What does “soul searching” mean to you? When you retreat to your most treasured hideaway to escape from life’s chaos, what do you ponder over a couple of Coronas and crashing waves?

If someone told me that my 30th birthday, beachside, would be commemorated by feelings of confusion, despair, and hollowness, I wouldn’t have believed them. Everything seemed in disarray and I didn’t have a clue how to fix it. I was unsatisfied professionally, lost in love and failed relationships, and physically and mentally taxed. My life was missing something, and I had no clue how to fill that void.

I attended a professional seminar where the speaker drew a 5-tiered diagram that represented realms of life: business, financial, personal, family, and spiritual. Then he asked us to rank order them. He explained that most people experience constant struggle and unrest in their lives when they are spiritually devoid.

I remember sitting there feeling confused by this illustration. First, I had no clue what spirituality meant to me, as it’s different for everyone. The speaker didn’t really define it, either. For some individuals, being in touch with their spirituality meant being devout Christians, attending church weekly, tithing, and following the Commandments. It meant strict adherence to the tenets of their major religions. Alternatively, spirituality meant not adhering to religious standards at all. The speaker’s point was that when we fail to place enough emphasis on that which helps us grow, develop, and nourish our souls, all realms of our lives struggle. I guess that’s when I had my “ah ha" moment. I needed to give my soul first priority.

It bears mentioning that religious distinctions, in depth, are beyond the scope of this site. This is not to negate their vital role in spirituality, but only to emphasize that healthy and positive spiritual growth can transcend limiting boundaries that competing religions often create. I was raised by a Muslim father and a Christian mother--I respect both institutions. As an adult, I consider myself a Christian, follower of Jesus Christ. However, one of the goals of this site is to overcome a common misconception--that religion and spirituality are mutually exclusive. I don’t think I could fully honor my spirituality without also adhering to my Christian faith. Perhaps religion is one element of spiritual doctrine.  No matter our religious distinctions, I believe we can still develop spiritually in similar ways.

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