Lets discuss spirituality.

5 Sep 2018

I have been asked so many times in the past 12 months – “Are you spiritual?” The etymology of this word still baffles me and every time I hear someone refer to themselves as spiritual, I can’t lie, I develop something of a nervous twitch.

I think this nervousness has evolved from my association with Yoga. It is something of a by-product in the yoga world; in fact I have seen people transform almost overnight by association as if you do yoga and you are blessed with spirituality or indeed obliged to be spiritual. Some people wear a spiritual cloak and yet others, and it is usually those who never define themselves as spiritual just ooze that generosity of spirit that actualises the word without using words to define it. Does that make sense? In translation, I know ordinary people who are not religious and have never set foot in a yoga class who take the time and put in the effort to live by a personal code that is honest and truthful and I know spiritual yogis who I would not trust as far as I could throw them!

Spirituality is the ultimate in connotative meaning. I think when people actively define themselves as spiritual, what they are really saying to you is “I am a good person“. I have created a set of standards that I define myself by and that I live by. You can be SBNR (spiritual but not religious) so much is the evolution of its meaning and practice. There are several studies into people who claim to be spiritual but not religious and although not conclusive for example (King et al., 2013) who completed a detailed interview with over 7000 British people and found that while there was little differences between the religious and none religious/none spiritual participants there were huge differences between these groups and the SBNR’s. ” These were found to more likely to take psychotropic medication, to use or be dependent on recreational drugs, to have a generalised anxiety disorder, phobia, or any neurotic disorder, or to have abnormal eating attitudes. These differences still held even when taking into account social support and physical health, as well as age, sex and ethnicity. None of the groups differed in their overall happiness though.” As I said this is far from definitive but none the less interesting for those of us struggling to come to terms with our own spirituality (or lack of it).

I think that our actions determine who we are and never our words. Spirituality will always attract as many people to yoga as it repels. Personally I cannot refer to  myself as spiritual, in the same way that I cannot bring myself to meet and greet with Namaste, not because I drink, swear and sometimes indulge negative thoughts, which are of course balanced out by my kindness to animals and donations to charitable organisations but more because as a definition of the person I need to be to get through each day in 2018 it lacks a depth of meaning that is tangible or genuine.