Spiritual Investment

In the opinion of this Writer, the concept of spirituality
changes meaning as humankind evolves. In the
modern world, spirituality is often understood as one’s
internal self-experience. It is the culmination of one’s
understanding of their whole being combined with
one’s symbolic, and possibly secret, representations of
humanistic connection. In the context of recovery from
substance use disorders, spirituality involves connection
with other energies such as people, nature, a higher
power, etc. The vast majority of recovering persons
agree to certain fundamental philosophical principles
when discussing spiritual investment. It is these principles,
and their practice, that will be discussed in this
article.

Already mentioned is the principle of a higher power
which is a belief in an external power greater than
one’s self which one can turn to for spiritual connection.
In other words, a higher power is an individually
perceived force which binds one with their perception
of a greater understanding of one’s cosmos. A higher
power is often wrongly associated with an organized
religion such as Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, Hinduism,
Buddhism, etc. However, a higher power is intentionally
defined very broadly in order to allow any individual
to define their own conceptualization of a higher
power. So, by example, an individual may define their
Higher Power as Jesus or Allah, and another individual
may define their higher power as the energy that binds
all together.

One of the principles of spiritual investment suggests
applying a higher power to one’s belief system as a tool
for finding help, guidance, strength, and opportunity.
It is in this practice that one is relieved of the burden
of solving all life’s difficulties alone. The guidance and/
or intervention of the higher power helps the individual
to continue with perseverance through difficult
times. Likewise, the guidance and/or intervention of
the higher power also helps the individual recognize
the bounty of prosperous times. The personal spiritual
relief experienced is directly proportional to the spiritual
investment made by the individual.

Spiritual practice also includes the concept of kindness.
Being charitable or acting charitably toward others
creates a sense of fulfillment for social animals such
as human beings. Many cultures consider kindness a
virtue, perhaps because kind acts not only benefit the
recipient of the behavior, but also the giver. Perhaps
one of the most bonding experiences between people
is asking for help in a genuine way, and receiving that
assistance from someone who genuinely wishes to be
helpful. In fact, people are designed for kindness as
being kind results in the release of ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters
in the brain. The investment of kindness
bonds humans together with emotions such as compassion,
empathy and generosity. And to the extent of
the investment into kindness, one will receive the gift
of belonging.

Possibly the concept most associated with spirituality
is serenity which is the peacefulness resulting from the
absence of agitation. Because the human mind can be
preoccupied and/or distracted by turbulent thoughts,
many who practice spirituality seek to eliminate the
turbulence. If successful, one can become fully present
and in the moment. For human beings it is terribly
difficult to find serenity for a pronounced amount of
time. However, many experience serenity on occasions
of spiritual practice and devotion. Common practices
include prayer, meditation, mindfulness, nature treks,
chanting, and open journaling.

Humility is a part of spiritual investment as well. Understanding
that one is not more important, better
than, or more valuable than another is a belief system
that is virtuous because it contributes to one’s ability
to comprehend that they are not in control of most
circumstances. The relinquishment of false control over
circumstances that cannot be controlled is empowering
to the individual because the tremendous futile
effort spent on trying to control can be diverted to
being present and in the moment. It is in humility that
people actually find empowerment and connection.
Spiritual investment also requires forgiveness. Forgiveness
is the spiritual process of relinquishing feelings of
resentment, offense or anger against another person
or one’s self, and liberating one’s self from the expectation
of punishment or restitution. Resentments
are often eliminated once the individual accepts that
almost everyone does the best that they can with what
they have at the time. It is with this belief that one
can begin to adjust their expectations of others, and
of themselves, into more realistic expectations. Once
expectations are set within realistic parameters, the
performance of others is quote often acceptable and
the resentments never formulate to begin with. Forgiveness
is central to one’s ability to let go of the past
and move into the present.

In the context of recovery from substance use disorders,
most recovering persons agree to the principles
of a higher power, kindness, serenity, humility, and
forgiveness when discussing spiritual investment.
These are not exact practices, and all of these principles
are unique for every person. Therefore, spirituality
must remain a concept with tremendous latitude in
explanation and understanding. Spiritual investment is
measured in the result to the individual. The higher the
investment, the greater the return on quality of life.