How spiritual care can support and inspire you
The word ‘spirituality’ can mean different things to different people – for some, it may define their relationship with their personal God or deity. For others, it may be how they connect with the natural realm, find peace and purpose, or make sense of the world around them.
If you’re not religious, the concept of spirituality might feel slightly intimidating or unconnected to your life and personal experiences. But it’s important to remember that there’s a distinction between religion, which is a set of defined beliefs and practices, and spirituality, which is a much more individual concept. The role you give to either or both of these in your life is an individual decision and one that may evolve over time.
As we all deal with the challenges of COVID-19, it’s vital to remember that support and help is available – and it can take many forms. Geelong multifaith chaplain Len Monk, who’s been working with Deakin students for four years and has decades of experience in pastoral care and community development, explains how spirituality can support you through difficult times or give you a sense of meaning in a challenging world.
Spiritual care is about personal growth
Len emphasises that, at its core, spirituality is about focusing on the person rather than their beliefs. It involves accepting ‘you’ just as you are, and caring for the whole of you through wholehearted attention and compassionate listening.
Spiritual care is a mix of practical help – like referring you to a professional, helping you find a resource or showing you where to get the best coffee – and emphasising how qualities such as love, compassion, courage, tolerance, forgiveness and harmony can enrich your life.
You may also examine some of life’s big questions
Your spiritual journey may involve asking some pretty intense questions – Who am I? What is my purpose in life? How do I understand my relationships with other people? Is there a God? Is there life after death?
Len explains that spiritual care can use a range of different tools to look for answers, including:
- Personal observation, thinking and sensing – this may involve stepping back to get a feel for the whole picture and allowing yourself the freedom to explore possible new horizons.
- Imagery – artworks or other creative pieces can bring us a sense of the spiritual. In Monet’s Water Lilies series, for example, we can see multiple worlds at once. We’re reminded that there is more than just ourselves and the surface world we see.
- Analogy – as we go through life, we inevitably take in many negative experiences – disappointments, disruption, suffering, loss. An analogy can help you to come to terms with these experiences. For example, imagine that you’re a water filter – take in your bad experiences, neutralise them and give out something good in return. The essence of spiritual care is to encourage you to turn bad into good, and good into something better.
Keen to learn more?
If you’d like to explore your spirituality further or chat about some aspect of your life, you can connect with a chaplain from home. Find out more about the service and meet our chaplains.