Spirituality and Addiction Recovery at Hope Rehab Thailand
I used to always get so annoyed whenever the subject of spirituality came up. I saw myself as a rational and sceptical person, and I didn’t want to hear about any fanciful nonsense or woo. When my therapist suggested that spirituality could play a powerful role in my recovery, I automatically went on the defensive and became resistant. It took me a bit of time to realise it was my preconceived notions that were the problem and not what was being suggested.
What is Spirituality?
“Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.” Bonnie Raitt
The most important thing to understand about spirituality is that it is not the same as being religious. It isn’t only believers who get to feel spiritual – atheists can also feel the same way as well. This is because spirituality is not about holding a certain set of beliefs, but with feeling a sense of connectedness with something bigger. If you look up at night sky and feel moved by the immensity of it all, you are having a spiritual experience.
Spirituality – Hope Rehab Center Thailand
Spirituality does mean different things to different people, but here are just some of the ways people describe it:
- A feeling of connectedness with something beyond yourself
- It is a subjective experience that cannot be measured objectively
- It often involves a sense of wonder
- It can involve a chance in consciousness (e.g. you may experience profound peace while meditating or walking in nature)
- It is beyond the ego
- It is a feeling of compassion for other people
- It is a personal experience that is not dependent on specific religious beliefs or non-beliefs
Spirituality and Addiction Recovery
“Moments of perception can build into a lifetime of spiritual serenity, as I have excellent reason to know. Roots of reality, supplanting the neurotic underbrush, will hold fast despite the high winds of the forces which would destroy us, or which we would use to destroy ourselves.” Bill W
Those of us who fall into addiction often describe a feeling of having a ‘hole in our soul’. It is like there is something significant missing from our life, and we need alcohol or drugs to numb this feeling of loss. After we get sober, this feeling of lack can remain, and it can lead to dangerous thoughts like ‘what is the point of staying sober?’
The most important thing spirituality can do for us is give our life a sense of meaning and purpose – it can fill that hole in our soul. We still may not hold any firm metaphysical or religious beliefs, but the feeling of being part of something bigger can give us great strength and comfort. It becomes like a beacon that we can aim towards, and the more we allow spirituality to infuse our lives, the more we feel like we are coming home.
The biggest payoff for following a spiritual path is the development of serenity. This is an inner sense of equanimity and peace that can be there regardless of what is happening in our lives. It means we can face the future without any fear, and we become a source of comfort for our friends and family. Serenity is developed through spiritual practices such as letting go, acceptance, and self-compassion.
Being spiritual is all about living life on life’s terms, and it requires the willingness to deal with whatever comes our way. It is about thinking less about ourselves and more about other people. Most of all, spirituality is about discovering what we are and not about trying to become something we are not.
“I think a spiritual journey is not so much a journey of discovery. It’s a journey of recovery. It’s a journey of uncovering your own inner nature. It’s already there.” Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins)
Spirituality and Addiction Recovery at Hope Rehab Center Thailand
How to Find Your Spiritual Path in Recovery
One of the things you need to understand about spirituality is that there is not one path you are required to follow. Maybe you will find great comfort by embracing a religion, or maybe you will find the same comfort without ever developing any real conception of God or anything metaphysical. There is no right or wrong spiritual path in recovery, there is only your path.
There are practices that are effective for promoting our spiritual side and one of these is meditation. The Indian religions of Buddhism and Hinduism are most strongly associated with this practice, but there is also a long history of meditation in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity – as well as pagan, Native American, and Aboriginal beliefs systems. Meditation is a way to quieten the mind in order to experience other states of consciousness and to escape the demands of the ego.
If you are going to be using a 12-step program, there is the suggestion you try to believe in a higher power. There is actually a great deal of flexibility in how you interpret this suggestion, and some people will view the power of the group as being their higher power. The important thing is not that you are believing in a specific interpretation of ‘God’, but that you stop believing you are in control and become willing to consider the possibility of something bigger.
Some of the other practices that can be useful as part of a spiritual path would include:
- Yoga – most people associate this with the physical poses, but it is a full spiritual system
- Tai-chi – is a type of moving meditation
- Walking in nature
- Reading spiritual books
- Prayer – you don’t even need to believe in a specific God to feel the benefit of prayer in your life
- Vegetarianism/Veganism can be a spiritual practice
- Developing loving-kindness
- Spending time with spiritual people
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