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Awakening Wholeness, Connection & Spirituality

🌻 Awakening Wholeness, Connection & Spirituality
The Remarkable Convergence with Science

Many of us feel there is more to life than we can hear with our ears or see with our eyes. We may sense something amazing and inexplicable that transcends our individual selves. We may experience a sense of awe or wholeness that affirms our aliveness and existence. We may seek to find meaning in our lives or feel we’re here for a purpose greater than ourselves. We may yearn to experience connection with each other or with something larger than any of us as individuals. We may seek entryways toward moments of transcendence.

We can seek wholeness, connection, and spirituality without being religious (Miller, 2021; Kendler, 1997). According to a growing body of scientific findings, we are wired for connection. The human brain is innately equipped with a capacity to connect (Miller, 2021; Fredrickson, 2013). And for many people, some form of personal spirituality or transcending the human self is an important contributor to wellbeing. It can build our resilience, our ability to cope with stress, capacity to cultivate our character strengths, and potential to pursue life goals (Vieten & Lukoff, 2022; Niemiec, et al 2020).

There are many pathways toward experiencing wholeness and connection.

On a person-to-person level, during the isolation of the COVID pandemic, many of us felt isolated or a heightened sense of aloneness. We missed connecting with others, even casually, in ways we were used to. The research of psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, has shown that experiencing even casual micro-moments of connection with other people can improve our well-being, health, and longevity (Fredrickson, 2013). She coined the term positivity resonance, explaining that when we show caring and invest in each other’s wellbeing, even for a moment, this can affect our bodies and our brains in positive ways.

Fredrickson explains that when we share positive emotions, whether mild or strong, this positivity resonance can foster personal wellbeing, overall health, empathy and perspective taking, as well as interpersonal understandings, social resources, and connections (Major, et al, 2018; Fredrickson, 2013).

Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson tells about a moment when she was doubting herself during her freshman year at Harvard, and a total stranger walked up to her and simply said: “Persevere.

Jackson explains in that brief moment of connection everything changed for her. As Barbara Fredrickson (2013, p. 18) has pointed out, in such interactions “for just a moment, you become something larger than yourself.” Sharing even brief moments of positive emotions can inspire us, awakening the spiritual dimensions of our lives and increasing our understanding of the world and our place in it. In many spiritual traditions, such moments are seen as blessings of connection that come through us, rather than from us (Berns-Zare & Hayman, 2023). Blessing each other with compassion, whether in ordinary everyday encounters or with intention and mindfulness across spiritual traditions and practices, can awaken vitality, meaning, and caring connections in daily life.

While some people may see it as a search for meaning, awe, or wholeness, spirituality is a compelling and universal aspect of the human experience. According to positive psychologists, spirituality is a character strength that recognizes that some aspects of life are beyond our human capacity to comprehend. This strength can invigorate resilience, wellbeing, and a unifying view of oneself and the world (Vieten & Lukoff, 2021; Niemiec, et al, 2020; Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

When we understand spirituality as a character strength, we may be more able to discern its presence in our lives. This presence may be within established spiritual and religious contexts or outside traditional spiritual paths, such as experiencing awe in nature, music, or visual design. Whether inside or outside traditional religious or spiritual practices, some common themes emerge – from cultivating inner stillness, equanimity and wellbeing to experiencing expansive states of awareness and moving beyond a sense of separation toward connection (Taylor, 2019).

 🤔 Here are a few inquiries you may choose to consider in your own life:
  • When do you feel moments of wholeness or spirituality?
  • What practices or activities help you feel a sense of connection with others or the transcendent?
  • How can you cultivate more spiritual or meaning moments in your life?

An abundance of practices, spiritual paths and alternatives invites us to notice the energies and life’s transcendent possibilities between us, all around us, and beyond us in ways we may not have even imagined. Many humans seek to understand these mysteries, mixing our deeply personal experiences with understandings gained from groundbreaking science and research.

Recently, I had the honor to co-write a chapter in a book about awareness of spirituality in the context of a Jewish perspective. While this article discusses the experience of wholeness, connection, and spirituality via a more neutral perspective, these final words are based on my own take, from a Jewish renewal viewpoint. From this lens, I am inspired to understand each of us as sparks of light and all of us together shine more brightly than any one of us alone – we are more than simply the sum of us. Our interconnections with each other and with the vast energies that connect us all are among the great mysteries of life.

Would you like to learn more about my book chapter in Torah Without End?

© 2023 Ilene Berns-Zare, LLC, All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No content is a substitute for consulting with a qualified mental health or healthcare professional.

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