Choice, Daily Life, daily practice, Growth, Inspiration, Religion, Spirit

Spiritual? Religious? Do We Have to Choose?

I keep hearing this comment and question.  Are you spiritual or are you religious? Like you must be one or the other.  This is a question Oprah likes to ask a lot on Super Soul Sunday of her guests.  Most of them say spiritual. But what I think is there is room for both, inside me, at the same time.

We were in a discussion in class last night regarding practice and devotion.  How do you see that differently? Is it different? And for me what came up was spiritual vs religious. I cannot separate the two, I need both.

For me spiritual is how I live my life. It is the inner work that I do. It is my personal connection to something greater than myself. It is in the decisions I make, it is in how I view myself and others. When I decide I want more love in my life and so I stay in a place of love, that is Spirit.  When I realize I am judging someone else, and stop, that is Spiritual. When I sit out in nature and listen to the call of the birds, that is Spiritual. When I read a book that moves me to tears, that is Spiritual. When I say I want peace and joy in my life and go out with the faith it is already so, that is Spiritual. So spiritual, for me, is my personal daily connection to God (or whatever your name is) and how I take that into my world.

Religion, I thought I didn’t need it. I thought I could basically wing it. I’m all about God, I’m all about Love.  And that worked for a long time. But all the humanness became mixed up in that and I didn’t have structure to help me through the happenings of my life. Yes, it is fine to sit on a hilltop and feel the Grace of God. But now, I have to go down into the world and try to live my life with grace and ease.  And I need support around that.

So I get that through my church. I go almost every week. And I go because I need the lessons that give me support during the week.  I attend the Center for Spiritual Living, which is a Religious Science church. I found this belief system works for me. We do a lot of work around the here and now. You can look it up more if you like. I am not saying it is the only way, I am saying I have found this to work for me.

So religion, why do I go?  I need the structure around me.  I am reminded each week to do my daily practices. I am inspired by the lessons I hear. I am given tools to help me maneuver through my emotions. I am reminded over and over that I am worthy, that I am loved. There are classes to help deepen my knowledge, of both myself and the Creator. There are people who are like minded that remind me why I am Spiritual.

I know I need both. I think they go hand in hand. If I am simply religious and not taking that spiritual connection into my life, I am missing the whole point.  If I am spiritual, but not including religion, I am not grounded and supported enough to sustain it.

Am I spiritual?  Am I religious? I am both.   What I am is whole. I use everything available to stay that way. I can’t separate them and I don’t need to.  Why would I?  I have the best of both worlds.

Namaste

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Balance, Growth, Healing, self love, Soul, Wholeness

Balance and Wholeness, Can We have Both?

Wholeness and balance, what is the difference? I was having a discussion with my friend the other night.  We got into the balance/wholeness topic.  So my friend was speaking about balance, needing balance in her life and working towards that.  So I comment that I am focused more on wholeness and then question comes up “can we define those terms?” And so that is what is on my mind.

Balance: super important. When I am out of balance my skin just doesn’t quite fit, my life is uneven and I am invested in one area way too much. This happens all the time. I take on too much work and I quit having fun. I share way too much and then withdraw. I focus on a relationship and everything else goes out the window. I decide to get healthy and forget to relax. I could go on with many examples. Probably you could too. It is not necessarily bad, in fact I think it is human. We become engrossed, passionate, committed, and it feels good, until it doesn’t.

I have learned to recognize the symptoms more quickly these days.  I can say “I am out of balance, I am spending too much time on this, i have neglected that.” I am much quicker to correct the situation.  Sometimes I cannot, life does not easily allow me to move out of the situation. For instance, if I was  put in a care taking situation, or any kind of crisis where I want to help, it would be hard to step away. But I can recognize it and work towards taking care of my needs. I can look at the what I am putting my attention to and dial it back a little. I can see that balance will be regained in the future and therefore have peace with the present.

But if my very life has created the imbalance, well I have the tools to fix that. There is no need for me flounder and feel out of control. I make my choices and I look at the big picture.  Am I paying attention to my health? Am I paying attention to my Spiritual life?  Am I paying attention to my responsibilities? Do I have enough love in my life?  Am I laughing enough, am I enjoying myself?  When all of these facets are full my life flows with balance.

But wholeness, that is different to me. I realized they are not one and the same. For me, wholeness is being complete in myself. Wholeness is accepting all parts of me.  Accepting the good of me, the difficult parts of me, the intellectual me, the crazy me, the driven me, the relaxed me, the funny me, the cryptic me. All of me. And loving all of those pieces of me.

Wholeness means I do not look for something outside of me to fix me. I know that cannot happen. I look inside for that. I am responsible for my being. Wholeness also means I will walk beside you but not try to fix you. I accept your wholeness just as it is presented to me. If you have pieces missing right now,  you are still perfect in this moment just as you are.

Wholeness does not mean I am not broken, but it does mean I have put the pieces back in. I have worked to fill the cracks and mend the scars. Wholeness means I do not search for someone to complete me, but to complement me. There have been times, even in recent years, I have felt fragmented. Like I had left pieces of myself all along the way of life. Mostly with people, sometimes places. I have gathered many of my pieces and brought them home. I recognize that I am One with The One. This last time when I lost my Grandmother, I felt broken inside, like there were little pieces of me broken but still within my skin.  This time I did not leave pieces behind. I kept them and I healed them. I am full of scars, they are part of my wholeness.

What I know is this, wholeness feels like peace, like love. Wholeness feels like I am enough, just as I am. Maybe that is it, I am enough. Broken, scarred,. fractured, healed, good, bad, beautiful, wistful, curious, searching, lonely, full, loved and loving, all of this and more, I am enough. I am whole, perfect and complete and I am enough, just as I stand.

We need both, Balance and Wholeness.  We will lose our way over and over with them,   We are here to learn about life and lessons come in all sorts of packages. But if we can remember along the way to take a step back and say “Am I in balance, Am I feeling whole?” then we are ahead of the game and surely at the end of the day we have a certain peace and calmness that lives within us.

Namaste

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Change, Daily Life, Growth, life, Self, strength

The River Flows as Does Life

Yesterday I walked along a river and noting all the different ways the river flowed.  From its source to the natural end,  it goes through many different incarnations. There are calm pools, there are rapids, there are easily flowing streams, there are waterfalls, it widens, it narrows.  Sometimes it is a trickle and sometimes a flood.  There are twists and turns, over rocks, under branches. So many times life has been likened to a river, I am remembering that now.

Could we not look at the above paragraph and substitute life for river?  From the beginning of our lives we cannot see where it is going to take us.  And though we have conscious thought, choice and control within our lives we cannot always see how we got to where we are.  Life will respond to our unspoken words, our true beliefs and the thoughts we fill our minds with. So even when I say, well this is not what I wanted, is it not what I believed I could have?  Of course it is. My thoughts, my desires, my belief in what I truly can accept is what makes up the river of my life.

I think I have to have all the parts of the river to be whole.  I need the rapids. The rapids make me strong.  I can look back and say I survived that.  I survived that loss, that divorce, that growth, that disappointment.  I build emotional muscle when I run the rapids.  And the waterfalls,  they build my faith.  When I am falling with no idea how this will end, I step into faith. And trust. Let go and let God, or let Life, however you look it.  These are the waterfalls of my life.  This is when I stand up and know whatever happens I can survive.  The rapids have made strong and faith takes me though it.

At times the river is narrow and twisty.  I can only see a small piece of my world.  Perhaps I am focused on one area.  Usually there are rocks underneath and branches above.   At those times my world feels shrunken and tight. I have to work hard to move through it. Maybe there are dangers, things I need to raise my attention to.  These are the times I step carefully, working my way to smoother waters.

At times in narrowness the river dries.  Never completely empty, but pooled and stagnant.  These times are dark.  In those moments of life, it is easy to get stuck. It is muddy and I get bogged down. I feel the stillness instead of movement. In those times I learn what I really want and need in my life. And I call to it, I reach out.  This stretch of the river teaches me patience and strengthens my faith. To know I will make it out of the muck, to know there is movement beyond this moment, this time. Life always returns, and me with it.

There are pools in the river, places to rest.  These times give me peace, and serenity.  To know that I will be back in the river, but for this moment, I get to rest.  I get to be still.  I get to stop look around and make a choice.  For me this is a time of reflection, a deepening. Even though the movement of the river takes me forward,  the pool gives me a moment to breathe and reflect.  I need that in my life to keep my direction.

The tinkling brook, the sounds of the water flowing freely over the rocks.  There is joy, there is ease. It is a busy time, with much movement in my life. I think this part of my life is one of my favorite times.  I feel alive, engaged, happy.  Yes there is work, but in the way that frees me to move forward.  The river sparkles with light, and I sparkle with life.

Sometimes the river is wide and calm and peaceful.  I move from the busy brook to wide river knowing my soul needs rest. I feel full during these times.  I am reaping my harvest from the busy times. I am moving forward, but a pace that affords me rest.  These times fill me with expansiveness and love.  I feel the breadth of my life.  I see my rewards, I feel my peace.  My soul cries out for these times.  To rest, rejuvenate,  and gather myself for the next  piece of the river.

Because I need all of the pieces of the river.  Just as the river is not whole without each facet, neither am I. I am a sparkly brook, a wide peaceful stream.  I am also a waterfall, a rapid and a pool.  All of this makes up the fabric of my life.  Each pieces teaches something about myself.  Each piece brings its own gift.  Each piece makes me whole. And wholeness, well that is Life.  So I am going to love each and every moment of the river. I am going to love the rapids, the falls, the mud, just as much as I love the sparkling brook,  the deep pools and the wideness of my life. It is all me,  this river of my life.  A crazy, twisted, calm, wide, narrow, sparkling ride.  I wish you safe journey down your river, see you at the end.

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