I recently had a conversation with someone who noticed my om pendant (it’s a cool stone on a rope with the om symbol etched in it.
She asked, “What does that mean?”
I generally don’t like to get too technical. If someone doesn’t know what the om symbol is, I’ll just say “It’s a sound I sometimes use to bring me peace when I meditate.”
“Meditate? What is that?”
I’ll admit, it’s been a lifetime since I’ve been asked that question. This was quickly becoming a conversation that both reminded me of my roots and some of the many lessons that brought me here.
“I sit in stillness, observing my inner universe while letting go of it all. Sometimes I used visualizations and mantras, others I just sit and watch,” I replied as simplistically as I could.
“Watch what? Like ghosts? Do you see ghosts?”
My inner mind sighed a heavy sigh.
“No, I don’t believe in ghosts. I’ve never seen one, and I value my experience. If I run into one then I’ll change my mind, until then I only believe in the living.”
“Then can you see the future? Are you a psychic?”
“No. I can’t see the future, I’m too busy seeing the present.”
“So, then, what religion are you? Catholic?”
I chuckled a bit at the Catholic reference. If she only knew.
“None of them. I guess you can say I’m “spiritual” but have no need for religions.
“Hhhhmmmmm. So then what does this “being spiritual” mean if it’s not a religion?”
There it was! Finally!! The entire place this conversation was leading.
What is “being spiritual,” anyway?
For me, it is going to church without ever leaving the space I am in. It’s reading a sacred text not written in words, but in the sweet sounds and silence of my experience. It’s not about reading words written on fibers of paper, but about studying the word written on each and every fiber of my existence.
It’s about watching, participating, and loving every minute of the ride.
It’s about honoring my agreement to be happy, and to allow others to be happy. It’s about uncovering who I am through the layers of “me” offered by others from my birth. It’s about being strong enough to be weak, devoted enough to be undisciplined, and faithful enough to believe in nothing.
It’s about pealing away each splinter of wood in that basket covering my light, until there is little left of its frame.
It’s about not caring what others think, not because I have judged them as “wrong” or “bad”, but because I realize most of them are still living in the story others have created for them and I, simply, wish to create my own story of me. Living for them is an old habit I seek to break.
It’s about recognizing not only the stillness in the noise, but the noise in the stillness: I know each from their opposite.
It’s about loving myself, truly and with great depth. From that ocean rises the rains of love that I can pour over others.
It’s about understanding that fear is a liar, a crafty bastard designed by me to test my place and to give me reason to hold on tighter than what serves me. Fear helps me test the handhold before I place my weight on it, and is a valuable tool if used correctly.
It’s about my walks in the woods as being the only church I will ever need. It’s about finding a church in every space I happen to be. It’s about giving up religious faith and replacing it with experience.
It’s about giving a fuck what happens to my space, my planet and my universe. It’s about the expression of love within me not found in any form of legal tender whatsoever, but in a new form of currency that can’t be overspent, can’t be saved, and can’t create greed. Love.
It’s about being impeccable with my word because my truth is so freaking beautiful.
It’s about not taking what others say or do personally. It’s about freedom from their concepts, and allowing them freedom from my own. It’s about being responsible for myself, and taking ownership of me.
It’s about never taking responsibility or ownership of another person, their emotions or their way of life.
It’s about not making assumptions and finding the courage to ask the questions I need answered. It’s about being clear, and not trying to live up (or down) to what others may assume. It’s about liberation from the lie that I know everything, and that I am always right.
It’s about always doing my best. It’s about living in a way that promotes disciplines that contribute to my happiness, to my pure joy. It’s about staying true to my truth, and promote a peaceful existence within me that spreads to wherever my light may shine.
It’s about forgiveness. Not so much of others, but of myself.
I must forgive myself for taking ownership of the actions of others. I must forgive myself for not always being impeccable with my word. I must forgive myself for making assumptions, and for not recognizing the stories that others tell are their stories, and only matter to me if I allow them to.
I must forgive myself for being fearful, for not being strong enough to express my pure, loving self to the world around me. I must forgive myself for not always trying my best, and for sometimes not taking full responsibility for myself.
I must forgive myself for those moments when I did not love myself, when I found myself to be so unworthy of love that I pretended to be someone other than who I am. I am forgiven.
When I’ve done this, when I’ve forgiven myself and taken full responsibility, I have forgiven everyone I will ever need forgive. There is no need to forgive others, for any wrong I have ever perceived done to me I have done to myself. This practice has caused me to love everyone, including those I once felt wronged me. And it has allowed me to trust again.
Needless to say I didn’t state this entire description to answer my friend’s question. I simply said, “I’ll explain it sometime. Let’s just say I try to love everyone, especially myself.”
After all, that’s quite a lot for some to chew on.
Adapted from the original, which can be found here.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Alice Popkorn / Flickr