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Fall 2011, Past Students, Tanya Castell

San Diegans show their side of spirituality

By Tanya Castell

Spirituality is the state of being spiritual, but what does that even mean? Most people who consider themselves to be spiritual can agree that spirituality is a way to find meaning and ultimately inner peace in their lives. However, spirituality is an ambiguous term and it’s almost impossible to have one concrete definition.

Some relate spirituality with religion, which can be a way to practice spirituality but one doesn’t define the other. Others practice spirituality through different methods and don’t associate themselves with any religion.

Aurora Sosa and her family channel their spirituality through prayer. Every week they pray the rosary together which helps them feel closer to their God.

Self-help author Deepak Chopra considers spirituality to be a domain of awareness. This awareness can be achieved physically, mentally or emotionally. To be spiritually aware is to have an understanding of what is around you and knowing that everything in the universe is ultimately linked together.

Religion and spirituality: the link

In his book “The Perennial Philosophy,” Aldous Huxley presented evidence about the nature of spirituality adapted by each major faith group, which can be traced to a common underlying set of understandings about the human spirit. Nevertheless, this only pertains to those who believe they achieve spiritual awareness through religion.

However, as mentioned before, the term is ambiguous which lets religious and non-religious people find a common ground. In her article “Defining spirituality: What does it mean?” Huffington Post blogger Kate Fridkis said,The ambiguity of the term allows for it to be applied universally. Maybe its nebulousness contributes to its appeal. It can mean anything anyone wants it to, and people who might not otherwise agree on theological points or even big questions like ‘Is there a God?’ can talk spirituality without a hitch.”

Psychic/medium Gale Bonnett discovered she has the ability to communicate with spirits. She channels her spirituality through meditation and feels that spirituality has nothing to do with religion.

Spirituality without religion

Yoga, a spiritual discipline that originated in India, is a popular method for channeling spirituality. Yoga student Saira Estrada channels her spirituality through the ancient practice.

“What yoga has done spiritually, more than anything, is free me from anything I don’t need in the physical world,” Estrada said. “I see yoga as a way of connecting mind body and soul.”

Scientists have tried to study the effects of spirituality on humans but have found it difficult because it’s not something that can be accurately measured. However, in his article “Studying the specificity of spirituality: lessons from the psychology of religion,” Jacob A. Belzen described spirituality as “human conduct to practices, acts and activities.”

Belzen mentions religion and acknowledges its relationship with spirituality but says they merely overlap one another. Belzen, like Fridkis agrees that people who don’t practice religious traditions and even deny being religious can still consider themselves to be spiritual people.

Although some people may believe their way of channeling their spirituality is better than others and some may not agree with the disregard of religion, it seems one thing that spiritual people can agree on is the importance of understanding spirituality and the way it affects their way of living.

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