Everyone has a spirituality, in that each of us must answer basic questions like ''Who am I?" or "What is the meaning of my existence?" or "Why am I suffering?" We are all spiritual, even if we don't belong to a faith group or have a spiritual practice.
“Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path... exactly where you are meant to be right now.” – Caroline Adams
We may or may not link our spirituality to a religion. The root of the word “religion” means re-linking and for some people, participating in a religion is a way of linking themselves with their spirituality. If this is true for you, find a religious director or counselor, a church, temple or synagogue that can provide support, community and can help put your experience in context and help you to find meaning.
Spiritual practice can include:
- Compassionate witnessing – being gentle with ourselves as gentleness hastens healing, noticing our thoughts without judgment, paying attention to early warning signs and taking action to restore balance
- Unconditional friendliness to one’s self – treating ourselves as a well beloved child.
- Cultivating an attitude of curiosity instead of fear – “hmmmm, isn’t that interesting…”
- Practicing the power of gratitude – focusing on and noticing what we are grateful for.
- Noticing even the tiniest bit of joy - joy is healing and self-generating
- Prayer and meditation - even if your prayer is to the idea of recovery
- Finding our “wise mind” – "…that part of each person that can know and experience truth. It is where the person knows something to be true or valid. It is almost always quiet, it has a certain peace. It is where the person knows something in a centered way." Linehan
Some people find that journaling can help them keep track of their practice and remind them of times when they felt better and remind them of their own strengths when they’ve forgotten them.
Resources to learn more:
The Spiritual Competency Resource Center provides access to online resources that enhance the cultural sensitivity of mental health professionals. Spirituality is now accepted as an important component of cultural competence for mental health professionals. http://www.spiritualcompetency.com/
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Faithnet, a rich resource for information about recovery, mental illness and spirituality. faithnet.nami.org.
Mental Health Chaplaincy in King County. Includes Chaplain Craig Rennebohm’s blog on mental illness, homelessness and spirituality. http://www.mentalhealthchaplain.org/