The Oxford dictionary defines spiritual as relating to the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. The definition states – not just implies – that spiritual and physical are mutually exclusive and opposed to each other. Sacred, unworldly, and ghostly are listed as synonyms, which further distance spiritual from the regular. Let’s leave the definition by words to Oxford and instead consider experiences and possibilities.
Weekly Rituals or Paying Attention Everyday?
Is spiritual a concept confined to rituals performed once weekly in places of worship and forgotten the rest of time? Is it possible to encounter the spiritual in the everyday? We can make space for the spiritual when we immerse ourselves in every present moment, whether we’re tying shoelaces, frying an egg, sitting in the park, or taking part in a conversation. To borrow a medical protocol to assess patients, we can try to be awake, alert, and oriented to person, place, time, and events.
How do we do that? By giving our undivided attention to whatever we’re doing at every present moment. Hah! That’s easier said than done. We fancy ourselves highly accomplished multi-taskers with our time-saving, real-time connecting devices either annexed to our anatomy, or hanging onto our clothes, but always within a meter’s radius reach. We multi-task multiple times and aim to exponentially multiply our output.
Sometimes, it feels like the week passed in a blur and I can’t even remember what I had for lunch the other day, or did I actually skip lunch? Do you find yourself asking a question of someone and then suddenly realizing in mid-sentence that you had already previously asked that very same question from that very same person? You hastily apologize and admit that you have no memory of his answer. He looks at you blankly because he does not quite remember that you’d asked him that question.
We often worry that our memory is failing us when actually, it’s our lack of attention that is the culprit. If we don’t pay enough attention so things can register in our minds, let alone in our emotions, how can we expect to remember? We have unintentionally diminished our senses and feelings in our desire to do more and in our haste to meet deadlines.
Lessen “To Do” in order to BE.
Perhaps, making a conscious effort to lessen the things in our To-do list will allow us to do them in a deliberate pace and help us BE attentive and aware. When you are aware of your surroundings, of the person you are conversing with, and of the task that you are doing, you feel fully engaged and are likely to remember. You hear the rustling of the leaves of the Acacia while at the park, discern the subtle changes in expression of the person you are listening to, feel the vibrating fur of a purring cat, smell the talc of a freshly showered child, savour the tang of the lemon scampi pasta, and feel a loved one’s unspoken contentment. You will then have found soulfulness in the mundane.
Soulful – full of or expressing feeling or emotion.
Mundane – lacking excitement and dull.
When soulful touches the mundane, that, to me defines the essence of spiritual. The experience brings deep gratitude and a reverence for life in its many different forms. Everyday spirituality is possible.