As with anything, there is a lot of snobbery around “spirituality.”
A lot of expectations are attached to what it means to “be spiritual” and such expectations are likely putting many people off the idea of going down “the spiritual path” in the first place.
When I first tentatively started taking steps in that direction, I felt a little daunted. I didn’t know what lay ahead of me and I was worried I would turn into a weirdo that my friends would no longer be able to connect with. But something in me was drawn in this direction anyway.
Looking back now, I see how ridiculous that fear was. I didn’t join a cult or relocate to India. And although I did become vegetarian and a daily meditator, I still live a “normal” life.
Now, as a meditation teacher, I do my utmost to avoid creating any expectations around behaviours and practices associated with spirituality. I share my own definition as follows:
Spirituality is our relationship with our selves, on every level. It is coming to know the best and worst of ourselves and learning to have compassion and love for all of who we are.
Spirituality does not adhere to any specific spiritual beliefs—we are each free to choose our own beliefs. Spirituality is about how we honor who we are as we go about our daily lives.
There are certain practices that can help us develop this relationship with ourselves, such as meditation and yoga. But nothing is required of us.
We do not have to meditate or chant.
We don’t have to do yoga.
We don’t have to become vegan or vegetarian.
We don’t have to know about the chakras.
We don’t have to be eco warriors.
We don’t have to read Buddhist, vedic or any other “spiritual” texts.
We don’t have to have pictures or statues of deities dotted around our home.
We don’t have to go to India.
We don’t have to be seeking enlightenment.
We don’t have to take anything too seriously.
Really, we don’t.
“Enlightenment means to lighten up.” ~ Deepak Chopra
We are already spiritual beings, temporarily inhabiting human bodies.
When we consciously take the time to develop our self awareness and make friends with who we are, we are often led to choose practices that naturally support us. But we do not have to adhere to any societal expectations of what it means to “be spiritual” in order to be spiritual.
Our whole lives are a spiritual journey. It doesn’t begin the moment we consciously choose it—that’s just the moment we start to pay it more attention and, possibly, choose to support it through particular behaviours.
But the journey begins when we are born and continues throughout our lives. Our choice is whether to sleep-walk our way through it, or to be as conscious as possible of our own role in improving our experience in the world, as well as our role in improving the world we live in.
Anything can be a spiritual practice—it’s all about the quality of presence we bring to an activity, not the activity itself.
“Spirituality” is available to all—the illiterate, the poor, the wealthy, the healthy, the ill, all genders and races.
So, let’s shrug off the snobbery and just do what we each feel drawn to.
Let’s stop projecting ideas onto others about what it means to be spiritual.
Let’s nurture our relationships with ourselves—and with those whom we meet in the world—in whatever way feels good and right to us. And let’s stop worrying about meeting the expectations of others.
Let’s just be—and love—ourselves.
Author: Hilda Carroll
Editor: Travis May