Am I religious?

Spirituality is something that is very important to me. I try to embody it in every decision I make and everything that I do in my day-to-day life. However, this is a fairly new lifestyle to me. About a year ago, I began to shift my heart and mind over to a more spiritual way of living. Up until that point, I was a declared atheist. I was very mad at the world, and myself. I didn’t believe that there could be any higher consciousness outside of our human experience. I was a realist and a rationalist. I had always laughed at religion as a comfort blanket for people who were too afraid of the unknown. I was quite cynical, but the existential issues that I was criticizing were in fact haunting me.

I was very confused in who I was. I had always lived, but never truly understood the complexities of life itself. Looking back, I think most people live like this. They go about their daily lives never looking deeper, and, in the end, never end up fulfilled or truly happy. So that is where I was. About the time that I turned 17 years old, I entered a very dark period. I was entering my senior year of high school, and I was understandably excited to take on the final journey of my high school life. This excitement came to a halt suddenly, when my father got very sick. I lost everything. I lost my home, my pets, and most of my friends. However, the thing that caused my mental health to deteriorate was my new living conditions. We had to move in with my father’s family because we had nowhere to live. I will save the details for a later blog post, but the bottom line is that I was emotionally and psychologically abused for a year and a half. This catapulted me into a place of complete darkness. I gained a lot of weight and I hated myself. I was suicidal. When I finally turned 18, I knew I had to get far away. A couple months after I turned 18, I moved with my current boyfriend to Santa Cruz, California. That is where my spiritual transformation began.

Being close to Santa Cruz’s hippy culture, I learned a lot. I was pretty much alone in a city that I had never been to before. It was completely scary, yet thrilling. The isolation was a much more welcomed environment than the one I had been in previously. I had been a prisoner for so long that the taste of freedom was beautiful. I didn’t need to worry about anyone except for myself. It was beautiful. The vibe of Santa Cruz is very laidback, and I was able to get into Yoga and meditation. Once I had discovered these things, my life transformed. Previously, I had been ridden with anxiety and had severe emotional trauma. However, once I began meditating once a day, these feelings slowly began to leave. I finally had the ability to calm my mind and my therapy began. It was liberating. I began looking into Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. The philosophies struck me, they were transcending and peaceful. For so long I craved the ability to understand and love myself, and the writings and teachings that I found were basically blueprints on how to do that.

I wouldn’t say that I strictly follow one religion. I like to grab bits and pieces from each and construct my own ideas. I mostly like to borrow from Hinduism. I love the cyclical structure and symbolism that presents itself within the religion. I believe in reincarnation and the karma system. While I don’t necessarily believe in a God-like being (or beings), I believe that God is an omnipresent spiritual energy. Everything around us is pulsing with energy, from the rocks that lay on the earth to the chair that I am sitting in right now. This energy flows within and without us as well. Am I a religious person? Not really. But I am very spiritual. I think that we should all question the higher consciousness that surrounds us. Ever since I have, life is much more meaningful. I find bliss in simply pouring a bowl of cereal in the morning. I perform yoga with a vitality I never thought that I had. My spirituality has made me a kinder and more understanding human being. I see other souls, not people. It has strengthened my connection with the planet and its creatures. To limit my beliefs into one category is impossible, they are too expansive. But that is the beauty of it.

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