Growing Into My Spirituality
Spirituality has always been confusing for me. I was raised Catholic, attended a Catholic school, and went to church until I was 14. As a child, I always loved the stories they told, but over time I hated the pretension, the kneeling, the being inside, the gnawing feeling that there was more I still didn't know. I still look back on my childhood and the influence of the church and I am grateful for the moral lessons we were taught on those Sundays.
(*This post is not about organized religion, nor is it about making anyone feel bad for what they believe and how they choose to express it*)
Through my teenage years and well into my 20's, I never gave spirituality much thought. I have always been one who respects others choices and individual beliefs. Who am I (or anyone) to say that what you believe isn't right? I would say that I fell under the category of agnostic - I'm sure there is something out there in this big wide universe, but who the hell knows what it really is? There are so many different religions and spiritual practices out there, which one is the "right" one?
I personally think we get too caught up on being right. I know I am guilty of this (just ask my husband!). Thoughts like "My god is right, my church is right, my beliefs are right."
We become caught in a trap of discarding other religions or beliefs as wrong simply because they don't align with our own. We alienate others from ourselves and further split the divide between "us" and "them".
I have always greatly connected with First Nations and Aboriginal view of our relationship with the earth and mother nature. There is a deep respect for nature, animals, and tradition that I seem to find lacking in modern society. We consume, we waste, we discard, we repeat. I found this to be a rootless and disheartening existence. By the time I was 25, I had a startling - seemingly obvious - realization. I don't have to be this way forever. I don't have to remain disconnected and I can learn and grow no matter how I was raised or what I used to believe.
To me, there is nothing worse than a hypocrite. A person who acts in direct contradiction to their stated beliefs. I felt like I was being a hypocrite for not understanding or having the same beliefs yet I wanted to live in am ore spiritual way. I used to scoff at people who called themselves "spiritual" because of my assumptions and stereotypes. Now I wanted to have what they had; a peace about them, a feeling of calm gratitude. If I wanted to walk that walk I needed to learn the talk.
I set out starting with a yoga practice and learning how to meditate. I had never before in my life simply sat alone with myself, my thoughts, or my body. There was always something to do, a place to be, or some social media site to be on. I found that with meditation there is nowhere you have to be but right here, right now. The present moment is all we have. That was daunting at first. I would chastise myself if I became distracted, or beat myself up because I wasn't a "good" meditator. I was still trying to tick some box for "good" spirituality without actually seeing the benefit of discipline and quiet on my mind and soul.
I look back now and realize that it was all part of my journey. My experience of growing into my spirituality has be ongoing and incredible. I have sought out new books and spoken to others who want to share their knowledge and gifts. I feel so much more connected to the world around me, the people, nature, places of significance to many or just for me. I feel an immense gratitude for my existence in this world, my interaction and relationship with all that exists on earth. Could this be spirituality? Damn, I like it!
I used to hate when people would use the phrase: "things always happen for a reason". I always considered it an excuse for people to use when life sucks to make you feel a bit less bad about it. But what I have come to realize is that we accept and learn things as we move through life. The way I take in this information now is based on my perspective, my unique lens through which I see the world. If I am not aware or focused in on specific aspects of myself/my journey then I may miss the messages. But the messages will continue to come back. Recurring themes in your life of challenges you have yet to tackle. Only when we learn the lesson does that challenge resolve itself. I feel that through spirituality this has become more and more clear over the years.
Spirituality is a practice that I am committed to continuing. I'm not perfect; I have my days of distraction and disconnect. But I am always working towards that inner peace, trying to find everything I used to look for out in the world, within myself. It doesn't have to be instant, or permanent; it just has to continue to grow.