Tag Archives: Spirituality

Tag Archives: Spirituality


Your body is dangling, your heart racing, your stomach drops and then it hits – euphoria. You just plunged 30 plus feet, literally hanging by a thread – well actually a rope, but you get the idea.

More than two dozen Cumberland Heights employees took part in The Big Swing Event April 15 and sure, it was an amusing way to kick off the week, but we did it for much more than the thrill. It was a lesson in trust, peer support and letting go.

“It’s your decision and yours alone,” said Recreation Therapist Jimmy Hudgens.

He was talking about the cable you pull when you’re ready to take the plunge. But for those familiar with AA, we’re thinking, “This sounds a lot like Step 3.” Wait a second! This whole exercise mirrors recovery” (or for others, simply letting go of control).

I was the second person in our afternoon swing group to go. The counselor who went before me did it effortlessly. She even looked relaxed, as if she were swinging back and forth on a hammock. I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, this is easy. I have nothing to be afraid of.” And then my friends on the ground started pulling me up. If you’re not familiar with The Big Swing, it’s kind of like those hoisting you up are playing tug of war – everyone is in a line stepping backwards, yanking on a rope to pull you to the top. So, I see them on the ground getting further and further away and all of a sudden, I’m looking down on acres upon acres of rolling hills as if I’m the camera lens on a drone. In my head I’m thinking “Oh gosh this is high.” It wasn’t until I heard people on the ground say “It’s going to be okay” that I realized I was speaking out loud. And then I had made it all the way to the top.

I nervously scream below, “So I just pull this thing?”

I hear a resounding “Yes!”

And I didn’t think. I just did it. I pulled it. And I screamed. I screamed really, really loudly. And I didn’t stop screaming for several seconds. And it was super scary. But it felt amazing. It was a rush like I haven’t felt before. And as you swing back and forth coming down, you just get to bask in the afterglow. All of my friends were happy for me, and then, even better, I got to be a part of their experience when they took the plunge!

Every person there had a job – to spot someone on the ladder, to hoist someone up, to stop pulling the rope when the swinger didn’t want to go any higher. We had to support one another and we had to trust each other.

Others who had done the swing before took it a step further. They put a blindfold on before they dropped. Josh K. was one of them.

“It was a totally different experience because being up there, being that high you can’t see down so you’re just trusting everything is set up right. Here we go. Blind jump. It’s wild,” said Josh.

“Walking by faith and not by sight may be easier than we expect,” said Jimmy.

April R. who organized the event took part in it as a patient at Cumberland Heights a little over three years ago.

“It’s more just fun now since I’m really not afraid of heights, but at the time it was very therapeutic, very special. It was me saying ‘I surrender.’ I just let go and it was emotional and moving,” said April.

She wasn’t alone in her experience. Jimmy says this exercise means more to the patients than we may ever know.

“I had one guy come to an alumni reunion and I recall that patient being very quiet when he was in treatment, but when he came to the reunion he said the swing was his first spiritual experience. It was about giving up control for him. It was his spiritual awakening he said. And you would never know because he never said anything until years later,” said Jimmy.

Recreational therapy is a staple here at Cumberland Heights and I’ve always appreciated it, but I never fully understood it until that day. In treatment you can do everything by the book and go through the steps as you’re told, but it’s usually moments like these when people really find their center, higher power or willingness to let go. Others may find those things in group therapy or in the art room. Everyone responds differently to certain therapies in treatment and Cumberland Heights works really hard to honor that. That’s just one of the things that makes this place so special.

Gaining spirituality in 12-Step Programs12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can not only provide structure and support to a person’s treatment program, but they can also strengthen a person’s sense of spirituality.

This has a direct effect on a person’s sense of self-worth, their purpose in life, how they connect to others and so much more.

A 2015 study published in the journal Religion & Addiction explained that 12-Step programs help build upon six different facets of spirituality:

  1. Release – for many people in addiction recovery, there’s an intense need to control the thoughts and emotions that we’re experiencing when everything seems out of place. We lean towards substances because we believe that is the only way we can drown out the pain – 12-Step programs emphasize the fact that we have to leave everything up to a Higher Power, because we’re simply not strong enough to hold the weight of the world.
  2. Gratitude – when we’re caught in a cycle of pain, we lose everything that we’ve gained. Through 12-Step programs, we’re reminded that there are so many forces working for us – we just have to embrace and recognize them.
  3. Humility – one person shared their story of humility through the 12-Step program via a UK-based website. He stated,

“I started to make real friends and started to gain a belief in myself that I had never felt before. I started to understand that I couldn’t do this alone and realized that as long as I was humble enough to ask for help…I could actually do this.”

  1. Tolerance – because we’re human, we’re always going to come across painful emotions. 12-Step programs reiterate the importance of learning to tolerate these moments of discomfortability by relying on social support and a Higher Power to guide us through.
  2. Forgiveness – with the 12-Step program, those in recovery not only ask for forgiveness from others, but work towards forgiving themselves, too.
  3. Sense of Being at Home – one of the most foundational components of spirituality is feeling a sense of being at home – of fitting in with this world and having a sense of purpose. 12-Step programs help others rediscover themselves through community and faith.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

“Minds are like flowers. They only open when the time is right.” This quote by Stephen Richards resonates not only with people in recovery, but anyone who has been through a journey of growth. Just like the earth and atmosphere go through seasons of change, so do our minds and our spirits.

Whether you found sobriety in winter, fall, summer or spring you felt a new season within yourself. Maybe it was November on the calendar when you got clean, but spring in your soul.There are many parallels between springtime and recovery. Think about the transformation you made when you got sober. You, like spring, experienced blossoming, renewal and probably began to physically look a little brighter too.

Recovery Blogger “Magz” wrote this about springtime being an inspiration for recovery: “I love the significance of spring combined with Easter as the time of rebirth and renewal. When I see the little flower buds opening up on the trees and I think about the significance of Easter, I think about the huge transformation that sobriety has made in my life. In a sense when I quit drinking I died, and then I was reborn again in recovery. My life is nothing like what it was when I was drinking, and I am often overwhelmed by this truly unbelievable transformation.”

But the outside didn’t always look this way did it? Before there were birds chirping, flowers blooming and streams flowing there was lot of dormant grass, frozen creeks and not a flower in sight. In the dead of winter, it’s hard to picture life and vibrancy again, just like when we are in the throes of addiction. But as Mother Nature proves over and over again, no matter how cold, dark and lifeless it may seem, rebirth is on the horizon.

Using yoga and spirituality in addiction recoverySpirituality is what brings many in addiction recovery from a place of loneliness, isolation, shame and desperation to a place of gratitude, connectedness, community and vitality. We all experience pain, and sometimes that pain takes us far beyond what we would have imagined. We become entrenched in this endless loop of negative thinking, drinking, criticism and more, which holds us back from truly living a life of recovery. If you’ve been ready to make a change in your life – one that is truly transformative – focus on spirituality.

In 2018, Very Well Mind, a website that provides information on disorders, self-improvement and more, identified several components of spirituality that is truly discovered by each person in their own recovery journey:

  • Understanding the faults, mistakes and weaknesses that we have as part of being human
  • Respecting oneself and others
  • Learning how to use a moral compass to guide oneself through life’s situations
  • Gaining perspective on one’s problems
  • Letting go of pride and asking for help when it’s needed
  • Receiving and giving support to other people
  • And so much more

12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), help people become more “spiritually fit” through weekly group discussions, sponsorship and community support. Other holistic activities, such as yoga, provide a beautiful blend of mindfulness meditation, breathing, exercise and balance to those in recovery. A 2016 study published in the journal Life Science Global noted that yoga practice, meditation and self-reflection are all excellent spiritual activities to build one’s sense of self-awareness, improve behavioral responses to stress, increased mindfulness of emotions and more.

Holly Glenn Whitaker, a yoga and meditation instructor has been working diligently in her recovery from addiction for many years. In her blog, Hip Sobriety, she mentions that yoga has helped her replace “artificial highs” for more natural ones, become more engaged in a community, establish more control over her mind and discover an incredibly healthy coping mechanism that she can use virtually anytime, anywhere.

If you haven’t already, look into attending some yoga classes alongside your 12-Step program. The possibilities – and benefits – are endless.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

How Does Spirituality Fit into Recovery?Twelve step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have been considered very spiritual in that the steps individuals follow guide them to a stronger connection with God, or to another Higher Power. For many people, this spiritual foundation has provided them with many positive outcomes; in 2016, researchers published a study in the Journal of Religion and Health by assessing the relationship between long term AA members and characteristics of the AA program. They found that feeling God’s daily presence, believing in a higher power as a universal spirit and serving as an AA sponsor all led them to beautiful recovery outcomes. When we talk about spirituality, what exactly do we mean?

There is a distinction between spirituality and religion; spirituality is a general term for having a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, whatever that may be. Religion is a set of beliefs, feelings, dogmas and practices that define the relationship between humans and an all-knowing God or gods. Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism and more are examples of religions, whereas love, empathy, service, gratitude and forgiveness are basic components of spirituality. Each person’s journey through recovery is different, and that journey may include spirituality, religion or both. Ultimately, the biggest takeaway from programs like AA is the sense of hope – the sense that things can get better and that a person does have the support to get them through challenging times.

One person shared the story of how they came to abuse substances after experiencing heightened expectations to succeed in school and work. Here is an excerpt from their story, as stated on DrugFree.org: “I became utterly isolated and life became indescribably dark…I threw my hands up and accepted suggestions for the first time in my life. I prayed to be relieved of my bondage of self and voraciously sought counsel from my newfound support network on how to live.”

Each person may experience spirituality, but the common foundation to it all is finding a purpose in life and building one’s hope for the future. It’s been commonly stated that addiction is a disease of the soul and that’s because so many people are suffering without the love, connection and hope they need.


Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

Everything You Need to Know About How Spirituality Fits Into the 12-Step Program

There are so many factors to consider when you’re searching for the right treatment center. Each person has unique needs and desires to comfortably embark on their journey to recovery, and your recovery approach is one of the first places you should start. If you’re interested in adding a more religious/spiritual component to your recovery, 12-step programs could be an excellent fit. Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have been around for many years, and a lot of people have found success with them. You may be wondering exactly where the spirituality component fits in – and here it is:

  • As members work through the 12 steps, they follow a path that leads them to a Higher Power with whom they can build a strong connection in their life
  • Individuals are led to consider some of life’s biggest questions, such as “Why am I here?” and “What do I need to find more fulfillment in my life?”
  • Many people find that as they’ve worked so hard in their recovery and their spiritual journey, they want to share that experience with others. This act of service further lends itself to living a more spiritually-guided way of life

They say that addiction recovery concerns the mind, body and spirit. Besides working solely on ridding your body of the cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with substance dependence, you’ll work alongside other people to build up a life that is truly meaningful to you – one with balance, love and acceptance. In 2015, a researcher from Harvard University assessed a number of participants in treatment programs with 12-step emphasis. They uncovered a few interesting findings:

  • The more steps completed in the 12-step program, the longer participants were found to remain sober
  • The stronger a person felt about their purpose in life, the longer their sobriety typically was
  • The more active individuals were in their 12-step program, the more likely they were to find their greater purpose in life

Recovery is a personal journey, much like spirituality. For some, the combination provides a stronger foundation for healing, growth and transformation. You may find that through the 12-steps, you’re better able to find structure, with an emphasis placed on the “larger picture” that is life. Addiction takes us away from that and carries us to feel caught up in our own thoughts. Take that step back. You may find that your life is completely transformed because of it.

Cumberland Heights in Chattanooga is a 12-step based outpatient alcohol and drug addiction program. Our Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals 18 and above who may be in the early stages of addiction and alcoholism, or who are experiencing issues with drugs or alcohol. We offer both personalized assessments and flexible treatment hours to suit your needs. If you’re ready to take that first step towards your recovery journey, call us today for more information at 423-308-0689.

How Does Spirituality Fit into Recovery?

When we talk about spirituality, it’s often in the form of something beyond. This could be a Higher Power, such as God, or it could be simply positivity and good will. Each person’s spiritual journey is different, and it doesn’t always have to be based on a religion. Of those that do explore spirituality, they often find a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment in life – one that translates directly into their recovery as well. Spirituality can be what brings us hope, what motivates us, what gets us through hard times and more. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an example of a support group that embraces the spiritual component of recovery, but there are other ways that you can build your spirituality, too.

Just last year, researchers from the University of Michigan sought to explore how spirituality plays into recovery. For 30 months, the researchers assessed 364 people with alcohol dependence. Dimensions of spirituality were noted, especially alongside AA programs. Overall, they found 3 main factors of spirituality that seemed to lend itself well to reduced drinking:

  • Higher levels of purpose in life
  • Self-forgiveness
  • Spiritual/religious practice

AA specifically was found to help people with these spiritual elements:

  • Positive religious coping
  • Daily spiritual experiences
  • Forgiveness of others
  • Spiritual/religious practices

You may find that your perspective on spirituality changes the longer you’re in recovery, and that’s okay. For most people, it’s about what makes sense to them, and what gives them meaning – that means that AA and other religious/spiritual components may or may not become part of your recovery plan.

It’s been said that addiction is often developed in an attempt to fill a void. Whether that’s loneliness, unhappiness, boredom, lack of purpose, lack of support, trauma or something else, we lean towards alcohol and other substances often because we’re trying to heal emotional wounds by physical means. Addiction is more than just a physical component and is often considered something that affects a person’s mind, body and spirit. Recovery is about getting you back on track and feeling complete in all areas of your life – by working through what’s been holding you back, you can use the resources you have to take big steps forward.

You don’t to make a decision today about whether or not you want to dive into more spiritual/religious aspects, but you can try different things to see what fits best for you.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-campus, we are made up of 2 twelve-step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

Overdose Awareness Day at Cumberland Heights

Friday August 31, 2018

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

Overdose Day spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. Together we honor those we have lost and share hope for the future.

A Service of Remembrance of those lost this year, especially to addiction, helping us to move from grief toward hope and healing. A list of first names with last initial of those we are remembering will be read at the service. If you would like to add a name to the list, please submit that using the form below.

On this Father’s Day, I thought I might tell you a familiar story with a slightly different message…The parable of the prodigal is not a story about two sons. It is a story about all of us and how easy it is to get lost in our own point of view and our own self will.

The emphasis in the story is not on the sons, but on their father. It is an unveiling of the mercy and the grace of God. The central truth of the parable is the picture of a Higher Power who wants to care for us and who is able to restore us- no matter how lost we have been.

This parable reminds us that we need the initiating love of God. The father did not wait for the son to ask for forgiveness. He was already forgiven and loved for exactly who he was. This parable shows us that amends are not just about our wrongs — they are about the exact nature of our wrongs and what it means to live a life run by self will. And finally, this parable explains why we need to be moved by the impact our actions have on other people. Addiction is a family disease. And whether you are the addict, a friend or a family member, you are probably mad at the people who hurt you. You might get stuck and frustrated when you feel like life isn’t going your way. You are unhappy in your self-will and your sense of superiority. That’s why the uniqueness of the transformation in Step 2 is offered to us all.

Spirituality is not an all or nothing concept. To be spiritual people, we must make spiritual choices. Rigorous honesty is a spiritual choice. Willingness is a spiritual choice. Working the Steps is a spiritual choice as well. So I encourage you to be in agreement with the power of the Spirit today and to do your best to ignore anything that tries to sway you from your primary purpose.

June 10, 2018: Sunday Sermon: You Have To Serve Somebody…or Something

We are all worshipping something, whether we realize it or not. In this talk, Stan explores the various “Higher Powers” at work in our lives like seeking the approval of others, chasing financial success or needing to control people, places, and things and compares them to the benefits of the Gospel of Jesus, the Eightfold Path of Buddhism, and the Twelve Step recovery process.


Recovery is Possible

Recover Life.

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