What spirituality does for me (for now)

Image: Anthony DELANOIX

I was going to title this one, The Meaning of Spirituality, but I had to stop myself…

I’m trying to get out of the habit of seeing spirituality as something to speak about. Instead, here’s what’s important to me right now:

  • What does my spirituality do for/with me?
  • Why spirituality?
  • Who am I in the aftermath of my spirituality?
  • What change do I see — if any — in my world because of my spirituality?

Another thing I’m being cognizant of is to realize that the answers to these questions are ever-changing, merging together, and morphing.

But here’s where I am right now... I think I’ve come up with a nice, simple way to explain what spirituality does for me (for now):

Spirituality is the interior work that leads to a deepening of my human experience, moment to moment.

This is far different than it used to be...

I once saw spirituality as a way to achieve/get things. It started out as a materialistic endeavor. I wanted that opportunity in life or that relationship or that amount of money. Spirituality was a way of bringing me closer to it (or vice-versa).

But that one crashed and burned. Not only did I not get a lot of the shit I wanted (and yes, most of it was shit), but also, I found myself in a low humming state of anxiety driven by a lack of things

Later, spirituality evolved into a way to be happy. That’s pretty much it. Simple enough, right?

Only thing is, it didn’t serve me when I (like we humans do) faced challenges that needed a little… anger. Or passion.

I lost my dad. And a few other natural disasters occurred. When I tried to ‘get happy’ or even ‘find my innate happiness’, I felt this response to life inappropriate — unhuman, in fact. It felt icky. Like after you eat a cake pop. But worse.

Now, spirituality has taken on this new thing. I’m not knocking its prior iterations. They were okay, for the most part, at the time. I’d even say, they’re useful now, in certain areas. And they’ve all lead to where I stand at this moment.

But spirituality used to be very surface-level for me. Like a horizontal line across my life.

Get those things. 
Get over this heartache. 
Smile more. 
That’s about it.

Now, I see that any given moment can light us on fire (in a good way) for no reason at all. The point has gone from getting to the next stage of this horizontal line to digging deeper into the materiality of the eternal now.

I want to take my existing life and make it more vibrant, moment by moment. Not enter an endless struggle for a different one.

(I know, Eckhart Tolle has been saying this shit for a long time, but I’m a slow learner, okay?)

If I’m faced with a situation that angers or saddens me, that’s fine, in a certain sense. I see these as fully appropriate human responses to (even celebrations of) life.

Spirituality isn’t a way of escaping these things, it’s a way of deepening into them so that they can serve as healing and transformative elements in our journey.

I’m not talking about wallowing in my own misery. This is different. Feeling sorry for oneself is often a device of the ego to keep us separate from the present moment. It adds layers of bullshit on top of it that get in the way of us truly experiencing and growing from it.

Deepening into life is a mindful sinking-into with an open heart. Tears are ways of connecting with the present moment, not resisting it. Shaking my fist at the starry sky is a way of Life expressing through me in a very genuinely human way.

Challenges and tests are our biggest blessings if we have the spiritual wherewithal to deepen into them. Problem is, we often use spirituality as a way to hit the eject button and bail. Sure, a little spiritual escapism is perfectly healthy. But right now, where I am, it’s not the point.

This new spiritual deepening not only helps with the tests and challenges of life. It helps with the vast stretch of our experience that seems, on the surface, to be… Meh.

We seem to skim over a large portion of our human existence. When I was heavy in my Law of Attraction phase, I caught myself doing this because I was so busy trying to manifest what wasn’t there.

Now, I see life’s greatest gifts in what’s right within and before me in every waking moment. As I type this, I realize heaven is right here.

This is what spirituality does for me. For now.

Jonas Ellison is a spiritual writer, teacher, practitioner, and an interfaith minister-in-training. He helps people deepen their lives through applied spirituality while documenting his journey along the way.

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