“Honestly, I’m not a big person in terms of religion, but I really believe in nature. I feel like anytime you see anything beautiful in nature that’s the closest I’m ever going to get to God or a sense of a higher power.” -Sara Rue
Working in the addictions field leads to many discussions about spirituality with my clients. The Twelve Step model is based on opening up to a higher power and while there are some clients that this resonates well with, others struggle to understand what a higher power means to them. They often note that even though a broad definition of higher power is encouraged and that definition can include anything outside of themselves, they struggle to see how something like a tree or someone they admire or even the group itself can be a higher power for them. To understand this is to go back to the cage example I discussed last week. We have an authentic self that sometimes gets locked in a cage by our ego. When the cage door is open and the authentic self is able to connect, that to me is spirituality. Moments of deep connection, whether it be in nature, when looking into a baby’s eyes, during quiet meditation or a moment of deep intimacy with another person are among the most spiritual experiences we can have. We can interact with nature or a baby, but if the cage door is closed we lose our ability to truly connect. This is a significant point. When I come home from a busy day at work and my son is talking to me there are times when I hear the words he is saying and I respond, yet my mind is still busy thinking about the comment a co-worker made or something that happened. Although we are talking and communicating, there is minimal connection. When I become fully present and listen openly to what he is sharing there is a significant difference in the interaction. There is a deepening in the moment and the connection can be felt. This is a spiritual moment. Sometimes we aren’t able to recognize that our cage is shut, we think it is open, but yet become frustrated, feeling isolated and misunderstood. That is a good indication that we are in the cage of the ego. Opening the door of connection between our authentic self and anything else is a spiritual experience. We can feel the difference in the quality of the connection when we touch in to the authentic level. This is sometimes defined as a spark or a deep knowing or even a sense of peace and calm. Although it is hard to describe in words, it is a connection that is felt and sensed. Due to prior experiences, the ego may not open the cage door very wide or even to other people, so for some people developing a sense of connection with nature or pets can feel safer. When someone finds that they can be calm and peaceful when sitting in nature, that becomes their higher power. They have found a place where they are able to connect with their authentic self. The more we are able to experience deep connection and go into the authentic self, the more we are able to expand that connection to include other places, people and the world around us. As our connection with our higher power opens the door to our authentic self, we become healthier. We all have a higher power, so take some time to connect with yours today!