Thinking about this month and everything that occurred and everything that I wanted to do and didn’t, I come back to a thought about beliefs. What do I believe? I know I want to use yoga and mindfulness more and I know that I eventually want to bring meditation into my practices, but what do I actually believe? If these past 3 months were supposed to be about getting spiritual, what does that actually mean to me? The honest answer of course is that I am not really sure. So, how can I untangle my thoughts and begin to make sense of it all? Maybe I should start with what I do and don’t believe? Off the top of my head, I think I can summarise these two points like this:
What I do believe:
- Karma: I truly believe that if you put good into the world, it will come back to you. I try to be a good person and help out where I feel able because I know some day I will be in a tough place and I will need help too.
- Light/Goodness in everyone: I truly believe that there is the light of good in everyone. Maybe it gets squashed through hard times or may be they have pushed it so far down, it is only a pin prick of light, but it is there.
- Connection: Not to a higher being, but to each other, to the earth and to our selves. If we lose sight of these connections, we lose sight of who we are.
- Soul: We all have our guiding principles, our morals, and our values. This is what I believe is our soul and if we go against these, we lose ourselves and we feel lost or without a purpose. We don’t know what our purpose in life is and we lose our soul. We can spend days, months, or years being lost. We need to be true to our inner selves as much as we can. Circumstances may always require that we bend our principles, but our core should be true to them.
- Everyday actions make the person, not a religion: I don’t believe that practicing an organised religion makes you a good, strong, spiritual person. I truly believe that it is the every day things that make the person, their life choices. If they are given a path to help the many or only themselves, their choice is what they should be judged on. To me, this is character.
- Life is messy: There is no such thing as a perfect life. We all make mistakes and it is what we do with the learning of these that makes or breaks us as people. And while wallowing in self-pity or dwelling in a bad place for a long time isn’t always good, there is a place for feelings as a part of the process.
- We always have a choice: No matter how bad it all seems, we always have the choice to give up or to carry on.
- We are capable of growth and change: We can if we feel it is necessary or if the desire is there change the course of our lives. We choose the impact we want to have in the world.
- People do better together: We are social creatures who always do better together than when we are on our own.
- Lives are meant to be lived to the fullest: There is no right or wrong way to do ‘life’.
What I don’t believe:
- Organised religion: I don’t believe in any one organised religion. I have read many of the main religious texts and studied evolution of Christianity throughout history enough to know that I can’t believe any one book is the word of a God. I am not sure that I believe in a God. I think I believe more in the spiritual connectedness of the world than in a benevolent or maleficent rulers of a heaven or a hell.
- Only one way is the right way: I think this links to organised religion but I truly struggle with the concept that there is a right way or a wrong way to live your life, that there is a right set of principles and a wrong set. I do think there are some universal truths like hurting others is bad and fairness/equality for all, but I do not believe in an eye for an eye.
- Practices make you spiritual: I don’t think anyone who goes to church, temple, mosque, monasteries, etc are better than those who don’t. I don’t think practicing rituals, like prayers and singing hymns means you are a good person. I think the every day actions are what show people as good or bad. I also very much think that good versus bad can be very grey and situation dependent.
- A cosmic judge of all humankind: I just don’t believe that one exists. I don’t think that there is anyone out their directing our lives like a symphony.
- Confession clears the soul: In my time, I have tried confessing my sins, but in my experience, I may feel better, but I may have made someone else feel worse. Confessing to yourself that you did something that you feel is wrong does help in that acknowledging can often help to move on from it.
- There is any such thing as a clear conscience: Life is messy. We make mistakes. We try our best and sometimes we fail. We need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and learn. Wallowing doesn’t help, but I do think that there is a learning process from our mistakes and first and foremost we need to get ourselves to a place to learn and not just ignore the process.
I think if I had to describe myself as anything, it would probably be most in line with a Humanist. Maybe if I had started out my 3 months exploring what I do and don’t believe first, it would have helped me to get to the next place of mindfulness and meditation. I also think that I am a person who does well shutting down my brain in a group when we are all striving to achieve mental clarity. I think trying to be mindful on my own didn’t work for me. I think this may also be why I struggled to meditate. And also, I think I was not clear on what spirituality looked like for me. Perhaps also, exploring spirituality came too soon in the project for me. Maybe if I had explored myself first, I could then have brought in how this ties with my spirituality at the end.
Finally, I think one thing I am struggling with over the whole course of this project but especially during this past 3 months is this. (Reference: Facebook Group Staying Alive is Not Enough)