12 Step Outreach Is One of the Service Teams of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd


Our Vision:  The vision of 12-Step Outreach is to pass on the gift of Centering Prayer and related spiritual practices to improve our conscious contact with a God of our understanding , wherever there is a desire for deeper healing from anyone in 12-Step recovery.

Our Mission: We are 12 Step people who practice Centering Prayer as our 11th Step and pass it on to others in 12 Step recovery.

Our Purpose: The purpose of 12 Step Outreach is to support one another in the process of spiritual transformation through the practice of Centering Prayer


Contemplative Outreach Ltd. was founded in 1984 to encourage the practice of Centerng Prayer, which is based on an  ancient prayer practice. Thomas Keating, OCSO is one of the founders of the Centering Prayer movement and Contemplative Outreach, a spiritual network that teaches Centering Prayer and provides a support system for those who practice it.  He is the author of many books and recorded presentations on Contemplative Prayer. The practice of Centering Prayer, and the spiritual, historical and psychological basis of it, are described and elaborated in several of Thomas Keating's works, including Open Mind, Open Heart and  Invitation to Love.  


In 2001, The 12 Step Outreach program of Contemplative Outreach was established to offer Centering Prayer to people in all 12 Step fellowships as an 11th Step prayer/meditation practice. We help individuals and groups establish contemplative prayer practices through workshops, retreats and formation programs. Thomas Keating's recent work, Divine Therapy and Addiction, reflects on the wisdom and the legacy of Alcoholics Anonymous and all 12 Step programs.  The practice of Centering Prayer has parallels with other spiritual traditions and is easy to do.

For those who live by the 12 Steps found in AA, Al-Anon, SCA, OA, DA, NA, GA, and other programs, a Centering Prayer practice can be a key support system in the process of recovery and transformation.


Centering Prayer can help deepen our application of the 12 Steps generally, and the 11th Step specifically, through daily immersion in prayer and meditation. We believe that, when applied as a daily supplement to the 12Steps, Centering Prayer open us to the deepest dimension of spirituality.

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1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.


2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly, and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.


3. When engaged with your thoughts*, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.


4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.  


 *thoughts include body sensations,

   feelings, images, and reflections


1. The “sacred word” is sacred not because of its inherent meaning, but because of the meaning we give it as the expression of our intention and consent.  Examples: Love, Let Go, Serenity, Peace, Silence, Faith, Trust, Gentle, etc.

2. “Sitting comfortably” means relatively comfortably so as not to encourage sleep during the time of prayer.

3. By “returning ever-so-gently to the sacred word” a minimum of effort is indicated.  This is the only activity we initiate during the time of Centering Prayer.

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   DivineDDivine Therapy & Addiction

Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps    

In this major new work Thomas Keating reflects on the wisdom and legacy of the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Step Method and its connections to, and similarities with, the Christian mystical traditions of centering prayer and Lectio Divina.  In conversion with long-time member of AA meetings, Father Thomas talks insightfully about surrendering to one's Higher Power and the journey that must be undertaken for the healing of the soul to begin.

click here to purchase


Centering Prayer Program

Contemplative Outreach and Sounds True are pleased to present the first complete home study course in learning Centering Prayer, the silent Christian prayer practice for consenting to the presence and action of the Divine Indwelling. Includes more than nine hours of guidance and teachings on CD and DVD from Fr. Thomas Keating, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Fr. Carl Arico.

 View in US & Canada Store



      Deepening Your Experience of God

   With greater inner freedom and from a lifestyle given over to the new values of the contemplative path, you are also freer to serve others. When you are less attached to thoughts, you are liberated from the sense that you are a self forever separate from God and other people. As you let contemplation infuse your actions in centering prayer, as the life of God comes alive in you, your spiritual journey unfolds more easily, in God. - From The Path of Centering Prayer, page 31

David Frenette has taught Centering Prayer under Father Thomas Keating’s guidance since 1984, including as a trainer for long-term practitioners in Contemplative Outreach. 

To purchase book click here

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This year members of 12 Step Outreach took the message of Centering Prayer as an effective 11th Step practice to other countries.  We have asked them to share with us a brief summary of their experiences.


Formation and Retreat in Iceland

Ragnheidur Jonsdottir, a Lutheran priest, invited Pat Johnson and Jenny Adamson to come to Iceland for Formation, to help people teach the practice of Centering Prayer.  She is pictured above second from left. Sixteen people participated in the Formation. They are pictured above behind Pat and Jenny. The group included five members of the Icelandic Leadership team who will teach and mentor the other participants and provide Formation in the future when more teachers are needed. Two of the participants are 12 Step people who will teach the practice in their 12 Step community. In addition, Pat and Jenny served a weekend retreat which was attended by many of the Formation participants and some additional 12 Step people.

Pat Johnson who serves retreats at Snowmass has been an advisor and supporter of 12 Step Outreach. Jenny Adamson is a member of 12 Step Outreach.

Retreat In Dominican Republic

Hi to all!  I am happy to report the Domincan Republic was a wonderful gathering!  There were about 45 folks for a 4 day retreat at Manressa Retreat Center in Santo Domingo.  We used the 12 steps as the basis for looking at the Human Condition and how the practices (Centering, Welcoming and Forgiveness) flow through the steps and all of our Spiritual Journey.  Some of the folks were 12 steppers, but to some this was new material.  The universality of the principles touched all.  Hope this summary is what you are looking for.  If more information is needed, please let me know.
In peace,

Mary  (and Juan  too!) 

From Jim M - translated and brought the 12 Step Centering Prayer Brochure to Germany

Participating in the annual German speaking countries' AA conference in May was a beautiful experience.  Over 4,000 people attended the Deutschsprachiges Landertreffen der Anonymen Alkoholiker in Oldenburg, Germany from Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Luxembourg.  The mayor of Oldenburg and a member of the German Parliament spoke at the opening of the conference. They praised AA for all the good it does and noted that 1 in 9 Germans were addicts/alcoholics and that the ripple effects touched many more.

Hearing the language of recovery in German was simply amazing and reinforced that we have a common problem and a common solution.  The spiritual principles outlined in our Steps and Traditions transcend all cultural differences. There was a beautiful meditation room called "Raum der Stille" (Room of Silence) open 24 hours each day where participants could go and meditate in comfortable chairs in silence.  There was also an “Hour of Meditation” on Saturday evening, which incorporated lovely acoustic guitar music, meditative photographic images, and spiritual poetry. Except for the language difference, I felt as though I could have been sitting in a meeting anywhere in the U.S.  There was deep sense of gratitude for the gift of sobriety and stories were shared passionately with one another. The Germans always say at the end of their shares, "Thank you for listening".  Thomas Keating’s book, “Invitation to Love”, is translated into German and is available in the German bookstores.  We are very interested in sharing the good news of Centering Prayer as an 11th Step Practice with our friends in Germany.



Contemplative Outreach of Ireland Centering Prayer Retreat
In March of this year seventeen people gathered at Orlagh Retreat Center in the hills outside of Dublin for an 8-day Centering Prayer retreat hosted by Contemplative Outreach of Ireland.  The retreat was staffed by Eileen Foley of Dublin, Bob and Pat Johnson and Jenny Adamson of Carbondale, Colorado (near St. Benedict’s Monastery and Retreat Center in Snowmass). This Intensive, silent retreat has been held almost every year for the last 8 years and the Johnsons have served the retreat from the beginning.  Something new this year was that the retreat reached out to people who are in 12 Step recovery programs like AA, Al-Anon, etc. by letting participants know that the retreat was 12 Step friendly. That means that at least one of the staff members is in a 12 Step program and that 12 Step meetings will be held several times during the week. One of the meetings was closed to only the retreatants in 12 Step programs and one was open so that others on the retreat were able to come.
Centering Prayer has gained many followers among people in 12 Step recovery programs because it provides an effective practice for Step 11 which says: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out. “ Father Thomas Keating, one of the people responsible for Centering Prayer has been very supportive of 12 Step Outreach, a service team of Contemplative Outreach in the United States. Their mission is to carry the message of Centering Prayer as an 11th Step practice to others in 12 Step programs. 12 Step Outreach fully supported this retreat and one of the members helped lead the retreat.


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The positive effects of the prayer are experienced in daily life and not necessarily during the prayer period itself.  During this prayer, avoid analyzing the experience, or having expectations such as:  continuously repeating the sacred word; having no thoughts; achieving a spiritual experience.  It is important not to judge the success of your prayer period. The only thing you can do wrong in this prayer is to get up and leave.  You may find yourself getting in touch with feelings of pain, lust, or fear, even remembering feelings or events you forgot about long ago.  There is no way to change or repair the damage of a lifetime EASILY or QUICKLY. 


Everyone moves at his or her own pace in Centering Prayer.  Just doing the prayer and opening our self to the presence of our Higher Power in silence will encourage you to keep going. 


  1. Growth will happen when we practice Centering Prayer in the context of the 12 Steps.
  2. Enhances our ability to “Let Go and Let God”
  3. Develops in us a nonjudgmental attitude of ourselves and others
  4. We grow in self knowledge which at times may be painful
  5. Emerging capacity to listen and serve others
  6. Nurtures our ability to live in the present moment and just for today

  • 1) Twenty minutesof Centering Prayer twice a day is recommended. 


2)  If you notice slight physical or emotional pain arising during the prayer, pay no attention and return ever so gently to the sacred word. 


3)  It is suggested that you join a weekly Centering Prayer Group or find others in recovery willing to meet on a regular basis, to support one another in this practice.   

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Loving silence seem to enfold us as we gathering at St. Benedict's Retreat Center in Snowmass for a Post Intensive/12step style.  To be surrounded by fellows committed to not just their spiritual awakening but to their spiritual transformation was truly gift.  Somehow the beauty of the surroundings combined with the presence of the monks and the commitment of retreatants and staff combined to heal wounds some of us didn't even know we had.  It seems to me that the path of Centering Prayer combined with the walk of the 12 steps makes for an incredible dance...life on life's terms.  JOY, JOY, JOY.  I so highly recommend this retreat to anyone who wants to take the promises to the next level.

Mary D.


Coming down from Snowmass Mountain

This was the seventh year we've had this all 12 step, 10 days, silent retreat and the past few years have been a turning point for me in being able to hold the silence.  We do a lot of meditation time.  Together in a group, 3 and a half hour of sits a day.  I wish I could put my finger on exactly what happened during that time or know for sure that this or that shift took place but I really don't know any of that.  

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"Richard Rohr's "Breathing Under Water, Spirituality and the Twelve Steps" is literally a breath of fresh... air all puns intended!
For a" lapsed" catholic such as  me, it brings the genius, wisdom,vision and inspiration of Bill W in perspective  to the Old Testament and the Gospels with life and clarity. Richard focuses on the Spirit moving through the Scriptures rather than the "Letter" and folds it within each of the Steps with love and a call for action...for after all "Faith without works is dead".
In 13 chapters and 147 pages this book is a marvelous ground to start a new path trough the Twelve Steps and should be shared with anyone newcomer or old timer alike.



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Centering Prayer as an 11th Step Practice for All in 12-Step Recovery

March 27 – 29, 2015

$307 double, $397 private until December 31, 2014 $347 double, $437 private after January 1, 2015
All inclusive: accommodations, six meals, and program sessions Retreat Overview:

• Presentations on Centering Prayer, The Welcoming Prayer, the Human Condition and Transformation

• Centering Prayer group practice periods each day • Group processes and discussion
• 12 Step meetings 



St. Mary's in Sewanee Tennessee

Centering Prayer as an 11th Step Practice

March 27 through 29, 2015

This retreat offers a method for those in 12-step programs who are seeking a contemplative practice for the 11th step – “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God.” Centering Prayer is a simple method of prayer rooted in ancient Christian practice that opens us to God’s presence and divine healing.  


CO of Ireland Presents A 12 Step Friendly

10 Day Retreat - March 4-11, 2015

Mount St. Anne's Retret Centre

Killenard, Portarlington, Co Laoise, Ireland

for details go to events page


Contemplative Outreach of Central Pennsylvania

Presents 11th Step Retreat at Bethany Retreat House

in Frenchville, PA


May 29-31, 2015

This retreat is for people in 12 Step Recovery programs to introduce or expand and deepen the experience of Contemplative Prayer as part of a daily 12-Step Practice.

for details click events