“No matter how much we try to run away from this thirst for the answer to life, for the meaning of life, the intensity only gets stronger and stronger. We cannot escape these spiritual hungers.”
– Ravi Zacharias, author
“My spirituality seems to have disappeared!”
Joan looked like a modern nun…short hair, sensibly dressed in muted, somber colours, well educated, articulate and friendly. But she wasn’t a nun, she was a cashier at a local box store. Joan was also a married woman with two kids and a husband who repaired computers. Once we got acquainted and I asked her how I could serve her, she said,
“Since I don’t go to any church anymore..my spirit feels lost, my spirituality is nowhere!”
“Tell me more Joan!” I said.
“I kept going to church for years for the social contact, to see my friends…to be part of my community. But, what I was hearing was so ancient, so disrespectful to my intellect, so black or white…I finally just stopped attending. Yet, while my spirit is still strong, my spirituality seems to have disappeared!”
“Is that what brought you here today, Joan?” I asked.
“Yes…but the other day I came across that saying about there being no vacuums in the universe…there is only replacement with something else…so I’m really wondering what’s my spirituality now, where is it hiding…because I just can’t see it!” she said despondently.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, philosopher
Certainly, religion is one form of spirituality. But, there are many others.
“Joan, many people think they not spiritual. And they frequently demean themselves for not being more spiritual. Some individuals think belonging to an organized religion is spirituality. Certainly, religion is one form of spirituality. But, there are many others. In fact, there are at least, seven forms of spirituality encompassing an infinite scope of unique ways to be spiritual.”
“That’s encouraging to hear Ken…but how do I find my spirituality?”
“When we talk spirituality we are usually talking about our inner “spirit” or how we perceive we connect to the universe; how we perceive we are connected to beyond where and when we are right now. Does that make sense Joan?”
“Yes it does…I know I have a spirit…an inner drive to be me, to move forward in some way in my life.” she replied.
“Exactly, Joan, we are driven to evolve, like all living things…to move forward with purpose. All living things do it unconsciously. But we humans, because we can think about our thinking, can also do it consciously!” I added.
“Are you saying only human’s can be consciously purposeful?”
“Perceived voids of our past create what we value in the present…”
“Exactly Joan, everything and everyone has a purpose in contributing to the evolution of our species and our planet…but only we can do it with an awareness of doing it.”
“So Ken, how do we know our purpose consciously?”
“It goes back to what you said earlier Joan. There are no vacuums in the universe, so every void is filled, by nature, with something else. So the perceived voids of our past create what we value in the present and work on in the future. This keeps us evolving, as part of this natural system.”
Then I added, “Essentially, whatever part of our life we hold as most important to us is our spirituality. To put it another way, whatever is our greatest value in life is closely connected to our spirituality. So it can take many forms.”
“Does that mean every person’s spirituality is unique in some way, Ken?”
“Indeed it does, Joan! The people most closely connected to their spirit, in my experience, are the very young, the very old, the very ill and those who very actively seek it out…like yourself.”
“Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force – that thoughts rule the world.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet
“Purposeful people are everywhere, if you look closely…”
“Would you give me an example?”
“Certainly! The most spiritual person I have met so far is a 60 year old, learning disabled, multimillionaire. The second most spiritual individual I have had the privilege to meet was a potato farmer with a grade six education who described his “magic moments” of ploughing a back field at 5 am on a spring morning with only crows and seagulls for company. The third most spiritual person was a four old who asked me, not what I do for a living, but rather, “What do you really do?”
“So Ken, it sounds like purposeful people are everywhere, if you look closely, eh?”
“Joan, let me use the seven areas of life to show you how you can spot purposeful people. Some people’s spirituality is manifested mentally because they are focused on developing their intellect through researching, studying and expanding their knowledge and skill. You find them in education, research and other fields.
Other people’s spirituality is demonstrated vocationally where they focus on their work by offering a high caliber of service to their business, organization, community, country or even the world. You find them in business, social service, creative arts and others.
Still others’ spirituality is in the financial area. These individuals focus on creating or managing wealth in some form for themselves or others. You find them, for example, in banking, business, agriculture, etc.
Some people’s spirituality is located socially. They stress serving friends, community, country or the globe. You find these in volunteerism, health service, community development and others.
Many people’s spirituality is found in the family. They center their attention on nurturing their own family, their relatives or perhaps the world family. You notice them in community development, politics or international development.
Some others focus in the physical area. They focused on building or maintaining their health, fitness and longevity. You see them in sports, medicine, personal development and others.
Finally Joan, some people’s spirituality is found in the spiritual area. They attune to their connection to nature, the universe, a deity, or whatever they perceive is beyond the here and now. You can find them in research, religions, science, environment and others.”
“Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.” – Ludwig van Beethoven, composer
“How do I uncover my spirituality?”
“Wow, the diversity of people’s spirituality is amazing! Several people I know came to mind as you were describing the different forms. I never realized before now how my father’s spirituality was obviously in his work…and he demonstrated it in so many different ways.” Joan commented after my rather detailed list of examples.
“There are spiritual people all around us constantly!”
“So, we are back to my earlier question…Ken, how do I uncover my spirituality?”
“It is just two simple steps. Let’s do it right now! Step #1 is to ask yourself what you are the most committed to in your life…above all else?”
Joan thought for a moment and then offered this, “Ken, there are a lot of different things which are important to me like my family, my community, my job, my health…it is hard to pick one!”
“As you consider each one…is there an important aspect which you bring to each of them?” I asked looking for a special connection between them that might represent her unique role.
“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.” – Eckhart Tolle, author
“I invariably have this awareness of my need to be a role model for others”
She pondered this for a moment and then added, “Well…what I’m most conscious of, as I’m involved in each, is being a useful model for others. I want to be viewed as someone who cares about what they do, whatever it is I’m doing, whether being a mom, a spouse, an employee, a neighbour, whatever it might be…”
“So Joan, when you perceive you are being a role model for others, then you feel inspired, fulfilled and contributing to your surroundings?”
“Yes, I invariably have this awareness of my need to be a role model for others…it is frequently on my mind as I go through my day!”
“OK, let’s move to Step # 2! Joan, give me an example of where you most notice yourself focusing on being a role model for others.
“My job is a good example. I have been a cashier for a number of years. I have noticed some people think it is not a great job…but for me, I love it. Just the other day I was able to help a confused, elderly woman figure out how to pay for her purchases with her debit card. She got upset when the card wouldn’t work, so I helped her figure it out, and she thanked me. But, the comment from the man standing behind her in line was what really made the difference for me. His comment reminded me I was in the right job, doing what I need to do, to be me!”
“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.” – Buddha, leader
“So what you have done is simply transfer your spirituality into broader areas of your life.”
“I think you have got the idea of your special form of spirituality Joan. What did the gentleman next in line say to you which so inspired you, and demonstrated your spirituality?” I asked.
“Ken, he was a young man in his mid twenties, dressed in jeans, T-shirt and a baseball cap. When he got his turn at my cash he looked me straight in the eye and said in a soft, quiet, whisper, “That elderly lady…you were awesome!”
“Bingo! Now can you see your form of spirituality? And I bet, if you remember back to when you were a church goer, you treated the members of the congregation like you did that confused lady! So what you have done is simply transfer your spirituality into broader areas of your life. Going to church was no mistake, only a learning opportunity to grow your spiritual awareness”
“I like the sound of my expanded spirituality because it also explains to me what I do, and why, in other areas of my life…thank you Ken!”
“And, thank you for being you, Joan!”
“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.” – Swami Vivekananda, clergyman
Until Next time…
September’s theme of “RESOLVING RELATIONSHIPS” continues. We have address the purpose of relationships; the importance of parental relationships, infidelity, forgiveness and today, your relationship with yourself – spirituality.
Please remember to send us your feedback and monthly theme suggestions…we love to hear from you! If you have a specific question about RESOLVING RELATIONSHIPS or are looking for strategies for dealing with yours, contact me.
POINTS TO PONDER AND REMEMBER are:
- You, and everyone else, is spiritual in some form.
- Your spirituality can be displayed is at least seven different areas of your life.
- Your spirituality is connected to your highest value.
- What you perceive as your greatest void in the past because your highest value in the present and future, the source of your spirit.
- Step # 1 to uncover your spirituality is to ask yourself what you are the most committed to in your life…above all else?
- Step # 2 to uncover your spirituality is to list examples of where you most notice yourself demonstrating commitment to this part of your life?
- Honouring your form of spirituality motivates you to grow in self worth.
Further information: www.kenpiercepsychologist.com