Religion, Spirituality, and Other Potentially Thorny Concepts
Most people I meet readily say they'd like a better quality life, and I'm not talking here about having more money, or more possessions. How about you? In particular, if I ask people about their concept of spirituality or religion, and what would fulfill them emotionally, the conversation often quickly grinds to a halt. Because of this, I want to define some terms I feel are important for people to talk about in a friendly open manner, with little sense of right and wrong, good and bad.
The term "spirit" comes originally from the Latin "spiritus", meaning "breath", "soul", "courage", "vigor". These are all terms I find to be of great interest. I think of "spirit" as having two basic meanings.
- "spirit" -- An "intelligent" energy/force that animates each individual living being. The spirit of each person is intelligent, connected, similar, and yet unique. The same can be said for our pets as well!
- "Spirit" -- An "intelligent" energy/force present in the universe that is the source and prime mover of all life and the cosmos we live in. To me it seems apparent that a BIG Spirit with BIG intelligence is involved in the ongoing creation and evolution of the universe we live in. Depending on your belief system, "Spirit" could also be called "God", "Goddess", "The Divine", or one of many other terms.
The term "religion" come originally from Latin. "Re" -- again or back to, "ligare" -- to be connected (as in "ligaments" which connect bones to each other.) From my viewpoint, "religion" holds the meaning of "reconnecting to the Divine". Another way to say the same thing could be "reconnecting to Spirit, reconnecting to God".
If we keep the meaning of "religion" plain and simple, we stand a better chance of being able to reconnect to Spirit. In the process we can also let go of the emotional baggage and allergic response people sometimes exhibit when discussing religion. I believe the act of reconnecting to Spirit is an important quest to be on, and that each person should feel free to explore in the manner that suits them best.
To me, "spirituality" simply relates to having an interest in understanding more about both "spirit" and "Spirit". It has to do with one's desire to understand more about the energy/force/intelligence that animates all of life. I don't consider that people interested in spirituality are any "better" or "purer" than other folks. People interested in such pursuits are just explorers who feel there is something more to life than possessions, accomplishments, and getting ahead.
Personally, I find it excellent to explore interfacing with spirit and Spirit through "Mindfulness Practices" and the breath. When we mindfully connect to our own spirit, we wind up feeling more connected to other people and the larger sense of Spirit as well. We experience being connected to and supported by an energy-force-intelligence greater than one's self. When we sense our connection to the rest of life we realize we have all the resources necessary to live as our true heart desires.
Mindfulness Practices aren't meant to fix something you deem wrong with yourself, or help you become a more "worthy" human being. Instead, Mindful Practices are meant to help you achieve greater awareness of yourself and your life circumstances, so you can live a healthier more emotionally fulfilling life. Through practice, you become more aware, perceptive, and attentive "in the moment". Your in the moment experience is your teacher. So regardless of who you are, where you start from, or how many debilitating habits you might currently have... I invite you to begin anew, and consider what spirit, Spirit, spirituality and religion mean for you. Start your exploration from where you are today, letting go of limiting beliefs and building a fresh vocabulary. If you allow your experience and your heart to be your main teachers, you'll empower yourself to find new meaning for your life.
Charlie Badenhop is the originator of Seishindo, an Aikido instructor, NLP trainer, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapist.