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Twelve-Step Spirituality: Part Two
Twelve-Step Spirituality: Part Two

Twelve-Step Spirituality: Part Two: Weekly Summary

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Twelve-Step Spirituality: Part Two

Summary: Sunday, December 15—Friday, December 20, 2019
Winter Solstice

The purpose of the divine therapy is the healing of the roots of all our problems and to transform our attitudes and, indeed, the whole of our human nature into the mind and heart of Christ. —Thomas Keating (Sunday)

The union between God and the soul is the only stable, secure, and sustainable program for happiness. (Monday)

What hope and joy a God of Infinite Love gives us all! Among many other things, it takes away all fear of admitting our wrongs to God, to ourselves, and to others. (Tuesday)

Contemplative practice, done over time, actually rewires our brains so that we can detach from our addictive patterns of thinking and feeling and our unworkable programs for happiness. (Wednesday)

Step Twelve tells addicts that they will never really come to appropriate the power and importance of the first eleven steps until and unless they personally take it upon themselves to give it away to other people in need. (Thursday)

After the cleaning up of the first three steps, the growing up of the fourth through the tenth, there is the waking up, the eleventh step’s prescription of seeking to improve conscious contact with God. —Ron H. (Friday)


Practice: Working with Attachment

More and more I’m convinced that when the great medieval spiritual teachers talked so much about attachment, they were really talking about addiction. We are all attached and addicted in some way. At the very least, we are addicted to our compulsive dualistic patterns of thinking, to our preferred self-image, and to the unworkable programs for happiness we first developed in childhood. In short, each of us is addicted to our way of thinking. This is perfectly obvious once we consider it, but we do not tend to think about the way we think! [1]

Psychologist and philosopher Doctor Roger Walsh offers a simple practice to work with attachment (or “craving”) grounded in science and a deep understanding of the Perennial Tradition:

Reducing attachments is usually a long-term process that takes more than a single exercise, or even several exercises. However, when specific exercises are combined with consistent spiritual practice, attachments gradually weaken over time. The following [is a] gentle exercise to begin this process by fostering awareness and understanding the experience of craving. . . .

Reflection is a fundamental technique in each of the great religions. It essentially consists of pondering or thinking about an issue or experience in order to understand it and yourself better. As you will see, it is a vital root for developing wisdom. Here you can use it to recognize the costs of craving.

To do this, find a time and place where you can reflect quietly for several minutes without interruption. Begin by thinking of one of the more powerful attachments running your life. It might for example, be for nicotine or a fancy car. Then consider all the time and energy that go into acquiring it. Reflect on the effort and money that you sacrifice. Recall the painful emotions that accompany it such as anger at people who stand in your way, depression when you feel hopeless about getting what you crave, and worry about losing it once you have it.

Simply allow these costs and any accompanying insights to come into awareness. There is no need to force any particular insights to emerge, and there is certainly no need to judge or condemn yourself for having the attachment. Self-condemnation and self-attack only leave us feeling more deficient and therefore more prone to cling to the illusory consolations of our attachments. The aim of this reflection, and of all reflection, is to understand, not to condemn. [2]

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, How Do We Breathe Under Water? The Gospel and 12-Step Spirituality, discs 1 and 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2005), CD, DVD, MP3 download;

and Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (Franciscan Media: 2011), xii, xv, back cover.

[2] Roger Walsh, Essential Spirituality: The 7 Central Practices to Awaken Heart and Mind (John Wiley & Sons: 1999), 42, 44-45.

For Further Study:
“J,” A Simple Program: A Contemporary Translation of the Book “Alcoholics Anonymous” (Hyperion: 1996)

Thomas Keating with Tom S., Divine Therapy and Addiction: Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps (Lantern Books: 2009)

Timothy McMahan King, Addiction Nation: What the Opioid Crisis Reveals About Us (Herald Press: 2019)

Richard Rohr, Emotional Sobriety: Rewiring Our Programs for “Happiness” (CAC: 2011), CDDVDMP3 download

Image credit: La Soupe (detail), Pablo Picasso, 1902-03, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: These were moments when it all made sense and we knew we were good, God was good, it was all good. We were in touch with our true source of power, our spiritual desire, the indwelling Holy Spirit. —Richard Rohr
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