What is Spirituality?

The more people you ask the question: “What is Spirituality?” the more answers you will get. Some ascribe a religious definition to being spiritual; some immediately think of God; some people get offended at the very question; many don’t know how to respond; and then there are those who don’t even believe there is such thing.

Let me begin by stating that there is a clear distinction between religion and spirituality. Religion is more closely associated with culture, indoctrinations, Temples, Churches, Ashrams, Mosques, etc. and groups of people with whom one may regularly gather to practice his or her religion of choice/inheritance. Spirituality, on the other hand, is more closely associated with an inner path which enables one to discover the essence of his or her being; or to enhance deeper values and meaning by which to live. Please know that religion and spirituality are not mutually exclusive. A person can be religious and yet not be considered spiritual. Conversely, a person can be spiritual without necessarily being religious. Additionally, there are those who are both spiritual and religious, as well as other folks who may be neither religious nor spiritual.

Spirituality may be best understood by using the list below, which describes some of the qualities demonstrated by a person who is considered to be spiritual. It is not meant to be an exhaustive representation as much as it is some examples to help clarify the meaning of spirituality. The following examples may help you expand your definition of spirituality: sensitivity to others, compassion, empathy, kindness, faith, hope, generosity, hospitality, honesty, patience, respectfulness to oneself and others, forgiveness, loving, joyful, helpful, gracious, thankful, appreciative, gentle, and caring.

Our spiritual nature serves to give us information and insight about ourselves in any given situation at any given time. Spirituality can range in normalcy from mild to extreme. Spirituality could possibly be problematic when we find that our lives are out of balance or in turmoil because we have enabled others in their maladaptive behaviors. For example your generosity is taken advantage of by someone who is greedy and inconsiderate of your needs. So they take and they take as you give and you give. It is possible to be too generous and wind up with no money/food/shelter left to care for your family or yourself; which may very well be a spiritual lesson. Spirituality is life affirming for yourself as well as for those you serve. From my personal experience I have learned that spirituality is always win-win, even if we cannot see it as such in the moment and even if we don’t necessarily like it. Our human brain would like to control and understand all things, yet a spiritual life is one that accepts that things are as such for a reason that we may or may not ever come to fully realize, know, or understand.

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