While it can provide you with purpose, support and inspiration for the future, talking about spirituality in recovery can be complicated. For starters, it’s not such an easy word to define- especially for those who don’t consider themselves religious.
“Spirituality is about more than just an ideology or a religious paradox,” explains Dr. Brooks, Chief People Officer at Addiction Campuses. “It’s an understanding and a connection to something that is bigger than us.”
Spirituality can be complex and fluid, but no matter if you are devoted to your faith or have never once attended a Sunday service, it can play a huge role in the addiction recovery process.
Are Spirituality And Religion The Same Thing?
While the two are often closely linked, spirituality does not need to be defined through the lens of religion. Religion is a set of beliefs, rituals or practices regarding a belief in God or multiple gods. On the other hand, spirituality is more of a personal search for meaning in life and a connection with the universe or something greater than ourselves.
Although some people share their spirituality through religion, this form of expression doesn’t work for everyone. Others practice their spirituality through meditation, yoga, tai chi, spending time in nature or any number of more holistic methods.
Regardless of how you choose to express your spirituality, your practice should always be grounded in love and compassion while guiding you closer to your purpose in life.
The Importance Of Spirituality In Recovery
“Addiction takes everything away from you, including your spirituality,” says Dr. Brooks. “It doesn’t care what your purpose is or what connections you have beyond yourself. It only cares about tearing you down.” While Dr. Brooks takes the time to explain the heartbreaking reality of addiction, he is quick to add that you can gain all of these elements and more back in recovery.
With these things in mind, he explains that rediscovering your spirituality can be the catalyst to finding your sense of self again after addiction. “During active addiction, your purpose in life was to feed your disease, but spirituality can restore your self-worth and give you a new sense of purpose,” he concludes.
Reconnecting with yourself on a spiritual level can also provide the mental and emotional support that’s so essential to a successful journey of recovery.
“Knowing that we have a place in the world is inspiring, but also humbling,” says Dr. Brooks. “It helps us to know that just because something is a problem today, there is always hope for the future.” It’s this hope for the future that Dr. Brooks knows will inspire those in recovery to make positive changes in their life.
Finding Spirituality In Recovery
In the beginning stages of recovery, Dr. Brooks sees that clients often struggle with their spirituality. “It can be hard to understand what spirituality really is sometimes, especially when we’ve lost it or have never had it before,” he says.
Despite this, he urges his clients to not give up on their spirituality- even when it feels non-existent. After years of experience, Dr. Brooks knows that spirituality often takes time, patience and practice to grow and develop.
“What I see a lot of people doing in order to find their spirituality is taking time for self-reflection every day,” he offers. “Anytime we can slow our thoughts to be more present in the moment and be intentionally connected with what’s going on around us, it opens up our eyes to a whole new view.”
In addition to taking time for yourself each day, Dr. Brooks recommends reading works from different spiritual thought leaders among varying ideologies. “Spirituality is not one size fits all,” he explains. “Each individual has to find what resonates with them at a core level.”
Beyond reading, Dr. Brooks suggests that you should have conversations with people who have various backgrounds and ideologies. Ask them to explain what their personal path to spirituality or faith has been and to address any concerns you have about your own spirituality. Not every conversation will resonate with you, but you can use this knowledge to begin guiding you through your journey of spirituality in recovery.
Lastly, Dr. Brooks emphasizes the importance of being open to new and different ways of connecting to your spirituality. What may have worked for you prior to active addition may not work for you in recovery, so don’t be scared to explore other methods.
“The reality is, our lives are going so fast all of the time,” he starts. “It’s so important to peel away from that in order to get quiet and be present in the moment. The clarity that comes from these times is where spirituality is born.”
Struggling With Spirituality In Recovery
Although spirituality may be a key element of recovery, it doesn’t come inherently to everyone in recovery- and that’s okay. If you’re struggling to find your spirituality, Dr. Brooks recommends sharing your concerns with someone else.
“You have to be intentional about being by yourself, but you also have to be intentional about sharing what you’re learning during that alone time with someone else,” he suggests. To do this most efficiently, Dr. Brooks often recommends that clients journal during their time spent alone. Afterwards, you can take these concerns, thoughts and questions to someone you trust in order to start seeking clarity.
If this doesn’t seem to be bringing you any closer to your spirituality, don’t give up. Spirituality requires you to be mindful of the ordinary moments, vulnerable to others, honest in your relationships and open to change– and these things take time and practice.
“Often, we’re working so hard to do and to create and to make and to accomplish that we miss the value of just being present in the moment,” Dr. Brooks concludes.