You don’t have to be religious to live a spiritual life. As surprising as that statement may be, you may then wonder what the meaning is behind those words. Spirituality is a complex subject to define because it refers to something intangible and larger than material pursuits or anything physical. The confusion with the two terms lies in the fact that many people relate a spiritual life to their religious affiliations or to traditional sacred practices, but spirituality can encompass a much bigger and much more multifaceted understanding than that. In the broadest sense of the word it refers to a person’s concern about the highest aspirations in life.
Everyone’s spiritual journey is a unique and personal experience, and there are many ways to infuse one’s life with spiritual meaning. More and more people are searching for meaning in life to escape from the negativity of the world. Embarking on a spiritual journey may give you the ability to break free from feelings of jealousy, hatred, anger, fear, frustration, and anxiety. It is a powerful resource that has the ability to balance the emotional and physical aspects of life while incorporating the highest ideals and yearnings of the soul.
You Can Find Spiritual Meaning Through Meditation
Meditation is a practice that can bring spiritual meaning to everyday activities and the world around you. In addition, to helping you become more mindful of all that you do, it also brings inner peace a sense of being connected with your soul and spirit. In addition, it can help to relieve stress and bring clarity to things that may be troubling you. Since meditation can be an important adjunct to your spiritual practices, you will want to find the approach that is most amenable to your spiritual orientation.
First of all, be assured that it is not a difficult or complicated process. Below are a few suggestions to begin your meditation:
1. Make a commitment. Make meditation a regular habit. Even just five or ten minutes every day can help you to make mediation a priority. It might take a while to notice a difference but with time meditation will become easier and you will experience more focus and feel an ongoing sense of peace.
2. No expectations. Do not sit down with the intention to solve all your problems in a single session. Let your intention be to simply meditate and allow the experience to unfold naturally.
3. Relax your mind and your body. This can be easier said than done. Many people find when they try to think of nothing they end up thinking of everything. Try concentrating on simply on your breathing. Take air in through the nose and out through the mouth. This is a good way to focus the mind and relax the body allowing the muscles to let go of any tension.
4. Visualize and connect with your spirituality. This can be done through prayer, repeating a word or phrase that helps you feel you spiritual connection, singing or chanting a spiritual song, or utilizing a guided spiritual meditation either in print or an audio file. I have recorded well over 100 meditations available through my website and many of them are free through short videos and audio files. Just click on the “free” tab on all the pages of my site (www.JonathanParker.org).
There are many more ways to help facilitate spiritual meditation. It is important to keep in mind that these techniques are only tools. These techniques can help keep distractions at bay and allow you to delve deeper into a meditative state.
I have many more free articles on how to establish a sound meditation practice on the blog pages of my website at this link: (http://www.jonathanparker.org/jonathans-blog)
As you spend time in daily meditation you will find your life takes on a deeper spiritual meaning and purpose that carries over to all of your interactions.
Spiritual Growth Can Be Cultivated through Personal Development
Spiritual growth can be an outgrowth of further development. Most people do not view spiritual growth as having both horizontal and vertical components. They are focused on the horizontal expression of expanding closeness to God and deepening spiritual qualities such as peace, love, humility, etc. They may think that is all there is to spiritual growth, however, what is often overlooked is that there is also a vertical dimension that we are beings who are capable of adding characteristics, talents, skills, and interests as well. The vertical dimension of spirituality is an ever expanding one in which we incorporate new depth to our being.
Living a full and active life is an excellent way to feel fulfilled spiritually as well. Learning and growing and improving oneself is a spiritual endeavor. Follow your heart and let it lead you to experiences and opportunities that can build you into the kind of person you want to be.
Now how do you go about doing that? Seize opportunities to learn new skills whether it be immediately useful or seemingly frivolous. Step out of your comfort zone and discover a new passion. Art and music are excellent ways to channel energy into something lovely. Finding joy in the arts by learning how to play an instrument or paint a picture or work in other mediums are excellent ways to express yourself. Don’t be afraid to fail. Mistakes are an opportunity for education and growth. Learning from your blunders helps you to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Finding spiritual meaning in life can be as simple as finding new ways to experience beauty in the world around you.
Participate in Altruistic Activities
Giving of one’s time or money for selfless purposes can bring happiness and spiritual meaning to a person’s life. Doing something for someone else with no desire or need for a return on investment can be fulfilling on many levels. Thinking beyond yourself and participating in the bigger picture will give you a sense of accomplishment and connect you with the people around you.
Altruism and philanthropy is at the basis for many religious organizations, but it is not reserved for people of faith. The motivation to help others stems from a deep connection to humanity and the environment, and encompasses the very essence of spirituality. Helping, whether it is other people, organizations, animals, or the earth can make you feel needed and valued. It can strengthen your spiritual connections to your community and to the world. Think of one way you can contribute to the life of another with no thought of return.
Live an Authentic Life
Integrity is the foundation of spiritual meaning. Live and behave in a way that is congruent and in harmony with your beliefs. Search your innermost self to determine what your core values are. Meditation and journaling can help to organize thoughts and feelings, and identify key principles that guide your ethics.
One practice I have found most valuable in this regard is to pause numerous times throughout the day and reflect on what I had been feeling and thinking since the last time I tuned into myself. This often revealed areas that I could clear, refine, or deepen depending on what I discovered. For a period of two years I carried an interval timer in my pocket that I set to vibrate every hour to remind me to check in with myself. I found this enabled me to automatically become much more mindful throughout the day and after a time I no longer needed the timer to remind me.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to be connected to the world around you without first being in tune with yourself. Striving to live authentically and in integrity can require courage and commitment. Oftentimes this will require taking a stand on issues that move you to a cause to create change. Fully understanding your morals and who you are at the deepest level is the key to a meaningful and fulfilling existence.
Are You Spiritual or Religious?
The idea that spirituality cannot exist without religion is missing the point to the subject. In fact, religion originally meant to bind, fasten, or connect spiritually. Spirituality is connecting and realizing your soul and spirit as your core being. It reflects in the way you view the world, and as you deepen into the integration it changes and evolves you as you grow and learn. Whether you choose to align yourself with a particular religion is secondary to your commitment to living your spiritual commitments. No matter what your life is currently it can be full of spiritual meaning and opportunities.