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Dr. David Fawcett

In last week’s post to this site, I wrote about how you can find a Higher Power that meshes with your values and beliefs – a Higher Power that makes sense to you. Once you find a Higher Power that you’re comfortable with, you must find ways to communicate and connect with that Higher Power. In other words, you must develop a spiritual connection. That is the focus of this week’s post.

For some addicts, this process is relatively simple. They simply attend and participate in the services and practices of the religion of their choice. For these individuals, having a shared belief system, a place of worship, others with whom to worship, and perhaps a spiritual leader to guide them as they connect with their Higher Power feels both comfortable and comforting. If that is the case for you, go for it, and don’t let anyone try to tell you that you’re doing spiritual connection the wrong way. If you feel connected, you are connected.

For other addicts, an exploration of existing religions and spiritual practices is a better approach. So they actively throw themselves into a learning process, looking for what works and discarding what doesn’t. If you take this approach, consider the response a priest once gave to a new parishioner who asked about a religious ritual:

I can tell you the formal history and theological reasoning behind everything we do here—lighting a candle when praying, crossing oneself, giving something up or taking something on at Lent, and all sorts of other things we do—but I invite you to instead learn about these practices by doing them. Try a practice for a few days or a week and see what speaks to you about it. There’s likely something about almost everything we do that you’ll find personally meaningful and helpful. Then, after trying a particular practice, if you want to talk about it or read up on it, we’ll chat. But consider trying it first.

If it turns out that organized religion and established spiritual practices are not your thing, you can still borrow practices and rituals that resonate with you. You can even borrow practices and rituals from fellow recovering addicts who have the type of sobriety and recovery that you seek for yourself. If your sponsor says the third, seventh, and eleventh step prayers every morning and then stares at a statue of Buddha while drinking his or her morning coffee, try that and see what happens. If someone in your 12-step meeting that you admire writes a ten-item gratitude list in his or her journal every morning, do the same thing for a few weeks and pay attention to how this affects your sense of connection with your Higher Power.

The good news here is that there are as many ways to connect as there are addicts trying to connect. Prayers can work. Mantras can work. Meditation can work. Creating a quiet space in your home where you can simply sit and think and perhaps talk aloud to whatever is out there listening can work. Spiritual readings can work. Gratitude lists can work. Try them all, and then try a bunch of other stuff, as well. And if something helps you feel connected, even a little bit, incorporate that into your daily spiritual practice.

As you do the work of spirituality and spiritual connection, it is wise to understand that there is no timetable. You are not on a deadline. Moreover, you are not expected to “get it right.” Ever. In fact, when talking about spirituality and connection with a Higher Power, we use the word “practice” to indicate an ever-growing skill set and base of knowledge. We continually learn, and with that learning, we find new and better ways to connect with our Higher Power and to receive guidance and loving support from that entity.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, you must remember that your Higher Power is your Higher Power. It need not match anyone else’s. It need not make sense to anyone but you. If your Higher Power manifests your true values, and if you find comfort, solace, and direction with this Higher Power, then it is the right Higher Power for you. It is God as you understand God, and that is more than enough. Do not let anyone else tell you otherwise.