Man on beach rocks looking at sunset

What is important to you?

Which areas of your life offer meaning and purpose?

How do you connect to bring joy and inner peace into your life?

In this article, the areas of your life where you draw strength, hope and happiness are called “realms of spiritual connection”. They are the important relationships that you can develop to nurture and support yourself, and be healthy and happy.

Being with other people is not the only way to get connected.

As social creatures, we like to spend time with other people. We put a high value on our relationships with others. However, research has found that personal relationships are not the only source of connection (Fletcher 2020, Fisher 2011, Sessanna 2011, de Jager, Meezenbroek et al 2010, Chao et al 2002).

There are at least five (and possibly six) types of relationships that can increase our spiritual connection. 

  1. Yourself (being alone, meditating, running, swimming, reading, writing)
  2. Others (friends, family, children, pets, neighbours, work mates, counsellor)
  3. Nature (parks, gardens, rivers, creeks, beaches, forests, mountains, lakes)
  4. Creativity (knitting, drawing, painting, photography, making, singing, playing)
  5. Something bigger (cosmos, universal love, self-compassion, forgiveness)
  6. Religion, for some people (God, Allah, Buddha, Jesus, faith, prayer, worship).
Diagram of circles. The label 'self' in the centre circle and the labels self, others, nature, creativity, something bigger, and religion in the outside circles
Source: Meaningful Ageing Australia, Connecto spiritual screening tool.

As this model shows, spirituality is not just about religion. For some people, connecting with these domains may include religion. Many people connect spiritually through five realms and do not belong to a religion or a faith community. It is up to your personal choice. You know yourself better than anyone else!

Image by Jacqueline Munguia

Connectedness helps physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. 

We can experience connectedness or disconnectedness in each realm. Our capacity for connectedness has a positive affect on our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. If we are disconnected for some reason in any of these realms, we are likely to experience negative physical, mental, emotional and spiritual side-effects. 

The message is clear. Develop and maintain your connectedness in all five or six realms. Keep the energy flowing and the relationships alive. If you recognise disconnectedness in any of the realms, try doing some of the activities listed in each realm. Seek support from a counsellor to reinvigorate your connectedness if you are disconnected.

Photo by Joel Muniz

Self to Self

Activities: Being alone, meditating, running, swimming, reading, writing.

ConnectednessDisconnectedness
AcceptanceDecreased confidence
AuthenticityDespair
CareDistress
Comfort / comfortableExacerbated pain
ConsciousnessFear
ContentmentFocus on weakness or mistakes
Forgiveness of selfFrustration
Gratitude and thankfulnessGuilt
Inner harmonyHelplessness
Inner peaceIndecision
Inner strengthOverwhelm
IntegrityPurposeless or lost
PeacefulnessRestlessness
Self-compassionSelf-reproach
Self-identitySelf-criticism
Self-knowledgeUncomfortable with self
SerenityWho am I?
ValuingWhy am I here?
Wellbeing and wholeness
Source: Meaningful Ageing Australia
Image by Juliane Liebermann

Self to Others

Relating to friends, family, children, pets, neighbours, work mates or a counsellor.

ConnectednessDisconnectedness
Accepting others (including differences)Accusation
Being of serviceAlienation
Being valuedBlame
BelongingCommunication break down
CaringConflict
CompassionFault finding
Feeling supportedFeeling unsupported
Forgiveness of othersIsolation
Giving & receiving loveMisunderstanding
GratitudeRegret
HarmonyRejection
HelpingSeparateness
InterconnectednessVulnerability
Peace givingWithdrawal
Peace
Reconciliation
Respecting others
Volunteering
Source: Meaningful Ageing Australia
Image by Jamie Street

Self to World (Nature and Creativity)

Visiting parks, gardens, rivers, creeks, beaches, forests, mountains, lakes.

Activities: cooking, knitting, drawing, painting, photography, making, singing, playing.

ConnectednessDisconnectedness
Appreciating artBlocked by inner critic
Appreciating beautyBoredom
AweEmptiness
BeautyFrustration
BelongingGlobal loneliness
CraftLack of expression
Creating/making artLack of place
CreativityLost
CuriosityMissing the outside & nature
DelightStuckness
EmbodimentUnable to engage in arts practice
EnvironmentUnable to see the beauty of life
ExpansionUninspired
Expression
Flow
Garden
Gratitude
Healing
Inspiration
Interconnectedness
Joy
Music
Playfulness
Soothed
Stillness
Wonder
Source: Meaningful Ageing Australia
Image by Greg Rakozy

Self to Something Bigger

Dwelling in the cosmos, universal love, self-compassion, forgiveness.

ConnectednessDisconnectedness
Able to hold paradoxAloneness
AweDoubt
BelongingFear
BlissInability to transcend the present
Celebrating lifeLack of hope
ExpansionLack of faith
FaithfulnessMeaninglessness
Gratitude
Hope
Interconnectedness
Life meaning
Loving-kindness
Meaning
Meditation
Mystery
Oneness
Peace
Purpose
Reason to exist and live
Sacredness
Secular
Transcendence
Source: Meaningful Ageing Australia
Image by Wisnu Widjojo

Self to Something Bigger (Religion)

Believing in God, Allah, Buddha, Jesus, faith, prayer, worship.

ConnectednessDisconnectedness
Belief / afterlife / reincarnationBacksliding
Community involvementDoubt
Divine purposeExpelled/excommunicated
DivineLapsed
Faith meeting place or community
(e.g. church, temple, mosque, synagogue, sangha, forest, etc.)
Loss of connection with religious peers/leaders/rituals/god
HeavenLoss of religious faith
HolyQuestioning ‘why did the Divine allow/cause this? ’
Living in accordance with law/lore/guidelines for living
Meditation/mindfulness/contemplation
Prayer / prayer group
Presence
Religious leader / spiritual director / teacher (clergy, imam, monk, nun, priest/priestess, rabbi, spiritual friend, etc.)
Reverence
Rituals (e.g. mass, sabbath, prayers, puja, mantras, ceremonies, etc.)
Sacred texts (e.g. Bible, Koran, Torah, Bhagavad Gita, The Vedas, Tibetan Book of the Dead, Scriptures, etc.)
Sacred
Service
Study
Worship
Source: Meaningful Ageing Australia

Summary

Spiritual connection is important for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Being disconnected in any of the realms can make life a struggle. To ensure that your life is happy, safe and healthy, make solid and well-worn paths between self and the six realms of spiritual connection.

Have a daily routine. Spend time in each realm. Do some of the suggested activities. Strengthen the links between your self and the realms of spiritual connection. Bring more balance and peace into your life.

I welcome your feedback on this article. Let me know your ideas. Suggest other activities in each realm. Please leave a comment below.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

Strengthening ourselves while supporting each other is a true expression of spiritual connection.

Kindly, Tessa

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