Higher energies, manifestations and inner work – welcome to the world of spiritually guided empowerment. While specific definitions can be subjective, spiritual empowerment generally refers to the sense of confidence that people gain when they form an introspective connection with their mind, body and soul, resulting in a deeper understanding of their real selves.
Many might question the difference between spirituality and religion, but the main distinguishing factor lies in the fact that spirituality is defined by an individual practice and the independent process of discovering one’s existential purpose, while religion is associated with a shared set of organised beliefs and practices by a community. Practices rooted in spiritual guidance have been gaining traction recently. Earlier this year, home-grown mindfulness studio Altered States launched its first Ecstatic Dance session with yoga practitioner, musician and influencer Linda Hao, which saw participants partaking in communal dancing inspired by dance rituals of ancient Greece.
Digital marketing and PR representative Marc Braydon from Trapeze Rec. Club, a holistic wellness club in Tanjong Pagar, noted that people have become increasingly open and curious about wellness in all shapes and forms.
“A big part of finding what [types of practices] might suit you best is dipping your toes in as many emerging or familiar forms of wellness [activities],” says Marc. Sessions such as its Full Moon Yoga and Sound Bath classes sell out incredibly quickly, and the range of participants are varied across gender and age.
Why are more people, locally and globally, honing in on such activities? Experts believe it has a lot to do with the pandemic, and a shift in attitudes towards mental health.
Says Jeslyn Lim, head psychologist and co-founder of Thrive Psychology: “Greater attention is being paid to mental health due to a combination of social isolation, economic recession, high unemployment rates, and drastic changes across several aspects [of our lives].”
According to Jeslyn, some people began to engage in self-reflection, searching for greater meaning in their lives, in a bid to improve their mental well-being. In the process, some individuals turned to spiritual activities. These activities help different people in different ways: For some, it’s a way to manage stress through learning to be peaceful, tolerant and forgiving.
Spirituality also gives one a sense of connection to something greater than the self, and helps one to introspect. Looking at this whole phenomena through an emotional lens, spiritual activities also help individuals to regulate their emotions better through mindfulness practices such as meditation. There is little science to prove that they actually work. But more than anything, there seems to be an unshakeable
force surrounding self-beliefs.
“Psychological research has found that strongly held self-beliefs may convince a person to believe that a thing or process is effective, even if objectively it is not,” explains Julia Khaw, a psychologist with Annabelle Psychology. She says that the power of the placebo effect has been well researched.
“One’s expectations for a promising omen may lead to the anticipated outcome, in a self-fulfilling prophecy way. For example, if one believes that once their chakra is balanced, then they will have more success in their life, the individual may start searching for signs that indicate success, or start doing things that make it more likely that they can be successful. This could indirectly increase positive moods as the expectation for success drives them to try new behaviours.
“Some people might also seek comfort or solace in these practices, clinging on to the hope for a seemingly ‘promised’ better future. Having said this, I do think that knowledge on mental health can bring about self-empowerment, which then motivates a person to take the first step in seeking help.” Nevertheless, the general consensus is that there is a positive correlation between spirituality and mental health, which, according to Jeslyn, “can benefit individuals by giving them a greater sense of purpose and helping them destress”.
Thinking of giving spiritual activities a go? Here’s what you can try: