Spirituality and religion are two different things. While religion is organized worship of a higher power usually God or gods, spirituality is more of a way of life, including values and morals that encompass love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony and empathy. A religious person is most likely spiritual, but a spiritual person isn’t always religious. If you need someone to talk to, you make seek out a spiritual mentor.
Many people feel a spiritual connection when doing yoga. It is a practice that clears the mind and helps you relieve stress, be mindful and concentrate on the present moment. Although yoga is not a religion, it does have some spiritual pieces to it. Some of the mudras, or hand positions, used during yoga have different meanings attached to them. Namaste, which is usually said at the end of practice, is acknowledging that the light in me sees the light in you. The Om, which may be said at the beginning or end of practice, is thought of as the sound of the universe uniting everyone.
John M. Grohol, Psy.D. said “Many practitioners and teachers of yoga claim it offers benefits for one’s mental health. It seems like an obvious conclusion, given that most yoga focuses on exploring one’s inner world of consciousness.” Since yoga instructors have gone through extensive training and they have a lot of knowledge of different spiritual practices associated with yoga, they could be someone to talk to about any questions you have about those practices. They tend to be very spiritual people, so even if they didn’t learn about it in their training, it may be something they practice in their own day-to-day life. Yoga instructors can be a great resource.
Reiki Masters also go through extensive training and have knowledge of the spiritual practices associated with Reiki. The name itself means “spiritually guided life force energy” (www.reiki.org). Ben Martin, Psy.D used to say “Strong spiritual faith is associated with a reduced risk of depression. Spiritual faith can be found in the context of organized religion, or in something less structured, such as meditation.”Reiki treatments are administered to the whole person including their physical body, emotional energy, their mind, and their spirit. “Reiki is not dependent on a belief and will work whether you believe in it or not” (www.reiki.org).
Since this therapy is based on spirituality, Reiki Masters also have been trained in the spirituality of Reiki and most likely live a spiritual life. They are also a great resource if you have questions about living a spiritual life.
If you feel that your spirituality has a basis in religion, you may want to speak to someone associated with a church or synagogue. Their training includes extensive study of their particular religion and if you have questions regarding a specific religion or questions about God, they are the best resource that you can get. You have to remember that whichever religious leader you seek out, they will have a bias towards their own religion. If you want to get an overview of all the religions, you may want to talk to someone who has studied all religions and can tell you the differences/similarities between them. Someone at a college or university where they have religion as a major would probably be the best option.
Although many may consider Buddhism to be a religion, Buddhists don’t see it as a religion. It is more a philosophy of how to live your life well. Some people recognize the Buddhist philosophy while belonging to other religions. The Buddhist dharma, or truth, teaches about how to be the best person you can be and to not take anything like the final and ultimate word. Buddha himself wanted people to test his teachings and to decide for themselves what works best for them. Another belief is that individuals are responsible for their actions, which affects themselves and others around them. Reaching out to a Buddhist teacher will help you understand their philosophy.
“So much of mental health work is about giving people a space to be witnessed and held while sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of human life.” – Lillian Harris LCPC-C