12-Step Spirituality: Moving Beyond Addiction

If you enjoyed Part 1 of this audio series on 12-Step Spirituality, you’ll love the next installation.

In this week’s interview, you’ll hear author Jane Galloway quote the founder of AA, Bill Wilson, from the “Big Book” (which is sort of the Bible of Alcoholics Anonymous):

“To us the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who honestly seek.”

I can’t think of anybody whose life has not been impacted by addiction in one way or another, myself included. And so, I made a decision to “honestly seek” to better understand the 12 Steps.

The Gateways: The Wisdom of 12-Step Spirituality is primarily a “how to” practice book that offers a carefully selected sampling of body/mind/spirit tools that help people develop spiritual practices that deepen their experience of recovery.

Perhaps even more groundbreaking is the author’s presentation of what amounts to a new theology based on the 12 Steps. Galloway initiates a universal teaching of 12-Step Spirituality that’s not strictly related to addiction, but is based on the successful interspiritual model the 12 Steps provide.

Nearly 38 years ago, Jane Galloway had a spiritual awakening–what she calls a “white light experience”– through Alcoholics Anonymous. She has since earned higher degrees in religion and ministry from Claremont School of Theology and has amassed a wealth of experience leading spiritual communities in New York and California. As a result, her approach combines a rare depth that comes from steady reliance on a personal “higher power” and an expansive breadth that comes from being a devoted student and practitioner of multiple religious and philosophical paths. As a result, she has much to share with the world about the deeper spiritual life that lies beyond addiction.

I’m especially intrigued by three questions she asks her readers:

  1. Are you ready for something truly new?
  2. Are you prepared to weather the journey inward?
  3. Are you ready to be made whole?

It strikes me that these are questions we all must ask lest we delude ourselves into following some watered-down version of easy spirituality. 12-Step Spirituality demands a high level of commitment, honesty, and openness in exchange for its signature joy, serenity, and life-giving sobriety.

For Rev. Galloway, this deal has clearly been well worth the investment. But what about the rest of us? What if we don’t happen to have an addiction to alcohol or another substance or behavior? Some say we’re really all addicted to something– whether that’s materialism or ego or the illusion of control– but the recovering addicts I’ve spoken with generally laugh out loud when I speak of this. Clearly, they have a shared experience that nobody else can lay claim to in quite the same way.

Through her book The Gateways, Jane Galloway has opened the door just a crack so outsiders can get a glimpse of what goes on in “the rooms” and insiders can deepen their experience of recovery and develop new practices to support their daily walk.