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There are endless interpretations of religion and spirituality. I am excited to understand others’ views about religion and spirituality. This is a journey into my own understanding of these topics. I have been exposed to Catholic, Baptist, and Christianity religions. With my limited exposure at a young age, my understanding was that religion either excluded or included people through rules and expectations. I didn’t believe in including or excluding people who followed specific religious rules. I want to accept all people. I want to take ideas and grow from many individuals and spiritual experiences all over the world. I do not think one religion is better or more holy than the other. I do not believe that if I live by one religion that I will be saved. Malloy (2013) explains that “eclectic spirituality” is how people construct individual beliefs from understanding and identifying with many different belief systems (Malloy, 2013, p. 529). Now, I understand where I get my curiosity about different religions and spiritual practices. Becoming a nurse has given me the ability to interact with people from different cultures and learn how others interpret religion.

According to Fordham (2019), Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychologist who studied and worked with Freud for a period. Freud and Jung’s differences surrounded the “ego” theory. Freud believed the formation of the “ego” was sexually-related neurosis. Jung believed the “ego” formed from layers within the consciousness. He parted ways with Freud and would develop his ideology known as “analytical psychology.” He taught that the human psyche has 3 parts – ego, personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious (Fordham, 2019). In my own words, Carl Gustav Jung believed in recognizing “self” and “existence” as reality. Many would say that religion and spirituality developed a way for people to find direction and meaning in this life and beyond. As humans, our prefrontal cortex brain wants to understand the universe and how we ended up on this floating rock in space. Why are we so special? Why are we so rare? Why are there no other intelligent animals on planets in the universe – that we know of? To me, combining science and religion means spirituality. Particle scientists can investigate space and see the past as far back as 1 millisecond after the Big Bang and definitively prove how all the matter in the universe formed. Scientists spend their entire lives studying and trying to prove theories. Interestingly, there is no way to scientifically quantify or measure human consciousness. We all know it is there. The consciousness is what makes each of us unique. For that reason, I believe that human nature is to find meaning in why we are here and what it all means. Religion compartmentalizes vast theories and searches for the meaning of our existence. To everyone, the path to enlightenment has a different journey with individual meaning. Jung associates looking inward and outward as traits of human development. Jung acknowledges the mind’s ability to think, feel, have sensation, and intuition (Fordham, 2019). Jung believed in archetype experiences, i.e. dreams, familiar situations and people, which form connections to the collective consciousness.

Finally, as written by Ventegodt & Merrick (2014), part of the ego is the development of self-image. Undeniably, there is the conscious and unconscious self that we all recognize is there and constantly contributing to our individual reality. Identifying consciousness and self-awareness from birth until death is every human’s journey. Being human means that we all have different experiences including trauma. Having positive influences as a child can develop coping mechanisms and positive self-image – a healthy ego (Ventegodt & Merrick, 2014, p. 207). In addition, our world and cultures give people vastly different life perspectives and situations. Inevitably, making sense of trauma and finding purpose can help deal with the human experience. Religion gives people various frameworks to relate and apply if interested. I have a tattoo of a unalome. It reminds me every day about life’s ups and downs and the experience in itself to move towards enlightenment – to enjoy the human experience.

Brandi Philips

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