Recently, I’ve been dialoguing about religion and spirituality. I’ve heard individuals state a specific religion and share their personal relationship with God. Individuals have shared that while attending church they are worshiping their relationship with God, going for a run, walk, or hike they mediate with God, while listening to Gospel music, daily readings of religious based text, the list goes on and on. Some individuals shared identification with spirituality, relating their actions to concern and care for the human spirit and soul or limiting or eliminating material or physical things from their lifestyle. Of course through all this questioning on my end, I was asked so what’s your religion or spirituality? And I didn’t have an answer.
Allowing this question to marinate, I came across a reading in Meditations from the Mat stating, “We must cultivate the same attention we bring to our asana practice to the forms of love we experience as we move through the day” and an answer began to process.
I felt the most agreement to those that shared their worship occurring during enjoyable activities, i.e. running, walking, music, etc because it reinforced that you don’t have to go to church to have a personal relationship with God and you aren’t less spiritual because you purchased a Starbucks coffee instead of donating to a charity today. If you can honestly say that you have or are in the process of surrendering your beliefs, cherishing every breath and cell in yours and the bodies around you – call it religion or spiritually, but I call it practice - the actual application of a belief.
Practice uses the physical body, the experiences we move though the day use the heart – not the physical heart beat rather the intuitive heart and mind. Our brain has two parts. Make a fist with your fingers covering your thumb. The top of your hand is the decision making brain, where you engage in choice. Lift your fingers and that’s your emotional brain, where memories and emotions are stored. Both are used in practice – we make a decision to come to our yoga mats, church, prayer, etc and it is based on a memory of an experience – sometimes amazing, bland, or challenging. The brain develops from the inside out, so emotions and memories shape choices. We say no to practices that don’t suit us because of repeated unpleasant emotions or experiences. We say yes to practices because of a desire to reinforce pleasant emotions or experiences.
I say yes to the belief, emotions, and experiences of the highest love, dedication, and peace. My choice to practice on and off the yoga mat provides the opportunity to say yes again – sometimes with a challenge and sometimes with a success. I still don’t have an answer to what is my religion or spirituality – and maybe you do or don’t either way it’s the application of the belief. It’s the practice.
Today, I practice ____________________ by making the choice to _________________
and know that it is working when I say yes to __________________________________.