Some people consider addiction a spiritual disease, so for many the obvious response would be to develop a spiritual practice. Spirituality isn’t just some mysterious, otherworldly phenomenon that only happens in a formal worship service; it’s our life force, our energetic footprint in the world and our sense of connection with the big “All There Is.” Spirituality is wholeness. It’s our entire being — body and soul, hopes and dreams, as well as pain and suffering — all in one package.
Prayer and meditation, service work, and rigorous honesty are important in building a vital spiritual life. But there are other practices that we don’t often think of as spiritual, that are also key in healing addiction. Attitudes, beliefs and practices that strengthen our life force, also strengthen our spirit and energize our commitment to getting well.
Being in touch with your spirit is the essence of life — the essence of healing and recovery.
Here are 7 suggestions for keeping your spirit strong, increasing your chances of a quality recovery and generally making life worth living again:
1. Cultivate down time.
Our central nervous system has two basic modes — rest cycle and action cycle. We heal only during our rest cycle. Chronic over-doing, anxiety, anger and fear all create stress, and stress compromises our life ability to regenerate. Stress without adequate restoration depletes our energy.
Our spirit suffers and we can make bad decisions. Recovery is about healing body, mind and spirit AND making good choices. It’s about cultivating coolness. When our action/rest cycles are balanced, our spirit is strong.
2. Spend time in nature.
Many of us tend to think of nature as something we walk around on, look out the window at, or somewhere we go on the weekends. But we ARE nature, meaning we are made of the same chemicals and compounds as the earth.
Find a place to be outside that relaxes your body and renews your spirit — sit by a lake, lean against a tree, pet a dog, love your cat, hike in the woods, or walk outside with your children. Housebound? No problem. Just sit by the window and watch the birds fly by. You get it.
3. Clarify your values and beliefs.
Recovery is about cleaning house on the inside and out. It’s a time of assessment with the very real possibility for transformation. What do you want to bring with you as you step into this new time in your life? It’s OK to change your mind about things. It’s OK to take on new beliefs, see new possibilities, and chose a new attitude.
Coming to new awareness — being open rather than in lockdown — is a spiritual practice. It’s about trusting Life.
4. Remember how to play.
Letting go of addiction when it’s been a main source of recreation isn’t going to be fun. But remember that it probably stopped being fun a while back or you wouldn’t be quitting, right? Remembering how to have fun should be easy, but there is a learning curve to getting back into this healthy habit.
Knowing that it won’t always seem like the hounds of hell are closing in on you, will eventually restore you to sanity! In the meantime, hang out with people who know how to have fun in the clean and sober way.
5. Practice gratitude.
Thinking "thank you" thoughts will shift awareness of what you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have. It creates positive energy inside of you and all around you. Addiction thrives on negativity. Instead of commiserating with your inner grouch, make a gratitude journal and say "thank you" often.
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a powerful defense against addictive behavior. It also boosts your immune system, normalizes blood pressure and makes a hundred other healthy adjustments in your mind, body and spirit.
6. Unleash your imagination.
Your spirit is curious and creative. Investigate ideas or activities that interest you. Try something new that you’ve been intending to do but haven’t gotten around to yet. Begin by respecting yourself as you are, in this moment, with all your imagined inadequacies.
From that point of acceptance, all things are possible. If there is something about you that you have trouble accepting, imagine how you would feel if you could magically just accept it.
7. Just breathe!
Inspiration is the intake of spirit. It’s our spiritual connection. When in doubt, breathe! When anxious, breathe. When you're scared, breathe. And when tempted ... just breathe! Six deep breaths will improve the conditions in your internal world. Six more make it even better. Just keep breathing, no matter what!
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