When I considered how best to define spirituality, I realized my friends were the best resources on this subject, so I questioned a few people (and, yes, I did query some men, but none responded!) on their definition of spirituality. They presented me with a plethora of differing views, and I am extremely impressed with what they had to say. “Spirituality is individualized and does not require a formula, a pattern or any actual predefined belief system. For me, spirituality is about how I live my life. It is about the walk. It should be apparent from how you live your life what you believe in. It is vital to walk the walk, not at all important that you are recognized for this,” explains my friend Linda.
Interestingly enough, when discussing and defining spirituality, God and religion may or may not be included. According to dictionary.com, spirituality is “the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things” while Merriam-Webster presents a vastly different viewpoint defining spirituality as “something that in ecclesiastical law belongs to the church or to a cleric as such,” “clergy,” “sensitivity or attachment to religious values” and “the quality or state of being spiritual” (which, by the way, breaks the rule of using the term in the definition.)
My friend Kim explains that spiritually is “being in touch with our Heavenly Father and allowing him to fill our lives with his mission and his message. Allowing God to work through us in our everyday lives.” Additionally, my friend Judy relates spiritually to religion, but she feels it presents something else: “For me, spirituality goes beyond the structure of religion and encompasses my whole being. It is accessed through mind, body and heart.”
However, my friend Gail relates with a different perspective. “To me, spirituality has nothing to do with religion. I get a lot of spiritual peace from nature; specifically, from cardinals, butterflies and deer. Every year on Dad’s birthday, I see a deer and this year the whole day passed without sighting one. Then later that night I happened to look out my bedroom window and there he was; the most beautiful buck you ever wanted to see, and he was looking right up at me for about 10 minutes.”
Canyon Ranch, a luxury wellness and lifestyle brand, presents this simple concept: “Spirituality is knowing who you really are and connecting with something larger than yourself.” And my friend Loretta agrees: “I love the Canyon Ranch definition of spirituality! It captures me almost perfectly. I feel a spirit within me and outside of me. Though I am religious, I also find so much peace out in nature fully appreciating things much bigger than myself.” My friend Ellen feels similarly: “Spirituality to me is the essential sense that there is something more important in this universe than me, myself, and I: the sense that we’re all in this together and that ‘this’ is something so profoundly large, deep and complex that we can never comprehend it with our rational minds alone.”
But spirituality does not have to be a oneness or only within. Considering spirituality as a relationship with someone or something else, my friend Vicki explains the concept like this: “Spirituality is the experience of connection and mutuality that beings feel with another living creature. This connection has depth and breadth – it can allow us to feel larger than ourselves and/or deeper than ourselves. It implies resonance and vulnerability.” Another friend by the name of Diane sees spirituality as a direct link to something akin to a higher power: “To me, spirituality is the act of choosing to keep a close connection to whatever you call a/the higher force[s]; and practicing or expressing that connectivity in whatever specific manner suits you – as a way of being in the world whether organized religious practices related to a belief in a deity, individual expression of devotion to a belief system related to metaphysical ideas or beings, or non-theistic beliefs that express love or devotion to an ideal, or nature, or energy force of some kind.”
To sum up, my friend Jennifer gives depth and purpose to our world with her definition of spirituality: “It is difficult to condense my personal definition of spirituality because I feel that the concept is based in largeness – a striving to touch the divine in a way that grants a freedom that transcends both mental and physical limitations. Spirituality seems to me to embody a paradoxical balance of gaining one’s self and forgetting one’s self. True spirituality gives us a path to living transcendently, regardless of our circumstances.”
Food for thought, a time to reflect, and a few moments to think – spirituality.
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