What does it mean to be well, spiritually?
Ironically, the thing that I was seeking is incredibly, comically, frustratingly easy to realise, writes Ellen Moran.
What is spiritual wellness? How many hours on a yoga mat to become a yogi? What do you need to do to fill your spiritual "quota" to classify yourself as "well"? Anyone who says that they can tell you the answer is lying. And you should run â€“ they are about to escort you (via a 12-week e-course at an unbeatable price of $999) into the "next dimension".
My experience mimics a political debate â€“ endlessly evolving and ultimately achieving nothing. Yet I feel so well. Allow me to explain.
I've always been a creative person. My clothes are paint stained; my sofa is overflowing with cushions. So it stands to reason that my spiritual experience would be just as colourful. Moving past my traditional Catholic upbringing, I dove into the spiritual mecca of self-help books saturated in the stench of privileged, first world egos and, of course, Instagram.
Predictably, I ended up on a yoga retreat in Thailand. The soft palm fronds and softer speaking instructors had raving Google reviews, butâ€¦ I felt frustrated. Why wasn't my life changed? I had nothing but mosquito bites and a fresh case of extreme anxiety.
And my anxieties weren't even backed up by science. There is yet to be an empirical study on the need for spirituality, though everyone and their mother can write a book telling you otherwise. In one of the least esoteric options, E. Dreyer says the rise in spiritual consumption practices can be understood by analysing four relevant post-1999 social tensions.
The collapse of the wall separating church and state, an increasingly superficial society, a disconnect between spirituality and religion (where the latter fails to deliver a post-modern yearning for meaning), and the inability for institutionalised spiritual systems to work together to address common problems.
Yet despite this, the average Australian is able to exist merrily without constant existential questionings â€“ right?
As the years went on, more books were read, podcasts listened to. I floated in and out of spiritual practice. I meditated with meditation apps, went to dance ceremonies, bought crystals and incense. I worked to become a certified yoga instructor in tropical mountains under a full moon. I bought my way towards a higher level of understanding of spiritual understanding.
And, ironically, the thing that I was seeking is incredibly, comically, frustratingly easy to realise.
Yoga anchors me. Running may anchor you. Playing hardcore electric guitar may anchor you. Spirituality is not a coffee shop menu board, with four options to choose from. Spirituality is a mechanism through which we understand our external and internal realities.
We must filter our methods of spiritual engagement through what we are experiencing. If yoga feels good today, do it. If you find yourself screaming to be let out and get outside, do that. Spiritual wellness comes about when you listen, understand and accept your reality.
Do yoga, meditate, run, hike, play electric guitar. But remember that everything you need to know you already do. Spirituality is just a way to cope.
And, yes, yoga helps a lot with that.
Ellen Moran is a qualified yoga instructor and a saleswoman at Wellness Daily's parent company, Momentum Media.
“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain