When you hear that word, spirituality, what does it mean to you?
I think a lot about meanings, especially when it comes to spirituality. Meanings are important, and often confusing. If I offer a term, “spirituality”, it can mean one thing to me, but something completely different to you.
Perhaps you think of God. Or, your ultimate reality and connection to the universe.
You may be coming from a particular religion. If you are a part of a church or temple community, you may receive your notions of spirituality from their teachings or sacred texts.
Are you interested in meditation? There’s a lot of chatter about the benefits of silence and focusing on breathing. Meditation is often grouped into a series of practices considered to be contemplative. Some common ones are contemplative prayer, mantra, chant or song, or lighting candles.
For some the term spirituality may be somewhat “woo-woo”, and perhaps that’s a turnoff, or even freaks you out a little bit.
I believe these understandings all hint at the meaning of spirituality. That is, they each point towards a larger space that might be considered “spiritual”.
I think spirituality can be discerned for yourself by attentiveness to right where you are, right where you stand, right now.
Because for me, spirituality is all of it. Everything. Spirituality is everything around you. It’s you, and everyone else. The landscape around you. It’s the extraordinary stuff, and the seemingly boring and mundane stuff too. Your experiences, your feelings, your thoughts. Its your past and future. And, it’s outside and beyond all of that.
Is that too vague? Am I being too open-ended and ambiguous? I don’t think so.
This is why I approach the idea of spirituality to taking a walk.
Walking is great. It’s an easy physical activity, involving your whole body. There is movement, and action. You can think about lots of things, but also nothing more to contemplate except each single step you take. There is a path that lies ahead, and also behind you. You can find yourself, and see yourself, located on that path.
Walking pulls you out of busyness and distractions. It can be calming, and it can also surprise you. There are things noticed in a walk that are otherwise unnoticed. It’s a physical activity that rarely makes you tired, but rather refreshed.
If you listen to music, you have a playlist composed of your favorite songs – songs that move you, make you happy, make you want to walk faster, or linger, or dance a little as you go (Just FYI: My playlist is mostly 80’s hits and early 90’s grunge).
We can imagine a city, with thousands of people walking around on the sidewalks and streets. But we all have our own experience of the walk. Your walk, your path, your life – nobody else experiences this but you.
When I think of spirituality, I think of the experience of the walk. Which is all of the above.
What are the experiences of your walk? Do you see the path you are on? How do you find your location on the journey of your life, in a way that enriches, celebrates, and deepens your connection to it?
That to me is uniquely, and universally, spiritual.
We all need someone to walk with us on our spiritual journey.