There are just as many thoughts and definitions of spirituality as there are people. That’s because spirituality is highly personal.
“How I define it is different from how you define it,” said Polly Campbell, a blogger, speaker and author who specializes in spirituality, positive psychology and personal development.
She described spirituality as a profound physical, emotional and intellectual awareness of her core self, as the connection to all that she is.
In her book Imperfect Spirituality: Extraordinary Enlightenment for Ordinary People, she writes:
“Spirituality is about living with this awareness [of spirit] in deep relationship with yourself — the self that is both created by and connected to the Universal Source of all that is. From this place you recognize that everything is interconnected. We are all one.
“When you touch your spirit from this place of knowing, you are then guided by this higher energy, instead of Ego. This energy is fueled by love and compassion, gratitude and expansion. It is not about gossip, or image, or control. It isn’t about being right or better than.”
According to Campbell, spirituality isn’t something to develop; it’s who we are. As she writes in her book, spirituality is “part of our makeup, just like brown eyes and curly hair.”
“What we need to do is uncover it, and remember who we are,” she said. This is where developing a spiritual practice comes in. Practices such as mindfulness, meditation and even exercise can help us remember who we are, she said.
Running and playing with your kids can be spiritual practices — “if done with conscious awareness.”
Campbell’s spiritual practice helps her be more present, appreciative and grateful. It helps her connect to the moments of her day. It helps her be more grounded and resilient. “Life is more fun.”
If you’d like to start a spiritual practice Campbell shared three ways to develop your personal practice below.
1. Become aware.
“Become aware of what you’re putting into your mind, heart and into your day,” said Campbell, also author of the book How to Reach Enlightenment.
“Notice the routines you’re in and how you’re thinking of them.” Notice how you relate to your loved ones, such as your partner and kids. Include opportunities to pause in the pockets of your life.
For instance, Campbell suggested readers practice this awareness during the transitions of the day, such as when you’re waking up, eating lunch and before going to bed. Or take a deep breath and pause as you’re waiting in your car while picking up your kids from school, she said.
“Three times a day, stop and notice where you are.” For 5 minutes simply notice, without judging, she said.
According to Campbell, journaling can help you gain clarity and connect to your spirit. She suggested starting with these questions: “What did I learn about myself today? What is important to me now? What do I value now?”
In Imperfect Spirituality she includes these additional questions: “How did I behave compassionately today? What do I most need to know about my life and my purpose? What am I denying? How did I live close to my values today?”
She also includes the suggestions of writing about your dreams, concerns and feelings — and creating gratitude lists of everything you’re thankful for.
3. Be curious.
“Curiosity and novelty are huge ways in to discover our spiritual essence,” Campbell said. This can include doing one different thing each day, such as “coming home a new way, reading a book from a genre you never read [or] trying something new.”
In fact, she pointed out that having fun is a spiritual state. When we’re excited about something, we’re in a frame of mind where we can experience openness and expansiveness – “all the things that are spiritual.”
“Do the things that ignite that and inspire you.”
Campbell also loves to read and explore beliefs and topics she might not believe in. It opens her “mind to different tools and levels of consciousness.” She suggested checking out “Healing with the Masters” workshop and Lisa Garr’s “The Aware Show.”
“When we expose ourselves to new information, our awareness shifts to this during the day,” and we’re able to play and tinker with these insights.
Cultivating a spiritual practice is personal. Paying greater attention, journaling and getting curious can help you explore what that looks like for you.