Please take a moment to come up with some of your own answers to my question. I’m sure there will be many valid and varied answers.
The Oxford dictionary definition:
- relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things
- having a relationship based on a profound level of mental or emotional communication
- a place in which one feels a strong sense of belonging: I had always thought of Italy as my spiritual home
- the quality of being concerned with the human spirit
The Bhagavad Gita meaning of spirituality: diving deep into inner self and realising our true identity…our soul …the spirit within!
This last week I’ve been contemplating the meaning of spirituality to me. In several conversations, I have personally been referred to as ‘spiritual’ even ‘too spiritual’ and it got me thinking…am I? How can we gauge spirituality? What is ‘too spiritual?’ What makes one person less or more spiritual than another..? Can people be at different spiritual stages or is this a false perception? Yoga definitely brings up more questions!
Then I started to think, what makes ‘my’ spirit come alive? This was a helpful question
- Great music
- Good company
- Exquisite food
- Sweet smelling flowers
- Being in nature
- The stars, the sun, the moon, the ocean, the landscape, the breeze
- Practicing yoga
- Interesting conversations
- Walking, jogging, riding my bike
- A tidy home full of beauty
- Learning new things
…You get the idea
Another good question I asked myself was how can I intuitively describe the most ‘spiritual’ person that I know? They are (in my opinion) honest, intuitively switched on, humble, dignified, a seeker of truth, kind, have integrity, a role model, fair, emotionally balanced, courageous, follow their heart, always practice being a good person, look for the good in others, demonstrates wisdom, faith and vulnerability. This person is highly conscientious and knows the role of the ego.
I see spirituality not as a separate practice like going to church, temple, synagogue, mosque, following blind faith, even sitting on a meditation cushion, or… you fill in the blank…Although, to some, this may be exactly what spirituality means to them. For me, being spiritual is how I live my day. Spirituality is everything. Every day I consciously engage in lifting my own spirit.
My senses play a huge part in this. I take delight in eating healthy, bright and interesting food. I enjoy the sound of beautiful music and the birds singing, I feel the breeze against my face, I see the sun, stars and beauty all around. I listen to the voice of my heart. I care about how I interact with the environment, my friends, family and anyone I connect with and when I sense a lack of connection with another, my heart directly feels that. Anything that takes me straight to my heart connects me in the conversation of life and expands my awareness. Whatever brings me deeper connections with myself and ultimately greater happiness is to me, a spiritual revelation.
Yoga definitely taps into my spirit. It enlivens me. My mind and heart begin to open, we could say soften or we could say connect me to my true essence or we could say, make me feel more free-spirited. Now we’re talking. I’d like to think of myself as a free-spirit, deeply connected to the truth of my heart.
Part of my job is to help people connect more fully with themselves, to listen to their heart.
Teaching yoga is my commitment to me and to you, to always look for the good in any situation, whether we perceive it as good or indifferent (sometimes that’s super hard so I practice yoga to help me out!) To see the good, to learn the lessons, surely, I must walk-my- talk. The more I look for the goodness in me and raise my SPIRIT, the more I see the goodness all around me and definitely in you.
A key element to Anusara Yoga, which I teach, is the philosophy, its truth, wisdom, viewpoint and values. Anusara Yoga has a tantric vision of intrinsic goodness, irrelevant of gender, preferences, colour, culture, age, size… There is a deep goodness that resigns in the heart of ‘all’ beings – yes, I said ‘all’ beings at the core of the heart have a deep goodness. I totally buy into ‘choosing’ to see more goodness and beauty in the world and in everyone I meet. I choose to consciously engage in revealing my own goodness, likewise recognising it in you. I choose to believe at the heart of all beings is our true and authentic Self. No matter how much people build up walls of protection around their heart, underneath it all is a pulsing goodness, free and full of Shakti, creative energy. Your spirit knows itself and wants to be expressed through you. It is supremely intelligent and consciously invites us to engage. I choose to listen to this goodness. I choose to engage. I choose to look for the goodness in me, the goodness in you and the goodness in us because that uplifts me and hopefully your spirit too. I choose the truth no matter what.
We chant an invocation. In English, we are acknowledging the goodness within ourselves, honouring our own present and peaceful consciousness, we are chanting, singing, saying that our own spirit is free and luminous and we commit those words, that feeling to ourselves every time-that’s healing.
Anusara teachers teach with themes which invite you to connect to your heart and ‘spirit’ more fully.
The yoga poses are expressions of you in beautiful art-form and those feelings are expressed from the inside-out, through your spirit.
We align our bodies to feel better in how we move and think, that feels pretty divine. We step more fully into the flow of our practice and ultimately step more fully into the heart of who we truly are.
As we practice Anusara Yoga the true understanding or Re-member-ance(Chit) about who we are really can awaken, if we let it – we Re -member again, realise, and rediscover ourselves a little more. Every time we are on our mat we express ourselves creatively (Ananada) because let’s face it, we enjoy feeling free, we enjoy feeling love for ourselves and seeing greater goodness in life … our SPIRIT lifts.
Am I spiritual? I hope so. Am I too spiritual for you? NO because all of the goodness I see in me is also in you too. We are all reflecting each other.
I fully believe in all of the qualities I have mentioned above. Is Anusara Yoga a spiritual practice? I’d say yes because when I practice it, I feel a far greater connection to life in general. Life is good. Goodness is the absolute nature of the universe.
Our birth-right is joy, peace and love and whatever brings you closer to this state is bringing you closer to your true spirit; that’s Spiritual. There are so many ways to connect to our spirit:
- Read a book that inspires you
- Take a walk in nature
- Dance naked under a waterfall if it brings you closer to your spirit
- Go fishing
- Laugh, smile, connect with a friend
- Go to your special place
I choose to see spirituality in all things. I’m always learning to be happy because that makes the world a better place. Seeing the goodness all around, living by example is the ultimate gift that we can give to humankind.
Ultimately, I practice being a good person and that takes me closer to my true spirit. When I ‘m closer to my true spirit that feels Spiritual. I feel connected more fully to me and my life which in turn, makes life more enjoyable for me, my family and all of the people I meet along my way.
Completely following my heart is enough to make my world spin in a different direction. My spirit always tends to lead me towards freedom and expanded consciousness. The soul is the individual expression of spirit and the spirit is the universal expression of soul. Through raising my individual spirit and you raising yours too, consciousness in the world expands. That is a gift to the world.
When I feel detached from my body because I haven’t stepped into my spirit for a while I become dreamy, off centre, less grounded, more mind ‘thinking’ and more heart emptiness yet capable of great journeys. The greater connected in my body I become through my yogic practices (both on and off the mat!) I have a dynamic energy flow throughout my entire being-this is how my spirituality becomes embodied. I literally plug-in, like tuning a radio, I feel more tuned in with me and my Spirit LOVES that!
Metaphors are figures of speech which try to describe something hard to grasp as something else more comprehensible. The word ‘spiritual’ can be tricky to define because we all have our own meanings, interpretations and even experiences for some words. The following are a few metaphors taken from the book Essential Spirituality -Roger Walsh:
‘As nature transforms the caterpillar into an exquisite butterfly, so too do spiritual practises transform us.’
‘The beauty of the rose may be hidden but is already present within the bud. Likewise our transcendent beauty and potential are hidden within. The spiritual practises help us unfold and blossom.’
‘In our spirituality, we reach for consciousness, awareness and the highest values; in our soulfulness, we endure the most pleasurable and exhausting of human experiences and emotions. These two directions make up the fundamental pulse of the human life, and to an extend they have an attraction to each other.’ Thomas Moore
…so am I spiritual? Are you spiritual? Are some of us more spiritual than others? We are all on our journey, our own path and how we travel is our choice. What we seek is our choice. My observations are: we all love to feel good and experience life in the most uplifting ways that our spirit desires. Some may express that through jumping out of a plane; others through taking a walk in the park, while others may need to step fully into their body and climb to the top of a mountain; some may dive to the bottom of the sea. Whatever it is that makes your spirit soar and take you closer to your bliss (we call that Samadhi in yoga) to fully experience your heart’s desire and make your spirit feel alive; that’s spiritual. Spirituality is all around, in everyone I meet, everywhere I go and everything I do.
Am I a really spiritual person? Yes! I do whatever I believe to live my life in the highest possible way, to feed my soul and enliven my spirit, to feel fully alive. One, of a whole range of ways I do that is by stepping onto my yoga mat and listening to what my body and heart want me to do.
What do you do to make your spirit feel enlivened?
The invitation is always for you to come and join me on the yoga mat…and maybe begin to notice the light of your spirit shining through.
Shine in, shine out and shine on!
Love Wendy xxx
‘The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter and the SPIRIT heals with joy.’ Proverb