Lets Explore: Spirituality
Spirituality is sometimes a tricky subject! It's practices are stereotyped and it is often confused with religion. It's a shame because spirituality has been shown to improve mental health, relationships and even business! So I am going to share something VERY special with you... The following is taken from my very own private study book. I invite you to take a further look and I hope, it will encourage you to read on so you can learn how spirituality can benefit you.
What is spirituality?
Let's make this simple; Spirituality is being concerned with what is human; our spirit, our soul, our being, rather than the physical or material in life. It is the deepest of values and meanings by which people live. As far as we know, it is a universally and uniquely human experience, one that we can find evidence of throughout our history.
“Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning, purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to the self, to others, to nature and to the significant or sacred”- Christina Puchalski, MD
Why is spirituality important?
Spirituality offers those who are, a whole host of benefits, not least longer life, better mental health and stronger coping mechanisms when faced with difficulty. It also gives a lifelong path of exploration and a chance to seek further knowledge: knowledge of our own minds, of nature and of humanity as a whole.
We give ourselves the chance to experience wonder, purpose, a sense of direction, a way to shift our perceptions and experience of the moment, as well as a sense of connectedness to others or deity.
Spirituality has been credited with personal growth and self-improvement, overcoming suffering and for aiding in the finding of peace, happiness and love.
Experiences that go beyond the human condition (transcendence/enlightenment) are a possibility and often we begin to make a difference at a deeper level, to ourselves, communities and the world.
There are so many spiritual paths to be explored, offering us their wisdom, should we wish to take it with us and make it our own, that there is something for all.
“Learn about as many traditions as you feel attracted to, and eventually, choose your main approach. Review your choice from time to time as you mature in the journey.”- Giovanni Dienstmann
Science on spirituality.....
It is notoriously difficult to make spirituality tangible and quantifiable. Yet that doesn't put the scientific community science off! In fact, in recent years they have become ever more interested in what impact spirituality has on our lives. I've taken the time to read a couple of the studies done in recent years. See what you think...
Scientists have established a part of the brain responsible for 'spiritual experiences' Results gathered by neuroscientists show that there is a specific part of the brain (The Parietal cortex) that becomes very active when we experience a sense of 'greater self'. Developing this part of the brain is certainly handy because it deals with sensation, spatial orientation and language processing.
Regular spiritual practice protects against depression Scientists at Columbia university have discovered that spiritual practice can thicken part of the brain cortext, reducing the likelihood of depression.
These were just a couple I though were interesting because I find the brain particularly fascinating, but there are studies that asses the impact of spirituality on personality, business and finances, physical health, community.....the list goes on!
Although incredibly difficult to measure due to its subjective nature and that neuroscience has yet to fully explain human consciousness, science is strongly indicating that spirituality improves life for the practitioner with another field quick to back that up! Psychiatry is certainly discovering that without fostering a certain amount of spiritual wellbeing, positive results to a patient’s mental health are limited.
Responsible (for one’s own actions and the results of them)
Spiritual practice This is where some of the stereotyping comes in but what counts as spiritual practice might surprise you. Spirituality is a unique and personal experience to every individual. So what works for you, might well be different to someone else.
Below I have listed some common practices and behaviors that would be deemed a part of spirituality and the development of it:
Asceticism (Periods of self-discipline or simplicity) Chanting Compassion & love development
Contemplation (Life questions, behavior, discovering our own truths, sacred texts)
Ethical and moral development
Mindfulness Nature work
Somatic work (Specific breathing exercises, postures and movements, yoga)
What is the difference between spirituality and religion?
Religion and spirituality are not the same thing.
A person can be:
religious but not spiritual,
spiritual and religious
or spiritual but not religious
(Or neither of course!)
I have read multiple articles and opinions from various religions, spiritual leaders, individuals and scientists. I have put my findings below. You may or may not agree with them but remember, this is from my own personal and objective studies.
SPIRITUALITY There are no rules Allows for liberation and experimentation The ‘truth/answers’ are not given, they must be discovered Autonomous Works with scienceKarma/laws of attraction concept/Quantum physics Allows for direct contact to deity Believes what is within ourselves and what we know as the natural universe Does not require faith “Where do I personally find meaning/value/connection?” BOTH Rituals/rites Strong ethical and moral sense Comfort, joy, personal strength Based on love Belief in some sort of consequence of actions Some religions may allow direct contact with deity
RELIGION Organised and prescribed Personal or Institutionalised system of set beliefs, The ‘truth/answers’ are given Is an institution Does not work with science Heaven & hell, Sin, good and evil concept, Fear based Intermediaries between individual and deity Believes in a creator or supernatural powers outside of ourselves Requires faith “What/Who is right and true?”
Interestingly, religion and science clash heavily, science being objective and focused on facts, testing and proof. Religion requiring a belief in what is unable to be proved or has been proven impossible by science. (Hence faith)
However, spirituality and science complement each other well and have come to a point of spurring one another on. Technology has developed to a point that some ancient spiritual practices now have many research results published attesting to the benefits. (Meditation for example)
It is also at a point where it is possible to see some cognitive processes in action during spiritual experiences. (The parietal cortex lights up when genuine spiritual experiences are being had. It does not do this however, simply from relaxation, proving the brain is processing this differently.)
Spirituality is something I want to develop but I'm not sure where to start?
I hope you've read enough that you feel somewhat curious about exploring further for yourself? I know from personal experience it can be very tricky even knowing where to begin. I'm a book lover so that helped but one of the biggest things for me was having a teacher. (or mentor, guide, guru...whatever you prefer) I was very fortunate that I had someone that gave me information to an extent, but more importantly inspired curiosity, confidence and opened doors, it was down to me what I did with that. Evolution Wellness has a number of options open to you for spiritual study or for the development of specific skills such as meditation, Somatic work and mindfulness, as well as 1-2-1s for you to choose exactly what aspects you wish to work or take guidance on. Get in contact via the website. www.evolutionwellness.co.uk
Love and Light, Anna
© Evolution Wellness 2019