Is Toronto Becoming More Spiritual?
Written by Amanda Whittal.
It has been suggested that our multicultural metropolitan home is becoming 'more spiritual'. This proposition comes, not only saturated with various levels of meaning, but also with an endless array of questions. How can we know if this statement holds any truth at all? What is meant by 'spiritual'? What is it that has occurred recently to spark this discussion?
To begin, we cannot say with certainty whether the idea holds any accuracy about the individuals that make up the city of Toronto. The issue of spirituality is so subjective, that the most we can do is observe the trends we see and derive some thought-provoking possibilities from them.
For the purposes of this article, spiritual refers to people searching for a connection to something deeper, something beyond the worldly existence we know. It does not refer to any specific deity or practice, only the quest for some intangible intelligence that is all encompassing, giving meaning to and permeating all life forms.
Now that we've defined our intended meaning with the use of the word 'spiritual', as well as the fact that we cannot come to any generalized conclusions, but only interesting prospects, we can shift our attention to the last inquiry. What has been happening in our city lately to raise this question?
In the last few years there has been an explosion of interest in yoga, alternative healing modalities, meditation, and ancient spiritual practices such as Kirtan*, followed by a growing number of organizations offering these services. At first glance, once might say these observations clearly reflect that a substantial portion of Toronto is shifting towards spirituality. I would, however, be inclined to disagree, as my own experience teaching yoga and practicing holistic healing has suggested otherwise.
Yes people are interested in yoga... for its physical health benefits, yes they are interested in holistic health... for the relaxation, yes they want to learn to meditate... to be able to find some peace in the whirlwind of life. While there are a select few students and clients who come to yoga, holistic medicine and meditation with the desire to connect with themselves on a deeper, so-called spiritual level, the majority seem to remain at a more superficial stage. It is comparable to the many restaurants with supposedly 'cultural' cuisine, which is in reality a North Americanized version of the traditional ethnic fare. As a whole, we are not so much delving into the world of ancient spirituality, as digesting the westernized version of spiritual fast food... practices adapted to our busy lifestyles and values.
That said, I am not at all advocating one path over the other. For those wishing to simply graze the surface of these profound practices, there are certainly many benefits to be had. For those seeking a deeper level of understanding and connection, the opportunity is also available. In either case, these areas that continue to gain popularity are able to reach individuals to whatever degree of intensity they wish. I think it safe to say that they are truly valuable in opening us up to a world of better health and overall well being, bu, to say that taking part in any or all of these reflects a more spiritual Toronto?
The statement may be a bit too bold ;)
*Kirtan is an ancient Indian practice involving call-response mantras (sentences meaning love and peace, sung in Sanskrit) and traditional musical instruments. It is a form of musical meditation.
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