Finding Spirituality in Organized Religion
Spirituality has evolved and changed over time to include more than one meaning. The concept of spirituality places emphasis on the concern for humanity or the soul versus material objects. Physically we can attain wealth, prestige, or highly sought-after careers. On the other hand, people who are more spiritually oriented focus on the inner self and the soul. Religious people often define the idea of spirituality according to their traditions. Some would argue that spirituality exists within a religion, but religions follow predetermined rules agreed on by the community.
Spirituality comes in different forms. Spirituality is a choice we must make for ourselves. We decide what is or isn't right for us or what makes us feel inner peace. The search to find a form of spirituality you are comfortable with can start by looking at the various religions practiced globally. Each form of religion has its roots based on ancestry and stories found in the Bible, Koran, Torah, or other written modes. The most notable traditional forms of religion include stories and lessons explaining morality. A few of the well-known types of faith are listed.
There are three religious groups in Judaism:
- Kohanim: are the descendants or sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron were the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Levites: are the descendants of Levi. Levites’ ancestors also served in the Temple of Jerusalem as musicians, guards, or singers.
- Israelites: they include many different cultural subtypes. Some of the aesthetic and customs subtypes include:
- Ashkenazim – this group is from Eastern Europe or Germany. Americans are familiar with their culture – bagels, black hats, Yiddish.
- Sefardim – Jews from Spain and the Iberian Peninsula.
- Mizrahim – Jews from Iraq, Iran, and Yemen.
Judaism also has different denominations, including:
Catholicism is the belief that there is only one type of Catholicism and expressed by the Catechism. However, in the Catholic religion, there are three subtypes which follow different churches:
- Roman Catholic Church
- Coptic Catholic Church
- Eritrean Catholic Church
- Ethiopian Catholic Church
- West Syrian Rite
- Armenian Rite
- East Syrian
- Constantinopolitan (Byzantine) Rite
Protestantism shares the belief with Catholics that Jesus Christ as the savior of humanity. In 1517 Martin Luther nailed a list of grievances to a church door, signaling the Catholic Church’s break and the Protestant faith’s beginning. There are several different groups within the Protestant faith. A few are:
Muslims follow the words of Muhammed, who they believe is a Prophet of Allah. Islam, like Christianity, has different branches. They are:
Asians follow various types of religion. A few include:
- Buddhism: the belief that humans exist in a cycle of birth, life, and rebirth and the following of the sayings of Siddhartha Guatama
- Hindu: the belief in multiple gods
- Sikhism: the belief that humans exist in a cycle of birth, life, and rebirth
- Shinto: the belief that there is no absolute right or wrong and humans are fundamentally good
A paper published by Harvard defines African spirituality as “African spirituality simply acknowledges that beliefs and practices touch on and inform every facet of human life. Therefore, African religion cannot be separated from the everyday or mundane. African spirituality is truly holistic.”
Alternative Forms of Spirituality
Spirituality has grown beyond the bounds once associated with traditional religion. Over the years, people have sought different ways to express their beliefs or gain a sense of well-being. The movement towards finding peace within ourselves without the guidance of a Priest, Rabbi, minister, monk, or Imam gained momentum in the last century. Stepping away from organized religion doesn’t mean we lack a sense of well-being with traditional religion. Still, we can seek a connection with the human spirit or soul through different forms of activities. A few examples of alternative forms of spirituality are:
- Meditation – allows a person to train the mind to let go of negative thoughts and find peace in silence.
- Silent prayer – helps quiet the mind and emphasizes letting go of negative thoughts and feelings. Praying focuses the mind on asking or seeking help to heal.
- Dreams – when we sleep, our subconscious mind brings latent thoughts and feelings to the surface. Journaling our dreams can help us identify worries, anger, joy, or sadness.
- Spirit animals – many cultures believe animals act as their guides, especially in times of need.
- Guardian angels – those who believe in guardian angels believe the angels follow them throughout their lives and help them. The underlying belief is their guardian angel or spirit guides or talks to them.
- Yoga – while practicing yoga, a person releases their mind to focus on their body instead of outside influences, which fosters connection between the mind and body.
- Visualization – this practice requires a person to think about a goal or vision of their goals or dreams. Visualizing the goal places the focus on what is needed to achieve the goal or objective.
Stepping outside of traditional religion can be freeing to some, while others may finally feel connected to something higher than themselves. However, spirituality allows people to understand how looking within themselves helps create balance. Balance is essential when coping with any of the various mental health disorders or recovering from alcohol or substance dependence. Focusing on techniques that can bring about a sense of peace or can quiet the mind grounds people.
Those with mental health disorders or alcohol or substance dependence can use their preferred form of spirituality to divert feelings of low self-confidence, rapid mood change or thoughts, cravings, or suicidal tendencies. The ability to take a step back and allow our bodies to relax and refocus helps us pause emotions or actions that can cause harm. Spirituality doesn’t belong to one religion or one way to connect to a sense of well-being. Each form of spirituality hopes to find answers and inner peace.
Finding peace or a sense of well-being is essential when coping with life issues. Whether you are in a treatment program for alcohol or substance dependence or are dealing with mental health disorders, spirituality can bring a sense of peace. The existence of spirituality allows us to define what is excellent and what isn't. We can make individual decisions to gain techniques that bolster our belief in ourselves. Finding spirituality can appear to be overwhelming because of the different types and subtypes. Talking with someone about your alcohol or substance dependence or mental health disorder can be a positive way to discover your form of spirituality. Achieve Medical Center believes spirituality is what brings a sense of well-being. To find out how to make spirituality a part of your dependence or mental health disorder coping technique, call (858) 221-0344.