I call myself a spiritual life coach as this says a lot about my approach to life. On my website, I describe spirituality as the balance between head and heart, but actually, it is much more than that. What is the current definition of modern spirituality? Where once it was invariably linked to religion, it is now focusing on the personal, inner experience. Wikipedia provides an interesting description: “In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience and the deepest values and meanings by which people live, incorporating personal growth or transformation, usually in a context separate from organized religious institutions.”
Modern spirituality is about how we look at our life, our values and the meaning we give to different situations in our lives. What is the essence of our Self and how do we want to investigate this? Are we in close contact with our inner world and what can we learn from this? The focus lies in the essence of humans which manifests itself in feeling, thinking and acting. As a spiritual being, you are willing to look at all aspects of yourself, even those bits you do not really find attractive (at least at first sight). To dare/be able to accept that, at this point, this is you.
We live in a world full of demands, expectations, and conditions. If you can let go of the outside world for a bit and focus more on your inner self, the external pressure will be reduced. If we look at a slightly more profound level, we often find this involves no external pressure: it is the pressure that we end up putting on ourselves under the influence of external factors. Instead of always focusing on the outside world and comparing ourselves to it, we can use our inner self as a starting point: our ideas, abilities, and talents. If you decide to change, you do it because you want to get closer to your true self, not because someone else expects something from you. It is therefore not a matter of improving yourself, but of experiencing your whole self. Without the filters and masks that you may have applied to yourself during your life because you thought this would help you to be accepted, to function better, etc. In this way, you will connect more strongly with your deeper, authentic Self.
It does not mean that your focus will always be inward: to embrace spirituality also means you are open to new ideas and influences. You’re willing to try these out in your life, so you can eventually recognize more precisely what suits you and what does not. This way, you gradually build an inner strength, which serves as a basis for all future situations that come your way. It is not a magic cure for sadness, anxiety or other emotions that we experience from time to time, but rather a theme that is always present in the background and that can help us through difficult times. And, almost paradoxically, it’s those difficult situations that can teach us a lot about how we think, how we deal with it, what we want from it, etc. We can learn a lot in all kinds of different circumstances if we open ourselves to it.
Such personal development is a good thing, as long as it doesn’t turn into a dogmatic approach. We are sometimes so desperately searching for answers through others that we forget to listen to what is already present in ourselves. As we face the sensitive parts of our inner self, we are more easily influenced by others. Do not be fooled by organizations and individuals that create the impression they know the Truth or the Answers to Everything.
We have the ability and wisdom to ultimately make the right choices, with or without support from others. Give yourself the greatest possible freedom to acquire the necessary knowledge, and do this -if you so wish- with people who respect your background and personality. It is important to explore yourself regularly, find out how you feel about certain situations, and -especially when in doubt- to remain open to other influences. Question everything you want and stay true to yourself. This way, a firm foundation can be laid for personal growth which suits your needs.
Last but not least: what works for you, does not necessarily work for others. Especially when it comes to spiritual matters. We can provide each other solutions and different perspectives, but we will have to respect that some might not adopt these suggestions and/or see things differently. So please read this article as my personal view and see it as a stimulus to think about your spirituality.