What’s Your Spiritual Personality?
When you think about your personality, maybe words like social and bubbly or quiet and reflective come to mind. You might even label yourself an introvert or extrovert. But have you ever thought about your personality in spiritual terms?
“There are questions and practices that we naturally gravitate toward in our own individual spirituality. People express their spirituality, and what they value, in a variety of ways,” says Cara Howell, MPH, MSW, LCSW, Spiritual Wellness Provider at Canyon Ranch® Tucson. “If you accept who you are—what really resonates for you—and learn to work within that natural wisdom, it can help guide you toward a spiritual practice that might be particularly suited for you.
Having that spiritual foundation or orientation is good for you in myriad ways. “It reduces stress, makes your life feel more fulfilling, and it plays an important role in your physical health,” Howell explains. “There’s a lot of research linking health and more contentment with life, and having a regular spiritual practice. I personally can’t imagine getting through each day without connecting with my spiritual self, especially when life feels overwhelming or when I’m feeling a bit lost.”
If you’re unsure about what makes up your spiritual side, Howell says you can start by simply asking yourself what you enjoy most. “What brings you joy and what makes you feel alive?” she asks. “It may be working out, reading, spending time with those you are close to, or just taking quiet walks. How someone answers that question would tip me off to what kind of spiritual personality they might have.” Knowing this, you can more easily figure out what practices would deepen your spiritual self, helping you to enjoy all the dividends of spirituality, in mind, body and spirit.
“It may be working out, reading, spending time with those you are close to, or just taking quiet walks. How someone answers that question would tip me off to what kind of spiritual personality they might have.” Knowing this, you can more easily figure out what practices would deepen your spiritual self, helping you to enjoy all the dividends of spirituality, in mind, body and spirit.
Which of these five spiritual personality types (more than one may apply) sound most like you?
“For kinesthetics, their way of connecting spiritually is through the body,” says Howell. You like to keep moving; you may have even chosen a job where physical activity is part of what you do every day, such as a bodywork specialist, massage therapist, personal trainer or coach. “Kinesthetics feel through their physical being, through touch, through movement,” adds Howell.
Try: Walking or any kind of moving meditation—yoga, tai chi, dance—can help you tap into something bigger than yourself to find more peace, or perhaps answers to important questions or problems you may be struggling with. “Long-distance running can be a way to connect with spirit too,” notes Howell.
“If the kinesthetic is the body, the scholar is the mind: These people really connect with their own spiritual essence through their thoughts,” says Howell. “There’s a saying: ‘If you don’t have a spiritual teacher, then read, read, read’; throw yourself into books.” If you fall into this category, you love to research, contemplate and write; this is how your spiritual personality explores. You may have a more scientific mind, too, wanting corroboration and reasoning for what you believe.
Try: Reading Scripture, inspirational or self-help books will feel like a natural way to explore your spiritual self. “The topics you choose will depend on what floats your boat,” says Howell. “But it will be mainly through research, reading and being interested in what spiritual leaders and other teachers have to say that you will deepen your spiritual orientation.” And while scholars are more cerebral, they aren’t necessarily solitary. “You might enter into a discussion with someone about things you’ve read, or you may want to join a book club or other group that provides you with fulfilling conversation,” Howell notes.
To continue the analogy, “if the kinesthetic is the body and the scholar is the mind, the devotional would definitely be the heart,” says Dintaman. “Devotionals are committed to living from the heart, opening up to spirit in this way, and bringing love to everyone they meet. They are very compassionate, loyal and empathetic.” Instead of craving evidence for their beliefs, they just feel and trust them intuitively. “Devotional types are less analytical and do not always need a lot of scientific evidence. They often feel the truth in their heart, and trust their instincts.”
Try: “This spiritual personality might enjoy chanting or singing, or being with a teacher who inspires them,” says Howell. You may also be drawn to ecstatic experiences and dance (also attractive to kinesthetics). If you want to cultivate more of the devotional in yourself, says Howell, you might attend a lecture or read books by a spiritual teacher whose teachings resonate with you. Or you may feel spiritually nourished by simply spending time with loved ones or helping others in some way.
If you want to cultivate more of the devotional in yourself, says Howell, you might attend a lecture or read books by a spiritual teacher whose teachings resonate with you. Or you may feel spiritually nourished by simply spending time with loved ones or helping others in some way.
“These are the people who need to serve their community to nurture their spirit,” says Howell. “In yogic philosophy, these people are called the ‘karma yogis,’ which relates to service in the world.” Howelln says servants tend to be aware of the needs of others, and are often social personalities, or interested in social service. “Most of the time these people do not feel like they are connected to their spirituality unless they are helping the people that are most in need, she explains. “We are living in a time where there are more opportunities to give, and people in need, than ever before. We receive many blessings when we become aware, and give to others. What many people do not realize, is when they give, they receive just as much and likely more. There is a receiving in the giving.”
Try: Not surprisingly, volunteer work can be a big part of this personality’s spiritual practice. Some servants go so far as to start a charitable organization themselves. “You feel most connected when you’re serving, giving, caring for, contributing and engaging in the world around you,” says Howell, who adds that serving others can also be a one-on-one endeavor.
“You might notice that your friend is feeling down and bring her some flowers, or maybe a neighbor just had a baby and you organize the meal train so the new parents don’t have to cook,” Howell says. “You’re aware of the needs of other people and you want to serve and care for whoever that may be.”
Contemplatives are more solitary, and tend to be sensitive and introverted, Howell says. “The world can sometimes overwhelm them. These are people who need time alone to feel content; they can feel drained by the energy of other people,” she explains. Spirituality manifests for contemplative personalities in meditation, prayer or quiet reflection. “This group feels a deep spiritual connection when people disappear and everything stops,” Howell adds.
Try: For this personality, a retreat—such as a 10-day Vipassana (which means to see things as they really are) meditation retreat—or taking a solo hike might be a good idea, suggests Howell. “But if, say, you’re a musician, it might be time spent composing a song that fulfills you internally.
Or maybe it’s working in your garden or creating a meditation room or some kind of sacred space that nurtures your spirit,” she adds. You may also find that it helps to take short breaks during the day to be on your own, perhaps shutting your office door and simply closing your eyes to breathe deeply, meditate or pray for a few minutes.
It’s worth remembering that many of us have elements of all of these personalities within us, so don’t be surprised if several of these types resonate with you. “Just gravitate toward what is most true for you,” says Howell.
“It is better to trust the inherent intelligence of your type, and to let the practice naturally unfold from there than to force yourself to be someone you are not. This is how you will be able to thrive and connect with your spiritual nature the most.”