How to Take Your Recovery to a Higher Power
Research has confirmed that connection to a Higher Power is associated with better recovery outcomes for clients in treatment. But connecting to a Higher Power isn’t always an intuitive process for clients in treatment, for various reasons. Many clients have grown up in homes where they had no exposure to religion or spirituality, so both concepts may be entirely foreign. Others may have had traumatic religious experiences that make it hard to connect with a “God of their understanding.” For these clients, too, it may be hard to disentangle spirituality from religion (the former being the real work of recovery).
There is also the fact that our upbringing as children strongly affects how we approach God, as a New York Times article described. Our parents are a very big influence in shaping how we relate to a Higher Power. For example, someone who grew up with very strict and controlling parents is more likely to view their Higher Power in similar ways, as a stern, omnipotent authority figure dolling out punishments.
Whatever the reason, if you’re having trouble connecting with your Higher Power, the following tips and insights may help:
- Remember “spirituality” is nothing more than connection with something beyond you. It’s easy to overestimate the complexity of “spirituality” and what it means to be “spiritual” or to experience a spiritual connection. That itself can be an obstacle to pursuing connection with a Higher Power. But spirituality, simply put, is connection. By that definition, spirituality is whatever you can authentically connect with beyond your own self, be that the universe, a concept or your 12-step group.
- A Higher Power is something bigger than you. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Whatever elicits a sense of wonder or humility about your smallness, dependence or transience qualifies as a Higher Power.
- Spend time in silence with nature. If you’re having trouble connecting with a Higher Power, spend some time in silent reflection, ideally with nature. Take a walk on the beach. Watch a sunset or sunrise. Take a hike in the mountains. Sit by a stream and watch the wildlife. Here at Beach House we take regular trips to the loggerhead turtle sanctuary.Or, sit down next to your favorite tree. Trees are a personal favorite for me, as a powerful symbol of the kind of trust that is necessary to recovery. Every fall, they shed their leaves and ready themselves for the coming of winter. Every spring, they blossom. They know exactly what to do. Trust itself can be a Higher Power.
- Listen closely to what moves your heart. Whether it’s in silent reflection with nature, or at other times during the ordinary rhythms of daily life, listen closely to what stirs your heart. What you hear can lead you to your Higher Power. For example, you might be watching a movie or TV show — even the nightly news — and something you see there moves you. It could be something that inspires you or causes you to grateful to be alive or connected to something larger or beautiful. Follow that feeling to its source. There you may find your Higher Power.