The Spiritual Path
Following a spiritual path is a very personal and individualized experience. It comes in many different forms and offers a variety of benefits to our life.
It brings us harmony and balance. It nourishes and feeds our core, true or spiritual self as I like to refer to it. It provides inner peace and calm during the many storms we face in life. It enhances 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.
I use the term spiritual to describe our most basic, core identity. It also involves the connection we have with our self, the people in our life 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.
Following a spiritual path is the process of finding 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 truth 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.
Spiritual Food for the Spiritual Path
The 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, full of life and integrated with the Universe (or God if that’s what you believe) is 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
The 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
The Spiritual Journey
There does not have to be a clear cut road on the 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.
The path of the spiritual life 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 often times 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 leaders 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.
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 consciously and aware as possible and striving to realize your fullest potential as a human being. Enjoy the journey.