This is part three of my series on the principle that has guided my own journey and now underlies every element of my coaching, teaching, and mentoring practice: Spiritual Freedom. (Learn more at http://www.annamariaback.com)
As I’ve pondered Spiritual Freedom further, I’m nudged to see that it is Timeless, Visceral, and Experiential…all at once.
Being “spiritual” usually comes with a host of connotations. For some it is the equivalent of being religious; for others, it is believing in energy healing, tarot cards, angels, fairies, and other elementals. For some, it involves being reflective, practicing forgiveness, compassion, and non-judgment. No matter which meaning you give it, our society, for the most part, doesn’t consider being spiritual as valuable as the rational mind.
For the mind, “spirituality” is this weird, challenging, and intangible thing. Some would say it is an experience, others that it’s a way of being. And more often than not, it is ridiculed or dismissed because the mind doesn’t know what to do with it, doesn’t know how to understand it.
Religion and spirituality weren’t discussed much around the dinner table when I was growing up. Looking back, I don’t quite know where my beliefs have come from. I felt an affinity for astrology early on, and I was secretly fascinated by the spirit world (to the point of being afraid of the same).
I first came across spirituality, by that name, in my early 20’s. I had recently landed my first job in accounting at a global high-tech electronics company. As I got to know the others in the office, there was one lady who stood out to me as very “colourful”. She was into theatre, dance, and – lo and behold – energy healing (whatever that was!). She was a bit “loud”, and according to my frame of the world at the time, she didn’t seem to “fit in”. I remember vividly, she wore a lot of purple plush and had wacky necklaces. She was good at her job, but I did not take her seriously. Today, I’m smiling at my youthful ignorance and immaturity.
What does the internet say about the word “spirituality”? Here’s a sampling:
From the Oxford dictionary:
(1) Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
– Having a relationship based on a profound level of mental or emotional communion.
– (of a person) not concerned with material values or pursuits.
(2) Relating to religion or religious belief.
Traditionally, spirituality refers to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man,” oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live,” often in a context separate from organized religious institutions. Modern systems of spirituality may include a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one’s own “inner dimension.”
Upon reading these, I think that one way to give further dimension to “spirituality” and “being spiritual” could be to say that someone “spiritual” is more interested in the WHO than the WHAT. For example, I’m more interested in “WHO I am” than “WHAT I am”, which harkens back to one of my musings in Part #1 – that external labels is not who we are.
In Part #4, the last part of this series, I’ll be summing up my musings around Spiritual Freedom. I hope to meet you there.