Those of us seeking to live lives of deeper meaning, inner peace and freedom have become comfortable with the world spiritual. Before we assume that we all know what we are all talking about when we use the term it would be well worthwhile for us to examine what we mean when we describe something as spiritual.
Try, it for yourself. You might find it harder than you imagine to define the word spiritual given how comfortable we feel using it.
The root of the word spiritual is spirit and the English word spirit comes from latin roots meaning breath. Breathing appears to be how we take in the life force energy that sustains us. The energy that animates us and allows us to live, move, think, feel and act.
Spirit then could be seen as the animating energy of life. drive.
So anything we call spiritual must relate to the energy that animates us, whatever it is that moves that animating energy.
What is it that allows us to show up in the way that we do. What are the cares and concerns, the interests and desires, that shape us?
To me then, spirituality is about opening the flow of life force energy in individuals, and groups of individuals and learning how to guide that flow of that energy so that it manifests in the most beautiful and beneficial ways.
Spiritual work is whatever practices and studies we use to open ourselves to more life force and then guide the flow of that energy into more beautiful and beneficial directions.
Meditation has always been an important opening practice for me. The practice of simply sitting and not making a problem out of anything that happens can initiate a process of opening and illumination.
You see, we are all deeply conditioned in ways that limit how our life’s energy can flow.
To use an alternative way of speaking we could say that we live inside a paradigm made up of habitual ways of thinking and perceiving that limit what we imagine is possible for us.
These limitations are sometimes valuable and allow us to live harmoniously with others within the agreed upon structures of society.
However, at some point we start to feel suffocated by the constraints of cultural assumptions and personal fears. We feel compelled to grow beyond them. We want to heal and expand into greater freedom. We know more is possible and we commit to realizing it. Our spiritual life has begun.
As we begin to move beyond our previous boundaries and limitations and we find that our conditioning starts to work against us. We experience fear as we dare to expand beyond the boundary of the dominant paradigm.
As we approach the edge of the life we’ve known our instincts try to drive us back. They warn us of imminent danger trying to convince us that we would be crazy to continue.
Through spiritual practices like meditation we learn how to be nonreactive to our mind so we have the presence and composure to journey beyond our own edges.
We might also engage with energetic practices that help liberate our energy from the emotional blocks that bind us. I have worked with different forms of yoga, breathwork practices, and the Hawaiian bodywork of Lomi Lomi Nui and all have proven to be powerful tools for opening and liberating the spirit.
Opening and freeing our energy is critical, but it’s not enough on its own.
As our energy opens we gain access to greater power and creativity and we need to direct our energy to manifest in the most beautiful and beneficial ways.
Part of this work is cognitive. It involves deeply questioning our foundational assumptions about life and ourselves so that we can come to greater clarity about what is real and what is truly valuable in the world.
I am enthusiastic about the study of philosophy and spiritual ideas as a means of uprooting old belief systems and assumptions that are shaping us so that we can open up to new possibilities for how we can show up in the world.
Questions like “Who am I?” “What is the purpose of life?” “Why do I think the way I do?” and “Why do I act the way I do?”, lead us down a road of inquiry that can radically shift how we see ourselves and transform who we are.
I believe a human being is an energy flow and the aim of spiritual work is to direct the flow of our energy in the most creative, constructive, beautiful and beneficial ways possible.
So in short, spirituality is the work of opening and directing the flow of life that we are.