02 Feb Beyond Beliefs
Beyond Beliefs – Spirituality, Subjective Experiences, Psychic Change
Spirituality is a strange and deep subject. I typically don’t talk directly about it much, and shy away from it in my classes. I do this because the term is quite often intermingled with religion or religious ideology. But for me it’s a very different thing than religion.
What is spirituality?
So what does the dictionary say? It’s interesting to see there are varied definitions around the internet. One definition says “concerned with religion or religious matters”, while the Wikipedia entry states it is a “process of personal transformation.” I tend to agree with the latter.
The best way I’ve heard it defined is that spirituality deals with experiences we have without the aid of our five senses. Through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell we relate to the outside world and the people in it.
I think things get mucked up and there is such a diversity of opinion about this because spiritual experiences are internal and subjective, so if we have strong beliefs it’s difficult to keep those separate from these subjective occurrences.
Let’s look at the term spiritual:
Spiritual – of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
Spirit – the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul.
While the word soul is used here, which can have religious overtones of it’s own, it’s obvious that when we are talking about spirituality we are talking about things relating to our nonphysical, or internal, experiences. These experiences are subjective.
If I go on a vacation I can show you photos or videos of my travels to illustrate the experience and also prove to you I went where I said I went. Though I could always just Photoshop myself into various exotic locals and make stuff up, I guess. Before the invention of photography, if a person traveled somewhere they only had their stories. Well, that and any items they may have brought back with them.
When we talk about anything spiritual, we can tell stories and we can anything we may have done to help have these experiences. But what makes an experience spiritual? For me a spiritual experience is something that changes my perception or perspective in a positive and meaningful way. The evidence of this is in how I relate to the world. Some people pick up on this difference very easily and others may just say I’m crazy or smoking something.
So I typically don’t talk about spirituality, unless someone wants to talk with me about it. I don’t know where any of my students are coming from and what talking about such a subject might bring up for them. Maybe that will change over time, I’m not sure.
Until then I really just try to have those experiences myself. Which come in all kinds of forms from internal experiences in meditation, to internal shifts based on external experiences (like putting myself out there to truly help another person without any personal motive).
I think the souvenir of such a journey is evident in the change in how we interact with the people who come into our lives and our responses to the situations that present themselves. This is the thing that can be shown to others as evidence of the transformational processes we practice. For me that practice is yoga (which includes, or in fact focuses on, meditation).
If you’re ready to experience a journey that has the power to truly transform your inner self, begin by starting a daily meditation practice. My book can help you begin.