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Spirituality can be about anything that goes beyond mere physical existence. Spirituality is the state of having a connection either to God or the spirit world. Spiritualists also believe that the soul is eternal.
Spirituality needs traditions, as traditions remind us of who we are and ground us in our past.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, spirituality became increasingly disconnected from traditional religious organizations and institutions. This is said to be due to the modern notions of spirituality, which combine the
teachings of Christian ideas with elements of Asian traditions.
In April 2018, the BBC published a piece online entitled, 21st Century Spirituality. In it, it was stated that more than half of the population in the UK said they are nonreligious. Yet, many admitted to having a side to them that was best described as spiritual.
I confirm that I am nonreligious. I also confirm that I have often felt connected to my own spiritual side. However, I have often asked the question: “Can you be spiritual, yet skeptical?”
The philosophy behind skepticism is the theory that certain knowledge is impossible. I recognize that I too am a skeptic.
The skeptical movement is a modern social movement based on the idea of scientific skepticism. They investigate topics such as spirituality and determine whether or not claims can be supported. The roots of this movement date back to at least the 19th century, when people started raising questions publicly on such matters.
In the past year, I have experienced two clear spiritual encounters. In 2020, I lost a family member. In the days after his passing, I felt him present at home. It is often said that people can feel such encounters so strongly that only they know it to be true. The sensation left me feeling sure that there must be more once we pass on from this life, but I was not certain. The second time I felt his presence was during the night a few months ago. Again, am I certain? No.
The thought of the afterlife has always fascinated me and many others. According to a Statista survey of just over 2,000 people conducted in 2017, 46 percent of those questioned believed in life after death.
I’ve read books and watched documentaries on the subject that have fuelled my certainty that it exists. Yet, does it?
Both encounters I’d experienced were unexpected, yet whenever I ask my spirit guides for a helping hand, I am often met with silence. Which then leads me to ask: “Is this because I haven’t practiced spiritual wellness?”
Spiritual wellness can be achieved in various ways. The mental side is to remain positive, explore one’s spiritual core and seek life’s deeper meanings. Physically, one does so by meditating, taking part in yoga, and traveling.
I then find myself asking: “How does traveling have anything to do with spiritual wellness?” While seeking the answer to this question, I came to discover that although this falls under a physical act of spiritual wellness, the intention is to mentally feel spiritually connected. This is achieved by being in new environments and being free to clear one’s mind. Perhaps I just haven’t traveled enough!
Spiritual, but not affiliated
To identify as spiritual with no religion is known today as being “spiritual, but not affiliated.” The meaning behind not being affiliated is to not be associated with a particular group. Spirituality has expanded over the years and has formed into a group of its own, so why stress the non-religious side?
Spirituality is far more than religious beliefs; it is also about one’s values and concepts. Morals that we choose to uphold in life tend to be driven by one’s values, as well as personal beliefs.
“Non-believers,” or those who choose to not practice any religion, still often practice spirituality. They also still have morals and standards in today’s society, which they uphold. These morals are shared among many and are practiced both across religious and non-religious practices — morals such as honesty, treating others how we would wish to be treated, and showing kindness.
My choice to not push forward with practicing religion in life is partially due to my own skepticism. However, I can’t deny that there would appear to be more beyond what we have been taught. If it can be easy to define those with no religion or those who are spiritual, why does it not appear to be so simple for those of us who really want to push further, but are just too dis-believing?
If we can be skeptical toward religion, (more than half of the UK to be precise), could we also be self-confessed “skeptical spiritualists?”