Regardless of whether or not you believe in God, higher power, creator of the universe, etc., you can still be a spiritual person. Whether you realize it or not, you probably practice spirituality without even knowing it. The simple fact that you’re here reading this implies you’re seeking something. Welcome.
Maybe you’re wondering how one becomes spiritual or what the benefits are of being a spiritual person.
The definition of spirituality is that which relates to or affects the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. Spirituality touches that part of you that is not dependent on material things or physical comforts.
- Living Words of Wisdom
Sounds good to me
A Glimpse into the Practicality of Belief
My family attended church every Sunday until I was about 6 years old; so I was told and vaguely remember craft time in Sunday school. We then moved 60 miles away to “the farm;” away from town, churches, and the routine of going to church. My father’s dream was to farm. And he did for many years until we had to sell the farm and move to the city when I was in junior high. Well, “city” for me had a population of 3,000. The point is that spirituality or church (which meant the same thing to me) was not a part of our daily lives; but work was. However my mother has always been a women of faith.
I know we had a bible in the house because when I was around ten years old my mother found me under the kitchen table reading it during a bad storm. Living in rural Kansas, tornado’s were common and something my dad enjoyed… observing. I remember one steamy summer evening standing next to him on the front porch watching the clouds swirl above our house like an angry toilet bowl. I asked him if he was scared to which he answered, “It doesn’t look good.” I guess at ten years old I felt I still had some un-finished business with the man upstairs. That’s when my mother found me reading scripture under the table.
Growing up I had no reason to really think about or consider God or spirituality. Honestly, I thought it was something people used to make themselves feel better. I do recall loving nature and the wonders of the outdoors. No matter where we lived, my favorite spot was the top of the highest tree where I would sit for hours and contemplate earth’s beauty and observe the wonders of nature.
Religion is for those who are afraid of going to hell, spirituality is for those who have been there.
When I was twenty two my grandfather passed away. I remember him being one of the happiest souls I’d known in my inexperienced life. His hickory stripped overalls always hid something fascinating; like a pocket watch and the chain that snuck into the bib pocket just begging us to pull on it. I loved the way he’d say “hot diggity” while slapping his knee, making it impossible to not jump in his lap.
When my grandfather passed, I had a hard time grasping the concept of someone you love being there one day and gone the next. The idea that I would never see him again was difficult to wrap my head around. That was my first glimpse into the possible benefit of religion, spirituality, or a deeper belief system. A reason to believe in something outside of myself and the physical world I lived in. People would say, “He’s with God now and resting…he’s in a better place.” All the time I was thinking, “Good for them, I think that’s nice they try to convince themselves he’s in heaven to make them feel better.” I remember thinking; I wish I could feel better. For the first time I entertained the idea of searching for something to believe in outside of myself. My reasoning was; if it makes us feel better, why not? It would be a fleeting glimpse however as I set out to conquer and dazzle the world with my amazing abilities and charisma. Deep down in my core I believed there was nothing out there beyond what I could see or touch; so I’d better go get as much of it as I could.
Fourteen years later I realized I would need to believe in something besides myself if I wanted to live. Me wasn’t working out the way I had planned. It was then—out of desperation—I went searching for a different way to live; what I found was spirituality.
Spirituality: Believing vs. Knowing
Recently due to an illness in our family, I’m reminded again—up close and personal—of our mortality. The experience reminds me of what I felt as a twenty two year old and my grandfather’s death. Moreover, will all the work I’ve done and spiritual progress I’ve made since, help me when I need it the most? Or am I just preparing to shield myself from reality when something really tragic happens?
Do I really believe or know everything will be OK?
At this stage in my spiritual journey I mostly believe. But as I experience more of life and remain conscious throughout each experience—allowing them to take me to where I’m supposed to be—I begin to know.
Early in my spiritual journey I believed certain things because I witnessed them happening in the lives of others. The seed began with the simple belief that—if it could happen for them—maybe it could happen for me. Things like practical prayer; that by praying for others more than myself, I was consciously thinking of others more and I would eventually become less selfish. Moreover, I began to witness others go through tragic experiences while maintaining a sense of inner-peace and serenity.
Just because we believe in some higher power or become spiritual does not mean we avoid suffering or pain. Quite contrary, Buddhism suggests that suffering is an essential part of life. From Mindfulness in Plain English (Amazon):
The essence of life is suffering, said the Buddha. At first glance this seems exceedingly morbid and pessimistic. It even seems untrue. After all, there are plenty of times when we are happy. Aren’t there? No, there are not. It just seems that way. Take any moment when you feel really fulfilled and examine it closely. Down under the joy, you will find that subtle, all-pervasive undercurrent of tension, that no matter how great the moment is, it is going to end. No matter how much you just gained, you are either going to lose some of it or spend the rest of your days guarding what you have got and scheming how to get more. And in the end, you are going to die. In the end, you lose everything. It is all transitory.
The key for spirituality is to learn how to manifest an underlying belief system that is based on experience and keeps us in the moment.
So the key to managing suffering is to discover this thing called spirituality and the ability to match calamity with serenity. Working towards inner-peace and the ability to stay as present in each moment as possible. We begin to realize the spiritual power of now.
Anyone, regardless of beliefs, can practice spirituality. In essence, spirituality is a quest for self-transformation; sometimes called new age spirituality.
New age spirituality is the development of individual personal spiritual experiences. It is not any one specific philosophy, or set of religious beliefs. It is a journey through many paths and practices that leads to self-discovery.
It is people discovering their own power, taking responsibility for their lives, and recognizing that we are all one in the grand universal scheme.
-New Age Spirituality at Living Words of Wisdom
6 Ways You Can Practice Spirituality
1. Learning the True Nature of Self
By looking deep inside ourselves, we begin to understand how we operate. We can take a close look at our fears—rejection, abandonment, failure, success—and things which throw us off balance. Then we’re able to search for the cause in underlying emotions.
The truth is most people find the same things underneath; further evidence that we’re all linked in one form or another and are more similar than our ego would have us believe.
As we learn more about ourselves, we’re better equipped to understand others. This leads to open mindedness, forgiveness, and empathy.
2. Make a Choice
Self-transformation begins with a choice, a decision to seek a more spiritual life.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear
The fact that you’re reading this means you’re seeking something. We all have to start somewhere. The important thing is to keep searching until you find something that makes sense to you. The choice is yours, take what you need and leave the rest.
3. Self-Help/Personal Development
Have you checked out the self-help or personal development section at your local book store lately? It’s packed full of all sorts of topics; many of which touch on spirituality in one form or another. One book I highly recommend and read often is There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem (Amazon) by Wayne Dyer.
There are many forms of meditation, find one that works for you. Try to keep it simple in the beginning until you find something that works. Check out my post, Mindfulness and the Benefits of Meditation.
5. Ask for Guidance
Find someone who has something you want (spiritually) and ask them how they got there. There are spiritual coaches and programs which help people live more spiritual lives. Again, it’s important to find something that makes sense to you; listen to your gut.
Personal development guru Steve Pavlina says in his article How To Graduate From Christianity, “When you see enforcement based on the promise of rewards and punishments, you’re not witnessing real truth. You’re witnessing marketing masquerading as truth.”
Spirituality has nothing to do with materialism or our physical comforts; it touches on mind, body, and spirit. As the other 5 points deal mostly with mind and spirit, exercising the body is spiritual.
Once you start taking care of your mind and spirit, you’ll intuitively want to live a healthier lifestyle physically.
Most people cannot deny the power behind a healthy body, mind, and spirit. It sort of reminds me of my first car; a maroon Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Classic. It was a project car of a nearby high school. It looked cool as hell but the engine was crap! It doesn’t matter how good you look if you can’t get to where you need to go.
What are some ways you practice spirituality?
photo credit: alicepopkorn