Those that claim to be “spiritual but not religious” account for approximately 27% of the population in the United States according to an April 2017 survey from the Pew Research Center. That’s an increase of 8 percentage points in 5 years and includes men and women, whites, blacks and Hispanics, and people of different ages, educational levels, and political persuasions.
But what does the word spiritual really mean? The word spiritual is used to describe that which relates the human spirit or soul as opposed to material things, and leaves room for an individual experience, while religion most often involves a group of people brought together by a common faith or set of beliefs about the divine, as mentioned on the website HappierHuman.com.
Spirituality is about appreciating all aspects of life fully. Most of us have learned to experience the world in a very superficial way. But there is so much more just below the surface.
Spirituality embraces all religions because it recognizes that all of them are different paths to the same destination.
If you’d like to explore and cultivate your spirituality, consider these ideas:
- Practice openness. Our imperfectly perfect human tendency is to judge things by our own past experiences. When faced with something new, try to keep an open and non-judgmental mind. New opportunities to learn and expand your perspective are all around you if you are open to seeing them. Attaining a higher sense of spirituality requires being open to the possibilities.
- Learn to listen. Few people really listen. Most of us are simply waiting for our turn to talk, which can even affect your hearing and comprehension if you’re formulating your response while someone else is still talking. But it’s about more than listening with your ears. It’s also about listening with your heart to hear what the world is trying to communicate to you, and realizing that verbal communication is only one method of getting a message across.
- See the beauty in people, things, and situations. Part of spirituality involves seeing the truth. There is beauty to be found in nearly everything and recognizing it is part of recognizing the truth.
When you see the truth, you start to realize there are very few things to worry about.
- Spend some time in nature. There are few things more spiritual than sitting in a natural environment with the sun on your face and the breeze pressing against your back. Experience the trees, grass, flowers, and birds – in your own backyard, if you have one, a nearby park, or in a botanical garden.
- Look for the bigger picture. The mere act of wondering about the universe and what it all means is an exercise in spirituality and can expand your perspective.
Consider your purpose and true meaning to the world. What is the greatest gift you have to give?
- Spirituality is ultimately about self-discovery. It can be considered the art and science of discovering who and what you really are.
a. Stay focused on the present. Living in the past or the future isn’t living. Life can only be lived right now. Part of being spiritual is recognizing that living a positive life today leads to good things tomorrow.
b. Spend time each day focusing – only on the moment you’re currently experiencing.
By focusing on your thoughts, words, and actions today, you have the ultimate amount of control over your life.
- Love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, how will you ever feel comfortable enough to present your spiritually authentic self to the world? We’ve all done things the wrong way and come up short numerous times, but it doesn’t have to define us forever. It merely describes us in a specific situation at a specific time.
- Allow yourself to be inspired. To fully learn about yourself, it’s important to experience new things and to be open to learning from those experiences. Meet new people, read new books, listen to new music, visit a new art museum or exhibit, and allow yourself to “catch” a little inspiration. Only by being exposed to everything that interests you (and to discover some things you didn’t know you’d be interested in) can you learn everything there is to know about yourself.
If you’ve ever been dissatisfied with your life and thought, “There must be something more” you’re absolutely right. There’s a whole lot more in the world to see and explore and experience.
Learning about yourself and your place in the world might even be the true meaning of life. But that’s for you to decide and discover.