- Spiritual Experience? Spiritual Awakening? A what....?

Spiritual Experience? Spiritual Awakening? A what....?

Topics related to AA Meetings - and alcohol addiction recovery

Spiritual Experience? Spiritual Awakening? A what....?

Postby Dallas » Sat Aug 25, 2007 1:17 am

Spiritual Experience? Spiritual Awakening? A spiritual what....? :shock:

Do the terms Spiritual Experience and Spiritual Awakening
sound confusing to you? They sure sounded confusing to me
when I was new in recovery!!!

One of my questions used to be: "How the heck can you refer to a Spiritual Experience or a Spiritual Awakening -- and not be discussing religion? I had already tried religion -- and I couldn't seem to make it work for me!

Because of my up-bringing, whenever I heard the terms "Spiritual Experience" and "Spiritual Awakening" -- used in an A.A. meeting or in reading the book, Alcoholics Anonymous -- I thought for sure -- that what you were saying was that I was going to have to adopt and conform to certain religious beliefs and faith -- or, there was no hope for me to ever stay sober!

I knew that at certain times -- I was without an effective mental defense against my next first drink. However, I also knew -- that I was without an effective mental defense against doubt and unbelief!!!! For me -- faith and belief had been like sobriety. Whenever I had any -- it was precarious! I would have it then I would not have it -- I would have it -- and then I would not have it!

That was one of the first reasons -- that I was totally sure -- that "This A.A. thing just isn't going to work for me! I won't be able to do this!"

One of the things that helped ease my confusion and conflicts about God, Higher Power, Spiritual Experience and Spiritual Awakening -- was when I read an Appendix titled "Spiritual Experience" -- that is found in all the way in the back of the book Alcoholics Anonymous.

I've placed a copy of it below -- just in case you may be interested in reading it.

Another thing that helped me -- was I read it slowly, a couple of times. And, as I would read it -- I would pause, and ask myself "Does that make any sense to me?" and -- "What does this really say?" -- "Is this different, than what I previously understood about a Spritual Experience or a Spiritual Awakening?" And, also -- "I wonder if I have had anything like this happen to me before?"

SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE page 569-570 3rd. Edition BB:

The terms “spiritual experienceâ€
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Postby DebbieV » Sat Aug 25, 2007 2:05 am

I wish I would have re-read that sooner. I am still amazed at how the longer I am sober, and the more action I take, that so many things in the Big Book are starting to not only make since, but come true.

[quote]Among our rapidly growing membership of thousands
of alcoholics such transformations, though frequent,
are by no means the rule. Most of our experiences
are what the psychologist William James calls
the “educational varietyâ€
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Postby garden variety » Sat Aug 25, 2007 4:05 pm

I love that appendix.

I love how its said "He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life." When I first read that it explained so much of what it means to become spiritually "awakened". That was one of the first things in the book I memorized.

What this means is also clear. Especially with what Deb was saying. You or me are no longer the same person we were. Something happens to us that is so profound that literally "our looks" even change. Dr. Silkworth talks about it too, where the man he first met was an alcoholic of the hopeless variety and he thought that even a "psychic change" wouldn't work for that fellow. But he meets up with him a year later, and Dr. Silkworth said there were some physical features he recognized, but his appearence had changed drastically too. And his features were the only thing recognizing about him. His outlook and attitude had changed so much that the good doctor said all familiarity ended with the appearance factors. He also said he was a "fine specimen" of what a sober man can be.

Folks, what kind of "Power" are we seeing here and becoming a part of? I mean the changes that happen to each of us are very "profound" - just like Debbie said. Sometimes they happen over time, sometimes they happen fast. But thank God they happen. This is powerful "medicine" to think about.

When it comes to "religion" and the book, I've seen it talked about as the same thing as spirituality. In other Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob writings they talk about "religion" and "spirituality" as the same thing. Semantics was not a biggie I guess for them.

This "spiritual awakening" or "spiritual experience" that comes about as the result of working the steps is what a lot of "religious" and non-alcoholics describe as a "conversion experience". Now I know that will ruffle a lot of feathers, but what Deb said is true. It doesn't matter how you understand your own God, if you do the steps, you will undergo that "conversion". It's just a fact. For me I understand it better as a "transformation" of my character.

When I drank, I had no moral psychology or spiritual principles to live my life by. I was a self-centered ego maniac - I've been called things not so polite too. You get the picture. When I became willing to trust in my concept of God, He gave me Grace and Mercy. With Grace and Mercy, I could now love and be loved. Grace and Mercy "transformed" the ugliness that alcoholism painted my soul with into something good.

That's where the "attraction" (not promotion) comes from in this fellowship for me. I'm attracted to the good. When I love someone, my love is attracted by the good in someone. The "Power" of the spiritual awakening is where the "magic" is for me. God's "Love" is not attracted to me because I know nothing about what "good" is. I'm unloveable. But there is one good thing that is attracted to the "bad" in me, and that is the Power of spiritual experience or awakening. That is the Power of Grace and Mercy. Grace and Mercy is attracted to the bad in me, and it transforms the bad into good. What a miracle to think about.

I love this fellowship and these 12 steps. What a great thing to have working in our lives, huh?
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Postby carol1017 » Sat Aug 25, 2007 5:00 pm

When I first started working the Steps, I thought that the Steps should be given out to every at birth, or kindergarten at the latest! You're right, Paul, the fellowship and the Steps are a wonderful part of my life.

I know I'm repeating myself (I've posted on this topic before), but to me a spiritual awakening and a spiritual experience are two different things. I have no scientific fact, only my experience to base this on.

In my case, the spiritual awakening was a gradual process -- in time, I realized that I actually cared about the other people in the rooms, and I realized that they actually cared about me. This was far removed from my previous state, where I figured the world would be just fine if only there weren't any other people in it! Learning to interact with people again was a big step for me, and it did prove to be a "profound alteration" in my reaction to life. This was visible to others, and still is! I "awakened" to the world around me, and decided to live in it rather than hide from it.

For me, a spiritual experience is personal between me and my HP. Those sudden brilliant flashes of insight, that "gut instinct" that tells me something isn't quite right, the premonitions, the glow when I feel the presence of my HP, all those things that know one can see or feel but me. I had to have a spiritual awakening before I could have a spiritual experience.

For me, at least, a spiritual awakening refers to becoming conscious of external factors, and is visible externally. A spiritual experience is internal, private and intense. Both, however, do provide a "profound alteration" to my behavior.

There's my nickel's worth!
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Postby Dallas » Sat Aug 25, 2007 11:07 pm

I just love that word -- and the concept: Transformation!

Big Book - page 143 wrote: To get over drinking will require a transformation of thought and attitude. We all had to place recovery above everything, for without recovery we would have lost both home and business.

"Hey newcomer! Do you want to get over drinking? :lol:
it will require a transformation of thought and attitude!"

We have been given the tools -- to produce the transformation!

A great description of the results of the transformation is at the bottom of page 83 - through page 84, BB.

"Transformers!!!!!!!!!! More than meets the eye!!!!!!! :lol: :lol:

"Meeting makers -- make it .... to meetings
-- but Step Takers produce the transformation
that is required for recovery!!!"
:lol: :lol:

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Postby DebbieV » Sun Aug 26, 2007 12:16 am

I like that word transformers :D

I see transformers all over meetings...I see them on here, and I see one bending , turning , stretching....all in me.. Cool, I am a transformer. :D :D :D My son will love that one.....now he will want me to go to even more meetings. :lol: :lol:

Sometimes, for me, the nontraditional way people word things, make it though this think skull of mine, but I hear traditional way and I get a little confused....hope that made since...kind of confused me :D

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Postby Dallas » Sun Aug 26, 2007 1:44 am

My son will love that one.....now he will want me to go to even more meetings.

Yep. Just tell him that they are "Value Meetings" and they're going to give you a toy with the Value-Meeting each time you attend one! If he's good - you may let him play with the toy when you come home! :lol:
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My name is Anne, I'm an alcoholic

Postby musicmode » Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:33 am

It is only my intention to share my experience with you--that is all.

"Something" happened to me, and "at once". It was literally in the middle of the night, Nov. 16, 2000. The entire train had all finally stopped crashing into my back-side, and I was done. I couldn't keep it (the act) up any longer. I was beyond seeing double, everything around me was a head-spinning blur. What I had been doing was pulling myself/crawling down the hallway to the bedroom, and on this night, I didn't even have the coordination to do even that. What a mess...what a mess I was, and what a mess things were. I sat on the couch, and my entire body was weaving in circles. "Somehow"....? A little teeny-tiny drop of an ounce/ a flickering of a thought occured...here it was, my 33rd birthday (Nov.16 is my real birthday)...I thought of an uncle who had passed away suddenly when I was about 8--he had just turned 33 the day before he died, he had 2 daughters, ages 6 and 3---here I was at 33, with 2 daughters, ages 6 and 3....just where was I headed? Deep down--I knew. Right there, there was a painful jolt of reality. I was dying, and I was bringing it on. I can't recall the exact thoughts ### I was drunk--but I do recall how these little, teeny-tiny...fleeting thoughts seemed to occur in 'shots'. The next thought was that Jesus was 33 when he died. Who-ooo-oa :shock: . Where were these thoughts coming from? I wasn't in any state or shape to be having any logical thoughts. I'd drank myself into not being able to even get up off that couch?? "Something" was happening...to me. (If it was an alcoholic hallucination, so-be-it...it WORKED.) Then...it were as though the back of my head was gripped by a hand, I even physically looked, even though I knew no one was standing beside me--I looked anyway. At once, "something" happened. I could see ONE of everything, and clearly. :? The thought occured: hee-eey...I'm way too drunk for this, what's goin' on here? I wasn't weaving in circles anymore either, in fact...I stood up-solid...and again, I was dumbfounded :shock: . What-the-heck-is-going-on here?? :shock: I must be drunk (duh..); I must be hallucinating...cuz, this was something physical that was happening that I did not understand, nor believe myself, even as it was happening. I looked up at the ceiling and I don't know if I said it outloud, but, I said: okay...ya got my attention. What now? What do I do? Things need to turn around here, but I don't know where to even start. I was moved--to start writing and come clean. I wrote, and I wrote...all these confessions and admissions to my husband of what I'd done (and not done), what I'd been hiding. I put it all on the table (literally). When I was done, I looked up and I asked: are You sure about this...cuz now things are gonna get ugly (as if they weren't already). I didn't know what "it" was then, I know now that what I was experiencing was "conscious contact". I knew NOTHING about AA, other than its existence. I didn't know what I was doing, but I was doing, with a "power" that was not my own. Things did get extremely extremely ugly, but all along, there was this invisible presence. I would often say: Are You sure about this? Cuz, the crap was, indeed, hitting the fan. I say the next morning, but I was still up..never did go to bed. I was tired and fatigued, but I also had this energy (I think they call it...hmmm...withdrawals??? :? Gee, ya think? :wink: ). My hubby got up, was absolutly furious, went to work slamming the door, the whole 9 yards. I went to the fridge, intending to reach for a beer...the door literally slammed shut out of my hand. That got my attention :shock: . Time clicked on, yet--this was all one moment it seemed. It was mid-morning when, the thought occured...it was my birthday, instead of "celebrating", I was going to give myself the gift by NOT drinking...no more. I was going to give myself sobriety. How was I going to do that? The thought "mysteriously" occured: call AA. Again, I said to the ceiling: You sure about that? I found the number in the directory--I don't even think I had to search for it...seemed to find it quickly and easily (it does start with 'A' after all :roll: ). Someone answered the phone, and I spilled my guts out. The lady 'kindly' asks me: Would you like to speak with someone in AA? :shock: :shock: :shock: I pulled the phone away from my ear, and the thought occured to hit it on the table a couple of times :? --but I didn't :shock: (already experiencing growth--how about that). "lady", I said, "I'm too drunk for this...I thought you said Alcoholics Anonymous when you answered? I looked at the ceiling...and I shrug :? ...what the heck are Ya doin' now...good to know You got a sense of humor & all...but...?? :? . She says I did dial the correct number, but it was an answering service, "would you like me to put you on hold? :shock: :shock: I look back now, and I must've already been on my way, cuz--somehow??? I saw the humor in this--even though I didn't let that be known at the time. Uh...ee-eeya? I would like to speak with someone in AA--and I was a little scared, cuz...I'm thinkin'...I don't know how long I'm gonna be thinkin' this is a good idea here. I didn't trust myself as to how long I'd be willing to wait, but I gave it a shot. I waited...and I waited... :shock: :roll: :evil: :wink: . I hung up cuz--NOW...I had company...some friends pulled up in front of my place. "Someone" was put in front of me--I saw that later. For the next few days, I wasn't thinking very pleasant thoughts about AA...BUT, I was thinking about AA. That following Sunday...things were still extremely tense at home. Hubby went to work. I got to a point where...I called AA again, and this time...I didn't care if I was put on hold and I didn't care how long either...I was gonna wait (and someone was gonna talk to me, damn it :!: :twisted: )...I was gonna wait, and I was gonna be in their face whether they liked it or not--I didn't care if it was Sunday, I didn't care if I was gonna pull whoever out of their "Sunday School" :wink: . The thoughts weren't pleasant...they were obviously selfish and with attitude for sure--but--at least this attitude was taking me in a different direction. It'd already been 4 days since my last drink--which in itself was a mile-stone. Heck...a second...was a mile-stone :wink:.

It took a few weeks for any of the AA jargon began to make any sense...or anything simple to make sense to be honest. My only hinge was that I was there--not on my own accord. "Someone" was making me be there. The topic one night was about this Spiritual Experience, a bit was read out of the Dr.'s Opinion, and out of Bill's story (ironically, I did know who Bill W., was, as I'd seen the movie with James Garner---imagine that? :wink: ), and, it strikes me then, that this-what we were reading&discussing, had been what happened. I shared this innocently, and the looks I got were mixed, and puzzling :? . After all, isn't this what we were talking about? I didn't get it, thought I must've misunderstood or something. I apologized when I realized this, as I was sharing, and I stopped, cuz--obviously, I was saying something I shouldn't?? It confused me though, right? Cuz, here's what we were reading??? Then, here :?: were these looks?? I walked out of that meeting stunned. The lady who adopted herself onto me as my sponsor (didn't know what having a sponsor meant, this lady said I needed one, said she was my sponsor. Okay...), she corners me outside and tells me I'm to only speak generally and whatever else it was she said. I was at a loss. You bet...I look up at the sky and I shrug: You still sure about this? Cuz obviously, something of a sour note has been hit? She leaves, I remain behind to finish my smoke--absolutely dazed. Curt comes out, followed by Tim, and Ray. They ask if I can go for coffee--they didn't want me to not come back, and they suggested-if I had the time--that I listen to what they had to say, and to explain what happened in there. Apparently, I learned, that such a thing does occur, but it doesn't happen to everyone. (Oh...didn't know that). They also taught me that, sometimes, these "sudden occurences", sometimes, they happen big, sometimes they happen in smaller fractions, and "warned" me to not be let down in the sense that I may not have another 'big' awakening, it's the softer, quiet ones that help us along in our day. What happens, they taught me, was that some folks-when they hear about these white-light type of experiences, maybe that hasn't happened to them, then they get frustrated and wonder why this hasn't happened to them--they admitted that such a thing is still 'feeding'(for lack of better word) their own selfishness (jealousy)--that's just where they are in their program. They each, then, shared their own experience(s)-(meaning their "white-light" type) and their awakenings. They taught me that I can share from that place--deep down...after all, spirituality comes from within--not with a banner&ticker-tape parade. As well, I was not to dismiss the fact that I did...indeed...reach someone with what I said in a positive light--after all...here we were, sharing from the same foundation. I learned, too...and I would learn (more will be revealed) more about this as I went along (and kept coming back) about how to decipher who's just coming around because of a judge, or a spouse, or whatever (and hopefully/eventually...they too will come back), and those who really are coming around with the "honest" willingness and intention of sticking around and getting it. I'd only been around for mere weeks, if that...they reminded me that I didn't have to prove anything to anyone-by the way--but, hearing what I'd said at the meeting told them that my footing was being grounded from a place where it needed to be grounded. I stood a chance at making it....I had to be careful to not thinking I was saved and didn't have to do any work, God (as I understood Him) got me here, it was up to me to do the work, and keep working it--for the rest of my life--IF I wanted to...all I had to be was willing, yes--I had (have) to be willing to stay sober, but I also had (have) to be willing to keep working my program, for the rest of my life--it was up to me as to how long that would be. Of course, none of us ever know how long, but my chances of a longer life are better if I didn't/don't drink. I can miss the small awakenings looking&waiting for the big experience. It's about baby steps...we gotta crawl before we can walk--and we take it, just a little--one step...one day at a time. I had, they said, already experienced a growth...it'd been a couple of weeks since my last drink, I was attending meetings, and I was talking, and I was learning--because I was willing-but I tell ya still...none of it was of my own power. No human power could have relieved me. I don't need the Red Sea to seperate to not experience growth, or God (as I understand Him) for that matter. It can be as simple as deciding-do I want a drink? Or do I want to pick up the phone, or sit down at the computer, or take in a meeting? Did I get it right with the I's dotted and the T's crossed? NOOOO...it's not about spiritual perfection, it's about spiritual growth. We're not going to get it right every time, or the first time...as long as we are willing to keep at it, keep trying--even in spite of slips...be willing to keep coming back...especially in the wake of a slip. Man!! If you've slipped, you can't let shame and guilt keep you away...if you're lucky enough to have those thoughts--pick yourself back up and get your butt into that meeting. There might not be a "next time" for either the drink or the meeting if you don't.

That's all from me--have a great day...no matter how busy...stop and look at something you find curious, unique, beautiful..humorous. All of this is all around us--we just have to be willing to see it.

Keep on keepin' on kids,
In the spirit of the fellowship,
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Postby carol1017 » Mon Sep 03, 2007 1:38 pm


WOW -- reading your post gave me the inspiration for the day!! I don't think I have ever heard (or read) someone who summed up the entire AA experience so thoroughly, succinctly and eloquently.

Your spiritual experience is indeed remarkable, and I can understand the confusion you felt when you shared it. Probably a lot like Bill W. when he first went out to "save" drunks. I can only imagine the looks he must have gotten!

Congratulations to you, and thank you for sharing!
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Postby Dallas » Mon Sep 03, 2007 2:51 pm

Thank you Anne!!! Reading your share above reiterates why I've missed you sharing on the site!!! You inspire me, too!

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