Spirituality is a big and broad topic, with an even bigger range of opinions about what it means to be spiritual. A quick Internet search for the term yields about 47,000,000 results, which is a pretty accurate reflection of the diversity of opinion. This individualized approach makes it difficult to discuss spirituality with others, as many people struggle to clearly define what being spiritual means to them – and this can lead to confusion and frustration.
It is important to distinguish spirituality from religion, as some use the terms interchangeably. However, this is a mistake, as religion is a set of rules and beliefs that people follow to connect with a higher power, while spirituality is the process by which we discover our spiritual nature, often through our own experience.
The definition of spirituality is complex and includes both the cognitive or philosophic, and the experiential or emotional. It can be influenced by various traditions and can include practices such as:
Generally, these types of practices focus on bringing the mind, body, and emotions into alignment and connecting with our essence or inner self. Practicing spirituality can also help us feel more connected to our communities and to the natural world. A common pitfall of spirituality is “spiritual bypassing,” which can occur when a person uses their spiritual practice as a tool to avoid dealing with difficult emotions, issues, or situations in their life. This can be especially dangerous in relationships, where it can lead to an inability to express feelings and can cause problems such as passive-aggressive or explosive behavior.