“Spirituality may be defined as an individual’s sense of peace, purpose, and connection to others, and beliefs about the meaning of life.”
“It is not ideal to consider spirituality as a thing, an object. It does not have the nature of a specimen that can be dissected and analysed. Spirituality is better thought of as a boundary-less dimension of human experience.” (Psychology Today website, Dr. Larry Culliford)
“For me, spirituality means being connected to the Self. I write Self with a capital ‘S’ because I am referring to my higher Self. I see this higher Self as one with God, a higher power, the Universe, and the unseen energy field we are all a part of.” (20 Something Manifesto, Christine Hassler)
Spirituality: difficult to define, yet essential to our well-being. I abandoned organized religion in my early teenage years and never looked back or regretted my decision. I have nothing against the religions themselves or those who practice them, except when used to excuse despicable acts (and for this I blame the person, not their religion). Beyond the influence of religious texts on literature and storytelling, and gratitude for the comfort they bring to those who suffer, I struggle to connect with them, and so I’ve put my time and efforts into earthly pursuits, the things I can control and know and improve. I work hard every day to be a better person and make the world a better place for everyone from my best friends to the readers I’ll never know. If you asked me if I was religious or spiritual, I said I believed in a higher power, that there was something more, but I couldn’t define it. That was enough for me. I was content.
Last year, I sunk into a fog of depression and anxiety. This not being my first time on the merry-go-round, I called in the troops and did everything I’d done before and more, now being a little older and wiser than last time. This time, no matter what I did, I felt empty. I was staring into a dark pit and the more I questioned, the more I realized I didn’t know or, worse, didn’t believe or have faith in, the more I struggled and the more I panicked. I was lost. Terrified.
Over the years, while I had strengthened many important foundation pieces, my spirituality lay in stasis. It never occurred to me that I should work on it. I’d made my decision, I’d stepped away from organized religion, I knew how I felt. I never even considered the possibility that I was neglecting a crucial aspect of my being. Now, if I didn’t want to watch my life crumble around me, I needed to bolster that foundation. It’s time to embark on my own spiritual journey.
While the melting pot of beliefs and questions and wonders I discover on this journey will be individual to me, I know I’m not alone. We question everything else in our twenties: why not our spirituality, too? “The twenties are a great time to reevaluate your dedication and relationship to your faith. It gives you a foundation that is more secure than anything in the material world.” (20 Something Manifesto). The reason I’m chronicling this journey publicly is simply this: if you are struggling, if you feel a need for more but don’t know where to start, please, let’s take this journey together. I will be talking to friends and strangers, reading books and articles, listening to music and investigating fantastic phenomena, and I will be sharing my findings with you here and on Twitter. We can be silent partners or you can share your discoveries. I’d love to hear what you find.
This month, I’ll be following the advice offered in the 20 Something Manifesto by Dr. Ron Hulnick. He advises: “Start paying attention to what moves your heart and begin to shift the focus from the external world to your internal world. As you start to focus inward, you will find spirit within yourself no matter what you do in the world.”
Put concretely (because I’m goal oriented and love action steps), I’m going to:
1. Do a meditative practice every day. For me, this means morning pages, yoga, listening to music, and no multitasking allowed!
2. Read Conquering Fear (Harold Kushner). Write down and meditate on any passages that call to me.
3. Attend a webinar on life coaching.
I am tired of being afraid. I am a happy puppy by nature. Talking on the phone to a friend tonight, I told him I had gotten lost for a while but I’m starting to feel like me again, and admitted that I’d forgotten how that felt. I am excited to embark on this journey, on this first step, to see what this first month brings.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
(Martin Luther King, Jr.)
This article is Part I in an ongoing series on re-discovering spirituality as a twenty-something by Victoria Fry.