The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states in the second Appendix, "The terms “spiritual experience” and “spiritual awakening” are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms... Most of our experiences are what the psychologist William James calls the “educational variety” because they develop slowly over a period of time."
Although many members do have a white-light experience, this is not the case for most of us. Even those of us who have moments of clarity often have our spiritual experiences occur over a more extended period of time. When we first begin hearing about spiritual experiences, moments of clarity, and conscious contact with a Higher Power, we may be turned off by this misunderstanding. Although this is just a misunderstanding; the truth is that these educational spiritual experiences are far more common, and just as helpful.
My spiritual experience has come in many waves over quite a long time. Although I most certainly had a moment of clarity where I decided I want to be sober, it wasn't until I was about 30 days sober that I realized the change that was taking place. Over the first year of my sobriety, I experienced my spiritual awakening from following the suggestions I was given. Around two years sober, when I went to jail, I had more of a white-light experience. Although it was not any single moment, the 30 days in jail led to a spiritual experience unlike any I had experienced up until that point.
When we use the phrase spiritual experience, we mean this personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism. The book discusses a physical craving, mental obsession, and spiritual malady. If we do not drink, we do not have any physical craving. As far as the mental obsession we experience, the only way to treat this is by examining our spiritual malady. When we treat this spiritual malady, our mental obsession dwindles down. This treating of the spiritual malady is the essence of a spiritual experience.