What does it mean to be spiritual? Spirituality can be made into a complex topic matter. It can mean different things to different people. One person described it as experiencing our true connection to all that exists. A common definition of spirituality refers to being related to sacred matters.
For me spirituality, or being spiritual, comes down to whether you exercise five key things in your life...love, gratitude, forgiveness, praise and grace. These principles will be my guide as I discuss any topic relating to spirit throughout my blog.
I believe that love is the most important element of being spiritual. Spirituality is a measure of how loving you are, how open your heart is. Love for yourself, love for others, love for the Universe, and love for our Creator.
In the book, Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexandar, the author states that, "love and compassion are the fabric of the spiritual realm." I believe this to be an accurate reflection of the spiritual world.
When Jesus was confronted by the religious experts of the day... "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:36-40).
In the book A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson, she states that love is what we were born with and fear is what we have learned here. She goes on to say that the spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts...to be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.
I will devote some of my future blog posts to tips and strategies on keeping love at the center of your spiritual life. This is not always easy when faced with the daily challenges of life.
I copied this next paragraph from a piece I read a while back. I love it! I like how it sums up the topic of love. Here it is:
You've got it all wrong. You didn't come here to master unconditional love. This is where you came from and where you'll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty Love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling.
Demonstrated through the beauty of... messing up. Often. You didn't come here to be perfect, you already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And rising again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love in truth doesn't need any adjectives. It doesn't require modifiers. It doesn't require the condition of perfection. It only asks you to show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully.
That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU.
― Courtney A. Walsh
After my father passed away, he came to us several times to communicate what the "afterlife" was like, answer our many questions, and give us some words of wisdom. One afternoon as we were communicating with my dad, he indicated to us that gratitude was a key virtue.
Marie Forleo on Super Soul Sunday stated that, "gratitude changes you on a cellular level. Gratitude changes the framework, the lens upon which we see everything." Based on my own experience, I believe that to be true. Once I started a daily practice of being grateful, I felt as if the way I saw the world began to change. It opened my heart and I fell in love with everything surrounding me...the trees, the birds, gestures of people in my life, everything. It truly changes how you feel inside and how you see things.
The true beauty of the Universe will begin to unfold right before you and you will be amazed by all of creation...both big and small, things that you used to take for granted will amaze you.
Gratitude is a necessary component to being fully spiritual. It's a way of life.
I once read that gratitude gives love a purpose, an intention. I think this links the two together nicely, and I do believe that one is indeed linked to the other. Do you have a gratitude practice? I will devote future blogs to the concept of gratitude and share some super cool experiences that I have had once I started to practice gratitude on a daily basis.
The bible speaks to us about forgiveness as a common theme throughout. Indicating that we are to forgive others based on the fact that we have been forgiven. Forgiveness can be a tricky thought for most of us. Our natural instinct is self-protection when we've been injured, and to want to see justice served.
Let's face it we are all flawed, we all make mistakes (albeit some more than others :)). Do we want to be forgiven when we slip up and make mistakes? Are we always big enough to ask for forgiveness from others? Do we always recognize when we have injured someone else?
For me, forgiveness is something that I do for myself. Forgiveness is medicine. I know all too well how harboring anger and resentment can negatively impact my well-being. It's like carrying a weight around with you all the time, making sure that you don't allow yourself to forget or forgive the injustice that was done to you. I know the ugliness that can then come out of my mouth when I'm carrying around this weight, giving it energy and forcing myself to keep it alive. Causing me to say and do things that then I am not proud of.
Yes, it takes some work to actively forgive at times, but the effort pays off big rewards. Placing it in God's hands frees you up. It allows you to be at peace, to be able to exercise love and gratitude. It allows your energy to be in a more positive place and to vibrate higher. Harboring anger and resentment keeps our hearts closed off. Forgiving is more about something you do for yourself than something that you do for someone else.
I firmly believe that we each need to answer to our actions, good or bad. If I've injured someone, I will eventually feel that pain in some way shape or form. I don't need to hold onto the injustice of someone's actions toward me. It's the Universe's job....God's job to take care of that, not mine. This helps me to let it go, to forgive so that I can live in the place of my choosing. A place of love and gratitude, not one of anger and resentment.
Forgive easily even when it feels like it's hard to do. You will reap the rewards of a freed soul.
In order to praise someone or something, one must declare the worth of the object of praise. Praise is the natural overflowing that occurs when we view some great quality in another. People praise God because they find His attributes and actions worthy of their worship.
When we express our gratitude and thanks to God it brings us closer to Him and prompts us to overflow in praise to Him. When I discussed gratitude, I mentioned how gratitude changes the lens by which we view the world. It causes us to be amazed by all of creation, and to overflow with praise for all that is.
I believe that in order to be truly spiritual, we need to be overflowing with gratitude such that we naturally praise God.
Grace is often defined as God's unmerited favor. Because of God's grace, we receive eternal life and a promise of heaven even though we do not deserve them (or don't we?).
Grace can also be defined as God's sufficiency in the life of the believer. God's grace working in us provides the sufficiency for us to do our good work. God is enough for us no matter the situation or challenge that we may face. He is enough for us to Brave the Hot Mess. God provides daily strength through his grace working in us. We are never alone.
I didn't fully grasp, or I guess have complete faith in the belief that we are never alone until my family member who is able to see spirit, completely confirmed it for me. God is with us. He is with us through the help of angels, through the help of our spirit guides, through the help of our deceased loved ones, through the help of other people's presence in our lives. We are never alone, we are unconditionally loved and supported always.
Grace is being connected to something greater. You feel grace in compassion, you touch grace through compassion. Compassion for self first and compassion for others. Feeling God's grace and knowing that you are never alone are important spiritual elements.
My feeling is that if you practice these five key elements in your daily existence you are truly being spiritual. Going to church regularly, but not practicing love for your fellow mankind is not being spiritual. Practicing yoga or meditation, but not practicing forgiveness is not being spiritual. Love, gratitude, forgiveness, praise and grace...that is being spiritual, that is being Christ-like.
I would love to get feedback from you and hear what you think about my post. Please add a comment below or email me.