Religion vs Spirituality

As a child growing up, the only exposure I had to religion was in RE or Religious Education at school. I was christened as a baby, but that was the thing to do back then. We had no particular religious affiliation at all.


As I grew older I grew very anti-religion and in fact anti-God, believing that the bible was just a fictional story made up by someone, and everyone who believed in it fools. Many people have a block when it comes to the word God. Bad experiences at the hands of people who are representatives of religions such as priests, nuns, teachers or radicals have caused them to deny the existence of God and to become anti-religious. The concept of God being a ‘punisher’ to those who have supposedly sinned is also at odds with the concept of ‘God is Love.’

Later on in my ‘evolution’ I began to hear the term spirituality and I’m afraid to say I thought they were all (cough cough) ‘wankers’. And so it has come to pass that now I believe I am one of them! (According to http://www.slang-dictionary the term can connote: 1. Stupidity; 2. Funny or amusing; 3. Egotistical; 4. Self-indulgent; overall, a good insult for all purposes.)

But what is spirituality? I’m sure it has many different meanings to many different people, but to me the basis is the recognition that there is more to this life than we may have originally thought. That we are as one with the universe, with those around us, with nature, and that we are all interconnected because we are all energy. And because of this, we have power. We can affect change and we can be sensitive to the energy around us. And this energy is, or should be, predominantly one of love.

To me spirituality is the belief in living a good life with integrity, treating others with love and without judgment. It is the recognition that there is a ‘universal energy’ if you like (which is the term I prefer to use but is also interchangeable with God), and that we are not separate from, but a part of this universal energy. It also means that in order to be ‘in touch’ with this energy I do not need to go to a place of worship and follow any rules.

At the end of the day though, everyone is free to choose who, where or why they worship, or if in fact they do at all.

What do you think?



Don’t worry, be happy now

Why is it that even when you know that you shouldn’t worry about things; that worry achieves nothing, you still find yourself hashing, rehashing and playing silly mental games??  I know I still do it every now and then despite all of my best efforts not to.

I have the incredible ability to magnify any issue…ANY…until it is of gargantuan proportions in my mind and makes me feel ill to contemplate it!!  Does anyone else do this or is it just me? (I have to admit I’ve just about kicked the habit now…)

On a good day I recognise it for what it is: ’negative imagination’, but on a bad day I could spend an entire day with a nagging anxious feeling that just won’t go away. (I love the ‘negative imagination’ definition because that’s all that worry is….bringing up all of the worst possible case scenarios and dwelling on them!)

Well, today I decided that I wasn’t going to buy into that crap, and I challenged myself to face what it was that was actually worrying me.  (Because quite often I don’t even know what the worry is!!)  I brought up many different scenarios in my head…no that’s not it, try another…  And finally I hit the jackpot.  I was worrying about something that had already been resolved.  No reason to worry at all, but I had made a habit of connecting with this anxious feeling!!  Blah!!

The other thing to note here is that the issue had already been resolved, so obviously we can get to the root of many of our troubles and fix them!!  So worry is an unnecessary waste of energy and a destroyer of motivation and optimism!!

I have a great saying that I like to read every now as a reminder.  The quote is from the Dalai  Lama and it is:

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry.  If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying”.

Words of wisdom indeed…we just need to remember them.  Make your focus the solution and not the problem!

I love me, do you love you?

When I was growing up the worst insult anyone could throw at you was, “You love yourself!”

“I do not!” you’d scream back, hoping that no one had heard! God forbid anyone thought that there was something about yourself that you actually liked!
“I’m fat”
“I’m dumb”
“I’m ugly”
“I’m too skinny”
“I’m lazy”

I’ll bet there’s no one on the planet who has not said at least one of these things in their life.  Back when I was a youngster you didn’t love anything about yourself; it just wasn’t on!

But as I’ve grown older I’ve learned that loving yourself isn’t vain or conceited (or just a new age fad); it’s about giving yourself the same respect and love that you would give to any other human being that you care about.  And why would we not care about ourselves?

Loving ourselves is evident in:
choosing to eat food that is good for our bodies,
choosing to exercise to stay strong and healthy,
choosing to ‘give up’ things that are not good for us,
choosing to say no even when we feel pressured,
choosing to be kind in our self-talk and self-beliefs.

Imagine if a dear friend came to you and told you how they felt fat, dumb, ugly, or not good enough. What words would you tell them out of your love for them?  Would you be unkind, or would you be caring and compassionate?
And now call to mind the unkind things that you could easily say to yourself in the very same situation…

Loving yourself is a healthy thing.  It is essential to good mental health, a positive self image and a self-compassionate attitude towards ourselves. Yes, go on, love yourself!

Waking Up

I recently found this writing in a folder on my computer.  It is over ten years old!  As a starting point for my blog, I thought I would share it.  So here goes!

What is wisdom, and what qualifies a person to be considered wise? Wisdom is something that has largely been attributed to people of mature age and experience, but traditionally not to someone who is young. Is wisdom learned, earned, or is it inherited genetically, culturally or religiously? Or is it something that we are born with; that we gradually lose the capacity for over time?
For most of my life, even though I would consider myself to be a moderately intelligent person, I have struggled with poor self esteem and a resulting lack of confidence. I have the best parents in the world who have supported me and loved me unconditionally for my entire life, but still I found it difficult to believe in myself. Consequently, I have not trusted in my own abilities, needing reassurance and validation from others to have any sense of self worth. This has been one of the greatest lessons I have had to learn so far. If I don’t have confidence in myself, or trust in my abilities then how can I ever possess wisdom?
Looking back now I think that I spent the first 35 years of my life living unconsciously without ever truly challenging myself to grow. Awake, but asleep, ruled by fear. Sure I went to school, and to university, but I failed to apply any of what I learned in the real world. If you didn’t try, you couldn’t fail. And if something was too hard, I just found a good reason why I shouldn’t, couldn’t or didn’t need to do it. The main reason for this is fear. Fear holds us back in our lives for so many reasons, but mostly it’s a fear of the unknown, or a fear of failing that keeps us from moving forward. Fear is often not rational but controls us nonetheless. Why; because we are too afraid to face it. Facing fear and taking action marks the beginning of personal growth and a strong and positive move into the future.
Wisdom is not a simple concept to define as it encompasses so many aspects of one’s life. Traditionally wisdom has been defined as knowledge, and the application of that knowledge. It is a deep and complete understanding of people, events and situations, and the ability to know and do the right thing. Wisdom encompasses knowledge, spirituality, experience, intuition and the ability to use these skills for the ‘highest and best’ of all.

Wisdom does not just come from age, as many people choose never to learn through the various life lessons that they experience, no matter what their age. They live in denial, taking no responsibility, and blaming others for everything that is unsatisfactory in their lives. Wisdom is gained from having these experiences and learning from them so that our lives and the lives of others may be better. It is using our innate compass of right and wrong and trusting our place within the larger web of life. Wisdom is to acknowledge the interconnectedness of all life, to use our intuitive abilities and to trust.
Wisdom is demonstrated in helping others to find their way by assisting them to see the way themselves, not by telling them what to do. Helping someone to make the right decision for him or herself is far more valuable than telling someone what they should do. It means putting aside ego, and coming from a place of pure and utter selflessness.  Wisdom also means knowing when to say nothing at all. Wisdom requires trust in the natural order of things, and in the belief that everything happens for a reason. When things happen that are not quite what we expected, there is wisdom in finding the positive in the experience and being grateful for the lesson.
In many cultures there are people, usually elders, who are considered to be wise; sages whom communities look to for knowledge, advice, natural medicine – for wisdom. I believe that the wisdom that they share comes from living in tune and harmony with their world. They are believers in the interconnectedness of all life, and are able to tap into something that is amazing and accessible to all. Perhaps we have just forgotten how… Here’s to our waking up!