What is Spirituality?
The definition of spirituality is the quality or fact of being spiritual. And, a predominantly spiritual character as shown in thought, life, etc. A spiritual tendency or tone; of or relating to the spirit or soul.
Some synonyms for spirituality are religiousness, oneness, centeredness, connectedness, transcendentalism, lovingkindness, and mindfulness.
Definitions of Spirituality
What is spirituality? This is a difficult term to define. As well, it means different things to different people. A definition that satisfies one person may not be a suitable definition for another person.
This Words to Contemplate 30-Day Challenge series was supposed to provoke thought within the reader more than identify what I think or what others may think of the word. So, I’ll start this post with the question. What does spirituality mean to you?
Maybe one can compare sunlight to spirituality. For some, just standing by the window and seeing the sun outside is their version of being spiritual. For others, it may be standing outside and feeling the warmth of the sun on their skin. And, for another, it may simply be the knowledge that there is a sun, and that satisfies the need for spirituality. Is need the right word? Is it a quest? What is this need or quest and where does it originate? Is it the thing we need or seek? Or, is it the source of what makes us feel the need or desire to search?
In an article from Psychology Today, spirituality is defined as “a boundary-less dimension of human experience.” From The Law of Attraction website, spirituality “is about recognizing that our human senses don’t tell the whole story about the universe.” Another explanation used by verywellmind.com defines spirituality as “belief in something beyond the self. It may involve religious traditions centering on the belief in a higher power, but it can also involve a holistic belief in an individual connection to others and to the world as a whole.” Spirituality has also been described as having “a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life.”
In an article published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr. Maya Spencer offers a detailed summarization, “Spirituality involves the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than myself, something more to being human than sensory experience, and that the greater whole of which we are part is cosmic or divine in nature.” These themes are relatively common in traditional definitions of spirituality. We have five senses, sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. What else is out there that our five senses cannot perceive? At the end of her paper, Dr. Spencer offers her definition for spirituality as being “the indefinable urge to reach beyond the limits of ordinary human existence that is bounded by unconscious forces and self-interest, and to discover higher values in ourselves and to live them consistently in our relationships and roles.” Additionally, commenting that, “it means becoming a more loving and compassionate human being, in thought, word, and deed.”
In all of my blogs, I steer clear of religion and politics. But for spirituality, the question is a valid one. Is being religious the same as being spiritual? Does one play a part in the other? Asking what being religious means to a person may be easier to answer than asking what spirituality means.
Types of Spirituality
There are many different types of spirituality in our world today, and there have been for centuries. Some are based on religious traditions. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Kabbalism are some of the spiritual schools of thought based on religion. Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Toltec are other forms of spirituality, perhaps based more on philosophy than on religion. Though they may be categorized as religions. New age spirituality and ancient Shamanism are other forms of spirituality.
Spirituality can also be found in the many African religions practiced long before Islamic and Christian colonization. African spirituality recognizes that “beliefs and practices touch on and inform every facet of human life, African spirituality is truly holistic.”
There are many similarities between the different spiritual sectors of the world. As well, there are similarities in practices to help us get in touch with a more spiritual side of life.
Practices of Spirituality
A common thread I’ve recognized in this Words to Contemplate 30-Day Challenge has been the number of times I’ve mentioned meditation, gratitude, and mindfulness. Again, these three are helpful practices for enhancing spirituality. Another method to approach a desired level of spirituality is to focus. Focusing on others, and trying to be more empathetic and compassionate are also components of spirituality. Other spiritual practices may include manifestation or involve crystals or an understanding of chakras.
From a website called Spiritual Fit Club, a list of activities is suggested to get more in touch with your soul. Contemplation is actually on that list, believe it or not … Another activity that may help with your spirituality is to spend time in nature. Yoga or T’ai Chi might be helpful exercises. Try silence or chanting. We’ve all heard of monks taking a vow of silence. Chanting may be a practice – not just with monks – in parts around the globe. Chanting is also customary in some Shamanic practices.
Benefits of Spirituality
Spiritual practices may be considered a form of self-care. Below are just a few of the positive impacts of spirituality listed on verywellmind.com.
- Helps to cope with stress
- Greater psychological well-being
- Less depression
- More positive feelings
Dr. Maya Spencer’s article concludes that “Neuroscientific research is showing that with the practice of mindfulness, the cortex of the brain literally grows, with an increase in grey matter and more gyrification. Could this be the next evolutionary step for humanity, with meditation opening the doorway to changes and developments that we currently term spiritual but which may in future be deemed normal, even basic?”
Spirituality may be a yearning, a path, part of a journey, a sense, a practice, or an attitude. Spirituality has been described as oneness, wholeness, connectedness, awareness, and mindfulness. Being spiritual may be based on religion or based on experiences. And, there are many consistencies in the different types of spirituality found around the world. Additionally, there are many common activities to put into daily practice to help one find a fulfilling level of spirituality.
Again, I ask; take some time to contemplate on today’s word. What does spirituality mean to you?
Focus on Peaceful Spirituality
“There are two types of seeds in the mind: those that create anger, fear, frustration, jealousy, hatred and those that create love, compassion, equanimity and joy. Spirituality is germination and sprouting of the second group and transforming the first group.”
“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”
“We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.”
~Neil DeGrasse Tyson
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.