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What Is Spirituality? - a Brief History of the Practice

Updated on November 16, 2019
Nani Saiko Spirituality profile image

Nani has been researching and practicing spirituality since mid-2018. She has learned a lot and wishes to share that with the world.

Made by Nani Saiko
Made by Nani Saiko

What Exactly is "Spirituality"?

Let's get one thing straight: spirituality is NOT a religion. While it can be implemented in your religious practices, the definition of spirituality is "the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things" (Oxford Dictionary). However, there's so much more to it than that.

Spirituality means something different to every person, as it is as complex as we humans. However, it is often seen as a means to finding one's own purpose or meaning to life. It's also a very broad practice, as everyone who practices it will find that what might help one person can be very different from what helps themselves. Experts have their own definitions of spirituality, but what's important is what you believe in. There's no right or wrong way to practice being a spiritual, connected person, but many will find that existing research is incredibly helpful and accurate.

One expert named Christina Puchalaski, MD, director of the George Washington Institute of Spirituality and Health, believes that "spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred." Another pair of experts, Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary, researchers and authors of The Spiritual Brain, agree that “spirituality means any experience that is thought to bring the experiencer into contact with the divine (in other words, not just any experience that feels meaningful).” Lastly, experts Ruth Beckmann Murray and Judith Proctor Zenter write of spirituality that “the spiritual dimension tries to be in harmony with the universe, and strives for answers about the infinite, and comes into focus when the person faces emotional stress, physical illness, or death.”

The reason I added these varying definitions from experts is to show just how different everyone sees spirituality. Throughout my own personal spiritual journey, I have come to believe that we, as humans, are all connected to each other through spirit, as well as the mundane and the divine. I believe that everything holds meaning, and we are best connected to Spirit, the divine, and ourselves when in nature. I believe that the Universe is on all our sides when we're living our best lives, and when bad things happen to us, it's not the Universe trying to punish us, but instead trying to push us in the right direction. I wholeheartedly believe in self will in every sense of the word. I believe that we are all in control of our own lives, but I also believe in fate. I'm insanely excited to share all of this with the world in hopes that I will help more people figure out what they believe in while sharing my tips for increasing your vibrations and energy, finding inner peace, working with the divine, and more.

One thing that I'd like to add before I dive into my research on the history of spiritualism is the relation of spiritualism and energy. Energy is everywhere and can neither be created nor destroyed. We all emit energy, and whether or not you realize it, we can all sense this energy in the people we're surrounded by. The energy we are contributing to the world has a significant impact on our own realities. When we get stuck in negative thoughts, feelings, and outlooks on life, we are attracting more of that negativity into our lives with the Law of Attraction. I will definitely be writing an entire article dedicated to the Law of Attraction and the affect that our energy has on our lives, but in the meantime, enjoy a brief but fascinating look at how spiritualism came to be!

The History of Spirituality: How it All Began

Spiritualism dates back to the beginning of mankind. From the start, people were aware of the divine and spirit, or a general power greater than themselves to which they felt bonded. Many spiritual practices, such as communication with the divine, began before written history. This ancient start to spiritualism has evolved significantly over the last few centuries and impacted the way we view the divine.

Many attribute the start of modern spiritualism to Margaretta and Catherine Fox's experience with the divine in the 1840's. They claimed to have heard knocking in their house in New York and began to knock back, constituting a response from what they believed was a Spirit. Their claims quickly grew into fame while spreading spiritualism and similar experiences. However, they later came out to say that they faked the whole thing. Despite this treachery, it spread the idea that humans have the ability to communicate with the divine, and the term "Spiritualism" was eventually created in the 1850's.

On the flip side, many would say that Buddhism started spirituality. Buddhism, created by Siddhartha Guatama between 566 and 480 BC, is all about enlightenment. Followers of Buddhism seek to gain wisdom and use both wisdom and compassion to break the chains of suffering. They view wisdom as a way to eliminate mankind's need to be materialistic and self-centered. Buddhism teaches that enlightenment is how humans can rid themselves of the three man-made poisons: greed, anger, and foolishness. It also heavily emphasizes karma, the idea that everything you do and have done in past lives affects your future.

Anyone who has begun a spiritual journey will probably hear at some point the "rule of three". This is the belief that any energy one puts out into the world will be returned to them threefold. It's originally a Wicca/Pagan belief, but is very similar to the Buddhist belief of karma and is often held by those who practice spiritualism. I bring this belief up because I want to illustrate how many different events and ideas in history have impacted our modern view of spiritualism.

No matter what you decide to believe, just know that this is YOUR journey. It is YOUR choice what you believe in and practice. It is YOUR responsibility to find your purpose in life, if that's what you want to do. Spirituality is a truly beautiful thing. You can use it to heal past traumas, rid yourself of anger and negativity, manifest the things you're looking to bring into your life, and so much more. It doesn't matter who you are: race, gender, religion, nationality, sexuality, etc. Anyone can participate! And I really hope that you will make the choice to start your own amazing journey into your spirituality so you, too, can figure out why you were put in this often cruel, harsh yet beautiful world. I hope that you will start this journey to learn how to fight the negativity and use the positivity to improve your life in every way. And, lastly, I hope that you will continue to read my content, as I intend to share everything I have learned and will learn about spirituality to help as many people as I can.

Thank you so much for reading my first article, and I hope you have a beautiful day!

Peace and Love Always,

Nani Saiko

© 2019 Nani Saiko


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