How do you define spirituality for yourself?
Spirituality is the way we connect to ourselves,
the insights we get during specific moments in our lives and the willingness to stay open to new perspectives. It's mindfulness that leads to more inner peace which makes space for self awareness. Some see it as 'bs' , yet many businesses have implemented mindfulness in the corporate world.
I personally see it as a part of plain psychology.
But what spirituality is above all: whatever you define it as, for yourself.
It can look like taking the alternative approach for health matters, for knowledge or ways of relaxation:
- essential oils
- living an Ayurvedic lifestyle
- turning to astrology and tarot readers for insight
- turning to holistic health practitioners. (For me personally, holistic or alternative health approaches don't exclude the western medical world approach. And maybe that makes me a mild holistic person, but I like to see things balanced as I know for a fact there's many things the holistic approach can learn from the western health approach and vice versa.)
It can look like meditating on a regular basis.
Or taking a walk in nature to reflect on your own thoughts every now and then. It can be drawing,
going on retreats, practising yoga or journaling before going to bed,
so on and so forth.
Yet I find it incredibly important to say: if you don't engage in all of the above, it doesn't make you any less of a 'woke' or spiritual person.
If you like fashion and meditate, work in an office and burn sage, hell, if you dance all night in the club and like to burn incense and shop online all at the same time, none of this makes you a less spiritual being...
And I think it's time to stop putting people in boxes by saying you're not 'woke' if you wear make-up,(I even think it's extremely healthy to invest in your feminine side every now and then, to balance out your male and female energies, a subject I'll make another blogpost about) or you're only a really woke person if you're vegan. Long story short: deciding for someone else what is is, or isn't spiritual, is toxic.
I think what's part of the human experience is having a deep soul connection while our ego is also present, it's part of us. Ego isn't something we should live entirely without. Sometimes it can even be helpful when it comes down to standing up for ourselves, defending our rights etc. That's why ego and soul can exist along side of one another.
Should we manage our ego's at times? Yes, I absolutely think so.* Mind management is important for rational decision making and healthy interactions with our surroundings. But so is grounding ourselves in our spiritual beliefs! In order not to become naive and gullible. Or to avoid ourselves from giving our power away by putting our own responsibilities in the hand of someone else who supposedly knows better. In other words: balance.
*an interesting book on managing 'the monkey mind' is the chimp paradox by prof Steve Peters.
Unfortunately in our day and age, people have also abused spirituality which has given the subject a bad rep. Now, it even feels a bit ironic to write about what spirituality is not, right after saying that it's up to you to define its meaning. But in the past weeks I have encountered many clients that have dealt with situations or practitioners that made me feel the need to speak up. For anyone who may be in a situation where you doubt certain motives, where your gut feeling says somethings off, this could make a difference:
The spiritual ego:
When people see a new perspective that others may not have seen yet, it's easy to feel superior and to start to show up as superior. I see this as: the spiritual ego.
It can look like saying things such as: 'I can't engage in ' insert superficial act', because I'm too spiritual for that.' If something just isn't for you, it just so happens to be so. But putting yourself above anything is just a mere reflection of feeling superior. So is looking down on others that are in a different stage of their journey than you are, and therefore placing yourself 'higher' in the rank.
Now this may be one of the most extreme parts of spiritual bs: scammers. They often show up when people happen to be in moments where they feel lost: after the death of a loved one, after a divorce or break-up, so on and so forth. In uncertain times, we all look for answers and some may see that as an opportunity to cash out.
Think of guru's such as Bikram.
How to know you're potentially dealing with a spiri-scam:
Some guru's have thousands of people in their big communities where their followers are being forced to change parts of themselves to be accepted. Sometimes even till the point you lose your own identity. Slowly they introduce requests such as changing your name, 'to become part of your new family' which creates loss of sense of self. I see this as highly dangerous and damaging.
You are expected to praise a person, put them on a pedestal and therefore above yourself.
You're asked to pay large amounts of money, but you don't receive anything that truly helps you.
You're not sure whether the person in question is speaking the authentic truth.
You met them in a phase of your life where you felt the most 'lost'. Now this doesn't have to be the case, and not all inspirational people you've met during these times have to be scammers.
But remember: healthy love never asks you to change for acceptance.
And sometimes you'll just deal with immature people. This can feel like:
- having to walk on eggshells in fear of someone else's reaction
- you have to make yourself smaller than you are, in order to prevent some else's insecurities from being triggered. This can be things we achieved, gained, or sometimes simply the way we are. (confident, being successful etc)
If this feels familiar, you're not dealing with a person that has faced all parts of themselves. Now, we've all been there! We've all been toxic ourselves at one point, we have all not taken full credibility for our triggers, and maybe we all had moments where we expected others to dance around our needs. And maybe you've looked down on others because you moved 'up'. But there comes a time where we have to realise that it's not healthy nor a mature and sustainable way to interact with one another. We all have to take responsibility for our own insecurities and triggers, no matter how annoying this may feel at first. Now the willingness to do so, that's what spirituality is for me
If you never put anyone else above you, nor below you, you'll always honour yourself and others.