Updated: May 30, 2019
As I become more spiritual, I find myself accessing more and more joy. Laughing and smiling more. Walking with lightness in my feet.
Here is what I'm learning from this deeper dive within.
There is a small self, with a lower-case "s". Sometimes I call it my thinking self. My thinking self has lots of great ideas. When I'm hungry, it conjures up the fabulous idea of making myself exactly what I'm craving . For example, an egg burrito with cheesy, peppers and onions. What a great idea, self!
Thinking self allows me to write blog articles like this one and to get tasks done at work. To pay the bills and organize my calendar. To remember phone numbers and recall people's names. Thinking self is extremely useful, about 20-30 % of the time.
The other 70-80% of the time, my thinking self is either remembering past experiences or projecting out into the future to situations that have not, and most likely, will never happen. It perseverates over these two time scenarios which I have no control over.
When it's not past-ing or future-ing, my thinking self is often trying to fix a feeling -- why am I unhappy, grumpy, irritable, tired? Another useless activity because feelings can only be felt, not fixed (Read my post, "I Can't Solve this Feeling Anymore").
Then there is the Big Self, with a capital "S". I consider this part of my self to be the observer. The observer has the ability to distance itself from the small self, the thinking self, and be aware of it's thinking. That's how we know that the thinking self and the observing self are separate. If they were one in the same, the observer would not be able to be aware of itself. Or would it?
The Big Self sits a bit apart from the small self and the physical self (it can observe that, too) and it can just notice, objectively, without judgment. With pure curiosity and sometimes even amusement.
I think becoming a spiritual person is a practice in creating distance between the small self and the big Self; the thinker and the observer.
Let's say the thinking self resides in the center of your chest. Without much practice or awareness, the observing self will sit right on top of the thinking self, making the thinking feel heavy and weighted down, and very real. There is no space in between. So all of the thinking of the small self feels so significant and real, it feels just like reality.
"The meeting tomorrow will be a disaster".
"I will never get that promotion".
"I'm such a loser."
The observing self is so close to the thinking that it can no longer see itself as separate. It doesn't know how BIG it is.
With practice in developing our own awareness, which can come in the form of mindfulness or meditation or just long reflective walks in the woods, we begin to create space between the thinker and the observer. If the thinker lives in the center of my chest, my observer lives about 6 inches away from my body, sometimes hovering over and above my head, looking down on my thinking self and my physical self.
And, in the space between the small self and the big self is breath. Creating space for breath.
Watch my video on this same topic on YouTube. Sometimes, its just better than reading.
According to Merriam Webster, the word inspire means:
"This moving little word may be traced back to the Latin inspirare (“to breathe or blow into”), which itself is from the word spirare, meaning “to breathe.”
Inspire has the same root as the word, "spiritual". I think becoming a spiritual person is simply the act of creating space for breath in between our thinking and our observing. Becoming spiritual is merely the act of becoming more aware of the big Self. When we deepen our relationship to our big Self, it becomes so much easier to connect our Self to Source, the most capital "S" of them all.
In our current culture, why has developing a spiritual relationship always seemed so serious? Because I have been experiencing it as laugh out loud funny. As my observer becomes more and more removed from my thinking self, I find my thinking self to be hilarious! Now I know that all of my thoughts are just thoughts drifting in and out of my awareness. Not one thought is any more real than the other.
My observer is very loving. She sees my thinking as a condition of being human and not as being inferior or inept. She laughs at me in the way that a parent laughs at a toddler just learning to walk and stumbling. The parent knows that the child will eventually get it, and that there's a learning curve.
My loving observer sounds like: "Oh there you go again, letting that person irritate you again. She really drives you nuts doesn't she?" "It seems like your ego is caught up in that Facebook post, that's interesting isn't it?" " "You do realize your making up this stress and pressure in your mind, don't you?" "You're such a thinking human. I love you."
So that is what spirituality means to me: creating space in between the thinking self and the observing self. Creating space for breath, for possibility, for love, to be inspired and lit up by this incredibly human existence. It doesn't have to be serious, it can be fun and loving and real.