20 Feb Get Spiritual – Part 1
When I mention spirituality, I am sure you may envision a number of different scenarios. I could be meditating in a cave, perhaps even preaching with a bible in hand, maybe I’m dunking my head in some holy water and singing gospel songs to the heavens. Anything is possible!!! Spirituality comes in all shapes and sizes. But for me, it doesn’t look like any of the above.
Since setting my 2018 goal to ‘get more spiritual,’ I have spent time exploring a number of strategies that work for me. I have spent the past two months researching and note taking and have A LOT of content. Of course this doesn’t compare to people who review this stuff for years. However, it’s more than I’ve ever done in a life time! I have a series of posts in the works regarding spirituality as there is just too much to include in one. I must preface this by saying, this is MY experience with spirituality.
I think it is important that everyone find their own spiritual path. Spirituality isn’t a ‘one–size–fits–all’ approach. I think that whatever inspires you should guide you. I am all for grabbing bits and bobs from practices and turning them into something that works for you.
If you are already motivated by your spiritual practices, find yourself basking in moments of happiness or you know that you can pull yourself out of a funk simply by using your mindset – that’s your spirituality working wonders for you. Keep going! And send me all you know. Don’t have that yet? Read on!
True spirituality is a mental attitude that you can practice at any time. Google ‘spirituality’ and be prepared to be pummeled with a tonne of formal definitions. So many, that I had to wade my way through the murky waters, finding some pearlers that truly resonated with me and finding others that didn’t so much. This is where we discover the blurred lines between spirituality and religion. Spirituality is the backbone of most king pin religions, yes, but it is important to note that you can be spiritual and not be bound to religion.
An online dictionary defined spirituality as..
‘the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.’
ReachOut Australia has a great definition…
‘an individual practice, and has to do with having a sense of peace and purpose. It also relates to the process of developing beliefs around the meaning of life and connection with others.’
And, Her Holiness Oprah Winfrey defines spirituality as …
‘At its essence, spirituality is a measure of how loving you are, how unconditionally accepting you are toward yourself and others. It is a living practice.’
To help you to understand the difference between spirituality and religion. Reach Out defines religion as, ‘ a specific set of organised beliefs and practices, usually shared by a community or group.’ So to that end, you can also practice, live and breathe spirituality on the daily as part of your religion. But you can also be religious and have no sense of spirituality…
My definition of spirituality is something along the lines of…
‘The ability to seek answers from inside yourself and taking the appropriate measures to achieve happiness and serve others through a more enlightened state.”
Put that on a mug!
Coming back to my point from earlier, you don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. Spirituality is a state of being. It is a deep down knowing and understanding of who you are and what your purpose and place is in the big scheme that of things. Being spiritual helps you to understand that you are not as small as you may have thought yourself, but capable of whatever you put your mind to. Through becoming more spiritual, you realise how much control you actually have over your life – and it’s plenty! Those people who may have lost their way, feel despondent with how their life is unfolding, simply have to realise that the way out of this feelings, is to go inside yourself…
The benefits of a more spiritual life are endless. An author, Melissa Ambrosini, who I love, explains it beautifully. ‘Spirituality connects you with everyone, with everything and sees you as equal. Being spiritual means you are not limited by life experience, wealth, race, religion, job title. You are human and that’s the only classification that you need. Being spiritual ultimately means living your life to the full, taking control of your mind and living your life in the most positive way possible.’ Sounds amazing right? Spirituality can relieve you from dependence on material things and help you to understand your life’s greater purpose. When you live in a material world, you rely on everything outside of yourself. When you live in this world, you derive your sense of being from everything in the outside world. Being spiritual means turning inward and realising that everything you need is within YOU. The challenge here is that we live in a material world!!! What we need to realise is that true happiness can only be achieved with a HEALTHY BALANCE of the two. Sure having material objects, possessions, people and experiences can make us unbelievably happy. But these things are just as easy to lose as they are to find.
Finding an inner discipline is the basis of a spiritual life. When you train your mind to focus on what thoughts you are having (good and bad) and to notice when you are relying too much on the external world, you begin to take control of the paths you follow and how you feel. Maintaining this control of your mindset can help to combat negative states of mind such as anger, hatred and greed. And cultivate positive states such as kindness, compassion and tolerance. Spirituality is the foundation of a calm, stable state of mind. The practice of inner discipline can include formal meditation techniques, yoga, journaling, mindfulness practices and more. Remember, training the mind is like training for a marathon… you can’t run the full 20km the first go. It takes time, interval training, rests, trying new techniques and researching what others have tried and tested.
Before now, I have never been a very spiritual person. As we entered a church, my sister used to lean in and whisper out the side of her mouth that I might burst into flames if I took another step. I was raised as a catholic and my mother attended church every Sunday, dragging me behind her. I hated going, I can safely say that church had no momentous impact on me – except for at Christmas time when I desperately wanted to carry Jesus up the aisle and place him in the manger of the nativity scene. I get the sense that I loved this as I was the centre of attention! As a teenager, I stopped attending. When my mum got sick, she stopped going too and stated that, “No God would let me go through this…” Now with a more positive affinity to spirituality, I realise so much more about my mothers mindset based on her reaction. She had no acceptance for her cancer, she had no faith in the power of her own mind, she had no faith. She signed on the dotted line and gave over her life the moment she became sick. It makes me wretchedly sad that her last months were so lonely. After my mum died, I realised very early that the reason she died was to benefit those around her. Sounds bleak, but I know it to be true. My mum dying was the single worst but best thing to happen to me. I very quickly looked at who I was and how I lived my lived my life from a different perspective and changed who I was at my core. I went from an angry girl, to a very self-observant, giving and loving woman. Reflecting back, this was my first taste of spirituality. To know and accept that awful things happen to you but you can mould them into amazing things. Losing my mum helped me to boot camp my brain. I eventually improved upon how I viewed and valued my worth, how I managed my emotions constructively and finally the goals I set for myself.
Now 8 years later – I have come to know spirituality in a more formal sense. My father made a decision to abandon me at 28 years of age. I grappled with losing someone I love, without them even dying. I’d learnt that losing my mum meant more than grief but I wasnt able to apply any of my previous life experience to this situation. I absolutely could not comprehend how you could cut ties with your daughter and be happy. I have spent the past 3 years heartbroken and confused. It wasnt until last May, when I started this Happiness Project, that I started searching for ways to heal myself. And it wasnt until December this year, that I found light at the end of a very dark tunnel…
If you scroll back through my posts over the last 9 months, you will see that I have tried many strategies – ‘yoga daily,’‘be grateful,’ ‘reflect daily’ ‘connect with family and friends’ – these all made me much happier I must admit. But nothing soothed my soul more than becoming “ultra spiritual.“ On New Years Eve this year, the penny dropped. I lost my shit after a drunken discussion with a friend about fertility. What unfolded in the confines of my friends bedroom as I sobbed into my husbands chest, was extreme sadness and rage for my life situation. Why the fuck was I in this position? I had no parents, I was infertile, I was living in a world driven by food companies and medical businesses that would ruin our bodies to make big bucks. I was livid. I was a victim to my circumstances and I hated it. My husband held me close as I howled through the countdown to midnight, my mascara ran down my face like raindrops on a window and I knew then in that moment that a big change had to come….
Part 2, coming soon….