The Hindu culture believes that the third stage of our life should be devoted to “vanaprastha” which means retiring to the forest. In other words, retirement is the time of our life to focus less on extrinsic rewards and more on intrinsic motivation.
It is the time for us to go within our self and to develop our inner life. For some of us, we will rediscover our faith, and for others, we will discover faith for the first time.
Both religion and spirituality provide us with our faith and a path to our higher power, which many call the Universe, the Divine, or God. We may prefer to practice one over the other, a combination of the two, or to develop our own faith specific to our needs.
Incorporating faith into our daily life provides us with our foundation and direction, and most importantly, with the comfort of knowing that we are never alone.
There are many different religions throughout the world, and they all have their own systems, structures, and beliefs, but share the same common goal of providing their faith followers with a pathway to our higher power.
Every religion has its own rules, regulations, rituals, celebrations, and acceptable practices that define how followers practice. Religions use different kinds of community dwellings and settings for sharing and celebrating beliefs, such as churches and synagogues.
For example, followers of the Christian religion attend church, predominantly on Sundays, whereas followers of Jewish religion attend synagogue, mainly on Saturdays. Followers of Buddhism believe in universal truths and noble principles and followers of Hinduism practise their own daily rituals in their homes and believe in reincarnation.
A spiritual faith focuses on our personal relationship with our higher power. Spiritualism reveals to followers that our higher power is always communicating with us by responding to our prayers and our questions.
When we are in tune with our spiritual faith and receptive to it, we receive messages through synchronicity, through our intuition, and through signs and messages in the universe.
If you are part of an organized religion, you will understand how important belonging to a community is, and how important your beliefs are in your life. Many people join organized religions for the purpose of belonging to a community and being with other like-minded people who share their common beliefs.
If you currently are not part of a religion, but want to feel religious, you can choose to observe or join an organized religion in your community at anytime where you would be welcomed with open arms.
If you currently do not have a faith and would like to feel more spiritual, there are some basic steps to get you started.
The first step is to create a quiet time and space for you to meditate or think. It could be first thing in the morning when you get out of bed, 10 minutes in the middle of a busy day, or at the end of the evening just before you go to bed.
You want to create a daily ritual where you can communicate directly with our higher power and ask for help or ask questions to ensure that you are on your right path.
The next step is to watch for signs and messages being sent to you in answer to your questions. This takes practice because it requires us to consciously pay attention to everything the universe is telling us.
For example, you may accidentally run into an old friend who has information that you have been seeking, or you may develop a knot in your stomach and have a hunch that moving forward with a big decision in your life you are contemplating is not in your best interest.
You may be driving in your car and notice a license plate in front of you with a word or name that confirms a question that you have been asking or a song may come on the radio that has special meaning to you. There are so many different ways that signs and messages are sent and reveal themselves to us from our higher power.
The question many faith seekers ask is can your faith be defined as both religious and spiritual? I believe the answer yes. I still hold many Christian beliefs, and I like many aspects and beliefs of other religions, which enhance my faith and spiritual practices.
Best-selling author Thomas Moore wrote a book titled A Religion of One’s Own where he devoted an entire book for seekers to discover and develop their own path to faith and our higher power. Even before reading his book, aspects of Buddhism and Hinduism intrigued me.
Best-selling spiritual author Gabrielle Bernstein is quoted as saying, “people find their spirituality through religion and can have a God of their own understanding. Religion is taught to us but spirituality we learn on our own.”
Our faith informs every decision we make, helps us understand how to live our life, and provides us with our direction and compass in life.
What do you do to feel religious or spiritual every day? Why is faith important to you?