Have you ever heard of the term ‘spiritual but not religious’?
Do you know what it means?
Well, probably not. It’s kind of a gray area and there’s no real commonly accepted definition for it.
What we do know, however, is that spirituality was originally meant to be a part of religion. Spiritual people are supposed to be enlightened. And yet, some who stick religiously to religious practices and dogmatically to religious beliefs are as far from being paragons of virtue; in fact, they may have pretty messed up personalities.
In the modern day, we have come to be able to separate spirituality from religion and simply pursue it on its own. Naturally, we needn’t all seek to be Master Yoda. Nope, it really is more than enough to have a deeper understanding of ourselves and a deeper sense of belonging in the universe.
Yet what exactly does it mean to be spiritual? Does it necessarily have to entail a belief in the supernatural and forces that are greater than us?
In this article, I seek to highlight 8 characteristics of the spiritual person existing independent of faith, rounding them off with (hopefully) helpful tips for the average uninitiated.
1: In touch with their inner self
A spiritual person is in touch with their inner self. As if looking into a mirror, they see themselves for who they are, flaws and all. They do not deny that these imperfections exist but rather seek to work towards overcoming them and becoming a better version of themselves. Equipped with self-awareness, they are cognisant of their behaviours and their underlying factors through the process of introspection.
A spiritual person knows themselves best. They do not deny parts of their being that are essential to them. They take a break when they need to rest and eat more extravagantly when they feel like indulging themselves a bit. What differentiates them from those who are not spiritual is that they are always mindful of what they are doing. They know why they are doing something and how it aligns with their values, endorsed by their hearts and emotions.
Tip No.1: Are there bad actions in your life that you know are not serving you well but you end up habitually performing? Well, it’s better to get rid of them sooner rather than later, because that’s when it can really hurt.
2: Sincere and steady
While a spiritual person is generally mindful of their actions, this also does not mean they are consciously trying to manipulate others or the like. That could not be further from the truth as they seek authenticity and loathe duplicity. Rather, they are mindful because they are steady. They know the effect their words and actions can have on others. Thus, they seek to be responsible with them in taking care of other people’s feelings and needs.
Obviously, it would be pretty exhausting, even downright impossible for a spiritual person to do perfect and please everyone. Thus, a spiritual person does not seek to do what is beyond them. They simply do the best they can while also striving to go with the flow and be as authentic as possible. Even so, they are aware of their actions with regard to the overall situation at the back of their minds. In that sense, they are the furthest from being flighty and irresponsible.
Tip No.2: Are you self-absorbed and inflict negativity on others with your volatile emotions? It’s true that everyone has bad days, but there’s no justifying never thinking of or flagrantly deprioritising other people’s feelings.
3: Possessing existential intelligence
The existential repertoire of the spiritual person is not limited to being in a midlife or quarter-life crisis. Rather, they are fundamentally able to view the world from a meta viewpoint as opposed to just the individual sensory stimuli forming it. They consider deep concepts like the meaning of life. As a result, a spiritual person generally does not place too much of an emphasis on material things, especially when it is based on an inherently insatiable greed. Of course, this does not mean that they are impractical or extreme to the extent of denying them outright.
A spiritual person also recognises the other things that are truly important to them, like health and their bonds with other people. They show gratitude rather than act entitled, knowing that it would be far too pitiful to only pine for what was lost when it is too late. The things that they seek to achieve are not dictated externally, by society’s standards and what everyone else thinks are great, but rather internally, by the self and what they know has meaning for and is valuable to them.
Tip No. 3: Are you vaguely aware of how the overall trajectory of your life is going or are you more like simply bobbing randomly on the ocean like a piece of broken wood from a shipwreck? If it’s the latter… you might want to secure some solid, reliable planks to continue your life’s voyage.
4: Grounded in the present
A spiritual person has the ability to eliminate distracting thoughts from their minds and just focus on the present moment. Many people tend to be entangled by worries in the secular world which are objectively pointless to think about. These, however, are merely tying down their feet, holding them back and hindering them from properly moving on. Spiritual people are generally more unfettered by these,grounded in the present and going with rather than resisting the flow.
In being grounded in the present moment, spiritual people are better able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. They enjoy every meal as if it were a fresh experience, every meetup with friends with the sincerity of a child. Naturally, a spiritual person also enjoys being immersed in nature and is compassionate towards other living beings.When with others, they tend to give them their undivided attention in being fully present.
Tip No. 4: Are you able to detach from everything else and concentrate merely on what you’re doing at the moment? That’s really important, for after all, it’s how enjoyment in life is derived.
5: Empathise with different perspectives
A spiritual person is able to empathise with different perspectives. While everyone is living in the same world, we all have different vantage points. Where the eagle is soaring in the sky, the cheetah is sprinting on the land and the dolphin is gliding through the sea. The typical person may be closed-minded, only able to see through an emotion-clouded lens. In contrast, a spiritual person has unfogged vision and is able to respect and accept those with fundamentally different experiences and backgrounds from themselves.
Spiritual people do not act like they are any superior to others even though they may be more privileged than them in status. After all, they are all kindred human beings and really no different at the end of the day. A spiritual person seeks to listen with the goal of understanding. They habitually exercise patience and respect in listening to their fellow (hu-)man to grasp where they are coming from. This is really just second nature to them as human beings.
Tip No. 5: Do you try to empathise with other people and understand where they are coming from or do you directly reject at face value their surface actions that are tied to their past experiences and identity? Obviously, some immoral actions should never be condoned regardless of their backstory, but the individualism of human quirks should be embraced.
6: Sense of affinity with humanity
A spiritual person bears goodwill towards all of humanity in general. Inwardly harbouring the desire to make the world a better place, they rejoice when they are able to make a difference in the lives of some for the better.They are not only concerned with their own petty little problems as most people are, contentedly blind to a wider perspective of society. Their hearts are filled with compassion towards those who are suffering.
For past societal ills like slavery or hardcore discrimination, it must have been the spiritual people who spurred the radical societal revolutions. More small-scale desires in the modern day may manifest in their dream of opening an orphanage to provide opportunities for the unfortunate young or an old folks’ home where all the diligent retired can finally enjoy themselves or the like. Here, it’s really the thought that counts and the people who’re helped as it isn’t a competition.
Tip No. 6: Do you maintain a sense of schadenfreude and delight in the drama when scandals and controversies occur? Rather than deriving entertainment from others and stagnant self-alienation, you might feel more fulfilled through growth and mastery of the self. The power of the human heart is to connect and strive, not disconnect and fester.
7: Maintaining inner peace
A spiritual person seeks to maintain their inner peace. Say that someone has let the spiritual person down, yet the spiritual person has done them no wrong. Consequently, the spiritual person shall not allow their inner peace to be disturbed by said person by harbouring negative emotions towards them. Instead, they tend to feel a sense of disappointment and melancholy as they seek to soothe their distraught hearts and get over the relationship. It’s probably fine if they are not too close with that person, but if they are, ouch.
A spiritual person sticks firm to their values and as much as possible tries not to let others down. As opposed to Cao Cao who’d rather let the whole world down rather than have the whole world let him down, a spiritual person gravitates more towards the opposite. As such, they can give without expecting anything in return. While they tend to trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt, it doesn’t actually mean that they have to be oblivious and naive. It’s merely a choice on their part that aligns with their values. When the scale in their heart falls towards making a difficult decision, naturally, they will not pull their punches.
Tip No. 7: Do you tend to get embroiled in pointless unhealthy relationships with others when it’s clear they’re negativity carriers? Sometimes, you’ve just got to end the ill-fated relationship. Wake up, step away from this and move on to blue skies and green pastures. Break the cycle, leave the quagmire, find your happiness, grant everyone freedom.
8:A force of positivity
A spiritual person is naturally wired towards optimism and striving for better. Why do bad people do horrible things and get away with it, while good people are oppressed and made to suffer? A spiritual person would never get into such edgy rationalisations. They know that they are good, they feel that the way they are is simply the natural way to be, and they wouldn’t know how to be otherwise. They do their best, and they trust that the universe will reciprocate. Such is their unwavering faith that it can surmount many a hardship.
Due to the positive mindset and attitude of a spiritual person, people will naturally feel comfortable being in their presence. Often, spiritual people are able to impart some wisdom to others in inspiring them to do better for themselves. That’s because they are growth-oriented and many of the lessons that they share are based on experiences of their own. That is much more useful and relatable as compared to someone who does not recognise another’s efforts and struggles and provides cursory, irresponsible words rather than heartfelt ones that resonate with wisdom.
Tip No. 8: Do you feel like a lone sailboat in the midst of a buffeting storm during times of hardship? For those who truly derive meaning and purpose in their lives, their sails are straight and tall as they remain unperturbed through it all. We are truly fortunate when we can attain that pure, unadulterated sense of inner clarity. Just something to aim towards!
See, being a spiritual person need not actually equate to being able to commune with spirits and all that high-level stuff. Let’s not deify it on some unfathomable pedestal, okay.
Rather, being spiritual is a way of living which better connects us with both ourselves and humanity at large, reinforcing positivity and increasing our ability to gain happiness in life.
In a world chock full of differences, the way forward is not rejecting and discriminating but embracing and celebrating. In our grand totality does exist wonder.
Embrace spirituality today!
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