Recovery is slow transformation of leaving behind the old and beginning a new way of life. Sobriety is taking away the substances that were once used as a poor but oftentimes necessary way of coping with life. While this is certainly a good and important start, just stopping the use doesn’t solve the entire problem. Spirituality is a key aspect of being successful in recovery.
Addiction has many layers. It isn’t just about the substances. Most people, when speaking of addiction, will share their feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and despair. These problems are often present long before the first time the person used. You’ll hear talk of feeling empty, of never fitting in, of always feeling like an outsider. The reality is that many people who use are drawn to drugs and alcohol because they are trying to satisfy a need. A need for belonging, a need to feel good and comfortable in their skin. A need to feel distracted from pain or discomfort.
Cravings And Addiction
Cravings are part of addiction, but the cravings are also frequently present before drug use even begins. It’s the need for “More.” More food, more clothes, more fun, more attention, more love, more of anything and everything. It often goes hand in hand with the feelings of being empty and never satisfied. For a time, drugs and alcohol can fill the void. But this is temporary, and it’s a trap, because there are never enough drugs to fill that space, and you will always, always want more.
Where Does Spirituality Come In?
For the person who is tired of the chaos, degradation and consequences of active addiction, recovery presents a solution. However, there is often a lot of fear around beginning a new way of life without the use of substances. What will replace them? The answer often lies in a spiritual practice.
It’s important not to confuse spirituality with religion. This confusion often puts people off to recovery. They may believe that they have to adopt a certain religion in order to stay sober, but this is not the case. Certainly, if you have a religious faith that brings you comfort, you can practice that, but even if you are an atheist, you can incorporate spirituality into your daily life.
A Spiritual Recovery Isn’t Limited To Twelve Step Programs
Many people equate recovery with twelve step programs. While these programs have saved many lives and help people all over the world live a life of recovery, they are not the only avenue to a spiritual recovery. By abstaining from substances, addressing underlying issues (such as mental illness, trauma and other problems) and by practicing your own individual spirituality, you can stave off that lonely, isolated feeling and live a rich, satisfying life in sobriety.
Examples Of Spiritual Practices And Activities
What does a spiritual practice look like? Is it praying or attending some type of service? Is it an action or a way of thinking? The answer is actually up to you. Each person can develop their own spiritual practice that works for them.
Here are some examples you may want to explore:
● Gratitude. You don’t have to believe in anything specific to practice gratitude and make it a part of your daily life. Writing a list of things you are grateful for every day is a perfect place to start. It can be anything. You ate a hot meal, had coffee with a friend, slept in a safe place, watched the sunset, stayed clean for one more day — whatever stands out to you. Some days, you may have to intentionally search for things to be grateful for. This is a practice in itself. When you consciously find reasons to be grateful, you are retraining your brain to see the positive. And in doing so, you will attract more positive things in your life.
● Service. Being of service can be anything from volunteering at a food bank, cleaning up a park, giving someone a ride or generally helping out others in need. You do this with no expectation of reward or recognition. You do this from a place of wanting to help, not feeling as though you have to. When you do this, you are getting out of yourself and this action alone can make you feel a part of, grateful, and fulfilled.
● Nature. So you don’t go to church. That’s okay. Go to a forest or the beach or the park. Take off your shoes and feel the earth beneath your feet. Breathe in the air. Admire the nature around you.
● Yoga. Yoga is a deeply spiritual practice that can put you in touch with a calmer, more insightful version of yourself. Not only that, but it makes you feel amazing.
● Meditation. Don’t be put off by the stereotypical ideas of what meditation is. It doesn’t mean you have to take away all the thoughts in your brain while you try to sit comfortably in the lotus position. You don’t have to burn incense and chant — unless you want to! You can sit for as little as five minutes, breathing in and out. If you find your brain is too crowded, that’s okay. Acknowledge that you are having thoughts, but don’t focus on them. If you are struggling, try counting your breaths. It helps. Even five minutes a day can make a huge difference. You can also try walking meditation.
These are just a few suggestions. It’s important to get plenty of support, and to try different things until you find out what works for you. Spirituality comes in all shapes and sizes. Talk to people and find out what they do to connect to their spirituality. You’ll find in your practice that issues such as cravings and compulsions begin to fall away as you become more comfortable and fulfilled in your daily life.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.