Spirituality is not religion and is not even necessarily affiliated with religion. While the definition of spirituality is different for everyone, here are some common themes associated with spirituality:
■The idea of a process or journey of self-discovery and of learning not only who you are, but who you want to be.
■The challenge of reaching beyond your current limits. This can include keeping an open mind, questioning current beliefs, or trying to better understand others’ beliefs.
■A connectedness to yourself and to others. Spirituality is personal, but it is also rooted in being connected with others and with the world around you. This connection can facilitate you finding “your place in the world.”
■Meaning, purpose, and direction. Spirituality, while it doesn’t necessarily solve or reach conclusions, often embraces the concept of searching and moving forward in the direction of meaning, purpose, and direction for your life.
■A higher power, whether rooted in a religion, nature, or some kind of unknown essence.
Why should we develop our spirituality?
Spirituality can offer many benefits to your life, both emotionally and physically. Developing your spiritual life can give you a sense of purpose and help you figure out where you are most passionate in your professional, social, and personal life. Some studies show that positive beliefs can comfort you and improve your health. People who have taken time to develop their spiritual life are also likely to better understand their needs.
Ideas for evoking a spiritual experience
■Community Service – Volunteering for a community service project can broaden your understanding of how you fit in with the world, as well as see how others’ circumstances differ from your own.
■Spiritual Questions – See below for a list of questions you can ask yourself alone or discuss with a group of friends. The questions are meant to challenge your current beliefs, reveal gaps in your knowledge, stretch your mind in thinking beyond the normal, and create dialogue.
■Keep a journal – Writing important moments, events, or thoughts down in a journal helps some people reflect on their personal life. Reading back over past entries is fun and helps you see how you’ve grown and developed, as well as how certain events, people, and things have affected your life.
■Dialogue – Use the questions below or any other topic, and talk to friends, family, or peers about them. Dialogue can help you figure out what you may not be able to figure out alone. You can bounce ideas or thoughts off of each other for support.
■Yoga – Yoga can create a peace within you and set up your mind for stimulation.
■Challenge yourself to be a better person and think about what that means.
■Pray – If you do subscribe to the belief in a higher power, prayer can help you feel connected and at-peace.
■Create an ongoing list of things that make you happy, or a “natural high” list – Seeing on paper all of the things that make you happy can be extremely beneficial when you are having a bad day. It can help you realize the good things in your life and remember the “bright side” of a situation.
■Joan Borysenko, author of Inner Peace for Busy People, claims that keeping a gratitude journal can contribute to a satisfying life. UC Davis research shows that people who keep a gratitude journal, in which they write things that they are grateful for, are more likely to exercise regularly, experience fewer phsyical symptoms, are more optimistic about the future, are more likely to attain their personal, academic, interpersonal and health-related goals, and feel better in general than those who write about negative or neutral life events in their journals.
Spiritual Questions to Get Your Journey Started
■Who are the most important people in my life?
■How have they affected me?
■With whom do I feel most comfortable?
■What is my Idea job? What if the money didn’t matter?
■How important is it that I love my future job?
■Where would I like to be in 10 years?
■What are some goals for this year? The next four years?
■How can I avoid a stagnant life?
■Do things happen for a reason?
■What are my beliefs on life purpose?
■What specific experiences have shaped my spiritual beliefs?
■Am I a good person?
These are just a few of countless spiritual questions you can ask yourself or discuss with others.