When you go to an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting or drug treatment facility, you’ll probably hear the term, “Higher Power.” For some, this means a deity; for others, it’s nature. Some instead focus on their “higher self” or the betterment of society. Why is a higher power so crucial to sobriety? If you’re an atheist, can you still access the benefits of a higher power through a faith-based drug rehab? What are some ways of accessing its benefits?
Why Is a Higher Power Important?
Belief in a higher power is crucial for your recovery whether you’re Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Agnostic, or Atheist.
People in the throes of addiction feel alone in their suffering. They face judgment from family, friends, coworkers, and society. They can reach a point where they don’t think anything matters, that they will never get healthy or feel happy again. This belief is reinforced every time they suffer withdrawal and return to their addiction. They feel weak and helpless as their body fights recovery. Their disease steals not only their will but also their self-worth.
A higher power serves as a constant source of strength, unwavering in the face of our struggles and immune to the hold of our disease. It’s outside of the chaos our lives have become. Belonging to something bigger and more powerful than ourselves offers us peace in the chaos because now we have the help we need to conquer what before felt impossible.
Through our higher power, we have a purpose. We have an end goal, whether it gives us something to achieve (reaching heaven, reaching a higher consciousness) or something to protect (our family, society, the planet.) We join in an effort and engage with others who share our goal. It isn’t all about us or our problems. We gain perspective and something to work toward.
Compassion is a precious commodity when we are judged by our families and peers, people who don’t understand the depth of our struggle. Forgiveness toward ourselves and others is crucial to the healing process.
- If you believe in a deity, returning to the fold offers forgiveness from the deity, if not the congregation, strength from on high to help you in your battles, and comfort through divine connection.
Christians believe Jesus Christ died to suffer the penalty of sin and provide forgiveness against the demands of justice. His suffering gave Him empathy for all humanity, and He readily forgives all those who accept His sacrifice. He strengthens mankind and helps them forgive themselves and others.
Judaism believes that sacrifice leads to forgiveness. In ancient times, this was accomplished through animal sacrifice. Today, personal sacrifice in fasting, repentance, and other symbolic forms of worship bring people back into favor with God and His mercy.
Muslims believe that as Allah forgives them, and is pleased when they cultivate this virtue and forgive others. Hinduism is polytheistic, and beliefs vary depending on which gods they worship, but forgiveness is a divine quality to cultivate, like knowledge and courage.
- If your higher power is nature, you can rest knowing that nature doesn’t judge. It’s all about balance – positive and negative, predator and prey, light and dark, disease and wellness. Part of your life is out of balance, but that isn’t permanent. People often describe their time in nature as communion. They are part of a bigger whole and find time in nature to be spiritually healing.
- If you focus on your higher self, like Buddhists, the goal is reaching a state of enlightenment. Part of that journey is self-acceptance and concentrating on the betterment of humanity through personal growth.
Access the Higher Power in Your Life Through Meditation
No matter who or what your higher power is, a great way to connect to that entity is to take time out of every day to meditate. People practice several forms of meditation, including:
For those who believe in a deity, prayer connects them to their god(s). We confess our weaknesses, temptations, and desire to give up even while we ask for strength to overcome them. We seek comfort, the ability to forgive ourselves and others, a larger perspective, and hope for a better tomorrow, believing that our God can give us those things.
For those who look to nature, spending time in quiet solitude away from the hustle and bustle of urban life is the solution. We seek the steady, quiet, and timeless peace that can be felt in secluded places, such as in the forest or on a mountaintop. We focus on the natural processes over millennia that created this place at this moment and the natural ebb and flow of all life. We are in the moment, not feeling guilty about the past or worrying about the future. Nature is a place where we can quiet the chaos within us.
Picture your future self, the strong version of you who has already passed through this trial and won. This higher self sees everything that led you to this moment, every hurt, setback, and decision. It doesn’t judge but accepts this chain of events as the road you traveled to get where you want to be.
The higher self sees the present with all its complexity, both your despair over past setbacks and the budding hope for a brighter tomorrow. It understands the myriad of possible roads you can choose to move forward into the future. You can consider this your spirit or your intuition; it doesn’t matter what you call it. The key is to listen. You’re more intuitive than you realize.
However you define your higher power, a faith-based treatment center can help you connect to it and begin to heal from the damage substance abuse has caused in your life. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey, call us at 855-736-7262.