Spirituality is a key aspect of the recovery process. Some may confuse the concept of spirituality with religion, but they are two different things. Religion refers to a defined system of beliefs, rituals, and institutional structures. In contrast, spirituality refers to the transcendent connection between us and something perceived as existing on a higher plane. Some people express their feelings of spirituality through structured religion, while others experience spirituality in many different ways.
In recovery, spirituality plays an important role in healing a wounded soul. In active substance use, the person becomes separated from their core belief systems. They lose contact with the essence of who they are, their purpose, and the meaning of their life. Once in recovery, they are able to slowly restore not only their mental and physical health, but also their spiritual self. A holistic treatment program will address all three of these areas.
Types of Spirituality
Connecting with your spiritual side in recovery does not require adhering to a particular religion. In fact, while based upon spiritual themes, the Twelve Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous clearly advocates that each person define the ‘Higher Power’ in his or her own way. The idea is to acknowledge a source of power or higher consciousness that is greater than themselves to help lead them out of substance use and into both physical and spiritual wellness.
The forms of spirituality can follow vastly different paths. You might practice your personal spirituality through a Judeo-Christian religious belief system, an Eastern practice such as Buddhism, or a type of New Age belief that is based on the laws of the universe or nature. Whichever path you take, all types of spirituality seek truth, promote personal growth, inspire a connection with the transcendent, and help uplift the human spirit.
5 Spiritual Recovery Practices
People in early recovery may grapple with the concept of spirituality if they have no history of practicing a faith, or of ever exploring their spiritual side. Fortunately, there is no “right way” to practice spirituality. Instead, those in recovery are encouraged to seek their own spiritual paths based on what personally resonates with them. Spiritual recovery practices might involve:
- Revisiting Prior Faith Beliefs. Some people might have once been actively involved in a church, temple, or synagogue prior to their substance use. As their substance use disorder deepened, they may have abandoned these religious practices. In recovery, some may return to their religious roots and revive their spirituality within that setting. They may begin regularly attending services again. Some may decide to pursue a deeper connection with their faith by joining small groups or ministries and participating in religious events.
- Prayer and Devotional Readings. Many people are not attracted to the concept of organized religion, but can still practice their spirituality independently from religion. Everyone can pray, no matter where they happen to be. Prayer is a personal conversation with the higher power, whether that is God, Jesus, or any other transcendent being at the center of their beliefs. There is an array of spiritual literature, daily devotionals, and even smartphone apps to further assist with personal spiritual growth.
- Convening With Nature. Some individuals find their higher power in nature. The beauty in our natural surroundings can inspire a soaring sense of spirituality. Seeing nature as an extension of a Creator is at the root of many Native American spiritual beliefs. Immersing oneself in nature, through hiking, travel, river rafting, walking, or whichever method of exploration desired, leads to a sense of awe that is followed by an intensified spiritual connection.
- Meditation. Meditative practices are based on the control of wandering thoughts and achieving a peaceful state. Meditation can be practiced anywhere, whether it is sitting on your bed or finding a quiet spot outdoors where you can be alone with few distractions. It takes time to train the mind. Starting with a few minutes of quiet reflection can over time eventually evolve into regular 30-minute meditation sessions. Meditation helps to calm the noise in our mind and allow the higher power to speak to us during that stillness.
- Experiential Practices. Some people connect with spirituality through activities, or experiential practices. Through these activities they are drawn closer to their higher power. Examples of experiential practices include activities like yoga, water sports like surfing, swimming, kayaking, or paddle boarding, engaging in art or music, and keeping a journal. All of these activities involve making a connection between the soul and the transcendent and that can deepen spirituality.
Recovery does not depend on spirituality, but it does thrive on it. Discover your personal path to a deeper spirituality and allow it to enhance and strengthen your life in recovery.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.