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Why Spirituality?

14 October 2014

One very important aspect of recovery is the “maintenance of our spiritual condition”. Now, as a person who is not religious and not even particularly spiritual in any traditional sense (though I used to be), I have to consider deeply what that means. Why do we associate sobriety with spirituality? How does that help me recover? The idea that “God strikes us sober” is useful to many people in recovery, and I support that where it is useful to individuals. But it is not a concept that has ever been relevant to my own journey in sobriety.

To me, spirituality is a concept more nebulous and less… supernatural. I find spirituality to be very natural. I think it’s an ordinary aspect of the human condition. Spirituality is one of the natural ways we try to find our place in the world, in society. Spirituality is, to me, about connectedness and awareness of things larger than me. About seeking accordance and harmony between what is inside me, and what it outside. Arranging my mind to be in a state of peace with the things in the world that I cannot change.

I don’t pray. But I see no reason that prayer is incompatible with a deityless nature. I am fond of the aphorism that prayer is not about influencing the thing prayed to, but rather about influencing the thing doing the praying. As such, I see prayer as little different from meditation, or simple mindfulness. When I attempt to find a quiet space in my mind, in my heart, in whatever my soul is, I am doing something like prayer. I am consciously attempting to bring my self into alignment with the world as I understand it.

This helps with sobriety because being serene is a crucial tool in abstinence. Many of us drink to quiet raging waters in our spirits, in our consciences. Maintenance of our serenity deprives our addictions of leverage to drive us back toward inebriation. Because alcohol is anesthesia to me. It soothes inflammation of the soul. At least, that’s what my mind tells me. That’s what my addiction wants me to believe.

And so engaging with our concepts of spirituality provides us with an alternative balm for crises of mind and heart. I believe that that is a nearly-universal thing that humans do, and that it is to our credit that we do. Looking to God, to Nature, to spiritual abstracts for solace and comfort is not a sign of weakness or delusion. It is engaging with a natural process within ourselves which – for some of us – demonstrably improves our mood, resilience, and ability to participate in normal society.

Which – for some of us – materially aides our efforts to remain abstinent from artificial intoxicants which plague us and drive us to behave antisocially. We claim spiritual progress. I understand these things differently today than I did before. And differently today than I will in times to come. But today, I believe that spirituality need be nothing supernatural to be real, and tangible, and useful.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Syd permalink
    15 October 2014 20:59

    I think of prayer as talking to my HP while meditation is listening to my HP. I don’t find them interchangeable but perhaps dovetails of each other.

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