Updated: Aug 28
In my 20’s I was a spiritual seeker. I was obsessed with finding the meaning of life, and I learned about all the world religions to try to find it. I even got a minor in Religious Studies in college, so that I could spend more time learning about religion.
I also studied Psychology, to understand the interplay between spirituality, religion and the psyche. I feel like being in the Christian church hurt me more than it helped.
I have written extensively before about why I left the church, but primarily, it had to do with finding a lack of compassion, kindness, and love there.
In order to find a more spiritual way of living I studied other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Sufiism. Throughout all religions there is the common thread of the idea of the Universe or God(s) as the ultimate source of love and wisdom.
As we return to the source essentially, as in the words of Kahlil Gibran,
As boundless drops to a boundless ocean we return.
Studying mystic poets brought me a sense of peace, oneness, and wholeness that couldn't be easily explained by psychology at the time.
Still, I was obsessed with the ideas of good vs. evil, how meaning effects our daily lives, and how to live the best life aligned with my highest good.
Leaving Spirituality Behind
Spirituality is difficult to decipher in many ways, and the quest for answers never seems to be truly finished.
So, in my 30's, I let my spirituality fall away.
It was 2012, the year that the Mayans predicted the end of the world. There were 3 other predictions of the end of the world that year alone. And, after each date would pass by with nothing happening, I found out that the end of the world has been predicted over 100 different times in human history.
This left me feeling spiritually exhausted and depleted. I was tired of looking for the meaning of life and feeling stress about all the end of the world predictions.
I decided that looking for the meaning of life was stopping me from enjoying the present. If the world was going to end, I was going to grab life by the horns and enjoy living. I was going to take more time off of work, and spend more time with my kids and the other people who mattered in my life.
A return to spirituality
As I was beginning to near 40, I started finding my way back to spirituality. I was unpacking some nick-nacks for the house, and found a bunch of my Buddha figurines. I had already been doing meditation and yoga, and I began to deepen the spiritual aspect of my practice.
I feel like, there is a reason that in Judaism, there is a reason why you have to wait to enter the Kabballah (the Jewish mystic tradition) until you are 40.
With age comes wisdom and patience. It also brings a return to the spiritual side of ourselves as we begin to find quiet in our homes with children growing older.
As I have gotten older, I have returned to mysticism and spirituality through Buddhism, and Law of Attraction philosophy.
This has allowed me to come full circle. No longer questioning, but learning through mindfulness to live fully connected in the present moment.
Meditation, Mindfulness and Yoga help you to return to yourself every day, and to connect through your breath to the source of all that is. A boundless drop returning to the boundless ocean. I feel oneness through these practices, a deep peace and the beginnings of wisdom.
Spirituality connects us to ourselves, to each other, to nature, and to all living beings in our beautiful world.
Science and Buddhism
Since I graduated from college, there have been numerous research studies that have validated Buddhist practices such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga. So much so in fact, that many psychologists and doctors are now recommending these practices for physical and mental health benefits.
Mindfulness, Meditation and yoga are shown to reduce stress, lower your heart rate, and reduce anxiety and depression if they are practiced regularly. There are many other physical and mental health benefits as well.
In research that began in 2008, it has been found that when you practice meditation, it activates two different parts of your brain simultaneously, which is different from normal brain function where different parts are activated separately.
According to BBC News,
Dr Josipovic has found that some Buddhist monks and other experienced meditators have the ability to keep both neural networks active at the same time during meditation - that is to say, they have found a way to lift both sides of the seesaw simultaneously.
And Dr Josipovic believes this ability to churn both the internal and external networks in the brain concurrently may lead the monks to experience a harmonious feeling of oneness with their environment.
Since this research is in its infancy, it will be interesting to discover just how much there is to learn about these ancient spiritual practices, and how they effect our brains.
The fact that meditation is shown to change brain function is ground breaking, and finally shows links between religion and science.
As a science-minded person, this is really validating for me to see that research is playing out the benefits of these Buddhist practices such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga.
Sometimes, as we get busy with our daily life our spirituality falls away. However, with the practice of Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga, we can bring spirituality easily into our daily lives.
In addition to the spiritual benefits of such practices, there are scientifically proven benefits for our physical and mental health as well. As research advances, science is beginning to validate mysticism.
As we enter a new year, you can think about how you want spirituality to influence your life. This can help you to shape your beliefs, your intentions and your goals going into the new year.
I wish you all a bright and blessed day, filled with peace, love and joy!