by Brandon Nappi
The promise of vibrant spirituality is the return to an original wholeness in harmonious relationship to other beings and the earth. A coherent way of living that honors the interconnectivity of all things, the spiritual life invites care for everything that exists. The fruit of a thriving spirituality includes courage, love, resilience, gratitude, and wonder manifest in the simple experience of feeling at home in yourself. A life-long cultivation of both love and presence, I use the word spirituality to mean an embodied path of wisdom that leads to equanimity and a flourishing life.
For some, spirituality is synonymous with formal religious practice. Along this path, the relationship to the divine is nested within the official rituals of a particular religion and belief in God (I’ll say more about this mysterious three-letter word in a moment). In this approach, a central authority maintains the integrity of spiritual practice with particular doctrines that insulate against error. Throughout most of history, this predominant form of official spirituality has been an organizing force in culture and instrumental in crafting an overarching cohesive worldview.
For others, spirituality expresses a personal awareness of the divine outside any formal organized religion. Those who embrace this approach often grew up without formal religious practice or experienced their parents’ religious tradition as lacking in some fundamental way; this community, therefore, seeks to name and connect with the divine outside of religious institutions. Because this path does not honor a lone central authority that governs spiritual practice, there is a high degree of experimentation, creativity, and variability in this approach.
For a third community, spirituality is less an expression of belief in God, but rather a way of life guided by foundational values. Ethical ideals such as compassion, kindness, love, environmental stewardship, and awareness become the lasting and transcendent elements around which life is organized. This form of spirituality may be held by those who do not believe in God or who are unsure about the existence of the divine.
Each of these approaches to spirituality offers an important and unique insight into the world. Each path describes the good life and its impediments, articulates what is ultimately true and names how humans can thrive while growing in wisdom. At the same time, each approach has a unique blind spot and an inability to see things clearly as they are. Every path will tend to miss certain fundamental aspects of truth and cast a particular shadow in the world. One of the basic propositions of the spiritual life is that everything that casts light also casts a shadow. Therefore, awaiting us along each of these three paths will be powerful insights to support our journey, and along each path will also lurk harmful pitfalls which can ensnare the soul if we are not careful.
While there are striking differences in these three distinct approaches, a common longing for wisdom and peace lives within all of them. In the end, all truth is one; wisdom belongs to every heart. Spirituality, in its broadest sense, represents the cultivation and embodiment of enduring universal principles that support human flourishing. To become fully alive is the promise of each human life. With steadfast intention and gentle care, spirituality offers a way for all people to nourish those sacred values to create a life of richness, resilience, joy, and connection.
Upcoming Programs with Brandon Nappi
Day Retreat with Brandon Nappi and Helen BetGivargis
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Explore the central spiritual themes in Rumi's poetry, supported by storytelling, meditation, simple whirling practice, and the sounds of the Native American flute.
Course with Brandon Nappi
Mondays, July 15, 2019 - August 19, 2019, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Deepen your mindfulness practice in the service of resilience, connection, compassion, and deep joy.
Day Retreat with Brandon and Susan Nappi in Madison, CT
Saturday, July 27, 2019, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Explore how to deepen your connection with your partner in this day of mindfulness, guided meditation, teaching, and conversation.
Overnight Retreat with Beth Mulligan and Brandon Nappi
October 20-25, 2019
Exploring and practicing the foundational teachings of Mindfulness in a 5 night silent residential retreat. Led by certified MBSR and Mindfulness Teachers Beth Mulligan and Brandon Nappi.
Blogs by Brandon
Copper Beech Institute Executive Director Brandon Nappi and Awaken Everyday Blog editor Gabriela De Golia engage in an interview surrounding the importance of developing a courageous heart. Listen in or read the transcript!
Listen to, or read, an interview with Executive Director Brandon Nappi on the importance of cultivating presence in one’s life.
A father practices mindfulness to witness life’s precious moments.
Reflections on our beginnings, and the diverse community that has come to gather here. By Copper Beech founder Brandon Nappi.
The very word God is polarizing. For some, this slippery word evokes reverence and devotion; for others, it arouses discomfort and even revulsion. I am well aware that this word means dramatically different things to different people depending upon your vantage point. You may be wondering what I am pointing to when I use the word God?
The second installment in a three-part exploration of spirituality by Copper Beech Executive Director Brandon Nappi
An exploration of the breath, and how it has come to represent for many world religions the unseen source of life within us and the essence of spirituality.
Just to be alive is a sacred gift. Brandon Nappi reflects on the opportunity in every moment to awaken to this reality, and shares about his upcoming course "Living Presence" on cultivating contemplative skills to help us live peacefully amid the ups and downs of life.
This new year, dare to let go of outcomes and the need for approval. Wisdom and perspective from Executive Director Brandon Nappi.
I believe that as long as we are alive, there is more right with us than is wrong with us. While we cannot always be grateful for everything, we can always be thankful ineverything. There is always something to be thankful for.By Brandon Nappi
Our society puts incredible pressure on us to be happy. But is such an elevated state possible — or even desirable? By Brandon Nappi.
On the hidden belief that we are "not enough," by Dr. Brandon Nappi.
Recent research reveals an elegantly simple truth to guide our lives. By Brandon Nappi.
Mindfulness practice offers us a deep reservoir of presence no matter what is happening. By Brandon Nappi.
The voice of Rumi is more alive than ever. By Brandon Nappi
The waterlily and lotus flower are poignant symbols of the contemplative life. By Brandon Nappi.
In this wintertime of our nation, a father offers counsel to his daughters—and himself. By Brandon Nappi.
A message of resilience, hope and healing from Brandon Nappi.
What are we supposed to be learning from this year’s political circus? Executive Director Brandon Nappi contemplates the healing of our political wounds.
Five simple mindfulness practices to tame your inner critic, by Brandon Nappi.
How making space for not knowing leads us where we need to be
Mindfulness wisdom from the sea by Brandon Nappi.