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Center for Action and Contemplation

Course Description

A 15-week online course studying the twelve steps through the themes and wisdom of Richard Rohr’s book, Breathing Under Water. Learn to apply Alcoholics Anonymous’ guiding principles to your own life and addictions.

Breathing Under Water is a spiritual study of the twelve steps based on Richard Rohr’s book, Breathing Under Water. It will explore the parallels between what Jesus taught and the freedom that can be found in twelve-step programs.

The invitation is to let go of egoic attachments and step into freedom and wholeness. Richard Rohr 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 twelve steps to transform our habitual patterns of stinking thinking.

Whether you are new to the Twelve Steps or have been doing this work 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’s book, Breathing Under Water
  • Deepen personal 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 provides the only freedom from the dominant ego self and from 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 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.

Course Details

Breathing Under Water is a 15-week 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 be optional readings as well. Contemplative practices are designed to help you break down the dualistic walls separating education from practice and are not meant to substitute for your regular contemplative practice.

Students can progress through each week at their own pace.

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