“We begin to realize that it will take something more powerful than we are to relieve our suffering. This is what we’ve been missing all along – a source of hope.” ~ Marta Mrotek, Miracle in Progress: a Handbook for Holistic Recovery The hardest step on the road to recovery from addiction is admitting that you have a problem and need help. That’s understood. The disease of addiction doesn’t want to let you go. But for many substance abusers starting their own sober journey, connecting with a Higher Power is almost as hard.
Why is Spirituality in Recovery So Important?
By whatever name you choose to use – Higher Power, Spirituality, the Universe, or even God – this concept is critically important to a successful recovery. Put simply, your own personal Higher Power is something bigger than and outside of yourself. There are several advantages to tapping into a Higher Power:
- It lets you feel connected to something – you are not alone in your struggles.
- It helps you to be calm and emotionally “still” when you are facing difficulties.
- It allows you to free yourself of the notion that you are in control.
The last advantage – freedom from the illusion of control – is probably the biggest benefit that you can realize when you’re able to connect with your Higher Power. Active addicts and alcoholics live their lives with the mistaken idea that they are able to control things that, quite frankly, are beyond the – other people’s reactions, the future, and, most especially, our drinking and/or drugging. In the end, the only thing that any of us can truly control is our own actions. When we are in touch with our Higher Power, we are able to change the things in our lives that we can, and “give up” or accept, those things that are beyond our control. We free ourselves of the responsibility… and stress… and the burden of vainly trying to exert control where we have none. In other words, we become ready to receive the help that we need.
Practical Tips for Tapping into Your Higher Power
Your relationship with your Higher Power is highly personal and unique to your experience, but there are some things you can do that will make it easier to find what you are looking for:
- Keep an open mind – Cynicism, skepticism, and stubbornness serve you poorly during recovery.
- Learn to pray – This is important, even if you are agnostic or atheist. Praying lets you truly express what is on your mind – your daily struggles, triumphs, failures, hopes, and questions. Think of prayer as your way of talking to the Universe.
- Practice meditation –Learning to focus your attention inward will allow you to be truly aware of where you are in the moment – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – so you can make any adjustments that you need. If prayer is talking, then meditation is your way of listening to the Universe.
- Help other people –This goes back to feeling a connection. Helping someone automatically brings you closer to other people, and you will be able to draw strength and inspiration from that closeness.
- Continue to look for new ways of understanding – No matter how earnestly you search, it is impossible for you to completely know and understand your Higher Power, hence the term “greater than yourself”. But while you may never achieve the perfection that comes from having all of your questions answered, you can still continually move forward and improve by virtue of your efforts.
But How Do I Find a Higher Power If I’m Atheist or Agnostic?
One of the most beautiful things about trying to connect with a Higher Power is the fact that it doesn’t require a belief in an actual deity. You only have to connect with a “God of YOUR understanding”, and that can mean anything on which you can rely:
- The goodness of Human Nature
- The fellowship and love you receive from people in your therapy or 12-Step groups
- The science behind the recovery process
- Or anything that is greater than yourself.
Practicing spirituality during recovery will help restore all of those things that addiction can take from you – connection with others, hope, tranquility, acceptance, peace of mind, and most of all, serenity.