According to the Pew Research Center, people who say they are spiritual-but-not-religious are one of the fastest growing spiritual/religious demographics in America. Also known as “Nones”, these individuals encompass a wide range of spiritual beliefs. They are atheists, theists, agnostics, and every expression of spiritual seeking not affiliated with a specific religion.
Spirituality is part of being human. We crave meaning, purpose, and the Numinous as much as any other source of nourishment. Even as more and more Americans leave the religions of their childhoods, they are not –cannot– leave behind the part of their psyche that longs to fill that god-shaped-hole. We are literally wired for spirituality.
Begin here: Your spiritual journey.
Each person’s spiritual journey is unique, and yet we all have much in common. We wrestle with what it means to be human, we desire to create meaning in our lives, we yearn to live our life’s purpose. The spiritual path we choose is how we seek to explore and practice the “big questions” about the Universe and the nature of our existence. How we arrive at our path is as varied as the people who choose to walk it.
Some of us grow up with a particular religious or spiritual tradition. That tradition feeds our souls throughout our whole life. For a variety of reasons, some of us leave the religious or spiritual tradition of our youth. We may pursue another tradition or no tradition at all.
Many of us embark on our spiritual journey with a sense of joyful curiosity. We simply want to know! Or, if we can’t “know” for certain, we desire to regularly spend time engaging with the questions of our humanity and divinity.
Still, there are those of us who come to our spiritual path at a moment of crisis. Illness, trauma and tragedy can be great teachers. Our spiritual practice gives us a way of navigating the unforeseen, unsought, and often unimaginable circumstances that show up at our proverbial doorstep. Spirituality comforts us, provides a framework for daily living, and allows for a shift in perspective regarding the challenges we face.
Spiritual beings in a physical world.
Spirituality addresses to fundamental aspects of what it means to be human: immanence and transcendence. Immanence is the idea that the world is infused with the sacred. Transcendence is the teaching that we live in a physical world, but we are not of that world. Some paths grant more or less favor to one of these ideas, but both are required for balance.
Immanence makes holy the cooking of our food, washing of our dishes, and caring for our children. It demystifies spirituality through the sacredness of daily living. To serve others is a service to the Numinous.
Transcendence allows us to be and active force for good in the world. Transcending the world does not mean denying it. It means being fully in it! It gives us the ability to be present with joy or suffering without attaching ourselves and identifying with that joy or suffering. Transcending the world means we have the ability to alleviate suffering because we identify with that which is higher than ourselves.
Yoga draws many Western spiritual seekers. The word yoga means “union”. It is both an immanent and transcendent practice. Yoga draws us close to the whole, healed higher Self within each of us through our embodied experience of daily living. When we release our attachments to what the practice should look like and our expectations around what we believe we ought to “get out of it”, we open ourselves to the unlimited potential and possibility of all of which we are capable!