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3 posts from January 2012


Five Things That Get in the Way of Your Spiritual Connection

This month we've been discussing the spiritual piece of the recovery puzzle. For some, spirituality is an untapped resource. Once you learn about ways of accessing your own spiritual connection and make a conscious effort to do that, a whole new world is opened for you.

Sometimes, though, the path to spiritual awareness can be blocked, and the door to that spiritual world might seem locked to you.

Here is a list of five things that may keep you from making a spiritual connection:

  1. Lack of sleep: Feeling tired can impair your judgement, shorten your temper and magnify your challenges so they seem impossible to overcome. In that state it's hard to remember that you have access to an inner source of wisdom, and harder still to listen to that quiet voice. Try getting to bed earlier and/or sleeping later, and practicing other good sleep hygiene habits.
  2. Obsession: When your mind is so busy turning over every detail about something in the past (what you should have done or what you wish you hadn't done) or the future (what you should do next, what you're afraid to do or what you hope will/won't happen), there's no room to be open to spiritual suggestions. It's a well-known paradox that sometimes the minute you stop thinking about yourself and your own problems, solutions can magically appear. Try doing something nice for someone else.
  3. Focusing on the negative: Another common theory, known as the Law of Attraction, says that whatever you focus on is what you will attract into your life. Try thinking about and showing appreciation for the positive people and things in your life.
  4. Strong feelings: In a similar way, strong feelings of resentment, fear, depression, anxiety or grief can all cloud your perception. You may be sure that you know what someone else is thinking or feeling or you may underestimate your own capability. You may lack the confidence to know the difference between your own negative thinking and a message that may be from your spiritual intuition. Try speaking about your feelings to a therapist or trusted friend, or writing in your journal.
  5. Using food in an addictive way: When you overeat, undereat, purge or over-exercise, it brings on all four of the previous situations, as well as many other problems. Food can create a false sense of connection, but for food addicts, anorexics, bulimics and compulsive overeaters, food actually drives a wedge between you and other people, and between you and yourself. The deeper into the addiction you sink, the farther away you feel from your spiritual connection. Getting a handle on your addictive behaviors should always be your first concern. We're here to help

If you've been trying different strategies to make a spiritual connection and you're still struggling, check which one of these five situations may be present in your life.


How I Incorporate Spirituality into my Life

In last week's article we discussed how spirituality is a vital part of the recovery puzzle, just as important as your emotional and physical healing.

Here's how I incorporate spiritual practices into my daily life:

Yoga – I've been doing yoga on and off since I was in high school. My mother was even a yoga teacher for awhile, and shortly after she had surgery she needed me to assist by teaching a class. That's what really propelled my interest. There are many types of yoga, including some that are very active. I do a style of yoga that's very gentle and restorative. I feel more spiritually connected when I allow myself to be still and get centered.

Guided imagery – I use guided imagery to quiet my mind. Listening to the audio recordings help me connect to the present moment. At, you can pick up a free guided meditation sample. If you like it, they have many other resources for you.

Taking walks in nature – If you keep your eyes out, you might spot me walking all around Winter Park with my dog, usually with a ponytail on top of my head! The sights, sounds and smells of nature instantly remind me that I am part of a big, beautiful world.

Healthy exercise – Aside from yoga and walking, I regularly experiment with other forms of healthy exercise. This grounds me in my body and helps me to appreciate my health and mobility. 

Healthy meals – When I make the effort to prepare pleasing, nourishing and delicious foods, I feel as if I'm giving myself a type of spiritual nourishment.

Gratitude lists – I use this technique to remind myself every day of everything I have to be grateful for. It's also something I used in my general psychology course at Valencia College. As they arrived in class, the students had to stop at the whiteboard and write down one thing they were grateful for. Most of them said it was a really positive experience, though some found it a bit embarrassing. On the last day of class, one fellow wrote, "I'm grateful I don't have to write my gratitudes in the front of the classroom anymore, but I will keep on writing them for me!""

Philanthropy – When I do something for someone who can't, it makes me feel connected and part of the world. This isn't always about giving money; it can mean volunteering at the food bank or offering workshops or groups at a reduced rate so everyone can access therapy if they need it.

Having fun – Making time to laugh and get together with people I care about definitely enhances my spirituality. It lightens my load and clears away any negative clutter that's blocking my connection.



The Spiritual Piece of the Recovery Puzzle

While therapy is primarily about emotional healing, at White Picket Fence Counseling Center it's also important to us that we don't shy away from addressing physical recovery.

Yet there is another piece of the puzzle that hasn't always been getting the attention it deserves, and that is spiritual recovery. While it's easy to push spiritual recovery off to the side until the other areas are "handled," we want to start emphasizing it as an important part of the overall recovery process.

Consider this analogy: Calcium is an important nutrient that our bodies need to carry out many important functions and keep our bones strong. Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium – without it, whatever calcium you take in won't be able to do its job properly. Spirituality is like a form of Vitamin D that helps you make the best use of your emotional and physical healing.

If you've had unpleasant or even traumatic experiences with organized religion, you might be very resistant to this idea. Yet even while honoring those feelings, you can open your mind to spirituality. Because spirituality and religion are two very separate things, and I wouldn't want you to close yourself off to a powerful source of support for your recovery.

Whether you are recovering from an eating disorder, food addiction, depression or another emotional issue, developing or maintaining a spiritual practice can have many benefits, such as:

Acceptance – A spiritual practice can help you achieve and deepen your level of acceptance, so that you see yourself, other people and situations as they are – without judgement. This is really important, because so often when we hurt ourselves or others it's because we're not accepting something or someone as they are.

Detachment – Instead of getting caught up in solving or changing a situation or person, accepting them helps you to detach in a neutral way and go on with whatever you've decided is most important to you.

Inspiration – When you make a spiritual connection, it can lead you to things that will inspire you to your core. Sometimes just in seeking your spiritual path you can discover exciting things about yourself and the world around you.

Joy – Spiritual activities can lighten up your day and your mood, infusing your life with humor and passion.

Calm – The quiet space of a spiritual practice can give you fresh insights and perspectives about a particular situation or the bigger picture of your life.

Connection – The act of seeking a connection to something bigger than yourself can help you to feel more a part of the world around you. And spiritual connection also helps you to know yourself better and hear the wisdom within.

Presence – Tuning into the spiritual world brings you back to the present instead of living in the past (perhaps suffering from guilt or low self-esteem about choices you've made) or the future (maybe full of worry, anxiety or doubt about what's going to happen next or what you should do about it).

So how do you start developing a spiritual practice? You have so many choices. At the White Picket Fence Counseling Center we're developing some workshops that will help you learn more about things like guided meditation and imagery and writing. You can also try prayer, yoga, quiet reflection time or communing with nature.

Next week I'll share some of my own favorite spiritual activities.

Spirituality is a very individual thing, so feel free to experiment. We can also work with you in your group or individual therapy sessions to help you find the version of spirituality that works for you. This important "piece" of recovery can bring you "peace."