Spiritual Health and Recovery
Recovery, to be fully effective, requires a holistic approach, which is based on the notion that all parts of the person are interconnected. The process of treating addiction holistically involves physical detox, psychological support, emotional healing, and spirituality.
The meaning of spirituality is often misunderstood. Many think it is the same as religion and they apply the same level of scepticism they may have about religion to spirituality. Although all religions have spiritualism as part of faith, you can be ‘spiritual’ without being religious or a member of an organised religion.
Religion and spirituality differ in some significant ways. Religion is a specific set of organised beliefs and practices, usually shared by a community or group. On the other hand, spirituality has no prescribed values and instead aims to achieve a sense of peace, meaning and purpose through the process of developing beliefs around connecting with others.
Spirituality v Religion
The relationship between spirituality and religion can be compared to the game of football. Competitive football (religion) involves rules, referees, strips and club colours, etc. We play the game in a similar way that religion might guide us to find our spirituality. In contrast, kicking the ball around a park, without having to play on a proper pitch or follow the rules and regulations, can also give us enjoyment and fun while still expressing the essence of the game, similar to spiritual health. Some people may be both – religious and spiritual – but being religious doesn’t automatically make us spiritual, or vice versa.
Emotions and spirituality are distinct but linked, deeply intertwined with one another. In recovery, many practices recommended for nurturing spiritual health are similar to those used for improving emotional health because there is a connection between the two. Spirituality is about seeking a meaningful connection with something larger than ourselves through which we can achieve positive emotions, such as harmony, serenity, gratitude, and acceptance.
As with all other aspects of recovery, there are many ways to boost spirituality:
Expressing gratitude in recovery means truly appreciating the world around us. It is good practice to make daily lists of three to five things we are grateful for. It can be a person, an experience, or simply the sun rising every morning.
Mindfulness has recently cropped up in Western culture but has been practised for hundreds of years in other cultures. It involves focusing on all the details that make life so beautiful and appreciate them. Mindfulness can be sought through meditation, which involves a series of exercises that focus on breathing and clearing our mind.
Volunteering our time and resources for someone else is one of the best ways to look outside ourselves. Doing volunteer work channels our energy and time into something tangible. This generates a sense of purpose, reduces stress, and allows us to reconnect with others.
We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of spirituality in recovery. No matter how we access and develop our spiritual side, the improvements to mindset and, ultimately, our recovery are remarkable.