Remaining Spiritual in Recovery

woman meditating rehab
Going to rehab doesn't mean you have to give up your spirituality.

Spirituality can be viewed as a means to connect with ourselves on a more authentic level, to feel a connection with those around us, and to connect with something greater than us as individuals.

These spiritual connections help us derive a sense of meaning and purpose from our experiences.

Developing or maintaining a spiritual practice while you are in recovery from an addiction can be an extraordinarily powerful tool. It can help you to find meaning in your experiences with addiction and help you to move past your addiction toward a life that is more fulfilling and meaningful.

Continue reading to learn more about remaining spiritual while you’re in recovery.

You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual.

Spirituality has both positive and negative connotations and has the potential to evoke various emotional responses in people depending upon their personal world views and experiences. While many people may automatically associate spirituality with religion, you do not need a religion to connect with spirituality as a practice.

In fact, spirituality is an inherent quality in human beings that has been the basis for existential questions such as who am I, how did everything come to be, why am I here, and how do I fit into the world around me? These are questions that most, if not all people, have asked since the dawn of time.

The historical and non-secular roots of spirituality can be seen in the stories, myths, songs, and the various sacred birth, life, and death rituals of indigenous people throughout the world. These things informed and guided the indigenous people’s way of life, their relationships with one another, and their relationships with the universe around them.

Spirituality as a practice can have the same effect on a person practicing it today. It can help you understand your internal values and how those values drive your words, your actions, and your interactions with the world and other sentient beings within it.

Holistic recovery programs incorporate spiritual aspects.

Many people in the beginning stages of recovery from addiction may struggle to incorporate spirituality into their wellness plan. Although there are many reasons for this distance from spirituality, the common theme seems to stem from bad experiences with religion, a feeling that one has been forgotten or abandoned by their god, or simply a general disconnectedness from spirituality, perhaps due to the effects of drugs and/or alcohol.

To further complicate the relationship between spirituality and recovery, many recovery programs focus on things like thoughts, feelings, behaviors, triggers, and coping skills—while the connection to spirituality is often mentioned briefly or ignored completely. A more holistic approach to recovery however, recognizes that mind, body, and soul are inseparable pieces of a whole human being and as such they will incorporate a spiritual aspect into their programs.

Maintaining a spiritual practice requires that you first know how it is that you connect with yourself and the world around you. If you do not yet know how you connect with spirituality then your first step will be understanding what practices make you feel connected. A good way to begin would be to try some things that others have used to connect with spirituality.

Some common spiritual practices include:

  • Practicing gratitude and a spirit of giving thanks.
  • Being in nature.
  • Walking, standing, or sitting meditation.
  • Observing silence and turning to inward reflection.
  • Mindfulness.
  • Reciting mantras or other uplifting sayings when faced with more “negative” experiences or mind states.
  • Practicing yoga.
  • Singing or chanting uplifting songs.
  • Drawing, painting, writing, journaling, or anything else that allows you to be creative.
  • Reading uplifting books.
  • Listening to uplifting music or chants.
  • Listening to binaural beats or solfeggio frequencies.
  • Volunteering your time toward something you are passionate about.
  • Prayer.
  • Attending spiritual or religious groups.

Set aside 15-20 minutes a day to practice.

It is best if you can commit to setting aside at least 15-20 minutes at the beginning or end of your day to practice your form of spirituality. You may find that, after several weeks or months, the time you spend practicing spirituality naturally increases as you form a deeper desire to connect with yourself and the universe. You may also find that your practices broaden to include other practices or that you shift to another more fitting practice all together.

The key is to remain open to the array of experiences that are available to help you connect with yourself and the world around you and to let go of any set idea you have about how your own spirituality should look.

Connecting to your spirituality may take time and practice.

For some people, spirituality will take time and practice to develop into something that feels natural and uplifting. If you are new to spirituality, then finding a mentor to help guide you to your own spiritual practice can prove to be instrumental, especially if you tend to feel disconnected or blunted emotionally, a feeling that is not uncommon among those who are recovering from addiction.

Shifting your own perspective of spirituality from something religious to something that helps you to connect with your innermost being can also be helpful in developing and maintaining a spiritual practice if religion is something that is difficult for you at this point in your recovery.

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