What Is Spirituality? Part I: My PerspectiveJuly 31, 2017
What is Spirituality? This question may sound as esoteric and undefinable as “What is the meaning of life?” or “Does God exist?”, but what if the meaning of life is Spirituality and what if Spirituality is another word for God? Woah–do I have your attention now? These might be bold claims, but the point I’m trying to get at is: Spirituality is very subjective, and can mean many different things to many different people. Since I can only speak for myself, I am going to share with you what Spirituality means to me, and the journey I took to discover it.
For me, Spirituality is: Connection.
Connection with my authentic self, connection to a higher power (whatever that means to you: God, The Universe, Divine, etc.), connection to others, and connection to the world at large. Spirituality is recognizing that we are all One, that we are part of a collective human consciousness, and that we can tap into this source for inspiration and guidance in both times of abundance and in times of need. Establishing this connection happens differently for each individual, whether it be through meditation, or being fully absorbed in a meaningful activity.
I have found that during periods of my life when I am more connected and consistent with my Spiritual practice, the more answers and wisdom seem to come to me from a place far beyond thought. When I feel connected to this Source, I feel as if life just flows effortlessly with clarity and guidance, and abundant creativity. For me, this connection creates a deep knowing and trust that my path is unfolding as it is meant to. This may not always make sense or be what I want at the time, but I take comfort in knowing that it is part of a greater plan. We are all exactly where we need to be in a given moment.
In addition to connection, I believe at the heart of Spirituality are the principles of: gratitude, compassion, acceptance, empathy, service, and unconditional love. So, what exactly do each of these mean?
Gratitude: A deep and meaningful sense of appreciation for life’s blessings, both big and small
Compassion: A genuine kindness for the self and others, especially when we/others “mess up.” Recognizing that we are not perfect and it’s okay for us to feel down sometimes.
Acceptance: A feeling of peace and understanding. Embracing ourselves and others as we/they are.
Empathy: A recognition that we are all connected, and therefore can relate to others and their experiences on a deep level
Service: A use of compassion and empathy to give to others in need
Unconditional Love: A profound love and acceptance that endures beyond circumstance. Loving all parts of ourselves and others, even the parts we wish were different, or that we could change
What has been instrumental for me on my Spiritual path is recognizing, and accepting, that Spirituality is NOT about getting rid of pain and suffering. It is not a destination to work towards, it is a journey to experience. I sometimes struggle with thinking that just because I consider myself “Spiritual,” I should be exempt from the trials and tribulations of the human condition. That I should somehow “know better” or be “more evolved” than to experience hardship or sometimes sweat the small stuff. If we’re all honest with ourselves, then I’m sure many of you can relate to feeling this way. A lot of people look at a ‘guru’ or someone positioned as having a deep Spiritual practice and think they have it all figured out and are “above” the daily struggles of us mere mortals. Well, unless they spend every hour of every day meditating under a Bodhi Tree, I can tell you that this is most certainly not true.
I have learned about “non-reacting” and allowing myself to feel emotions and then letting them go, but I admit that sometimes when things don’t go as planned or something upsets me, I beat myself up for not implementing these practices each time. Because I have learned how to accept situations in a “Spiritual” way, there is this expectation that I should always respond in that manner. But this is the opposite of what Spirituality is about. Just because you know to do something does not mean you are expected to be perfect at it. Like anything in life, cultivating a Spiritual practice and lifestyle requires focus, attention, and patience. Bringing self-compassion and acceptance to those moments where you didn’t respond to a situation how you wanted to, or how you “learned” to, is part of growing and deepening your Spirituality.
Curious to know about my path to Spirituality? That’s a whole story for another day! Stay tuned for future Mindful Monday blogs to hear about my Spiritual journey in Part 2, as well as other thoughts on Mindfulness and Spirituality!