Polly Campbell, a renowned author who specialises in spirituality, describes spirituality as “a profound physical, emotional and intellectual awareness of her core self, as the connection to all that she is.” In her book Imperfect Spirituality: Extraordinary Enlightenment for Ordinary People, she elaborates: “Spirituality is about living with this awareness (of spirit) in deep relationship with yourself — the self that is both created by and connected to the universal source of all that is. From this place you recognise that everything is interconnected. We are all one.”
Margarita Tartakovsky, an associate editor at Psych Central blog, summarises Campbell’s vision of spirituality, which is not “something to develop; it’s who we are.” For Campbell, spirituality is “part of our makeup, just like brown eyes and curly hair.” So she tells us: “What we need to do is uncover it and remember who we are.” To be spiritual is to be in touch with the higher energy that pervades everywhere. She asserts: “When you touch your spirit from this place of knowing, you are then guided by this higher energy, instead of ego. This energy is fuelled by love and compassion, gratitude and expansion. It is not about gossip or image or control. It isn’t about being right or better than.”
To realise such spiritual state, some spiritual practices are helpful. Practices such as mindfulness, meditation and even exercise can help us remember who we are. Even ordinary activities like cooking or playing with one’s kids can be spiritual practices “if done with conscious awareness,” can lead us to deep spiritual awareness. Campbell’s spiritual practice helps her be more present, appreciative and grateful. It helps her connect to the moments of her day. It also helps her be more grounded and resilient. “Life is more fun.”
She recommends some personal practice that enhances our spiritual openness. The first is to become aware. “Become aware of what you’re putting into your mind, heart and into your day,” said Campbell. “Notice the routines you’re in and how you’re thinking of them.” Notice how you relate to your loved ones, such as your partner and kids.
Campbell suggests that we practice this awareness during the transitions of the day, such as when we wake up, eating lunch and before going to bed. “Three times a day, stop and notice where you are,” she advises us. We need to simply notice without judging.
Another helpful practice is to write regularly: Journaling can help us gain clarity and connect to our higher spirit. She suggests answering these questions: “What did I learn about myself today? What is important to me now? What do I value now?” In Imperfect Spirituality, she includes these questions: “How did I behave compassionately today? What do I most need to know about my life and my purpose? How did I live close to my values today?” She suggests writing about our dreams, concerns, feelings and creating gratitude lists.
A third practice is to be curious: “Curiosity and novelty are huge ways in to discover our spiritual essence,” Campbell holds. This can include doing one different thing each day, such as “coming home a new way, or reading a book from a genre you never read.” In fact, she points out that having fun is a spiritual state. So she suggests: “Do the things that ignite and inspire you,” since they take our “mind to different tools and levels of consciousness.”
Can we connect ourselves to the higher energy and find spiritual depth in simple, ordinary and even imperfect things?
(The writer is a professor of science and religion)
Kuruvilla Pandikattu