Spirituality for Non-Spiritual People: 6 Ways to Practice Spirituality

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.
-Bonnie Riatt

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
-Buddhist Proverb

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.

4. Meditation

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.”

6. Exercise

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

Comments

  1. says

    Wow Jared, thanks for this in-depth post on spirituality. It was interesting to read about your experiences on the farm, witnessing a tornado, going through religion, and being near the passing of a loved one. I think all of these experiences dealt with suffering and going through them not only allowed you to find inner peace, but allowed you to transition into spirituality.

    One way I “feel” more spiritual is through being still. It’s kind of weird, but I realize that the more energy I put into moving, the less aware I am of myself. The more still I am (like just sitting and staring into space), the more aware of what my thoughts and feelings, and the more I am in touch with myself.

    Really great post here that I believe took a lot of time and effort on your part. Thanks again for showing us how to come closer with our spiritual side Jarrod!

    • Jared says

      Hulbert,
      Thanks so much for commenting. The being still part is really important and a great measure of where I’m at spiritually. I read a quote one time (can’t ever find who said it originally) but it goes something like, “All misery derives from the inability to sit in a quiet room alone.” Although the term “all misery” seems a little extreme, I can relate.

      I have what I used to call my Ten Dollar life. I would only put $10 worth of gas in my car at one time because I was too “busy” running around and changing the world (which consisted of mostly selfish things). It was difficult to sit and be still. Sitting with myself meant listening to the committee in my head telling me negative things about myself.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Jared says

      Ron,
      That’s definitely one way to go. Although “the hell with it” seems more like a victim mentality to me; somewhat negative. Of course I don’t necessarily wake up everyday whistling zippity do da, but sometimes it takes a different perspective to help me accept things. My big “phrase” recently when going through my fathers sudden death was, “it is what it is.” A friend of mine responded, “yes, but what could it be?” Meaning, how could I learn and grow from the experience. I have to admit, I’m a hopeless optimist so I try and find the good in everything. I believe I have the power to find the good in everything no matter what the circumstances are. I may not see the positive at the moment, but I try to at least stay open to the fact that it may come later and try not to label anything good or bad.

      I’m also reminded of something I believe is a Buddhist philosophy about the concept of God, creation, etc. “man should not concern himself with things he cannot understand”… or something like that. Thanks for commenting Ron.

  2. says

    really appreciate your thoughts. I practice spirituality by doing all I can to make my unconscious mind conscious. I am oversimplifying the process here, but when I do this, I become so much more aware of what I am thinking and therefore what beliefs I am living with. So many of our beliefs are formed from our early experiences and do not serve us. I can choose to hold onto them by default or change them for the better.

    • jared says

      Bridgett,
      You said that right, “So many of our beliefs are formed from our early experiences and do not serve us.” well said. Very insightful about being aware of what you’re thinking and “therefore what beliefs I am living with.” Thanks for sharing that. Good stuff ;-)

  3. says

    J-Rod,
    Like you I am from a 3000 person town in a Midwestern state. I am apt to say things like, “gosh darn” “crap” “and visually argue about who stopped at the 4 way first thus determining who must go first. We are nice in my state, I for instance cook twice a month at the VFW for fundraising, I also tutor at the Boys and girls club about 6 hours a week. I have a beautiful, smart, fun, amazing girlfriend whom I will soon ask to be my Mrs. Me. I will finish up my degree in Information Systems from the University of MN this spring. I am 27.

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