There is a widespread agreement amongst individuals in long-term 12-step recovery that a spiritual or religious connection is a component of their success that is without parallel. We at Oregon Trail Recovery feel that this connection is imperative in the treatment of our clients and in the likelihood that they will live a life of happiness, joy, and freedom in long-term recovery.
In efforts to encourage and promote such connections in our clients, we offer to them exposure to different paths of spirituality that have proven to be of help to clients in the past. Some individuals prefer to attend certain religious ceremonies, some to follow their own spiritual traditions, some avoid such experiences due to negative memories from their past, and some haven’t a clue what this thing called spirituality is all about. We believe that none of these individuals are at an advantage or a disadvantage in these matters, so long as they are willing and open-minded to the idea that such a connection could help. One opportunity that we offer to our clients that has made profound, positive impacts on many clients are the Native American spiritual ceremonies and traditions that we attend regularly.
Native Americans and other indigenous cultures around the globe have been pouring water on hot rocks in ceremony for thousands of years. These ceremonies, known as Sweat Lodges, are performed for countless reasons amongst many cultures and in various designs. There is, however, a common denominator between all of these various lodges that qualify them to be considered sacred ceremonies. This common denominator is that there is always an underlying agenda of connecting with spirituality in some form or another. No rules are written as to what or to whom one must connect, nor that they make some specific sort of connection, but ceremonies such as these allow an individual to reach out and see what might be there, in ways that cannot be put into words. The intimate experience that each individual has in a Sweat Lodge is completely unique and varies greatly in intensity and personal meaning. That being said, not all who participate will have some profound experience that will change their life, but all who participate will have an experience of some sort nonetheless.
Many that align with a specific religion or belief system or that lack a concept of spirituality altogether have skeptical views regarding the practices of indigenous tribes in the Americas and elsewhere in the world. For this reason, and for the sake of freedom of religion, we do not require any of our clients to attend any religious or spiritual ceremonies that they do not have an interest in taking part in. However, of those that have chosen to attend, a majority have expressed that the experience was meaningful and like nothing else they have done before, and a good number decide to return for another sweat.
Our ultimate goal in offering this experience, and other religious and spiritual events, to our clients is that they find this connection that so many profess is essential to recovery. This connection is one that cannot be provided intentionally by a counselor or a therapist but is, instead, a completely personal experience. By offering Sweat Lodges to our clients, we open a door to them where they might find this connection that may not have been found elsewhere.