Discovering Your Spiritual Side - A How-to Guide
Opening yourself up to a spiritual life can help you lead a happier and more peaceful life. It can add meaning to your life and make you feel more connected to the world and other people. However, finding spirituality can be confusing and contradictory. I was always the type of person who believed in science. I didn't think I could believe in something that I couldn't see or have facts to back up. But spirituality wasn't what I thought it was.
What Is Spirituality?
Spirituality is something that is difficult to define. It's the kind of thing that you feel and understand on a deeper level. In earlier times, spirituality was closely connected to organized religion. Over time, the meaning of spirituality has changed. It has become less about religion and more about personal development, being connected to others and to something greater than yourself and finding peace.
Personal development involves growing and changing. As people grow and mature, they begin to develop a value system of their own. We tend to get our values from our parents. However as we mature, we may discover we have our own values. Some of those may be the same as our parents but others may change because the world has changed. In our ever changing world, the values of our parents don't always fit with the time we live in.
We live in a time of great technological advances. Computers, cell phones and other electronic devices have changed the world we live in. They were meant to make our life easier. Often, they keep us further apart. Children used to spend more time playing outside with other children. Television changed that. It became easier to watch something on TV and our lives became more sedentary. Computers and cell phones made it easier for people to communicate with people all over the world. Over time it became easier to pick up the phone, use the internet or text someone than to talk in person. At the same time, this makes us feel disconnected. People don't always know their neighbors anymore. Spirituality is something that connects people and makes them feel a part of something. It conveys a sense of belonging. Human beings are social beings. We need to feel connected to other people.
Spirituality makes you feel connected to something greater than yourself. It brings meaning to your life and helps you feel your life has purpose. This in turn brings people a sense of peace. Life without meaning and purpose can feel empty and lonely. People need meaning and purpose to give their life direction. The world can be a chaotic place. Having something greater than yourself to believe in makes you feel like you have a place in the world.
What Can Spirituality Bring to Your Life?
You may be asking yourself what spirituality can do for you. You may wonder how it can improve your life or what the purpose of it is. While much of what it can do for you is included in the previous section, the following list is a summary of what spirituality brings to your life. It isn't a comprehensive list but it can give you an idea of why you would want to develop a spiritual life.
- Personal development
- Defining values
- Connection to other people
- Connection to something greater than yourself
Before You Begin Your Journey
There are many different ways to open yourself up to your spiritual side. There are some things to consider as you prepare for your spiritual journey.
- Some people have a spiritual awakening where they come to a sudden realization about their spirituality.
- A spiritual awakening can be a gradual process. Don't be hard on yourself if it doesn't happen all at once.
- Discovering your spirituality can be a lifelong journey. Don't expect it to happen overnight.
- There are no right or wrong ways to discover spirituality or live a spiritual life.
- Spirituality can be sought through organized religion but it doesn't have to be.
- Spirituality is very personal. Your spirituality is whatever you believe it to be.
- Think about what you already believe as you begin looking for your spirituality.
How Do You Discover Your Spiritual Side?
Discovering your spirituality is discovering what you believe in. No one can tell you what to believe in. It is something you will have to find for yourself. You can begin by discovering what you already believe.
- Make a list of your values. Write down things that you believe are important in life.
- Write down what you believe is right and wrong behavior.
- Ask yourself questions about controversial issues like abortion, homosexuality or politics.
- Who do look up to and what do they believe?
- Think about times in your life when you have struggled. We often discover what we believe when we are going through tough times.
Learn about Other People's Beliefs
While spirituality is a personal business, one way to begin is by looking at what other people believe. By discovering what others believe, you may find something that you feel is right for you. There's no reason to reinvent the wheel if you can find something already available that works for you. Here are some ways you can go about finding what others believe.
- Learn about organized religions. Discover their beliefs, customs and how they worship. See if any of the religions fit with what you already believe.
- Do some research online. Look for local churches in your area, what they have to offer and what they believe in.
- Read books about spirituality. Discover what the authors believe and notice anything that seems right for you.
- Read the sacred texts of various religions. If something seems right, explore it further.
- Ask friends and family about their beliefs. Tell them you are trying to discover your spirituality and see if they have any suggestions. Be open to having discussions about spirituality.
- Talk to local religious leaders. Ask them for any advice on discovering your spirituality.
- Try attending a service at a different church each week. Discover what you like and what you don't like. See if you are drawn to any particular service or idea.
- Take a class in religion or spirituality. Learning more about what is available will help you discover what direction to go in.
- There are many television programs and documentaries available on spirituality and different religions that can help you learn more about what other people believe.
Look for Alternatives
If you are unsure what you believe and organized religion doesn't seem to be for you, don't give up hope. There are many other alternatives to consider.
- Some people choose to have a Higher Power in their life. A higher power is anything greater than yourself. In addiction recovery, many people use a 12 Step group or a sponsor for their Higher Power. If you are not in recovery, you may find another group that is greater than yourself.
- Some people find spirituality through meditation. Meditation can help you discover the answers you have been looking for.
- Alternative medicine like acupuncture, herbalism, homeopathy, Reiki, aromatherapy, etc. could be part of your spiritual life.
- Work on being a good person and living life according to a set of principles. Think about who you want to be. Try to become your ideal self.
- Try helping others. Altruism can bring your life meaning. You could volunteer for a charity you believe to be worthwhile.
- Having a purpose in life can bring an inner sense of peace and help you discover your spirituality. Try to find a career in a field you believe is important. Or find something that you feel will improve the world you live in. Perhaps working for a political cause or becoming an advocate for a cause you believe in.
Questions for Reflection
Asking yourself some questions might help you discover more about your spirituality. The answers to these questions may help you discover what is important to you, what you believe and what spirituality means to you. Write the answers down. Sometimes it is easier to gain insight when we write things down. It helps us process it to see it on paper.
- Has there been a time in your life when you felt more spiritual?
- Do you believe in God? What is God? What is God like? How can you find God? Where does God fit in your life?
- Have you ever seen or felt something you couldn't explain?
- When someone dies, what do you believe happens to them? What do you think will happen to you when you die?
- How do you feel after thinking about spirituality? Is there any different religion or idea that makes you feel a sense of peace and joy?
- What does make you feel peace and joy?
- What are your thoughts on love? What is it? Where does it come from?
- What do you think the meaning of life is? Why do you think we are here?
- Where did life come from? And where is it going? Where do you think man will be a hundred years from now? Or a thousand?
- How have you changed over your life? How have you grown? Is change and growth important to you? Why is it important?
I know discovering your spirituality can seem like a huge task to take on but remember it doesn't have to be done in a day. You have your whole life to discover your spiritual side and solidify your beliefs.
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