Tag Archives: transition

An Expression of Spirituality

I have been wondering about spirituality and whether having a spiritual life—the way one might have a social life or a love life—would be helpful in learning to live optimally.

There are, according to a pair of experts, more a thousand “spiritual practices,” any one of which might put me on the path to realization of my own spirituality and accomplishment of a spiritual life, but what is spirituality?

The George Washington Institute for Spirituality & Health describes spirituality as: “the dimension of a person that seeks to find meaning in his or her life.”

The Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota describes spirituality as “a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves.” Spirituality “involves a search for meaning in life.”

Although spirituality may be broadly defined as a search for meaning, its expression—what it means to be spiritual—is both personal and transitory. “Like your sense of purpose, your personal definition of spirituality may change throughout your life, adapting to your own experiences and relationships.”

Your personal expression of spirituality may emerge through the embrace of a religious community or through a meditative sense of connection with a higher power. You may perceive spiritual meaning in art or nature. These categories of experience are not mutually exclusive.

In an essay, A Problem with Spirituality, Tim Boyd, president of the Theosophical Society in America, tells us that the “basis of spirituality” is unity: “all move­ment in the direction of a deeper experience of one­ness can be called spiritual.” Boyd defines spirituality as “not merely a balm for the individual soul or a feeling of peace and harmony.” Spirituality “exceeds the individual.” Our role, he says, is to nurture and provide the conditions for the seeds of compassion, kindness and responsibility to grow and “ultimately yield the fruits of the spiritual life.”

Maybe this simply means that compassion, kindness and responsibility are expressions of spirituality. Nurturing these qualities in our daily life may “yield the fruits” of spirituality: connection to “something bigger,” unity and meaning.

Boyd observed that it has become common for people to say “I am spiritual, but not religious,” but the problem is that the meaning of the word “spiritual” is often unclear.  The Center for Spirituality & Healing notes, however, that spirituality is a broader concept than religion: “Religion and spirituality are not the same thing, nor are they entirely distinct from one another.”

Psychology Today reported a study by British researchers finding “that people who consider themselves spiritual but not religious are more likely to have a mental disorder compared to conventionally religious people and to those who are neither religious nor spiritual.”

I am not “conventionally religious,” whatever that means, and, if the British study is to be believed, I should avoid having a spiritual life at all for the sake of my mental well-being. Fortunately though, I am not British.

It seems quite possible to me to have a non-religious spirituality. Religion, I think, is a form of expression. Many people find religion to be nurturing and comforting, but the tribalism of religion makes me uncomfortable and I am not drawn to it. If an expression of spirituality is vital to an optimal life, then I must find my own form, an expression that feels genuine and gives me sustenance and at the same time, an expression that connects me to something larger than myself.

I have not found that expression. Maybe I never will, and maybe, for me, that is the point. Like optimal living, spirituality for me is a fluid process, not an accomplishment. It is a spirituality not freighted with solemnity. It is the motivation behind appreciation, generosity and finding humor in life. My expression of spirituality must in some way acknowledge my pursuit of awesomeness, my capacity for enjoyment and my thirst for wonder and adventure.

Share This:

Some other stuff for later,

In a Strange Land: Six

There were benefits that came with my exile. Among the benefits was the freedom to go places. A strange incongruity was that the more I thought about going places, the more aware I became of my home and its importance to me.

I wanted to go places. I wanted to see landscapes that I could not see close to home. Travel would nourish my curiosity about the world. It all interested me—the geology and geography, the history, archaeology and culture imprinted on the landscape. I wanted to have a little knowledge about the people who lived in other places. People who lived in other places had lives and beliefs that were different from my own and that were shaped by the land itself. Only by travel would I know places as more than images from photographs and lines on a map before my world began to close in on me.

There were few places I could not go if I chose to journey there. There were few places that I could go while I was physically able and before she came for me.

And yet, the appeal of my home base was very strong. At home, I could relax. Home was comfort. Our home was a reflection of ourselves and a work of our own artistry. So I understood that there was an element of narcissism in my affection for the home I had made with Lisea. Its chaotic order and its imperfect beauty were order and beauty in our eyes.

Home was our domain and our refuge. It had become a part of us so much so that when we were away from it, we felt the separation. Wherever we traveled, we were drawn back to our home base, and it always felt good to get there after being away.

It was hard for me to leave. Most of the world I would never see or know.


Share This:

Some other stuff for later,