I first met Jim McElroy when he facilitated a workshop through our local St. Louis chapter of Contemplative Outreach in St. Louis. Although very soft-spoken and quite humble, Jim’s presence and teaching immediately took me to a deeper place in my Centering Prayer practice. Recently I was at another workshop, and I was spellbound listening to Jim tell stories about the earliest days in the 1990s when several people from Contemplative Outreach realized that they were all also in the 12-step recovery program. Over the course of several retreats, they began to create what is now the Centering Prayer 12-Step international outreach program.
Centering Prayer 12-Step Outreach helps people create a foundation of prayer and meditation to support sobriety and 12-step awakening. For those of you not familiar with the 12-steps, the 11th step reads:
Many people in a spiritual program of recovery from addiction find Contemplative practices like Centering Prayer and others to be a major support for sobriety and emotional stability through some pretty dark stuff.
Whether or not you’re in a program of spiritual recovery from addiction, the insights in this episode provide some helpful clues for dealing with the human condition. Gerald May, the author of the classic book Addiction and Grace, says that to be human is to be addicted. We all struggle with addictions, big and small. The Buddha taught that all suffering is caused by attachment and desire, so this interview will be helpful no matter who or where you are, ‘cuz we’re all struggling with some kind of addictions and attachments.
After we recorded the show, Jim wanted me to mention a few people to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude in building the 12-Step Outreach network. Although I have Jim’s permission to use his full name, in the 12-step tradition I will only use first names to give these folks credit. They include Dave, Jenny, Joelle, Joann, Kate, Joe, Christophe, and a special thanks to Fr. Thomas Keating, Abbot Joseph Boyle, and Pat Johnson.
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