What does it means to be a ‘spiritual’ person? The term spiritual relates to the spirit or the soul as opposed to the physical or material world.
I have met with a good number of spiritual people throughout my life and felt this emphasis on the soul side of life emanating from them, they didn’t wear the ‘spiritual’ badge of honour loudly they just got on with it. My dad was one, he was quietly religious and spiritual and you felt it when you spoke to him or sat in his company.
At times in the past I would have described myself as spiritual, but I’m now too versed in the human condition and my own reality trying to flow with it thanks to Patanjali* to do that anymore. It’s possible to be spiritual and not religious and vice versa. Many of us have our own personal and different practices to connect into the soul. But that doesn’t mean we like or dislike the physical or material world any less.
If we are not ‘spiritual’ then is just ‘human’ enough with all of its attendant strength and weakness, failure or success? I think so. The new culture of being permanently positive, having a constant growth mindset and generally having to walk the walk and talk the talk for fear of being found out, can be detrimental. If we are caught up in this culture, what are we going to be found out about? Being human? making mistakes? being real? Hurrah! Let’s get found out.
This ‘spiritual’ badge can lend itself to feelings of superiority and judginess. Is it possible to be kind all the time? No! Is it possible to love all the time? Of course not. So what then? Ensuing shame, guilt, fear and self-loathing when we slip up in our human relations and our care of our self/our soul? Some of us do whip ourselves so very much and we are not even awake to it, possibly.
Efforting and pushing, for example that force and will to be permanently loving, kind, perfect and positive creates an internal fight, a pressure and disharmony which is destructive I believe, thus making us miserable even though our intentions are good. What’s spiritual about being miserable?
Instead can we gently practice being ‘loving’ and ‘kind’ as ideals that we try as we flow along with and against the minutiae of life and avoid self-flagellation when we ‘fail’.
I love supporting people towards change in my job and enjoy the many spiritual practices which I’ve deconstructed and embodied myself, but I’m sticking with the human stuff. It’s more real, relatable and heaps more fun over there and I’m pretty sure humans have a soul too.
Grainne Toher – Founder – Yogapal
*Patanjali was a Yoga scribe/seer who gathered together a collection of wisdoms and meditations which we now know as the Yoga Sutras.