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What is a Spiritual Person (Re-post from Elizabeth Gilbert)

Sometimes you read something that hits so close to home, you just have to share.

elizabeth-gilbertOne of my fave authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, posted this on her Facebook page.  Her views on spirituality and religion mirror my own, and I wanted to re-post some of her words here (full post can be found on her Facebook page), as an homage to her beautiful heart and mind.

Thanks, EG. You rock.

 

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“When you Google “Spiritual Person”, sure enough, up comes this imagine, which I have posted below. Here we have the iconic image of the pristine and calm and perfectly balanced and totally healthy, fresh from her latest juice fast, meditating on the edge of an infinity pool – like nobody in history ever did, EVER.

Why is that perfect spiritual lady always depicted meditating on the edge on an infinity pool in absolute serenity, I wonder?

(No, I’m wrong – to be fair, that perfect yoga lady isn’t always depicted meditating on the edge of an infinity pool; sometimes she’s sitting on a bolder at the top of a mountain, and sometimes she’s sitting on a beach at sunset…but she is always shown in a state of graceful meditation, and she’s always thin and lovely, and you know she has a super hot vegetarian boyfriend, and her back doesn’t hurt, and she has never taken antidepressants or farted.)

I don’t recognize that person. By which I mean – I’ve never met her.

Because that person in that picture doesn’t exist. She is an icon – a holy relic, painted by our imaginations. (I don’t mean that the model is not real, by the way; the model is an absolutely real human being with failings and desires and suffering and hope. I mean that the picture is not real.)

The spiritual icon in this picture has never had too much wine. She’s never dropped an f-bomb at the wrong moment. She’s never said something regretful on Twitter. She’s never lost her temper. She’s never acted like a total asshole. She’s never been over-sensitive to criticism. She’s never woken up ashamed at how much she gossiped the night before about a good friend. She’s never judged anyone, she’s never attacked herself, she’s never cried in the middle of the night for no reason, she’s never failed horribly, she’s never let herself down. She’s never stopped to eat McDonald’s on her way home from the health food store (I have!). And she’s damn sure she never tried to sing “Dead or Alive” at karaoke and realized half way through the sing that she actually can’t sing “Dead or Alive” – but then decided to keep singing it anyway, EVEN LOUDER.

 

fasting2woman

 

Yes, this lady at the edge of the infinity pool is what we think of, I guess, when we think of a “spiritual person.”

But that’s not what I believe a spiritual person is. I believe a spiritual person is somebody who is aware of a larger divinity in the universe (a source of power that operates behind and beyond all that we can see) and who wants to get as close to that divine source as possible.

I think sometimes people get mad at me for doing “a spiritual person” wrong, because they have me mistaken for “a religious person.” They believe that when I curse or drink wine that I am violating the code of conduct appropriate for a religious person – particularly for a prominent religious person, which (weirdly) people sometimes believe I am supposed to be.

But a spiritual person is not the same as a religious person.

Religion is about following certain rules regarding God; spirituality is about longing for certain experiences with God.

Religion is a way that you must behave; spirituality is a way that you long to feel.

Religion is how we talk to God. Spirituality is how we listen.

I myself have never been able to become a religious person, though, because I have not yet found the religious community whose formal rules and beliefs I can completely embrace – and yet I do believe in God, and I believe in majesty, and I believe in miracles, and I believe in our highest possible humanity, and I believe in transcendence, and I believe that my soul has meaning (and I believe that YOUR soul has meaning), and I believe in eternity…and I want to feel all those things in my life as much as possible.

So I pursue – as much as I can – the experiences that will bring me those spiritual sensations.

For the most part, I have not been able to find those sensations while sitting on the edge of an infinity pool in the lotus pose – but if you can find it there, awesome!

I have, however, sometimes felt sensations of spiritual transcendence while sitting in bars, or in bus stations, or in hospital rooms.

I have felt it when I see a friend being brave.

I have felt it when I am forgiven, even though maybe I didn’t deserve forgiveness.

“Spiritual” is not how you talk, or what you eat, or what sort of yoga you practice, or what sort of music you listen to, or how much you weigh, or whether or not you want Botox, or whether you drink red wine or kombucha.

“Spiritual” is believing in the innate divinity of every moment – and believing in the innate divinity of every moment is not something you can do WRONG. All you have to do is step off the edge of the infinity pool, and dive into the REAL infinity pool…which is all around us, sometimes within reach, sometimes out of reach.

I think sometimes people get frustrated with the term “spirituality” because they think it’s too wishy-washy. They think you’re lazy. They think you’re undisciplined. They think you’re unfaithful.

Don’t worry about it.

They don’t know.

They don’t know that there’s nothing lazy whatsoever about this path.

They don’t know that what you’re looking for is nothing less than EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE and ALWAYS.

Keep looking.

Onward,

LG”

 ~ ~ ~

 Your thoughts?

Christine Macdonald
R

Emotional Roulette

The warm light piercing my eyes through the window above my bed is a familiar reminder. If I were anyone else, and it was any other day, my dog would already be outside on her wooden porch bench wrapped in her sheepskin blanket, waiting. The sound of my wheels on loose gravel just outside the gate, her cue to greet me; her little tail dancing under cotton candy clouds flirting with the southern California sky. But this is me. Its day six. I’ve yet to get out of bed, let alone make it to the office.

Pulling from the core of my lungs, I struggle to level the guilt within the walls of panic. The audacity of wanting to sleep forever when you could very well drop dead from a brain aneurysm – then realizing you don’t want to cash out this way – is nothing if not funny. Funny, ironic not funny ha-ha. Well, it’ll be hilarious – one day. Tragedy plus time. Isn’t that the comedy rule?

I wonder if normal people – people who don’t fantasize about not waking up – feel about us freaks. Fucking mental illness. Such bullshit.

Instead of hanging with the elements of the January day and kicking back on her bench, my baby Stella (a new three-legged Chihuahua mix I rescued from the pound) lies with me in love. Snuggled together next to the television remote, we’re sheltered from the late morning nuisance above by flannel sheets I quickly pull across our faces.

“How did I get so lucky? I promise I’ll take you for a walk tomorrow.” I whisper, fighting back tears of guilt.

Stella and I shift under the covers as I channel surf and mentally prepare for going back to my normal life soon. Then a buzz from under my pillow. A disturbing text.

A dear friend’s father is thousands of miles away in the Intensive Care Unit and doesn’t have much time left. My mind breaks from its prison of solitude. All I can think about is being there for my friend.

“Come over. I’m begging you.” I text in haste.

No reply.

“Where are you?”

Silence.

My heart was racing. I started to sweat. Where did he go? What can I do for him? What’s happening?

After finally hearing from him, his company wasn’t meant to be and I leveled back into myself.

Time passes and I’m left to marinate in the microscopic residue of familiar emotional patterns. A make-shift quilt of codependency.

Not that I would ever shun helping a loved one – especially someone who lives so close to my heart. But where was that strong woman – the would-be hero of his day, when I needed her the most? Why does she coil under the weight of self-doubt when it comes to her own safety?

For some of us, the hardest thing to do is to walk away from the emotional roulette table. We continually sabotage our safety – treating our own hearts with such carelessness. There’s nothing more intoxicating than a spinning wheel of chaos. So we keep playing. And what we think is shitty luck is really the odds of defeat laughing in our shadow. Of course we always lose. We’re too busy trying to make everyone else happy – never gambling on the one person who should matter most.

When it comes to taking care of ourselves, instead of wishing ‘the odds’ would throw us a bone, maybe it’s time to do what so many of many of us need to: find the strength – put us first – change the game.

 

Christine Macdonald
Ask

Fantasy vs. Reality: Where do you live?

I live in two worlds. Most of the time when I’m not working, I marinate in fantasy. Denial and self-sabotage rule the roost, but the excitement and chaos serve as a fair trade.

Fantasy Land is fun. Until it isn’t. But the pain of realty is short lived because I find a way to slip back in to the land of make believe as quickly as possible.

FIR

Reality? BO-RING. Why anyone would want to spend their time being responsible and accountable is a mystery to me.

Welcome to the textbook addict hard wiring in my brain. I’m convinced that having a “normal” life with a “normal” man (one who isn’t a fellow addict, narcissist – and has their shit together) would be the beginning of the end of happiness.

And don’t get me started on sex. I keep hearing that falling in love with a nice guy won’t equate to a vanilla sex life, but it’s so hard to imagine swinging from the chandeliers with a man who pays his bills on time and actually digs monogamy.

The problem with fantasy living is – shocker – it’s not real. Those of us who spend most of our time living in denial and chaos know this all too well when we get the shit kicked out of us from reality.

RDThe person we love reveals themself to be anyone but the person we pretended (or tried to change) them to be. The calories we pretend don’t exist find their way to our waistline. Money we pretend to have transforms into credit card bills we can’t believe can reach that high.

The golden rule for the fantasy-loving part of my brain is simple: If I have to ask, the answer is no.

Can I afford it? Will this serve my health goal? Is he going to be different from the others? If I keep living in my fantasy – No. No. And Hell-to-the no.

Here’s the thing about “no.” It’s actually a “yes” to something else. Something better.

Having just turned 46 recently and exhausted with dusting myself off from fallout I’ve essentially created on my own – I’ve decided to make a change. I’m choosing to say yes to the flip side of chaos. Yes to a healthy body, relationship and bank account. Yes to having break-the-furniture sex with a good guy who digs monogamy, pays his bills on time, inspires me, makes me laugh and laughs with me at myself.

I’m going to spend more time in realty and see what she has to offer. There’s nothing I love more than a challenge; and when I’m proven wrong? Bring it.

Christine Macdonald