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  • Does Your Spirituality Need a Makeover?

    by Patrick Meninga

    Have you lapsed in terms of your spiritual growth lately? If so, is there a specific way that you can get your spiritual life back in order? How do you go about doing that?

    Anyone can get complacent in recovery. It happens to all of us. If you stay clean and sober for years or decades then it is inevitable that you will go through periods of time where you are distracted from your spiritual quest.

    Now, the interesting thing about that is that you have to define what “spiritual” means to you. And another interesting thing is that, over time, your definition of what “spiritual” means will probably change and evolve.

    During our recovery journey we are taking an active role in developing this spiritual life. And that might mean different things at various times. At one point you may think that this means you need to pray and meditate every day. At another time you may believe that you have to have deep faith, or practice acceptance. Or you may believe that you need to go to church.

    Everyone drifts away from that “spiritual center” at various times. Over the years you will inevitably have some periods of time where you stop pushing yourself so much. You stop the spiritual quest, if only temporarily. And so you may drift away from your practice of faith, from your higher power, from your daily rituals of prayer and meditation. During those times you become vulnerable.

    We do not get to choose when we are tempted by relapse. We are all going to be tested. If you stay sober and you stay alive then eventually you will be tested. You will face some ups and downs. It is a certainty. And so during those times you will either stay strong and maintain sobriety, or you will relapse. And this will depend on how much you are doing all of those things that you need to do in order to maintain your spiritual center.

    I think one of the most powerful tools for this is the daily practice.

    Your daily practice is what you do every day. You don’t question it, you just do it. Because you have established certain habits that you have decided are necessary in order to remain healthy in recovery. And some of those daily habits will be spiritual.

    I would urge you to look beyond the preconceived notions of what “spirituality” is and what it means. So look beyond the idea of prayer, meditation, going to church, having faith, and so on. Look beyond those ideas and realize that everything is spiritual. It is actually a holistic thing, this recovery approach.

    So in other words, if you are trying to “be more spiritual” but your health is poor and you are out of shape and you have poor eating habits then are you really being as spiritual as you can be? It’s all connected. So it is not just about prayer and meditation. It’s about taking care of yourself in every way possible. It’s about becoming a healthier version of yourself in every way. Not just spiritually, but also physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and so on. If one of these areas of your life is lacking then you are not being “as spiritual” as you can be.

    Talk to other people in recovery. Ask people what works for them, how they practice a spiritual life every day. Listen to the advice you are given. Act on that advice. That is the formula to get your spiritual growth kick started.

    Even better than asking for help and advice may be to offer help to others in recovery.

    This is, perhaps, the most powerful thing that you can do in terms of spiritual growth. This is what the twelfth step of AA is based on, the idea of service work, the idea of being useful to other human beings. If you can reach out and help other people then this will do wonders for your own health in recovery. There is nothing that can replace that amazing feeling that you get when you realize that you have made a positive impact on the lives of other people.

    So if you really want to jump start your spiritual growth then you need to find a way to reach out and be of service to others. If you want to protect yourself from relapse then the best thing you can do is to help other people to protect themselves from relapse.

    So does your spirituality need a makeover? You can tell the answer to that question based on how grateful you are lately. Do you feel grateful to the universe itself, just for the fact that you exist, that you can walk around and experience all of these amazing connections in life? If not, then you might challenge yourself to develop your gratitude a bit more, to start taking better care of yourself every day, to establish a daily practice that leads you to better health and happiness.

    The thing is, we all need a makeover in our spiritual lives at different points in our recovery. When we realize that, it is time to focus our efforts and get back to the daily actions that will lead us to a more spiritual life. Take some advice, take the suggestions, and start taking positive action every day.

    Excerpted and reprinted by kind permission of the author. The complete article and more of his writings on recovery can be found at www.spiritualriver.com.

    About the Authors

    Renascent Alumni
    Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.