A quarter of U.S. adults consider themselves spiritual rather than religious.
What’s the difference?
Spiritualism relates to the human spirit or soul, rather than material or physical things. Religion usually involves a higher power, defined beliefs, rituals, and guidelines.
Those who are religious delve into spirituality through their organized belief system. Those who are spiritual seem to have their own path or process of understanding their human soul.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, you can use spirituality to find your true self.
Because it’s an individual process relating to your soul specifically, nobody can lay out the exact steps for you.
But here are some key universal aspects that are bound to be relevant in your journey of truth.
Introspection is the examination of your internal realm. This includes your thoughts and emotions.
Self-reflection shows you who you really are. It allows you to identify deep beliefs, motives, tensions, and attachments.
Something to dive deeper into is your attachments to people, places, things, and outcomes. One of the main reasons we get caught up in the drama of our lives is because we focus on what we want to control and keep (i.e. attachments).
Why Do We Attach to Things in Our Lives?
Attachment theory lines out the idea that we attach to our caregivers as soon as we’re born. We gain a sense of stability and security from it at a young age.
This doesn’t stop as we grow older and more independent. We continue attaching to everything through our lives — people, constructs, places, you name it.
When we lose what we’re attached to, such as a particular outcome of an event not occurring, it tears us to pieces. We lose the stability and security that was never concrete in the first place.
A big component of any spiritual journey is recognizing what you’re attached to, whether it’s desires or fears. Then we’re able to see hidden motives that feed our decision-making.
This company provides resources to dive into your belief systems, helping you figure out what you’re attached to. Once you begin this process, you can then shape and change everything about your life.
Other Introspective Practices
Ways to go deeper within and learn where you hold value include yoga, journaling, self-questioning, and meditation.
Meditation isn’t necessarily a practice to “clear your mind”. Sitting in silence with yourself allows you to objectively view your thoughts rather than fully participating in them.
This not only calms us but allows us to see that we’re not our thoughts. We’re not our attachments.
If we were, we wouldn’t be able to observe them.
Doors of perception bust open with this realization: you are more than you ever thought you were. You’re more than your dreams and nightmares.
After acknowledging you aren’t your emotions, thoughts, attachments, or any part of your psyche, you may question: who am I?
It’s an impossible question to completely answer, but it points you in the right direction by teaching you who you aren’t.
Shedding Your False Self
Think of a snake (if you’re creeped out by them, bear with me).
Snakes shed their skin. This is their protective outer covering that the rest of the world sees.
When enduring your spiritual journey, you may realize that you also must shed your skin.
The skin we wear is metaphorical. It’s how we show present ourselves to the world.
Psychology calls this our false or public self. It’s who we think we should be in society, be it polite, positive, or successful.
Once we realize who we are through introspection, many of us will realize we’ve been clinging to a false self for most of our lives.
We do this, like snakes, to protect ourselves. This false self is our ego’s way of manipulating our image to avoid judgment, pain, and dismissal.
Through introspection and shedding of your public persona, you may come to a realization: people are not so different from one another.
Sure, we may wear different skins. But on the inside, we all experience emotions, thoughts, and awareness.
Some people call this connectedness — a concept written into most spiritual and religious texts.
Experiencing Connectedness Through Empathy
A popular quote by Deepak Chopra reads, “the whole never loses contact with its parts, they are never lost or forgotten”.
This hints at the idea discussed before, that we are all one in the same.
Many religions come from this same position.
Pandeism is the belief that the creator of the universe actually became the universe. Christianity believes Jesus lives on in everyone’s hearts.
Throughout time, belief systems around the world have included this in their doctrines. Regardless if you take part in religion or not, this connectedness is a key component of spirituality — if not all of it.
Realizing connectedness allows us to banish our feelings of separateness. We realize that our being is as important as everything else around us — human or not.
Breaking down barriers between ourselves and the world around us allows us to lessen our self-importance. Then, we can act with compassion and empathy towards everything and everyone around us.
Finding Your True Self By Stepping Outside of Yourself
With understanding who we are, we begin to understand the world around us. As we do this, we become more inclined to offer all we have to give.
Being of service is a way to enact your spirituality.
You can donate to charity, volunteer, or be of service through small acts of kindness.
The point is to stop thinking only of yourself. This selflessness is a spiritual practice that helps you as much as it helps others.
When you give, you recognize that you have something to give.
This will cause you to be grateful for all that you have. Gratitude promotes greater optimism, happiness, and heightened spirituality.
The positive effects of this will reverberate throughout every part of your spirit.
Your mind may begin to shift from feeling like everything is happening to you to feeling like everything is just happening as it should.
You’re Already On Your Spiritual Path
You’ve been on this journey as long as you’ve had a soul.
Now it’s time to direct your own path and put intention into your thoughts and actions.
Remember that it’s your journey. Look within to find out what will help you grow and continue connecting with everything around you.
A good way to start is to learn about your true self through meditation.