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April 29, 2014

How to Not Take Your Spirituality Too Seriously (and Still Be Serious About It.) ~ Tui Anderson

David/ Flickr

Take pride in the steps that you have taken towards setting yourself free for living a happy life.

I cheerfully tag myself as a “fluffy spiritualist.”

I don’t practice anything every day. I eat bacon because it is really yummy, I go to yoga when I feel like it and don’t go when I don’t. I have done all night meditation ceremonies and I have passed on them all the same because I want to sleep instead. In other words, I pick and choose what suits me with very little discipline or dedication.

I was told in no uncertain terms by a Buddhist monk that this makes me a fluffy spiritualist and that enlightenment does not lie down that path. To him, I say “phooey!”

This is my path and I will reach enlightenment any damn way I choose. If I am a “spiritual hedonist,” there are probably worse ways to live.

It seems that the new “real” version of being spiritual is to follow the “new-age spiritualists,” material spiritualists or yogis, who still wear Lululemon. Ironically, I have just spent a few days in a workshop with an old-school Indian tantra guru who spent half the time following “new-age spiritualists.”

I mean, I guess in some ways, the old-school guys are the most hard-core; it’s my way or the highway of all. They’re not at all like the old Hindu mystics said,

“Sure, go out and dabble in Christianity and see if you learn something, then come back and share.”

Don’t get me wrong: I greatly admire the dedication it takes to walk a single path. I cannot and probably never will feel that much dedication to any one school of thought or practice, but if you can reach Enlightenment, Happiness or Love that way, then I say go for it!

If, however, you are a bit more like me and like to mix things up, try new paths and learn more that one way of thinking, I would really like to think that the winding path to Enlightenment is ok too. AND, I would also like to think that it is ok for there to be more than one winding path.

I mean, I am not big into juicing but if you find that it makes you feel clean and clear and healthy, then go for it (though perhaps carefully as there are suggestions that juicing too long and rigorously may not be so good for your body.)

If wearing designer pants to yoga makes you feel good, is that any less yogic than if wearing budget pants makes you feel good? If twisting yourself into a pretzel in a yoga class makes you break out into a rash, but you find peace and inner calm jogging, isn’t that just as good a path into yourself?

Do you need to step very gently into self-awareness with a one-day workshop on crystals, or are you ready to throw yourself into deep exploration with a naked tantra workshop? Surely whichever step you are ready to take, that is exactly the right step for you now.

And even if you waltz around town with feathers in your hair declaring that you are enlightened or awakened, surely you are doing the best you can with the skills and tools that you have been given.

Okay (so by Tibettan-monk-meditating-in-a- cave-for-40-years standards) you may have a little bit more work to do before you reach enlightenment, but can the rest of us not celebrate your happiness, rather than ridiculing your new-agedness?

So if I come to your retreat or your workshop, please don’t spend any time or breath telling me how yours is the only way or how your competitor is doing things wrong. The only things that serves to tell me is that you are feeling either insecure or superior or both.

Yes, your way worked for you and you have made huge gains and changes by this breathing technique or that meditation mantra. And yes, I am here, so I am interested in learning what you have to share. But I will walk out of your workshop or class and I will take what works for me and integrate it into the larger picture of the unique path that is mine.

I don’t want to walk your path, it already has a person on it. If I abandon my path to follow the rules of yours, I am giving up all the joys and pleasures that I have put together to make up my life.

So if I take a little bit of your teachings, and a dab of his mantra and a dollop of her meditations and then blend them together with my body, my heart and my soul, surely that is the best recipe for me to find enlightenment.

And, because I like to walk my path in peace, I will let you find the ingredients for your path, rather than insist you mirror (or worse, join) mine. I will remind myself not to judge your yoga pants: (no matter the brand) print or cut. I remind myself that every bubbly enthusiastic person who has just been to their first meditation retreat is on their path, their right path. And I will also remind myself that all those people who think it is all complete bunkum are also exactly on their right path!

For where is God (or the Universe, or the Intelligent Energy or the Divine) not hidden? Is there less God in Lululemon than any other yoga pants? Is the Universe more present in a yoga class than at the weights bench? Does the Divine show up to meditation but not chanting, just because I am not a fan of chanting? I suspect not.

So, the only spiritual suggestion I would make is to not take your spirituality too seriously.

Laugh, enjoy, play. I frequently get the giggles in mediation. God, energy is funny and a little bit tickly! Be happy on your path to Happiness.

Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Apprentice Editor: Jen Weddle/Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: David via Flickr

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