Is spirituality the same as religion?
If you want it to be, yes. Some people may feel more comfortable following the particular doctrine of an organized religion. They appreciate its ritualistic order and history. They also embrace the concept of a higher power to which they can release their troubles to, align with the provided guidance, and find solace in a common fellowship of others who believe the same way.
Other individuals might be spiritualistic, in that they seek out meaning for their existence and their connection to others. People who subscribe to a religion certainly may do this as well, but the parameters aren’t as broad. People who define themselves as spiritual without religious tenets are frequently more interested in universal awareness, the various expressions of interconnectivity, and pursuits that expand these qualities.
Spiritual wellness is often a vital component of recovery, because it demonstrates someone’s ability to form a healthful community. It reinforces self-love in a positive, less ego-centric way, which enables you to engage with others more authentically. Spirituality can help you be happier, have a better understanding of purpose, and deal with negative thoughts and behaviors.
However, it’s imperative for someone to considering aspects of spirituality to find a truly individual path. This is when talking with a spiritual advisor may help.
Seeking Spiritual Guidance
For people in recovery, one of the most common forms of spirituality in action is through a 12-Step program. Most of the major organizations acknowledge a higher power as the first step in the program, and relate aspects to that particular entity, often unnamed.
Some people even chose their aftercare resource based on a certain denomination. For example, Celebrate Recovery is a 12-Step program grounded in guidelines of Christianity. People who prefer not to have any religious connotation associated with a relapse prevention program may choose something more like Secular Organizations for Sobriety or SMART Recovery.
Talking about addiction with a spiritual advisor doesn’t mean you have to follow that particular religion, or have religion at all. However, you should have respect for the advisor’s belief system, and recognize from what dogma his or her philosophy is rooted. Advisors have different ways of communicating. Some may be able to create more modern, relatable connections, while others might provide grounded tome-based structure.
You might be able to talk with a spiritual advisor about addiction recovery in the following settings:
- At a 12-Step meeting, which are often hosted in churches, synagogues, temples, and other places of worship.
- In a shelter, such as for homeless or transitional individuals and families.
- At a sober living center or continuing care group.
- In a confessional, like at a Catholic church.
- At an informational meeting about a practice, such as a Zen Buddhist meditation session.
- In a community center, like those for senior citizens, teenagers, and individuals in marginalized demographics.
- In specialized communities, such as White Bison, which caters to Native Americans; Women for Sobriety; or veterans’ events hosted by the Veteran Administration’s Center for Faith and Opportunity.
It may seem awkward at first to trust someone who’s probably a stranger about something so personal. You might feel that you’ll be judged or talked down to, or that there’s an implication that you’ve done something wrong.
Keep in mind that most spiritual advisors want to do whatever they can to provide tools for healing. If you’ve not had positive spiritual experiences in the past—or any at all, for that matter—this approach might seem a bit unusual. But in the true nature of support for personal growth, this individual has a vested interest in your wellbeing, as your health feeds into the community we all share.
Topics of Discussion
Some of the best conversations about living healthfully are often a casual exchange of ideas, without a particular agenda. If you’d like more structured input, consider the following questions when talking with a spiritual advisor:
- In what ways can being more grounded in spirituality help me process negative thoughts and feelings?
- I don’t want to think of cravings or the temptations to succumb to compulsive behavior as a “good vs. evil” thing—is this always the way it is in religion?
- What is gratitude? How can it help me become happier and healthier?
- How does religion or spirituality provide me with coping mechanisms when I feel stressed?
- Was I “meant” to have this problem?
- What lessons should I learn from this experience? How can I help others as a result?
These are merely examples of conversation topics. Your individual goals and the teachings you’re willing to explore will open up many other opportunities.
Supportive Guidance at Willingway
Willingway’s philosophy of care is to provide you with whatever you need to maintain a healthful life rich with purpose and possibility. This includes fostering a unified connection between mind, body, and spirit. From comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation to extensive outpatient support, we help you develop the means to live within whatever form of spiritual wellness matters most to you.