Many of us are familiar with 12 Step programs. These programs are widely recognized as the most well-known and proven method for helping people with recovery from addictions of all types. The original 12 Stepprogram is Alcoholics Anonymous. (Most 12 Step programs have “Anonymous” as part of their name, highlighting the importance they give to the privacy and anonymity of members). The original 12 Step model of AA has inspired, in recent decades, literally hundreds of 12 Step groups, for those recovering from a vast variety of substance and behavioral addictions. 12 Step programs exist for assistance in recovering from addiction to various drugs, to smoking, to overeating, to sex, to love and relationships, and nearly any other substance or activity to which people can become addicted. Several years ago, a progessive church in Texas started a program called “12 Steps For Everyone”, utilizing the 12 Steps and the underlying principles of those steps, to help with releasing any and all addictive tendencies or unconsciousness, whether or not a traditionally-defined addiction was present. Currently, for Alcoholics Anonymous alone, there are estimated to be over 115,000 independent AA groups, with over 2,000,000 members, worldwide.
Simply put: the 12 Steps made famous by the various “Anonymous” programs, are based in universal psychological principles of mind, consciousness and egoic psychology. These 12 Steps literally describe the general trajectory which starts with conditioned conceptual slavery, and which maps out a set of methods for releasing these psychological bonds. If these 12 Steps are followed to their ultimate end, they can lead, as all effective spiritual paths can, to Living Unbound in reality.
This fact, that all effective spiritual paths can lead to Living Unbound, reflects an interesting and pertinent point with respect to addiction: addictive tendencies are universal, in egoic psychology. The condition defined as addiction simply indicates a certain degree of severity, but it is not a condition that is different in terms of type, from the bondage of mistaken partiality known as ego.
Realizing this can yield two important benefits:
1. It can help us see that those of us dealing with addiction are simply dealing with a health issue; a more severe form of the exact same psychology which generates any mental or emotional discomfort we may be experiencing ourselves, thus helping create a reality-based, compassionate attitude.
2. If we are dealing with a sense of active addiction in our own experience, it can help us to understand that we are simply dealing with a health issue; a more severe form of the exact same psychology which generates any mental or emotional discomfort that any of us may be experiencing for any reason, thus helping create a reality-based, compassionate attitude toward ourselves.
One startling statistic regarding 12 Step programs, is that with respect to drugs and alcohol at least, there is a first-year success rate of only about 20%., meaning: for every 100 people who begin attending 12 Step meetings in a given year, only about 20 of them (1 in 5) are free from addiction to drugs or alcohol, a year later.
This statistic highlights the amazing power and pull of addiction, especially the power that egoic psychology holds, to perpetuate addiction. At first, this statistic (20% first-year success rate) might also appear to be a negative commentary on the effectiveness of 12 Step programs, but it is not. The statistic of 20% success may seem dismal, until it is compared with all other approaches. Then it is seen that 12 Step programs have by far the highest success rate of any approach, so far.
Those of us involved in meditation and related practices, are experiencing and noticing that there is increasing evidence that willingness to live based in the principles and practices of Living Unbound, (by any name), can be amazingly effective in gaining freedom not only from active addictions, but in also completing the dissolution of the cause of addictions; transcending the confusions of ego, which cause addiction in the first place.
For some excellent information regarding psychological and biological facts related to addiction, as well as some very recent research please visit the ASREC site, (Addiction Science Research and Education Center) associated with the University Of Texas.
One beneficial aspect of 12 Step programs is that specific information conveyed in conjunction with each specific step, can be updated according to new research finding and expanded global awareness of various spiritual traditions. Please see below for some 12 Step related links from a variety of spiritual views.
For those of us who do feel drawn to the specific support of 12 Step programs, the principles of Living Unbound can help to optimize our chances of success in gaining and maintaining freedom from active addiction. Even more importantly, though, combining the principle of Living Unbound with the 12 Steps program can help to provide complete experiential liberation; Living Unbound.
The 12 Steps (with commentary from A Yogic Perspective on the 12 Steps by Yogi Amrit Desai, shown after each step, in blue.
1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction/dysfunction/behavior–that our lives had become unmanageable.
“This system is not about forcing or creating struggle; it is about opening to the higher consciousness within and acknowledging our helplessness in the face of what our ego-mind has created.”
2: Came to believe that a Higher Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
“What we’ve been doing might be called insanity: we’ve been seeking comfort for a made-up self image rather than experiencing reality.”
3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of that Higher Power as we understood it.
“How strange that even though God is omnipotent and present in all of life, we human beings manage to declare ourselves separate.”
4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
“The underlying problem is our inability to face ourselves as we really are. Unable to live with ourselves we move into compulsive behaviors to dodge the constant conflict between the dictates of our self image and the real self we are.”
5: Admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
“Commitment to honesty with others helps us transcend ingrained patterns of fear and avoidance, and our dishonesty with ourselves.”
6: Were entirely ready to have our Higher Power remove all these defects of character.
“Another way of stating the Sixth Step is ‘were entirely ready to move out of the unconsciousness in which we performed past actions and into the conscious state of the higher self’.”
7: Humbly asked our Higher Power to remove our shortcomings.
“Letting go of ego is an invocation of God’s presence, an experience of relaxation, joy and communion with our inner source.”
8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
“What is true in our relationship with others is also true in our relationship with our self-image, or ego-self.”
9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
“By making peace with the other, we’re really bridging the separateness we feel within ourselves.”
10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
“Self-observation is a meditative process in which we develop the capacity to witness all of life.”
11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power, as we understood it, praying only for knowledge of our Higher Power’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
“Conscious contact brings us to the level of our soul’s reality, so that we are not thinking about God, but actualizing God in each moment.”
12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to “those still suffering“, and to practice these principles in all areas of our lives.
“Those whom we call addicts are simply intense seekers of bliss who have gotten stuck in repetition, looking for the right thing in the wrong place. When we let go of the self-image we used to identify with, we find behind it the experience of unity we’ve been seeking.”
Please note that there are 12 Step programs and resources based in many spiritual traditions.
The 12 Steps from an Advaita (Non-Dual) view.
The 12 Steps from a Buddhist view.
The 12 Steps from a Christian view.
The 12 Steps from A Course In Miracles view
The 12 Steps from an Eastern Wisdom view.
The 12 Steps from a Kabbalah/Jewish view.
The 12 Steps from an Islamic/Muslim view.
The 12 Steps from a Taoism view.
The powerful perspective of recovery from addiction from a Real Love view.
(The personal addiction-recovery/finding Real Love account of Real Love author, Greg Baer, M.D.)
The key to success in recovery from addiction rests in willingness, openness, acceptance and perserverance, regardless of the spiritual model or models which may be utilized.
Excerpt from The Twelve Steps To Spiritual Recovery By Georg Feuerstein:
“In recent years, much has been said and written about addiction to alcohol, tobacco, drugs, food, sex, and relationships. We can now appreciate how widespread a phenomenon addiction really is. In my recent book Sacred Sexuality I made the point that ordinary life itself can be considered a form of addiction, because we are habituated to its dominant state of consciousness.
That state of consciousness revolves around the dichotomy between ego and world. We naturally and habitually experience ourselves as separate from everything and everyone else. This split between subject and object is the basis of perception.”
As well as the basis of addiction.
To gain more clarity concerning how knowing the fullness of unbound awareness we actually are can facilitate recovery from all levels and types of addiction, please see the PDF report “Twelve Steps To Spiritual Recovery“, by well-known spiritual author, Georg Feuerstein.
Find a 12 Step Meeting in your area.
Living Unbound Teachings:
Living Unbound Techniques: