One can be peaceful, happy and good without necessarily following a particular God or reading heavy scriptures, discovers REENA SINGH

To understand spirituality, perhaps it is best to begin by explaining the difference between religion and spirituality. For most, religion is a belief in a particular God that a particular sect or community believes in based around a set of rituals and beliefs that the community follows. For instance, Hindus believe in Krishna and follow the teachings outlined in the Bhagwad Gita, their holy scripture. Similarly, Christians believe in Jesus Christ and base their life on the teachings contained in the Holy Bible. 

Out of curiosity, I turned to Google for a quick explanation and found this one sentence that explains the difference between religion and spirituality. Religion is described as a ‘specific set of organised beliefs and practices that are usually shared by a community or group’, while spirituality is better described as an ‘individual practice’, and the quest for a sense of peace and purpose. You may not necessarily believe in a particular God here, but be more in tune with being a good human being, thinking positively and going about your work with sincerity and a sense of honest purpose.

Kees Waaijman, educator and professor and an expert on religion and spirituality believes that the traditional meaning of spirituality “aims to recover the original shape of man, (in) the image of God”. The belief is that you are born as a pure spirit in God’s image and lose touch with this purity as you encounter life as you grow up. Being spiritual means that you touch base once again with your original self and once again recognize your true purpose in life, which is to merge with the divine.

Reena Singh

Spiritual people often turn to meditation as a key tool to enhance their spiritual quotient. The website, describes meditation in the following words: ‘Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective.’ Meditation helps you to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgement. It is believed that once you practise meditation regularly, then over a period of time, your mind will become calmer and you will be able to understand your own thoughts and feelings better.

There are several ways in which you can build up your practise of spirituality apart from doing just meditation. For one, you can start maintaining a Gratitude Journal, and begin writing daily the many things in your life that you must be thankful for. Once you begin this habit of making a daily list of things that you must thank God for, you will begin to value your gifts and things that you would otherwise take for granted. 

For another, you can take a pledge around that popular saying from the Bible, Luke 6:31 which translated into simple words proclaims: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words, be fair and just with everyone, always, for that is how you would like to be treated, right?

Build relationships by spending quality time with family

Another golden rule would be to follow the eternal saying of all who are wise and indulge in ‘simple living and high thinking’. School yourself to give up your desires and live a life based on principles, ethics and morality and never on greed, carnal desires and materialism. Ultimately, work hard and do your duty without thinking of the reward. This last profound principle is outlined in the Bhagwad Gita. But then, a spiritual person will always insist that you don’t have to read the scriptures to learn this message. This will come naturally to you if you are positive, happy, sincere and hard-working, the ultimate goal of spirituality.

One last point: Shed your baggage that you have acquired over the years. In other words, get rid of your ego and cleanse yourself of unhappy sentiments such as hate, jealousy and anger. You will sleep peacefully and rid yourself of stress. In other words, Live and Let Live.   

Reena Singh has more than 38 years’ experience in senior editorial positions in The Times of India (TOI) and Genpact. She was Deputy Editor with TOI’s spiritual newspaper, The Speaking Tree, where she spent more than nine years.

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