What is Spirit?

Crisis often also stirs up the need for both spiritual healing and spiritual growth. Healing from a crisis usually includes exploring various spiritual practices. Before we examine healing your spirit, we need to study what spirit is in your life and how we grow in spirit.

The only problem: modern culture has lost touch with living spiritually. Ask yourself: do you know what spirit is?  Many people think they know what spirit is, only to then stutter and trip about when trying to hold a definition for the spirit.

So let’s start here, a simple definition of spirit is:

“Spirit represents the movement of your life.”

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When initially looking into the spirit, I discovered hundreds of complicated answers that didn’t help me grow nor connected me to spirit. The answer came out of a single line out of a poem I wrote. Be open to finding answers in places you least expect as you grow in spirit.

The motion definition is nice, it grows into most other definitions of spirit people use very readily. So this is a solid starting point to help a teach person how to begin exploring spirit.

Start by Moving: Let your spiritual practice be play! Fuel your spirit through the motion your play generates in life.

The Other Side of Spirit

Another side of spirit: Spirit represents the aspects of reality which are not physical.

Words are models of the physical world. As a result many words fail to describe spiritual concepts. Spiritual words often are metaphors or sideways glances to what spirit might be.

Defining Spirit

Let’s perform an experiment. I will give you a word to define, Don’t look up the definition, just try to define this common spiritual word most people know.

Define for me: Grace.

Many people will get stuck on this word. They will say they know or feel its meaning but will again find themselves at a loss for words.

Let’s look at its definition:

Grace is a path of growing potential.

There is nothing static about this word at all. Its definition varies from person to person, from moment to moment. The meaning of grace shifts, dances and grows as you grow. Most in life transformation are seeking Grace; they are trying to improve their lives and find answers that solve problems of being stuck in life.

Losing touch with your potential is why any life crisis is ungraceful. When reacting to a crisis, your soul crushed by broken ideals, behind bars of judgment that trap a person, you have the conditions that force a person to act out of fear: to diminish their life and stumble. A crisis is a very ungraceful starting point for starting a new life.  I stress now the importance to re-define the process from being a midlife crisis and flow into midlife transformation.

Life transformation is all about the grace of seeking a better life, of greater potential, trying to become one’s own person.

A person in midlife wants more: it’s when the “more” leans towards “potential” that the process becomes about grace. Wanting more is the point you can spot the profound spiritual undertones of a midlife transformation.

Spiritual growth is something captured as a moving experience never as a static word. So people in midlife crisis often drop everything to run and experience life… in order to recapture that feeling of spirit. To embrace and grow into the experience of spirit rather than trapping it to words.

This is one reason a person in a life crisis won’t be able to describe what they are feeling in words!

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Discovering Spirit with Release

People approach any life crisis seeking magical answers. A life crisis becomes a chase trying to solve problems and answer deep questions that arise from feeling empty. Those in crisis always are seeking the fast and “right” path. Looking for solid words and books and answers, when in fact the answer is more of a process requiring release, movement, and acceptance. Those in transformation instead take the time to grow into a newer life rather than chase answers to fix the old life.

Life is a statement: not a question nor an answer. The secret of life isn’t a hidden answer to your questions at all; it’s instead all about living in style to grow sustainably and gracefully. It’s all about lifestyle. Teachers like myself don’t teach a one size fits all answer; rather we help you grow gracefully with improvements in lifestyle and awareness. We may start with a few baseline answers to help get you into a place of pause, a new starting place. Then the answers shift into teachings of lifestyle improvements that will help a person grow additional spiritual connections to everything flowing around you.

People make a mistake to release everything to make room for their spirtual growth. All in order to get in touch with their spirit again. People in a life crisis run away: to feel spirit again. The running itself is a desperate last attempt to heal the spirit and reconnect with life.

Running away works in the short-term to create space for spiritual growth. Ironically running away doesn’t work in the long-term. Since it eventually undercuts your growth as you transition into a newer life. A release is an art; I help people release in a staged manner that adds grace to life.

Understand release is part of a more extensive process. A life transformation requires many small steps to allow one to grow and explore life.

You don’t have to release everything: you release in a manner to open up opportunities while letting go of the bits that no longer work.

Life Crisis, Spiritual Practice and Religion.

Spiritual growth doesn’t have to be religious. However, all religious practices will have spiritual components in them. This is why some people will feel a pull to religion during a crisis.

Some people will explore religion as a pathway to healing their spirit. Also, some people will avoid spiritual practices because they may think spirit represents a religion. Other people reject some spiritual ideas because they come across the spiritual concept from a religion outside of their religion.

Spirit and religion are different from each other.

Religion is more a destination while Spirit is more the travel style.

Religion is a pre-packaged set of teachings, ideas and specific lifestyle options to guide a person to an ideal of wholeness. Spirit represents *any* practice that helps a person live better in their life. Spirit is agnostic, and rather it’s the religion that gets specific about god and practices to be followed within life.

A spiritual practice could be as simple as jogging every day for a person.

Religion is the optional part of spiritual exploration! Every religion will have spiritual practices within them. In the end, it’s the person who uses the spiritual practice that defines how a spiritual practice gets expressed in life. As a result, many people will directly associate a more neutral spiritual practice to God which the spiritual practice helps them connect to. It’s a bit like confusing a telescope to be the star that you are gazing through the telescope to see. The reason people make this simple mistake is: the spiritual part of the practice isn’t as tangible as the telescope, rather it’s the motion and potential. As a result, the spirit gets easily confused with the focus point of the practice.

Also for couples, please understand: it isn’t unusual for people to shift in religious views during a life crisis. A shift in religious views can be enough to break up a couple. So care and respect must be used when discussing either religion or spirit with your partner.

Spiritual Practice Creates Connection.

Another aspect of spiritual growth is expanding your connections.

Initially many people in transformation will begin exploring spirit as the path in healing their soul. Personal healing may not have been the initial conscious reasoning behind exploring spirit, yet the drive to move again is a powerful driving force behind why people study spirit.

After a person finally begins to reconnect with their own life, their spiritual growth will expand to open other connections of life. The result is that spiritual exploration often opens up connections to community and the larger world. In the spirit: we discover we are not alone.

Countless spiritual paths and frameworks exist. No one is better than another. It also isn’t uncommon for people in a life transformation to discover meditation. Meditation is a process of awareness. We need awareness to connect with our lives and others around us.

The simple truth is that many people get nervous when you use the word spirit. I respect and use great care in helping others. The goal is never to help a person connect to some larger system: rather the truth/process is always to help a person reconnect with their own life.

A valid spiritual practice will always make you feel better about how you live life!

If a spiritual practice you are trying to learn makes you feel worse or judged in your life, then it isn’t a valid path of spiritual growth for you.

I teach more than one spiritual framework and meditation to those interested in exploring spirit. I stress that the goal isn’t to learn a single answer or system. Rather, I work with flexibility to best match what a person needs to help them grow. Ironically when I started working with people in midlife transformation over a decade ago, I had no intention of being a spiritual teacher, even funnier is that for twenty years I consistently turned down offers to teach at the spiritual level. My teaching various spiritual practices are all optional. I share this simple story from my own life to show how what we need and how we express ourselves often evolves in many unexpected directions. A life transformation in part requires an openness to explore and grow. That growth in itself is an expression of your spirit.

Allow yourself to be surprised at where you explore and grow into.

Spiritual Growth within Art

Please note: The amazing artwork above is from Shira Sela.

Art itself is an exploration of spirit. If you are ever at a loss for words: take some time to paint, draw or splash about in some art to help you grow and expand it all into a spiritual practice.

Discover you can restart and improve your life.

Personal Tao
Chapter 29
Spirit and Soul

Years ago, I met a special woman. She asked me the following question:

“If you had to take an animal, a force of nature, and a mythical reference:
How would you write a sentence to describe yourself?”

I answered:

“A breeze wrapped around a dragon who is a cat sleeping in the sun.”

After looking at the answer, I discovered many aspects which were true and informative about my nature. Since then, I often ask this of other people. So I ask you now as the reader to spend some time and try it out. It might take a day or two. Mythical references could be anything: I have known people who were only unicorn horns, or various aspects of a myth such as the eternal slumber of an enchantment. It’s beautiful how creative people can be.

Write it out below after figuring out something you like.

I also discovered people are surprisingly honest in the answers given. Look closely at your answer: it reveals quite a bit about your ego, spirit, and soul. This leads to the next question.

What is the difference between soul and spirit?

Heart of the matter
Essence of a question
Uncover, Discover, Recover
Ego, Soul, Spirit
Let eyes wander to the skies
Dragonfly, Butterfly, Fireflies

Before reading the rest of the section, try to answer this question. Again, as before, take several days even. Come back at a later time. Be aware that the definition of soul and spirit varies quite a bit between cultures. In fact, these two words are overloaded with countless meanings, making it harder to tease out a personal answer.

What is the difference between soul and spirit?

Soul is what we are

Connection of mind, heart, body
Reflection showing echoes of nature: our nature Amidst Mother Nature
Everything has a soul
The nature of being something: to be as it is…
is the soul
Soul is simply one’s nature.

Soul silently proclaims, always openly revealing hidden truths
stars in the palm
rock steady
looking up and back
Soul stands out clearly to be seen
not noticed
Explosions of life
colors, growth, egos, movements, distractions
Consciousness ever distracted
by beauty, by motion, by fire, by life
Soul the centering of what we are

Spirit is Soul in motion

Feel the beat instead
touch the heat
Fire in the belly
Worlds are ever changing, always blurring, blurring… burning
Life ever fleeting by very nature
Life is change, We are life
This is Life
Fire in the Belly

Embracing movement of expression
Spirit touches -ever brushes- passing as
consciousness — faith — acceptance
of oneself within the fire
the fire in the belly
that tides to life

As a mathematician, on one level I think of spirit as the integral of the soul.

I discovered something interesting when asking myself the question: “Ego” kept bouncing its way into my answers. So this left me with the problem of also answering what ego was all about.

Ego is the sheepdog of the spirit, keeping our form.


Pulling “You” back down is Ego
An ever dancing trickster
Ego always checking the math, bottling fireflies, pinning the butterfly
Asking what is a noun, verb or adjective
Ego is all about
Resisting, throwing confusion to the e-y-I-y-e’s
Impishly ego devilishly tries to control your soul
Its trick lies in YOUR nature
feel ego’s ploy
A rope of pronouns
lashes of colorful self deception

Ego is a very small part of our overall nature, yet it seems to command an overly large presence.

Why does Ego try to steal the show?

Ego is the herding dog, the trickster, the ringmaster keeping us together. Without ego, it would be simple to just accept ourselves as part of the larger universe and fade back into being one with the universe. Yet ego steps in, keeping a person together, an individual’s static cling to the spirit, binding it all together just long enough to form an expression of our individual self.



Dragonfly: Ego always fights to make you more.
Fireflies: Spirit burning ever so to proclaim: alive
Butterflies: Soul of our nature

All flickering flirting, flitting
Weaving together
different viewpoints of our form
into a single expression
of self

As a child, I was taught
To be as rock
I am not
– I am fire, which is life –
To be myself
Means cracking rock apart to spark

Sisyphus discovered immortality has a price
but not all rock is made of stone
When defying the gods
Burdens of life become our own.

In time all rock wears away
But the spark, life itself, is an everlasting fountain of flame
Leaping from peak to peak to burn on
Against the storms
To defiantly burn – brightly – is “My” burden

Gods come and go,
It’s the nature of creation.

But “My” nature is to live, move on, burn burn brightly

My nature is to Be Fire of Life.

Open windows within life


Your soul

More about Soul, Spirit and the Empty Space.

  • The soul is what you are.
  • Spirit is Soul in motion.
  • Empty space is the reflection of your life.

Is spirit the same thing as a soul?

No. While the spirit is the soul in motion; one could make a mistake to think the two are the same thing. This link between spirit and soul is one of the reasons the term spirit and soul are used so interchangeably. They are separate but interconnected in life. Much in the same way the tide is not water, but gravity’s dancing movement between the earth and the moon. Where the water is caught up in the motion of the tide to reveal its existence.

This is important due to the nature of our empty space. Let’s define the nature of “empty space”. Taoists will often describe empty space in relative terms. Because it’s uniquely defined for each person, as the meaning of our very life. However, this definition leaves people wanting for more. Since most people struggle for a fulfilling meaning for their life.

From a practical point of view: Empty space is defined by how we try to embrace it. This gives empty space a surprising definition:

Empty space fulfills us with the connections to the larger world we stash within it.

We hold within the empty space all the connections to the universe we hold dear.

This truth helps give surprising insights for each person on how they connect and maintain their relationships.

So back to soul and spirit.

Soul defines the shape of our life: in that space: it creates an “empty space” a bowl within which we capture the essence of connections to the larger universe. Just as a bowl holds water, our soul holds everyone and thing we hold dear to our life.

Now, this is the tricky part. Our shape is more than a static form: It’s also the shape that gets carved out by our soul moving in our life: Our spirit!

When our soul moves with life.. expressed as our spirit: it also creates a larger shape, which also in turn creates a larger empty space: within which we can hold even more connections to the larger universe.

This is why the spirit is very important as it helps a person expand to reach out and experience ever more life.

The Practical Meaning of This Discussion

The movement of our life is important as it helps to add shape/form to our nature. Learn how to dance with life: enjoy the very movement of our existence since it’s fulfilling to our very meaning in how we reach out and connect to the surrounding world.

It’s not about doing the most, the best or following the path of others. It’s simply a question of living, stumbling, recovering and moving on with grace, that is potential. It’s never too late to act gracefully. To do so has surprisingly amazing results in reflection on how one will feel and then be able to move ahead in their life.

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