By Cheryl Parker
After many years of addiction to cocaine and many other substances, Ester Nicholson recovered her sobriety by diligently working the 12 steps of AA and NA. A day came, however, when she realized that a decade of working the steps had kept her clean and sober but still had not healed her sense of low self-worth. Nicholson began a spiritual journey of exploration that led to the creation of a powerful program that complements the 12 steps and uses metaphysical principles. Then she recovered her soul.
In the time spent developing her program, Soul Recovery, Nicholson discovered that the process she created to complement addiction programs was a powerful spiritual path all by itself. She now works with people from all walks of life, helping them to heal what she feels is the very core of many human issues: layers of unloving thought patterns and a belief in a self that is separate from God.
Citing her own addiction, Nicholson reveals, “I was addicted to filling the bottomless pit of my broken heart and hungry soul with anything and everything external to myself…if it gave me the temporary illusion of feeling whole and complete, even if only for an instant.” Despite being in recovery for over a decade, Nicholson was left with the fearful thought patterns and beliefs that had led her to substance abuse in the first place. Healing these damaging beliefs and the way that people try to deal with them, whether that involves abuse of substances or not, is at the heart of her Soul Recovery program.
Nicholson began her spiritual journey into Soul Recovery when she started attending a spiritual center that taught metaphysics — what she describes as the philosophical study of the nature of being and how our deep beliefs become the ‘cause and effect’ in our world. She studied the ideas of spiritual unity with God (or whatever name people choose to call it) and realized that the “power greater than ourselves” in the 12 steps program is actually the same creative power that resides in every person.
Nicholson maintains that this important concept is crucial to soul healing because it allows people to realize that Spirit is not simply a distant entity in the sky but part of who they are. Nicholson explains that when people begin to understand that they are part of all of the Good, that God is and realize that they can choose how they want to act in life rather than react out of fear or limitation, self-love and understanding can begin to grow.
Ester Nicholson wrote her book, Soul Recovery — 12 Keys to Healing Addiction… And 12 Steps for the Rest of Us, to expand on her personal work and to bring this program to a greater number of people. The Soul Recovery program is organized into twelve units that correspond to the 12 Steps of recovery programs as taught in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Each step has a Key, or spiritual idea, that introduces a basic metaphysical concept and presents some practices and actions for moving forward. The format uses the tools of setting intentions, contemplation, journaling, affirmations and meditative quotes as well as action steps that the participant can use to support her or his progress.
The program creates a spiritual journey, from first becoming aware of the self as a spiritual being (Key 1 – You Are The Power), learning how to express a greater sense of the self (Key 5 – Living Out Loud), to finally creating a life overflowing with so much good that the self is fulfilled and wants to give back (Key 12 – – Loving Service). While she advocates a solid grounding in the 12 steps for people in recovery, it is this spiritual journey that Nicholson says transcends the typical addiction and recovery programs.
Moving beyond established ideas about addiction, Nicholson suggests that many of the issues people struggle with in life can be resolved using the Soul Recovery program. Michael Bernard Beckwith of Agape International Spiritual Center defines addiction as “…that which has become an obsession for filling the empty spaces within our lives…that which appears to alleviate stress, to anesthetize the pain of anxiety, loss, fear, a sense of not-enoughness.”
Nicholson works with people who are addicted to food, work, the need to be sick, to relationships and the emotions that come with them, and those who obsess about their pain and their stories. She believes that the spiritual principles of Soul Recovery are just as applicable for someone who is up all night wrestling with an obsessive thought as they are for someone struggling with alcohol dependency. “Addiction is anything that is blocking you from your wholeness, and it is painful,” she says. Her mission in life is to support people who are struggling with any kind of addiction and to offer a set of tools to build a new life and a new idea of who they are.
Ester Nicholson’s book tells the story of a young woman who moved through a devastating period of substance addiction and who became stronger and happier than she ever thought possible. Nicholson shares the amazing experiences of her new life, from becoming a professional singer, performing back-up for Bette Midler and Rod Stewart, to becoming a public speaker, teacher and spiritual therapist. Through television appearances, keynote speaking, facilitating online events through her website www.soulrecovery.org, and hosting various workshop presentations, she maintains her commitment to believe in the inherent good in people and to show them how to find their own magnificence. www.esternicholson.com
Ester Nicholson in Fort Collins
Speaker: “The Divine Invitation: Get Dressed for the Party”
Sunday Sept 21, 10 a.m., Free
Workshop: “Keys to Abundant Living”
Sunday, September 21, 6-9 p.m. $35 Suggested Love Offering
Whole Life Center for Spiritual Living
2020 S College Ave, Suite C-1
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Cheryl Parker is a licensed spiritual counselor, instructor, eternal student and seeker of truth. She is a regular contributor to BellaSpark. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.