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The "In-Between" Month

Posted By Nicole DeLiberis, Ed.M Residential Communities Coordinator Millikin University, Sunday, April 21, 2019

Ah, April. The “in-between month”. The post-selection month and pre-graduation month. This is the time where we have a chance to look back on everything that has happened so far this academic year just before campus closes and we wrap up another chapter in the books that are our professional lives. I find myself connected to the world and with people in ways this year how I had not previously connected, and it is both fatiguing (whispers the introvert in me) and fortifying (says the social butterfly). I had decided in January to learn to say “no” when I mean “no” and also to say “yes” to challenging experiences at work and in my personal life. I find myself reflecting most deeply on the new experiences. Can a 5:30am HIIT Cardio Boxing class be a spiritual experience? I’ll let you know when I can feel my arms again, but for now, it seems truly spiritual - it’s a test of mental fortitude as I wait for the timer to go off when we’re conditioning. It’s a shot of a prayer when my arms are wobbling trying to keep the gloves in my defensive position, saying “help me just make it through the next set of warm-up exercises” (yes, even the warm-ups). It’s connection to yourself and to something more that myself and a punching bag. 


While I am certainly not a spirituality expert, I certainly have had my share of spiritual experiences ranging from being in nature to what I would call “answered prayers”. Whatever that looks like for you, I hope you can be encouraged to qualify it into something reasonable and powerful for yourself in your journey of growth.  


It might be helpful to view the concept of spirituality in a pyramid, with “spirituality” as the foundation. Looking up definitions for “spirituality” often brings terms like “ecclesiastical law” and “belonging to a church”. These definitions may not necessarily match the world in which we live today. If I could rewrite the definition to be more general as the foundational base of the Spirituality Pyramid, I would coin it as “deeply personal and subjective experiences to include an idea of believing in something bigger than oneself in order to seek hope and meaning in one’s life”. Spirituality is the overarching “what”.


The next section of the pyramid built on the foundation would then be “faith”, which can be defined generally as a strong trust or confidence in someone or something, or a broad set of beliefs. Faith is the means by which we move from spirituality through religion, if that is the desire. Much like some student development theories, I would assume that the movement is not always linear. Faith is the “how”.


The tippity-top of the pyramid could then be “religion”, or a system of faith and worship, or service to a higher being. Religion is the organized structure of a faith system, a collection of beliefs, traditions, or rituals. Religion is the more specific “what” and “how” you practice those components of the more general faith.


Spirituality is not something that is quantifiable, but rather serves as an experience for an individual. How can we connect and be mindful? What does it look like to be influenced by something more than ourselves? And finally, “how does spirituality teach me to be mindful and caring of my soul?”


For a reminder of caring for your soul, feel free to visit the post I wrote last year called “Soul Care: Take What You Need”.


The importance of understanding the difference among the definitions allows us to break down into more detail where we not only place importance, but also to identify areas in which we may want to grow. Many of us constantly help students to reflect, so this is our time to do the same for ourselves.

Tags:  #Health #GLACUHO #Wellness #mindfulness #reflect 

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