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Center for Action and Contemplation

Course Description

In 15 weeks explore the 12 Steps through the wisdom of Christian mysticism and the themes of Richard Rohr’s book, Breathing Under Water. Learn to apply Alcoholics Anonymous’ guiding principles to your own life and attachments.

Breathing Under Water is a spiritual study of the 12 Steps based on Richard Rohr’s book, Breathing Under Water. This online course explores the parallels between what Jesus taught and the freedom that can be found in recovery programs.

Richard Rohr’s 12 Steps teaching is an invitation is to let go of egoic attachments and step into freedom and wholeness. Fr. Richard often says, “We do not think ourselves into new ways of being; we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” Students will learn how contemplative practice and spiritual wisdom can be joined with the wisdom of the 12 Steps to transform our habitual patterns of dualistic thinking.

Whether you are new to the 12 Steps or Christian mysticism — or have been on the contemplative path for years — we hope Breathing Under Water moves you to surrender more deeply to your Higher Power and to experience the peace (not of mind, but of being) that comes with such freedom.

Membership in a 12-step program is not required. Anyone can and will gain insight from this course.

Learning Objectives

  • Integrate twelve steps into daily life through reading, reflection, and engagement with Fr. Richard Rohr’s 12 Steps wisdom through the book, “Breathing Under Water.”
  • Deepen self-awareness of “stinking thinking” as a universal addiction and explore its consequences (e.g., codependency and dualistic thinking).
  • Develop a contemplative practice to grow alternative consciousness, which helps break bad habits and provides freedom from the ego and cultural falsities.
  • Connect and learn with other spiritual seekers.

“Breathing Under Water called to me. The course touched me deep in my soul and stirred my spirit in ways I’d never felt before.”

—Michael M.

Course Impact 

Participants enroll in Breathing Under Water for many reasons. Many find Richard Rohr’s 12 Steps view helpful in recognizing and rewiring unhealthy habits, while others want a deeper spiritual element for their recovery journey.  

Participants who engaged fully with the course shared that they: 

  • Felt empowered to break bad habits by recognizing when they are ego-driven.  
  • Became more comfortable in challenging situations by shifting from an either/or mindset to both/and (also called non-dualistic thinking). 
  • Found more joy and freedom by connecting with others in online Christian courses that deepen their trust in a Higher Power. 
  • Discovered a more expansive and inclusive faith through the wisdom of Christian mysticism and the 12 Steps. 
  • More effectively recognized when guilt or shame drives harmful habits — and how to rewire them with self-love and acceptance

Course Schedule

Below you will find course schedule for all upcoming offerings. You can register or sign up to be notified of an upcoming course by clicking the buttons below.

July 17, 2024 – August 27, 2024
Start Date
September 4, 2024
15 weeks
Register Now

Course Details

Breathing Under Water is a 15-week Christian contemplative online course. Students should expect to invest 2–4 hours of work each week on course material, reading assignments, online discussions with other students, and time for personal reflection.

  • This course is taught in English.
  • There are no pre-requisites for this course.
  • Learn more about the technical requirements for taking this course.

Students will have access to course content for the duration of the course. Course content will be available four weeks after the course ends.

Required Materials

A copy of Richard Rohr’s book Breathing Under Water is required reading for this course (not included in course registration).

Financial Assistance

To apply for financial assistance, please complete the online Financial Assistance Form at least 1 week before registration is scheduled to close. Please do not register for the online course until your request for financial assistance has been processed.

This is a sample video from the course.

Course Overview

Each week students will explore a new theme from Breathing Under Water through teaching material, reflections, student discussions, contemplative practice, and supplemental articles and multimedia—including exclusive teachings from Fr. Richard. 

Coursework includes weekly reading assignments, discussions, journaling reflections, and contemplative practice. Readings will focus on Breathing Under Water, though some weeks there will also be optional readings. Our online Christian contemplative courses and practices are designed to help you break bad habits by dissolving the dualistic walls separating education from practice.

Students can progress through each week at their own pace.

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