A Special Note From Our Chaplain: What Is Spirituality?

What is spirituality?

It’s the question I brought to treatment group a few weeks ago. One of the distinguishing features of Rock Recovery’s treatment program is the way we incorporate spirituality into the recovery process. And while we’ve addressed various spiritual topics in treatment group in the past (things like forgiveness, freedom, where our identity and value come from), I realized we’d never really defined “spirituality” in the group.

It’s a hard concept to pinpoint, especially when we’re considering it apart from ties to any particular religious tradition. But because, as a Christian organization, Rock Recovery believes that we are all spiritual people (regardless of whatever specific faith commitments we may have), I introduced our clients to this definition of spirituality:  

The experience of meaningful and positive connection within the self, with others, and with the transcendent. In other words, spirituality includes connecting inward (with the self), outward (with others), and upward (with the transcendent).*

We spent a while naming different elements of each of these dimensions of spirituality. Then I invited the clients to identify, for each dimension of their spirituality, one thing they felt good about; one way they’d like to grow; and one concrete thing they could do to foster that growth.

It doesn’t sound very exciting on paper, but it was actually one of the best (and longest!) discussions I’ve ever led for the treatment group. The clients at group that evening profess a number of different religious traditions (including none), but each of them described feeling encouraged and empowered as they described how they positively and meaningfully connect with themselves, with others, and with that which is greater than themselves—and how they would like to grow spiritually as well.

We are all spiritual people. And whether or not we struggle with disordered eating, we all have places in our hearts and our lives where we would like to grow into greater health and wholeness—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Might this definition of spirituality as connecting inward, outward, and upward help you become more aware of the spiritual dimensions of your life? I hope that, like our clients, you find yourselves encouraged and empowered as you identify ways you would like to grow spiritually.


*This definition draws heavily from Alexandra Pittrock’s article, “How Are Anorexia Nervosa and Spirituality Related, and What Implications Does This Have for Treatment?” found at http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/Alexandra%20Pittock%20Anorexia%20Nervosa%20and%20Spirituality.pdf

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