Living Life As Your Spiritual Self

In a recent discussion online I brought up the fact that we can not delete religious education from schools entirely. It's impossible to properly teach subjects such as History, Art, and Literature without touching on religion to some extent. This is because the idea of one's actions, job, and personal life being separate from their faith is an entirely new idea - only about the last 100 years or so actually.

To some point, this idea is a good one, but in other ways, it's greatly separated people from their faith, and not always for the better. More than ever people find it increasingly difficult to connect to their Higher Power. This isn't because their Higher Power is any further away or more unreachable than ever before, but because we have gotten out of the habit of including our faith in every aspect of our life.

If we look back through history, we can see both the benefit and the downfall of including faith in ones identity. The downfalls seem to scream out at us from just about any history book or show, while the benefits seem to be more subtle. But in fact, it's not quite so black and white. While it's easy to say "The Inquisition is enough reason to separate person-hood and faith" the fact is it has been the separation of faith and government which has stopped things like Religious Inquisitions, Witch Burnings and similar activities in the developed world and not a separation of one's faith and one's self.

Instead of looking, however, at the overly religious governments throughout history, we need instead to look at the daily lives of individuals. Even in our not so distant past - lets say 80 years ago - it was not uncommon for entire families to attend church for early morning services each and every morning, for in home alters to be a common statement, and for family prayers to take place before every meal and before bed. In SOME homes things like family prayer and religious study are still common place. However, most children are not brought up seeing their faith as a part of who they are. In some ways this is a good thing - in other ways, it's not at all!

As a woman who grew up having a religion which she did not agree with being shoved - by force quite often - down her throat every day of her life, I know first hand the battles and the dangers of this type of thing. My own children are not being raised with a specific religion in their life. So in no way am I saying it's important to push religion on anyone. Instead I would like to show the difference between life styles.

The point I am trying to make above all others is the fact that at one point, things like taking time for your Gods, making offerings and including their faith in to their every day basic activities - like making dinner and cleaning. Through the years there has become a separation, or a line drawn between one's "Spiritual Self" and "Every Day Self."  Now, when you're talking about one's "Spiritual Self" and one's "Political Self" this boundary is a good thing; as it's important to remember that our Spiritual self should never be applied to or forced on someone else's life. But to keep your spiritual self outside of your every day life will keep you from being the fully fulfilled YOU...

Your "Spiritual Self" is, and always should be, a part of who you are - every day, at every moment. As Pagans many of us set time aside for Sabbats, Esbats and other Celebrations. To me, this is quite comparable to the "Sunday Christian" or "Holiday Christians" who only see a need to make time for God on Holy Days. But, because the majority of us did not grow up Pagan or even grow up learning how to make our spiritual self a part of our mundane self - and because some of us grew up being forced in to uncomfortable religious observation that countered who we are, it has because rather difficult for many of us to learn how to incorporate the spiritual in to our day to day life.

First, it's important to remember that making our spirituality a part of our day to day life does not require a full on ritual every day. I have never once met anyone that did a daily ritual - although I suppose you could. Instead we need to learn how to focus on allowing our spiritual self to shine through - not replace, not be in addition to, but to be subtly present.  Something as basic as chanting a blessing as we vacuum can be a perfect example of this as it's a combination of the spiritual and the mundane without going out of our way to replace the mundane with the spiritual.

Some other ideas could include - Shopping with our commitment to protecting nature in mind, honoring our faith through the foods we eat and feed our children, decorating our home with elements that honor our spirituality, using story or craft time with our children to teach them, saying, singing or chanting a blessing as we cook or serve meals... And the list goes on and on... I'm NOT talking about adding one more thing to your to-do list! You have enough to do! Although I am not against making time for reading, personal study or devotions - in fact I highly recommend it - but that's another post...

Again I think it's important to look at history for examples of how one's spiritual and mundane self can be one. If we take a look at the art, music, and even medicine and homes of the past - both recent and ancient - we see the constant inclusion of faith. The Japanese's belief in Feng Shui is a perfect example here as their spiritual beliefs are included even in how they decorate their homes, businesses and property. In ancient Rome it was not uncommon to see beautiful frescoes with portrayals of the Gods & Goddesses or small alters and offering areas throughout even the most average home. This is something that most of today's home owners would see as unnecessary or even "over the top." And to some point, I would agree that an 8 foot mural of the Green Man in your bed room may be a little over the top, the point is to make those aspects of your life a part of your every moment.

Before I close I want to address the WHY... Why is it important to include the Spiritual Self in the Mundane life? Simply put because when we neglect the Spiritual Self, we are neglecting the SELF. Living a life where our Spirituality becomes something we have to "make time for" or something "to do" stops us from being able to fulfill our complete self and thus stops us from every living to our full potential. Just as if we ignore the fact that our physical body needs to eat we could become ill or even die, if we ignore the fact that we need to feed our spiritual body we are allowing a large part of who we are to "die." An act which will be visible in many aspects of both our spiritual and our mundane lives.

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