Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My brand of spirituality...


A little background: My dad was raised by a depression-era orthodox Christian community. My grandfather was a preacher, and from what I understand, a very loveless man.  My dad was taught to have constant guilt, fear, not to question, and to dedicate his life to ideals that made no sense to him. He seperated himself from the church when he was 13, but even when I was growing up we received mail at Christmas from his former Christian community condemning us to an eternity in hell, because we did not go to church on Sundays. In addition to this, there was a phase in my teen years where my peers would go to "Bible Study" and spend the night licking peanut butter off each others' faces and going away for co-ed ski trips which always led to coming back after Christmas break to hear of all the hook ups that happened over their Christian holiday (not that there is anything WRONG with peanut butter licking and hook ups, FUN! But then they came back calling ME the heathen....) So for me, religion had always been thoroughly confusing, hypocritical, mean, demeaning, disgusting, and hurtful.  My parents raised us to be charitable and kind, open minded and loving, and yet we were still the ones being pegged as "Evil".

I have always, however, been a very spiritual person. I have a big imagination, and have held on to a bit of that child-like wonder about the world, which has served me extremely well.  I have experienced some major hardships in the last 7 years, including my mom suffering severe brain damage, and then myself falling very ill 6 years ago and still working on recovery.  In that time, I found the teachings of the Dalai Lama to be extremely helpful, like a big warm hug that lit up places in my heart that had been quiet for a long time (a feeling I know that can be related to those who "find Jesus", in a real, authentic sense).   And here is the rest that I explained to my boyfriend:

I know seeing  a prayer can be easily confused with religion, but it is not religious.  While for a long time the words God and Jesus etc were like bad words to me, they have come to have new meaning for me, in a non-religious sense. Now they represent things just like Martin Luther King Jr, or George Washington, or Ghandi, or Mother Teresa or even Steve Jobs... I mean Jesus especially, and God is the spirit of those people that made them so damn good at what they did. 

I believe we have powers way beyond our understanding, and that the universe (literally) functions on many levels we can't measure with numbers for now, and in mysterious ways that we can. For example... a group of scientists set up a bunch of computers around the world which generated random sequences of numbers.  They would watch the data and saw that after a major event, like 9/11 attacks, and the Japanese earthquake/Tsunami, the computer stopped generating random numbers, and instead, generated sequences of non-random numbers. Group Think, including group meditation, (and prayer) can literally change the sequence of events, the order of randomness, and in turn, molecular organization, even at an atomic level.

Meditation, for example, is practiced by millions of people all over the world who aren't even spiritual. This is because it has major proven health and psychological benefits journaled by the medical field and science.  Meditation literally regenerates the brain, creating new grey matter, and eliminating dead matter.  It also LITERALLY re-sets the body systems, so they reset, even if just for a moment, to their normal and most optimal functioning levels.

I think religions can be harmful group systems, but they are all based on this awareness of something bigger than ourselves. They're aware of community and the power of people in numbers. The human species would never have survived the ages without community, because we're pretty wimpy creatures.  In order for a community to function, certain beliefs and rules had to be created to ensure some sort of cooperation and peace. We're now at an age where that is being tested to the other spectrum of the pendulum, where it is becoming absolutely essential to accept ALL beliefs and ways of being, otherwise our world is going to go up in a nuclear war! BOO!
Not all religious practitioners function on a dangerous level, I have seen a lot of people really thrive in a religious community, but spiritual power can also be tempting to misuse and to judge others, and at it's worse, find cause for ending their existence.

I have a whole book of prayers I have written, wishes and affirmations for myself, for my life, and for the world as a whole. Cultivating peace and desires is very much all about setting goals and intentions, and that is what my prayers are.  When you start out the day looking for all things red, you see a lot of red in your day. When you start your day off with reminders of gratitude, love, and peace, you life is filled up more with those things.  It's the primal part of our brain that goes hunting for the right food.  When you go to the store and there is a shelf of 100 different kinds of shampoo, your brain hones in and locks in on "your brand" because it is an efficient way of "hunting". Otherwise your brain is using a hell of a lot of energy to try to figure out what to get (why it is so overwhelming to shop in a foreign country or to shop for a new way of eating). So there is a lot in your life that you never even see because you are honed in on one set of ideas.  I find that "spirituality" opens my mind up to a lot of possibilities I never even dreamed of, and makes me even more aware of other opportunities, more creativity, more ways of solving problems.

 I don't believe there is a man in the sky conducting our whims and tragedies, but I do believe in a reality that we do not understand, I believe very strongly that precisely because we are human beings, we are not possibly capable of ever truly understanding the full possibilities of everything that goes on in the universe.  We are just one little spec of the giant and infinite happenings going on just outside our atmosphere, and I respect that hugeness. 

My beliefs also stem from great literature, even fairy tales, because I really believe that metaphors are a really really powerful way to explain ideas that we are total knuckleheads at trying to explain with our own words.  Lord of the Rings, for example, is a perfect metaphor for our internal battles with our own personal evils, and a tale for finding our own personal courage.  Anime has been a really great find for me too, because especially Miyazaki, explores a lot of spiritual aspects that we're too afraid to explore in America because of how "weird" or "politically incorrect" it could be. Miyazaki is obsessed with nature, and the power in nature, and the power of spirit and personal strength.  That is just one ideal that has been kind of squashed out from western thinking because it "opposes" ideas of a feared and all-powerful Christian God which a lot of numb-skulls still think is a useful way of seeing the world. (Not that all Christians are this way, certainly not! Many Christians DO find their spirit and love in nature.)

 My way of believing and thinking I believe is the ACTUAL reality, because we are beings powerful beyond our imagination, and this is my way of harnessing that power, if even a little bit.

P.S. If you are at all interested in starting a meditation practice, no spiritual or religious interest necessary! Good for your health, creativity, concentration, sign up for 21 days of free guided meditations through the Chopra Center... the first day was yesterday, but you have access to all 21 days throughout the event. Enjoy!!!
( link : http://www.chopracentermeditation.com/bestsellers/MEDITATION_WINTER_2012/register.asp )

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