What is Spirituality?
Spirituality is a way of life focused not on the material world but rather on human spirit, the soul.
Why is Spirituality important?
A spiritual mindset can help us let go of the constant craving for more worldly possessions, more success, more honor, always more. In the pursuit of wisdom, seeking truth, faith, acts of kindness and self-sacrifice for others, we can find a deeper and more lasting peace and satisfaction, the kind of life that money can never buy.
Spirituality can be an amazing and very personal journey. Some people are not religious but would still consider themselves to be spiritual. Other may consider themselves religious but not to be spiritual. Spirituality helps us to know ourselves better as we connect to our own souls. Our self-knowledge helps us to purify our thoughts, intentions, speech and actions, to attain wisdom, understanding and light. Perhaps most importantly, as our souls reflect the light of the Divine, connecting to ourselves is also a path to connecting to God.
For those with strong religious commitments spirituality is a way to follow the Message from God that was passed down through all the prophets and messengers since man was created, a message passed from Adam, to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus, and Mohammed, amongst many others.
Others may or may not believe or know about the scriptures but still practice spirituality in other ways. The beauty of spirituality is that there is not only one path, but many paths to truth.
How can Spirituality help us?
Spirituality can help us to understand ourselves and others better, help us improve our ability to connect both with the Creator and each other. We can become more mindful of our speech and behaviour, cultivate good character and purify our souls in our journey to wisdom, truth, knowledge and love. When we become ‘God-Conscious’ in all that we say and do, we can use our free-will to help improve the lives of ourselves as well as our loved ones and the people around us. Often a spiritual mindset brings with it a feeling of positivity that shines on others in our presence. It enables us to spread the message of peace and love and kindness in everything we say and do and to share our inner happiness with those around us.
Spiritual well-being can have a positive impact on both our physical and emotional well-being. Spiritual practice can help alleviate the suffering from depression, or anxiety, or insomnia. The most successful approaches to addiction (The Twelve Steps) depend on spirituality. Those who believe in an afterlife, or aim to follow the message sent through God’s messengers and prophets are much less likely to act upon thoughts of self-harm or suicide, or engage in any activity which causes harm to our spiritual well-being. Those with a spiritual mindset are likely forgive others, let go of resentment and therefore more likely to make peace. With a more expansive heart, we may be able to let go of past traumas, and guilt. The more we know ourselves, we see our strengths not just our weaknesses. We can see how we have grown and improved. Learning to forgive ourselves is key to learning to forgive others. Happiness and contentment are a powerful source of new energy. Physically, it can give us more strength to deal with the daily challenges we face. We will function better at home, in our relationships, at work- and in everything we do. When we are happier within ourselves, we find that our sensation of chronic pain is reduced, backache, tension headaches, chronic fatigue syndrome also are likely to improve. So spiritual well-being can be healing and therapeutic, a means to improve our mental and physical well-being.
In challenging times, spirituality can give us strength to be patient and to persevere. Faith and hope, by connecting us to a Higher Source and purpose, can help us to understand that “suffering”is not caused by our circumstances alone but by our internal responses to our difficulties. We learn that by giving meaning and purpose to our lives we can transform the “bad” into “good” and the “good” into “better.”
How can our spirituality help others?
Spirituality, through self-reflection, helps us to know ourselves better. As we become more aware of our speech and actions, the more we can shape them to our moral standards. When we are happier within ourselves, we are more likely to be able to love ourselves, and therefore love others. The more we love others and treat others how we ourselves would want to be treated, the more we continue to grow.
When we are more authentic with ourselves and others, the better we connect with people to inspire them with messages of love, peace, kindness, tolerance, respect, forgiveness, humility, gratitude, faith, hope, compassion etc. We become vessels of light uniting in spirit and soul, sharing material and spiritual well-being.
How can we become more Spiritual?
Spirituality takes time and effort. Each person’s journey is unique, and every journey has its own ups and downs. Though we are finite beings, spirituality put us in touch with the Infinite. So, this journey has no limit! The level of spiritual peace and happiness and contentment within ourselves is always relative, our enlightenment is never complete. The more know the more we realise how little we know. This alone is a tremendous source of humility and spiritual well-being.
On the spiritual path, there is no right or wrong way. The only pre-requisite is the willingness to use our minds, hearts and souls, to open ourselves to new insights and unforeseen truths.
Don’t be afraid to make a mistake but we need to be prepared to be honest with ourselves. If we are honestly self-critical, we will also be able to accept criticism. We are able to accept helpful influence from others, and learn from our mistakes.
Here are some ways that we can improve our level of spirituality that many find helpful:
Truthfulness: Seek truth and be truthful.
Humility: Don’t be too proud to ask for guidance.
Justice: Treat others as we want to be treated.
Love: Love others as we love ourselves.
Just as we need material, emotional, and spiritual support, so we should provide it to others.
Study: Study scripture as a means for expanding your knowledge and wisdom.
Meditation: Take time for reflection, self-examination and contemplation.
Prayer: Spend some time talking to our Creator. Prayer is a powerful tool.
Ask Him to guide us to the truth, to help us face our challenges and find hope in a difficult world. We can use prayer to express our gratitude for our blessings or to ask for our needs or the needs of others. We can pray for liberation from evil and for forgiveness. It can be helpful to focus our prayer to His Attributes and call upon Him using those names- for example addressing Him as ‘The Most Forgiving’ when asking for forgiveness, or ‘The Truth’ when seeking guidance and understanding. OR ‘The Just One’ when praying for justice.
This helps us to focus on the qualities of God as we pray.
Reflection: Reflect on yourself, your situation, thought, speech and actions.
Mindfulness: Learn to pay attention. The signs of the Creator’s greatness are found everywhere and always.
Creativity: Art, music, poetry, and film, all these are paths to learning and inspiring others during our spiritual journey.
Questioning : Ask lots of questions of ourselves and others. If we long for truth, we must question. The more we question- the more likely we are to reach the right answers and formulate even better questions.
Listening: Really listen! There is so much to learn from others and from nature. The world provides us with so many great teachers in the wisdom of the people we encounter and the rhythms of nature that surround us. The more we listen the more we are likely to learn. Combined with reflection, mindfulness, and seeking truth- we can find ample spiritual treasures for ourselves and others.
(Based on thoughts by Lale Tuncer and Lee Weissman)