Creativity, Spirituality

Journal prompts: Faith

I guess this could be a bit controversial, but I want to include it anyway.

For me personally, it has been absolutely essential that I have faith in something bigger than me.

It has taken me years to solidify what I believe, to make sense of all the different ideas floating around in my head and to put a label on my beliefs. Even now, I still don’t like the idea of putting something as big as this into one box, but it can make things easier.

I don’t intend to cover any and all things spiritual/religious in this post. Obviously, that is a major topic that goes far beyond what I can cover here. I simply want to share my journey.

I was raised in a secular household. lesson 24As I mentioned earlier, I have always felt a bit different from others, and have spent a lot of time looking for answers – everything from different religious practices to self-help books. Yes, I’m that person.

This lead me to try a variety of different religions on for size. I know that’s not exactly how religion works – you don’t just dabble until you find something you like. But I was experimenting to see what made the most sense for me.

For a while I tried Wicca, which, with its connection to nature and the belief that we can influence what happens to us, came pretty close to being just right for me. But it still felt like something was missing.

One of my best friends was a Christian, so I went to church with her and spent time reading passages from the Bible, learning about Christ. I’ve always been fascinated with religious art from the Renaissance and earlier periods, so I thought this could be it. But that didn’t quite fit either.

When I went through a period of deep depression I turned to Buddhism, which helped me to understand the nature of suffering and ways to detach from situations. Once again, though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it didn’t quite click.

It was around this stage that The Secret was released, and I spent a lot of time learning about the law of attraction and the idea of creating our own reality. I also read a lot of Eckhart Tolle and Wayne Dyer around this time too.

One thing I loved about Wayne Dyer was the way he incorporated many spiritual beliefs into his teachings – he  quotes the Bible, refers to Buddha and others, as well as drawing on the idea that we do indeed create our own reality. So far, Wayne Dyer’s approach had been the one to most closely match mine: there are so many different spiritual practices and beliefs, all of which hold value.

Perhaps, I wondered, I didn’t have to choose. I do believe that every religion and spiritual practice holds wisdom for us. I started to see that there was something to learn from each and every one of these spiritual viewpoints.

imageThen I heard the term ‘New Thought’ from the wonderful Andrea Schroeder, and my world blew right open. Finally I had a term for the spiritual approach I had been taking for years. I still don’t fully feel comfortable describing myself as someone who is part of the New Thought movement, but it is the closest I have come to finding something ‘official’ to explain what I believe. I haven’t yet done enough research to say I believe in everything in the movement in its entirety.

Regardless, having a belief – no, having a knowing – that there is something bigger in this world than myself, something that looks out for me, has helped me through many difficult times. You may choose to disregard this, and that’s fine. But this has become essential to my well being.

When I talk about having faith in something bigger than ourselves, I think there is a universe of possibility here. You may choose to think about religion or spirituality, or you may be more scientific and facts-based. You may believe in things that aren’t as clearly defined. You may feel connected to something that you can’t easily name, or explain. That is fine. Whatever you choose to believe is fine – it is whatever matters to you.

So what do I believe? I believe that the Divine is in each and every one of us. I believe that one of the best ways to connect with the Divine is in nature. For me, spending time in nature is spending time with the Divine. I believe that everything happens for a reason, that I am guided ways that will help me to learn what I need and grow. I believe that I can control my own life and that I create my own reality. I also believe that what I think I want is not always what I need, and I trust that when things don’t go according to my plans it is because there is something bigger and better waiting for me that I couldn’t possibly imagine.

And I also believe that it is up to each and every one of us to decide what we want to believe, for ourselves.

>>> Prompt:

What do the words religion, spirituality and faith mean to you? Do they have positive or negative associations?

What do you believe? Take a blank page in your journal and head it up with ‘I believe…’ and write everything that comes to mind, big or small.

What don’t you believe? Sometimes it can be easier to figure out what we do believe by eliminating what we don’t believe in. Try the same exercise above, but using the heading ‘I don’t believe…’

What are you unsure about? What do you want to believe, but you’re not sure you can?

What has lead you to believe and not believe in the things that you do? Have you been raised that way? Have you had certain life experiences that have lead to that?

When do you feel most connected to the Divine? It might be in nature, at church, with other people who share your beliefs, when you perform on stage, when you write, when you paint – whatever most speaks to you. How can you bring more of this into your life?

Note: this post was originally part of a series of 30 life lessons and journal prompts for my 30th birthday. You can access the rest of the lessons and prompts here.

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Self Empowerment, Spirituality

How I deal with doubt

 

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Sometimes, for some reason, I’ve feel doubt about things in my life.

Not doubts about whether or not I want these things – in fact, I’ve never felt clearer about what I want – but doubts about whether the things I dream of are possible.

I go through periods of believing that anything is possible and that really, we can all have whatever we truly desire.

But then it feels like I spend too much time in the ‘real world’ focused on mundane, day-to-day tasks, and lose that lovely connection to whatever it is that helps me to believe.

What is it that allows me to feel so powerful, to believe that anything is possible?

God? The universe? My higher self? The divine? Some would argue these things are all one and the same.

Whatever it is, it’s like an almost magical part of myself that just knows anything is possible.

It’s not even believing – it’s a stronger sense of knowing.

And it’s a feeling too; a physical feeling in my body that there is so much more to this world than meets the eye, than we could possibly understand. A feeling of something greater that is looking out for each and every one of us, on our own paths.

When I start to experience doubt I know it’s because I’ve lost that sense of connection with the divine – with my highest and wisest self.

For me, doubt occurs when I’ve turned away from my spiritual side to my worldly side.

I know that doubt comes from a place of fear and scarcity. It is from a belief that something cannot happen, that there isn’t enough – whatever enough means: money, time, skills, talent, luck, beauty, love, energy.

This is just a faulty belief that is reinforced by our dominant culture of scarcity and fear. In choosing to turn away from this belief, I can turn back to the knowing I have within.

It sounds simple enough, and really it is. I do know, deep within me, that anything really is possible in this world. It’s a feeling that comes from my heart, or my soul, not my head. It’s when I spend too much time in my head, worrying about money or work, or feeling guilty for not tidying the house or angry about sitting in traffic, that this knowing starts to feel more like a distant memory, a silly dream I once had.

Simply put, I need to spend more time in the knowing and strengthen this connection to the wisdom of the universe.

I need to spend more time trusting, and less time worrying.

When I start to feel doubt creeping in, here are a few of the ways I regain my trust in the process:

Reading spiritual material

This won’t be for everyone, and that’s okay. I’m not a religious person, but I certainly believe there is more to life than we can comprehend. The more I read books that open my mind to the wonder and possibilities of the universe, the more I feel in alignment with my true self. You may choose to read The Bible, or a book about science, or consult a tarot or oracle deck, or refer to the zodiac, or delve into a piece from your favourite spiritual teacher (I love Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay, Eckhart Tolle, The Dalai Lama and many others). I also like to watch documentaries and films that remind me of the wisdom of the universe – documentaries about space always make me feel part of a much larger whole. Whatever makes you feel that expansive feeling of being connected to something bigger. Document any ‘ah-ha’ moments in your journal.

Being in nature

To me, the divine and nature are inseparable. Each and every time I’m in the forest surrounded by trees, or on the beach staring out to sea, or staring up at the stars, I feel connected to something so much larger than me. I marvel at the universe – something so vast and powerful – and can’t help but feel that I too am part of the power. I remind myself that we are all made of stardust, and that really means anything is possible.

Surrounding myself with spiritual artifacts

These are things I keep around myself that, for some reason or other, remind me of the magic of this universe. They remind me that I’m connected to something much bigger than myself – something so much stronger than my fears and doubts. Some of these things include crystals, little Buddha statues, feathers, dreamcatchers, certain images, oracle cards, and shells.

Journaling

I believe journaling has so many different benefits, especially when dealing with doubt. It can allow us to mentally process things and rationalise faulty beliefs, but I think it has a deeper benefit than that. Journaling allows us to tap into our own source of inner wisdom. It allows us to get past the logical mind by dumping things out, then getting below the surface of that. The more I journal about my doubts, the more I continue to come to the conclusion that they are just fear in disguise and the stronger and more faithful I feel. Why does journaling work to dispel doubt? Because we connect to our wisest selves and to the divine on the page.

Yoga and meditation

I’m going to come right out and say I don’t meditate. I want to; I love the idea of it, and it’s supposed to be amazing, but I guess I just haven’t gotten around to it. I like to think that one day it will be part of my daily routine. For now, I use yoga in a similar way. When I’m on the yoga mat (or, in truth, my living room carpet) I slow right down. I feel parts of my body I had forgotten were there. My body feels a sense of relaxation and my mind is at peace. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that yoga is so strongly associated with many spiritual traditions. It allows me to once again feel that connection beyond myself.

Visiting museums and galleries

When I see the artworks and artifacts that other people have created, when I witness the traces of our history and the people that came before, I can’t help but realise that life is magical. I am reminded that I am not alone, that I am part of a large group of people who came before me, people who dared to dream. I am also reminded of the transient nature of life and how important it is to give it all I’ve got, right now.

*  *  *

I know that doubt is a natural part of life and the creative process. I know it will never fully go away, and I guess I don’t really want it to.

Each and every time doubt visits, I am reminded of the importance of my connection to the divine and to my true self. I am reminded to trust in the wisdom of the universe.

What Inspires Me

Hope street

Today I went for a walk with a friend. We were talking about the creative business we will soon be launching, our biggest dreams and hopes for the future.

We were talking about where we want to be this time next year; what changes we want to make over the next 12 months to make our dreams come true.

We dared to imagine what our lives could look like if our business plans came true.

I explained the changes I was making in my own work life – some of which have taken courage and are scary. But I’ve been trusting my intuition to lead me. I’ve been letting my inner wisdom guide me.

As we walked, a beautiful monarch butterfly caught my eye, dancing through the early evening sun’s rays.

Every time I see one of these butterflies I think of Wayne Dyer and the amazing story from his book Inspiration. He believes that butterflies are a sign from the divine. I love this. Each time I see one, I take it as a sign from the divine that I am on the right path.

It was perhaps a coincidence that I saw the butterfly as we spoke about this. But I prefer to see it as a sign.

And then, I saw a literal sign – for a street:

Hope Street.

Again, a possible coincidence. In truth, I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in synchronicity. Meaningful coincidence.

There is no coincidence. Only the illusion of coincidence – V for Vendetta

And I didn’t even want to go walking, really. But by keeping my eyes and my heart open as we walked, I found myself receiving tiny messages from the universe. Tiny nods to keep going.