Don’t worry, I’m not religious

rs-8761-gaga-624-1355954417It’s just after 7am and I’m sitting on my sisters sofa in West Brunswick in Melbourne, with a mug of elderberry and echinacea tea, wearing a white cotton with fluoro print Japanese kimono on over my pyjamas (well, my sisters purple hippy pants cause I’m an unashamed clothes borrower) and am listening to SeeSaw by Jamie XX, pretty much on repeat (just setting the scene).

I woke up at 6am and couldn’t get back to sleep but managed to catch the sunrise (which never happens!). So feeling grateful I got to experience that morning magic, but right now, in general, I feel anxious and really sensitive and vulnerable – so today I feel like writing from this space.

I started this blog as in January a wonderful and close friend (one of my soul sisters!) decided to start a blog to talk about her journey of wellness and single parenthood (read it here). I thought this was a brilliant idea so also decided to follow suit as was in a deep personal development-y mode.

With a loose intention of documenting my journey this year, I’ve gained so much more from writing than I ever intended. I never intended to share it with my network, but after (accidentally!) linking it through to my Facebook account and following some close friends, additional people I know started following me. It’s really helped me push through fears of “what people think” – which is one of my main fears. Now that some people actually read this, I also intend to add value by sharing philosophies and tools I’ve used that have a made a significant impact on my life, which may either impact you too or perhaps might make you think about your own personal growth. 

In any case, I’m embracing vulnerability. I don’t really know exactly what this means to me, I just know I’m doing things that I find a bit scary – like sharing my thoughts and feelings online – and feeling okay with this. I’m feeling okay with feeling fearful. I’m also feeling okay with feeling anxious right now. Most importantly, I’m practicing authentically and deep honesty. I LOVE real talk! Yes, I love a great inspirational quote, a positive affirmation or a miracle mindset – but what I love even more is humanity, compassion, humility and witnessing and honoring the shadows, as much as the light. 

So this morning, I felt like writing about my new found love for spirituality. I deliberated this title as it’s judgemental against religion – but to be honest, I am. I know this is due to my own prejudice and ignorance. With religion, I tend to focus on the negative aspects and the extremes, rather than all of the incredible aspects, which I am sure there are many – such as community, purpose, faith, and love. However, I am very aware of the negative aspects of religion – but this post is about my spiritual perception in general.

I also remembered this paragraph from The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins that stuck with me when I started reading this book in Tuscany last August (dreamy loco I know):

“A widespread assumption, which nearly everybody in our society accepts – the non-religious included – is that religious faith is especially vulnerable to offence and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of respect, in a different class from the respect that any human being should pay to any other.”

He then goes on to quote a speech Douglas Adams made in Cambridge (condensed below):

“Religion has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything bad about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not! If somebody votes for a party that you don’t agree with, you’re free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but no body feels aggrieved by it. Why should it be that it’s perfectly legitimate to support the Labour party or the Conservative party, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics virus that, but to have an option about how the Universe began, about who created the Universe….no, that’s holy? We are used to not challenging religious ideas. Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you’re not allowed to say these things. Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn’t be as open to debate as any other, expect that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn’t be.”

I always considered my self to be an atheist:

‘a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods’,

Until I understood what it meant to be agnostic and I felt I identified with that too (part atheist, part agnostic):

‘a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.’

However, now I also identify as spiritual:

‘modern systems of spirituality may include a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one’s own “inner dimension.”’

But also quite like humanism – but mostly in regards to religion, but not spirituality:

‘humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition.’

I identify with being an atheist, humanist, agnostic and spiritual all at once and in varying degrees, depending on how you look at it. I’m not sure if that’s descriptively correct, but that’s how I feel.

God (or the lack thereof)

I don’t believe in god or a god or gods. I feel quite uncomfortable using this word as it has a lot of connotations for me (picturing traditional Christianity and worship to a man in the sky). However, a lot of the spiritual texts and readings – and spiritual teachers I follow – all do talk about a ‘higher power’, in one way or another.

I started studying the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles. This is the text Gabrielle Bernstein (who I’ve been learning from) and Marianne Williamson (famous spiritual teacher and New York Times bestselling author) teaches. The Course uses words such as ‘god’ or ‘him’ – which I do not identify with and feel really uncomfortable with it since I don’t believe in a god.

I really like Gabby B’s spin on it using language like ‘the universe’ and ‘inner guide’. I’m continuing to study the Course without an emphasis on ‘god’ per say, and swinging it with a ‘universe / life’ angle, as I feel like there are some really amazing lessons and new ways of perceiving myself and the world in there – which has resulted in me feeling happy as fuck. Lessons such as trust, oneness, forgiveness, the world is meaningless and we create our own meaning, and simply reflecting on perception and reality.

However, I am willing and open to the idea of ‘energy’. I don’t identify with ‘a higher power’ too much either, but I do feel more comfortable with ‘source energy’ – ‘source’ as spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle and Abraham Hicks call it. Although ‘source’ by itself makes me feel a little weird, but I am becoming more accustomed to it.

‘Contrary to what those who pledge their allegiance to the traditional paradigm might think, the influential, pioneering individuals I spoke with felt that we have not reached the pinnacle of human development, we are connected, rather than separate, from all of life, and that the full spectrum of consciousness encompasses both physically and a multitude on nonphysical dimensions of reality” – Eckhart Tolle

If I think about connectedness on both a sub-atomic (quantum) and humanity level, I do see the oneness in all. I’ve also experienced this in meditation and also when in nature.

{TEXT BREAK: Just had a half an hour chat with my sister on all things religion and spiritually over cinnamon banana and coconut milk oats for me, and coffee for her, before 9am on a Saturday morning!}

‘Being’, ‘source energy’, ‘the universe’ (or something like it)

While I don’t quite yet know what this means to me, I do feel there is something to this – and that my judgemental, prejudice and ignorant views of all religious beliefs have blocked me from even being willing to learn about the possibility of a ‘source energy’. I’ve stayed away from spiritualism even though I’ve always been drawn to all things magical (fairies, witches, crystals etc.), and I’ve definitely strayed far away from all things religious. However, now that I’m really fascinated by spiritualism, I’ve read some really incredible and insightful literature that has impacted me in a wonderful way.

In The Power of Now, Eckart Tolle mentions some of the views of religious spiritual leaders such as Jesus and the Buddha. He goes on,

“The word God has become empty of meaning through thousands of years of misuse. By misuse, I mean that people who have never even glimpsed the realm of the sacred, the infinite vastness behind that word, use it with great conviction, as if they knew what they were talking about. This misuse gives rise to absurd beliefs, assertions, and exotic delusions. The word God has become a closed concept. Neither God nor Being nor any other word can define or explain the ineffable reality behind the word.”

He uses the word ‘being’ – and this is what I am currently exploring.

“Being is the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death. However, Being is not only bound by also deep within every form as it’s innermost invisible and indestructible essence. This means that is is accessible to you now as your own deepest self, your true nature. But don’t try to seek it with your mind. Don’t try to understand it. You can know it only when the mind is still. When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the Now, Being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally. Te regain awareness of Being and to abide in the state of “feeling-realization” is enlightenment.”

‘Spiritual’ practices 

I used inverted commas here as spiritual means different things to different people. But essentially for me, it’s connecting to my inner self (intuition, true self, inner wisdom etc) and feeling the oneness of the world and universe around me.

Meditation (becoming still and present in the now). This is currently my main form of spiritualism, and meditation has now become a non-negotiable must in my life. I most often listen to guided ones. I had an incredible meditation experience in Perth when I was at a beach meditating to a Tara Brach guided meditation ‘Inhabiting Our Body, Realizing Wholeness’ going inwards and I really felt the innerness of the vast space in my body, along with oneness of myself connected to absolutely everything.

Spiritual texts. I’m really drawn to all things spiritual at the moment and love expanding my perceptions by others perceptions. The main spiritual texts I’m reading at the moment are A Course in Miracles and The Power of Now. I’m also reading a lot of other books on health, self-love, manifesting etc! I know what the perception can be of personal development, but if you look past that (like I’m trying to with religion) you might actually gain so much from it, more than you ever thought possible. I don’t think personal development is a form of weakness at all (cue perceptions of self-help isles and troubled shoppers in bookstores), but when applied to a healthy mind, I believe it can help you experience deep bliss and a life beyond your wildest dreams.

Affirmative prayer (a form of prayer or a metaphysical technique that is focused on a positive outcome rather than a negative situation). I’m becoming more comfortable with the term ‘prayer’ now. I use affirmations on a daily basis to bring me back to love, over fear. It’s also putting my dreams, hopes and desires ‘out there’ to ‘the universe’ – or whatever! It doesn’t really matter where to or what it’s called, it’s a way of practicing trust and faith in yourself and life.

~ing writing (asking for guidance and support to myself). This is a practice Gabrielle Bernstein recommends as part of her book/ course ‘May Cause Miracles’. This can be writing out your deep, dark suppressed thoughts and feelings, or asking your ‘inner guide’ for guidance. This is an expert from some ~ing (inner self) writing I did the other day where I was feeling challenged:

You know that your challenges and struggles are growth, even if sometimes it’s hard to see it at the time. You know in retrospect that some of the hardest times in your life have actually given you the most back. You know this, it’s not bullshit or ‘spiritual talk’, it’s truth. You know there will always be challenges in life, they will never go away completely. And you know this is a good thing. As you know this is living, and this is human, and this is real. You know you have the choice of how you perceive your challenges and struggles. You also know that you create the majority of your challenges and struggles, which also gives you the power to set them free. You know the more you dig deep into why you’ve created these challenges, the more you’ll unlearn ego-based behavior. You know the path of least resistance is always the right path for you. You know the path of fun is always the right path for you. You know when you’re leaning into what feels good it’s the right path for you. You know this is a lifelong journey and there’s so end destination. You know this is just simply another way you can choose to perceive yourself and your life. You know you get to choose. You know you just need to lean into feeling good. You know everything else will come at the right time. You know you can get everything you want in life and more, and you know you will get this when you are ready. 

Yoga (as a form of spiritual practice). I haven’t been yoga-ing as much as I intended this year yet. I got back into Bikram and hot vinyasa when I arrived in Perth, but I crashed as my body was still gaining strength again after (essentially) a 22-month bender! Now I’m really into restorative and yin yoga and will get right back into it in Bali when I arrive, just over a week from now. I also intend to go to India at the end of this year and stay in an ashram for a month, practicing meditation and yoga (which I’ve wanted to do for years!)

Psychedelics 

At the moment I’m really interested in learning more are psychedelics as a way to experience ‘oneness’ with all and to induce a ‘spiritual’ experience. One the last week I’ve started talking to people about acid in particular, but also interested in other forms, and would be willing to break my 6 month sobriety pledge to experiment with it. While my party days are behind me (cocaine is so 2017), I’m really open to trying psychedelics – and also am really fascinated by other peoples and society’s perception of them. Personally, I’m super open minded to drugs, and have had some incredible experiences being high, and find it really interesting how people can shut them down completely for their negative aspects when many people get many positive experiences from them too. Life is for living to the full, and for me, that means sometimes experiencing and experimenting with drugs.

I’ve never done psychedelics as have always gravitated to stimulant drugs (apart from a quarter {? can’t remember exact amount} of a tab of acid at a festival, but I was also stoned and drinking so didn’t get full affects), so when I do, I want to do it right – i.e. be in a great mindset, safe environment and with people I trust, or by myself. Anyway, I’m going to be looking and reading into this more!

Spirit junkie vibes

I have definitely considered myself to be a slightly obsessive person. Obsessive as ‘all-consuming’ – although for me it’s not completely obsessive, perhaps ‘low key obsessive’ as I like to call it, and at the moment it’s all things spiritual. However, all of this spiritual goodness is really affecting me in a positive way, in every level. Last year I was obsessive about partying and boys (not so healthy!), and this year I’m feeling so mega drawn to spiritual vibes.

I’ve booked a one-way ticket to Bali and will be taking up residence in Ubud – the spiritual side of Bali where spiritual seekers tend to go. I’ll be staying for a month minimum and it’s my intention to live here, although I have no idea how yet ha! So I’ll see what happens, and in the meantime, I am manifesting away and putting my trust in ‘the universe’ / in my ‘inner self’ – or something/whatever!

I could write way more on this topic, but the day is now upon us and this is getting long! As per every other perception in my life right now, I know they will expand, change and grow as I do, and might possibly change completely.

With love to you babe (whoever is reading this!)

Rhe

xx

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