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Spirituality and Age: How Closely Are They Linked?

Mind, body, and spirit – the three parts we all possess. Few would argue against having the first two, but the third? Well, that’s where things can get a little sticky.

What is spirituality?

The meaning varies depending on the source, but broadly, spirituality focuses on connecting with something bigger. A source, if you will, of inspiration and guidance. Something other than yourself.

Spirituality is not a religion, although some religious people do refer to themselves as spiritual. Clearly, there is some overlap, but spirituality is a broader idea and one that does not involve becoming part of a religion.

Spirituality can develop at a young age, but many people find a path to it through their lives, to one degree or another. My path to becoming more spiritual began early, at the age of 11, when my mother died. That’s a super young age to start asking questions about the meaning of life and why such a horrible event could happen, but that’s how it started for me.

Spirituality and aging

There are many factors that suggest spirituality tends to move to the forefront for more people as they age. As we age, so do the people around us. While young people do die, it’s far less common for this to happen than for older people.

As some of our friends and family members pass, so we go through grief. We may wonder about the meaning of life, how we have lived our own life up to this point, where the future might take us, and so on. Getting in touch with our spiritual side can guide and support us through such times. It can also help us as we recognize our own mortality and the fact that one day our time will also come.

But does spirituality naturally grow stronger with age, or does it develop because of the experiences we go through? Some people never develop spiritually, while for others, this side of their life becomes important long before the questions of mortality and what lies beyond this plane come into view.

My view from the midway point (hopefully!)

I’m now 49, clinging onto my forties by my fingernails. Hitting 50 doesn’t worry me, but I think my spiritual side has made sure that number means nothing. My mum never made it to 50 – she dreaded getting there and died a month before. I know that’s why the number, the age, the ‘big birthday’… simply doesn’t matter.

I do know that my spiritual side has helped me get this far, and hopefully will guide me past the point my mum reached. I cannot see beyond it yet – I have no idea what that looks like. But my spirituality helps tether me.

While some (possibly younger) people focus on material things, jobs, and the challenge of establishing themselves in their lives, other (possibly older) people look to other areas. The meaning of life may escape us all in the end, but the spiritual side of things does have a way of supporting, nurturing, and reassuring us.

If we let it.

-Allison Whitehead

Photo: Unsplash

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