In today’s fast-paced culture (certainly in the West) there is a growing hunger for ways in which we can nourish our souls and tune in more to our ‘being’, rather than ‘doing’ self and creating more meaning, purpose and fulfilment in our lives.
As an antidote to stress, modern living and 24 hour technology and connectivity, increasing numbers of individuals and organisations are turning to mindfulness, meditation and other approaches such as yoga to explore ways in which people can calm their minds, increase their wellbeing and feel more connected to themselves, life and others. As all of these approaches gain in popularity, there’s a corresponding interest in ‘spirituality’ as our increased awareness helps us realise that we are complex beings and made up of more than just a mind and a body – therefore we need to look after our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing in order to feel healthy, whole and thriving.
For some people, exploring their spirituality may mean turning to a higher power for guidance or they may have a defined faith – but for others, the traditional, defined ways don’t suit them or bring the fulfilment that they are looking for. So if this is you, you’ll need to find other ways to establish this for yourself. This may involve a search within, or to reach out and connect with individuals or groups of like-minded people. Or you may explore and blend different approaches to find a way of connecting to and exploring your inner world and finding a ‘spiritual practice’ that works for and feels most meaningful, nurturing and supportive for you.
Nature and nurture are closely related so it may involve finding ways to nourish yourself by finding out what brings you alive and fulfills you. This may involve connecting with a sense of a greater presence – which could be the greater field of intelligence (Universal ‘Mind’ or Universal life force), or your Higher Self, God, Spirit, Nature – whatever term resonates and feels in alignment for you – it’s that pure consciousness, energy and intelligence that creates life and animates matter at an atomic level from wave to particle and turns pure energy and atoms into ‘form’. You may find yourself seeking time for solitude and reflection or want to spend more time in nature, or cultivate practices and rituals that help you feel more centred and grounded in your life.
All of this doesn’t mean that you have to achieve some elusive state of ‘Nirvana’ – enlightenment doesn’t have to be found doing endless hours of yoga, meditating in a monastery or sitting on top of a mountain (as great as those experiences can be) – cultivating spirituality and inner aliveness can happen in the small things you do each and every day. You can start right here, right now, by becoming more mindful and paying attention to what’s most meaningful and important to you in your life – you can practise ‘everyday enlightenment’.
Sometimes people shy away from the word ‘spirituality’ and assume it’s tied into a defined religion or specific dogma or doctrine. However, our ‘spirit’ can simply be defined as “the force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy and power” and “the inner quality or nature of a person”.
It’s our quality of ‘aliveness’ and the way that we cultivate consciousness, awareness and understanding of what is within us and in the world around us – we start asking powerful questions such as ‘Who’ AM I? Who is the ‘I’ that is able to experience life and observe life? By bringing awareness to this, we can observe that we are not our thoughts, but we are the one that is able to observe and think those thoughts – the consciousness behind the thoughts. And this consciousness is part of the bigger, unified field of consciousness that all beings are connected to. So we realise that we are all connected to one another. If we start to experience life at this level, we can cultivate greater peace and joy in our lives, as we become less attached to externals and the outer circumstances of our lives and become more focused on our inner experience.
Finding a spiritual path usually involves a process of inward reflection – asking ‘who am I?’ to uncover and understand the nature of self and life – as well as practical actions to help us live an ‘inspired’ life and one’s best life. The original meaning of the word Inspiration literally meant to ‘breathe spirit into’ – it’s what feels enticing, exciting or enlivening for us – what brings us alive. Anything that deepens your consciousness or level of connection can be a ‘spiritual practice’ – mindfulness, present-moment awareness, being in nature, singing, dancing, sensory awareness – it’s finding out what feels most meaningful and enlivening for you.
Spirituality isn’t a one-size fits all endeavour. The spiritual journey is something that you embark upon for yourself – although sometimes people are called to explore the spiritual path as a result of difficulty, suffering or trauma or they just experience a feeling of lack, emptiness or pointlessness in their lives. As spirituality becomes more widely practised and accepted by the ‘mainstream’, it runs the risk, like mindfulness, of becoming commercialised and sold as a marketable commodity. Yet your spirit is something that is sacred – and that deeper awareness of what lies within can only be cultivated when you take time to reflect and connect with your own inner wisdom and find out what feels most true and in alignment for you.
This path of exploring your inner world and finding out what is most true for you will be much more empowering if you choose it every step of the way and continually question what feels right for you – not following doctrine or dogma or other people’s opinions. Learning from teachers and mentors can be very helpful and point you in the right direction but ultimately it all comes back to your own experience and insights. Your ‘being’ is who you really are – we are human ‘beings’, not human doings! Your spirit and being are your true self – the pure self that was present when you were born – the whole, complete and perfect self – not your personality, identity, thoughts, beliefs and perceptions that were formed through conditioning and your life’s experiences.
It’s your innate wisdom waiting to be rediscovered – it’s all there within you already, so although the spiritual path usually starts out with a journey of exploration and ‘seeking’ – ultimately, it’s about ‘returning home’. When you rediscover and uncover your true nature there’s no need to seek – it’s more a sense of rediscovering your innate wholeness and cultivating awareness, acceptance and ‘loving what is’ – rather than feeling that you need to judge, fix or change anything.
My perspective is that you have all that you need within yourself – I don’t see you as ‘broken’ or needing ‘to be fixed’ – when I coach, mentor or train individual clients or groups, my focus is on helping you to awaken your own personal power and shift to a deeply nurturing and loving relationship with yourself. To develop self-trust so that you can become the person you’ve always wanted to become, to rediscover who your true self is. And to help you connect with your mind, body and spirit and bring balance and wellbeing to all aspects of your life.
I focus on helping you to develop a firm foundation of inner strength – to create an unshakeable sense of self-worth, self-acceptance (and self-celebration!), which means you can have confidence and clarity in your life’s purpose and direction. This means that even if there are circumstances that happen that are beyond our control ‘out there’ in the world, it doesn’t have to rock ‘our world’ and we can keep calm and carry on when we’ve got that unshakeable ‘come from’ to return to. We can be our own rock – our own solid foundation.
Developing a deep sense of self-worth, self-love and self-belief doesn’t mean being selfish or narcissistic but it’s crucial to learn to accept and value ourselves and build our lives from this solid foundation. If we have this in place, it means we can be more resilient and don’t take others’ behaviour personally, or need validation or acceptance from anyone but ourselves – those things from other people are nice to have – but they are the ‘icing’ on the cake – we are the cake! – so that’s where our focus and acceptance needs to happen, first and foremost, to create true empowerment.
It’s important to nurture and develop all aspects of our ‘being’ – physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual – in order to create true wellbeing and a balanced life. By exploring what ‘spirit’ means for each of us personally, we can find personal practices that work for us and incorporate these into our lives. This can often add more depth, meaning and purpose and means we have something to turn to or work with when the going gets tough and can also help us to retain a healthy, bigger perspective on life and our circumstances.
For further details of MindFlame’s Coaching, Mentoring and Training and how this can help you cultivate a greater sense of meaning, fulfilment and purpose in your life, please see our Life Transformation, Resilience and Wellbeing Coaching and Training and Development Services.
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