You don’t have to be religious to have a spiritual experience. You don’t have to be a churchgoer to experience emotions like love, forgiveness, compassion, and joy. In fact, there are many men and women who experience spiritual experiences in their recovery as they grow and heal.
It’s true that many recovering addicts are also members of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) community. And there is plenty of talk about spirituality at 12-step meetings. However, even if you were not a part of an AA community and you were committed to recovery, there are plenty of spiritual experiences to have on the road of growth and healing.
Part of healing is being able to accept the past as it was. This might be a challenging experience at first and in fact acceptance is something that comes naturally with healing and growth. Without this step, many recovering addicts might still have thoughts about the past that are harmful to themselves or others. In fact, feelings and thoughts about the past are often what contribute to an addiction in the first place.
Forgiveness is letting go of the idea that the past could have been any different. It’s right up there with acceptance. With forgiveness, you can let go of the situation. You can release any grudges you have against others, and you can let go of judgments you have against yourself. Like acceptance, forgiveness is sometimes the result of healing and growth. It happens naturally in time. However, there are moments in life when you might need to make a conscious decision to forgive. It’s common to think that forgiveness is something you do if you’re religious or belonging to a particular spiritual path. However, forgiveness is simple. It’s a way of accepting life as it is.
In time, as the healing and growth continue, you might realize that you are not so hung up with the past. Your thoughts might be freer. Your heart might be more open. And when this happens, you might find yourself experiencing feelings like joy and elation. Sometimes, for those who have difficult upbringings or a life filled with trauma, it’s hard to actually experience positive emotions. However, over time, as the heart and mind begin to feel more safe and open, positive feelings become available to us.
Certainly, another spiritual experience that comes with healing is the ability to love yourself. Loving oneself is especially hard if there were no early experiences of feeling loved by parents or siblings. Yet, part of growth is learning how to parent yourself – giving yourself what you may not have received as a child. In recovery the ability to love gets easier and easier over time.
Seeing Your Potential
Sober living doesn’t have to be boring. You can channel your life energy towards doing wonderful achievements. You could apply it towards helping others, encouraging addicts to get and stay sober, or making your life meaningful and purposeful. You might begin to write articles for the local papers, for websites that promoted sobriety, and for a local magazine that serves as a road map for others in recovery.
These are forms of spiritual experiences. They are experiences of healing and growth. You don’t have to be religious to have these kinds of experience. All it takes is the willingness to look inside oneself and the courage to grow.