In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, the concept of spirituality is more prevalent and yet more misunderstood than ever.

For some, spirituality is intrinsically linked to religious beliefs and practices, while for others, it signifies a broader journey of personal growth and connection to something greater than oneself. Whether you associate spirituality with religion or think of it as something different, exploring its many meanings and practices can bring a lot of insight and enrich your life in surprising ways. 

To truly understand, we have to go back in time, before the organised religions we know today were developed, spirituality was already a part of human existence… 

Archaeological findings show that early humans were into spiritual or ritualistic practices long before structured religions came about. Think of cave paintings, burial practices, and artifacts that hint at beliefs in an afterlife or a deep respect for nature. 

The earliest forms of spirituality likely included animism (the idea that everything around us has a spiritual essence) and shamanism (a practice where people communicated with the spirit world through rituals). These go back tens of thousands of years and are some of the oldest spiritual traditions we know. 

As societies got more complex, these spiritual practices started to turn into more formal belief systems, eventually leading to organised religions. Picture ancient gatherings under the stars, with the smell of burning herbs in the air, and the sound of chants and drumbeats bringing people closer together. These early systems gave people a set of beliefs, rituals, and moral codes to live by. 

What is the difference between Spirituality and Religion? 

 

Spirituality is all about personal, individual experiences of the sacred or transcendent. It’s often about personal growth, self-discovery, and feeling a direct connection to the divine or the universe, whatever you like to call it. It’s recognising that there’s something bigger out there, something beyond just our senses. It’s about realising that we’re all connected by a power greater than ourselves, and that this connection is based on love and compassion. 

Religion, on the other hand, is more about organised systems of beliefs, practices, and rituals that help people connect with the divine or the sacred. It usually includes community worship, a set of doctrines, and structured institutions. 

caveman and cave painting

In simplicity, Spirituality is a broad and diverse concept, encompassing many different beliefs, practices, and experiences. Ideals you may not know or realise, For example: 

  • Religious Spirituality: This type is rooted in the beliefs and practices of an established religion, such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, or any other religion.
  • Mystical Spirituality: Focuses on experiencing a direct, personal connection with the divine or the ultimate reality. This can be seen in practices like meditation, contemplative prayer, or mystical experiences.
  • Secular Spirituality: Emphasises personal growth, well-being, and a connection to something greater than oneself without necessarily adhering to a specific religious framework. This can include practices like mindfulness, yoga, or nature-based spirituality.
  • Humanistic Spirituality: Centres on the inherent value and dignity of human beings. It often involves a focus on personal development, ethical living, and the betterment of society.
  • Nature-Based Spirituality: Involves a deep connection to nature and the environment. Practices may include eco-spirituality, paganism, shamanism, or indigenous spiritual traditions.
  • New Age Spirituality: A diverse category that often combines elements from various spiritual and religious traditions, emphasizing personal transformation, healing, and a holistic worldview.
  • Psychological or Transpersonal Spirituality: Integrates psychological understanding and spiritual growth. This includes approaches like transpersonal psychology, which explores the spiritual aspects of the human experience.
  • Philosophical or Intellectual Spirituality: Focuses on exploring spiritual questions through philosophical inquiry and intellectual exploration. This can include existentialism, metaphysics, and other philosophical traditions.
  • Creative or Artistic Spirituality: Expresses spirituality through creative endeavours such as art, music, dance, and literature. This type of spirituality often involves a sense of transcendence and connection through creative expression. 

 

Bet you didn’t realise there was such an array, now do you see the direction I am headed? 

It’s clear that early humans were into spiritual behaviours and rituals way before formal religions came about. This shows that humans have always had a desire to understand and connect with something greater than themselves. Over time, this spiritual impulse evolved into the organised religions we know today, blending and structuring those early spiritual practices and beliefs. 

Spirituality can definitely be part of religion, but it’s not limited to it. A lot of people see themselves as spiritual but not religious, finding their spiritual fulfilment in things like nature, art, relationships, or their own personal philosophies.  

So now we know WHAT it is, but what does it mean to BE Spiritual? 

 Spirituality is a big and varied concept that usually means searching for meaning, purpose, and connection beyond just the material aspects of life. It includes lots of beliefs and practices aimed at personal growth, self-awareness, inner peace, and understanding one’s existence. 

Often, spirituality is a personal journey. It’s about looking inward, exploring your values and beliefs, and seeing how these shape who you are and what you do. 

 A big part of spirituality is feeling connected—to yourself, to others, to nature, or to a higher power or ultimate reality. This sense of connection of finding your own tribe, can bring unity, interconnectedness, and, ultimately, love. 

 Many people look to spirituality to find more meaning and purpose in life. This can lead to big questions about existence, the universe, and where you fit into it all. 

 Spirituality can include different practices like meditation, prayer, mindfulness, contemplation, and rituals. These help people develop spiritual awareness and growth. 

It’s really important to connect spirituality with emotional and psychological well-being. It can offer comfort, hope, and a sense of peace, especially during tough times. 

 Spirituality is a very personal and subjective experience, differing widely across cultures, traditions, and personal views. It’s about seeking a deeper understanding and connection that enriches your life and perspective, finding inner peace, and experiencing unconditional love while trusting in what is. 

 

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” 

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

How Can I Improve My Spiritual Side? 

Becoming more spiritual is a personal journey, and it’s all about finding what resonates with you. Here are several fulfilling and easy ways to explore and enhance your spirituality. You might even realise you’re more spiritual than you thought! 😊 

  • Journaling: Jot down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Reflect on what gives your life meaning and purpose. 
  • Meditation: Take a few minutes to meditate or practice mindfulness. It helps calm the mind and connects you to the present moment. 
  • Mindful Breathing: Simply focus on your breath to stay present and aware. 
  • Conscious Living: Perform daily tasks like eating or walking with full attention and presence. 
  • Nature Connection: Spend time outdoors—walking in the garden or along the beach and soak in the beauty of the natural world. 
  • Inspirational Content: Read uplifting books or listen to meaningful podcasts. 
  • Gratitude Practice: Write down things you’re grateful for every day. Show appreciation to people in your life. 
  • Join a Community: Engage with groups or communities that share your spiritual interests. Participate in spiritual gatherings, workshops, or retreats. 

     

    My personal direction that works for me is in ‘ another dimension’:WATER.  

    By swimming you feel cleansed, awakened and alive. Walking along a river bank or beach and smelling the salty air, even just sitting on a jetty with your feet in the water. You truly feel in another dimension, you can let go of the worries and breath in the opportunities, ideas and amazing feelings to keep you motivated and strong. 

     I hope it’s not too long of a history lesson, but sometimes you have to go deep to truly appreciate the foundation and how you can take steps to move to the next level in your life’s journey. 

    Claire 

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