The 5 Spiritual Tools I Use in My Sober Recovery

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I love this blog post and decided to update it for my 13th anniversary of getting sober! I’ve added more resources and new information on spiritual and practical tools that I use in my sober recovery.

My path to sobriety

October 2nd is one of the most important anniversaries in my life.

spirit junkie book gabby bernsteinIn the fall of 2005 I was deep in the throes of addiction and spiraling toward rock bottom fast. Here’s how I put it in my book Spirit Junkie:

Things got bad. I had no real friends, my family was constantly disappointed in me, I weighed about 98 pounds and my voice was totally shot. My business was going under, my business partner wanted me dead and my self-loathing was at an all-time high. I was severely depressed from the drugs, and I literally had lost my mind. I couldn’t remember where I’d parked my car the night before, or the name of the intern I’d hired a year earlier. I was a mess.

Then, after a crazy party on the night of October 1st, I came home and wrote in my journal as I tried to come down from the drugs I’d taken. I wrote: “I need help. God, Universe, whoever is out there … I need a miracle.”

I fell asleep. The next morning — October 2nd, 2005 — I woke up with a loud, clear inner voice talking to me.

For many years this voice had been a whisper, one that I’d mostly ignored. But that morning there was no denying it. I had asked for help and now I was receiving it. The voice said, “Get clean and you will live a life beyond your wildest dreams.”

I had no choice but to listen. I had surrendered, and God was answering my prayer.

I have been sober since that day.

And just as that voice promised, from the moment I got clean I’ve been manifesting everything I desire. My happiness, health and success went from zero to off the charts. I owe it all to that spiritual surrender.

I share my story of self-love and miracles in my 2011 TEDx Talk:

Tweet: Spiritual practices help me handle every challenge with grace, and I can call on that support and power whenever I want.

In this post I want to give you some of the most important tools I use in my sober recovery. These spiritual tools help me live a miraculous life every day, and I hope they will help you on your own path. But I want to begin by sharing the most important first step on your path to sobriety.

The first step in sobriety: Willingness and surrender

In order to make any change, heal any negative pattern or break any addiction, we must have two things in place. We must be willing to change, and we must surrender spiritually.

What does it mean to be willing?

Your true willingness to recover from any kind of addiction is enough to put you on the path to healing. Being willing to change, grow and heal doesn’t mean you have everything figured out. It means you’re committed to keeping an open mind, being patient and letting go of ideas, behaviors and patterns that no longer serve you.

Simply put, no change can happen unless we want it. This can sound scary, because while you might be willing, you might also feel overwhelmed and vulnerable. But don’t worry. This is where spiritual surrender comes in.

What is spiritual surrender?

Spiritual surrender is when we let go of our own plan and trust that the Universe has a far greater one for us. When we surrender our will to the power of the Universe, we receive miracles. We can trust that we will receive clear direction to guide us to the resources, people and support we need.

If surrender also seems kind of scary to you right now, that’s totally normal. Just keep it simple and begin by surrendering to the fact that you are willing to show up for yourself and your healing.

The Universe will do for you what you cannot do for yourself

All the greatest healing I’ve experienced in my life has come from an experience that the Universe placed in front of me and not something that I made happen. That’s the beauty of a spiritual path: When you surrender and allow the Universe to do her thing, true healing is presented to you.

In every moment the Universe is conspiring to bring you toward right-minded thinking and the energy of love. It’s your choice to lean toward love or lean toward fear. The spiritual tools I share below will help you lean toward love moment by moment, day by day.

The spiritual tools I use in my sober recovery

gabby bernstein with hands in prayer pose

Committing to living in the light, staying clean and sticking with my spiritual practices has changed my life in every conceivable way.

It’s not that getting clean and walking a spiritual path have made all my problems and challenges disappear!

Instead, my spiritual practices help me handle every challenge with grace and confidence. They remind me that there is a power much greater than me, and that I can call on support and guidance from that power whenever I want.

Below I share some of the spiritual tools that I lean on all the time in my sober recovery. It is my hope and my intention that you will incorporate these tools into your own life and spiritual practice, whether you are recovering from substances or negative habits.

1. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has completely changed my life. You may be familiar with it because I’ve been sharing EFT lessons for years. It’s a psychological acupressure technique that supports your emotional health by stimulating certain meridian points on the body.

When you tap on specific energy meridians found on your face, head, arm and chest, you can release ancient fears, limiting beliefs, negative patterns and even physical pain.

I have practiced EFT with some incredible teachers, including Nick Ortner. Nick and his sister, Jessica, are the founders of The Tapping Solution. Tapping with Nick is a beautiful experience.

If you want to go deeper with EFT, Nick has an amazing book called The Tapping Solution for Manifesting Your Greatest Self. In it he shares a 21-day process for releasing self-doubt, strengthening your sense of inner peace and manifesting an awesome life.

EFT tapping for stress and anxiety

When you are in sober recovery, or recovering from any kind of addiction, you may feel overwhelmed by stress or anxiety. If this happens, press play on the video below and follow my guidance to tap on stress and anxiety. You may feel relief immediately. But if not, that’s okay. Press play again and just keep tapping until you feel better.

2. Meditating daily

I practice different kinds of meditation. One of the most powerful meditations when you are in sober recovery is the Kundalini meditation for addiction.  This is a very simple meditation that is easy to practice and to incorporate into your everyday life. It’s been a lifesaver for me. Watch below, and click here for more information on this meditation and written instructions.

You can use this amazing Kundalini meditation for any type of addiction, from alcohol and drugs to fear-based thoughts and negative patterns. We all deal with addiction in some form. Practicing this meditation regularly will bring you immense relief.

There are many types of meditation that will help you in your sober recovery. Guided meditations are some of my favorites because they make it really easy to follow along. I created a free 2-track meditation album that you can download instantly. All you have to do is press play and follow my guidance!

de-stress in 10 minutes a day | gabby bernstein's free meditations

3. Turning each day over to Spirit

Every day as part of my sober recovery and spiritual path, I consciously turn over my day to Spirit. I pray for guidance and support, and I release all outcomes.

gabby bernstein praying | spiritual tools for sober recoveryI talked about surrender above, and it’s important to know that surrender is not a one-time thing. Surrender is a daily practice. Sometimes it’s a moment-to-moment practice. When I gave my SuperSoul Sessions talk in 2017, I shared my 5 steps to spiritual surrender. Step 1 is to take your hands off the wheel through prayer.

One powerful prayer is what’s known as the Acceptance Prayer. This prayer is found in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I turn to it when I find myself struggling with acceptance and surrender:

…And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.

You can simply say a short prayer every morning or anytime you find yourself trying to control outcomes. You might say, “Today I surrender my goals and plans to the care of the Universe. I offer up my agenda and accept spiritual guidance.”

Then pay attention to the guidance you receive. Because when you ask, you will receive.

If you struggle with this concept, check out my blog on how to trust in the healing path.

4. Step 10 of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

gabby bernstein walking in the woods | spiritual tools for addiction recoveryThe 10th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous is “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” (You can see all 12 Steps here.)

Taking a daily personal inventory helps me to spot-check myself regularly. Practicing this step has helped me to become fearlessly honest as well as compassionate toward myself.

When I take an inventory and recognize that I have judged someone or was in the wrong, I can get real about my thoughts and behavior instead of ignoring them. I can witness my judgment without judgment. Then I can make amends and choose love instead of the fear-based voice of the ego.

This daily spot-checking keeps resentment and frustration from building up and blowing up. It strengthens my relationship to Spirit, to the people I love and to myself.

5. Understanding my triggers

Becoming conscious of my triggers and childhood wounds has been essential in my sober recovery. The more I understand my triggers, the easier it is to catch myself in my addictive patterns and choose differently.

One meditation that has helped me heal deep wounds from childhood is the Kundalini Meditation for Releasing Childhood Anger. If you have resentment, anger or trauma that stems back to when you were young, practicing this meditation regularly can set you free.

Meditate with me by pressing play below:

When you feel yourself being triggered and need a fast dose of serenity, there are two tools you can use in the moment. One is a simple, powerful prayer that I share in this video. Another is the Backpack Meditation. This is a Kundalini meditation that you can bust out whenever stress is taking over.

When I notice myself slipping into old patterns, I can be compassionate toward myself for having those triggers. I can acknowledge my spiritual assignments and show up for them fully in order to heal them, and can I feel safe to let go of the story that I tell myself so that the Universe can write a new one for me.

More resources for addiction recovery

I know it can be difficult to find the resources you need to get clean, recover and thrive (or help someone you love do it). I gathered some valuable information and resources that can help you at any stage of your recovery.

Living Sober book

Living Sober book | spiritual tools for sober recoveryI recommend a beautiful book called Living Sober.

This book helped me see the truth of what was going on for me and helped me set the intention to change my path. It offers guidance for how to live a sober life and is extremely helpful in early recovery or for people thinking about getting sober.

I want to suggest this book as a gentle right action for how to start seeing yourself in a different light and begin to create change.

Addiction Resource Hub

My dear friend Jim Hood is the co-CEO of Facing Addiction with NCADD (the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence). He shared with me an amazing resource that his organization created called the Addiction Resource Hub. This is an invaluable tool for finding local, independent support when you or someone you love needs help with addiction.

The Addiction Resource Hub can help you find treatment options, legal help, housing, wellness resources, community support and many other extremely valuable and important resources.

Finding inpatient treatment for addiction recovery

I called on my good friend Elisa Hallerman, the founder of Recovery Management Agency and a certified drug and alcohol counselor, to share some tips on finding treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. Elisa has a deep understanding of addiction and recovery. She and her team help individuals and families manage every aspect of their addiction treatment so the person going into treatment can focus on recovery and healing.

I asked Elisa for her advice on what to do if you or someone you love needs treatment for addiction. Below is her response. For more guidance, check out Recovery Management Agency.

Elisa Hallerman’s guidance on addiction treatment

Elisa: There are many different forms of treatment: detox, inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient or individual therapies. If you cannot stop using drugs or alcohol and need an education on substance abuse, inpatient treatment is probably a good choice.

Check with your insurance company as to which treatment facilities are in your network. Then, when you have a list, call admissions and ask a number of questions. Refrain from telling them about you or your loved one first. Ask them about the treatment facility.

Here are some questions that can help you decide whether a facility is right for you:

  1. How many beds are there? How many are full right now?
  2. Is it co-ed? What is the current ratio of men to women?
  3. What is the current milieu like right now in terms of ages, willingness to participate, degree of addiction?
  4. Do they treat co-occurring disorders such as bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression?
  5. Do they have their own psychiatrist on staff? Is the psychiatrist there every day, and how often does the client get to see them?
  6. Is there neuro-psychological testing available?
  7. Are they trauma-focused or trauma-informed?
  8. How often do you see the individual therapist? Can you increase those sessions if needed?
  9. What is the daily schedule?
  10. Who runs the groups?
  11. What level of degrees do the clinicians hold? Are they counselors, therapists, social workers? Do they have master’s degrees or doctorate-level degrees?
  12. What is the average length of stay? Do they have step-down care available?
  13. Are they 12-step based?
  14. What type of exercise is available?
  15. What are the rules if someone relapses?

Heal old traumas with Judgment Detox

The root cause of many addictive patterns is trauma. For a deeper recovery, we must become brave enough to face our trauma. While this can be difficult at times, the payoff is huge. Healing old wounds offers immense relief.

In my book Judgment Detox, I guide you through a six-step process to clear judgment, recover from old traumas and feel a newfound sense of freedom and peace. The book includes truly life-changing practices that will help you heal even the most painful wounds.

If you struggle with feeling judged, or if you have shame around an addiction or past behavior, the book includes EFT tapping scripts to help you heal and release those feelings safely.

If you have judged yourself for your addiction or anything else, one thing you can try right now is my guided EFT video where we tap on judgment. You can use this practice to release judgment of yourself or judgment of another person.

Share your truth

I’ve shared my truth in this blog post. Now I invite you to share yours. Are you on a path of recovery from any kind of addiction, whether it’s alcohol, substances, unhealthy relationships or anything else? What tools have helped you the most?

Share your miracles below. I’ll be reading every comment.

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  1. I have my own formula for recovery but I love yours too. First and foremost since I am only 2 years sober, I cling to staying away from people, places and things. Then I have a daily ritual. Go to an AA meeting every morning, read religious reading because I still don’t know if I believe in prayer, meditate, read an affirmation, do a gratitude list. Call my sponsor. In the evening I write in my journal and do a 10th step inventory. I hope to grow spiritually too but right now I am focused on changing with self improvement.

    1. Right on, Lara! Congratulations on getting sober, my friend. This is a really important and precious time in your life. I love that you are putting your health and well-being first. You’re asking yourself what best serves you right now, connecting with your higher power, asking for guidance, and are open to receiving spiritual guidance. May you experience many miraculous shifts as you continue on your healing journey. Sending you a lot of love and a lot of light. xoxo

  2. Hello…just came across your page ….I am a 58 Year old SWM & have been sober 25 years ….totally agree with your info here… you …keep up the good work……Rick

  3. Hello Gabby!

    Here are some of my thoughts on spiritual awakenings.

    All of the punishments imagined in Hades entail the agony of a meaningless repetition–only something miraculous could release Sisyphus from pushing his rock, or finally offer Tantalus the nourishment eternally just out of reach. This is why recovered addicts often speak of the everyday “miracles of this program:” from the narrow circuit of self-punishing behavior, a vision is needed “of something greater than myself” for the faith of creative living to be restored. As Jung wrote in a well-known letter to Bill Wilson, alcoholism represents “a craving…on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in mediaeval language: the union with God.” Such a union, as Wilson wrote later in the Big Book, suggests more than following “a mere code of morals,” more than the literal, externally sanctioned rules of conventional religion. The mystical knowledge of gnosis (in contrast with agnosticism, or not knowing) implies a deep and direct, intuitive access to the Self–an idea Jung derived from Indian philosophy. A concept deeply intertwined with the idea of a spiritual awakening.


  4. Hey Gabby,
    Do you still go to AA? I have about 18 months and have been going to meetings for those 18 months. I have definitely had a spiritual awakening and i am truly grateful. Lately though, I am having a hard time with some of the language/beliefs in AA. I don’t know how to describe it. I have moved to a new city and am having a little trouble finding my people in AA. I love the 12 steps and think they are amazing spiritual tools but sometimes the language in AA or the beliefs about the “disease” are hard for me to swallow. I believe in living a spiritual life and living freely. Going back through the past of what i was like when i was drinking does not help me move forward. I don’t know. I am just struggling with the program and was wondering if this has ever happened to you and if so how you got through it?

    1. Thanks for showing up here Christina. Try out different AA groups until you find the one that resonates most with you. It’s important to find the best for you, one that feels supportive and connected. Trust that you are on a beautiful, healing path. <3

  5. Wonderful that you support sobriety. I am a shaman, energy healer, dream walker and can do healing in waking or dreaming. In 1992 I decided to go totally sober for my spiritual path and commit to it, even though I was only 33 and had already healed my own brain cancer (when i turned 25, no doctors no medications). Sobriety then was a huge support. Now at 61, still a full time healer, completely sober, organic food only and water or pure teas, I feel great. My clients, students and apprentices, all get the benefits of that and I encourage all of them over and over the reasons why we benefit. Today its almost impossible to find a completely sober Alternative Healer or Holistic Healer (sober from pot, alcohol or ayahuasca/peyote plant/drugs.) We are dealing with a pandemic drug pot medications etc in this world, and need more spokes persons for sobriety like you in the spiritual path.

  6. Dear Gabby, it’s a while since this post but still wanted to comment 🙂 I achieved over a year sober through AA and spiritual teachings including yours. I have been ‘back out there’ for nearly three years now convincing myself that it’s not so bad now… but really the addiction has taken over my heart and soul. I’ve been trying to do it alone because I am scared of going back to AA and being in there for ‘life’, or, failing. My therapist has also been negative towards AA. I would love to know how you have worked with AA as a tool long term xx

    1. Grateful that you shared here, Vicki. Follow your intuition. If you’re seeking a support group, AA will provide that. Keep tapping into that inner wisdom. Take it one day at a time and see how that feels. <3

  7. Hi everyone! Thanks for this post, it’s revealing to read about women who are open about their addictions. I have been sober for over a year and are very greatful and humble to my decision. My best recommendations are; get a good therapist on addictions treatment, go to AA and/or CoDA, avoid stress and meditate at least two times a day, year healthy, start moving your body and do something you like such as dancing, walking, hiking, tennis etc., write an emotional diary on how you feel, spend time with sober friends (you will find within AA if you have none), read read and read about alcoholism (you need to understand about the effects of alcohol on your brain and the damages to your spiritual part, the front lobe) and read other spiritual books such as Gabbys books and so on. I never thought I could be totally sober but I managed! And my life is filled with so much love and happiness i never could imagine (i thought before it would be booring not to drink..but it is in the long run much more fun). I’m also doing much better at work and get more respect from people when I tell them I’m sober. Good luck to you all!!

  8. Dear Gabby, I am stuck in an issue that keeps repeating. After 6 years recovering my health by not allowing destructive food or things around me, my mother decided that she’s bringing back all…
    I also relapse this week and I am panicking .. She says I just have to not touch. Its like some one recovering from alcool abuse living in a bar. I wish to have my own place but don’ t have a job for it financially plus I struggle with anxiety job search because of bad jobs that where not me and not wanting sitting cubicule jobs and scared/lost with life … I eat in my room because she has the table with tv from 5 to 9 + pm and feel trapped.
    I cry when visualize how having your own environment to feel secure most be like. I am alone in my issue, but I asked for help from my guides but it seems impossible…
    Please pray for me because it seems the universe think I am not trying as much as I can.

    1. Connecting with a support group in your area can be a wonderful resource for you. There are many free, confidential and loving groups with like-minded people. If you are in the US, is a great government resource. They have a free, confidential helpline that is available 24/7. The number is 1-800-662-4357. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Sending you lots of love and healing. <3

  9. While I am a little tardy with this note, I just wanted to wish you a very happy birthday. I know some of your journey since I have been on the same path for 28 years. The guidance you provide is spot on and very much worth following, which is the reason I joined.

    West coast fan boy!

  10. Gabby,

    You changed my life. Thank you for sharing your light.
    The Universe delivered me one of your videos (I will never forget that moment) and from that moment, you helped me so much.
    God bless you and your beautiful family.


  11. Thank you for sharing your experience and congratulations on your anniversary! I have been sober since June 2nd 2014 and often wonder how to keep enjoying this normally wonderful existence. I did not find my local AA a very comfortable place to be. My sponsor was wonderful and I’m eternally grateful for her love and help. But I experienced a real hostility from others which ultimately I could not deal with. I no longer have the support of a community and I miss this terribly. I struggle to find my place in this world, and deal constantly with my anxiety and fear of not fitting in. I am at a loss as to how to deal with this and return to happiness. Bless you for continuing to give me hope that one day I mightsucceed xx

    1. Hi Fiona. I’m so sorry to hear you had this experience. Here are a few suggestions.

      1. Possibly check out some new meetings. There are always sober people ready to welcome you with open arms:)
      2. We have a powerful online community called the Miracle Membership. Some very soulful connections have been made amongst members when they gather on the FB page. If you’re looking for more support from me and a really loving community check out

      Big love to you and congrats on your recovery.

      XOX G

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