To some it means organized religion. To others, spirituality is a belief that everything in the word is somehow tied together. Love is what binds us together.
Still others see a spiritual person as one engaged on a very private quest for answers of purpose and energy. Some think of meditation or contemplation as the path to increased spirituality. There is a whole community, based in Sedona, Arizona, that looks to energy vortexes and crystals as the way to heighten one's awareness.
For our purposes let's use this definition I found on a blog post: "it is a term which encompasses everything that we cannot see directly with our eyes, directly perceive by the other senses and know by our mere reason. That is spirituality in its basic meaning."
I did some research to find out what others were saying about the link between spirituality and a satisfying retirement. Is there a connection? Though I couldn't find specific statistics, there does seem to be a belief that as we age we do tend to become more spiritual. That may mean more religious in the commonly accepted sense, or a feeling of connectivity to nature and the universe in a more individual sense.
The reasons are varied, but mostly revolve around the awareness of one's own mortality. We see our body decline, understand there is a loss of mental sharpness as we age, watch friends and relatives die, or lose frequent contact with our grown children who may live far away.
These factors naturally lead us to consider what our life has meant. We also may be looking for something to help us cope with the unimaginable: the end of our time on earth.: "Me, gone? No!"
There is a study I found that says religious retirees are happier, not only because of their beliefs, but for the social aspects of being with like-minded people. Research conducted over the years has found those who are Mormons or Amish have much lower mortality rates than others. Could some of that be lifestyle-driven? Sure, but the shared experiences and tight-knit communities are likely factors, too.
Several years ago I wrote a post, The Hidden Piece of The Puzzle which provided a glimpse into the growth of my spirituality during my retirement. I made the statement that my life had caught on fire when I explored that side of myself and became more serious about its development.
At that time, I found my comfort in organized religion.Over the last few years that has changed. More attractive to me now is a concept that is sometimes called perennial spirituality, or the idea that everything on this planet, in fact, in the universe, is connected to whatever supreme force created it all.
Organized religions and different religious beliefs are attempts by humans to explain the unexplainable. They are an offshoot of the culture in which they flourish. They use stories, myths, exhortations, and spiritual underpinnings to create a structure that helps a believer feel comfortable and connected. Unfortunately, I believe they miss the fact that all of us share more in common than we do in differences. And, in those differences we end up with wars and hate for others.
Like finding one's passion or intense interest, developing and deepening relationships with others, or learning to live and thrive in situations that you didn't plan for or anticipate, it seems logical to me that we begin to take the time to ask the bigger questions of life.
The routine of a commute, a day spent at a desk or retail establishment, on a factory floor, or in front of a computer gives way to more free time to listen to your mind and emotions. I think it is entirely reasonable to begin to wonder about how everything fits together.
So, what should be your take away on this be? I don't know what is going on with you, though I'd love for you to leave some thoughts. I can only speak for me. As I age, whatever it is that is inside me that you may call a soul or a part of an urge for a universal connection, has been getting stronger and a more important part of my satisfying retirement.
As I move farther away from the standard, one-size-fits-all religious model of my upbringing, I am finding more openness, connection, and delight in people who are different from me, in the beauty of nature, and the call to do something to undo the harm that a rigid mindset might cause.
I may be deceiving myself, attempting to make sense in a world where nothing makes sense. I may be looking to give meaning to a life that, ultimately, has no meaning beyond the here and now. But, if I my beliefs are right I am connected to something that is so much more than just me, or people who look and think like I do.
God, or whatever name to you supply to the founder of everything, is inside me, not an old man in Heaven, waiting to judge. My "job" is simple: reflect his/her/its love and concern to everything and everybody, to the best of my abilities and circumstances. If I'm wrong, I will be dead and won't know the difference. In the meantime, I can feel more fulfilled.
I'm going with the spiritual approach. It makes my life so much richer today.