Spirituality can mean different things for different people. Some might say it's a way to connect with the God, whether through religion or not. To others it's all mumbo jumbo.
I'm here to dispel some misconceptions on being spiritual and recommend a healthy, balanced way to stay on a divine path. First, I want to be clear on what being spiritual is not.
Being spiritual is NOT
.... being a saint. Stop putting pressure on yourself to be a saint because you are not one. You're a human being doing your best to be a better person. If you were already perfect, you wouldn't have anything left to learn on earth, and you wouldn't even need to be here.
... following rules and doctrines robotically just because you've been told to. Question why you're doing what you're doing—and if you even like it—so you don't get stuck in a cult mindset. If you don't have answers, they're out there. Seek them out. Meet new people. Learn new things. Stay open-minded.
... putting your spiritual leader on a pedestal. It's one thing to have respect for your spiritual teacher—I certainly have many teachers I admire—but when you blindly follow everything they tell you, you're giving away your free will. Remember, they are still human beings with their own egos to overcome. When a person gets more powerful, there is more ego for them to fight, which is why you hear about spiritual or religious leaders losing their path and getting into scandals. The best spiritual leaders are humble, and they won't pressure you to do what they want. Rather, they'll provide you with wisdom so you can make your own decisions.
... letting people step all over you because you're practicing compassion. Letting yourself be abused is not being spiritual. In fact, you're enabling their bad behaviour by not speaking up or walking away.
... sacrificing yourself to make others happy. A lot of us are raised to be people-pleasers looking to others for approval. Maybe you have a need to be needed. But if you always put other people's needs first, you're likely to grow resentful. If you're always looking for external validation, you're putting your self-esteem in other people's hands. When you fill your own cup, you can make others happy simply with your presence, which will be whole, confident, and inspiring—instead of empty, desperate, and draining.
... giving your time and energy to people and communities you don't even like just because you're practicing tolerance. It's good to see the spark of the creator in everyone, but you don't have to force yourself to like every person you meet.
... dressing to look like a spiritual person. You don't need special maxi dresses, yoga wear, hippie gear, or whatever else that may not be your style so you can look the part. It does not matter what you wear as long as you dress with respect. My spiritual teachers are all ordinary-looking people, some in plain clothes, some in their own distinct style. They honour what they like.
... repressing your true feelings so you can keep the peace. If you don't express yourself in a healthy way (more on how to do that later), that resentment is likely to fester and ultimately destroy relationships.
... interpreting spiritual wisdom and flexing moral superiority to further your own agenda. When I see social justice activists fighting hate with more hate, it makes no sense to me. This just creates more hate. Do you know what the real enemy is? Hatred. And ego.
Your No BS Plan to Being Spiritual
As I said earlier, when a person grows more powerful, his ego grows with him. So technically, everyone is on the same level in their struggle to fight their own egos. When you don't stay humble, you start believing that your power and gifts come from you instead of the creator. You start believing you're God. When a person becomes cocky and uses their gifts for selfish gain instead of helping and being of service to others, they ultimately lose those gifts. I'm sure you can find many examples in the news of powerful people who have fallen.
Being humble does not mean having low self-esteem either. Low self-esteem is simply another form of ego, believing you are not worthy and not divine.
There is a way to have high self-esteem while staying humble. First, see the spark of the creator in every person you meet. Second, remember you are no better than anyone else because you can learn something from everyone. And third, to be happy and appreciative of the gifts you do have and that you're able to share them with others. You can even become "greedy" for more gifts so you have more to share.
Let Others Be
I don't care what other people do as long as they are not harming anyone else. I don't care what form of religion or spirituality others practice as long as they are becoming better people.
Sometimes we grow so much that we think we know more than others, that our way is the right way. We have to let people be on their own journey. It may be painful to witness someone being self-destructive, but if they can't hear you or don't want to change, it's not your responsibility or obligation to change them. Sometimes helping people means letting them help themselves.
If there is someone you are frustrated with and you really want to "help" when they haven't asked for it, guess what? It's time to look in the mirror. It's likely something you need to heal within. When that's healed, you won't be annoyed with this person anymore. You don't have to like this person if you didn't like them to begin with—the goal is to feel neutral so they don't trigger you again.
Surround Yourself with Uplifting People
If the people in your life are not helping you grow in a positive way, you have the right to limit or stop spending time with them. It's challenging when it's family, of course. In those cases, you'll have to speak your truth (see below) and not take what they say so seriously. Imagine them as children who don't know any better.
I definitely have boundaries on who I let into my life. For example, I don't spend time with people who gossip. Gossiping is damaging, even dangerous because words take on a life of their own. When people gossip and put others down, they subconsciously want to make themselves sound superior. When you have high self-esteem, you don't need to gossip.
Of course, not everyone is going to be perfectly uplifting all the time. Neither will you. We all have bad days. It's up to you to decide who to have in your life and if you can accept them for who they are.
Speak Your Truth
Repressing your feelings is going to backfire because your resentment will probably snowball. Avoiding conflict will just create more conflict in the end. However, letting yourself get angry at the drop of a hat is also unhealthy because you're letting negative emotions control you.
There is a way to express yourself calmly and respectfully. Sometimes I need to be firm and serious to get my point across so the other person will hear me, but I won't resort to anger, swearing, and other forms of abuse. I'm always striving to communicate effectively with the people I care about.
If you're too angry, wait two days to respond to someone. You'll be more level-headed then and will be able to lay out the facts without letting extreme emotions cloud your delivery. In the meantime, find healthy outlets for that anger. Scream into a pillow (it really helps!), go boxing, running or do other physical activities. Journal for clarity or confide in a trusted friend for advice on how to deal with this problem in the best way. This is also a good time to find the spiritual lesson in this situation.
Have Spiritual Guidance
If you want to grow spiritually, having a teacher/mentor is key. They can see your blind spots and keep you on track.
I meet with my Kabbalah teacher once every three weeks, and I always come out of each meeting with more clarity. A lot of the wisdom I'm sharing here is from Kabbalah. Thank you to all the amazing Kabbalah teachers, as well as the ThetaHealers, other spiritual teachers, healers, and friends who have taught and inspired me throughout the years.
This is what works for me. You may have your own teacher/therapist/healer/guru that you look to for guidance. Just be wary of giving your power and free will away. Sometimes we do this because we are afraid to be responsible for ourselves, which brings me to my last point.
Strengthen Your Own Moral Compass
What are you loyal to? As amazing as it is to have a great teacher, what if they start behaving unethically, something out of line with your own moral and value system? Are you loyal to this teacher or the wisdom they channelled?
It's important to always check yourself. Know what you stand for and what you don't. If a spiritual teacher gives me great advice, I still check with myself to see if it's something I'm ready for. Sometimes it doesn't speak to me, so I won't do it, or I'm not ready to do it now but perhaps in the future. I learned how to honour and trust my own intuition.
Developing a strong relationship with myself is important because I have more clarity on what is really for my own highest good.