Jan 25, 2008
Spirituality can be defined as "an active relationship with a power greater than yourself that gives your life meaning and purpose." When you work a spiritual program, you consciously, actively attempt to become a part of something bigger, greater, and more powerful than yourself.
Belief in a Higher Power takes you out of the center of your universe and offers peace of mind and serenity by an awareness that there is a power that is not restricted by your weaknesses and limitations. Through spiritual development you can develop new confidence in your own abilities and develop a new sense of hope. It is through a spiritual program that you can reach with hope and a positive attitude toward the future.
In working on your spirituality it is important for you to use the principles of the AA/NA program. AA/NA provides guidelines for “increasing your conscious contact with your higher power.” You do not have to have any one image of your higher power to increase your conscious contact. You do have to be open to the possibility of a Higher Power and be willing to experiment with communicating with that Power. It is important to structure your life in such a way as to spend time alone each day to interact with your Higher Power. It is important to examine your values and look within yourself to determine whether your life is in harmony with those values.
Spiritual discipline is a consciously chosen course of action. Discipline is uncomfortable for many recovering addicts. They have lived lives of immediate gratification, and discipline is the reverse of that. The purpose of spiritual discipline is freedom from the slavery of self-indulgence. Spiritual discipline includes prayer and meditation, spiritual fellowship, and regular inventory of your spiritual growth.
Balanced living means that there is bio-psycho-social-spiritual harmony in your life. It means that you are healthy physically and psychologically and that you have healthy relationships. It means that you are spiritually whole. It means that you are no longer focused on one aspect of your life. It means you are living responsibly, giving yourself time for your job, your family, your friends as well as time for your own growth and recovery. It means allowing a Higher Power to work in your life. It means wholesome living.
It means having a balance between work and play, between fulfilling your responsibilities to other people and your need for self-fulfillment. It means functioning as nearly as possible at your optimum stress level, maintaining enough stress to keep you functioning in a healthy way and not overloading yourself with stress so that it becomes counterproductive. With balanced living, immediate gratification as a lifestyle is given up in order to attain fulfilling and meaningful living.
Balanced living requires proper health care so that the body is functioning well. Nutrition, rest, and exercise all receive the proper focus in your life to provide energy, manage stress, allow freedom from illness and pain, combat fatigue, and rebuild a damaged body.
Freedom from physical distress allows psychological growth. When you feel good it is easier to think about your attitudes and values and to work on eliminating denial, guilt, and anger. Balanced living requires doing things to develop self-confidence and self-esteem and learning to feel good about yourself.
Balanced living needs a strong social network that nurtures you and encourages a healthy, recovery-oriented lifestyle. A healthy network provides a sense of belonging. It includes relationships in which you feel you are a valuable part. It includes immediate family members, friends, relatives, co-workers, counselors, employers, self-help group members, and sponsors.
Even after a couple of years of sobriety, Walter had times when he found it more difficult than usual to remember things, when he was more irritable and anxious, when he overreacted around his family and friends, when he felt confused and overwhelmed. His wife began to notice that he experienced these symptoms more on Saturday. What was different about Saturday? He usually slept later and had a couple of cups of coffee as soon as he got up, he began going over to visit his AA sponsor as early as possible. Together they drank coffee, ate donuts, smoked their pipes, and talked. Walter stayed until early afternoon, and by the time he got home and had lunch it was usually 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon. If one of his kids left a bike in the driveway or his wife was on the phone too long, he found himself overreacting and leaving the house. The rest of the day was totally unproductive because of what became know in his family as his “Saturday Syndrome.”
Walter decided to try some alternate activities to see if there was a change in his reactions. He started drinking orange juice as soon as he woke up instead of coffee. That helped, so he decided to try eating breakfast. That helped even more. He and his sponsor started drinking decaffeinated coffee and he skipped the donuts. He came home early enough to have lunch and to exercise for awhile. He then felt like doing something with his family in the afternoon. They were all amazed at the disappearance of the “Saturday Syndrome.”