Kimberley L. Berlin, LSW, CSAC, SAP, NCRC1
When it comes to that moment of surrender, that moment when the world stops turning and time stands still and all that we know is something has to change – we have touched a deep spiritual connection that is hard to define and hard to explain.
Spiritual recovery isn’t for everyone. But even the most hardened atheist would agree that to achieve a certain quality in ones recovery – means engaging in a spiritual process. Many will say that the Christian rituals are the only way to go. But as with many faiths, there are many paths.
Why a spiritual path?
Addiction does something to our core – it eats away like woodworms to an ancient piece of furniture – snaking through the warp and weave until nothing is left but a hollowed out frame.
Addiction robs us of dignity, of self respect, of self confidence and of our sense of who we are and what our purpose is. It steals like a thief in a crowded market place – while we are being dazzled by the distraction of the drugs or alcohol or both, it is reaching into our bag of life and taking everything we rely on to function.
One of the remedies that is emphasized by experts, long term recovering addicts, scientists, and treatment centers is to re-connect to that place or time in our life before it all went wrong. Connecting to the knowledge of that space and bringing it forward to our current situation. And then moving on to our future lives.
For some it is faith. For some it is a belief. Or a practice:
- Light a candle.
- Light a stick of incense.
- Place a fresh cut flower in a vase with reverence.
- Kneel in the sanctum of silence in a church and acknowledge all the gifts received.
- Walk in nature and smell the green, breathe deep the whirring air left by honey bees or a hummingbird.
- Sit by a river or the ocean and listen to the wisdom imparted by the water.
- Touch your heart by touching kindness and offering it to others.
- Step into this moment with all the grace that sobriety gives us.
Spiritual recovery engages us at the level of the divine. One merely looks out to the edge of the universe and feels the wonder of our place within it. Or perhaps, a single pebble by a brook holds the secret of millennia. That cloud hovering silently against a brilliant blue sky that catches your attention. Who is to say that these moments don’t hold a whisper to Grace?
In part it is taking a moment to be outside of ourselves; in part it is exercising the muscle of our awareness. Stopping our busy-ness of days and the endless chatter of our internal dialogue to take a few moments to be. Even in the noise of a major city there is quiet.
We can read a book. We can travel to a quiet retreat. We can offer ourselves a weekend away to learn, and grow. We can create a space within our home that resonates with reverence. We can wash dishes in prayer. Or pull weeds with love. Even being stuck in traffic is an opportunity to engage in spiritual practice – blessing everyone in all the other cars who are similarly frustrated that they are going nowhere in a line of endless cars.
We go to meetings and we find fellowship. Connecting with others, no matter who they are, is a spiritual act. We trudge a road together that brings us to a happy destiny – one of personal renewal and growth. We change. It is inevitable to change when the drugs and the alcohol are discontinued, but the meaningful change that brings long lasting happiness requires work of a different kind. It requires that we surrender to the fight of our suffering, and we embrace the compassion and love of ourselves.
There may be resistance, there may be struggle; but setting an intention toward growth, making ourselves better, and a willingness to release our preconceived notions of what spirituality is all about can actually help to end the pain of struggle and the frustration of resistance.
Challenge yourself. Stretch your mindset. Think outside of the box that you have created for yourself.
We are infinitely capable and creative beings – we have begun to reach the edges of our universe. Now it is time to reach the edges of our inner dimensions that know no end.
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Resources for Spiritual Recovery:
Jon Kabat-Zinn “Wherever You Go, There You Are.” Hyperion Publishers.
Thich Nhat Hanh “The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation.” Beacon Press
Karen Armstrong “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life” Knopf publishers.
Brian D. McLaren “Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in Twelve Simple Words” HarperOne Press
Jack Kornfield “A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating a Path Through Difficult Times” Sounds True
Places to Retreat:
- Omega Institute for Holistic Studies – offers year round retreats, workshops, and education to “awaken the best in the human spirit.” (Rhinebeck, NY)
- Kripalu Yoga Center: Residential workshops, professional training, and retreats in yoga, holistic health, and self-discovery. (Stockbridge, MA)
- Episcopal Retreat Centers.
- Mercy by the Sea. (Stockbridge, CT)
- Shambhala Mountain Center. (Red Feather Lakes, CO)
- Franciscan Renewal Center. (Scottsdale, AZ)