Only 54% of U.S. adults think of themselves as religious – down 11 points since 2012 – while far more (75%) say they are spiritual, a figure that has remained relatively steady in recent years.
This is a recent finding from the Pew Research Center. 75% of Americans identify as spiritual people. So, the majority of the country do not necessarily despise a higher power. Being spiritual can have a different meaning for many people. I subscribe to Deism, which comes from the root word, deity. Simply put, I believe in a deity.
As religious affiliation decreases in the United States, more people are starting to embrace the label, spiritual but not religious. An Atheist does not believe in a deity, but it does not necessarily discourage their path to spirituality. An Agnostic may or may not believe in a deity, but neither influences their path to spirituality. Atheists and Agnostics have embraced their own sense of spirituality.
I find the best way to connect with God is through meditation and nature. I believe that God symbolizes love and beauty in everything. William Ellery Channing (a famous Unitarian minister of the early 1800s) concurs in this quote, as excerpted from the book, Transcendentalism: A Reader.
We discern more and more of God in everything, from the frail flower to the everlasting stars.
This quote may be understood by some secularists as ecopsychology, which is the expansion of emotional connections between humans and nature through sustainable lifestyles. Most people would not disagree that ecopsychology provides individuals with the most solitude.
Solitude is the medium that connects us with the Divine. Nature is the best environment for nonverbal communication with the Divine. I am not suggesting that solitude cannot be found outside of nature. A person can obtain solitude in the comfort of their home. Although, a noisy, big city can significantly affect your solitude.
Many people use headphones to buffer out the noise. If you choose that option, please consider a pair of good quality headphones. In addition to the headphones, consider having a playlist of soothing, instrumental music to bring you out of the Beta state into the Alpha state.
Ecopsychology is just one avenue for Americans who are choosing spirituality over religion.
In the United States, forest bathing has been integrated as a niche practice of ecopsychology. However, Japan is the first to introduce the practice into their national health program in 1982. Shinrin-yoku is the original Japanese term, which is roughly translated into English as forest bathing. This practice encourages people to slow down and immerse themselves in nature by being attentive to the smells, textures, and sights around them.
Amos Clifford, the founder of Association of Nature & Forest Therapy, is proposing it to health care providers as a stress reduction solution. A 2011 National Institute of Health study compared the effects of walking in a city and forest. The researchers found that walking in the forest led to a more significant reduction in blood pressure and stress hormones.
Stress is not only harmful to our physical health, but it also hurts our soul. The stress of religion and politics does not bring wellness. As noted in the study, it is nature that brings wellness to humanity.
More Americans are choosing spirituality over politics. In the last Presidential election, 45% of Americans did not vote at all. It is evident that more Americans are caring less about politics to care more about their spiritual purpose.
More Americans are choosing spirituality over religion. Some people volunteer for social causes as an avenue to spirituality. Some people opt for a sustainable lifestyle away from the consumerist society as an avenue to spirituality. Regardless of one’s spiritual path, being a better person to everyone and making deeper relationships are the core of a person’s spirituality. Spirituality is thriving because it is without the dogma that comes with most religions.
So, have you chosen spirituality over religion?