While I am a spiritual person, I haven’t joined an organized religion for decades. Listening to others, some are dogmatically committed to one and only one belief system — declaring their way is right and the only way. It may be right for them, I agree, but it doesn’t mean it is right for me.
The Cherokee name is based on the meaning “people of different speech.” Could that include thought and opinion as well?
Hearing a close friend express her strong opinions (without knowing they opposed mine) stung. But, for one moment only. Because in valuing the qualities of our friendship more than opinions, I felt love for my friend, not anger or resentment.
The same holds true when I hear discourse among various religious groups.
To me, the identic message is simply presented in varying ways and on varying paths all leading to a preferred destination — call it Heaven, enlightenment, living consciously, or a spiritual awakening per se’…even if it’s just a belief system or developing faith. Even if the path chosen changes tomorrow, the message is basically the same.
Be inclusive. Find the shared good.
People connect with God, the Universe, Buddha, the Tao, or other powers greater than themselves. One size doesn’t fit all, and I find value in each. I hear the common themes yet also see invidious power and exclusivity when one is proclaimed as right or the better way…different somehow.
I grew up in an era of healthy debates. Where one could find mutual ground. Today I question “where do I wish to focus — on differences or commonalities? What feels better — emotionally, mentally, physically? If being inclusive and finding common good should feel better, why is mankind’s history peppered with discord? Does the world tip its scales in feeding one wolf more than the other? Do we choose to see thorns or roses? Is agreeing to disagree now passe’?”
Raised in an anxiety-ridden home, it was stressful to live in the “now.” Far better to prepare for “what’s next,” I thought, even with its own undercurrent of anxiety.
A friend recently invited me to a year-long meditation but the voluminous information and instant marketing hype quickly drove me away. Unsettling. Like when I attempted meditation years ago in the standard seated position. Arduous. As soaking in a tub. Has this happened to you? Meditation offers many benefits but feeling stressed is not the goal.
Far more agreeable to me, are movement meditations such as hand drumming, walking, or being in the moment with Mother Nature. Fixed on berry picking, the smell of sun-ripening tomatoes and basil brushing my arm, or the infinite colors and textures of nature are far more relaxing and in-the-moment experiences for me.
One size doesn’t fit all. In many things, but meditation too. Giving myself permission to discover what works for me is key. Don’t know where to begin? Try leaving the cell phone behind and taking a walk outside. You may be pleasantly surprised by the calm in connecting with Mother Nature.
Reading a snippet about feeling awkward around kids reaffirmed there is nothing wrong with those who feel uncomfortable around children. Perhaps you have no experience with kids. Does your gut groan around pre-adolescents…looking for what to say? Have you purposely chosen to not father children but instead protectively care for plants, pets, or a project benefiting the planet?
Rather than judge or condemn, I respect those who live authentically. One size does not fit all. We are not meant to be experts at everything; some are better at some things than others, and sustaining that diversity honors all life. I respect individuality but believe all of us need nurturing in whatever form it may be as evidenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s sentiments:
My joy is in a serene garden and when helping others. Over three decades, I have created three-season flowering gardens, beautiful landscaping for the natural environment, and deliciously fresh organic vegetables and herbs. It’s hard to say who was more nurtured in these activities — the plants or me — but, assuredly, the benefits were far-reaching.