wellness holistic shaman

I am often asked for my definition of spirituality, and while I could probably write an essay, or even an entire book on the topic, I feel that the most pertinent definition of this idea is the simplest... the Occam's Razor route if you will. Spirituality is simply the exploration of self and the self's relationship to all that is. There are many different words that we use to refer to "all that is" for example universe, spirit, god, etc., but regardless of what word you use, spirituality is simply the exploration of your relationship to creation.

Spirituality is not a religion. One can be a spiritual Christian, a spiritual Pagan, a spiritual Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist. One can even be a spiritual agnostic or atheist. There are many different labels we put on spiritual concepts, many different teachings that fall under the guise of spirituality, but at the end of the day no matter what words make you comfortable, spirituality is simply a practice of self-empowerment in exploration of what is in us, all around us, and our relationship to the latter.

Because this concept is so simple yet broad, we find many many different interpretations of spiritual concepts out there. This is no different than any other belief system, as belief is always at the mercy of interpretation through the lens of culture, politics, experience, and countless other factors. This is why one of, if not the most important tools to learn when exploring your own spirituality is the use of discernment. It is critical that we not blindly accept the interpretations or beliefs of others regarding our relationship to creation or to ourselves. The whole idea of spirituality is to explore these ideas for yourself through your own work, so accepting the beliefs of others without discernment means you are accepting their work done through their filters and their personal experience as your own.

This is not to say that others do not have very valid wisdom and teachings to share with us. Often they do, for truth is truth. Sometimes the truth gets muddled through experience. Spirituality is about NOT accepting external teachings as doctrine without first exploring those teachings for ourselves, or filtering them through our own heart first to see if they sit well with us.

So how do we practice discernment? What I always tell my students is to "take what you like and leave the rest". It really is that simple, but what does true discernment feel like? Well, when something rings true for us, when it resonates, or sits well, it feels a certain way. We hear a story, we read a sentence in a book, we learn about something we have never heard about before, and when we get that warm feeling of excitement, of discovery, of something clicking into place that feels like it's going to open a whole world up for us, that's when we have found something true for ourselves. It feels like remembering something we already knew, like finding the last piece of a puzzle and sliding it into place.

When something seems a bit "off", when an idea makes you feel a bit uneasy or unsettled, when it doesn't make sense in the context of everything else you know and understand, that's when you must begin to question the information. Does it mean that it's wrong? Not necessarily, but more questions must be asked. What discernment does mean, though, is that one should never accept something as truth and integrate it as belief unless it passes all the tests. Unless it sits well, makes sense in the context of everything else you know and understand, and excites you to a degree that makes you want to explore it more.

This applies to any belief or idea, whether or not you consider it spiritual. Discernment is filtering any new ideas or information we come across through the lens of our heart. The heart knows what's true. It always does.

So as you explore your own spirituality, discern everything. Just because someone has published and sold a million copies of a book doesn't make them correct. They may be partially correct, they may be correct for some but not for you, or they may be dead wrong. What does your heart say? Explore your truth carefully and wisely. Take what you like and leave the rest.