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What is a Spiritual Journey?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A spiritual journey is a nebulous concept, defined best by each person who decides to take one. It is some form of travel, physical or mental, which may occur over a long or short period of time, and might be any distance or to a specific location. The principal goal of this form of journey is spiritual enlightenment or understanding, and this could mean a person has greater faith, understands a spiritual path better, or simply feels mentally and emotionally refreshed. Many argue that everyone is on a spiritual journey at all times, though they may be more or less aware of it, and others most use the term to speak of very specific journeys that include travel to certain locations.

Most search engines treat the term spiritual journey as a request for travel information. Popular pages from travel sites pop up in search returns, offering vacations to spiritual destinations. These are useful for those interested and with the wherewithal to take such a trip.

In some religions, pilgrimages to certain areas are required of most people, as for example, the trip to Mecca that many Muslims will take at least once. There are other destinations that are held sacred by many people, such as Jerusalem, Tibet, Cairo, Rome, and Delphi. One or more of these destinations may be excellent places for connecting with spirituality.

A plethora of companies arrange tours to popular locales and some are even led by religious leaders, new age spiritualists, or others. It isn’t necessary that the spiritual journey include a guide. In many Native American cultures, the vision quest was frequently without guidance and was the way for young men to determine their spirituality and self-nature. Today, people can feel free to decide exactly how they’d like to take a spiritual journey; they can determine if it needs guides and destination assistance or if wandering is a better plan.

There is distinction between the pilgrimage and the quest, though both are journeys. In the pilgrimage, people make their way to a specific location, like Canterbury in The Canterbury Tales , but in a quest, greater understanding of the spirit is sought with no specific destination in mind. In other words, the destination is the spiritual instead of the physical. Those with few means who are interested in a spiritual journey can certainly be on a spiritual quest or use their more limited resources to find spirituality in the self and in the connection with locations close by.

A spiritual journey that fills the heart could take place at the church a person has attended for years. People might find what they seek in wind rippling the tall grass of an open meadow. The journey might be found in a child’s embrace, volunteer work at a homeless shelter, or in the dulcet sounds of a favorite musician’s guitar. Ultimately, people can look for spirit in the remotest locations and never find it, or they may realize the spiritual journey exists down numerous paths.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By susanlimeta — On Jun 11, 2014

A spiritual journey is mostly experienced by all because of God's microchips embedded in us. We should always be aware of God's saving glory for us and from there we learn how to lift up to him all our problems in life, and whenever we feel aggrieved by the unfair treatment that we get from others.

By bythewell — On Dec 21, 2013

@Fa5t3r - It really depends on the person and on what they are looking for. If all you are looking for is a few good stories, then traveling around as a tourist is just fine.

If you're really looking to change the way you see the world, then you'll have to plan harder and perhaps completely re-evaluate the way you travel.

I think people do much better when they travel with the intent of helping others, or maybe doing something like a meditation course or some other kind of learning.

The thing is, those things can be done in your own home town as well, so for some people the journey doesn't have to be done in a car or a plane.

But, for others, leaving behind what is familiar and safe can be a completely life changing experience. I know that I didn't really feel like I had left childhood behind until I traveled by myself. I wasn't trying for any kind of enlightenment, but just the experience of being solely responsible for my own well-being and safety helped me to see myself in a new light.

Your spiritual journey is always going to be personal.

By Fa5t3r — On Dec 21, 2013

@Iluviaporos - It's nice to think of people taking a personal spiritual journey in order to "find themselves" but in reality I think when people do this it is often done in the wrong way. I have friends who spent a year in India, or somewhere with that kind of romantic spiritual reputation, and they usually come back feeling just the same as they did when they left.

Sometimes the thing you are seeking should be sought at home and the journey is just an excuse to try and run away from it.

By lluviaporos — On Dec 20, 2013

I do think this is one of the things that many people are missing in modern life. Very few of us have a chance to go on a journey, even a metaphorical journey, with the sole purpose of helping us to find enlightenment.

We just don't put all that much stock in enlightenment or spirituality, unless it's attached to a religion (which it doesn't have to be, in my opinion).

To me, it's the same as taking a trip with someone to get to know them better, except you are taking a trip with yourself for the same purpose.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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