I have a confession.
I went to church on Sunday for the first time in 10 years.
Lately I’ve been feeling closer to God, and wanting to explore what that even means. Through meditation I have learned to get quiet and listen – to my thoughts, my body, my inner voice, God, intuition, etc. Sometimes it’s really hard to hear anything with all of the clutter in my “monkey mind”, but I know that just the act of attempting to listen is useful and meditation in and of itself.
The theme of the service was “Fearless Sunday” and recognizing the duality between what’s perceived as “impossible” vs. embracing and facing a beautiful challenge. Facing your fears also means asking difficult questions of ourselves and others, that we may be afraid to either hear the answer or say the answer out loud.
He provided each of us a list of ten questions to ask ourselves and of others within the congregation (if we chose to), about what we truly believe. Not just about God, but about the hot “controversial” topics – public access to healthcare, LGBTQ rights, same-sex marriage, abortion, etc.
I had never seen a church speak so openly about these issues before. Not only were different viewpoints openly discussed, they were encouraged. This was a breath of fresh air to me, as my previous experience in churches were often more traditional.
With any religion or spiritual practice, whether it’s going to church on Sundays, daily mindfulness meditation, prayer at home, yoga classes, temple, synagogue, etc., you have to find what works for you. Spirituality is not a one size fits all approach and there is certainly no right or wrong belief. You can certainly disagree with a belief – but does that make it wrong? Who’s to judge that? Some would say God is to judge. But if God is within each one of us, then how could anyone be “wrong”?
Here are a few of the questions that were provided, that I would encourage you to ask yourself or of someone else.
- Who or what do you mean by the word “God”? Do you experience God?
- Is anybody going to an afterlife or hell? Do people have to believe something religious in order to avoid ending up there?
- Can people be “saved” without Christ or Christianity? Are there ways to experience God/Ultimate Reality outside of Christ or Christianity?
I was talking to a friend about the service later that day and we agreed that there is a period of time in most of our lives where God and religion is often ignored, suppressed, or just not discussed. At least for me, once I was old enough to make the decision to skip church on Sundays, I decided not to go. I was much more interested in sleeping in, going to the mall with my friends, playing lacrosse, etc. And then once I got even older, there wasn’t a chance I’d wake up early after a long night of partying to hit the pews.
But then when I found yoga and meditation, I started to experience something I had never really felt before – a deep connection to my Higher Power.
My yoga practice became not only a physical workout, mood booster, and stress reliever, it was a way to tap into the consciousness and love that runs through each and every one of us. It was a path to God.
I sometimes joke that “yoga is my religion” but in a way, it really is.
I googled “what is the best definition of religion” and here’s what I found:
Religion – a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
Sounds pretty similar to yoga to me. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali refers to eight limbs of yoga, each of which offers guidance on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. Devotional and ritual observances include asana (physical postures) that we practice on our mats. In Yoga Teacher Training, we are taught all aspects of yoga – including yoga philosophy and their eight limbs, as well as the physical asanas and how to instruct them to others.
Although I would not consider myself a devout Christian, I will continue going to that church because of the sense of community and permission to have my own beliefs that I felt at this specific church in West Hollywood. But of course, I’ll be hittin’ the mat for deeper introspection after the service.
I hope this inspires you to think deeper about what you truly believe – not what your parents believe, not what your religion believes, but what is true for you. Or maybe you try out a new practice or place of worship that you’ve been curious about for awhile. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments or find me on Instagram at @YogaHealsTheWorld.
Peace be with you.
Follow my journey on Instagram @YogaHealsTheWorld.