Spirituality is an experience that encourages people to find deeper connections within their human experience. It is a universal human experience that increases our sense of aliveness.
At one point or another, every person will start to ask the unanswerable questions that come along with the uncertainty of existence and life. Some people grow up asking those questions while others start asking the questions as a response to suffering. No matter how spirituality finds you, it is important to know what it is and the benefits that it can hold for your life and your recovery.
Spirituality vs. Religion
Spirituality and religion are often associated with one another, although each concept explains different ways that people go about finding a deeper connection to life. Both concepts are beneficial because they work to connect people to a higher purpose, meaning, and life experience.
A religious person is someone that is devoted to a specific religious practice. A religious person has religion. With religion, people typically have a set of organized beliefs and practices that guide their actions.
Differently, a spiritual person is someone that places high value on spiritual connection. Spirituality is an individual practice that encourages a person to develop beliefs around their subjective meaning in their life without any set spiritual values. To be spiritual means holding a deep value to yourself, the Earth, and everything around you.
There are several different ways to compare and contrast spirituality and religion. The main differences between both include:
- religion is a group experience while spirituality is an individual experience
- religion is organized while spirituality is freeform
- religion is believing while spirituality is being
- religion is an outward devotion while spirituality is an inward experience
Research shows that both spirituality and religion play a significant, positive role in how people perceive their subjective well-being. Spirituality had a positive impact on subjective wellbeing regardless of religious status, whereas the relationship between religion and subjective wellbeing was determined by specific religious identity.
What Factors Play Into Spirituality?
Although spirituality is meant to be a broad concept, there are important characteristics that help make spirituality what it is. Some characteristics of spirituality may include:
- having faith
- fostering gratitude
- searching for meaning and purpose in life
- longing for a sense of deeper connection with others
- transcending of the self, otherwise known as increasing self-awareness
- searching for inner peace and wellbeing
- practicing mindfulness
- exploring personal values
- connecting to a higher power
- seeking happiness beyond material possessions
- experiencing compassion and stronger empathy for others
- asking deep questions about existence, suffering, and the afterlife
Not every person will experience or express spirituality in the same way. Some people are taught to seek out spiritual experiences when they are very young and do so out of habit as they grow older. Others come across spirituality only after they experience intense hardship, such as grief or loss.
Spirituality offers a worldview that empowers people to experience and believe that there is more to life than just living. Life is more than just sensory and physical experience- it is about finding purpose, reasoning, and connection in ordinary life.
Why Do People Use Spirituality?
There are many reasons why people turn to spirituality, such as:
- To experience deeper meaning in life.
- To cope with feelings of suffering, such as depression or anxiety.
- To cope with uncertainty or change.
- To put faith in something higher than themselves.
- To restore feelings of faith, hope, and optimism.
- To find a greater sense of community.
- To seek comfort and peace in their life.
The Importance of Spiritual Wellness In Recovery
While there are benefits for both religion and spirituality, spirituality is much more widely accepted and understood. Spirituality encompasses a general search for meaning and purpose in our lives, which becomes especially important in recovery.
The impacts of substance use and addiction are long-lasting and can cause detrimental impacts on a persons’ sense of self. In recovery, spiritual wellness can encourage a person to find meaning behind their challenging life experiences. When feelings of guilt, shame, and lack of self-esteem surface in recovery, spirituality becomes a valuable tool for healing.
Self-discovery and healing are essential both inside and outside of recovery. The growing pains that may happen as a response to treatment or recovery can be painful. Spiritual wellness involves learning forgiveness, cleansing personal energy, and acknowledging and challenging intrusive thoughts and emotions- all while working to regain peace in life.
Having a connection to something bigger than yourself is crucial for long-lasting success in recovery from mental illness and addiction. You can find ways to connect with your spirituality by meditating, letting your intuition guide you, practicing external acceptance, and participating in acts of service.
Spirituality is an important concept both in and outside of recovery, as it helps people to connect deeper to their present life experience. Spirituality and religion have many similarities, although each concept has key features that make them separate practices. While some people grow up with spirituality or religion, others come across these practices through suffering. No matter how spirituality finds you in your life, it is inevitably an important concept that brings deeper meaning and purpose to your own life. West Coast Recovery Centers recognizes that spirituality can play a vital role in a person’s willingness to recover from mental illness or addiction. We offer both traditional and holistic treatment options to help individualize your treatment experience. West Coast is devoted to creating an effective healing environment for all of our staff and clients. To learn more about our treatment center, or about our treatment options, call (760) 492-6509 today.