There are many forms of spirituality from various traditions that can nurture us the path of sobriety. Of course, spirituality isn’t for everyone. However, if you feel that you’re someone who needs to have a relationship with a higher being or with Nature or with your higher self, then you might appreciate various ways to be spiritual.
Spirituality can be defined differently for various people. According to Steve Castleman, founder of AddictScience.com, part of the spirituality of the 12-step model is learning how to treat others as you want to be treated, living honestly, making amends when you inevitably fail, and helping others. Castleman would say that learning this new set of behaviors is a result of practicing the 12-steps. And, learning these ways of living help to heal resentment and anger, which are often at the root of an addiction. Even though Castleman didn’t want to go along with the spirituality of the 12-steps in the beginning, he later found that it was a significant part of getting sober. Others would also say that the spirituality of the 12-step model helps to build a defense against the disease of addiction.
And one doesn’t have to believe in a God necessarily, or even any particular kind of God to participate in and receive the benefits of the 12-step model. For instance, surfers might see the ocean as their higher power, writers might see nature as their higher power, and younger adults might use love as their higher power. Whatever your form of spirituality, you might want to consider the following practices to incorporate into your life. Perhaps they might inspire you and strengthen your ability to stay sober.
Being Grateful – Pick a time in your life when you know you have a few minutes each day. Perhaps it’s when you are waiting in your car at a light or when you pick your children up from school. During those moments, reflect upon what you feel grateful for. A few moments of being grateful each day can radically shift your experience of life. It can shift your attention to all that you’ve been given versus all that you lack.
Staying Present – The fastest way to move out of a stressful state is to become aware of one of your senses. In his wonderfully healing book, Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World through Mindfulness, Jon Kabat Zinn details how returning attention to the senses can immediately shift your experience. By smelling a scent, touching an object, or experiencing a bodily sensation, you remind yourself of the moment you are in versus an imaginary moment from the past. Shifting your experience to the present moment through the use of your senses can build your emotional awareness.
Notice the Details Around You – This is a similar practice to the one described above. It’s also a way of staying present, of being firmly connected to the moment versus getting caught up in an imaginary moment in your mind. Staying present by noticing the details around you in as many moments as possible can in and of itself be a spiritual practice.
Meditate or Rest Deeply – Meditation is a very calming practice that can also produce healing experiences. Although meditation might be difficult at first, the challenge at the beginning is worth the rewards. By sharpening one’s focus, the heart can open and healing can take place.
Visualization – You might ask yourself Imagine what your life would be like if you were not struggling with addiction?” or “Imagine what circumstances and situations you would find yourself in if you were not early in your recovery.”
Have a Sense of Humor – Not only can laughter change your perspective almost immediately, there are many health benefits to laughing, both physical and mental. Laughing can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, increase blood flow, increase memory and focus, which are both often impaired during addiction, improve creativity, and reduce stress. Perhaps you and a friend can read a joke a day to get the belly rolling and the smiles spreading from one ear to the other. Perhaps laughter can become a regular part of your drug addiction therapy.
The above suggestions are meant to provide alternative forms of spiritual practice. They are activities that you might include in your day to support your sobriety.
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