What's the Right Spiritual Path for You?
For most of my life, I didn’t question my spiritual path. Heck, I didn’t even think I followed a particular path (even though I always did), and if you’d asked me a decade ago, I would have resolutely told you I don’t practice any kind of spirituality.
That changed when my daughter was born in early 2014 and I began to question my identity, my life purpose, and my entire existence. I realized there was more to life than the way I’d been living. More to my reality than what my senses could experience through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. I started asking myself all kinds of philosophical questions, and began actively searching for answers—in books, on YouTube, and at live events.
I was looking for something bigger than myself. But in order to get there, I had to know… was I even on the right path?
If you’re reading this, then perhaps you’re struggling with the same question. You may be searching for the spiritual path that deeply resonates with your soul. You might have tried a few things, dabbled here and there, but you’re still uncertain and unsure about which is right for you.
While I can’t answer that question—because you are the only one who can—I'll offer a few areas for your consideration as you continue seeking the answers you need.
The Religious Path vs. The Secular Path
We can’t really talk about choosing a spiritual path without considering the beliefs you were raised with. If religion was an important part of your life as you were growing up, it’s likely that you hold strong beliefs about the faith you were brought up with. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you'll have an easier time exploring your spirituality than those of us who were raised in non-denominational households. A recent survey showed that "many Americans—even among those raised in a single religion—ultimately adopt a religious identity that is completely different than the faith of their parents.”
Breaking away from your family’s beliefs can be incredibly difficult, especially as it may lead to some polarizing reactions from your family of origin. And while some people choose to explore other organized religious faiths, others decide to go the secular route and break free from any kind of regimented religious structures.
If you’ve been religiously wounded, finding your path is going to be fraught with skepticism, suspicion, and doubt. And that’s okay—it’s the way your own personal journey unfolds that matters. At some point, however, you’ll need to take a deep breath and trust that it’s time to start over, learn, and grow.
Following the secular path means turning inward instead of outward. Looking deep within for the answers you seek. But, again, that doesn’t mean this particular path is easy. (If it was, no one would ever struggle with the questions we’re addressing here.)
It takes a lot more trial-and-error to discover a secular journey that feels right because there’s no way to truly know if you’re doing it “correctly”. So that means you need to take more chances. Say “yes” to following the instruction of those who seem to have it figured out. Look for teachers and mentors who are sincere in their willingness to share their stories and their knowledge. Trust your gut when it leads you to a certain person—or away from someone. Read books, find people you connect with on social media, join communities, and go to in-person events.
How do you know if you’re doing it right? Whether you choose a traditional religious path or a secular path, use the same method to check whether you’re moving in a direction that’s good for you. Ask yourself the following questions:
Am I happier on this path than I was before I started?
Is my life transforming for the better?
Are my relationships improving?
Am I feeling better about myself in general?
Do I love being with other people who are on this same spiritual path?
If the answer to these questions is “yes!”, then keep going! If not, backtrack and explore a different direction.
Does Terminology Matter?
Some people have a difficult relationship with the term “God”. For them, this term represents patriarchy at its worst: a dictatorial, restrictive, misogynistic construct meant to control and confine.
For others, God represents benevolence, truth, gentleness, honesty, and kindness. It’s the peaceful feeling of being watched over and cared for, of being held and cradled, of never, ever being alone.
Same term—totally different reactions to the word.
As you embark on your spiritual journey and try to find your way, explore how you feel about the various terms for deity that are often linked to different faiths and spiritual paths.
I encourage you to grab a pen and your favorite journal, curl up somewhere comfortable, and explore your feelings around the following terms*:
The Holy Father
The Great Mother
Universal Life Force
*Please note that this list is in no way all-inclusive! I encourage you to add your own.
Which of the above words resonate with you? Which feel like the ones you’d like to engage with deeply? Your answer may lead you to the spiritual path you’re meant to walk.
For example, if you’re drawn to Jesus and The Holy Father, exploring different branches of Christianity may lead you to find what you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you resonate strongly with the terms Goddess and The Great Mother, you may want to explore Paganism, Wicca, or New Age spirituality.
Beware of “The One True Way”
Be cautious of anyone who tells you there’s only one way to practice your spirituality, or that they alone understand the mind of God. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a Christian priest, a Wiccan priestess, or a Buddhist, if they try to convince that their way is the only way, listen to your gut. And then run far, far away.
Also, beware of anyone who promises you certainty. There’s no way to be absolutely sure that St. Peter is waiting for you at the Pearly Gates, or that you’ll get your 72 virgins if you do everything you’re told in this life. There’s no burning bush, no choir of angels, no voice booming from above. It’s always just you, living up to your values, doing the best you can.
Finding the “Right” Way Doesn’t Mean There’s Actually a “Wrong” Way
We talked a lot about finding the path that feels good to you. The one that speaks to your soul, that makes you feel good and helps you transform your life for the better. But please remember that the most important words in this entire article are these two: FOR YOU.
Just because something is ideal for you doesn’t mean it would be just as perfect for someone else. Conversely, just because a path works wonderfully for your best friend, your mom, or your husband, doesn’t mean it’ll work just as well for you.
Despite that, keep in mind that we’re actually all on the same journey—we’re just finding our own ways there. We take separate roads, go wandering and exploring through the wilderness, find a highway and follow that for a while, and then perhaps we end up meandering through the desert. It’s all good, it’s all “right”, and it’s all a part of the process.
If you’re still in the exploring stage, I created a mini workbook to help you brainstorm and think through some of the questions I posed throughout this article. To download your free copy, just fill in your information below.