When I made the comparison between meditation being more closely aligned to spirituality and religion, I put it closer to spirituality.
Because to meditate, you don’t need to follow a specific set of dogmas. Meditation is available to anyone and everyone, but not everyone chooses to do it. Either because they have preconceived notions about the practice, or perhaps they had a dark experience with it.
Meditation can deepen anything that you’re feeling, so in a way, it can be as much of a double-edged sword as the way out for something troubling you. For most, it’s, fortunately, the ladder, but there are always exceptions.
But no matter if you’re Christian, a Buddhist, an atheist, an agnostic, or spiritual, you can still experience the benefits of meditation. Now, for many, their lives have a filter of religion which, by default, makes them not want to abandon it and never get to meditation.
With spirituality, the same can’t be said, as the major difference between spirituality and religion is that with spirituality, you believe in something bigger that’s beyond the daily human experiences, and thus, open yourself up for the possibility to have spiritual experiences during meditation.
And while the practice of meditation had stemmed from spirituality, to begin with, today, meditation can be anything you want it to be, and serve any purpose you establish.
Spirituality is having the perspective that there is something bigger than yourself while seeking truth, and adopting values that closely align with compassion and love.
Any spiritual experiences you have with meditation are more likely to come later on, after a decent amount of time practicing. It doesn’t happen overnight. Some, however, give up before they ever reach this stage.
Letting Go of Old Beliefs
If you’re spiritual, you’re unlikely to see this as a problem. But part of being on a spiritual journey means you accept what’s about to come without holding on to any specific views or beliefs.
Spiritual values often resemble values a lot of people have, and these individuals may be spiritual without even knowing it.
There’s a misconception about spirituality being a woo-woo thing when it doesn’t have to. For instance, spirituality doesn’t have a reputation for having one central belief system or church people attend to.
It’s something that promotes more of a free-thinking mentality and opens up for interpretation.
But for those who strictly don’t believe in the possibility of anything esoteric happening, such as strict atheists, can still reap the rewards of meditation that can assist them more logically.
Part of growing is abandoning beliefs that no longer serve us, no matter on which side of the spectrum you’re on.
As you meditate more and learn to know more about yourself and your reality, you’ll naturally be bound to question the scope of reality itself and expand this box of knowledge.
What Spiritual Experiences Can You Have?
Some of these, it’s arguable whether they are spiritual experiences since they include deep levels of empathy and compassion, as well as an ability to bond with others.
This will often be a byproduct for most meditations, but one that is tailored for bonding and compassion is loving-kindness meditation.
However, others will experience more frequent lucid dreams, which some consider a spiritual experience and some even go as far as reporting that they have experiences where they project their consciousness out of the body (OBE).
This would be a more advanced stage and something that meets many skeptical glares, but meditation is a personal experience that can be tailored to the preference of the individual.
And rather than dismissing others’ experiences because they don’t meet the perceived threshold of what’s real, we can learn that there’s something deeper in meditation if we are willing to look and be open.
It’s this type of mentality that tends to find the most success with meditation, independent of belief system, be it spiritual or religious.
You don’t have to believe in spiritual experiences to have them while meditating. You simply need to be open to what’s about to come. In fact, the less you expect and the more you allow things to happen, the more meditation can positively surprise you.
Any spiritual experience you may encounter during meditation will often be the fruit of long-term practice, even so, the spiritual experience is more likely to be one about deep levels of focus, peace, or vibration.
Vibrations are one of the stronger indications the meditation is going as it should, even if we should detach the meditation from any expectations and allow things to happen while being in a deep state of relaxation. Vibrations, however, are also common during out-of-body experiences or lucid dreams.
Meditation Has No Labels
While I personally see meditation as something that closely aligns with spiritual values, in the sense that it doesn’t adhere to any belief system or stick to a dogma.
Labeling ourselves as spiritual over religious or vice versa limits the experience of meditation and already sets a preconceived notion or dogma to the meditation, rather than allowing meditation to be what the mind and body make of it.
Sometimes we face personal problems that are reflected in meditation, as a reminder that it’s something to deal with and meditation can give us the courage or confidence to tackle said problems.
Meditation is, rather than an act, just being in a state, when we look at it from the bigger picture. Now, achieving this state is often done by sitting down in a quiet spot, but it’s the flow and tranquility of meditation that makes it open the door for new things.
Labels often stem from the ego. We want to attach our identity to something, rather than allowing our identity to form over a proven track record of knowing ourselves, where we can form clearly defined values and belief systems to live by that genuinely benefit our life, rather than following a fad.
Meditation can either be a form of ego death or a way to make the ego cooperate with us, to take the best from the ego while being immune to the judgment the ego places on us, which many find debilitating.
There’s no greater adversary than ourselves at times, but with meditation, we learn to manage that relationship in ourselves in a way that allows us to move forward.
Our inner dialogue is what often keeps the meditation from being what it’s supposed to be. Inner dialogue often stems from the mind pushing back against the meditation, even if the meditation helps us, but even this is an aspect we’re better able to control after some time meditating.
Quieting inner dialogue is one of the hardest parts of meditation, and some of the inner dialogue can come from confusion where we question what’s happening in the meditation.
One thing where spirituality and religions differ is our questioning. While religion many times dissuades us from questioning, spirituality promotes it as spirituality never gets in the way of critical thinking, but at times, we have to let go of questioning and allow things to happen.
It can be hard to resist this temptation when we’re tapping into meditation, given the association we make with it. This becomes easier the more we engage in meditation and let go and detach it from any labels and instead, see it as a standalone practice.
Forming Your Beliefs as You Meditate
Who you really are compared to who you think you are can be drastically different. Up until this point, there’s a chance you’ve lived through a filtered reality where you’ve locked yourself in a crystal ball or echo chamber, without experiencing the discomfort of being wrong.
Forming new belief systems doesn’t happen from one day to another, much like what you experience with meditation doesn’t happen immediately, many meditators happen to form values that coincide with spiritual values resembling positive emotions.
You can leave out what you consider the woo-woo part and pick up aspects of a spiritual outlook that serves your purpose.
Much like you can do the same with religion and based on that, forming a belief that is compatible with you, that you learned about yourself thanks to meditation.
You don’t have to attach any label to that newfound belief, simply living consistent with it while allowing new ideas to form allows you to reach new places of your mind that were foreign to you, but that prove useful to a goal you have.
However, I should clarify one misconception many have about being spiritual, where they believe that once they’re spiritual, it’s all about positive thinking with no room for negative thinking, as in shaming ourselves for negative thinking.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Spirituality doesn’t impede anyone from expressing their true self or repressing it, much like religion may encourage.
Repressing our true self without allowing room for the shadow within to manifest will only make such shadow build-up, and can make a negative trait within us erupt like a volcano in a very inconvenient situation.
That’s why, one major plus about spirituality is that it doesn’t suppress the real self, it just opens up the possibility for the existence of something bigger.
Spirituality allows and promotes freedom and forming new belief systems, without necessarily conflicting or being unable to coexist with another belief system, unlike what’s seen in religion where it’s more strict on what we can and can’t think.