Co-written with the co-founder of Kindhearted Bad Ass, Jenine Kenna.
In this month’s content of Omni Mindfulness, I explore the topic of Spirituality. More specifically, I reflect on the question “Is Spirituality a Lifestyle”.
Growing up in a Hindu family my upbringing was infused with spiritual practices. These practices included a morning ritual, prayers, and meditations.
While spiritual practices are somewhat mainstream now, there was a time when even the term “spirituality” was filled with connotations as something esoteric.
Over the course of my life, I have wrestled with and often challenged practices that I perceived as “dogmatic” versus practices that are “reflective” in nature. I once questioned ‘why’ practice something at all if it doesn’t make sense.
As a teen, I briefly spent my high-school years in India. It was not uncommon to have prayer time including kneeling down to pictures and sculptures of deities. My overly westernized scientific mind would resist viewing these physical objects as a source of truth. I perceived such worship as dogma.
Yet, over the years as I found myself personalizing spirituality, integrating what felt right. And what felt right often wasn’t rational. Yet, I had developed faith in something bigger than me. I found myself believing in this energy called the “Universe”.
In her book, “Gifts of Imperfection” Brené Brown expresses, “Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.”
What I have realized is my intention behind the act of practicing spiritual rituals is more important than the labels of the various forms of practices.
My intention to practice spirituality is to connect to something higher.
To unpack this topic, I invited the co-founder of Kind Hearted Badass, Jenine Kenna.
In our podcast conversation on the topic of “Is Spirituality a Lifestyle?” Jenine shares her personal journey to arriving at a very personalized spiritual lifestyle.
During our conversation discuss what has driven us to seek out a higher connection. We discover that one catalyst for our commitment to a spiritual lifestyle was trauma. We learn that both of us experienced the untimely loss of our mothers.
In both of our cases, deepening our spirituality served as a means to heal post-traumatic stress, including grief.
What we both discovered was that we also found our higher purpose and deeper meaning through the spiritual path. The process required a tremendous amount of inner work.
Along the spiritual path, we both found strangers who were willing to show up in our lives to walk along with us during our darkest moments. Through this, we learn to cultivate hope for a better future by seeking out the positive.
We acknowledge we are always “work in progress” while living our spiritual lifestyle. Our spiritual lifestyles while very personalized allow us to continually evolve with joy.
Click here to listen to our podcast on the topic of “Is Spirituality a Lifestyle?”…
Jenine’s Perspective on Spirituality
The most important thing for me to understand before I was able to open up to the idea of living a spiritual life, is that spirituality and religion are not the same things. They can, and often do, an overlap of course. But for me, that differentiation was key.
I grew up in a split family. I lived with my mom and (step)dad. Our family was Jewish, although we weren’t particularly religious. My father and stepmom, who I spent many weekends with, were Italian Catholic.
Naturally, both sides of my family wanted me to follow their beliefs. To join their religion. When, at the ripe old age of 7 or 8, I expressed a desire to learn about both religions, I was told I had to choose one or the other.
How could I pick one without knowing what they’re both about? And how many other religions were out there that I was completely unaware of?! It just didn’t make any sense to me. Still doesn’t!
So, much to the dismay of parents, grandparents, and all manner of extended family… I chose neither.
Fast forward a few decades to my mid-20s. My mom just died, my marriage was falling apart, and I was going to become a mom. I was in a state of emotional and (unbeknownst to me) spiritual crisis.
It took reaching this very dark, lonely, scary season of my life to truly begin my spiritual awakening. And about 16 years after beginning that journey I’ve learned more than I ever knew possible about religion, spirituality, and what it means to deeply connect with myself.
Shilpa and I dive deeper into all of this, plus the incredible story of how I manifested $67,000, in our podcast episode. Here are a few highlights to hold you over until you get to listen…
Jenine’s 7 Tenets for Living a Spiritual Life
- Look Within: Be willing to open yourself up to the possibility that everything you need in life is within you. I was skeptical for so long. I get it. And I know that when I took this chance, it changed my life for the better in every way possible.
- Be Vulnerable: Be willing to do the work of being vulnerable and take a deep look inward. This part isn’t fun, I’m not going to lie. It’s hard, ugly work that often comes with blood, sweat, and lots of literal tears. This is where the growth comes in though. We only grow when we push ourselves, get out of our comfort zone, and get uncomfortable. It’s worth it. I promise.
- Make Time for Movement: Find movement that you love. Make time for it every day and use that time to connect with yourself on both a physical and spiritual level. For me, hot yoga does the trick. For some, it’s running, swimming, or dancing.
- Pause for Stillness: Daily create space for stillness to simply sit with yourself quietly. If you love being out in nature, find a quiet place to sit outside. Take a hot bath. Meditate. Or just go hide in the bathroom and sit for a bit if that’s the best you can do today. Even if it’s just a few minutes, it makes a huge difference. Only caveat… no phones! This is about quiet, alone time. It may get uncomfortable. That’s good; see #2 above.
- Be Patience With Yourself: Be patient with yourself and remember it’s called a practice (not a perfect one) for a reason. You’re human. This means you absolutely, 100% guaranteed will have something come up that derails you occasionally. That’s ok. Persistence is more important than the consistency. If you miss a day or two of your practice, just let it go and start again. No beating yourself up. You are made to be a work in progress from the day you’re born until the day you die. Before and after that, too, in my humble opinion! Keep learning, keep looking inward, and keep moving forward.
- Have a Safe Space: I don’t mean a physical place, although, of course, that’s incredibly important as well. I mean a safe place where you have people you trust who will hold space for you as you go through this journey. And every journey in life for that matter! I cannot over-emphasize the importance of knowing where you can go to talk to people who will listen, offer guidance and encouragement, and support you without judgment. As you do all that uncomfortable, internal work… you’re going to need to know where your safe space is to feel all the things that inevitably come up. For me, that’s my Kindhearted Badass Crew. (You can learn more about how the KHB Crew can support you at www.kindheartedbadass.com/crew ).
- Personalize Your Spiritual Practice: Remember that spirituality is personal. While we may share certain beliefs, lifestyles, and spiritual practices, how we connect with ourselves internally will look different for each of us. There’s no right or wrong way, there’s no “one size fits all” spiritual path to follow. Try new things. Keep what works for you, ditch what doesn’t, and don’t worry about how anyone else is or isn’t doing.
You got this. Trust yourself!
Some days you might feel a bit vulnerable, especially when you really learn to sit in stillness. When those moments occur gently offer yourself COMPASSION. Maintain compassion for yourself on your spiritual journey, as each element of the rituals, is part of a daily practice. A practice that will support you your entire life.
Click here to listen to our conversation…
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