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Perhaps we’ve always had questions about how best to live, about the mystery of birth and death, about the way to inner peace and wisdom. Our rational mind, good for many things, is not able to answer these larger questions; and so we become seekers on a search for answers.


For others, a life-changing crisis motivates one to go on a spiritual search. A loss, transition, or illness suddenly disrupts our life and compels us to find a meaning for our suffering and a new purpose in living. But probably for the majority of us, the motivation to search spiritually sneaks up on us during the course of living our habitual, day-in, day-out life. We don’t know why, but we begin to ask questions we never bothered with before.



  • What is the point of living the way I do?

  • Why should I keep on repeating my life the way it is now?

  • Am I settling for a life that’s too safe?

  • Am I wasting my time?

  • Is this it?

  • What am I looking for?

  • What’s missing?

  • Isn’t there more?


These questions generate feelings of restlessness, confusion, indecision: even the simple things seem complicated. We may start to fantasize that the only answer is to change our life – get divorced, get a new job, move to another part of the country or even to another culture. Drugs and/or alcohol can start to become important to us to provide relief by dulling our mind.


In some cases, the internal stress of our confused struggle can produce physical symptoms, such as nervous tension, insomnia and various other troubles (digestive, circulatory, hormonal), and the first person we go to for help is our medical doctor. The doctor will hopefully be successful in alleviating our stress symptoms, but the core of the struggle is still within us.


We may intuit that something new needs to happen to us, but we don’t know what it is. We become motivated to go on a quest, a search, a journey, in order to find this newness of renewal. The ancient wisdom, however, is that this newness has to happen inside us; our habitual personality self has to cross the bridge to the universal, to experience meaning and the feeling of renewal that we are searching for.

In my next post, I will describe ways to cross the bridge.

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In order for us to be healthy and happy human beings, we cannot neglect our spirituality. This does not mean that we need to be intensely fanatical about religion or about a particular organization. In fact, spirituality does not have as much to do with religion as one might think at first glance. What it means is that we get in touch with our spiritual side. It is possible to go to place of worship frequently, but still neglect spirituality. In fact, many atheists would argue that they are more spiritual than religious people because they focus more and the here and now because this time is all we have.
Spirituality is a lot like physical fitness. It takes practice and motivation. Here are a few ideas of things than you can do to motivate yourself to increase your spirituality.
Read sacred writings or uplifting books.
The wisdom of the ages is found in books. Just as the written word has allowed us to become a technological civilization, books and sacred writings contain the human race's cumulative wisdom and spirituality.
Watch uplifting movies.
There are so many movies and television shows which are degrading, vulgar, rude, violent, and pornographic. This kind of material takes you further away from spirituality. If you can find movies where people forgive each other, show love to each other, and lift others up, then this will be time well spent.
Practice praying, meditating, or sitting quietly.
Just as in physical exercise, spiritual exercise takes time, practice and motivation. Commit to spending a certain amount of time each day in prayer according to your beliefs. Spend part your prayer time in silent contemplation. Don't try to use
God as your personal genie, but spend time praying for others, and listening silently for thoughts and impressions. Meditation is a good idea regardless of your faith. The goal of meditation should be to empty your mind of all the daily activities and troubles, and try to be quiet and enjoy being part of something larger. Spending this time daily will help you to see things differently in your daily life. You will be more in control of yourself instead of just acting out the script that life hands you. If you don't believe in God, and don't have the discipline to meditate, when you have a quiet moment, just sit quietly for a certain length of time and see what comes to your mind.
Begin or increase your donations to charity.
Giving makes you feel good. Helping others in need is one of the best and time tested ways to increase your spirituality. You can also volunteer for worthy causes.
Practice focusing more on others.
When you find yourself in a conversation, and you catch yourself talking too much about yourself, stop and shift the focus of the conversation to the other person. Ask questions about them, compliment them, and show them that they are important to you. If there is somebody that you do not like, do something nice for them. If someone has done something to offend you or hurt you, forgive them. Try and put yourself in other people's place more often. Practice putting the desires of your spouse before your own. Treat members of your family with great respect.
Cultivating spirituality in your life is more important than anything else you can do. It requires motivation, perseverance, and a lot of hard work, but so does almost anything worth doing. The things that are the hardest to do often pay the greatest dividends...

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The truth is, spirituality isn’t really definable in this way. It means a different thing to every person...

Life surrounds us. There are living things all around us, every day, in everything we do. Life is abundant in this world. As people, we are probably the only truly conscious beings that form part of that life. It is one of the most obvious things around us but at the same time, it is the most baffling and awe inspiring thing: Life.

As people, we are intimately connected to life, we are part of life. Life flows through us, through each of us as individuals and through each other in our interactions. On an individual level, life develops a deeper meaning. Hard as it may be to define life in exact terms, there are some things any one can accept and one of these is that there’s more to life than what we can see with our eyes. Put in another way, there is more to life than the physical, tangible aspect of it. It’s this intangible aspect – the part we cannot see with our eyes yet instinctively seem to know is real – that we call spirituality.

So perhaps we can define spirituality as that deeper part of life that goes beyond form, beyond labels, beyond definition. It’s the world of souls and essence of character and strength of spirit. It’s the ‘knowledge’ behind our thoughts, the ‘wisdom’ behind our intentions, the belief in our prayers, the peace in our meditations, the strength of our feelings and all other intangible things that add to and define our lives.

Religion versus spirituality

Many spiritual and religious cultures have taught that the human being is part physical and part spiritual. It can be understood in what happens after death. The physical aspect may be the same in the beginning – the body is still there, for a while, until natural processes take over and the physical form begins to decay and break down – but the ‘something else’, the part that defined that person, the essense of their being, the spirit that filled them… is  gone. This invisible aspect that differentiated them, this was their spiritual being.

Now it’s important to differentiate between spirituality and religion. In our society today, the two are often used interchangeably but this does not mean they are the same. Here at Invite Life we believe these are two very distinctly different things. While religion may be a certain way of expressing your spiritual side, spirituality does not fit into boxes and categories and rules the way that religion does.

Don’t get us wrong, religion has a very important place in our society. It gives people a structure to their belief system, it gives people hope, and it can sometimes be someone’s only way of finding faith in the world. However religion, by its very nature, has a rigidity and a structure that spirituality doesn’t. It’s like spirituality is the helium balloon, ready to float off up into the sky untamed, and religion is the piece of string that ties that spirituality to the ground.

On the one hand, spirituality is that inner state of who we are, the inner aspect of us that is invisible and intangible yet plays a big part in who we are. In a way, our spirituality is who we are.

On the other hand, religion has more to do with practices, social structure and organization of various faith based associations that make up the various world religions. In short, spirituality has to do with our inner being while religion has to do with organised faith.

Understanding spirituality in life

So what role does spirituality play in our lives?

In terms of a definition of spirituality, it has little to do with god. It is more of an internal personal conviction and condition. Your belief in a god or gods may form part of your spiritual belief system, but it’s not what makes it exist.

Spirituality is an important aspect of who we are. Many teachings point to the fact that we are spiritual beings in physical bodies. This means that our spirituality is a big part of who we are, whether we are conscious about it or not. It defines our thoughts, feelings, intentions, and many other things that build up to who we are. Being spiritual therefore means being aware of this important aspect of who we are. We need to understand our spirituality and know how to nurture it for a better and healthier internal environment.

Cultivating our spirituality is an important aspect in understanding who we are and our identity. It helps us plug into and communicate with our inner being. Our inner being is our thoughts, feelings, intentions, emotions and so on. As Eckhart Tolle says, to be conscious of Being, you need to reclaim consciousness from mind, this is one of the most essential tasks on your spiritual journey. What does this mean, though? It sounds fancy, but what does it really mean?

We need to reclaim (take back, find within, unstick) our consciousness (the deep sense of knowledge, wisdom and truth within each of us) from mind (the patterns and habits that our thoughts get us trapped in).

As we get in touch with our spirituality, we begin to be more sensitive to the various things that define who we are. Because we know that our lives are influenced and moulded by this inner environment, by taking time to nurture this inner environment (our spirituality), we are then able to affect our outer environment as well. So really, spirituality is a powerful catalyst for change in our lives

Practicing spirituality

The next aspect in understanding, embracing and nurturing our spirituality and is practicing it.

Practicing spirituality has a unifying effect. The basis of all religion is simply the realisation that we are all spiritual beings in physical bodies. So at the core of all major religions this is embraced. Underneath all the structure of these religions is the teaching to seek the higher consciousness of the human existence — one based and founded in love.

Love is the highest consciousness we can aspire to. In truth,  love is the only true religion. All the various names we have for different religions are just that, names. Different ways of giving one very strong instruction: love.

As we embrace our spirituality and begin to attain this higher consciousness that is love, the walls between us begin to crumble. As we see things in a purer and more objective way, we see that the differences between us are only perceived, not real. We begin to reach a state of self awareness and connectedness with ourselves, each other and the universe and understand that we are all one in love and love is in all of us as one.

As this understanding deepens, life and indeed the afterlife, become more understandable and easier to embrace. We know then that the end of our lives here does not mean the end of us; spirituality tells us that we live on, our spiritual self lives on indefinitely and eternally.

As Anne Siloy put it, when we leave this world, how much we have loved will be our true legacy. It is the only thing we leave behind and carry with us.

 

 

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