Spirituality’s brand often gets a bad rap from the dogma surrounding it. From those who believe that religion and spirituality are inseparable to those who advocate a monkish existence it’s easy to see how your average human might shy away from the should/have/ought/musts that surround this essentially private, personal practice. Getting stuck in the all-or-nothing or this-is-how-you-have-to-do-it perspective of spirituality—or believing that because you don’t subscribe to those ideals you can’t be spiritual—creates an unnecessary chasm between spirituality and the essence of knowing yourself beyond your physical body. Even if you don’t think of yourself as fitting into a mainstream spiritual perspective the life-affirming approach to engaging in a sense of being holds opportunities for everyone in any moment. It all begins with how you define spiritual.
Technically speaking, spirituality is not an experience harnessed to any institution, dogma or fanatical point of view. Instead, the dictionary simply defines spirituality as “relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul.” Bottomline: Having a spiritual experience touches that part of you that is not physical.
Some of our most creative thinkers summarize soul this way:
“The soul is the highest, most noble part of yourself that you can reach for.” —Gary Zukav
“The soul is our capacity to see that our lives are about something more than simply the day to day, and that we’re here for a purpose.” —Daniel Pink
“The soul is your innermost being. The consciousness that you are beyond form, that is the soul. That is who you are in essence.” —Ekhart Tolle
So, the soul is the transcendent part of you that exists unbounded by time or physical properties. How can you seek to affect that part of you? Investigative journalist and author of The Point of Power, Peter Baska, defines a spiritual person as “one who seeks to elevate himself, to connect with a higher power, or simply his higher self.” Suddenly, the opportunities to be spiritual in your own way are rife with possibility.
Creating your personal definition of spirituality
Spirituality is a unique internal process affected by individual preferences, history, programming, desires, culture, race and other personality-based quirks that create each of our distinctive personalities. The success of any spiritual action will be found in what makes your soul feel present, accessible and active. While a formal spiritual practice can be accessed through religious or other gatekeepers adding spirituality to your life-already-in-progress doesn’t have to be funneled through a middleman and it doesn’t have to include far out or inconvenient experiences. In the realm of spirituality we can each be our own guide and find spirituality in the small moments of a routine day.
What affects your soul will be unique to you, but there are universal questions that can stimulate spiritual exploration. Try answering these five queries (and then make time to create a corresponding activity) to identify your own no-rules approach to spirituality:
1. What makes me feel most vibrantly alive?
2. What makes me feel filled with an enormous sensation of love?
3. What makes me feel appreciation for my experience here on earth?
4. What makes me feel connected to something larger than myself?
5. What makes me feel a sense of extreme awe?
Holistic nutritionist, chef and writer, Amanda Froelich, describes the act of being spiritual as recognizing “that you are part of something greater—and to wonder in the vastness of all that ‘is’.” Perhaps at its core spirituality is both a connection and disconnection: A connection to an energy that is greater than ours (however any of us define that) and a disconnection from the boundaries that the human body imposes on us. Perhaps, too, it is an expansion and contraction: The expansion of our ability to feel transcendent and a contraction of our perspective to see the world with a distant clarity, pristine intention and respectful reverence.
We live fast and complex, hi-tech lives that make it easy to create perspectives focused on material objects and outcomes. Spirituality offers a way of slowing down life’s frenzied pace; of opening space in ourselves to experience, see and participate in the big picture of the universe; and to connect with ourselves that allows us to access what Deepak Chopra calls “the core of your being. [What] … is eternal…. doesn’t exist in space/time [and is] a field of infinite possibilities, infinite creativity.” With access to such a source we can be, do and achieve anything and so, at its heart, engaging in spiritual practices is just another way to become more of the best version of you, which is all about accessing the science of your potential—a quest that is not woo-woo at all.