As someone who doesn’t consider herself “religious”, spirituality still plays a big role in my life.
And spirituality can, sometimes, have an outsize affect on our mental health – either good or bad.
Spirituality can give us a sense of fulfillment and community, depending on our specific beliefs and the groups that exist around those beliefs. Having a community to share in our spiritual journey can be a huge boost for our mental health – we are a communal, tribal species. We like to be with our people, feeling loved and supported. And a spiritual community can help to provide that for us.
And, on a personal level, spirituality can also provide us with a sense of calm, a feeling of serenity, and a sense of clarity and understanding. It can be helpful to have faith in something bigger than ourselves, no matter what we call it.
But there can, like everything in life, also be a detrimental affect to our mental health when it comes to spirituality.
For many of us, our families hail from specific spiritual or religious backgrounds, and there may be pressures from our family to believe a certain way, or to practice a certain religion. That pressure can be anything from gentle nudges to being disowned from your family for not believing their version of “true” faith.
There are also pressures from our friends who may believe a certain way, or just society at large. Depending on our friend groups and the spiritual/religious leanings of the areas where we live, not to mention the brutal debates happening at the national and world levels, we may not feel safe in our beliefs, or at least in sharing our beliefs openly.
And on top of that, there can be lived trauma, or other bad, past experiences with religion (mainly) and spirituality, whether that trauma or bad experience was at the hands of someone who should have been a trusted spiritual leader, a family member, or society.
So, how can we go about amplifying the good aspects of spirituality over the bad? How can we use spirituality as a benefit to our mental health, rather than a detriment?
First, we need to not be afraid to explore. There are so many different religions and spiritual worldviews – and there is no right or wrong answer here. Explore everything that you feel drawn to, look into the different traditions and practices.
Then, find what resonates with you. Maybe you feel drawn to one particular path altogether. Maybe bits and pieces of several different practices feel right to you. You’ll know in your gut what makes sense for your personal beliefs and worldview once you learn and explore a bit.
Once you find the bits that click for you, piece together your own unique practice. Again, you don’t need to follow the mainstream religions to a T. You can craft your own practice, your own spirituality, to fit you.
If you need a safe space to explore, discuss, and ask questions when it comes to spirituality, I’d love to have you join us in our community of other mamas
who are exploring their spirituality, just like you.