Open Space Spirituality

Interconnection Through Discourse

Open Space Spirituality

Interconnection Through Discourse

The Journey

An Unnamed Sense

Spirituality is the sense, the intuitive feeling, that something exists within us that’s greater than our known physiological and psychological self. It often manifests within us as a search for the deeper meaning of life, a yearning to understand one’s truth beyond sensory experience, and ultimately connecting us to the sacred. One’s spiritual development may explore many disciplines and practices until one find’s one’s home, a sense of belonging.  Spiritual growth may be as part of a group, as a solitary seeker, or contain elements of both.

A Home

 Yet finding “home” may be fraught with challenges and fears.  We are experiencing a tremendous amount of conflict in our culture.  There are so many points of contention: politics, social justice, race, gender, the environment, economy, and sadly more, that just striking up a conversation may feel threatening.  Never mind discussing experiences that may create a sense of vulnerability or asking questions on topics that may feel unwelcome or unsettling. Many people have realized that religions express political viewpoints and morality that do not align with their own experiences. No longer served by religions’ orthodoxy, many folks are searching for meaning outside of traditional institutions.  

The Materialist

The explosion of metaphysical research and the greater understanding of quantum physics have helped change the discussion from a religious vs. science perspective to an argument against materialism.  Materialists generally assume that matter is the fundamental substance and that consciousness results from material interactions (within the brain). For many who have experienced a near-death event or an awakening, the materialist position does not comport with lived experience…with one’s truth.  

The Importance

Exploring alternative spiritual paths may seem frightening or overwhelming, both or more.  Yet, many feel the need to begin their journey. Take substance abuse recovery, for example.  [1]A study conducted in 2010 found “…that a belief in something greater than one’s self, spirituality/religiosity has been shown to be a significant and independent predictor of recovery and/or improvement in indices of treatment outcome.”

Another [2]study looked at depression/anxiety and the degree of religiosity or spiritual well-being and found a relationship which “… exists between the symptoms of anxiety and depression and level of spiritual well-being.”  The higher one’s sense of spiritual well-being, the lower or less intense the symptoms of depression.

One’s sense of meaning, life purpose, and degree of spirituality have real and measurable effects on one’s happiness and joy.

Birthing Open Space Spirituality

Authentic Connection

Open Space Spirituality (OSS) endeavors to help expand the individual seeker’s spiritual well-being and consciousness by providing elements that assist the seeker’s journey.  OSS offers a framework to support sharing experiences with others through a non-judgmental dialog.  OSS is a set of guiding principles and agreements designed to help facilitators and participants explore the vast spiritually oriented landscape in a supportive, compassionate, and loving environment. It all begins with practical communication skills created explicitly for topics that may be outside of traditional settings. 

Big Tent 

OSS is not a rigid application of a particular point of view or methodology.  It’s nearly impossible for a single philosophy or discipline to have a set of rules that respects and accounts for the full range of human experience.  OSS accounts for the myriad perspectives, knowledge, identities, and ways of being that are the breadth and array of the human experience by elucidating core principles and behaviors.  OSS is a framework that supports communication, connection, and sharing so each member may learn and grow from the experience.     

Critical Balance

Striking a balance between freedom of expression and the safety of others is a particular objective.  Many topics that may arise for a group discussion may be sensitive. Where beliefs are deeply held, the dialog could create disagreement and differences of opinion. How much latitude does one have to express one’s point of view or belief system when others may have a countervailing point of view?  Where is the balance maintained between freedom of expression and another’s safety and inclusion?  Suppose the metaphorical tent includes all; how then is a safe environment created so that all participants feel heard, included, and secure? The team continues to strive to find answers to these challenging questions. 

Doula’s

Open Space Spirituality has grown out of the collective experience of members of Consciousness Cafe.  The members have a calling to do work together, and while the reason is still unfolding, there is clarity on what OSS should be.

Each member comes from a different background, spiritual growth path, and philosophical understanding.  While divergent in their views on how OSS needs to operate, they are united in its purpose. Through lively discourse, the team became aware of the challenges of discussing topics that may be uncomfortable or not well received. As members reached out to their respective communities, the need and an appreciation for the elements that create a safe and respectful space expanded.  Thus, Open Space Spirituality was born. 

Defined Terms

Fact – Something accepted as valid based on an independently verifiable form of measurement, such as reading a thermostat. 

Truth – Is subjective, based on an individual’s experience that is valid to them. Their truth is their reality.

Principles

  • Explore Freely – Spirituality is much more than any single perspective, religion, or belief system can fully embody. Participants respect the rights of others to follow their spiritual paths. Sharing one’s own experiences is welcome.
  • Spiritual Growth and Evolution – Everyone’s spiritual beliefs evolve. We will be supportive of each other as our beliefs change.
Show More
  • Respect for Differences – Participants respect the right of others to hold differing views without judgment. Every person deserves to be treated with dignity, including those with whom we disagree.
  • Safe Space – Our meetings are safe spaces in which attendees can openly express themselves. 
  • Spirituality is a Spectrum – Everyone is at a different point on their spiritual journey. We respect people’s right to differ and be heard in a non-judging environment.
  • Truth is Subjective – Truth is subjective and is valid to the experiencer.
  • Unique Beliefs – Everyone’s life is unique. Since our personal experiences influence our Spirituality, individual beliefs deserve to be heard, acknowledged, and respected.
Show More
  • Respect for Differences – Participants respect the right of others to hold differing views without judgment. Every person deserves to be treated with dignity, including those with whom we disagree.
  • Safe Space – Our meetings are safe spaces in which attendees can openly express themselves. 
  • Spirituality is a Spectrum – Everyone is at a different point on their spiritual journey. We respect people’s right to differ and be heard in a non-judging environment.
  • Truth is Subjective – Truth is subjective and is valid to the experiencer.
  • Unique Beliefs – Everyone’s life is unique. Since our personal experiences influence our Spirituality, individual beliefs deserve to be heard, acknowledged, and respected.

Get To Know OSS

Zoom Breakout Room Instructions 

[1] Heinz, Adrienne J, et al. “A Focus-Group Study on Spirituality and Substance-User Treatment.” Substance Use & Misuse, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943841/.

[2] Brown, David R, et al. “Assessing Spirituality: The Relationship Between Spirituality and Mental Health.” Taylor & Francis, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/