Bart Ross | Recovery Services Manager
A Spiritual awakening as the result of the 12-Steps happens when our ego experiences an infinite sense of reality and truth. The way we think, feel, and act changes. We realized what we had believed was our truth really was false truth. We truly did believe they were our truth, but in reality, they were lies of our ego. We were asleep, dreaming we were awake. One of the biggest lies we believed was that alcohol and or drugs were helping us in any way. This was nothing but a delusion. Each time as we picked up that first drink, we had the delusion that it was a good idea, maybe just that it will be different this time, or we just didn’t care. It’ll be worth it. Once we were intoxicated, we experienced the illusion, a false reality that all was okay. For a time in my own early sobriety, I still had the delusion that alcohol and drugs once worked for me. I then woke up to the truth that they were always killing me slowly.
When we begin our 12-Step journey, the first things are to accept our powerlessness, that life has become unmanageable, and the need for change.
Next, we begin the destruction of our false self and the discovery of who God intended us to be. To no longer just be surviving life, but to now be living life. “We couldn’t make a living” (BB pg. 52). We become awake to what our strong and weak points are. We become of maximum service to God and the people around us. Our mistakes are recognized. We acknowledge them and ask our Higher Power what He would have us be.
“The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.”(BB pg.30)
The Awakening begins when we get a glimpse of hope as we start our journey. We make a decision to engage in a new design for living (12-Steps) based on recognizing that our current way of life wasn’t working. With a closer look at this new path, we’re beginning to seek a relationship with a Higher Power. Our old way of living begins to change into this new way of life. We enjoy being present in God’s time, and God’s time is always right now in this moment. Sometimes we may stray away from being present. We may start to feel a little restless, irritable, and discontented again. We’re in much less danger of getting totally separated from our Creator when we are continuing to practice the daily inventory Steps 10 & 11 and occasionally Steps 4 through 9. These Steps help us remain present. Our minds are less-likely to stay living in the past, holding onto resentment, or in the future living in fear. We are present in an intimate relationship with our Higher Power. The more we practice this, the less our minds will drift away from the present.
When we drew near to Him, He disclosed Himself to us! (BB pg. 57)
When we’re spiritually awake, we have much awareness of the present moment. We can enjoy all the amazing things our Creator provides for us. We experience inner peace. We’re okay with who we are. We’re not shaken by the thoughts and actions of others. We avoid negative influences and confront life with an open mind and peaceful heart. We see that our old ideas weren’t working for us. We’ve let go of our tightly held views and belief systems and began to live by completely new ones.
“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.” (BB pg. 27)
Spiritually awake people rely more on Intuitive thoughts from God and less on thoughts that come from our misuse of the ego. Our thinking is more God-centered, and our thoughts are clear. We have a greater purpose in life. Our attitude in life is more virtuous and aligned with God’s. It becomes clear to us that God is everything. We experience awareness of the fact that God is all around us. We experience our Higher Power with all of our senses, all of the time, in everything. We are now using our vital sixth sense.
“Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense.”(BB pg. 85)
We are relieved from the bondage of self. We’re no longer consumed by personal interests or advantages over others. We’re not always putting ourselves, and our needs before other people’s. We have consideration for other people and are not concerned mostly with our own personal profits and pleasures. We’re no longer always preoccupied with ourselves and our own personal affairs. We’re team players; less of I and more of we. We are no longer running the show.
“We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.” (BB pg.84)
When we’re spiritually fit, we recognize gratitude. We find ourselves paying the good things we experience forward. We’re no longer keeping that good feeling to ourselves. Gratitude is contagious. Gratitude is not only because it feels good, but because it’s the right thing to do. It is not only for our own good but for the spirit of our family, community, and society. Gratitude is a moral virtue. When we are grateful we show it by generosity, compassion, and patience. We show others appreciation by returning kindness and are willing to offer help.
Speaking of generosity, compassion, and patience, these virtues automatically show up by the passion for helping others. As a result of the first 11 Steps, we have this Spiritual Awakening that would be something like what has been described above. We are filled with conviction to carry the AA message. The 12th Step says, “Having had a spiritual awaking as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” (BB pg. 60) This is something that happens to us. We can’t help but to have the passion to help others find a Higher Power that will solve their problems. “We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.” (BB pg. 132) When we are awakened, other alcoholics can sense our peace and serenity. They begin to want this for themselves.
“Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.” (BB pg. 89)
As the Holiday season approaches us, I want to wish all of you a Blessed Holiday Season filled with gratitude. Please feel free to share your gratitude with me. I promise to pass it on.
Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for mental illnesses and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting wellness.