When I first got sober, I was so confused about spirituality and religion. Having grown up with parents who were missionaries, I was introduced from an early age to a religion that I didn’t understand and a God that I felt was rather impersonal to me. I thought that most religious people were hypocrites and at the time I had trouble separating the idea of religion from God. I had finally hit my bottom both emotionally and spiritually, and for me, rock bottom was a beautiful place to start my new life.
To me, God and religion were synonymous and to separate the two was blasphemous and impossible. But then I was introduced to some simple ideas when I first got sober that helped me to get over a lot of my resentments towards God and start to build a spiritual practice of my own.
The first thing that was introduced to me that was revolutionary to my way of thinking was that I could have my relationship with God. This relationship meant that I could relate to God the way that I wanted to and that I didn’t have to talk to him, or her if you like, in thousand-year-old prayers that I didn’t understand. I could talk to God the way that I wanted to.
I was also introduced to the idea that no two people can have the same relationship with God, so whichever way that I chose to partake in this relationship was all right. I remember the first time that I heard this; I was blown away. The person said to me, think of it this way. You have a relationship with your mother, and your father has a relationship with your mother as well. Your mother is the same person, but the way that the two of you relate to her is very different. This was something that I could get behind, and it helped me to break some old thoughts that I had about God and create new ones that made more sense to me.
One of the first spiritual practices that I started to do was prayer. In the beginning, they were very simple prayers, and that was all that was needed. I would wake up in the morning and ask God to help keep me sober throughout the day, and when I went to bed at night, I would say thank you God for keeping me sober.
My sponsor told me that was all that was necessary for me to make a start. I didn’t have to have long drawn out conversation with him, or speak in tongues, but rather I could just say, please help and thank you.
From this point, my prayer life has evolved over the years but the basics remain the same, I speak to God like he is a friend and I don’t make things too formal. Sometimes I get on my knees to pray, but most of the time I do not and I believe that God is okay with that.
Another spiritual practice that I began to integrate into my life was meditation. I will admit that I am not the best with this one, and my meditation practice is sporadic at best, but when I do meditate I once again try to keep it simple.
In the beginning, I could not sit quietly for very long and so I would try to meditate for just 5 minutes at a time. I would go on YouTube and find five-minute meditation music, and then I would sit and focus on my breathing. This is a very simple practice to incorporate into your life, and the benefits of meditation are widely documented by psychologists and doctors.
Another great spiritual practice to help support my recovery is journaling, or inventory taking depending on how you look at it. On the surface, this may not seem like a spiritual practice, but I assure you that it is. Not only does journaling act as a form of meditation, because writing slows the mind down, but the basis behind journaling is self-honesty, which is among the most basic of spiritual principles.
The ability to accurately see yourself and your actions is a great way to grow as a person and in your relationship with God because I believe that we cannot relate to God as someone other than who we are. This is why for so many years I could never feel his presence because I was always attempting to be someone else. I was dishonest and caught up in my addiction, and so I couldn’t see to find him.
Lastly, and this is an important spiritual practice to try to incorporate into your recovery, is helping others. Helping other people, whether that is in recovery or out of recovery is just about the most spiritual thing that a human being can do. The act of giving of yourself not only makes you feel good, because altruism does feel good, but it also gives you purpose and direction. Purpose and direction are something that many of us lacked when we were in our addictions, and I found mine in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous by helping other people. Helping others makes me feel closer to God, and I always sleep better at night when I know I have helped someone that day.
If you are just making a start in your recovery and you are worried about building a spiritual practice of your own, remember just to take it easy and keep it simple. Spirituality does not need to be complicated. You don’t need to meditate for an hour a day and perform rituals to talk to God, but you can simply just talk and sit quietly for as long as you can. These are the things that I did in the beginning, and they work, so give them a try, and you’ll be surprised at the outcome.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.
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