One of the positives of retirement is that you finally have time. Time for what YOU want. No more rushing to work. No more ensuring that the kids to do their homework or chores. Maybe you’ve down-sized so you have less to take care of – less house cleaning, less yard work, fewer repair projects.
Faced with this time, some seniors indulge in hobbies, travel, or going back to school. Many seniors find themselves pondering spiritual questions. Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? Have I made a difference? This interest in spirituality can have positive impacts on the aging process.
What is spirituality?
Let’s begin with a definition. Some confuse spirituality with religion, but they’re not the same. Religion refers to the externals of a belief system: church, prayers, traditions, rites, rituals, etc.
Spirituality is about the idea that something exists that is greater than ourselves. Something we can connect to. Spirituality refers to our inner belief system, the delicate ‘spirit-to-spirit’ relationship to yourself, others, and God (however you define the concept).
Everyone is a spiritual being. Not everyone is religious.
How can spirituality help seniors?
More time and a shift in priorities can lead to a more inward focus. Activities like meditation, walking, gardening, or exercising are great ways to turn the focus inward. The benefit is that this inner focus can lead to more calm, a stronger sense of inner peace, and a better ability to handle the ups and downs seniors face.
Of course, there’s a dark side to having more time. If someone’s job or kids were their main source of self-worth and meaning, they may flounder in retirement. Kids grow up and get wrapped up in their own lives. Worklife is done. Some may wonder where they fit in.
Here at Blakeford we find that people who devote time to getting in touch with their inner life and spirituality engage more with others and make more connections. This keeps them from sinking into dark places and makes them better able to cope with difficult times in their lives.
Find your own spiritual path
Are you ready to take the time to turn inward and explore your spirituality? The first thing to remember is that everyone has their own spiritual path. Just because a friend swears by gardening doesn’t mean that activity will be right for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find a spiritual practice that works.
Get creative. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything it’s that we can expand our thinking on how we care for our spiritual selves. Maybe it’s one-on-one chats with the chaplain if in-person church doesn’t work for you. Maybe it’s video consultations with a counselor. Perhaps it’s online or in-person meditation or yoga sessions.
Spirituality and seniors
Isolation is hard on seniors. It can lead to depression and an inability to handle the changes that are part of the aging process.
Exploring spirituality is important because spirituality is the framework of our core belief system. Our spirituality informs how we cope with life transitions, illness, and loss. It plays a major role in medical decisions, how we relate to our families and communities, and how we view the aging process.
Take some of your precious time and examine your inner self. Find the activities that feed your spirit, like walking, meditating, volunteering, or something else. You will be pleasantly surprised by your new-found calm and resiliency.