Spirituality is a skill you can develop, and is essential to your progress as a person. If you want to live a life full of joy, meaning, and purpose; then you must grow in spirituality.
Spirituality impels [you] to conquer difficulties and acquire more and more strength. – David O. McKay
Over the last 50 years, individuals all over the world have increasingly self identified as being Spiritual But Not Religious (SBNR). This means they consider themselves spiritual, but do not affiliate with any organized religion. In the U.S. alone, “one-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today.”1 And even though these individuals do not practice a particular religion, most of them do believe in God.2
So what about you? Do you consider yourself spiritual but not religious? Have you developed the skill of spirituality?
Spirituality is the skill of self–mastery and communion with the Infinite (i.e. God, Spirit, Source, Light, the Universe). This simple definition is tremendously practical because it can be practiced by the most ardent believer and the staunchest non–believer alike.
A spiritual person seeks to master Self and to be at one with the Infinite. Think about the most spiritual people in your life. What is their level of self–mastery? How connected do they feel to the Infinite? Do they not seem to be connected to everyone and everything around them? If you asked them, they would most likely tell you they’ve been practicing the skill of spirituality for a long time, and that they still have a long way to go before they master it.
The skill of spirituality helps you develop inner strength. It puts things into proper perspective, and gives you a clear view of things as they really are. Nature becomes a temple. Music becomes a language of truth. The body becomes an instrument for channeling the Infinite.
As your spirituality increases, so does your wholeness, purpose, and fulfillment.
Developing the Skill
Like any skill, spirituality is developed through practice. Present practice. Striving to be better now than you were a moment ago. Letting yesterday go and resolving to be better today.
What must you practice? Everything that helps you master Self and be at one with the Infinite.
Common traits of the spiritually skillful are:
1. Awareness – being attuned to the expressions of Self, others, and the Infinite. The key is to create space for the expression of all three, and to listen for the Truth in each expression. Feelings, thoughts, words, and actions are carefully chosen because these influence the harmony between all three expressions, and either sharpen or dull awareness.
2. Prayer/Meditation – moments of reflection where the deepest desires are expressed, and intense listening is the prevailing attitude. The overall goal is to bring back or manifest the clarity of Truth, to feel or perceive the presence of the Infinite, and to reconcile the relationship between Self and the Infinite.
3. Ritual – a series of actions, behaviors, or practices that are consistently repeated, often with intention and reverence. Ritual does not have to be religious. It can be anything that requires focus, discipline, and commitment to regular practice. This includes yoga, exercise of some sort, playing an instrument, painting, writing, and other creative activities. Even washing the car each week can be a ritual.
4. Love – for Self, others, and the Infinite. Usually expressed in the form of appreciation, compassion, humor, kindness, and respect. To love one is to love many. Those who love most are most grateful. Love for Self includes appreciation of imperfections. Love for others includes nature and all of its creatures. Love for the Infinite includes patience for the uncertain and unknown.
5. Giving – a selfless desire to provide as much as possible to others. Born of love and the recognition that much has been received. It is usually done in private and without expectation of reciprocation. Generously giving helps the spiritually skillful to master Self because it turns the focus to others. The giver finds her own needs and wants met as she meets the needs and wants of others.
6. Study – continual learning; especially of Truth. The spiritually skillful recognize that mastery over Self and communion with the Infinite require a deeper and deeper understanding of Self and the Infinite. The need for study becomes obvious because the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know. Mastery doesn’t mean becoming an expert. Rather, it means being a continual student.
7. Sacrifice – willfully giving up one thing for something far better. It requires the faith, hope, and trust because there is no guarantee that the future benefit will actually be received. And it comes in all shapes and sizes. Some sacrifice a half hour of sleep in order to receive the benefit of an early work out. Others sacrifice the pursuit of personal gain in exchange for more time with loved ones. Ultimately, mastery of Self and communion with the Infinite requires giving up the old Self.
Spirituality is like water. Where more is present, Life thrives. Where there is little, Life is a barren desert.
And just as nature has its times, rhythms, and seasons of growth; so too does the skill of spirituality.
Few achieve mastery in this life. But all can develop the skill of spirituality.