Finding your spiritual path is critical when living with a chronic health condition because it brings harmony and balance to our lives. It nourishes and feeds our core, true, or spiritual self. It provides inner peace and calm during the many storms we face on the healing journey. It enhances the quality of life, offers comfort, and gives us strength.
Many people tend to put religion and the spiritual together as if they are one, but one can consider themselves to be highly religious and be completely out of touch with their spirituality. One can be highly spiritual without being religious at all.
Yes, religion can be a spiritual path, but it is not the only one. The spiritual is not something you find in a book, seminar, retreat, or a building such as a church, it is found by going inward. These things may work as a catalyst for awakening or a tool to find our spiritual road, but true spirituality is deep within. It is a very personal and individualized experience and comes in many different forms.
I use the term spiritual to describe our most basic core identity. It also involves the connection we have with ourselves, the people in our lives, and the world around us. Some people include a relationship with a supreme being or a higher power, but that is not intrinsic to spirituality.
Finding your spiritual path is the process of discovering and getting in touch with the true self. The deeper you. Engaging in activities that feed and nurture the core identity. The search for truth. Finding more inner peace, meaning, and purpose in your life and living a more authentic life.
When we say something feels very “spiritual” what we are saying is that it gets us in touch with our core, our deeper or higher self. It feels good because it nourishes and feeds a part of ourselves that we’ve been cut off from. It’s like finding a long-lost friend. Our core is ultimately connected to the source of creation and thus when we reach those depths we experience a taste of the divine.
The spiritual path is not a place you arrive at and stay put. It’s not stagnant. It is flowing, growing, and ever-changing, and expanding. There’s no hurry to get there. It’s a journey.
For people living with chronic illness, there will probably be many periods in which your spiritual foundation will be shaken and challenged to the core. There are likely to be periods when you question all your beliefs and make complete changes in your spiritual life.
I have gone through several transformations during the course of my lifetime. I find that truth is not something that is stationary. What may be true for you one month or one year may be different the next month or year as you go through different experiences.
Finding what is truth in your heart and following that path, even though it may be the road less traveled and you may be ostracized to some degree, is part of the spiritual journey. This will vary from individual to individual as our spiritual selves are very unique and complex, although there do tend to be some commonalities across the board.
Food for Your Spirituality
Finding your spiritual path requires sources of food to keep you moving inward and deepening your connection. What is spiritual for one person may not be so for another.
The things that make you feel whole, at peace inside, full of life, and integrated with the Universe (or God if that’s what you believe) are your spiritual food.
Here are some of the most common sources of spiritual food:
- time with nature
- reading inspirational books
- quiet time
- spiritual service
- community service
- volunteer work
- helping others
- watching the sunset or sunrise
- walking the dog
- deep conversation
- environmental activism
- being still
Finding your spiritual path is not always smooth and comfortable. As a matter of fact, a lot of times it is painful, difficult, and treacherous terrain. Living life as completely and consciously as possible through all that life throws at us, including great pain and suffering is part of the spiritual life.
Many deep spiritual lessons can be found through some of the following experiences that we often consider unpleasant:
- emotional and/or physical suffering
Finding Your Spiritual Path is a Journey
There is not always a clear-cut road when finding your spiritual path. As a matter of fact, it will probably be quite curvy, bumpy, and contain many untraveled side roads. There will be mountains to climb, oceans to swim and deserts to cross as well as resting spots filled with divine beauty.
At times you may feel like you’re traveling your path at the speed of an Olympic gold medal track star and at other times you may need to be carried. There may be violent thunderstorms, tornadoes, or hurricanes as well as bright and sunny days. It is a life-long journey, not a one-time event.
The spiritual journey may involve formal methods of exploration such as studying traditional sources like Taoism, Hinduism, or a particular type of meditation with a spiritual guru, etc., but it really does not have to.
To truly walk the spiritual path you must live it. You must experience life. Studying it may be helpful in the beginning to bring about awareness and help you find the truth that is your own, however, there are so many different views and opinions that it can become very confusing about which way to go. It’s very easy to get sidetracked by all the intellectual explanations and spiritual activities and miss the real path.
Anyone can claim to be a spiritual guru, and oftentimes there is a lot of ego involved. These people tend to be very charismatic and able to influence others quite easily. Many vulnerable people can fall into a cycle of getting caught in the spiritual leader’s path rather than their own.
Some people spend years or even a lifetime chasing spirituality by going to one spiritual retreat or event after another and yet never really follow any internal spiritual journey of their own or achieve any spiritual growth.
The road to finding your spiritual path is uniquely yours and it’s likely to take many different forms at different times of your life. As you evolve, your path evolves as well. Ultimately, the goal is about deepening your relationship with your spiritual self, living life as fully, consciously, and aware as possible, and striving to realize your fullest potential as a human being. Enjoy the journey.