History of Spiritual Emergence Anonymous
Founder, Marie Grace B. in California, USA, conceived the idea of using the 12-steps to help people in spiritual crisis in 2016. She had been trying to find sanity and balance since an initial event that occurred in 1979 that had thrown her life out of balance. At the age of 25, following 6 months of rigorous meditation practice learned from a book, she experienced states of bliss and ecstasy alternating with fear, pain, spontaneous shaking and insomnia lasting over several years. She withdrew from society and spent the first 12 months alone in a mountain cabin attempting to integrate the profound spiritual and physiological changes occurring in her thinking, emotions and body. Spiritual awareness, paranormal powers, and sensitivities to subtle energies and environmental toxins made it impossible for her to function sanely within her previous world view. Every time she managed to piece her life back together, it disintegrated with another type of spiritual crisis.
A decade into her attempt to integrate her awkward and painful spiritual emergence, Marie Grace B. felt divinely called to attend a 12-Step group. She asked to join Alanon, and was initially turned down because she had no alcoholic in her life. She persisted, and was accepted into the group. After completing working the 12 Steps, she discontinued the group, but throughout the rest of her life while walking various religious paths and pursuing spiritual truths, she always felt that the most effective spiritual avenue she had ever encountered was the 12-Step program.
In July of 2016 she contacted her colleague, Katrina in New York, and asked her to form a group of 2 for the purpose of exploring an inspiration Marie Grace had of using the 12 Steps to integrate the changes from spiritual emergence. Katrina’s spiritual awakening had been much more subtle—more of a gradual ongoing spiritual emergence than emergency, yet also taxing her capacity to cope in “normal” life.
During the subsequent 9 months the two of them worked the 12 Steps both in person on visits and over the phone when necessary, serving as each other’s sponsors. Together they adapted the 12-Steps for integration of spiritual transformation and gave it the name Spiritual Emergence Anonymous (SEA). Both of them concluded that working the 12 Steps for those 9 months was very valuable, and each saw undeniable changes in their own and in each other’s lives—levels of grounding, calmness, confidence, and capacity to function in the world—that they had not been able to achieve before in their attempts to integrate their spiritually transformative experiences.
In May of 2017 Marie Grace and Katrina interviewed six other people to create an SEA pilot 12-Step group. Three of those interviewed chose to stay with the process, committing to a year of weekly online video meetings and working the 12 Steps. These five people represented a good spectrum of nationalities, ages, genders, spiritual orientations, family roles, and types of spiritual emergence. Types of effects from spiritual emergence ranged from gradual to extreme, including family tensions, job loss, divorce, homelessness, health issues, prescription medications and residential mental health treatment. The new members were Teresa from Canada, Tee from New York City, and Kylie from Australia. This pilot group held regular online SEA meetings while working the 12 Steps with sponsors for 9 months.
In March of 2018 SEA opened its virtual doors to the global community of spiritual emergers with a website and two regular weekly online video meetings. The first Service Board consisted of Marie Grace, Teresa, Tee and Kylie, who began passing invitations via “word of mouth” online, and served as General Secretary, Treasurer, Webmaster and secretaries for the weekly meetings.