For some people, when we mention that there will be many spiritual activities at the Symposium, they look at us quizzically because they have no idea why an academic symposium combined with martial art forms and qigong health exercises would have anything to do with meditative activities or spirituality.
Other people think, "Well, of course!" They get the connection.
Basically, we think that all activites throughout the weekend are meditative and spiritual. Most especially those that are influenced by nature like the sunrise qigong on the beach and sunset qigong on the bay.
We define spirituality and spiritual activities like the first definition in Miriam-Webster's dictionary: of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit, as in "spiritual needs" While one's spirit may be effected by thoughts of God, the universe, or gods and goddesses, we are not primarily looking at supernatural phenomena or subscribing to any particular religion, but rather open ourselves to the perfectly natural phenomena of the universe. Our spirit, our connection, has a huge impact on our health, on our discipline, on our ability to defend ourselves, and on how we relate to others. If we do not regularly practice activities designed to nurture and renew our spirit, our energy and our resources get depleted.
The importance of our spiritual development is a scientific fact, and has been included in a great deal of the research surrounding integrative health practices which encompass both the mind and the body. Dr. Herbert Benson, the Harvard Medical School doctor who scientifically established the impact of stress on health, discovered that the physiological changes that occur in the body (called the "relaxation response" in research) in response to spiritual activities have a huge impact on our health and happiness. The University of Minnesota has a very well-done web page on the power of prayer and other spiritual activities.