What Is Spirituality? A Practical Guide For Beginners
What does it mean to be spiritual? How do you practice spirituality? What is the difference between spirituality and religion? Here is some practical guidance.
Are you drawn to the idea of becoming more spiritual but don’t quite know what it means or how to practice?
I know exactly where you’re coming from. I have been drawn to spirituality longer than I’ve known the word
Over the decades I’ve followed many teachers but a couple of years ago I was told very clearly by my spirit guides that from now on, I was to forge my own path.
Here is what I’ve learned about the meaning and practice of spirituality.
How Do You Define Spirituality?
Spirituality is that aspect in us that transcends time, place, and circumstance and is one with source, God, presence, the all, the universe, the eternal, the ultimate truth.
Choose whichever word feels most comfortable to you. They are all just placeholders, approximations – something for which there is no word.
(And let other people be who choose differently.)
At the moment…
…we are all people with a long to-do list.
We have a liking for ice cream or chocolate, things that light us up and others that bore us. We worry about our wife, husband, kids, dogs, health, money, boss. About being late, about our car, our appearance, our work. We look forward to a movie, to the weekend, seeing our friends, going on holiday.
This is what it means to be caught in time, place, and circumstance.
There is nothing wrong with that! We need to be in the here and now. Life is a precious gift, we need to live it.
But that is not all there is to life.
This is the first dawn of spiritual thoughts and feelings. And any practices that unearth more of those feelings and strengthen them are spiritual practices.
Like with everything else, there are different stages. It’s a journey – a journey that leads to awakening. And those thoughts and feelings is how the journey starts.
What Spirituality is Not
Spirituality is not mumbo jumbo or a fantasy or voodoo.
And it isn’t just accessible to some of us who have a “special gift”. We all have it.
Spirituality is not vague nonsense, it is a very tangible and meaningful force that we all have access to.
When we use our spirituality it makes our life richer, more purposeful, we become more understanding, kinder, wiser, and thereby do our bit to make the world a better place by being in it.
What is the goal of Spirituality?
The goal of spirituality is to advance on the path back home, to oneness, to source. Ultimately, the purpose of spirituality is to awaken.
This post contains affiliate links to products I use and love. This simply means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
How to practice Spirituality - In two steps
What takes you on your journey home can take a myriad forms. Wherever you’re at, your practice should make you wiser and kinder. This is a good gauge for how your practice is going.
If you’re becoming more loving to yourself and others, more patient, more understanding how life works then your practice is going well.
If your ego becomes inflated, you feel better than, or you’re preaching then your practice is leading you astray.
In general, spiritual practices take two forms: building a relationship with ourself and building a relationship with the divine.Both can be practiced together.
Step 1: Building a relationship with your true self
This aspect of spirituality looks a lot like personal development.
We explore our own personality, belief systems, assumptions, triggers, character traits.
Practical Steps that build a better relationship with your true self
Benefits of Personal Development
Some of the rewards of this hard work are that we heal. We start to have fewer “issues” with life and with other people. We become more authentic. We embody who we are with more confidence and calmness. We get triggered less and experience less anger, less jealousy, less fear. We have less ego and take things less personally. We start to know our needs and have more tolerance and love for both ourselves and others.
Step 2: Building a Relationship with the Divine
In practical terms this means we cultivate our intuition and ways to communicate with source, with the universe, with God
By teachings, I mean audio books, conventional books, courses, seminars, guided meditations, live workshops, retreats etc. Click on the icons to learn more.
Benefits of Spiritual Practices
As we surrender we are more and more led by the divine. Things start to go right for us and when we do hit difficulties we know them to be situations to learn from. We worry less. We’re more present. We are able to manifest what we want more easily. We’re able to perceive miracles. We become more serene, peaceful, and happy in ourselves, independent of outside circumstances.
Don’t be tempted…
…to jump straight to these kinds of practice which may seem more spiritual or easier.
The truth is, if we haven’t been able to overcome some of our shortcomings, triggers, wounds and we don’t have a relationship with our true self then building a relationship with the divine will be mere “spiritual bypassing”.
So in a sense knowing ourselves comes first.
However, we can use our relationship with the divine to help us build a relationship with ourselves!
We can ask the universe for support and healing when we uncover trauma or harmful patterns.
We can ask for guidance to discern beliefs and cultural habits prevalent in our society that no longer serve us.
And we can ask for courage to change our thoughts and actions to what authentically benefit us.
Ultimate Benefits of Spiritual Development
If we continue to practice building a relationship with our true selves and the divine we will eventually see extraordinary results. We will feel close to God and live in a state of grace, able to perceive and understand divine signs and messages with ease and confidence. Our clairvoyance increases, we are able to read other people’s minds, communicate with animals and spirits of nature, remember our past lives. We can heal by touch and use the power of crystals, herbs, and incantations. We will become completely unbound from anything that has obstructed our mind, soul, and spirit. We are awake.
How To Find Your Spirituality
Spiritual practice should feel joyous and “right”. Like you are not merely moving ahead by yourself alone but are joining a slip stream, or a travelator – you’re walking but there are other forces that help you along. You’re swimming with the tide. You’re in the flow.
When reading the lists above there are probably one or two that are an instant “yes” for you. They excite you and draw you to them. They feel like you really want to try them.
Pay attention to these feelings. They are your sign that says, start there. They are the first steps on your path.
Even though the book or teacher or course or even the movie that attracts you may not hold *all* the answers or be a full and complete path all the way to enlightenment.
The Next Step
We usually only ever see the next few steps ahead.
Very rarely can we see the whole journey.
Don’t let this put you off and don’t let this stop you from starting on the path! There will be many surprises on the way.
Do you ever look back say 10 years ago and think to yourself, “if anyone had told me I’d be *here* doing *this* I would never have believed them”? Seeing one or two steps ahead is enough. Enough to get started.
Remember you have free will.
You are not running on train tracks. You are not just free to start and stop on your journey, you can also change direction at any time.
Your path is yours to forge.
Don’t concern yourself with other people’s paths
These sort of questions require some soul searching with complete honesty.
Destiny Or Free Will?
We are not puppets on a string and our life doesn’t run on train tracks. We are the masters of our own destiny.
The greatest and most skilful way of helping ourselves is to awaken.
We can choose to ignore our destination. Or we can head in the general direction but take many detours. We can take breaks, slow down, go backwards, speed up, fly or crawl. It’s completely up to us.
(I’m choosing the term awaken but in reality there are no words that can adequately describe our ultimate destination. It is beyond any expressible or thinkable concepts. All words are just placeholders – choose one that resonates with you. And let other people be who choose differently. Our choice of words should never divide us.)
What Is My Purpose In Life?
Our purpose in life is to awaken.
To become our true selves which is one with source, with everything.
And to help each other on this path. To walk each other home.
Our individual purpose depends on our “soul contract”.
Renegotiate your soul contract
If we can it is best to see the teaching in every challenge we face and try to grow from it.
However, if we find we have set ourselves a very ambitious soul contact with more issues than we can handle then it is perfectly alright to renegotiate this contract. Nobody will judge you.
It can be done by sincere prayer telling God, the divine, the universe that your life is presenting you with more challenges than you can handle right now and to please turn down the heat and make things easier for you.
Make sure when you’re given a break and presented with an easy solution you recognize it – and allow yourself to take it!
Spirituality Vs Religion
Religion is a fixed set of beliefs and rules that you’re required to follow.
At best, the rules are originally set by someone who has great spiritual insights and has become deeply admired by others for their clarity, peace, wisdom, and closeness to God.
This spiritual leader was then asked by others what they should do to also experience the same level of divinity. Thus a set of beliefs and rules came about.
(I said “at best” – because the past has shown that often the rules were set by someone without spiritual insights merely with the aim of controlling others.)
By following religion blindly you are giving away your own power.
Say your friend is in a very loving marriage. Something you admire and want for yourself. Will you imitate them, their choice of partner – height, hair colour, degree of education? Will you emulate their way of loving each other – their way of teasing and flirting, holding and kissing?
Of course not. It’s far too personal.
You may ask their advice, sure, but ultimately you must find your own partner and your own way of loving them and building a relationship.
Our spiritual journey is even more personal.
It’s just that many of us have momentarily forgotten how to gauge what is right for us on our own spiritual path.
We have forgotten that we instinctively know the way. It is like feeling the warmth of the sun on your face. Even with your eyes closed you know which way to turn.
Forging our own path
Forging our own path is of course much harder than just being told what to do. Forging our own path means we must rely on our own intuition, our inner guidance, and deepen our insights, wisdom and understanding.
This doesn’t mean we’re alone. We are in fact all on this path together, every single one of us. And because it isn’t a straight line but a spiral we constantly see people ahead, to the sides, above and below (so to speak), who are also on their path.
We can ask how they are mastering the obstacles on the way and listen to their insights. We can obtain teachings from the elders, gurus, and masters, we can read, immerse ourselves in retreats. We can visit spiritual sites, monasteries and nunneries, consult tarot decks and the I Ching.
We will come away with many ideas, insights and inspirations.
But ultimately, we have to check if these are right for us or not. They may need adaptation or altering.
Or, they may be exactly what we need at this moment. Sometimes good advice by someone who is wise and kind and without agenda can hep us greatly. This could well be your local minister or priest or imam or rabbi or the pope or the Dalai Lama.
Can you be spiritual and religious?
The purpose of all religions…
… is to make us kinder and wiser. More loving and better able to understand life. Remain calm, strong, and centered in the face of adversity. However, religion has often been highjacked to serve the purpose of power-hungry manipulators who have seen how many people behave like sheep and simply follow instructions.
History has shown over and over how religion can make easy pray of blind followers. Don’t be that person!
This doesn’t mean that all religions and its followers are bad.
On the contrary, all religions are full of genuine people who are kind and wise, have attained great spiritual mastery due to following their religion’s teachings, and who can to help us with their advice. Many can benefit us on our journey.
So we must be discerning.
We should not follow blindly but at the same time, we should not reject blindly either.
Since we are part of humanity, living on this planet, we are also part of the collective consciousness which is learning and evolving all the time.
While it has been more appropriate in the past to be guided by religion the time is now approaching for us as a collective to become self-governed and take back our power. It is a sign of the times. There is an etheric opening taking place collectively.
You may be feeling the pull to take more responsibility for your on growth and awakening. You do not need anyone’s permission – this is your decision and yours alone.
The aim is to become awake. While on this journey we must become self-governed. Sovereign. It is part of the very definition of becoming awake.
If we want to make any genuine progress on the path to awakening it is imperative that we don’t follow the advice of our ego but only follow the calling of our higher self, God, the divine, source.
…deceives us by telling us that it has our best interest at heart, but the reasons are ultimately selfish and deep down based on fear. However, the ego usually gives very convincing arguments which are easy to use as an excuse.
If we follow the guidance of our ego there will be a small niggling in the back of our mind. Our decision will not feel quite right. And there will be a tendency to justify our decision over and over, to ourself and others.
This is our higher self or God or the universe trying to get through to us, telling us that we know better.
Just because we’re going through a hard time does not mean we’re on the wrong path! It is extremely important not to be deceived by our own ego and run away from tough transformations.
A good way to do this is to take the pressure off yourself and stop thinking that it is you who has to make the decision. Ask for help and surrender to the very best advice from your higher self, God, or the universe without any agenda, preference, or hope for a particular outcome.
The Spiritual Journey
We never have to worry that we may be troubling God or asking more than our fair share. The more often we ask the more we get in sync with the universe. The more we tune into their help the more we align ourselves with the divine.
So the more we ask the better!
Spiritual messages are initially often those thoughts, feelings, ideas, and images that arise quite spontaneously right after we ask for help.
Often we dismiss these as nonsense, illogical, wrong, or unimportant. Or we don’t even notice them at all.
Working with your spiritual support crew
We’ve now opened a line of communication and they will now send more messages this way. More numbers, different combinations. In a “lucky coincidence”, we will then probably also come across a book that teaches us to decipher the meaning of different number combinations.
Or we may be oblivious to numbers but we start paying attention to our gut feelings and place our trust in doing what our intuition tells us. In that case this is how the universe will work with us. We will learn what the subtle pull of our intuition feels like. We will start to recognize whenever we’re given a subtle push of encouragement.
Why spiritual awakening can be painful
At the beginning you will probably find that your whole life is getting more difficult when you follow a spiritual path.
At the beginning of my own journey, my long term relationship broke up, people thought me very strange (or worse…!) and I lost a lot of my old friends.
I knew my own inner truth so it was almost like I had no choice but to continue on my new found path, however much upheaval it brought.
People from my old life were simply no longer aligned to the new self that was emerging. There really was no option to go back to being someone I no longer was.
But I was new to spirituality so I didn’t go about this change in a very skilful way. I was judgemental and hasty – not exactly spiritual qualities!
Looking back I could have handled everything with a lot more kindness and wisdom. But it was only the spiritual path that really taught me kindness and wisdom…
So my advice is to be gentle with yourself and others. Make any changes gradually and with great kindness.
If we want to grow and reach new shores we must let go of the old ones. This takes courage because it means that for a time we will be at sea.
Feeling lost is part of this change. You may feel lonely and confused for a while but once you’ve reached new lands there will be a tribe of likeminded souls who are more aligned to who you truly are. This is part of the journey home and that is the essence of the spiritual journey.
Get Support From Me
While we’re going through these extraordinary, turbulent times I’m offering
one-to-one personal advice and meditation sessions,
face to face (via zoom or similar), to anyone who needs them.
For a limited time: Pay what you wish
For the time being I offer these sessions by donation to make them accessible to all.