Is mindfulness a spiritual practice? I think that depends upon one’s definition of both mindfulness and spirituality. Certainly many of us launch into a mindfulness practice with practical intentions. We initially see it as a way to feel less stressed or to become a better person. With practice over time, it often becomes much more.
For most, the decreased reactivity and emotional suffering experienced in the early stages of practice is our primary motivation for continuing. The more spiritual aspects of the practice may begin with a deep encounter with ourselves. We notice habits and patterns we were previously unaware of and things we could once ignore come into stark relief. It has been said that the practice is like a mirror we are continuously polishing such that it reflects reality more clearly. The layers begin to fall away as we let go of what is unhelpful. Our lives become less about asserting our individuality and more about participating in the unfolding mystery of something greater.
For many of us, our mindfulness practice reconnects us with our highest values. We discover increased opportunities for experiencing joy, wonder, awe, and beauty in every day life. These rediscoveries imbue our lives with greater meaning and purpose. Because of this, we begin to more deeply appreciate our own lives and the lives of other living beings. We observe the myriad ways all things (including ourselves) are interconnected – how our own lasting happiness is inseparable from the wellbeing of others and the environment we live in.
If you believe that spirituality is a subjective experience involving meaning making and a connection with something greater, then indeed I would say that a dedicated mindfulness practice often becomes a spiritual practice. From this point of view, one can ascribe to any particular religious tradition – or to none at all – and enjoy a deep spiritual life. Fortunately, research is illuminating the correlation between spirituality, wellbeing and quality of life among healthy individuals and those suffering from illnesses. I’m so grateful for this and the many other ways mindfulness has enriched my life – may it be an endless blessing in your life as well!
Ours is a journey toward simplicity, toward quietness, toward a kind of joy that is not in time. In this journey out of time to ‘NowHere’, we are leaving behind every model we have had of who we thought we were. This journey involves a transformation of our being so that our thinking mind becomes our servant rather than our master. It’s a journey that takes us from primary identification with our psyche to identification with our souls… and ultimately beyond any identification at all. Life is an incredible curriculum in which we live richly and passionately as a way of awakening to the deepest truths of our being… As a soul, I live in the moment, in each rich and precious moment, and I am filled with contentment. – Ram Dass
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