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June 23, 2021

Can we Practice “Spirituality” without being Religious?

I regard myself as a spiritual person.

I cannot say that I follow all the full processes of being a “religious” person, but I do what is possible to fulfill what I feel is right and what makes me happy.

Prayer gives me hope. Hope breeds peace, and peace breeds good vibes, comfort, security, and happiness.

My first encounter with spirituality was probably brought on by my maternal grandmother who would come to stay with us when I was a child. In early mornings, we would go to the temple and spend our time worshipping the Gods, offering them the freshly picked flowers from our garden and a little bit of sugar.

On our way back, we would go and buy vegetables. This later become a routine and something I looked forward to as it also meant time well spent with my grandmother.

As I grew older, I formed my own identity and developed my own spiritual streak. Nothing elaborate, just a little prayer before going to bed. This developed into reciting a sacred verse, once a day, that was given to me by my father.

This ritual has continued till today.

When I was studying in university, I came across The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, which is still one of my favorite books today. I had borrowed it from a friend who had expected me to return it within a day. I eventually took my time reading it and I gave it back after a few days. Later on, I decided to buy myself my own copy.

This book has opened many closed doors for me, and I started to feel elevated. I started to explore and see things from different perspectives. I believe it even may have led me to discover and ignite my grown-up spiritual side. Whenever I had a problem, I would randomly open this book on any page and read it. It is something that was mentioned at the beginning of the book, and I still practice it regularly till today.

Religious practices were never my strongest attributes. I prayed, but I didn’t know the full processes of each and every type of religious ritual.

But, in my own practice, I firmly believe in this:

“Your daily life is your temple and your religion.

Whenever you enter into it, take with you your all. 

Take the plough and the forge and the mallet and the lute, 

the things you have fashioned in necessity or for delight. 

For in revery, you cannot rise above your achievements nor fall lower than your failures.” ~ Gibran Khalil Gibran

I still believe in it today, and my belief has increased more profoundly as the years go by. Everybody goes to their place of worship and bows, kneels, or joins their hands together. They might portray an image of a religious, pious self, but the minute they walk out, they become their monstrous self again: selfish, uncaring, and full of hatred for the disadvantaged. I would rather just pray at home and put my heart into it for those brief few minutes. I would rather do well to others and myself than waste my energy on being pretentious, just so I could gain the popularity and false admiration of others.

My next encounter with spirituality was from 2015 to 2016 when I started practicing yoga. A friend who used to attend classes had introduced me to the practice. She gently persuaded me to go along with her, and I was hooked.

The ambiance was magnetic, calm, and informal. My yoga teacher was serious yet sincere. He explained each and every concept well. The soft music in the background added to the atmosphere of peace and serenity. People came, practiced yoga, and went quietly about their day afterward. There was a strict routine that we all had adhered to. I discovered that I enjoyed meditating and I could do it for a long time with concentration. I also loved the yoga postures and did them well enough, too. I was agile, and it felt great.

I attended the classes regularly. But when the pandemic hit, the classes discontinued. Now, I practice yoga at home, and I am very passionate about my practice.

The pandemic as well as my personal situation brought me to my latest meeting with spirituality. I ordered a copy of the Bhagavad Gita online and started to read it. It had been on my bucket list for a long time, but I had never had the courage to order it before. I use the word “courage,” but what I mean is that I wasn’t brave enough to read it earlier. I did not think that I would be up for it. I did not believe that someone like me would be able to grasp or understand it, or to apply it into my life.

I had underestimated myself. Once again, I was hooked. Everything I read made sense. It made everything easier to cope with. The daily ordeal that I was facing during the pandemic, amongst other things, was made slightly less stressful. I felt there was a higher source of some king helping me plod along this difficult time. It felt like an awakening—a different perception of life.

The Bhagavad Gita makes all problems seem small. It empowers one to face challenges as if one is armoured and ready for a war.

I carried it with me when I went to see my parents during the lockdown. It was a part of my bedtime routine, which I stringently followed.

I have it on my bedside table now, and I have begun to read it again for the second time. It has to be read and reread again to make sense and become ingrained and embedded in one’s life. I still have a long way to go in my journey, but, hopefully, I will get closer, if not right there.

There may be other encounters with spirituality in the future, but I know that I am enjoying my journey in the realm of life. I am enjoying listening to religious music early mornings, practicing yoga, praying, lighting candles near my sacred place in the evening, and rereading The Gita and The Prophet.

Spirituality is something that needs to be explored by all of us, at the right stage, in order to make sense of our lives. One cannot be pushed to develop them forcefully. It has to be a fluid, organic process.

The path one chooses is personal because spirituality is a private, subjective experience that moves us deeply and makes us feel content in life.

I wish you good luck with choosing your spiritual journey, whenever you decide to follow your own.

 

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