The 12 steps to spiritual awakening

Guest lecturer and author hosts 12-step workshops for everyone and anyone at Grace Church.

Herbert Kaighan - Courtesy of Herbert Kaighan

It’s no secret that 12-step programs have demonstrated positive, life-changing effects on those suffering from addiction since their creation over 75 years ago. Herb Kaighan, sober since 1984, and an author and international lecturer on spiritual life, says that the benefits of 12-step work can apply to everyone.

The Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., resident will present a weekend of 12-step workshops this weekend at Grace Church in Vineyard Haven, from Friday, Nov. 6, through Sunday, Nov. 7.

In a telephone interview last week, Mr. Kaighan said that substance addiction (drugs and alcohol) generated initial development of the 12-step process, but the benefit of recovery work has wider application. “The workshop is presented in inclusive language for all interested in spiritual path awakening,” he said.

While addiction applies to a percentage of the audience, 100 percent of our population struggles with a form of spiritual malady, Mr. Kaighan said. “One of 10 people in North America suffer from [substance] addiction, which impacts another five of the 10, many of whom are addicted to the people who are addicted and suffer from delusionary thinking, which we call enabling,” he said.

“The remaining 30 or 40 percent of us are not addicted or related to addicts, but many suffer from it in terms of their human condition. There’s a possibility that those negative feelings come from misdirected behavior; an emphasis on material gain or power, for example, that distracts us from our spiritual life,” he said, adding that severe life trauma, such as PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], also blocks us from a spiritual base.

Mr. Kaighan has spent much of his life in the study of spiritual wholeness. He spent seven years in a monastic setting, has a graduate degree in psychology, and enjoyed a career as a consultant to large insurance brokerage houses before retiring in 1996 to devote full time to writing and speaking about the means to spiritual awakening and recovery.

Describing his work, Mr. Kaighan said, “It’s a process of transformation that includes self-inventory and self-reflection, using what each person believes is his or her higher power.” He said the process allows people to see the consequences of past actions and to identify the obstacles on the inside and on the outside that limit recovery and spiritual awareness.

“We really are spiritual beings living as human beings. We need to learn how to grant forgiveness to ourselves and to others, and how to live a way of life that includes self-reflection and inventorying and living 24/7 on a spiritual basis,” he said.
In his workshops, Mr. Kaighan shares his insights on working the 12 steps, using his own experiences, as well as traditional and spiritual wisdom.

12-Step Workshops with Herb K, Grace Church, Woodlawn Avenue and Williams Street, Vineyard Haven. Open Recovery Speaker Meeting with Herb K, questions & answers after, free,Friday, Nov. 6, 7–8:30 pm; 12-Step Spirituality Workshop, $25 at the door, Saturday, Nov. 7, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm; Workshops: Meditation & Sponsorship ($10 at door), Sunday, Nov. 8, 1 to 3:30 pm.

For more information, visit or Scholarship assistance is available by calling Fr. Brian Murdoch at Grace Church, 508-693-0332.