Imagine that you are in a dark forest. You know that it is daytime but the trees here are so thick that hardly a single ray of sunlight can get through. You don’t have a flashlight or any source of light (and you are not a boy scout who can make fire practically from thin air.) You’ve been following a trail for a while and just now you realized that it was not a trail, it was just a path that rain water created after a recent shower. You don’t know where to go next and you don’t know how to get back. This forest stretches for thousands of miles and it will take you months to get from one side to another one.
You understand that you shouldn’t panic because there are dangerous creatures in this forest and you don’t have enough supplies to survive for more than a few days.
How do you feel?
The feeling of loneliness starts creeping inside of you. Here is another thought running through your head “I’m doomed. I will never get out of here…” You lose your hope. You even lose your desire to stay alive.
Not a very pleasant visualization, isn’t it? This is what your life is or will be without a spiritual spark.
Now imagine that in the same situation you have a magical flashlight. This flashlight can of course help you find your way back. It will help you discover the real trail that will lead you to a destination both meaningful and satisfying to you. This flashlight can even attract other travelers in the same forest and you won’t have to wander alone for the rest of your life.
This is life with spirituality. At least how I see it.
What is natural spirituality?
I can’t give you one single definition of spirituality. Just like life balance, it is very personal and reflects your inner world in the most amazing ways.
One thing that I know for certain is that each and every one of us has a spirit. It is not our body that defines us; it is our spirit that reflects who we are. Our mind is just a steering mechanism (or a processor if you are into technology) that can’t function properly without the spirit.
Today, more than ever, we need to work on nurturing our spirits. I can go on for pages about why we are rapidly losing our spirituality today: the loss of value of real connection (in favor of a thousand Facebook friends), complete domination of the world of technology and the loss of importance of natural living, stress at work and a complete absence of personal time, to name just the most obvious ones.
The loss of spirituality leads to the increasing number of suicide attempts, rapid growth of the epidemic of depression, development of unnatural lifestyles (I’ll keep my mouth shut on this one otherwise too many “unbalanced” words can seep through into this article.)
And yes, Spirituality is not necessarily related to religion. However, very often the development of natural spirituality leads to the questions that only religion can answer. But let’s stay open-minded and impartial (I’ll try to, at least) for right now.
Practical ways to develop your natural spirituality
Spirituality is not something you can learn by reading a book or doing a home-study course. It is the work that you do inside of yourself, day after day, year after year.
I personally tried reading different resources on how to be spiritual but none of them made any sense to me. I personally don’t pray to the stars, and I don’t think that Mother Earth and Father Sun created this incredible world after a fun date together.
I found my spirituality when I was not looking for it. I lived my life, enjoyed what I could, tried a lot of things and didn’t think that a well-educated person like myself needed anything else to live happily and fulfill my dreams.
All of a sudden, my life stopped going in the right direction. My long-term relationship turned from fun and exciting into boring and a “I-can’t stand-it-no-more” type. My other attempts to find my other half led me to losing part of my personality and making bad choices. The loss of control over my life led to bad habits (smoking.) And all of a sudden I asked myself, “Where am I going?” The answer that popped up in my head wasn’t really what I planned for. It was the moment that I turned to God for guidance and help. It was the moment when I realized that in order to stay balanced I needed something else besides cute clothes, a pretty diploma on the wall and unfulfilling relationships.
If you feel lost right now or if you are looking for a new direction in life let me tell you several practical steps to uncover your natural spirituality (and it doesn’t have to be the same as mine.)
- Stop being in control. I have an exercise for you. Right now make a decision that you will stick to a particular habit at a certain time every day for a year. Now write a check on the amount equal to your annual income in the name of your friend. Give him/her this check immediately (I am not crazy, keep reading.)Every day for the rest of the year you have to call your friend right after you complete the action mentioned above. The very first time that your friend doesn’t hear from you or you are late with your “report” he/she has to cash the check and spend all the money immediately. Are you hesitant about doing it?Of course you are, and anybody in their right mind will be hesitant as well. Circumstances may happen, you can be out of town, you can get sick or you can simply forget. So, we can’t be in control even over a simple action like that. Can we be in control of our entire lives?
If you want to develop your spiritual side you need to let go of several beliefs, and the myth of control is the first one to go.
There is a grand scheme of things that determines meaning and purpose for everything that happens. We are just part of that scheme and we should enjoy being the integral part of something that is amazing.
- Believe in something greater than you. Every once in a while I love to surf the channels and watch some history or travel show. I am particularly interested in documentaries like 10 of the Tallest Buildings of the World, 7 Modern Wonders of the World etc. It always fascinates me how the human mind can create such unbelievable designs and, even more so, how someone can actually bring those bold designs into life.Just think about it, Burj Khalifa, a skyscraper in Dubai, is the tallest building in the world reaching unbelievable 828 m (2717 ft.)Allure of the Seas is the world’s largest cruise ship with the capacity of 6300 passengers (bigger than population of many towns.)
Just think for a minute about the magic of Disney World!
Isn’t it amazing?
We can look at all these projects with awe and admiration, but is it real magic?
To me magic is giving birth to a child and knowing that this precious beautiful baby developed from two tiny cells. What factory can boast building something as complex and amazing as that?
Magic is the beauty of natural coral reefs and the fact that every coral in the world spawns on the same day, at the same time once a year. Now, who could organize such perfect symphony?
Spirituality is believing in something greater than humans. We have no control over the world or ourselves. We have no ability to create magic because the ultimate magic is already around us; we just have to open our eyes and see it.
Most of the things that we create by hand perish at one point or another while natural wonders are eternal and ever so fascinating.
- Spend more time in nature. You just read the previous paragraph so it shouldn’t require a lot of explanation. Nature is where you can see magic and feel connection to the grand scheme I just talked about.Imagine that for several years you have to live in a closed-in room with white walls, no windows, and no access to the outside world. By the time you get out (if you are still sane at that time) you will see the entire world as a bright and colorful canvas filled with miracles.Open up your eyes to this world right now and stop spending so much time behind the screen of your computer or your smart phone.
- Keep asking yourself, “What is the meaning of all this?” until you find the answer. When you discover all the miracles mentioned above you will naturally ask the question, “Who created this world?”, “Who is in control of our lives?” “Who is in charge of the grand scheme of things?” I found my answer and it makes all the sense in the world. But you are not me and you have to find that answer on your own.
- Explore different roads of spirituality. When it comes to making a decision on whether to go to church or not, whether to follow the teachings of a spiritual guru or not a lot of people base this decision on the people they meet and teachers they hear. Some preachers/teachers have an amazing talent to convince you of anything in the world but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have found the true meaning of life.Try to separate the natural spirituality from your personal attitude towards a person preaching it. Before you make a decision on whether something is your true path or not give it some time, try a few different sources. There are religions or a “spiritual guides” that can support anything you want and make you constantly feel good. However, the simple road is not always the true one. Just keep it in mind when you make your decision.
- Look at people around you. If you don’t know where to go and what to believe then look at people around you. Which of these people live happily? Which of them live according to the values that are important to you? Which lives seem inspiring and meaningful? How do their lives support their spiritual beliefs?
- Start enjoying life as part of a divine creation. Your life is not just about you, it is also about people around you. We are all connected in one way or another and our actions and words can influence the lives of people around us. Start living for others the same as you live for yourself by being generous and grateful.
- Use spiritual techniques. Prayer and meditation are powerful techniques that help you get a deeper understanding of your spiritual side. I don’t meditate but I do pray daily and this is the only “tool” that I need to connect to God. It’s not how much you do or what fancy technique you choose but what you put your heart into that matters.
How do YOU develop your natural spirituality? What answers did you find during your journey?
P.S. This is the last part of Live a More Balanced Life Challenge. There is much more we can talk about while looking for a perfectly balanced life but one year won’t be enough to cover all the topics. I have something special coming very-very soon for you. It will be available for three days only and is intended for your eyes only. Basically it’s a secret. Don’t miss it…
In the meantime, go to the BalanceInMe Facebook page to join our fun discussion. It’s another way for us to connect and to live more balanced lives together.
Photo credit: Bogdan Suditu