Spirituality is a loaded topic, embroiled with history, tradition, and plenty of unknowns.
Some dedicate their entire lives to it, while others prefer to keep a safe distance. But what we sometimes forget is that there is no such thing as a singular definition of spirituality, it can take many shapes and forms—and, in fact, individual interpretations are part of the magic.
The only real requirement? Dedicating some time to shift your focus away from the physical world and explore your spirit, your soul, and the energy around you.
Some might do this by exploring their astrological chart, others through prayer, meditation, reiki healing, a sound bath, or simply holding on to calming crystals while breathing. The list is endless. What really matters is that you're less concerned about the practicalities and the how's, and more focused on the actual purpose of exploring spirituality to begin with.
Are you looking to get to know yourself a little better?
Have you been battling with emotional blocks or looking for more meaning in certain areas of your life?
There's always some deeper need or inkling to explore ourselves and the world beyond the surface level. But it's up to us to decide whether we take on the journey and how.
As far as the question of how is concerned, there are no rules or one-size-fits-all kind of solutions. Just like with everything else in life, society and our communities might still try to market a pre-inscribed formula. Yet part of living a conscious lifestyle involves taking a step back, looking at everything the world has to offer beyond our own bubbles, and making our own set of rules. If we are starting to do this with the way we work, the way we dress, or the way we build relationships, then we should surely be doing the same with the way we explore our own souls, right?
Getting started can be a daunting task—almost like stepping into a pitch black room and looking to find the light. The fact that there's nothing tangible to look out for, no timeline to work towards, or measurable progress makes it all the more challenging. Unlike working out your body and seeing the results on the scales or your physical capacity, there's no exact measurements for how your spirit is healing and expanding— a concept that is both scary and thrilling at the same time, as it opens up endless possibilities.
So how does one even start a spiritual journey? You’ll need an open-mind, a will to trial different avenues (some of which will just not resonate), and an understanding that this is a lifetime’s worth of work.
This will, no doubt, be one of the most independent journeys you will ever embark on, but, by sharing your experiences, you can help both yourself and others find some direction and purpose.
So here's what I've discovered so far
I was the kind of person that never truly grasped the concept of spirituality and struggled to find a practice that spoke to me. So, I pushed it aside all together and became more concerned with designer shoes, partying, boys who didn't like me back, and getting my dream fashion job. It's easy to get caught up in that type of life, especially if you are living at a fast pace and are enamoured by all the surface-level glamour and sparkle thrown at you.
The only issue is that those kinds of lifestyles are like ticking bombs: the fairydust is bound to settle. And if all you've been doing is living life on the surface, when you come across inevitable life challenges, you simply won't be equipped to deal with them.
In my case, as soon as bigger responsibilities, professional struggles, and real love (followed by even more real heartbreak) kicked in, I found myself unable to fight back or do anything apart from cry and feel sorry for myself.
But even the most self-indulgent of pity parties get old after a while, and I was desperate for something, anything to make me feel better.
The Power of Journaling
My first encounter with spirituality and mindfulness was, in fact, the Five Minute Journal. I was highly cynical at first, but what did I have to lose by downloading a very inexpensive app and giving it a try? I couldn't see how writing down the obvious (like being grateful for the sun or my family) would help me deal with the colleague crashing my confidence at work or my lifelong issue with imposter syndrome and feeling like I'm not enough.
And truth be told, at first nothing helped. I wasn't consistent, I didn't truly feel what I was writing in my journal, and I stayed pretty cynical. But fast forward a few months and, little by little, I was finally seeing the daily miracles I used to bypass or take for granted, be it a compliment from a stranger or attending an event my teenage self could only dream about.
It's far from an overnight shift, but with consistent practice you end up with a whole new perspective in life. Problems certainly don't disappear, but when you are conditioned to finding positives and feeling grateful, you are more likely to calmly search for a solution than dive back into a darker place.
With that headspace, you automatically become more curious and more capable to go even deeper, and come face to face with the rest of yourself, too.
A year into journaling, I accepted an invitation to a sound bath—a practice which uses the healing sounds coming from crystal bowls to help you relax and go into a deep meditation. "Worst comes to worst, I'll have a laugh at everybody and leave early," I told myself.
But little did I know that by surrendering to the crystals’ sounds, I would be able to access a part of myself that I didn't know existed. Think of it like diving into deep waters, leaving all superficial thoughts on the surface, and gaining insight into your inner world.
During different sessions, I was able to unlock painful childhood memories through the process and reassure myself that they don't need to be attached to my self worth anymore. I also calmly came to terms with the fact that certain relationships had reached their expiry date and simply started to accept and appreciate myself more.
Since then, sound baths have become a regular part of my spiritual practice, almost like an intimate date with myself and my feelings. I always end up leaving with an answer to a dilemma or an unexpected insight.
The experience also prompted me to make shorter meditation a daily part of my life, meaning that my day-to-day connection to my own spirit is now far stronger. But, perhaps, the biggest advantage has been the ability to wipe away the cynicism and get curious about always trying new avenues to spirituality.
A Never-Ending Exploration
While undergoing challenging transitions in my day-to-day routine and work situation recently––inevitably an anxiety-reducing exercise––I took up EFT, also known as Emotional Freedom Technique.
This involves working with a practitioner in groups or alone, tapping on parts of your body that tend to hold emotions, and repeating certain phrases or affirmations to help unlock those feelings or limiting beliefs. You can delve into anything from addiction to comparison, loneliness, and stress during an EFT session, and I've personally found that the tapping technique will leave you feeling lighter and less anxious. As you repeat your limiting thoughts or emotions out loud, followed by affirmations on self-love and forgiveness, you also gain a new sense of power over them. It's always freeing to get out of your head, speak out about your anxieties and seek solutions.
In the spirit of staying open-minded and during a particularly stressful part of my transition, I’ve also given remote reiki healing a shot. The practitioner, who I met on Instagram, told me all I needed to do was sit back and relax while she tunes in and sends healing energy. One hour later, she would also send me a message with the insights she was able to uncover.
That day my inner cynic came back alive: 'Did I just throw away my money for this lady to pretend she's "tuning in" from afar? Is it one big scam?' I asked myself.
I still lit some candles, lay down, and hoped for the best. It all started with a strong feeling in my stomach and my tummy rumbling as if I just had a good meal. Then a deep relaxation, followed by some waves of goosebump-inducing energy, and, finally, the most peaceful sleep I had in a while.
When I woke up the next morning, I read the healer's profound insights: she could sense everything from my sluggish digestion (I was indeed putting myself through a strict diet regime at the time) to my feelings of overwhelm at the large amount of work I was trying to tackle. She said she had worked to clear all that energetic debris—and while none of the issues she flagged suddenly vanished, I have felt a little less pressured and a lot more optimistic about it all ever since.
This is, of course, simply one single story, and we are all free to experiment and write our own. The point here isn’t about convincing you to try out one technique over the other, but simply to commit some time to removing yourself from your material reality and to taking care of your spirit. As clearly proven, you need no prior experience, and the only competition you will ever have to face is that of your inner cynic.