Growing up in mid-coast and then southern Maine, my life was a blend of Marine discipline from my father and Irish Catholic traditions from my mother. Sundays meant church, catechism classes, and communion. There was no talk of spirituality and nature was enjoyed in a Winnebago with a TV.
My real journey into spirituality began in my 40s. Having stepped away from church for over two decades and in search of recovery, I found myself pondering what spirituality meant to me. As a child, I equated spirituality strictly with religion and felt disconnected from it. But I’ve since learned that spirituality is much more than that.
Spirituality: A Personal Journey
Spirituality is no longer just about religion. It’s a broader concept, a belief in something beyond ourselves. It’s about finding what practices resonate with your heart and soul, and they can vary greatly from person to person.
Here are some paths I explored.
Meditation and Mindfulness
I started with meditation to quiet my mind. It helped me live in the present and appreciate the little things. It allowed me a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me. I set up an area in my home with a meditation pillow, incense, and crystals to bring me comfort. What could meditation look like for you?
Nature as a Sanctuary (Eco-Spirituality)
I found peace in nature’s beauty, feeling a oneness with the world around me. This was as simple as taking a mindful walk around the Falmouth bird sanctuary or even my neighborhood. It also has included an annual 5-day wilderness retreat starting with paddling eight miles to a remote campsite at Baxter State Park (my favorite place in Maine) with just my partner. Is there a place you feel most at peace?
Yoga and Movement
Yoga and Tai Chi brought harmony to my body and mind, making me feel more connected. I have explored the many types of Yoga from Bikram to Vinyasa, Aerial to Yin Yang. The first are more intense and exercise-based, while the latter is designed for movement and stretching. Have you tried channeling your inner Yogi?
I expressed my spiritual journey through knitting, woodworking, and music, finding a unique voice in each loop, stroke, and note. If you’re not sure what your artistic passion is, it can be as easy as a trip to the local dollar store for a cheap introduction to various art forms.
Community and Fellowship
Joining groups for discussions and gatherings brought me a sense of belonging and shared growth. Not knowing what I was looking for, I joined in all types of activities that brought me to others with like-minded and vastly different thinking which opened my mind and nourished my soul.
Studying Spiritual Texts
I love to read and one way I learned more about the various forms of spirituality was through the library and local bookstores. Getting lost in a book on the written spiritual journeys of others brought me hope and experiences I otherwise would not have had. Through these books, I have traveled to Tibet, France, India, and beyond without ever leaving my living room.
Staying Open and Curious
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to explore spirituality. Be curious, try new things, and see what speaks to you. It’s a lifelong journey, each step and each experience are part of your unique spiritual path.
During my exploration, I tried everything that piqued my curiosity, from sunrise services on a mountaintop to EFT tapping. I learned from others in meetings and therapy, seeing the light in their eyes when they spoke about their spirituality. I even tried mindful eating, inspired by Thich Naht Hahn, although it was challenging!
Your Unique Spiritual Tapestry
Your spirituality might look different. It could be in acts of kindness, studying religious texts, finding solace in prayer or indigenous rituals. What’s important is that it feels right to you. Where can you find spirituality in the ordinary? Try finding something special in everyday things. Seeing kindness and beauty in small moments can make you feel connected and peaceful inside.
What Does Your Spirituality Look Like?
Think about what resonates with you. Do you find peace in nature? Have you tried meditation to bring clarity? Perhaps helping others fills you with a sense of purpose. Explore these feelings. What brings meaning and depth to your life?
Embarking on Your Journey
Spirituality isn’t confined within walls or tied to a single belief. It’s about what brings you peace, connection, and a sense of purpose. Stay open, curious, and true to your experiences. Trust your journey and the paths it takes you on, and allow yourself the space to grow and discover.
Finding your path to spiritual wellness is a personal, evolving journey. Embrace it with an open heart, and you’ll find what you seek.
Learning more about yourself and spirituality doesn’t need to cost money. Here are some free resources for you to explore.
- Community and Fellowship: Phoenix Multisport | thephoenix.org
- Free Yoga and Movement: YouTube (Try searching “Yoga for Beginners” or “Yoga with Adriene”)
- Journaling: Start a gratitude list or daily journal practice to keep track of your spiritual journey
- Meditation: Download Insight Timer or visit www.plumvillage.org for access to free meditations.
- Mindfulness: The Free Mindfulness Project | freemindfulness.org
- Nature as a Sanctuary: The Center for Spirituality in Nature |centerforspiritualityinnature.org
- Wellness Tools: Forest Bathing, EFT Tapping, Nutrition and more at www.journey-magazine.com
- Written Texts on Spirituality: Visit your local library
- Visit this multi-faith and interspiritual website for more information: www.spiritualityandpractice.com