A figure in nature with arms wide looking at the sky to symbolise a connection to spirituality.

What does it mean to be Spiritual?

Spirituality, a concept that has captivated me for years, is often perceived as a complex and elusive realm, shrouded in mystery. However,  spirituality can be inclusive, accessible and attainable for anyone seeking a deeper connection with their inner selves.

Delving into the Depths of Spirituality

Yoga has always been a part of my life, I have studied and read so many books on spirituality, meditated daily, journaled and I feel like I’m still very much at the beginning of my spiritual journey. Like many of us, I try to understand it all intellectually wanting to label and understand the concept or how I’m ‘supposed’ to feel in my yoga practice or while meditating. This post will explore the concept of spirituality and how we can invite more presence and connection to ourselves and our lives.

I was on a yoga retreat in Spain a few years ago with a friend. I asked our teacher, ‘How do I know if I’m meditating? How does it feel?’ His response was, ‘If you have to ask, you’re not doing it right.’ Not the most encouraging, insightful or, I have learnt since, true response.

Spirituality is not about adherence to any particular religion or belief system. It is about recognising our inherent connection to something within ourselves and something larger than ourselves. It is a profound sense of unity with all that exists. It is about transcending the limitations of the ego, the false self that identifies with our thoughts, emotions, and possessions. Instead we can choose to embrace our true nature, which is pure awareness, consciousness, love or Being.

The Power of Presence: The Gateway to Spirituality

” Your entire life only happens in this moment. The present moment is life itself. As soon as you honour the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve and life begins to flow with ease and joy. When you act from a place of present moment awareness whatever you do becomes filled with a sense of quality, care and love- even the most simple action.” Eckhart Toille

At the core of Spirituality lies the concept of presence, the state of being fully engaged in the present moment, without the constant chatter of the mind. It is about stepping out of autopilot, living authentically. Staying attuned to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions arising within us, without judgment or resistance. This is not always easy and it takes practice. What I have learnt though is that it doesn’t need to be an extra activity to fit into your already busy day, but instead a practice to be interwoven into your day and life. To be fully aware in your body which is only ever in the present moment and to begin to notice where you get lost in you thoughts. Where you are living in the past and when you are planning or worrying about the future. To notice your internal monologue and the stories you tell yourself when you are doing the smallest tasks such as brushing your teeth or putting on your shoes.

Presence is not about forcing ourselves to feel happy or positive; it is about accepting all that arises within us, both pleasant and unpleasant. To acknowledge our thoughts and feelings but to understand their transience. to note that they come and go, they are not who we are but they have their place. We can begin to observe that we are the listener, observer or stillness receiving the thoughts and these thoughts can then be held in our bodies as feelings.

The Painbody

Our painbody is a reservoir of negative emotions and unresolved past experiences that often fuel our suffering. When we ignore or suppress our feelings they are stored within us as our Painbody. By embracing the present moment, we liberate ourselves from the Painbody. Presence is the awareness of the present moment, free from the incessant chatter of the mind. It is a place of peace, clarity, and connection to our true selves. When we are present, we no longer identify with the pain-body or the ego. Instead, we experience life as it is, without judgment or resistance.

Practices for Awakening

To cultivate presence, offers a number of practical exercises and practices. These include:

  • Observing the mind: When we become aware of our thoughts, we can start to detach from them and see them for what they are: fleeting mental formations.
  • Being present in the body: We can bring awareness to our physical sensations, such as our breath, our heartbeat, and the feeling of our feet on the ground.
  • Gratitude: Taking time to appreciate the positive aspects of our lives can shift our focus from negativity to positivity.
  • Non-attachment: Letting go of our need to control and fix things can bring us more peace and acceptance.

The Illusion of Separation

We can challenge the common misconception that we are separate individuals, isolated from each other and the world around us. True spirituality lies in recognising our inherent interconnectedness with all that exists. We are not separate entities; we are part of a vast and interconnected universe.

By fostering a sense of compassion and empathy for all beings, we break down the barriers of separation and experience a deeper sense of connection. This understanding of interconnectedness fosters compassion, forgiveness, and a sense of universal love.

A Path to Inner Peace and Transformation

When we take this view on Spirituality, we can realise that we are all equipped with the tools to presence and a higher consciousness. That we can be guided towards a life of inner peace, clarity, and fulfilment. By cultivating presence, embracing our true nature, and recognising our interconnectedness, we can embark on a journey of personal transformation. This, in turn, creates a more harmonious and enlightened world. These teachings offer a beacon of hope, encouraging us to awaken to our true selves and experience the profound beauty and interconnectedness of life.

We can choose to look at the subject of ‘Spirituality’ as being synonymous with ‘Presence’ and ‘Connection’. This way we have a valuable framework for understanding our place in the universe and cultivating a more fulfilling and meaningful life. By embracing presence, recognising our true nature, and fostering compassion, we can ALL embark on a journey of spiritual awakening, bringing greater peace and harmony to ourselves and the world around us.

My favourite reads to go to on this subject are ‘A New Earth’ by Eckhart Toille, ‘Fear’ by Thich Nhat Hanh and ‘ A Return to Love’ by Marianne Williamson.

For more information about spirituality and how to incorporate it into you life please contact me or book here to practise with me in Marlow, Twickenham and online.

With love

Anney xx