People who visit dating sites set up a profile where at some point they will come to a question about religion. You can state your religion, you can suggest it is or isn’t important to you, but there is always the option to put spiritual, not religious.
The thought process behind the option is to help the wannabe perfect partners express a side of them which doesn’t fall into organized religion but is nevertheless open to a life lived with some sort of purpose.
We tend to live life at quite a pace. Besides the fact that at least eight hours of the day are spent working for the man, there are all of the other commitments on our time. Snatching a few moments for ourselves in the busy day is the only way to stay sane.
Developing a practice
Using the word practice automatically creates the idea there is something more spiritual happening. We talk of a yoga practice or a meditation practice. We don’t talk about a running practice though, or a boxing practice.
The contemplative life
In the past, someone who decided to live a contemplative life would shut themselves away from the world. Perhaps they would go and live in the wilderness or less radically at the edge of the community. However, they did it the aim was the same. They wanted to focus on things other than day to day life.
This still goes on today. There are enclosed orders of monks and nuns who deliberately eschew modern life for one of silence and prayer.
Most of us are not called to this level of solitude but we recognize the need for some downtime on a regular basis.
Settling the mind
Effectively what we are looking for is a break from overthinking. We look for something to draw us away from the chatter of thoughts which whizz through the mind one after another in constant movement. Put like that it’s no wonder we need a break.
Yoga is a gift that keeps on giving. It has its obvious and physical side, which is great for keeping bodies in motion, but there is always a minute or two of contemplation at the end. Lots of teachers will conclude with ‘Namaste’ as a way of reminding students where the roots of yoga lie. At some point, if you’re serious about yoga, you have to take on board its essential eastern nature and find the way to apply it to your western life.
This is another way of finding a moment of peace in a busy life. Perhaps meditating is a step closer to the contemplative life, but only a small one. The goal of both though is to nourish our inner life and create a little personal space.
Spiritual but not religious
Even to apply the phrase implies we have put some thought into what it means. At some level just putting in some thought is a step on the path.