THE CENSUS MADE ME RETHINK ‘RELIGION’
The other day my boy and I were at home doing our first census together. It was interesting to say the least, especially when it came to listing our income and trying to remember all the places we have lived over the last five years.
There was one question that I tripped up on.
There was a whole list of ‘religions’ listed to choose from… none of which really fit me.
My boy looked at me and said ‘wait, you are saying ‘Catholic’ right?
I felt sheepish (and a little silly) saying this… but my answer to his question was – “I’m not really religious, I was raised a catholic, but I’d say I’m more spiritual?” So after a little back and forth, we decided that I would write just that on the census form. It made us laugh, seeing ‘SPRITIUAL’ written in the little boxes and thinking about the person on the other end collating the data… but I had to be true to myself – that’s just what made sense to me.
The difference between spirituality and religion? Well, I’m definitely not an expert and I’m only a new student in this long spiritual journey but I feel (not know) that spirituality is more about the internal life. It is the continuous search for meaning and the understanding of me, myself, the ‘I’, in this universe.
So ultimately, it’s about moving inward and finding that still point – I talk a lot about this when teaching a yoga class. Slowly loosening the strong-hold grip on the outer world and reconnecting with your true, inner being and that being which is born from and forever tied to the source, the divine. And in turn I feel that I become more connected to the world and the people around me and hopefully continually improve as a person, a soul.
When I think about religion I see it as external spirituality with a story, in a structured house, with guidelines and rituals that are shared within a community. An experience, a doctrine, a map to life and one that brings people together. I’m not going to go into how religion can bring about pain and suffering – I know you all have your opinions on that – I’m just talking top line here, peeps!
Now, don’t get me wrong; I totally and utterly respect religion. It was and still is the saving grace for my mother. Without a shadow of a doubt it has offered thousands of people in difficult situations refuge and faith to stay strong and move forward. But to me, believing is enough. If you want to believe in the trees, the sun, the sky, all of mother earth and that is your religion, then so be it. If you want to bow to a statue of every spiritual icon that walked this planet, then so be it. If faith, religion, spirituality of any sort helps you feel whole, connected and true and in turn makes you a better person to those around you, then so be it!
For me, my religion, my spirituality is most definitely an amalgamation of experiences, passions and lessons throughout my life. It consists of meditation, private prayers to the universe (or God, whatever you wish to call it), my yoga practice – a silent meditative prayer with each breath – being in nature and community experiences (such as Kirtan, or yogic events) shared with like-minded friends. Relishing in the moment, sharing what I’ve learnt with my students, enjoying time with friends, being there for my family, living my life by giving and receiving happiness, being true to myself.
So, how did you answer the religion question on the census form?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on spirituality/religion?
What do you think is the main difference between spirituality and religion?
Signing off with an exhale.