What is spirituality?
Spirituality is a study of transpersonal aspects of human beings (the ‘being’ part) as opposed to personal development (the ‘human’ part). Spiritual development includes spiritual intelligence which is a part of multiple intelligences (musical, kinesthetic, mathematical, linguistic, and so on). At the heart of spirituality, there are three core perspectives: connection to a larger life, peace of mind and care and compassion. Spirituality is a study of consciousness.
What is spiritual development for?
The purpose of spiritual development is to become more self-aware and to enhance and develop your awareness and consciousness as well as experience full spectrum consciousness and spiritual awakening or enlightenment and mystical state of non-dual oneness, divine or unity consciousness (unio mystica). Buddha and others suggested that all problems and suffering comes from separation and duality. Buddha offered a solution by saying, “All individual things pass away. Seek your liberation with diligence.” Enlightenment provides an inner peace that transcends pain and negativity. Upanishads say, “when there is other, there is fear”. Science and quantum physics suggest that there is no separation, nor duality. On a cellular level cell don’t divide, they just differentiate. It’s all one continuous life. In short, the function of spiritual development is to ‘wake up’ and become super-conscious and the function of personal development is to ‘grow up’ and become meta-human.
French philosopher Giles Deleuze suggested that the purpose of spirituality is to “Bring something incomprehensible into the world!” He also suggests a way of seeing life, “A life is the immanence of immanence, absolute immanence: it is complete power, complete bliss.” What is immanence? A life . .. No one has described what a life is better than Charles Dickens if we take the indefinite article as an index of the transcendental. And transcendence is a product of immanence.
Spiritual companions promise
Listening With compassion, discretion and respect I will reassure and support you through careful listening, seeking fully to understand your personal story and circumstances.
Your Spiritual Journey We may talk about your spiritual development, exploring that you are on a life-long journey developing heart and mind, compassion and consciousness.
Spiritual Connection We may explore together the ways in which you can best develop and deepen your connection with the wonder and energy of life.
Silence and Meditation We may take some quiet time together; meditation can be healing, reassuring and supportive.
Practical spirituality & wellness
I’ve completed a diploma course in Practical Spirituality & Wellness which is the first UK, Ofqual accredited vocational diploma course in this discipline. To have a taste of Your Spiritual Health Programme – download the editable pdf and go through it. You can edit it and add your insights, etc.
Wellness is a general term that describes personal wellbeing and health and is the opposite of illness. When we feel well and healthy – we flourish and thrive. There are many aspects of wellness and health and spiritual development and spiritual intelligence is one of them. The spiritual development offers a perspective on one’s life that can boost one’s health and wellness.
One of the many definitions of stress is that anything that you don’t enjoy or find upsetting can be a stressor. Stress is your interaction and interpretation of threat. Stress is a root cause of many emotional and health problems as well as work-related issues. Recent studies suggest that stress causes inflammation and inflammation can be a factor in up to a 3rd of cases of severe depression (2018, Bullmore). There are many solutions to build resilience to stress. Spiritual development and meditation are two of them. There is always a creative solution to a problem and mindfulness allows for your natural creativity, intuition, transcendence and inventiveness to work better.
Meditation & mindfulness
There are many types of meditation and mindfulness is one of them. When you’re mindful, you’re simply present, here now and embodying whatever you’re doing, be it walking, eating (chocolate), sitting, lying on grass, breathing – any activity can be part of or object of mindfulness or meditation. Ultimately, anything you’re doing consciously, with attention and awareness (not mindlessly) is mindfulness. Over time, you can also develop the awareness of the connection to a larger life at the same time. Obviously, it’s fairly easy to be mindful when relaxed, at ease and not bothered by anything. It’s the times when we’re stressed or anxious or not happy that mindfulness is most useful. By witnessing yourself in difficult times, you develop a healthy distance and perspective on yourself and life. A present-day Cassandra Yuval Noah Harari in his book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century suggests meditating as a way of decoding and making sense of our lives (he meditates for a couple of hours daily and goes to meditation retreats). “Clarity is power.” Meditate to get more clarity. “Mediation is not an escape from reality. It is getting in touch with reality.” and it a way of understanding reality and a way of understanding yourself and “your operating system”.
As a spiritual companion I:
• Enable safe and sacred space.
• Provide a non-intrusive, welcoming, healing and holding presence.
• Listen with care and enable people to clarify in their own language, their own individual spiritual development.
• Can assert clear boundaries and intervene, when appropriate, to stop abuse.
• Celebrate diversity and welcome the fact that there are many different paths of spiritual development which include religious and non-religious perspectives.
• Am an engaged citizen, actively dedicated to social and ecological health and honouring the spirit in all beings.
• Am aware of local resources and support for spiritual and personal development.
• Know my personal and professional limitations and are able to refer appropriately.
Core spiritual development aspects
Regularly connect with and experience the wonder and energy of existence. The foundation of spiritual health is your personal connection with the wonder and energy of life. From a flower, through a child’s smile, to the awesome night sky, there is a magic and beauty to existence. It is crucial that day-by-day you have times of connecting with this wonder and energy. This is your spiritual fuel. In the Spiritual Health Programme, you will discover your own best ways of making this connection.
Spirituality: Your natural connection with the wonder and energy of life
Peace of mind
By regular mediation or silence, you’ll learn how to manage your spiritual growth to find peace of mind and reduce stress. On your spiritual journey, you become a wiser and better person. Every situation, easy or painful, is an opportunity to become more loving, compassionate and conscious. This is the true foundation of happiness and inner peace. In this programme, you will be guided through how to manage your spiritual growth to find peace of mind.
Spiritual growth: The development of love and consciousness
Care and compassion
Caring for others trigger a feedback loop of wellbeing that nourishes your own body and soul. The third foundation of spiritual health is to give care and love to others. You are part of the web of life and your spiritual generosity supports everyone’s health. Caring for others triggers a feedback loop of wellbeing that nourishes your own body and soul. In this programme, you will be reminded and shown precisely how to do this.
Compassion: Caring for others while aware of their pain
Are grounded and centred in our bodies; embodied and in hara. Can pause, still at will and become mindfully present. Aware of the subtle sensations of connection. Witness with compassion, in silence when appropriate.
Self-reflect and manage our behaviour, health and development with compassion, love and wisdom. Are emotionally literate and transparent about our own processes. Are in ongoing relationships and groups of peer support, actively seeking and welcoming feedback from others. Understand that there are psychological challenges that occur as the everyday self-emerges into spiritual consciousness. Can take responsibility, apologise, forgive and receive forgiveness. Appreciate that all life is in a continual process of emergence and are comfortable with unknowing. Possess an appropriate sense of humour.
David Perkins of Harvard University says that ‘reflective intelligence’ (RI) is key to learning. RI means being aware of your habitual ways of thinking and learning so that you can improve them. Spiritual self-reflection is an important part of spiritual practice.
What is the difference between religion and spirituality?
“Religion is belief in someone else’s experience.
Spirituality is having your own experience.”
Spirituality gives you the autonomy and freedom over your interpretation and experience of the soul or spirit, as opposed to religion which suggests or insists on participation in communal practices and interpretation of the divine, beliefs and worship. Most religions will tell you what is a spiritual truth. In spirituality, you discover your own spiritual truth for yourself. Both religion and spirituality have value and it depends on your preference and worldview as well as your personal development which one is best for you. In studies on the benefits of spirituality and religion, the researchers couldn’t distinguish between the two.
A new spiritual language/semiotics: consciousness
A new spiritual language and semiotics are emerging as the culture, technology and social structures are rapidly changing as well as human consciousness. Unfortunately, people are still ready to die or kill others because of a religious book. ‘God’, religious and even spiritual language (‘soul’, ‘spirit’) is heavily loaded and can trigger people. ‘Consciousness’ and ‘awareness’ are the new modern terms that mean ‘spirit’, ‘soul’ or ‘God’ or ‘Devine’. Consciousness is the ‘hard problem’ in science and it seems like it is the science with its methods can fully understand what it is and how it works. Consciousness is the essence of what it is to be ‘you’ with all your subjective experiences that are witnessed in your meta-consciousness when you’re conscious of being conscious. The answer to the existential question, “Who am I?” is: consciousness. When the Buddha was once asked, “Who are you?” He said, “That’s the wrong question.” So the student asked, “What’s the right question?” Buddha said, “What are you is the correct question.” So, the student said, “Ok, what are you?” Buddha said, “Consciousness.” Enlightenment is consciousness. Spirit is consciousness. God is consciousness. We are conscious human beings connected to and parts of a larger Consciousness.
DK’s definition of consciousness: “Consciousness is the ability to respond to stimulation.” can be applied to anything, because of its simplicity (Occam’s razor) and is dependent on its state and the stimuli. So for example, the consciousness of a rock responds to pressure, heat, vibration and so on. The infinite cosmic or universal or non-dual consciousness is latent with all possibilities, depending on its state and its stimuli. Human consciousness is also infinitely multifaceted and always evolving, developing and becoming more self-conscious, based on the stimuli and its ensuing response.
“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and the originator of quantum theory
Consciousness has dimensions. Although consciousness is singular, it’s not an event, it’s a continuum, a spectrum. It’s like the white light travelling through a prism with its components colours separated out into a brilliant rainbow spectrum. There are at least six basic states of consciousness: awake, dreaming, lucid dreaming, deep sleep, witnessing and non-dual oneness.
Is spirituality a pursuit of particular kinds of higher feelings or states?
Some researchers suggest five types of spiritual feelings or states which are: eudaimonic, aesthetic, ecstatic, sublime and unitive.
Eudaimonic feelings in spirituality are about the pursuit of happiness, human flourishing or prosperity, joy and freedom as well as overcoming suffering.
Aesthetic feelings in spirituality evoke experiences of profound beauty, peace and harmony.
Ecstatic feelings are exceptionally intense states such as bliss and rapture that are usually experienced during trance states.
Sublime feelings give you a sense of awe and numinous connection to the wonder and energies of life as well as unity awareness of everything there is.
Unitive feelings are feelings of non-dual oneness and unity consciousness with everything there is.
What is the difference between spiritual development and personal development?
Spiritual development is about ‘waking up’ and developing as a ‘being’ and your consciousness and awareness of different states of consciousness ie awake, dreaming, deep sleep, witnessing/nondual awareness and nondual oneness.
Personal development, on the other hand, is about ‘growing up’ and developing as a human through different stages of human development which are archaic, magic, mythic, ethnocentric, world-centric and kosmo-centric stages. Both paths of waking up and growing up are essential because in this way we can experience the full spectrum of consciousness in being a human being. In the context of growing up, spirituality can be appreciated more and deepened. For example, spirituality experienced at mythic stages of human development is usually coloured by religious context and is less deep, as opposed to experiencing it at the world-centric stage which is more inclusive, deeper and more embracing. In other words, spiritual development is about discovering who you are (ie a full spectrum consciousness) and personal development is about creating yourself and becoming a fully functioning super-human.
Spiritual intelligence for creative thinking, learning and performance
There are over 3300 papers (Koenig, 2012) on the benefits of spirituality for wellness, resilience, performance and creativity. There is thorough and rigorous research demonstrating the health and wellbeing benefits of religion and spirituality – benefits for physical and mental health and benefits for the broader community.
The opening sentence of Education Reform Act of 1988 states “The curriculum for a maintained school (must be) a balanced and broadly based curriculum which — promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society.” Education (Schools) Act 1992 suggests that “The Chief Inspector for England shall have the general duty of keeping the Secretary of State informed about … the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils at those schools.” Ofsted School Inspection Handbook (January 2015) lists the word ‘spiritual’ 20 times: “Before making the final judgement on the overall effectiveness, inspectors must also evaluate: the effectiveness and impact of the provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.” (Paragraph 128)
“Bring something incomprehensible into the world!” Giles Deleuze, French philosoper
Spirituality is defined as a sense of connection and relating to a bigger life and affirms life purposes. When we have this connection and way of relating, our performance is greatly improved. In the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which is one of the best-known theories of motivation, Abraham Maslow suggests that our actions are motivated by higher values such as self-actualisation and spirituality. In the theory of multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1983; Perkins, 1991) spiritual intelligence is an important way of processing information along with other intelligences such as kinesthetic, mathematical, linguistic, logical, perceptual, cognitive, reflective, musical, social and others.
Creativity is defined as the ability to relate and connect imaginative ideas to create something new. Albert Einstein summed up this by saying “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” because imagination creates knowledge.
Discover how to use your spiritual intelligence to be more creative and resourceful, learn better and keep creating yourself and becoming the best you can be so you can thrive personally, professionally and socially.
Your Spiritual Health Programme
To have a taste of Your Spiritual Health Programme – download the editable pdf and go through it. You can edit it and add your insights, etc.
Tapping, EFT (emotional freedom technique)
Tapping or EFT (emotional freedom technique) is one of the simplest, easiest and most effective techniques for releasing stress, trauma and anxiety as well as managing your emotions. Read more about my tapping sessions I offer in London
Jan Cisek is a spiritual health mentor, spiritual companion and meditation instructor with over 30 years of experience in spirituality and wellness and works in South Kensington, London and remotely online via Skype/Whatsapp/FaceTime, etc. Jan has a diploma in Practical Spirituality & Wellness, the first UK, Ofqual accredited vocational diploma course in this evidence-based discipline. Jan is also an environmental psychologist specialising in creating sacred spaces for working and living. Contact Jan