It has been a few months since I wrote about my spiritual journey, which is still alive and well, in fact. I’m still leaving the door open for possibilities. Actually I feel more spiritually connected than I ever have, and I am loving it.
Unfortunately, moving to NC has made things a bit difficult. It’s harder for me to find religious centers here than it was in the more liberal Colorado- despite Colorado Springs being the bedrock of church-dom, there actually are quite a few other religious opportunities there. So needless to say, I haven’t visited any religious centers here yet. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been spiritually searching or open.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening to different people in different traditions.
Before I moved to NC, back in March, I very briefly dated a guy who was a Jehovah’s Witness. That was a really enlightening experience! I had the opportunity to go to Memorial, which commemorates the last meal that Jesus has with his disciples. I was pretty nervous about the whole thing but I really enjoyed the entire experience. From this guy I also learned quite a bit about Witness’s beliefs as a whole – about the new era, their traditions in disfellowshipping, beliefs in an afterlife, the lack of belief in the Trinity. I’m still really thankful for having such a great window into a different way of thinking. Still wish people could be more open-minded. The amount of unneeded “persecution” and just plain mean behavior that Witness’s face for no reason is astounding to me.
I had an energy healing done a few weeks ago by a woman who does Akashic readings; she is also a good friend. Before I went I did a lot of reading on Akashic readings. Very interesting! As a psychology major I find it relates a lot to Jung’s view of the collective unconscious. Things that make me go hmmm! 🙂 I would actually go back and get a reading but I am without money. =P
My cousin Andrea (hi, Andrea!) sent me a link to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints General Conference, which I listened to a bit of. I really enjoyed learning more about Mormonism through this window. I was surprised by the similarities in thought to my church growing up. I just find it interesting that Christians tend to judge Mormonism without actually talking to a Mormon. I really find it interesting and frustrating that Christians so easily judge another person’s spiritual connection to God. I can say that not everyone I listened to on the conference sounded genuine, but there was at least one speaker that I heard that seemed heartfelt in what he said. As a whole I respect these people and their views. Hard not to, as well, when I see such devotion in my cousin, and see that her spirituality is so vibrant. Hunger to know God is something I can’t help but respect.
I’ve been listening to a lot of recordings by a Buddhist monk, which I have really appreciated. I am planning on being on an interactive phone call about practice with her sometime in the near future. I’ve done a lot of reading and learning about Buddhism. I really enjoy the thoughts on living in awareness, along with several other themes I’ve noticed – living without attachment, centeredness in goodness of self, etc. I’ve garnered a lot of spiritual knowledge about meditation from the Buddhist tradition and have been meditating almost every night for the past month. My meditation usually consists of one or two things:
Breath/Mindfulness Meditation: Where I only focus on my breath, nothing else. At first I just tried to empty my mind without help, lately I’ve taken to counting for 5 minutes and then pure breath focus. The counting is counting as you take a breath. You count 10 breaths and then start over at 1. This gives the mind something to focus on. So I do this for about 5 rounds/5 minutes and then do pure breath meditation for another 5 minutes or so. I’m only at about 10-15 minutes per session; working myself up to longer and longer amounts of time works well for me. I started at 2 minutes. I find this works well for me because I have really low motivation to meditate at first. If I tell myself “Just do it for 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes” I usually end up meditating longer. I just have to get myself started.
Metta/Lovingkindness: I haven’t sat and done as much of this. I usually make use of this during yoga. Lovingkindness meditation has 4 tenets: Lovingkindness towards self, lovingkindness towards loved ones, lovingkindness towards a neutral person (one you neither love nor hate) and lovingkindness towards enemies. I have started with lovingkindness towards self. Right now I need a lot of this so I’ve been doing this for the past 2-3 weeks. It’s very simple; I just focus on phrases like:
“May I be happy and peaceful.”
“May I be safe and protected.”
“May I be content.”
“May I have ease of well-being.”
“May I have acceptance of self.”
Most recently, I’ve used “May I be comforted.”
My yoga teachers usually ask us at the beginning of class to set an intention for our practice. My intention has been lovingkindness, and I usually choose one or two phrases to give to myself during practice. To be honest, this has radically revolutionized the way I look at myself and my self esteem. I am still in shock about how much it’s changed my mindset and life. Because of this simple practice, I can say that I truly enjoy and value myself. I feel “in love” with myself in a totally natural sense – fully appreciative of self, fully admiring who I am as a person, full affection for what makes me me. Pablo Neruda says it this way:
“I love you, straightforwardly, without complexities or pride.”
I am slowly trying a little bit of metta towards loved ones. I have definitely been sending some up to NYC recently.
I’ve also been reading different blogs and websites. When it comes to spirituality, I have a few favorites that I’ll mention:
Soul Questions (http://soulquestions.wordpress.com/) – more of a Christian perspective but mystical Christianity. Really fascinating to me and has proved to stoke a lot of thought in my mind about how “Christianity” doesn’t just fit in a box. I am really drawn to this side of Christianity, actually, and am looking forward to seeing how this kind of thing fits into my future spirituality.
Justin Lee’s blog (http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/) – just discovered it this morning. Some people who read my blog may be really offended by this guy. I say – too bad, stop reading my blog then. =P I really liked what he had to say. I also find that I relate a lot more to the gay community after how I was treated by the church following my divorce. I especially liked his post about Trendiality.
This blog by Moneyless World – Free World – Priceless World (http://zerocurrency.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-religion.html) – This guy lives without using money at all and has done so since 2001. I don’t know if I could do it, but I find it a really interesting idea. I like his thoughts on attachment to illusion. He relies completely on others for any transportation (he travels quite a bit). I haven’t read a lot of his more spiritual blogs, but I read this one and was really surprised with how much I loved it.
This website from the Buddhist nun I mentioned before (http://awakeningtruth.org/) – Amma is so open with her personal journey and shares a lot of strength and joy. Her thoughts on trauma and fear (in the recordings section) have been especially helpful for me.
My dear friend Shae (http://travelwithme2rwanda.blogspot.com) who is in Rwanda right now, and her open curiosity towards spirituality is really inspiring. The way she approaches diversity and other faiths is something I am striving towards in my own life. And besides all that, she is a heart sister and kindred spirit.
So that’s an update on my spirituality for all those waiting and interested. 🙂 Despite how it has seemed – my spiritual life has been busy and vibrant!