The idea of using spiritual practices to help people stay away from alcohol and drugs is not new. In fact all of the different 12 step groups have this as a fundamental principle. The tools of spirituality are open for anyone to use no matter which path they choose in recovery. It is recommended that the individual experiments with these spiritual practices until they find what works best for them.
Spirituality can be defined as an inner path enabling a person to discover his/her being. Spiritual practices then might be described as those that help the individual discover who they really are. These practices can be tools that allow the individual to develop within their religion or the person can follow a more personal journey. There are some people who use these spiritual tools almost purely for the way in which it can benefit their life today rather than trying to achieve some type of transcendence.
There are numerous benefits to be had if the individual decides to take up spiritual practices in recovery such as:
* These techniques can help the individual cope better with the trials and tribulations of life. It gives them the ability to control their emotions and fears – this is particularly important for those who are dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of early recovery.
* Spiritual practices can mean that the individual is given a boost each day. Even just 10 minutes spent with these techniques will mean that the person is better able to get the most from their day.
* Tools such as meditation allow the individual to find clarity no matter how turbulent their life becomes. Those who practice meditation daily usually find that this clarity follows them into daily life.
* It means that people can sleep better at night and wake up feeling refreshed. Taking up even one spiritual practice may be enough to cure insomnia.
* These techniques can lead to increased happiness and contentment. The individual in recovery can even reach a stage where they feel generally content now matter what is happening in their life – this is referred to as serenity.
* It can make the individual a much better mother, father, son, daughter, worker, friend, or member of the community.
* Those people who have some type of spiritual practice are probably less likely to relapse back to alcohol and drugs.
* It is claimed that spiritual paths can lead to feelings of transcendence and possibly even enlightenment.
* It helps the individual lift their mood without the need to resort to alcohol or drugs. Spirituality means enjoying a natural high that has no negative side effects.
* When people first give up an addiction to mind altering substance it can appear as if their life now has no meaning. The spiritual path can give real meaning to the person’s life.
* A common reason for why people fall into addiction in the first place is their character flaws. These spiritual practices can allow the individual to begin eliminating these flaws – this is likely to be a lifelong task.
* These techniques can help the person live longer by keeping their stress at manageable levels. Stress has been linked with many types of physical and emotional illness.
There are a diverse number of spiritual practices and this means that there is something to suit almost every temperament. It may even be possible to turn almost any activity into a spiritual one if people approach it with mindfulness. The different types of spiritual practice that people can try include:
* Mindfulness meditation is a non judgmental form of awareness where the individual is completely focused on the present moment.
* Gratitude means that the individual is able to acknowledge the good things that they have in their life. This is one of the most effective spiritual practices for people recovering from an addiction.
* Loving kindness meditation (metta meditation) is another important spiritual tool for those who are recovering from an addiction. It gives the individual the ability to not only forgive other people for any transgressions but equally important they learn how to forgive and love themselves.
* Prayer is one of the most well known of all the spiritual practices – particularly for those who come from Judeo Christian backgrounds. It is a type of spiritual communication between the individual and their concept of a higher power.
* Creative work like painting, writing, or making music can be spiritual practices.
* Some people use their dreams as a chance to enhance their spiritual life. In order to do this type of practice it is recommended that the person learns how to astral travel/ lucid dream.
* Helping other people is another recommended spiritual practice for people recovering from an addiction. It is well recognized that those who engage in some type of service in recovery are more likely to stay sober.
It is claimed that those who are grateful for their recovery will never relapse back to addiction. This is because those who do return to alcohol or drugs will usually have done so after becoming disillusioned with recovery or when they took their sobriety for granted. The benefit of gratitude is that it keeps people feeling positive and motivated. It also means that they do not forget what awaits them if they ever did decide to relapse back to their addiction. Not only does gratitude make staying sober easy, but it also means that the individual is able to appreciate all the good things that come their way. By being grateful it almost guarantees that there will be more to feel good about in the future.
Learning to forgive in recovery is necessary if people wish to find true happiness. This is because there will be little progress if the individual is full of bitterness and resentment. The person not only has to let go of their grudges against other people, but they also have to learn how to forgive themselves. This is because shame and guilt can cripple people in sobriety. If the individual is unable to forgive their own transgressions they will not feel that they deserve happiness in life. The effect of this is that they will constantly sabotage their own efforts to find happiness. In order to develop the ability to forgive themselves they will also need to offer the same forgiveness to other people – by doing so it will lighten their load in life because holding onto a grudge can be hard work. It is usually not possible for people to just immediately let go of all the animosity they have towards people who hurt them in the past. Forgiveness is a process and the most important thing is that the individual is aiming towards this.
Some people see creativity as a form of spiritual practice. The individual is allowing their art to be a vehicle by which they connect with something higher than them. This can mean that the person can create in ways they would never have previously imagined. The other great thing about this type of spiritual practice is that it can provide all the benefits of meditation because the individual is so focused on what they are doing.
In countries like Japan they have known for centuries how to turn all their daily activities into spiritual practices. A good example of this would be the tea ceremony. This is way of preparing tea that turns it into an art form – the person doing the preparation maintains constant mindfulness throughout the process. There is nothing inherently special about making tea, but it is a demonstration of how mindfulness can make even the most mundane tasks into spiritual pursuits. It is also possible to mindfully wash the dishes or take the dog for a walk. One of the nicest things about this type of spiritual practice is that it can make even boring tasks become rewarding. Those who are worried about their weight can also use mindful eating as a means to keep this in check.
Mindfulness is a spiritual practice that involves purposely paying attention to the present moment. This means that the individual is completely focused on what they are doing now and not thinking about the past or worrying about the future. When the person is doing something they really enjoy they will be naturally mindful. The problem is that for the rest of the time people can be lost in their heads. It is not necessary to sit in a certain position or learn any mantras to be mindful. The individual can be mindful no matter what they’re doing so long as they remember to focus on what is there right now. By doing this the individual will be able to turn almost any activity into a spiritual one.
Those people who belong to a religious community will usually have plenty of spiritual resources available to them. They will also have a context in which they can understand the value of the practices. It is not necessary to belong to any particularly religious faith in order to benefit from spiritual practices. For some people their spirituality is a feeling of connection with the grandeur of the universe. The best advice is to approach these practices with an open mind to see what works and what doesn’t work.