In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, author Brené Brown defines spirituality as the following: “Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.”
Whether you grew up attending church each Sunday, spending your Friday evenings at Shabbat dinner, savouring your weekends hiking through the woods, or bowing toward Mecca five times a day, this definition of spirituality lends itself to the understanding that anything can be sacred. That everything is sacred. And that you are divine beyond comprehension. “You are God in drag,” as poet Hafiz reminds us.
This is the basis of Tantric philosophy, which has an integral influence on modern yoga practices and healing modalities. Tantric philosophy, as described by Anusara School of Hatha Yoga, teaches us that “Everything in this world is an embodiment of Supreme Consciousness, which at its essence pulsates with awareness and the highest bliss. This philosophy is put into practice by always looking for the intrinsic goodness of every situation before responding appropriately to what is happening in the present moment.”
Although the sacred can indeed be found in all things, don’t be fooled into believing you need to buy a special potion, get that one tattoo, or give away all your pretty things. That divinity? It’s within you and it’s enough.
Sometimes India and Bali and other Eastern regions are romanticised for their seemingly seamless and intricate inclusion of spirituality into the everyday lives of citizens. In the West, we read inspiring books like Eat, Pray, Love and scroll through Instagram feeds of travel bloggers’ trips to the motherland of yoga. We learn about the ancient myths and grow enchanted with the mysticism and magic of ceremonies. We think “If only we meditate on Ganesha and burn incense and chant to Kali and cook with funky herbs, the world will make sense!” We yearn for what these eastern folks have that we’ve lost; something we crave, like meaning and community in the face of hardship and insanity.
And we forget the histories of colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism that have contributed to the way things are. We forget the human rights abuses and environmental destruction rampant in these same areas and around the globe. We forget that while there’s little harm that comes from borrowing a bit of inspiration from our global neighbours, we must beware of cultural appropriation and the seduction of a promised panacea for our ills. Let’s remember that it’s possible to integrate spirituality into our daily lives and find meaning in simple tasks without commodifying and cheapening someone else’s life experience.
It goes without saying that we’re all caught up in minute tasks. We’re often stuck in our small corners of the world, our personal dramas, or our reactions to the Twitter-verse happenings. This can leave us each feeling stuck, cornered, hopeless, and alone.
You’ll notice that the definition of spirituality offered at the beginning of this article is in direct contrast with how most of us often operate! If what you seek is deep connection and the recognition that you are indeed a spirit having a human experience, then by intentionally searching for ways to connect to your own sense of spirituality in everyday life, daily tasks become divine and connection blossoms. Here are some ways to practice.
Add some sweetness and ceremony to your day by doing your daily tasks with the utmost awareness. Notice the sensations in your body, bring your attention to your breath, and acknowledge your emotions without judging them. Do a regular assignment in slow motion. Drink your coffee or tea without doing anything else. Brush your teeth without looking at your phone. Ritualise your most dreaded chores to make them less mundane, such as putting on music, setting a timer, and getting down to work.
The Compassion It movement challenges us to turn empathy into action. Compassion doesn't just benefit those who receive the acts of kindness, it benefits those who offer the kindness as well. Learn more about the health benefits of practising compassion.
To bring some sense of spirituality and interconnectedness into your everyday life, try acting on your empathy with one of these ideas:
- Smiling at a stranger
- Giving someone the benefit of the doubt
- Sending a "thinking of you" message to a friend going through a tough time
- Having self-compassion and not beating yourself up over imperfection
- Simply being fully present with a friend
- Here are 99 other simple ways to offer kindness
In Italian, there is a saying: “Il Dolce far Niente.” It means “the sweetness of doing nothing.” Can you imagine? Doing nothing and feeling okay? Doing nothing and not being wracked with guilt and anxiety?
It takes practice but it’s worth giving it a shot! Your mind, body, heart, and spirit will thank you for this de-stressing practice. Practice the art of doing nothing by sitting in meditation or setting a timer for 10 minutes while you simply “do nothing.” Gentle reminder: You are a human being, not a human doing.
By sharing your time to help others, you’ll remember that we’re all in this together—that deep down we’re all longing for the same sense of love and belonging. The homeless woman you’re bringing a sandwich to? She could be you minus a paycheck. The next-door neighbour who needs your help walking the dog? He could be you minus a helpful partner. The stranger on the verge of tears carrying those grocery bags on the subway? They could be you minus your new car.
Service is an act of compassion. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve … You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
By devoting an hour, day, week, or month to service in any capacity, you may even stumble upon your dharma, your life’s purpose. (Hint: your purpose is joy).
By practising mindfulness, compassion, be-ing, and service, you can explore ways of making even the mundane activities more spiritually aligned. You may travel to far off lands to glean inspiration. You may navigate your daily to-do list with a bit more awareness. Either way, slowing down and breathing into the moment can help you feel more connected to others and to a power greater.
And this shared connection of humanity? That’s the key ingredient for world peace.