Okay, you got sober, congrats! By now, you are probably starting to feel better, think more clearly, be getting better sleep, and getting used to the whole, clean and sober thing. The next step is the steps. No easy feat, but worth it? Absolutely!
Something to keep in mind, you are going to be expected to become, dare we say it, spiritually minded! No, not like a nun or a guru, let’s be honest, progress, not perfection. However, staying clean and sober does revolve around the idea that we will experience what the steps call, a “spiritual awakening”. Let me explain…
According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, a spiritual awakening or experience is defined as, “…The personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself…” or in other words, we stop thinking and acting the way we used to. When the original writers of the Big Book spoke of spirituality, they definitely did not intend that we sit alone in meditation for hours every day, contemplating the meaning of life.
What they DID mean, is that we experienced a complete psychic change, in the way we see ourselves and the world around us. That spiritual awakening or experience is promised to occur as a result of thoroughly and honestly working the 12 steps.
So, if you are ready to get started on your spiritual journey, here are 5 helpful ways to get the ball rolling!
Get Started on the Steps!
If you’ve heard it once, you’ll probably hear it a million more times. The best way to experience that spiritual psychic change is to do the work. The reason why the steps bring about a psychic change is how they are laid out and what they are designed to do. Bare with me:
- Step 1: Accepting that we need help! (a definitely uncomfortable thing to do)
- Step 2: Considering the possibility of something out there that can help us! (a potentially uncomfortable thing to do)
- Step 3: Getting willing to let that outside thing help us (probably still uncomfortable and most likely confusing)
- Step 4: Cleaning the skeletons out of the closet! (Definitely, an uncomfortable thing to do!)
- Step 5: Telling our sponsor and our HP about the skeletons (uncomfortable but rewarding!)
- Step 6: Feeling okay with who we used to be, and being ready to try to be better every day (not uncomfortable, very enjoyable actually!)
- Step 7: Asking that Higher Power for help in being better every day (maybe a little awkward but actually quite relieving)
- Step 8: Getting ready to right the wrongs of our past (feels nerve-wracking but also exciting!)
- Step 9: Making those amends, healing relationships, doing the grown-up thing! (sometimes uncomfortable, but always turns out exactly as it should!)
- Step 10: Being able to go over our day and accept and be grateful!
- Step 11: Learning how to tap into our spirituality a little more every day
- Step 12: Helping others get sober, continuing to try and be better every day, and continuing to explore our spirituality!
There are two main reasons I write the steps like this. The first is to simplify them, they can seem pretty intimidating on the wall sometimes. The second is to show the growth process of your spirituality through working them! Take a look at how each of the early steps is pretty uncomfortable. This is usually because we are feeling pretty uncomfortable just being ourselves in the days of early sobriety when we are working those steps.
However, as we stay sober, and continue working, each step gets a little easier and a lot more uplifting to do. As we discover our Higher Power through the steps, we also peel away layers of ourselves, which allows us to accept, love, and find that peace in ourselves, or in other words, spirituality!
Look for Ways to Help Others
If you look at any of the world’s spiritual healers or practitioners (Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Jesus, etc.) they all have one thing in common; Doing Unto Others. Living a life of selfishness is characteristic of addiction. Recovery, on the other hand, is focused around service work and being there for other people in our lives.
Sometimes, it can seem like a chore, but after we reach out or help someone else through something, we always find that we have a newfound respect, gratitude, or humility in our day, especially if we were all wrapped up in worry, anger, or anxiety beforehand.
You don’t have to go searching for people on the street who need rescuing, but instead, try reaching out your hand and making a newcomer feel welcome at a meeting, call a family member or friend you haven’t spoken to in a while and ask about their day, check out a local homeless or animal shelter to see if they could use some extra help, or even picking up some litter around the neighborhood. Whatever floats your boat, but being of service gets us outside of ourselves and into the solution!
Just as important for caring for others, is ensuring that we are also in a healthy state. Not every day is going to be the best day, because we are human and we have emotions! An important aspect of spirituality is ensuring that our temple is well maintained.
We have to make sure we are getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, getting physical exercise, and healing emotionally. It’s similar to what they say on airplanes, be sure to secure your own oxygen mask first so that you are able to help another!
When we get sober, we are often presented with an amazing second chance at life. That life can get pretty crazy sometimes, so we have to ensure that we are taking care of ourselves. When we are stressed, burnt out, overtired, or hungry, our spirituality can often go out the window.
Practicing meditation is just that, a practice. However, it has been used to enhance spirituality for thousands of years, and for good reason! Spiritual teachers often say that the best key for living a spiritual life, is to be grateful for the present, and that is exactly what meditation provides.
Yes, it can be tricky at first, but there are dozens of different ways to meditate besides chanting for hours on end. Check out some of the guided meditations online or through a free meditation app! There is also mindful meditation which can be done at any point throughout the day, along with breathing meditations and writing meditations!
Getting Into Nature
Without fail, being in nature is a sure-fire way to get the spiritual juices flowing. There is a deep and ingrained bond between humans and the natural world, and through our addiction, many of us lost that love and childlike wonder that we used to have for being outside.
Getting outside, feeling the sun, the grass, the breeze, and the power of the trees remind us that we are completely interconnected to our planet and every other living being that resides on it. Being in nature reminds us that our spirituality is within us, and is as old as mankind itself. What is even better, is practicing meditation, in nature, with another sober friend who might be struggling! Talk about a spiritually uplifting day!
It can be overwhelming even thinking about going to rehab, never mind actually doing it. However, if you are suffering from even just one of these signs, reaching out for help is the best chance you have to put an end to your substance use disorder for good.
Do not ignore yourself and your needs. You are worth getting the appropriate treatment so that you no longer have to live in this dangerous cycle of abuse. Reach out to us right now. We can help..
Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.