OK, I’ll raise my hand. Spiritual independent would describe me pretty well. I’m more spiritually eclectic than anything else, though. Comes from my love of all things mythological since childhood. I must have read D’Aulaire’s Greek Myths about fifteen times since I was ten, along with a number of other books on mythology and religion, including the Bible, of course (all of it, mind you—American Standard edition). I just finished reading Mythos, a great retelling of the Greek myths (for grown-ups) by Stephen Fry.
Some people may see this as a new thing, but spiritual independence looks a lot like my experience with Unitarian Universalism (UU) in the 1990s. UU is a cool way to explore different spiritual systems in an open-minded community. UUs are not so much concerned with what you call your god as much as how you behave toward your fellow humans. You can even be a secular humanist and have no deity in the mix at all. So I’d class UUs as spiritual independents for sure, although many have chosen a path of some sort (everything from Christian to Wiccan).
From my observations of the group, though, most folks seem to dabble in different belief systems and often choose the UU community for its social connectiveness. But once I figured out what my spiritual identity (New Age/Neo-pagan, I guess) was, I left the organization.
Spiritual independents overall don’t seem to be concerned about belonging, at least not based on religious belief. They just don’t tend to belong to organizations, I’ve noticed. I think spiritual independents do connect with others of like mind and heart, but not in a traditional church-organization way. In this case, smaller is better.
The Power of the Small Group
One of the things I learned as a UU was the power of the small group (we’re talkin’ about ten people here). Most, if not all of the real work I did to solidify my own spirituality practice came from being part of small face-to-face groups. It wasn’t the Sunday services as much, but the little meditation group I joined for about a year that really made a difference. Later, I was part of a small group studying New Age books and ideas. After more than ten years, that group (independent of any organization) is still active. You can keep groups like this going through virtual meetings as well. The in-depth connection and personal transformation still come from being in a small group.
And ideally for me, though, this works best “in the physical.” Hugs are hard to translate to virtual reality, emojis notwithstanding. 🙂
For those of you with a spiritual message to share through books, workshops, coaching, etc., think seriously about using the small local group as a node in your overall network or a step in your course funnel.
And although online virtual connection is often the easiest option, creating a series of informally connected face-to-face groups will give your message the depth of impact that you may be looking for. If you build workshop structures based on your message content that other people can use in local groups, you will see powerful and long-lasting transformations occur. You can also have your own face-to-face workshops and courses, but you are one person and can’t be everywhere or at everyone’s price point. Providing a framework for local groups will increase both your reach and your transformative impact.
I am eternally curious to see how people use small groups in their personal coaching or transformative courses, so let me know in the comments what your ideas for a small group framework for your spiritual message might look like.