousness, and freedom from addiction and alcoholism.

Your life can be one of hope, faith, and courage in sobriety. Recovery is possible, and you can make the decision to seek help today and begin building a brighter future. Lakehouse Recovery Center, a drug and alcohol detox and treatment center, offers holistic care that is individualized, non-institutional, and cost effective. For information about individualized treatment options, please call today: (877) 762-3707


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