For those who are beginning their journey of recovery, that path is filled with uncertainty, doubt and even hesitance. Of all the obstacles that can be faced in recovery, the concept of spirituality is the one that can trip people up the most. Whether it is in drug treatment or around the tables of 12-step meetings, the concept of developing spirituality in recovery is all pervasive–and many will struggle in understanding how spirituality will help them achieve and maintain their recovery.
For those who struggle with spirituality in recovery, they do so because may not find themselves to be religious or may have rejected religion due to past traumatic events. Despite what may be perceived or thought, developing a sense of spirituality during the recovery process can be accomplished if they understand there are fundamental differences between spirituality and religion. Once that understanding is achieved, those who are in recovery realize that spirituality is an essential foundation for strengthening their sobriety in the long run.
What Exactly Is Spirituality?
Oftentimes, people will unconsciously link spirituality and religion and consider them one in the same. However, there is a fundamental difference between the two beliefs that must be acknowledged. Religion can be thought of as a set of beliefs, rituals and practices regarding belief in God or gods to be worshiped. However, spirituality can be defined as a personal search for meaning in life, for connection with all things and for the experience of a power beyond oneself.
Whereas religion can be viewed as a set of rules or practices agreed to by a number of people, spirituality is completely related to one’s individual experience and connections. Ultimately, spirituality is recognizing a power greater than ourselves which is grounded in love and compassion. It is a power that gives us perspective, meaning, and a purpose to our lives. It is a desire to connect with more than ourselves, to connect with everything.
Why Is Spirituality Important In Recovery?
People turn to drugs and alcohol because they feel they are missing something in life, and substances seem to fill that void–for a short time. While people may feel at peace and free while using substances, they eventually become addicted to these substances and they finding themselves drifting farther and farther away from the underlying reasons why they feel empty. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol become self-absorbed and engage in lies and manipulation in order to get what they need from others in order to continue their substance abuse.
When a person makes the commitment to drug treatment, they must confront themselves and become totally honest in uncovering the underlying reasons why they become stuck in their addiction. Through this honesty, those who are new in recovery create a foundation in which they can develop a sense of spirituality. An individual’s spirituality in recovery is further strengthened by their involvement in 12-step groups and the support, knowledge and empowerment they receive from these groups.
What Can Be Done To Increase Spirituality in Sobriety?
There are simple ways those in recovery can incorporate spirituality into their daily routines . These basic tips can help anyone who is sober strengthen their spirituality.
Mindfulness meditation practice is an excellent way to help increase spirituality in recovery. Meditation techniques are relatively easy to master and can be extremely beneficial in as little as 15 minutes a day. By focusing on one’s breathing, it brings a person’s awareness to the present moment and what is experienced in that moment. Meditation provides those who practice a clarity and focus that the only thing they have control of is what happens in the here and now.
Another excellent way to increase one’s spirituality is to give of oneself and volunteer their time to others. Whether it is at a 12-step meeting, a drop-in center, hospital, senior citizens’ home or other opportunities, the act of volunteering can give those in recovery a great sense of joy just knowing that that made someone else happier. The art of giving will always increase one’s spirituality, and giving to another person in need can create a greater sense of connection with the world.
Connect With Nature
Spending some time outside experiencing the grandness of nature and recognizing the beauty in the world also goes a long way in strengthening spirituality. When people in recovery take the time to look closely at the trees, plants, wildlife and the scenery that unfolds around them, they realize that every element is a puzzle piece that fits together in the grander scheme of the universe.
Journaling is a great way to clear the mind, organize thoughts, and increase one’s spirituality. Journaling is one of the life and coping skills that are taught in drug treatment, and is another example of an easy exercise to engage in. When journaling, people are encouraged to write down whatever’s on their mind. People don’t have to worry about editing or censoring themselves; they can let whatever thought or idea take over their thoughts. Journaling can also be complimented with sketches, doodles, and colors can even be used to highlight certain moods or emotions.
We often have heard that we are our own worst critics–and this is especially true in recovery. For those who are in recovery, it is important to recognize that the past does not dictate what is happening right now or what will happen in the future. Being kind to oneself is another way to increase spirituality in recovery in the fact that people must learn to embrace the fact they aren’t perfect. All people have areas in which they excel and which they fall short. By emphasizing the good from within and acknowledging shortcomings and actively working to improve oneself, people move towards being more spiritual beings.
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