Hey beautiful beings! It's #SpiritualSunday - which is typically a day our attentions turn to more spiritual pursuits (though I know this can vary drastically for people). Working with the clients I do (as well as having my background), I know this can have a varied meaning for people. Today, we're diving deep for our neurodivergent fam, especially those who've encountered spiritual trauma or religious abuse.
Some people picture Sundays in the "Norman Rockwell" sense: a family wakes up, casually gets ready, eats a quick and light breakfast, and then leaves for church. The pastor preaches a lovely sermon and concludes within an hour. Afterward, they stop to eat some lunch with another family or two, encouraging each other spiritually. Then they go home and enjoy a nice, quiet, casual Sunday.
Then there are the rest of us: Waking up late. Overwhelmed. Forget to eat. Kids fighting. Leaving late. Walking into church late to the judgmental stares of Sister Bertha Better-than-you (thank you, Ray Stevens). Feeling relieved they were able to focus through the loud music long enough to get yelled at for well over an hour. Then getting ignored by everyone as they shuffle out the door trying to get the restaurants before the First Methobapticostal Church of Main St. gets out and hogs the good tables. Neurodivergent spirituality is something that can be quite unique.
Sometimes I wonder what God thinks about the institution of the Church. Other times, I'm afraid to ask.
While both of these situations are ever-so-slightly exaggerated, I wanted to make the point that sometimes our idea of religion/spirituality can be more detrimental to our spiritual health than helpful. And often, when someone has experienced religious/spiritual abuse, neglect, or mistreatment, they will eschew anything spiritual in favor of self-protection. This article is for those who still want to stay connected spiritually but want to move outside of the conventions that might not be working for them. Church may not feel like the safe haven for your unique spirit right now. That's totally valid! But guess what? Your journey toward connection, meaning, and growth doesn't have to end there. Buckle up, fellow geeks and rebels, because we're exploring awesome alternatives that nourish your soul without the traditional church baggage.
I love the early church model (Acts 2) because it shows the core connection points of the church: worship (loving God), fellowship (loving others), discipleship (loving ourselves), evangelism (caring for others), and prayer (connecting with God). These are all actions that we can take that aren't dependent on others.
Aspects of Neurodivergent Spirituality
Ditch the rigid hymnals and stuffy sermons. Worship can be as diverse as your favorite fandoms!
Nature walks: Feel the sun on your skin, whisper secrets to the trees, and let the wind carry your prayers. Earth is a pretty epic cathedral, wouldn't you agree?
Art explosion! Dance your heart out, paint your emotions, write poetry that screams to the heavens. Creativity is a powerful prayer in itself.
Music magic: Crank up your favorite tunes, belt out anthems in the shower, let the rhythm move your soul. Music transcends language, connecting you to something bigger.
Forget the pressure to "fit in." Find your tribe where you can truly be yourself and learn from each other. ✨
Online communities: Join groups focused on spirituality, neurodiversity, or specific interests. Share experiences, support each other, and grow together virtually.
Mentorship magic: Seek guidance from someone who resonates with your values and celebrates your neurodiversity. It could be a therapist, life coach, or even a friendly elder geek.
Peer support groups: Find local or online groups where you can connect with others who understand your unique experiences and offer non-judgmental support.
Church isn't the only place to find your soul fam. Connect with people who share your passions and values.
Hobby groups: Dive into activities you love – board games, book clubs, volunteer projects – and build connections with like-minded folks.
Social media circles: Explore online communities focused on your interests, where you can find friends who "get it," even if they're miles away.
Random acts of kindness: Spread love and connection by volunteering, offering a helping hand, or simply sending a kind message. You'll be surprised how much joy it brings (and receives)!
Forget the pressure to convert. Share your authentic light and inspire others by simply being you. ✨
Live your values: Let your actions speak louder than words. Show compassion, fight for justice, and embrace your unique gifts. That's the most powerful "evangelism" there is.
Open dialogue: Share your journey and perspectives with others in a respectful and non-judgmental way. You never know who might be touched by your story.
Celebrate diversity: Support and uplift others in their own spiritual journeys, regardless of their path. Remember, unity doesn't require uniformity.
Forget the rigid rules and formality. Talk to your higher power (or the universe, your inner wisdom, whatever resonates) in your own way.
Meditation: Quiet your mind, connect with your inner wisdom, and find peace within. There's no "right" way to meditate, just explore and see what works for you.
Journaling: Pour your heart onto the page, express your gratitude, ask questions, and listen for the answers within.
Visualization: Imagine your hopes, dreams, and desires, sending them out into the universe with intention and belief.
Don't Stop Me Now:
Do yourself one further favor. Don't feel like you need to do all of these every day. One of our biggest challenges as ND's is that we often feel like we need to do all things when we barely have the energy to do one of the things. Or we feel like we need to do something three steps away and can't do step one.
Take a moment. Breathe. When all the things come into your mind about what you "should" be doing, let them float away. Picture your soul. Is it hungry? Tired? Thirsty? Overwhelmed? Maybe it's feeling okay and has an urge to create. Whatever it may be, just take some time and listen to it. Then see which of the areas above might fill that need.
If your soul is weary of people, but desire teaching, consider finding a sermon online.
If your soul is feeling saturated, consider finding an artistic outlet for some of spiritual aspects you think about.
If your soul is overwhelmed by so many different things, find one aspect of God to meditate on (love, grace, forgiveness) and write this on a paper as artistically as you can.
Remember, beautiful beings, spirituality is a personal journey. Don't let anyone tell you how to connect with your higher power or define your path. Embrace your neurodiversity, explore freely, and create a spiritual practice that nourishes your unique soul. ✨
P.S. Share your own alternative practices and experiences in the comments below! Let's build a supportive community for all neurodivergent spiritual seekers.
Disclaimer: This is meant for educational and informational purposes and not intended as religious/spiritual, mental health, or any other type of advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for guidance on your individual journey.