When used appropriately, with right understanding and balance, religion or spiritual focus can be an aid to recovery efforts.

Does religion have a place in recovery?

The answer is yes. And no.

By the way, by “religion,” I realize I may be inadvertently saying different things to different folks. For some, “religion” may mean planning a regular visit to a house of worship, while for others “religion” may mean waking up a bit early each morning for a meditation session before work or school.

Still others may define “religion” as something much closer to the realm of “spirituality,” as in an approach to every day life that encompasses the connection we all share.

And still others may have a definition for “religion” that I’ve never heard of or thought of before.

However, that doesn’t change the answer to whether religion has a place in recovery. The answer is still yes.

And still no.

In recovery, as we discussed in the series last month called “The Manual,” there are many different levels of “us” that are being worked on, often simultaneously. We are working on restoring health to our bodies, our minds, our emotional balance, and our inner connection to ourselves as well as our connection to all that is around us.

Because of this, it is important to know two things. One, we must know what the word “religion” means to us personally. If we don’t know what it means, then that is where we start.

And two, we must know where religion can be helpful and where it cannot be as helpful.

For instance, if you are recovering from an eating disorder, like I was for so many years, then an expression of religious or spiritual activity cannot take the place of following a meal plan. But if your definition of religion extends to such areas as may suggest you believe that you receive help from a higher being or force of universal good, then it can definitely bolster your courage and faith that eating a meal plan daily can help you achieve your recovery goals.

If you are working on restoring your relationships, religion can often be a huge aid, whether it means attending a place of worship to make new friends and find helpful connections and support, or whether it means sitting for meditation and contemplation sessions regularly to check in with yourself about how you are feeling, what you are thinking, and what your heart is telling you is the next best step in your recovery journey.

Today’s Takeaway: What place – if any – does religion have as a mentor in your life? Do you know what the word “religion” means to you? If not, start there. If so, test out your definition and see if you still feel it is an authentic expression of your experience of your own religious or spiritual life. How does your personal relationship with religion or spirituality support you in your recovery goals? Could it be more supportive – or is it perhaps interfering with doing the hard work you know you need to do to heal?