Spirituality and Authenticity

A few years back, I used to think that being spiritual was something that we achieved through some sort of activity, whether it be in exercise, healthy eating, and doing other feel-good and self-care activities. I would get extremely discouraged when I would fall back into a negative mindset. I would re-analyze and think about what I was doing wrong. Eventually, this led me to ask myself: what does it mean to be spiritual? Often, we think spirituality is a matter of meditating, adopting a plant-based diet, while picking up yoga and attending the gym a few times a week. We see pictures and videos of others being happy in their “spiritual activity” of choice, and we think to ourselves: why aren’t we that happy yet? Overall, I find this is a popular misconception, and a common stereotype of what we think spirituality is supposed to look like. And very rarely, does it investigate or explain what spirituality actually is.

So what is spirituality and what does it mean? The first misconception is that we have a tendency to associate spirituality with certain activities. We may associate it with eating healthy food, yoga, meditating, exercising, etc. and although those activities do not cease to be spiritual or are any less spiritual, they are not the only activities we do that can be spiritual. We can apply spirituality to so many other aspects of our life because spirituality is something we integrate.

Susan ChenSpirituality is the awareness of our own being. It is simply being aware of the moment in which we exist. Spirituality is acknowledging the ordinary—the little details of our everyday life. Spirituality is tuning in. It can be recognizing the leaves scattered across the garden bed. It can be, tasting every bite of your breakfast with every bud of your tongue. It can be the awareness of your breathing when you are going for a run. It can even be tucking your child into bed or giving your partner a quick kiss.

Spirituality is surrendering our notions of the past and future for the present moment. It asks us to be available to life, so life can be available to us. When we are available to life, we are available to all the opportunities and possibilities it has to offer. By doing so, we are allowing every opportunity and possibility the chance to be available to us because we are being vulnerable and authentic to the present moment.

A second misconception we often have about spirituality is that once we complete our spiritual activities of choice, we will be spiritual, and therefore, happy. The truth about spirituality is that it is not something we arrive at like a destination. It is not a town we can pass through on a road trip. It is not a vacation or paradise. Spirituality is not frozen or stuck to one place because spirituality is movement. When we are spiritual, we are always traveling.

We can be meditating, and we could say to ourselves: why don’t I feel spiritual yet?Why don’t I feel happier? The tricky part about spirituality is that its true task is being fully present in the moment. It requires our confrontation to the present moment and requires our vulnerability to be authentic. If we are in a negative state of mind, we think it is our task to focus on something more positive—but the thing is, when we do that, we deny our authenticity of the moment. We are refusing to admit to our negative state of mind, which results in our resistance to feel our negative emotions, whether they be our anger, our sadness, etc. So the question arises again: what is spirituality and what does it mean? Spirituality does not make us authentic, but rather, it requires us to be first vulnerable, so we can be authentic—and when we are authentic, we are united with the present moment, and are available to it.

So the next time you are brushing your teeth or reading a book, the next time you are driving or taking the bus, that moment is available to you. So what is spirituality and what does it mean? Spirituality is what bridges the present moment to you; it is what connects you and integrates you. Spirituality allows you to be vulnerable so you can be authentic. Spirituality allows you to embrace your own truth of the moment: again and again and again—at anywhere and at anytime.

Avatar photo

About the Author | Susan Chen

Leave a Reply

2 comments to "Spirituality and Authenticity"

  • Great words to inspire people about spirituality.

    As a licensed holistic psychotherapist and board certified spiritual life coach I try to help others understand their spirituality and their authentic-self. I feel as we live in our authentic self and essence we can feel more spiritually connected to the universe, ourself, and others. When we feel we are transcending in the moment as we loose awareness of time we then connect to our true selves, to God, and the universe.

    Spirituality is very personal and defined differently by everyone. Being aware of your mind/body and spiritual connection and practicing ways to feel connected can be life changing. I can talk more about somatic ways to become more spiritually aware and connected to our mind and body.

    Marilyn Spenadel, LCPC, NCC, BCC
    Authentically U Counseling, LLC
    (240) 426-8344

    • Avatar photo
      Women For One

      Marilyn, I agree that spirituality is very personal and defined differently by everyone and that is why I believe that each of us needs to create our own belief system and not subscribe to another doctrine defined by more “enlightened” teachers. Awareness of the mind, body, spirit is one of my most valuable tools that I use to move into presence and joy for my life. Thank you for your comments.