While in active addiction, those now in recovery often found themselves using alcohol or substances in excess to fill a spiritual or emotional void. Even though achieving and maintaining long-term recovery solves many of the difficulties we faced while using, it does not always fill this void completely. This pain can jeopardize our sobriety if it is not tended to, so many people in long-term recovery fill the void by exploring their spirituality.
Spirituality focuses on a personal journey of seeking and exploration to find what resonates with an individual; it does not have to be tied to any organized religion or religious denomination. Spirituality emphasizes connection and is grounded in truth, kindness and love. Through this spiritual exploration and investigation, we strengthen and enhance our awareness, feelings and connections with ourselves, this world and the people around us.
There is a lot of healing and forgiveness we must give to others and ourselves in order to gain strength in our sobriety and find our true sense of belonging in recovery. This connection to the world is commonly found when one is immersed in nature, with others in their community or while exploring relationships with beings in the universe greater than ourselves. This can be done through mind-body exercises like meditation and yoga or can be as simple as spending time outside.
Meditation and yoga are both used to reduce stress and improve overall mental health. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Its initial intent was to help deepen our understanding of sacred and mystical forces while helping people reach states of relaxation and tranquility that can still aid with connections today. Yoga is also designed for self-healing and combines physical postures, breathing techniques, mindfulness and meditation to build strength and awareness in both body and mind.
If you are not quite ready for meditation or yoga, contemplative activities like immersing yourself in nature or journaling are wonderful places to start. Silently walking or sitting in nature can provide some of the solitude and stillness needed for deepening connections. Places like hiking trails, the beach, or local botanical gardens and parks provide a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere to think about the world. Journaling is another great activity that allows us to heal and deepen our connections through self-reflection; it helps us process daily activities and big life events in a healthy manner.
All these practices build vital recovery tools in the form of awareness and strength. These practices help us deepen our spirituality by forming meaningful connections, gaining a sense of gratitude, learning forgiveness and finding purpose. Exploring our spirituality also helps us remain positive, be thankful for recovery and make meaningful connections. Practicing gratitude can be done by repeating mantras or keeping a journal of what you are thankful for.
Mantras are words or phrases that are repeated to keep one focused on the moment while soothing anxiety. Someone in recovery could utilize this by repeating “strive for progress, not perfection” or “my best is good enough” every morning and night to increase self-esteem and self-love. Gratitude journals are another great tool. We use them to write down what we are thankful for daily. These journals can become a fun self-care activity by adding some creativity through drawings, collaging or other art.
Making meaningful connections is pertinent to recovery maintenance as well and can be done by becoming involved in recovery groups and volunteering. Recovery communities give members a sense of belonging and offer kinship to non-judgmental people who have experienced similar hardships. These communities can be a source of friends and confidants not only to lean on in challenging times but also to celebrate joyous seasons with.
Volunteering in the local community helps those in recovery make connections and restore their sense of belonging, too. Engaging with those who need help in the community is social and interactive. It makes the volunteer face harsh realities while positively engaging the world and its people. If you are interested in volunteering, there are many community service boards available with service opportunities, as well as online platforms that match volunteers with causes they are passionate about.
Regardless of the way one chooses to explore their spirituality, this exploratory journey is beneficial to those of us in recovery. Deepening our connection with the world in some way helps us shift our attitudes and outlooks on life for the better while giving us an increased ability to share and communicate our authentic selves through an improved well-being.