Modern living is consistently packed with the hustle and bustle of too many tasks, unrelenting technological advancements, too many people to please, too many fears, and seemingly not enough time. Add on the complexity of living in recovery from addiction and it can be overwhelming, frustrating, and absolutely detrimental to your spiritual life. Many of us come into recovery without a real sense of who we are. Once we leave the protective confines of treatment, we are exposed to the busy noises of everyday life. If we are not careful, we fail to enhance our true sense of self and our spiritual connection. We are taught, early in recovery, that the only way we can maintain our sobriety is to be vigilant about cultivating an ever-evolving spiritual path. Sometimes this may require us to remove ourselves from the shallow, materialistic society we live in and dive into nature. Here are five ways you can embrace a spiritual connection
1. Make a commitment to get out and connect with nature.
First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that our lives are busy, but the mind of a real addict and alcoholic can be even busier. If we do not set a clear intention to remove ourselves from the mundane everyday environment and connect with nature, that white noise in your head can take over. Recovering alcoholics and addicts often learn how to make and maintain their commitments upon getting sober. Therefore, setting the intention and committing to stepping out to the beach to meditate or hiking through Everglades can ensure you take the time you need to connect with nature. Once you get out in nature, you need to listen and communicate. In other words, soak up every sound, smell, and feeling as you indulge in the beauty around you.
2. Embrace the renewal you find in nature.
For a struggling alcoholic or addict, nature can be an excellent location for a fresh start. Whether it’s a midday reset or an intentional adventure after a relapse, nature is a great place to find renewal. For example, every morning the sun rises just as every spring brings a promise of new life. Even after the Everglades have been demolished with fires, nature continues to find a way to restore itself and rebuild. We see new flowers bloom, trees resprout, animals herding back together again, and the land restored lusher than it ever was before. Much like the disastrous wreckage of our past, we walk into recovery with the opportunity to restore and rebuild our lives. It is easy to associate nature’s restorative wonders with sobriety as we find the beauty amongst the ashes.
3. Allow the vast experiences of nature to minimize your ego.
Alcoholics and addicts are often referred to as “egomaniac with an inferiority complex.” Whether you are the demoralizing victim of circumstance or the better than martyr navigating through your recovery, your ego is always on the frontlines. When the ego is loud, the connection to something spiritual is fleeting. When you take the time to step out in nature, you are just a small speck in a vast world of rocks, earth, mountains, beaches, lakes, stars, and so much more. In active addiction, the world revolves around one person: the addict. There is no time to stop and appreciate a blue sky, a blooming flower, or a raging sea. We are often preoccupied with one thing and one thing only – our addiction. Humility can be found in the middle of nature as you take a moment to look around you and realize just how small you are. Taking the time to notice how beautiful and unpredictable nature is, can naturally minimize your ego and cultivate a foundation for spirituality
4. Sit down quietly and soak up the experience.
Although it can be tempting to bring along your favorite music as you trail through nature, there is something to be said about sitting alone in silence while you are outside soaking up the natural elements. Furthermore, solitude and silence can often seem uncomfortable as we edit ourselves to ensure we are behaving according to social expectations. Is it possible to have a spiritual experience while you are walking or climbing through the mountains? Of course. However, there is something about the rhythm of walking and running that often encourages our thoughts to accompany us. Taking the time to sit down and soak up your surroundings can help you quiet the noise in your mind and pay attention to the details of the world around you. It is always a great idea to find a comfortable position and meditate on the sights, sounds, smells, and feels all around you. Taking the time to be present at the moment is the greatest way to cultivate and welcome spirituality.
This is quite possibly the most uncomfortable but exciting part of seeking spirituality in nature. This is also when you may find every cell in your body rebel against the idea. Growing up in a Western culture, it would be fair to say that you’ve most likely been taught that humans are the superior species and the other elements, trees, rocks, flowers, and beaches are simply lovely to look at. The truth is, many of us naturally feel a spiritual connection to nature and we cannot explain it. Sure, we can’t communicate sensibly with animals or natural elements, but we can take the time to find awareness in the beauty and complexities of these things. Watching the natural elements and creatures of nature adapt to survive is not much different than our own experience. Many of us in recovery overcame adversity that we were sure would end life as we knew it. It would be fair to say that we learned out to adapt and connect with the world around us in order to survive. It’s not always easy to hear nature, but observing and acknowledging the world around us can help us discover similarities and ultimately connect us to a power greater than ourselves.