The Real Meaning of Spirituality
So many people today are throwing around words and phrases such as spirituality, intention, highest potential, higher self, purpose, attraction, vibration. The list goes on and on. We can form pretty sentences like, "My intention is to raise my vibration to the level of my highest self so I can reach the goal of my highest potential and FINALLY live my purpose and attract an amazing life!" It sounds good, doesn't it? But what does it mean? Did the person who said this know what he or she was talking about? To me, undefined spiritual lingo is poetry, at best—manipulation and control, at worst.
And what it often leaves out, in my humble opinion, is room for Grace. The uncontrollable, benevolent, Loving power of the Divine that wants to enter the world through and as YOU. So, why aren't all of us living in the middle of that kind of Grace? For many of us in the so-called spiritual world, it's because there's no room! We're so stuffed up with ideas about what spiritual is (chanting "Om," biking to work, eating raw food) and is not (TV, junk food, plastic bottles), that we haven't left room for it.
The good news is that even if most of us don't consciously leave room for Grace, Grace will find a way. Whether we like it, and using whatever tools are necessary. Even if that means shaking our foundations so strongly we lose all sense of control and don't know which way is up. Yep, it sometimes takes nothing less than a life-shattering crisis to break up the soil and let Grace unfurl.
What spirituality does do is help us better navigate our lives so that the cycle of crisis to Grace isn't as bumpy. When we behave in ways that are truly spiritual, there are fewer struggles and there is less suffering. We can ride the waves of crisis with more surrender, and in that way we allow Grace to carry us. Spirituality isn't about being gluten-free, wearing Lululemon, doing vinyasas, chanting mantras, going to church, tithing, doing self-help seminars, being vegan, being vegetarian, reading self-help books, subscribing to The Daily Love or any other thing that you do. While all these choices are awesome, in my estimation, they don't equate to being spiritual. You can wear all the right clothes and spend all your days at an ashram and still act like a jerk.
At its essence, spirituality is a measure of how Loving you are, how unconditionally accepting you are toward yourself and others. It is a living practice. You don't need to go to Italy, India or Bali to find your spirituality, although those places may be lovely to visit. It's right here in front of you, right now. It's in every person you meet and every breath you take. It's everywhere you go, though you can't see it. You certainly can't buy it. And you won't find it in a book. None of these "things" matter if you aren't being Loving.
The external markers are potential gateways to learning how to Love, but they are not the Loving itself, because Love itself can only be found within you. That's the promise and that's the bitch. You think you need to go to all these exotic places to find it, but it's not out there—it's in here! But "Where in here?," you might wonder. My mind? My heart? My lungs? My feet? My toes? My ankles? My eyebrows? Where is this spirituality thing? WHERE IS THE LOVE INSIDE OF ME?
Here comes one of the most important lessons I have ever learned.
The Love is in the choices we make.
Being Love is being a living thing; it's a moment-by-moment practice. If you're anything like me, you'll be refining it and trying to get it right for the rest of your life. And good for you, because people who are trying to be Loving are my kind of people. I'd rather hang out with a Loving member of an opposing political party, or a Loving carnivore atheist, than I would a cold-hearted yogi, no matter how long he or she's been a gluten-free vegan or how many times they've chanted at the altar of Shiva.
I've learned that when we begin to understand what spirituality is—and we begin to shift our lives toward unconditional Love—we start to see ourselves differently. We see that everyone has a gift to give to the world. All of us are both teachers and students. We are givers and receivers. We are unique and to be celebrated. When we go one step deeper, we start to see that we are the Divine's gift to the world. All of us. Including me.
Mastin Kipp is the author of Daily Love: Growing into Grace and The Daily Love blog and website.