This path I choose to take is all of my own, it has not been laid out before me. My bare feet grace the earth carrying me along as my palms rise up to the sun. This path I choose to take, I may walk it alone, because few may understand, and few may choose to shun. This path I choose to take has stirred my soul awake, and even though it is not all laid out I know it is my way home.
I have never fully embraced myself, the self that people have called “hippy dippy”. The self that has always been interested in eastern philosophy, alternative medicine, conscious living. But it’s always been apart of me, vey much the same way that art is a fabric of my soul. It seems to be who I am.
Growing up in a Christian household, I never felt fully comfortable with allowing myself to delve into eastern philosophy and eastern religions. There was always a sacrilegious air that made me question, made me second guess why I was being drawn to it. So I hid it away, but little did I know that by hiding it away I was somehow cutting off a part of myself.
I had a class in anthropology one semester in college, and while learning about different tribes and their religions it made me question everything I thought I knew about Christianity and religion. Like, would these people still go to hell if they never knew about God or Jesus? If these religions still point to and worship a source that is greater than them, isn’t that still worshiping God? I felt like I was in a religious drought, thirsty for a deeper source of meaning for my life. At that same University I remember reading an article about alternative medicine. I had thoughts about being a holistic health practitioner. But the article (from a Christian standpoint) explained how dangerous and pagan alternative eastern medicine was. In my mind at the time, pagan meant demonic. And I didn’t want to cross that line. And so with that I let go another part of myself….I began to wonder If there was something wrong with me, with wanting to look into other world philosophies and perspectives. In a fundamentalist Christian’s eyes, those things were taboo, those thing were dualist, those things were labeled as a “picking and choosing” and that was indeed a sin.
I personally have always struggled with making Christianity feel “real” to me. It was a lot of head knowledge but never seemed to flow from the heart. After my divorce, I began to pull away from fundamentalist Christianity, I began to wonder what was the true heart my beliefs, were they my own or were they installed by my upbringing? My spiritual life was stalled for at least 3 years, that question hummed in the back of mind. Until recently. I felt that heart pounding, soul strumming calling when I was at Venice beach. The laid-back bohemian vibes called me back to a time when I felt free. I felt stirred. What was calling me? Then I heard it, the pounding of drums, the whoops and hollers and clapping of hands. Then I saw it, people dancing, barefoot in the sand, a spirit of something moving through them. They had no cares, they were free, they just danced, and to me it looked like the happiest place on earth to be. I longed to be with them, to join them, to be one of them. My soul stirred, and I began to awake.
After my encounter with the drum circle I remember coming back home and doing an internet search for drum circles in my area, and then I came across ecstatic dance. I have written about ecstatic dance before, so I’m not going into a lot detail about it but it was another way for my that piece of my soul to crack open even wider, into another way of coming into being, into becoming whole with myself again. So with ecstatic dance in my life, I began to wonder what other ways I could open myself up to live more consciously, to be more in tune with myself. That’s where meditation came into my life. After I practiced it daily for about a week, I began to notice that I held a lot less tension throughout my day, I wasn’t so anxious, or angst ridden, I began to feel a true sense of peace arising within me. But I still wanted more, I didn’t just want mindfulness, I wanted a new way being, a new way of living a whole new philosophy to guide further guide my life.
So I finally gave myself permission to be free, to be free to look into what always interested me without guilt, without feeling like I was a heretic, or that I would be shunned for it. I gave myself permission to real, to be authentic. And that what Buddhism had brought to me. A sense of authenticity a sense of wholeness within myself. I have looked into other philosophies and ideas, such as Hinduism, or Kundalini, but Zen Buddhism seemed to be the most approachable to me. It seems less watered down than New Age content, more grounded and real than Kundalini, and it doesn’t concern itself with hundreds of deities like Hinduism. To me it seems to be a more personal and ongoing daily practice of being present with onself, and in turn being present with the world. Somehow that simplicity has had a profound impact on my sense of being. I have only been studying it for a month, but I felt myself open up more and more everyday. So I am not ashamed to walk this path, although in the back of my mind I wonder from time to time is this right (from that old Christian view point) but never has a way of living brought me so much peace, never has a way of living poured from my heart, from a place of authenticity, from a connection within myself.