I’ve been fascinated with all forms of spirituality since I was fourteen, which is helpful when I don’t really feel like taking the time to meditate or get out of bed and pray first thing in the morning. Something keeps me coming back, even when I try to skip for a few days. It has been the true, constant love of my life for ten years, and I seem only to get more curious about all the ways people connect with the Divine as time goes by.
But when I’m surrounded by people who don’t feel the way I do about this quest for self-growth and radical surrender, when people look at me like I’m crazy or just laugh at my efforts, I like to take a moment to reflect on exactly why I’m doing all this. Why all the study? Why the exposure to so many teachings? Why all the meditations and prayers and affirmations? Why the Pinterest board with almost 2000 quotes from spiritual teachers?
Well, first, it’s my passion. I do it because I don’t know how not to do it. Because I feel compelled to do it. It’s the thread that has run through the last decade of my life.
Second, I want to be the best person I can be in this life. I want to learn how to minimize my flaws and enhance my virtues so I can do as little harm as possible, and perhaps even put some light into the world. Spirituality is the method I’ve chosen to hone myself and become a kinder, more considerate and wise human being. And it works for me. I can see every day where my practice helps me to admit where I’m wrong in an argument, or be more present when I’m just hanging out with my brothers, or watch my inner speech when I’m dwelling in guilt or self-pity. I find it so much easier to relate to all kinds of people and situations. I’ve grown so much from the practices I’ve undertaken.
Third, it makes me happy. Praying helps me clarify exactly what I want and need or focus good intentions. Reading about so many teachers from so many traditions gives a variety of perspectives for me to draw on, while also showing me the common themes that connect them all. Meditating helps me pause, to recognize the still voice under all the noise of the ego.
Fourth, I can connect with people who are on a similar journey. Admitting who I really am, what I’m truly dedicated to, I find myself suddenly surrounded by people who feel the same way. At Yasodhara Ashram, I expressed concern about bringing what I was learning back home. I worried about being criticized or misunderstood as I had been in the past, especially because I didn’t feel I could keep my practice hidden anymore. It was too much a part of me.
One of my friends pulled me aside on her last day and told me specifically not to let anyone take me off my path. She saw how important being a spiritual seeker is to me, and in a few words completely supported and validated everything I’d been doing on my own for ten years. She may not realize it, but she started a shift in me that day. I started to feel stronger and braver in my practice, outgrowing the need to conceal or change myself for others. It created a desire to become unapologetic about being a seeker.
And why shouldn’t I be? I’m passionate about it, it makes me a better and happier person, and it helps me connect with people. I don’t need to tell everyone, but I don’t need to hide who I am. I don’t need to explain myself to anyone if I don’t want to.
Because I’m addicted to my practice. And I’m fucking proud of it.