Your Spiritual History
To understand the spiritual dimension of your life today, it’s helpful to understand the role spirituality has had over the course of your life. In this exercise, you’ll have an opportunity to explore your own spiritual history.
In this exercise, take some time alone to explore the spiritual experiences that are part of your life. Plan on spending about a half-hour to an hour in this activity. Take with you a notebook or some paper and something to write with for this exercise.
1. Begin by allowing yourself to be quiet. A simple way to do that is close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing. Rather than attempting to change or control your breathing, just pay attention to it for three or four minutes.
2. On one piece of paper, draw a line the length of the paper. At one end of the line, mark your birth. Mark the other end, “Today.” Think about your life and note along this line the events you consider most important in your life. Mark them by how old you were when they occurred or by the year they happened. This time-line of your life should contain all the events you consider important in your own life.
3. On a second piece of paper, draw a similar line, marking one end with your birth and the other end “today.” On this line, mark the events that you consider “spiritual.” These events may be religious or they may be moments of insight. They may be moments of joy or moments of pain. There may or may not be an emotion that you remember. These spiritual moments are times when you found yourself connected to something greater than yourself, something beyond yourself. List as many as you can think of.
4. Compare these two life lines. What do you see? Are there any patterns? Did spiritual moments tend to occur when things in your life as a whole were going well, or poorly, or even when they were mediocre? Were there more spiritual moments at one time of your life than in another? If so, what other events were happening? What was happening when there were few spiritual moments? Pay attention to all of this.
Variations on this exercise:
There are many people who became more aware of the role spirituality plays in life through participation in a recovery program. If this is true for you, it may be helpful to take a third piece of paper and create another life-line much like you’ve done for “life events” and for “spiritual experiences.” This third line is to trace out significant events on your path to recovery.
Many lesbian, gay, and transgendered people have explored spirituality through their coming out process. Creating a third life line marking significant events in “coming out” is another adaptation that can provide both insights into your life as well as support your growth and integration.