Embracing Your Unique Spirituality on the Journey of Addiction Recovery
The concept of spirituality is one that everyone understands differently, but as a unique and personal experience, spirituality can be a powerful tool on the path of addiction recovery. Addiction does not determine your value as an individual; the truth is that we are all progressing on our own spiritual paths. Diverse treatment options provide opportunities for self-discovery through counseling, intentional workshops, and even animal-assisted therapy. Those with a secular perspective can also benefit from resources that help you accept your imperfection and keep on the recovery path.
If you’ve shied away from attending an AA meeting because of all that “God stuff” or you abandoned the faith that once gave you strength, you can still find the true center of you and how you fit into the universe as a unique and special person. Spirituality is one of the core aspects of healing from addiction. The word “spirituality” comes with some gravitas, and it can frighten some of us, yet it doesn’t have to be defined by parameters of organized religion, dogma, or any practices that don’t feel right to you. A spiritual practice is really about finding the meaning of your life and your true value. It’s about interconnectedness with others or with the natural world. Spirituality helps you to heal through your recovery journey by giving you insight into your humanness and allowing you to forgive yourself.
We Are All Works in Progress
When we are facing our challenges with substance abuse, we often have feelings of shame or unworthiness. We can feel as if everyone is judging us. Addiction is not a spiritual flaw, and if we become addicted to alcohol, drugs, or behaviors such as sex addiction, we aren’t less than or spiritually bankrupt. All human beings are works in progress, but when you have an addiction, it can be difficult to separate yourself from your addiction and see that you have value or that you will be accepted.
Many addicts who had previously participated in a religious community may feel that they are no longer welcome in a place of worship. In a study conducted by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the addicts participating said they felt isolated from the churches they used to attend, or they wanted to worship but believed that they would be perceived as outsiders. They yearned for some kind of spiritual connection or spiritual path but felt it wasn’t attainable. When asked to define spirituality, they described it as hope. Recovery can be a lonely route to take if you don’t have that hope or connection, but there are many roads to get there.
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A Journey of Self-Discovery in Therapy
Dr. Ian Wolds, Executive Director at Alta Mira, explains that “Spirituality is different for everybody. By connecting with the deepest parts of ourselves—of our personal truth—that also connects us to the ultimate meaning of things, our higher power.” We are all spiritual beings, and there are many ways to find that ability to connect to who we are in the greater landscape of life. One way is to reach out for help and connect with the positive spirit of others who are also on the journey of recovery.
A residential treatment program where spirituality is a part of the recovery process allows you to find meaning in your life and a renewed passion for self-discovery. Attending a rehab program can allow you to participate in practices that help you reach that place of peace in ways that can speak to your needs:
- Group lectures on finding meaning in your life allow you to gain insight from experts who have been on this path of discovery.
- Spirituality counseling helps you explore unseen parts of yourself, your beliefs, your sense of hope, and your connections with others.
- A Recovery Statement Workshop helps you to create goals for recovery and envision a life beyond addiction. Learning how to find your passion and purpose in life not only raises your self-esteem, but also gives you a goal to work towards that can bring meaning into your day-to-day life.
- Equine or animal-assisted therapy helps us connect with ourselves through interacting with creatures who don’t judge us, helps us to find our kind heart, and teaches us that communication doesn’t have to be verbal.
Spirituality is not the same as religion, and you can find your unique experience of spirituality without being part of a faith community. Even participating in shared meals and truly enjoying the bounty of the earth that has been transformed by creative people can be sacred experiences. Also, listening to music or creating your own form of art are ways to connect with your spiritual center. It’s about being in the moment and savoring those joys in a way you couldn’t do under the burden of addiction. It’s about hope.
The Constant Journey and Keeping on the Path
Sharon is a recovering alcoholic who has found that Alcoholics Anonymous is the right recovery path for her.
I have been sober for 32 years now, but I find that attending meetings and connecting with people I have come to know and love is part of my spiritual growth as a person. I believe in the higher power we talk about at AA, but I also find that connection with people who have the same struggles and successes keeps me centered.
For those people with a more secular outlook on life, finding their own healing of the soul doesn’t have to be boxed in by anyone else’s concept of what spirituality is. It can be a transformative, esoteric, and imperfect journey. Ernest Kurtz, author of Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, describes it this way: “Spirituality begins with the acceptance that our fractured being, our imperfection, simply is: There is no one to ‘blame’ for our errors—neither ourselves nor anyone nor anything else. Spirituality helps us first to see, and then to understand, and eventually to accept the imperfection that lies at the very core of our human be-ing. Spirituality accepts that ‘If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.’”
We don’t have to be perfect; we just have to be and allow ourselves to fail, to flail, and to learn how to experience joy—something we may not have felt in a long time. Communing with nature is one way to engage your entire being in the now. Prayer is another way, and prayer can be anything you want it to be. It can be simply about connecting with your emotions and connecting with humanity, as Sharon found. There is something sacred in just being silent through meditation, helping your body heal through yoga, or picking a dandelion and wishing on the seeds as they float into the wind. Whatever form of enlightenment your journey takes you on, spirituality can help keep you on the path to healing during addiction recovery.
Learn how embracing your spirituality can help you with your recovery. Alta Mira’s team of compassionate, highly trained addiction treatment experts are dedicated to helping people find their path and break free from addiction. Please contact us today for more information.