I used to hate the word spiritual until I learned what it really means


What do you think of when you hear the word spiritual?

Do you see visions of immaculately arranged Instagram posts of people practicing yoga or calmly sitting with their eyes closed in an upscale loft?

Do you hear the ramblings of someone ‘finding their bliss’ or seeking ‘inner peace’?

Do those things seem totally unrelated to the battles you’re fighting every day in your life? Do you get turned off by just hearing the word ‘spiritual’?

You’re not alone. I too used to routinely dismiss anything labelled ‘spiritual’. The spiritual talk I heard for most of my life seemed to be just another kind of B.S. wrapped up neatly for gullible folks to consume — like any other sketchy product.

But I’ve come to realize that I was wrong. I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And it stifled my growth for a long time.

What I’ve come to find out is that spirituality isn’t something beyond and separate from day to day life. It’s right there in front of us.

But it is up to us to embrace it in our own way. And until we do, we end up limiting our personal growth to mostly superficial areas of progress.

Everything is spiritual

There is no separation between the spiritual and everything else. Replying to emails is spiritual. Washing the dishes is spiritual. Changing a dirty diaper is spiritual. Your failure to treat them that way is the only determining factor.

You can do any of the things I mentioned above mindlessly; and we often do. You can also do these things mindfully — in the sense of being aware that you’re doing them. But you can also go a bit deeper than that. And that’s what I’m talking about.

You can change diapers, reply to emails, and clean the dishes — but do them while acknowledging that they’re an expression of you, of your commitments and values. You can do them as a way of connecting more deeply with yourself, and with reality.

The email you’re replying to is an act of connecting to someone that you felt it’s important enough to connect with. If it’s someone you dislike, you’re probably walking a fine line your reply to be civil. If it’s someone you’re trying to help, you’re probably digging deep to provide them with that help in the email and lift them up a bit.

The dirty diaper is your child’s, who you love in a way you don’t love anyone else. Changing it is an act of loving service — despite how badly it smells.

In the cases of the email and the diaper, you’re tapping into a deeper part of yourself. It’s the part that connects with what matters to you, what moves you, and what colours your life. We all have that part — but we so often neglect it.

It’s a deeper part of us — one that picks up on the fact that though we may swim in the shallow end of the pool for most of the hours of our day, there is a deeper end of the pool.

Spirituality is simply the awareness that there is a deep end of the pool, and a willingness to swim in it. Spirituality is the recognition of that part of ourselves that runs deeper than the superficial things in our lives. Actually, it’s the recognition that even the seemingly superficial things in our lives can be — if we allow them to be — deeply meaningful.

Just like anything else, spirituality is something we can hone in ourselves — and doing so can enrich our daily lives dramatically. But we have to let go of all the preconceived notions we have about what spirituality is and should be. Spirituality is uniquely individual, and the most effective way to do it is to build your own path. Continue reading

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