“Spirituality begins when you decide that you’ll never stop trying. Spirituality is the commitment to go beyond no matter what it takes. It’s an infinite journey based upon going beyond yourself every minute of every day for the rest of your life.” (Singer, 2007).
Those are the most accurate and powerful words I have found to describe spirituality.
Spirituality is a belief and a connection to something that is bigger than us. It is not linked to religion, although faith in a religion can certainly increase our spirituality.
Spirituality is personal and is about cultivating a connection with ourselves, people around us, and our universe. It is something that unites us and helps us feel more connected with one another, the Earth, and all beings on it.
Many of us are curious or interested in spirituality but do not know what to do to cultivate it. Here are five practices we can try.
1. Find Quiet Time
The amount of time doesn’t matter. In other words, taking 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 2 minutes, much longer, or much shorter isn’t what it’s about. What matters is practicing something that allows us to feel calm and peaceful. To do this, it is important to be away from all types of distractions.
Some recommend finding quiet time first thing in the morning to have a positive start to the day and avoid negative thoughts and emotions from taking over (Rousseau, 2018).
However, it isn’t necessary for this to be done first thing in the morning, although I definitely recommend not reaching out for our phone as soon as we wake up. Instead, take 5 deep breaths in bed before getting up, drink a cup of tea or coffee, stretch, take a shower, or do something that will bring a sense of serenity to the start of our day.
We can seek quiet time at any moment in the day. Try it before going to sleep. Or at our desk in the middle of the working day. Any amount of time at any moment of the day is effective as long as it allows us to find quiet time to feel peace and go within.
2. Go Within
Spirituality is about connecting with yourself, and this is something we can do anywhere- on the top of a mountain, in an ashram, at the beach, at a coffee shop, on a yoga mat, or even in the bathroom. I have great moments of inspiration in the bathroom, including in the shower.
Spirituality is not about being in the “right” or “perfect” place, because such a place doesn’t exist. We don’t need to travel anywhere to find spirituality. People tend to travel to India, Bali, or the Amazon, as these are places associated with a sense of spirituality. But spirituality is what we make it (Rousseau, 2018).
There is nothing wrong with travel and if that creates the best environment to disconnect from the world and connect within, that is fine. But it is not necessary.
The only place we need to “go” is that place within that allows us to be still enough to listen to our inner guidance and intuition- to the stillness of our soul.
3. Connect with Others
Spirituality is about releasing the need to be active all day and giving ourselves space to just be.
The hyperactive world we live in is by no means how we need to be. Spirituality is about the exact opposite. It is about releasing our need to be hyper-connected to technology and embrace our need to connect with those who have meaning in our lives, like our friends, family, pets, and natural environment.
It helps us feel more connected when we consider others and are of service to others. We don’t have to do charity, volunteer work, or be part of a non-profit in order to be of use to others. All it takes are small gestures of kindness and compassion, such as holding the door open for the person coming in behind, greeting a stranger as we pass them on the street, or making small-talk with the person at the register.
We are not in this world alone, and even a smile to a stranger can make a big difference in someone’s day. Small acts can be of great impact.
Religion is one avenue to explore spirituality, but I promised I would share how to cultivate spirituality without it. However, I have to say that if religion calls out to us then it is something to explore.
Exploring spirituality is listening to what others have to say and how others have learned to practice spirituality. This doesn’t mean we have to do exactly as others have done, but it helps to understand others’ experiences so that we can explore how these relate to us.
It can involve reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts, and attending conferences and workshops. Learning about other people’s experiences provides insight into what we may do. The important component is to take away what most resonates with us.
Exploring spirituality is about living life in our terms and remaining ourselves. But for this, we need to explore all dimensions of who we are and learn what works for us. Trying different forms of spiritual practice is part of the learning process.
We can try writing, meditating, dancing, drawing, painting, singing, playing music, spending time in nature, walking, running, camping, or doing things that make our heart sing and bring us joy.
The most important practice is finding something that we enjoy and that works with our lifestyle.
5. Honor Our Feelings
There is nothing more important than how we feel about what is happening to us. Honoring how we feel is utmost to our sense of self, our health, our happiness, and our future. I encourage this in the people I coach and support.
This means that in anything we experience, read, watch, witness, and listen to, we take the parts that most resonate with us. Everyone has a unique perspective or experience, and although we all want similar things, we all have our own way to get there.
Our journey is what matters most- finding our own way to get to where we want to go. For this, it is essential that we find times of quiet and peace to go within, be in touch with our true selves, and honor our true feelings.
Spirituality takes effort. It requires us to make time for it. But this can be fun, as we open ourselves up to learning and exploring different practices that can work for us. It is not an easy process, but it is worthwhile if we seek a deeper connection with ourselves, our life, and our purpose.
Rousseau, B. (2018). 5 ways to find a sense of spirituality without religion. MindBodyGreen- MBGMindfulness. Retrieved on October 16, 2018 from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/spirituality-without-religion
Singer, M. A. (2007). The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself.Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.