HAVE YOU EVER HEARD PEOPLE SAY, “I’M NOT RELIGIOUS, I’M SPIRITUAL.”
I’ve always felt comfortable saying I’m spiritual, so it feels normal to me; however, I think it can also be cliche. Many of us are “going through the motions.” when it comes to our spirituality. It’s like feeling anxious or sad, but ignoring it completely or replying with “fine” when someone asks how we are doing. To me, spirituality is about achieving the opposite- it is about being intentional.
I was curious to know what others deemed as spirituality and asked some of my closest friends and family. I quickly found out it was not easily defined. Every single person had their definition of what spirituality meant to them. I also searched on the internet. Here are some things that resonated with me in my findings:
Wikipedia states: “ there is no single, widely agreed definition of spirituality. Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions ranging from unidimensional definitions such as a personal belief in a supernatural realm to broader concepts such as a quest for an ultimate/sacred meaning, transcending the base/material aspects of life, and/or a sense of awe/wonderment and reverence toward the universe….”
I also really resonated with the article “The Real Meaning of Spirituality” by Mastin Kipp. He talks about letting Grace into our lives. “Spirituality is the measure of how willing we are to allow Grace- some power greater than ourselves- to enter our lives and guide us along our way.” He continues by stating: “What spirituality does do is help us better navigate our lives so that the cycle of crisis to Grace isn’t as bumpy. When we behave in ways that are truly spiritual, there are fewer struggles, and there is less suffering. We can ride the waves of crisis with more surrender, and in that way we allow Grace to carry us.”
Grace. That’s it. How can you use grace to access your spirituality? Ask yourself, how bumpy is my path? Is there room for grace? I am reminded of an image I painted that completely represents this energy. It hangs in my massage treatment room emitting love, grace, and compassion. It helps to soften my heart when I am in its presence, and know it helps others as well. What if that softening helps to give space to our being so grace can flow through? That painting helps me to get there; perhaps there is something in your world that helps you in the same way too.
When I was talking to my nine-year-old daughter, I asked her what spirituality meant to her. You know what she said? “When you are full of joy.” Later she said “When you are joyful” as they are synonymous to her. If taking the Wikipedia definition, “transcending the base/material aspects of life, and/ or a sense of awe/ wonderment and reverence toward the universe…” then JOY could be one way to navigate life if you are on the path of ease, the path of connection, the path of Spirituality. How much JOY is in your life? I know for me, joy is a perfect word to know spirit is moving through me.
She also mentioned, “when you feel your emotions” as another aspect of what spirituality meant to her. I asked her to clarify if it was only good feelings or anything that she felt. To feel them all no matter what they were was her way of being spiritual. Okay, I can understand that. If I take the concept from above when we are open to surrender, that grace carries us, that there are fewer struggles and less suffering- if we held onto our emotions and judged ourselves for having those feelings, then we are cutting off our connection and flow to ourselves and the Divine. How could Grace come into our lives then? On the other hand, if we let these emotions flow through us and release them, then that would definitely be in more flow to what the universe wants to share with us. Wouldn’t JOY automatically be a part of that equation at some point? At the end of that rainbow?
I see how these things are weaved together.
And, I’m not saying spirituality is about feeling good all the time. I think it quite the opposite. We learn so much when circumstances come our way, lessons to be learned. Sometimes we have acquired the skills to carry us through with ease when something arises, but other times we are faced with something we’ve never dealt with before, and we can be quite wobbly trying to gain our footing.
That is where we grow. When we can transcend the darkness to the other side. That is when we can stand a little taller knowing we embodied an inner strength we didn’t know we had, found a new confidence within ourselves, and gained a new perspective on life.
A friend of mine says there is an aspect of spirituality that is “fluff.” When I stated that spirituality could be cliche- “Kind of like going through the motions without actually being present.” That is the fluff. Maybe it’s practicing yoga, but it’s about fashion or about how fit & limber one has to be to fit into the world. The external factors (avoiding connecting to the heart & feeling what emotions are held within the cells of our bodies & are released with our practice of loving & accepting ourselves for where we are NOW- not when I’m 20lbs lighter). Below are my words I posted after a very touching emotional yoga class I went to a few months ago when I was so very present and could feel everything that was moving through me.
“Raw, vulnerable, grateful. That’s me, this morning. It marked a very special place in my heart, with tears rolling down my eyes. You see, it’s been too long since I’ve been able to do yoga. Yearning for the right moment that my body could embrace it again. And, today I became her, the one that nurtures self in a new way. As my teacher, Carter, says- “radical self-care.”
It’s been a heck of a ride to be here now.
I honored her and what my body could do. Being compassionate with myself instead shaming. I’ve endured lots of that over the years by many people- that I should do this or be like that, that where I was or what I did was never enough.
Today was a new day. All that mattered was where my heart was at the present moment. Releasing & shedding all the trauma that occurred over the last few years is part of my healing.
Thank you to those that truly see me, I am blessed to have you in my life.”
You see, things shift when we feel them. Things transform. And that day opened me up on a whole new level. My joy came through when I moved from my suffering, and I was embracing ALL of me.
I don’t have all the answers, but I am here to explore through my own stories. I have tons of struggles I’ve endured both in my life and business and sometimes it has been a long bumpy road to find Grace. It has definitely made me stronger, but do realize our lives don’t have to be filled with struggles to earn our “badge” or our keep. And, it’s beautiful to create deep & meaningful connections to ourselves, others, and the Divine one with INTENTION, not going through the motions, fluff.
In the last 6+ years, I have been studying many ways to connect with more ease and flow outside of the massage and bodywork. That had been my foundation since 2004 to gain a deeper, richer experience to the wisdom all around us. Over the course here each month, I will delve into these riches, more of my story, and what others are saying as well. If any of this resonates or I have inspired you I’d love to know! Feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org . If you want to delve more into my life, follow me on Instagram @tranquil.being.
Sharon Marie, Founder and Creative Director at Tranquil Being. Contact her through email email@example.com or call 734-761-8753. She’s located at Tranquil Being, 320 Miller Ave, Suite 185, Ann Arbor, MI 48103