What does “Spirituality” refer to?

“Spirituality” is a word that has a lot of associations these days. It can relate to traditional religions, new age practices, eastern traditions such as Buddhism and a hundred other things.

When I use the word, I don’t preclude any of the above, but I mean it in a more general sense. Spirituality for me really means how we are living our lives. Are we living in such a way that we feel good about ourselves?

Every one of us is unique – we all have our own dreams, desires, needs and wants, strengths and weaknesses, areas in life that are good and others that are challenging. The trouble is that the society we live in doesn’t really value our uniqueness. It isn’t set up in a way that encourages it. Instead it asks us to conform, to slot ourselves into predefined roles that fit the “average” person.

I’m in my mid forties now, and I have yet to meet an “average” person!

We tend to do what is expected by society. We go to school, get a job or career, find a partner, get a car, have kids, get a house, maybe a pet, and so on. Nothing wrong with any of that. But underneath roles such as parent, manager, worker, dog walker etc. those dreams and desires still exist. They haven’t gone anywhere. Rather we’ve buried them, so we don’t have to look at them.

We all have the drive to grow and develop, to become more than we are. Are we giving that inner voice expression, or are we silencing it with the things we’re doing? Do we drink too much, watch too much TV, spend money on things we don’t even want? We can ignore it for a while, for years and decades even, but it gets louder and louder when it’s ignored. It can give rise to depression, anger, and destructive behaviours. These things then impact those around us, putting a strain on our relationships with family, friends and colleagues, not to mention our own health and sense of wellbeing.

So, in this sense, spirituality is about how aligned we are with our own inner self. If we aren’t doing that well, it’s about looking at how we can bring those inner desires into our lives more. It’s about finding ways to makes changes in how we approach the world, big or small, that allow that true self to come into focus.

When it comes to bringing more of our true self into the world, small changes can bring big improvements.