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Spirituality and Psychology

Spirituality is a topic that can be taboo for many people. Many people have been hurt in traumatic ways by the religiously powerful people in their lives or even religious friends or family members. Many people feel that spirituality is irrelevant in their lives. However, awareness of our spirituality, or a lack thereof, is relevant to how we navigate the world.

First, let me clarify by saying, it is impossible for me to summarize the vastness of the potential avenues of spirituality. I believe spirituality is a very personal but also a social thing—much like the way life is a very personal and yet social experience.

Let me briefly elaborate on this... Relationships are mirrors of ourselves. When we are in a relationship with others, all the wonderful things about us are reflected back to us - "You are so smart." "You are so beautiful." "You are so kind." Unfortunately, all the bad things that we would rather not acknowledge about ourselves are also reflected back to us - "You're so selfish!" "You are impatient." "You are very loud."

Our relationship with even inanimate objects also reflects something about us. It reflects our values. If I have positive feelings toward my trophies and accolades, and they provide me a sense of accomplishment, assuming I have rightfully earned these awards and am deserving of the recognition, one can conclude that my value of "hard work" or "achievement" is being reflected in that dynamic.

Well, just like any relationship, our relationship with our understanding of spirituality reflects something about our inner worlds as well. That is why faith, even in the belief of the null hypothesis (i.e. "there is no God."), is so crucial to how we choose to live our lives. A spiritual person who concludes, "There absolutely is a God," operates from the same logic as an atheist who claims, "There absolutely is no God." These are both logical fallacies. Spirituality, however, I believe extends beyond our logical experience of the world and our own acceptance or denial of God.

We must also consider what we define as "real," "truthful," or "impossible" which is a much larger conversation about personal perspectives which I intend to avoid.

The claim I want to make is that spirituality exists outside of your current understanding, knowledge, and personal experience, and it reflects something about your inner world. Some people may say, "There are too many gray areas to conclude that." My response to that is, "Well, how do you make gray?"

Outside our current consciousness, there are black and white truths that exist. I am not claiming to know what those realities are, but only that they are there, and I, personally have faith in that reality. Lacking faith in that reality reflects a nihilism that leans towards apathy.

Additionally, I want to acknowledge the negative connotations of those words, but truthfully, I mean those neutrally. My claim is that how you choose to reflect on the connotations and implications of those words and how that manifests in your daily life and relationships is spirituality.

Spirituality is experienced through our psychology and acknowledged within consciousness. Consciously, we study and examine the human psyche, our own psyche, and others' psyches. We begin the exploration of sifting through the gray-matter toward these black and white truths which extend beyond our current awareness. This intimate exploration is endless, eternal, and persists far beyond the limits of our own apathy or nihilism of its pursuit.

Reflecting on your psyche is a spiritual process, and if you choose to neglect this part of yourself, you could be limiting yourself in ways that are damaging to your lived experience of the world. Exploring these parts of you, gives you access to parts of your most genuine, authentic self which is, in essence, eternal, unending, and yet, vastly fulfilling. Sure, there is work to be done in the physical realm of our existence. But, we must additionally ask ourselves: "What in the physical world is worth sacrificing to access the metacognitive or spiritual realm of our experience which may have implications even after the physical experience of the world has ended?"

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Sam Nabil is the founder of Naya Clinics and is a Cincinnati therapist and a Cincinnati Marriage Counselor.

Sam offers therapy in Cincinnati and Cincinnati Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety.

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