My mother was raised in a convent. My father painted churches, and not just the walls. For over sixty years, he was the artist that painted the beautiful paintings of the Blessed Mother, Christ, and various saints on the walls, ceilings, and behind the altars of churches in the tri-state area.
To say I was raised Catholic is an understatement. I believed everything I was taught, until the day in fourth grade that Father Alex came into my class and told all of us that the stories in the Bible were fables.
After that, I questioned everything and believed nothing. For years I visited churches of different denominations searching for a religion in which I could believe. At a low point in my addiction in my early years, I became a born-again Christian. That worked for a while, and I stayed clean. But, it did not last. I not only struggled with substance abuse, but also with my quest to find God. When my mother prayed to her Jesus, part of me ridiculed her, thinking it is weak to pray to something that is not real. Yet, deep within, I wished I could have this belief that came so easily to others. In my quest for truth, I majored in Philosophy and attained an MA in Philosophy of Religion.
“None of this brought me any closer to having a belief in something that I could hold true in my heart.”
When I walked into the rooms of AA, and heard all of the talk about a “higher power,” I thought they were all a bunch of holy rollers. I’ll admit, I was scared of all the “God” talk. I had no belief in a higher power, even though I knew something existed out there. I don’t know if it was AA, or sobering up and getting clear, or a combination of both, but it wasn’t until after some clean time that I finally understood. Religion and spirituality are not the same. You can have one and not the other. They do not necessarily have to be intertwined. I couldn’t find any religion that I could believe in wholeheartedly, but I could give spirituality a try.
I learned how to meditate when I was young, and meditated my way right out of a back brace. When the doctors wanted to put a back brace on me for my scoliosis right after I got braces on my teeth, I thought, hell no. I taught myself to meditate. Every day I would focus on my spine, each and every vertebra. I felt its twists and turns. I focused on straightening my spine with my mind and meditation. By the time I went to my next appointment, my curve had straightened by more than five degrees. It worked! I no longer qualified for a back brace. What I did not know at the time was that I had found the beginning of my spiritual journey.
The role of spirituality in recovery is essential because it brings us back to who we are, to our center. After some sober time, I took up meditating again. Many people say that they do not know how to meditate, or cannot meditate. Meditation is different for everyone. Some people may find calmness by looking at the sky, or the ocean, or taking a walk in the woods. Some people find their spirituality in deep breathing, or saying prayers. Some may meditate to ‘see’ things that are not of this world. There is no wrong way to meditate.
There are many reasons to meditate. We gain internal insight and mindfulness. We let go of anger and hatred, and gain peace and serenity. We get clarity. When baffled about a relationship, a job, or just about anything, our first instinct is to talk about it. We talk and talk and talk. This is not a bad thing, but sometimes the people we are talking to may not be the best people to help us reach a solution. The solution is there, within us. Spirituality is getting quiet with ourselves and finding the answers for our lives that have been there all along. We were just too busy, too high, or too drunk to listen.
Spirituality plays an important role in recovery because it gives us a sense of peace and purpose. It is an individual practice, so no one can tell us that we are doing it wrong. It also relates to developing our own belief system about the meaning of our life and our connection to others. Once we find our spiritual essence, using drugs and running from problems and stress no longer can take a hold of us because we have found our center. No one can take that away, ever.
It has long been said that addiction effects the mind, body, and spirit. The physical effects of drug and/or alcohol abuse are easy to see because they are outward. It shows in our appearance, our hair, our eyes, and our skin. The effect on the mind is that consistent substance abuse changes the chemical balance in our brains, leading to addiction, which in essence is brain disease. The spiritual factor may be the most difficult to ‘see’ because it cannot be x-rayed. Only we intuitively know that we must do something to gain back spiritual ground. Spirituality plays a key role because it is part of the balance system within human beings. When any one of these factors are off, it can lead us right back into addiction. When our body, mind, and soul are aligned, we are healthy.
Spirituality does not have to be some difficult thing that we have to learn. Finding our spiritual ground is essential not only in recovery, but also in living a peaceful, content life. Breathe deep, get centered, and listen. Whatever brings you to your center is your spirituality. Once this is gained, the need for substances lessens, as does the need to search for happiness outside ourselves.
Are you looking for addiction treatment? Contact us today at (877) 958-0778 to find out more about our Georgia inpatient drug rehab. Recovery is possible, and the professionals at Twin Lakes Recovery Center can get you on the right path.