As we travel along our life’s road, many people begin to question their existence. That there is more to life than what we can see, hear, taste and touch. There must be a deeper meaning. We reach for it, think we have it, and then it slips away again. We are constantly looking for the thread which will lead us home. So what spiritual path is right for you?
It isn’t possible to give you a definitive answer to that question, because every individual has to find it for themselves. People have to question, mull over, accept, reject, and accept again until they figure it out for themselves. So where do you begin to find your spiritual path? How do you even take the first step?
When it comes down to it, there are two main branches to decide between: a religious or non-religious (secular) path. How do you decide?
A Religious Spiritual Path
If you feel your spirituality depends on being with other people who feel the same way as you, then it’s possible that immersion into a brand of religion is perfect for you. The advantages of this is that others have traveled this way; others are starting on the same spiritual path. And there is usually clear guidance in the form of written work. There are parameters within which you can explore, and guidelines within which to live.
There is absolutely nothing preventing you from exploring all the different varieties of organized religion. Read about them, visit websites, go to a meeting, attend their places of worship. Talk to the officiant. You can bet your life they will be welcoming and friendly. They will explain how their particular faith works, and they will encourage you to explore further.
Talk to others in the same group. Listen to their conversations. You will be able to tell from their interactions and attitudes whether you feel comfortable here or not. Remember that just because you attend one meeting or service, you are not obliged to go again. You are free to choose at any time.
A Secular Spiritual Journey
A secular, or non religious spiritual path can be anything you like. You might want to try meditation, or possibly you are drawn to psychic subjects. Perhaps you like the idea of guardian angels. Here are some suggestions of explorations you might undertake:
- Historical pantheons (Greek mythology, Ancient Egyptians, etc.)
- Conceptual (Law of Attraction)
- Study of the inner landscape: meditation, introspection
- Mindfulness; living in the present moment
- Online discussions and discourse
- Experiencing the sacred in nature (including Earth-based spirituality, and your relationship with the universe)
- Educational: learning about crystals, herbalism, etc.
- Psychic development
- Systems, such as tarot, astrology, etc.
- Ecospirituality: combining spiritual aspects of nature with Eco activism
Some go so far as to identify themselves as SBNR: spiritual but not religious. Some SBNRs take an active role in publicly opposing organized religion. Others describe themselves as ‘survivors’ of organized religion. Many though, say they are merely seekers looking for their path.
Not Religious, Not Quite Secular
There are other paths that seems to fall in between religious and secular. Examples of these are neo-paganism, earth-based religions, witchcraft and Wicca. They can be either very organized, much like you’d expect a religion to be, or they can be loose and informal. People can choose to practice within a group, in pairs, or completely on their own.
Beware the Cult
One word of caution. Be wary of anything that feels like a cult. Cults don’t have to be religious, although many are. It’s estimated there are around 10,000 cults in the US, but no-one can be sure.
There are certain red flags you must be aware of:
- The group is formed around a single, strong, charismatic leader. It appears as though he or she is the center, the motivator, and the glue that binds the group together. They are often controlling and narcissistic. However, they will appear kindly, welcoming and friendly to potential new recruits.
- Cult members don’t have contact with friends and family. They are isolated from them deliberately.
- There’s a strict timetable in force.
- Your questions are answered in an oblique manner. You rarely get a direct answer.
- Something feels ‘off’. You may decide to wait it out because you think it’s ‘just you’. It isn’t. Walk away.
- You may find yourself attracted to the group because it seems to offer something you can’t get elsewhere. It could be the sense of community. Or the opportunity to help others. There’s almost always an attractive hook. And, of course, you’ll be told that you are ‘perfect for us,’ and ‘you will love it here.’
Please avoid cults.
A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That
Some people choose not to settle for one definitive path and instead, choose the ‘eternal seeker’ way. This means they allow themselves to continually try out different ideas, different communities, and varied practices. They accept that no one way is right for them, so remain open to any and all pathways. As life shifts and changes, so does their spiritual viewpoint.
Their main aim is not to fit into someone else’s definition of spirituality, but instead to define their own. They may incorporate a little religion, a little paganism, maybe a pinch of meditation. They might believe that spirituality is something they carry within themselves and that their ultimate aim is to experience inner peace. Or perhaps they are drawn to being of service to others or looking after animals. Yet other people may find their spiritual quest is satisfied by a simple activity like creating a garden.
While some may feel frustrated by never finding something that they connect with, others are happy to see themselves as free-spirited. One thing is sure, you have no shortage of spiritual paths to choose from.
Where To Start Along Your Spiritual Path?
Firstly, define what you are looking for. Is it other people? Do you want a clear structure? Would you rather try out lots of different things? What are you interested in? Type 'spirituality' into a search engine, or your favorite social media site, and go on an online exploration. Read as much as you can. Then pick one and give it a try. If you don't like it, you can change direction anytime.
We’d love to hear about your spiritual journey. Are you still looking? Have you found a spiritual path that resonated with you? Please share your experiences.