Several dozen people gathered at the Valencia Hills Clubhouse yesterday for a special discussion session hosted by the UU of SCV congregation. The roundtable style discussion focused on building a personal spiritual practice.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of SCV began hosting a three part Religious Exploration discussion series a week ago centered on the book “A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating Personal Spirituality” by Thomas Moore.
The discussion series highlighted topics from Moore’s book and focused on helping attendees create a personal spiritual practice tailored to their own lives, touching on multiple topics highlighted in the book.
“The aim is to help people deepen their spiritual understanding and awareness and carry that into their lives, so their lives can be made better by that understanding,” said Rev. Peter Farriday, leader of the UU of SCV congregation.
The group highlighted questions focusing on what the difference between religion and spirituality were and how that was important in creating a spiritual practice. They also discussed some of the world’s major religions and denominations, emphasizing the importance of learning from different traditions.
“Many may not want to enter into one established religious tradition, but by coming into contact with many, that can be valuable,” said Farriday. “The world has changed since many of these religions were first expressed thousands of years ago, we should look at them in the light of a changed world.”
The discussion sessions, attended by about 25 people, began Thursday Nov. 3 and the final session will be held next Thursday Nov. 17. The group is open to all attendees, regardless of religious affiliation or practice.
Marilyn Logan attended both of the recent sessions and described herself as a spiritual seeker looking to craft her own religious spiritual practice.
“One of my biggest takeaways is the difference between soul and spirit,” said Logan. “Spirit is more of an interior thing, the divine that is within.”
The session also touched on the importance of completing psychological work as a complement to cultivate the practice. Other topics will include, sensuality, using art in a spiritual practice, using dreams and self guidance.
Erik Felker was surprised the discussions touched on using dreams and felt that was especially valuable. He also felt the open sense of sharing positively contributed to the discussion, as attendees could draw on other peoples personal experiences.
“By experiencing religion and spirituality in a communal sense it offers understanding and greater knowledge,” said Felker. “We all benefit from relationships with others, they can also enrich our spiritual lives, offer a shared understanding.”
Farriday explained it may be difficult for some to build their spiritual practice and offered some advice.
“Some people face a feeling of being overwhelmed and unsure where to start,” he said. “They may have grown up in a tradition that goes to church every Sunday. We are here to help them transition from being a follower to a creator of their spirituality.”
Farriday explains while many people turn to one of the many religious traditions, for others that may not be the path for them. It can be beneficial to use what they’ve learned from other religious traditions and create a more personal practice.
“There is power in investing in that pursuit, it can offer a sense of community with others on similar paths and a larger sense of connection to the soul,” he explained.
Logan said she enjoyed the discussion sessions and felt it was helping to inform her own practice, a path she’s been on since the late 80s.
“This is a great class for someone who is seeking a spiritual path that may be different from the traditional religions,” she said.
Overall, most attendees had a positive reaction to the class and felt it offered information or enrichment in one sense or another.
“Religion is based on outside teachings while spirituality emerges from our own mystical experiences and awareness of spirit within you,” said Farriday. “People can use one tradition as their cornerstone and still draw from what they learn.”
The session is held at the Valencia Hills Clubhouse at 24060 Oak Vale Dr, Valencia, Nov 17 at 7 p.m. The UU of SCV meets at the Santa Clarita Senior Center Sundays at 10:30 a.m. The senior center is located at 22900 Market St., Newhall.