In the U. S., about 8 in 10 people identify with a religion and/or believe in a higher power or universal spirit. Some people considers themselves “spiritual” but not “religious”, while there are some who claim to be religious but are lacking in spiritual qualities. Some believe there is no difference between the two, and many wonder what the difference is, if there is one. If you look at the dictionary definitions, they do appear to be much the same:
- The belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers, regarded as creating and governing the universe: respect for religion.
- A particular variety of such belief, especially when organized into a system of doctrine and practice: the world’s many religions.
- A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
- Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not material; supernatural: spiritual power.
- Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul: spiritual guidance; spiritual growth.
- Not concerned with material or worldly things: lead a spiritual life.
- Of or belonging to a religion; sacred: spiritual practices; spiritual music.
The subtle difference between the two lies in definition #3 under Religion: A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader. People can be spiritual without subscribing to a specific religion. It’s a little harder to have religion without spirituality but not impossible. We can see this in those mega-bucks church organizations who profit from the showmanship of “religion” as a front for fund-raising to the tune of several million.
In these Journal pages, the term spirituality may be used interchangeably with spiritual rather than by its dictionary meaning, which defines spirituality as being related to clergy or the holdings of a church.
Spiritual Living begins with your connection to your “inner being” or “higher self”–the spirit within that guides your principles and values. It’s about becoming or being attuned to a higher power or presence, an energy source of love and peace, as represented by a spiritual entity, leader, or guide of your understanding. Spiritual Living also embraces your connections to a spouse or life partner, children, grandchildren, parents, family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, organizations, and communities.
Our focus is in this section will be on Spirituality rather than Religion. Religion has become a very sensitive topic on social media these days so our goal here is to create a place of inclusiveness for people of all backgrounds and beliefs, and to avoid judgment, criticism, and “I’m right, you’re wrong” arguments. (Refer to the Policies page for further guidance on behavior in discussions.)
“Finding Meaning” is one of the twelve dimensions of wellness as defined by the Wellness Inventory and in my opinion is among the most important to Spiritual Living. Finding meaning applies to everything from discovering your life’s purpose to exploring why we become attracted to certain ideas, things, or people. This dimension is one that is very important to behavior and wellness, and one that we’ll talk about in-depth.
So, now we’d like to ask: What does “spiritual living” mean to you? Leave your reply in the ‘envelope’ below.