You Are Invited to Explore and/or Heal Your Relationship with Spirituality in the BALM – Here’s why
In writing the BALM, I knew that relationships held the key to recovery. In fact, I had learned about the importance of healing the three relationships (person to God, person to self, person to person) in the faith I embraced in my childhood as well as in the 12 Step rooms. Here’s a bit about how it all started for me…
In the Beginning…
As a child, I was spiritually curious. My grandparents lived a life that followed the seasons of the sacred calendar. A holy meal each Friday evening and Saturday morning, along with worship in community throughout the weekend. My grandfather studied holy books daily and went to the house of worship morning and evening each day.
Each summer we visited our aunt and uncle who also followed the traditions of our ancestors closely, living a visibly sacred life.
I liked the ‘feel’ of their life. The structure, the peace, the extraordinary within the ordinary…it was both exotic to me and very near to my heart and soul.
In our home, the secular lifestyle reigned. There were strong values of honesty, integrity, and being a good person in our relationships with each other and in business. But the sacred was somehow left behind. It wasn’t modern. It didn’t match the tenor of the times. It was ‘what we left behind’ to live a modern life.
My Spiritual Journey Continues
As I grew, I saw the contrast in the two ways of life and felt attracted to the rhythm of the spirit present in my relatives’ lives. I also grew to understand the philosophical differences that my parents experienced and embraced many aspects of the non-religious perspective.
Yet, my soul yearned. It yearned for something to fill that emptiness inside. And so I searched. I searched through religion. I searched through counseling and therapy. I searched through education.
Over time, I came to see that the work of filling that emptiness went beyond any one of these avenues yet encompassed them all.
To become full, to experience the sense of ‘my cup runneth over’ was deeper than a ritual performed, knowledge held, or a psychological understanding of myself and all that I had experienced.
For me, the experience of being In relationship with that which is spiritual, included living a rich, full life and defined the essence of it.
Through the inclusion of prayer, dialogue, contemplation, self-understanding, self-improvement, and healthy relationships, I came to feel the Presence in my life that I had sensed in my grandparents’ home and that of my cousins.
Spirituality came to live within me consciously in a way that allowed me to be open to that Presence and open to the wide variety of people who practiced it, each in their own ways…
For me, spirituality is being in powerful relationship with That Which Is within me as well beyond my understanding. Sometimes I call it All That Is. Other times, God. Always I see it as my Friend, there for me when no one else seems to be able to or want to.
It is said that we enter this world alone and leave it alone. Yet, when we have a conscious connection with All That Is, we know that we are never alone.
Three Powerful Experiences
I will never forget three seminal experiences I had on my path that sealed this understanding for me.
My First Sense of Spiritual Connection to Others
At my first Overeaters Anonymous meeting in 1975, I stood for the circle at the end and as we all grabbed hands, I felt a surge of electricity go through me. The connection to the people in the circle awakened something deeper within me than the people in the circle and helped me ‘keep coming back.’
God Drying My Tears in an Instant
In the late 70’s early 80’s, I remember a moment when I could not stop crying. My sorrow seemed endless, my prospects dim. I turned to God and asked Him to please dry my tears, as I felt I couldn’t stand the sadness any longer. In an instant, the crying lifted and I was filled with a sense of light and hope.
Facing the Emptiness Within Myself
In 1986, my husband was in treatment and I missed him terribly. I felt this sense of aloneness and emptiness that reminded me of the uncertainty of loving someone with a use disorder. Suddenly, I experienced an additional memory of the many times in my life that I had felt that emptiness, unrelated to my husband or his illness.
And Then A Deeper Shift Happened…
It became clear to me, in an instant, that just as the emptiness was something I was carrying within me, so too was the healing. I turned within to experience the God of my understanding and to do my own inner work of healing, no longer blaming my unhappiness or emptiness on another person’s struggles.
I considered that profound shift to be one of many spiritual awakenings over the years, in that it pointed me toward the All That Is, and away from blame and self-pity during challenging times.
How These experiences began to impact the BALM
In my own life, I saw how spiritual and emotional shifts, what we in BALM call transformation, could create an openness to a reality bigger than the victim mentality which often ruled me when I couldn’t see past the chaos of the addiction in our family.
These shifts are basically relationship shifts in that they impact how we relate to
- The Spiritual – that which is beyond ego (which some call God, Jesus, Allah, the Universe, All that Is, etc.)
- The self – That which is going on within us emotionally and psychologically
- Others – the people in our lives, including but not limited to our struggling loved one.
Wanting to share these three relationships with families on their recovery journey. I began the first iteration of the 12 BALM Principles with the relationship with Spirituality. Through deeper contemplation and inner guidance, I realized that families suffering through a loved one’s use disorder or mental health struggles initially just wanted to help a struggling loved one recover, not be told of the importance of spirituality in their lives.
So instead, I started with teaching BALMers the family’s role in a loved one’s recovery (principles 1-4), then the action principles (Principles 5-8), and finally, the emphasis on those three relationships (Principles 9-12), which I saw could greatly enhance the chance of a powerful long term recovery for the loved one and the family.
Exploring The Three Relationships as You Move Through the BALM
This week in the BALM, we are looking at the first of those relationships: spirituality. The Inner Path, the path of love, can be said to start and end on the spiritual path. Next week, we will explore the relationship with self and the following week, relationships with others.
The BALM’s commitment to come at each principle from several directions is about recognizing that it can take different approaches to learn ideas. So we have a lesson for each principle, a deep dive lesson that emphasizes a few key ideas and practices, a live weekly speaker, an archive of past weekly speakers and a Fast Track workbook to help you integrate all that you are learning.
Consider writing your Spiritual Autobiography – in abridged form as I have done in this blog, or in an ongoing longer version – your choice!
The BALM includes a spiritual component to allow BALMers new to spirituality to explore its many possibilities. At the same, it is also designed for veterans on the spiritual path.
Those with experience on the spiritual path can revel in the mysteries life has presented thus far, gain a few new tools for their spiritual toolbox, and continue to heal any traumas they have experienced on their path.
For some, the spiritual journey blossoms on the BALM’s loving path. For others, it is a seed planted to be grown at a later time in a different context on their path. Whether latent or fully bloomed, it can enhance the journey along the loving path.
You can learn more about the BALM Family Recovery Program in the newsletter or on our website at balmfamilyrecovery.com.
May your journey lead you to the fullness of a life well lived from the inside out.
And remember everyone…Be A Loving Mirror