Maybe you’re trying to meditate. Maybe you’re trying to get sober. Maybe you want to calm your anxiety or infuse your life with some peace. Maybe you’re just totally out of options and you’re completely desperate. Oh my god, have I been there. There are all sorts of reasons someone might want to seek out a spiritual presence, or a higher power, or a “greater something else”. And there isn’t really a bad reason to.
But what if you’re a little wary? That's a totally fair place to be. Religion, God…to many of us, these are scary words, and even scarier concepts. The first thing to know is that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, ever. Don’t let anyone make you feel illegitimate or inferior for not being where they are, worshipping who or what they worship, or your differing beliefs or practices. Or lack of any of the above! So let’s start there.
Anything you’ve heard or been taught about expectations or rules being necessary to have a spiritual component to your life is wrong and simply a lie. There are no musts or shoulds with this stuff, and I’m not going to give you any. Spirituality, done best, is personal. What I'm going to offer here are some tips about what helped me best in connecting with spirituality as someone who grew up very wary of it. But I’m going to be providing more "un-rules" than actual suggestions. So open your mind and feel free to let go of any of your preconceived notions. We've got some damn meaningful, life-changing work to do.
Tip #1: Don't force yourself into using the “G” word, or any other word that doesn’t feel right. Curate your vocabulary until you find the word that feels right to you. Try a bunch of things. Take your time. It could take a day, a week, a month. Don’t rush it! This might become one of the most important relationships of your life, so be willing to put in the time and effort on this step. For those who are curious, the word I personally use most often is Spirit. I often viscerally cringe at the word “God”, even though it’s powerful and resonant for many people. So in spiritual texts or prayers I love by certain authors of other faiths, I replace the word “God” in my head with “Spirit”. It just helps me connect better. There is nothing wrong with adjusting your vocabulary to help you connect better with your higher power or spiritual presence. Do whatever you need to to feel comfortable and connect.
Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to mix and match systems of spirituality, teachers, etc. I pull my spiritual beliefs and practices from lots of different places. I love Gabby Bernstein and Marianne Williamson and choose practices and beliefs from their work related to A Course in Miracles, which is a text based largely in Christianity with some new-age ideas. But I also have in my home four crystals that I picked based on their spiritual significance, and sometimes I charge during full moons and new moons and carry them around if I'm working on an intention they align with. I find the lunar cycle spiritually significant and keep up with it. I regularly turn to Buddhist authors for guidance, as well as tarot cards. I occasionally buy and burn candles that are supposed to have a spiritual significance, such as burning a white candle to spiritually purify a new home. And yes, I combine all of these practices at once. I meditate, on the floor, surrounded by candles (many of which are intention candles), with my crystals surrounded in their light, focusing on the messages and teachings of A Course in Miracles and Buddhism. And this works for me. This makes me feel connected to Spirit. And that’s the whole point, honestly. Connecting with Spirit. There is no wrong if it helps you connect with spiritual guidance and doesn’t hurt anyone else.
Tip #3: You don't have to subscribe to an organized religion to be spiritually fulfilled. If organized religion works for you and is your cup of tea and you aren’t discriminating against anyone or using religion as an excuse to do shitty things to be, organized religion can be great! It can give you a community of other people to connect with over the spiritual aspect of your life, and teachers to help you in your spiritual journey. It can be a great thing. But, for those of you who don’t associate your beliefs with organized religion, you don’t need organized religion to have a relationship with Spirit. Personally, organized religion is not really my thing, either. But that didn’t stop me from developing a personal connection to Spirit in my own unique way and having a very deep and fulfilling spiritual life, and it won’t stop you either. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Tip #4: Practice talking to Spirit like your best friend. This might seem strange, but for me, one of my biggest blocks was, “How the hell do I talk to a being that theoretically created everything that ever existed or will exist? Why would that being want to hear what I had to say about my trivial life issues? I can’t just be like, ‘Hey, Spirit, my friend is being a bitch, help me be patient’.” In truth, that’s exactly what I needed to be saying. There’s a beautiful quote that really helped me get past this block and open up emotionally. It’s from A Course in Miracles. It says, “As the Course says, “Don't try to purify yourself before coming to me. I am the purifier.” I take this very literally. I do not try to be any less of a disaster before I sit down to meditate or pray than I actually feel that I am. I come to prayer and meditation from an emotionally honest place, and do not judge or diminish my emotions, problems or thoughts. And this has served me well. It allows me to feel authentically connected to Spirit, which I strongly believe allows me to bypass my blocks much more quickly and helps me receive the answers to my prayers more efficiently and effectively. You can check out my post introducing the ideas of prayer and meditation and how they differ here.
Screw anyone telling you how to live your spiritual life. Only listen to yourself when it comes to things that are this important. The point is to connect with Spirit however you can, however you want, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone. Spirituality is all about love, honestly, and will dramatically change your life if you let it.