Are you a spiritual person? Many people believe that they are on the ‘spiritual path,’ but few of us pause to consider what the path is or where it actually leads to. There is a vague notion that the path winds its way up a mountain, at which point everything melts into light and you experience the highest level of consciousness there is, aka- Enlightenment or Nirvana. Others see spiritual awakening as more akin to the blossoming of a lotus flower- a metaphor that suggests a slow and gradual expansion of awareness that grows outwards from the center of your being. Regardless of the metaphors we use, there is reason to investigate our understanding of spirituality. What does it mean to be a spiritual person?
1. A spiritual person believes in a higher power. Probably the most common trait of a spiritual person is that they believe in a Divine source. The idea of the Divine is no longer limited by any fixed belief system. Being spiritual in the West used to mean that you believed in God, a gigantic old man with a long white beard who sits upon a golden throne in Heaven. We imagined the Divine source of all creation to be a benevolent grandfather who would listen to our prayers, control the daily weather patterns and watch from above as we lived our lives- passing judgment on the morality of our actions.
These days, a different understanding of God is emerging in the spiritual community, thanks in part to an influx of spiritual truth from Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. As a result, the image of 'God the Father' has been replaced by a deep reverence for ‘the Light’ or ‘the Source’- the mysterious life force that runs through all of existence. A spiritual person sees themselves as a manifestation of the same formless, creative power that brought the stars, the planets, and all of nature into existence. They recognize that the universe is, essentially, the Divine spirit in physical form. As a result, they see the Divine everywhere they look, not just in churches and temples, but in the mountains and the canyons and in the spark of light inside our eyes. Spiritual people are able to comprehend that this whole life thing that we are all going through is, in fact, Eternity- it’s just cleverly disguised as the everyday, ordinary world.
2) A spiritual person has a spiritual practice. In order to be considered a spiritual person, you kind of need to have a spiritual practice. Who you are in this world depends largely upon what you do while you’re here. For example: an athlete is someone who participates in athletics, a singer is someone who sings, and an artist is someone who creates art. A spiritual person, therefore, is someone who practices spirituality. Whether it’s through daily yoga, meditation, prayer, tai chi, qigong, the studying of spiritual texts or the chanting of mantras- a spiritual person will take the time to connect with the Divine, creative energy of the universe by actively cultivating peace, vitality and vibrant wellness within.
A spiritual person believes that their body is a temple for Divine energy to flow through. Their spiritual practice tends to be part of a larger self care routine, with the goal of fine-tuning their physical form so as to more fully embody Divine energy. They recognize the sacred nature of consciousness and they see the value of taking time to quiet the mind in order to cultivate inner peace and resonate with their higher self. They see their place in the fragile web of life and they try to do whatever they can to make this world a better place while they are here.
3) A spiritual person is peaceful and happy. There is no point in taking the spiritual path if you find that it’s making you miserable. In fact, a good way to check if you are on the right path is to ask whether or not your spiritual practice is making you feel more harmonious inside- content to simply be alive and awake, here in the present moment. Some spiritual people carry an air of tranquility with them wherever they go. Perhaps their unshakeable peace is due to a deep understanding of the nature of reality. Or perhaps it’s because they are able to breathe, fully and consciously, in a world in which everyone else seems to be holding their breath in anticipation of what comes next. A spiritual person attempts to move through life without hesitation or internal resistance, reminiscent of the way water flows effortlessly down a gully. That doesn’t mean that they never get upset or expresses negativity, but it does mean that they are willing to learn and grow from their experiences, both good and bad.
In conclusion, a spiritual person is someone who has reverence for, and strives to resonate with, the Divine- both within oneself and within all. There are many different paths that you can follow to get to the proverbial mountaintop- there are no wrong paths because, ultimately, they all lead to the same place: the heart center. Maybe that’s why we instinctively place our palms together at the chest when it’s time to pray. The Divine frequency that we attempt to connect with when we hold our hands in prayer is the same as the frequency of love, a vibration that emanates from the heart center. When spiritual people act with loving kindness towards themselves and others, it's because they are behaving the way that love would behave.
There are people who dedicate their lives to studying the ancient texts, looking for a formula to follow so that they might experience a single instance of ecstatic oneness. However, you can possess all the spiritual knowledge in the world and you will still have to live your life one day at a time, just like everybody else. Likewise, you can meditate in a cave for twelve hours a day and you will still find yourself right here, rooted forever in the present moment. Love it or hate it, this is the human experience- and there is no escaping it. However, if this moment really is all we've got, then right now seems like the best place to begin a spiritual quest. Any journey you can take begins and ends right here in the present moment. With this in mind, the spiritual journey can be best thought of as a loop, one that constantly sends you back inwards towards the center of your being and the sacred presence of the eternal now.
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being.