Online Men’s Group: Can spirituality be helpful?

This week (24th August) the Men Up North group discussed spirituality. The term has a long list of entries in the English Oxford Dictionary attempting to assign a definition to its elusive meaning. The term, partly borrowing from French and Latin can mean an alternative to religion but strangely also a jurisdiction of the church. We found it – perhaps fortunately – impossible to attach one meaning to the nature of spirituality.

As we discovered, it is a challenging task to come up with one specific definition of spirituality for just ourselves, no less for a group of people with a variety of thoughts and experiences. Members of Men Up North suggested that perhaps it’s useful to leave the meaning broad because caging the idea of spirituality in specific and definite language can take you further away from the truth of it. 

That said, The Men Up North group, agreed that spirituality broadly meant connection, a sense of alignment and congruence with the things, people and places around you. For some it ultimately meant a connection with something bigger than yourself, perhaps a higher being or just a group of people; friends or strangers. For others, spirituality could be a subtle connection with nature, brought on by working together in the allotment or sitting in the garden during lockdown. 

As we all noted, religion has gained something of a bad rap for a number of reasons. As one member put it, religion has become a ‘dirty word’. Spirituality for some of us represented an alternative to organised faith and despite ‘the hippy-ish’ connotations, we could all agree that spirituality represents a valuing of love and connection without the rigidity of structured religion. 

We emphasised the value of compassion in spirituality and the opportunity compassion provides for feeling a sense of connection and love. As one member pointed out, it forces us to accept everyone irrespective of where they are coming from. It’s an action characterised by giving without an expectation of something in return. One member spoke of his attempt to show the neighbour who shot his cat compassion and forgiveness, given alternative was to be forever infuriated by the man who lives next door. Though we all agreed it is difficult to show compassion for difficult people, it is one of the most powerful ways we can establish connection. 

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