How can I be more Spiritual in my Recovery? This is a question that most recovering addicts and alcoholics start asking themselves early on in their recovery. We sober up, start going to meetings, and find out that the whole key to overcoming our addiction is the spiritual experience.
The people around the tables of AA and NA have convinced us that it’s not so much about God (and religion) as it is about spirituality and living a set of spiritual principles. So now that we are clean and sober and willing to learn this new way of life, how exactly can we become more spiritual? A couple suggestions based on my experience:
1) Work the steps – The 12 steps of AA and NA are a “shortcut” to enhanced spirituality….although that is not to say that working the steps is necessarily easy or trivial. But they do offer a foolproof blueprint that anyone can follow to start incorporating spiritual principles into their lives. Simply concentrating on the first three steps can work wonders for an addict early in recovery. The third step is a give all unto itself that can transform your life if you give yourself over to it.
2) Help others – whether it be volunteering at the soup kitchen, or helping your neighbor clean out his garage, you’ll feel better about yourself if you can take some positive action to make other people’s lives a little better.
3) Twelve Step Work – This is where the real magic happens in recovery….when you can actually reach out and help a struggling addict or alcoholic in the same way that someone once helped you. If you need an idea to get you kick started, try getting involved with H&I meetings that take AA and NA meetings into institutions like jails and treatment centers. Helping others to recover is super powerful for your own well-being.
4) Stop comparing yourself to others – Just be. If someone you look up to has 30 years of sobriety and is your idea of a “spiritual guru,” stop comparing yourself to them. You are on your own path. Or to put it another way, you are right where you need to be. Strive for spiritual progress at your own pace.
5) Meditate – maybe once a day. You don’t have to go perch in a mountain cave for 8 hours to reap the benefits of simple meditation.
6) Get a daily reading book – Such as “Just for Today” or Hazelden’s “24 Hour a Day” book. These books have an entry for each day of the year. Read it each morning and try to incorporate the teaching at least once throughout your day.
8) Work on developing gratitude – if you are really in a funk, sit down and force yourself to write out a gratitude list.
9) Eliminate self-pity – which is really spirituality in reverse. Self-pity is just more self-centeredness. Get over your problems for a moment by reaching out to others.
10) Connect with nature – go take a walk through the woods and reconnect with the outdoors. Try to go slow and appreciate the beauty in things.
These are just a few suggestions to get you started, really. Another idea is to ask others in recovery how they have developed spiritually. Ask them what they do to “get connected” when they are feeling down or out of sorts. And remember this: just having this awareness–that you are actively trying to develop spiritually–will do wonders for your progress.
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