Navigating the Labyrinth of Spirituality for Introverts

Updated: May 24


Introverts are inherently spiritual. Our introspective and contemplative nature is central to our way of being.


However, we tend to be more focused on our mind, as introverts, so we may neglect body and spirit. And when we are drawn to embrace these parts of ourselves, we usually approach them through the lens of research and analysis. That's a great place to start, but it can be like packing your bags for a trip and hopping in the car, without leaving the driveway.


While religion is a choice, spirituality is as much a part of us as our intellectual and corporeal being. We all have a spiritual journey; an adventure or exploration of both our inner landscape and our connection to something greater than ourselves.


Positive Psychology describes spirituality as "finding meaning and purpose in life," which are fundamental to happiness and well-being for all people. Every step you take to explore your place in the world, even if you never leave the comfort of your home, is part of your spiritual journey.


I should note that your spiritual journey may include participation in a religious organization, but religion is not required for spirituality.


I'm thrilled to have Heather Hall as our guest blogger for April. We connected over our shared introvert traits and love of writing. I have learned so much from her blog today and expect it will resonate with so many introverts. Enjoy Heather's energy and perspective!

In fact, many introverts find religion to be difficult. Our questions and doubts may not be welcome. We may find worship services are packed with songs, sermons and readings, but almost none of the silence we crave. And fitting in can be exhausting, until we find a way to express our gifts, often behind the scenes.


Religious organizations (at least, here in the US) tend to be built by extroverts for extroverts. From the greeting committee at the front door, exclaiming, "Welcome! I don't believe we've met," to the end of service invitation to "Stand up and introduce yourself," entering a house of worship can be challenging or frustrating for introverts.


Rest assured, when you do find yourself in a faith community that feels welcoming, there are many ways for introverts to connect and serve with comfort and ease. I know because I've been there, and I've supported others in their journey.


Although there are no studies specific regarding introverts and their spiritual journey, there has been a significant shift away from traditional religions in the US during the past 15 years. In 2021, Pew Research Center found 63% of US adults identify as Christian, while 6% identify with other faith traditions (including Judaism, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and others), and 29% identify as atheist, agnostic, or "nothing in particular" (collectively referred to as "nones"). While Christians outnumber "nones" by 2:1, currently, the ratio was 5:1 in 2007 (when Pew Research Center started surveying).


During this time, there's also been a steady rise in spiritual practices, according to online search data and publications. While new practices may surface, there is a strong resurgence of ancient practices, particularly those which reconnect us with nature.


As an introvert, you're probably already engaged in spiritual practices like:


  • Reading – particularly topics like purpose, meaning, community, service, nature, philosophy, spirituality, or religion

  • Journaling – especially about your own thoughts and feelings

  • Hobbies, Arts and Crafts – whenever you make something (e.g., baking bread, brewing beer, drawing, painting, knitting, and many more), you are practicing and honoring creation

  • Solitude – either at home or in nature

  • These are all great ways to get grounded, draw upon your introverted strengths, and "fill your cup."



At times when you seek meaning, purpose, or connection, you can deepen your journey through:


  • Gratitude Practice: This practice acknowledges things you are grateful for each day. Spoken aloud or written in a journal, this practice helps you to acknowledge abundance and recognize hidden lessons.

  • Service: There are countless way to serve others, from donating food and needed items to donating your time and talent to help others.

  • Partner: Find a friend who's exploring their own spiritual journey and meet regularly to share your experiences and observations. You need not follow the same path. You need only share an intention to explore and to bring an open mind.



These practices help us move beyond our inner life. They bring awareness of others and build connections.


To expand your spiritual practices, you might try one or more of the following practices:


  • Meditation: If you're new to this practice, I recommend starting with short, guided meditations or visualizations. Using an app (like Insight Timer) lets you select the length and topic to fit the moment. Even 5 or 10 minutes, once or twice a day, can make a difference (lowering your heart rate and increasing clarity of mind).

  • Mindfulness: This practice focuses on being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and external stimuli.

  • Contemplation: The heart of this practice is to focus on a short reading (1-2 sentences) and consider what message it has for you today. Read and reflect on that same reading several times, going deeper each time. You may notice the same reading, on different days, takes you to different places. And you can try this practice with artwork, if you prefer.

  • Breathwork: Focusing on your breath can help you relax and meditate. There are many forms for this practice, but a good place to start is just noticing your natural breath pattern.

  • Yoga: A great way to engage body and spirit, there are many forms. Check with the leader to be sure their program meets your needs.

  • Labyrinth: One of my favorite practices is to walk a labyrinth, often entering with something I want to release and returning with something I've embraced. The switchback circuits into (and out of) the center – unlike the dead ends of a maze – are a metaphor for our own journey, passing through a season or lesson again and again before we embrace what it offers us.



One thing you may notice is that all of these may be done alone or in groups. When first learning, it is good to join a class and helpful to know that the programs will be calm and relaxing. Once you've developed the skills, you may practice on your own; although, there is something about working with a class or partner which helps us stay accountable and on target to meet our goals.


These spiritual practices help us restore inner calm and build resilience. When practiced regularly, they help us to remain open and curious which navigating stressful situations. They draw upon our innate talents, as introverts, and help us develop into our best selves.


As introverts living in a fast-paced culture, your spiritual journey can be the difference between striving and thriving.


 

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I am pleasantly surprised to see that you responded to my contribution! Thank you for your knowledge and insight! I am enjoying your work and am glad that the subject of introversion is being explored and shared on a bigger scale. I sure wish I had known these things about myself years ago! -CG 2/10/2022

 


Bio: Heather Hall


Heather L Hall is a transformative Leadership Coach, strategic Executive Coach, and evocative Spiritual Director who helps aspiring introverted leaders, and their managers, connect with their voices and values to bring their ideas and vision to life.



She is the founder of Discover With Heather and author of (the soon to be released) Step Up and Stand Out: 20 Tips for Aspiring Introverted Leaders.

Ways to connect with Heather:












 

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Hi Steve! I just wanted to say I'm incredibly thankful that I came across your blog. I currently have your [Q&A] booklet up on my work computer and every single line resonates with me. I've struggled my entire life with introversion, but your guide is helping me realize that I need to embrace it instead of feeling embarrassed! Anyways, your content is awesome and I'm planning on sharing some info with my team. -GK 2/8/2022

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