I can't get passed this. It creeps up on me all the time. My mind is like a cage, taking me places that I care not to even mention. What else is there to do, but to be lost. To be a fallen victim of my mind. I've been held captive for so long. All I want is to be free. Its striking really to see where I was and compare it to where I am today. I want to scream for help. For relief, but its as though my cry is silent, afraid to take flight. Its like a dream, reaching for something that does not even exist. I could be in a crowded room and feel so clouded and alone. But maybe its all made up in my head, where my soul knows it not, but my mind tells it so. A raging battle between my soul and mind. Who will win in the end? Who can overcome this fight? I can't seem to see the light. When I think I see a glimpse, it has faded into darkness. I've come to a place where I don't even recognize myself anymore. My mind has become someone my soul doesn't even know. So deviated from reality, from that which I used to know to be so real and true. I've believed a lie and it feels as though I've become one myself. How is it possible to know anyone else if I don't even know myself? I have so much pain that I've become blind. I'm falling to pieces.
I'm not looking for sympathy or a sermon. I am just trying to find myself again.
Here is a precise analog to what I think, believe and most of the time feel about religion, dogma and stagnant fundamentalism. Especially in the last several days, what Jim Palmer has shared here has really hits home for me....
What follows are a few mistakes I’ve made on my spiritual journey. Referring to these as “mistakes” may be unfair. What I describe below is likely a common, unavoidable, and even necessary part of the process. I refer to them as “mistakes” because they don’t seem to be very productive as a regular practice, and I would not intentionally repeat them again.
The term “fundamentalism” is normally associated with religious extremism. It doesn’t just apply to ultra-conservative, fundy Christians. I’ve discovered there are progressive/liberal Christian fundamentalists, Atheist, Agnostic, and Humanistic fundamentalists, Buddhist, Muslim, and Jewish fundamentalists, and New Age fundamentalists. What I mean by “fundamentalist” is the insistence that one’s belief system, philosophy, understandings or experiences are superior. Religious fundamentalism often leads to the objectification and demonization of the “unbeliever” but there is also a kinder/gentler fundamentalism that is still in the end … fundamentalism.
In my case, I left Christian fundamentalism behind but managed to create a different fundamentalism around whatever my new and improved understanding, concept, experience, or discovery was at the time. Heck, during one season I even became a fundamentalist of love – “It’s about love … dammit!” In other words, each step of my enlightenment became the new “it” or standard that I judged others by. Essentially I poured concrete over my latest epiphany, and it became the new religion. I wasn’t necessarily nasty or belligerent about it but there was a certain insistence, silent pride and arrogance to it.
You are driving down the street and notice you are about to go off the road into a ditch. Your reaction is to grab the wheel and by over-correcting, you fly across the road and off into the ditch on the other side. By avoiding one ditch, you managed to steer right into another. It’s no secret that any person who feels led astray and betrayed by their religion is likely to become it’s biggest critic. A person lives many years under the oppression of religion. In reaction to this, they over-correct and become an Atheist. There are lots of options between a hideous concept of God and concluding there is no God at all, but when you over-correct you skid by all the stuff in the middle.
By the way, please don’t hear me saying that every person’s beliefs are the result of over-correction. I know Atheists who are not guilty of over-correction – they are Atheists because they have done their due diligence and have genuinely concluded that the existence of God is neither possible nor useful. Another example may be someone who doesn’t go to church anymore and has made “institutional church” into the spawn of Satan.
Insecurity can express itself in a strong need for your beliefs and experiences to be validated by others. How do others validate your beliefs and experiences? By agreeing with or sharing your beliefs and experiences. And so it’s not rocket science to see that people who don’t agree or share in your beliefs and experiences are a threat to your sense of identity. You feel invalidated. It’s very difficult to truly accept and learn from another as long as your need for validation is running the show. What happens is that you begin dividing people up on sides. You want people on “your side” because that makes you feel secure and validated. People on the “other side” are seen as the enemy. Needing to be “right” is often a issue of insecurity and needing validation from others. Trust me, I made a fine art out of this.
I don’t mean for the word to sound as harsh as it might seem. Here’s my point. Most people want a formula or magic bullet. They are not truly willing to do their own due diligence at a soul level, and would prefer someone just give them the answer. They are hoping for a formula that promises that if you do ‘A’ then ‘B’ will happen. Paradox, mystery, ambiguity, abstraction, self-honesty, vulnerability, humility are but a few of the things many people would like to avoid if possible, and would rather just have someone figure things out for them. I come across too many people who have not adequately scrutinized what they believe. It's comfortable to stay with what you know, and not question it. It's also risky.
We all make mistakes. Which ones have you made? Yours may be very different from mine. Perhaps in certain cases you didn’t go far enough, or held on to long, or allowed fear to control you. Deconstructing one's faith is often a messy and volatile process. How has it been for you?
Yoga for me has been apart of who I have become. It's made me focus on my body, soul and mind as being one. Its easy to separate my body from my mind sometimes. But in yoga, if the mind and body aren't working together during the practice, the mind feels like a huge obstacle to overcome. One of the main focus's is to keep the heart reaching out and open. In many of the poses, this is essential in order to reach the full expression and gain the most potential in the practice. However, not only is it important to keep the heart reaching forward, but my yoga instructor has brought light to some personal situations to my heart and body. I have always had a tendency to naturally relax with my shoulders slouching. Its how I sit without even knowing. But since I started practicing yoga on a regular basis, I've been able to pay more attention and correct my posture in a sense. I do think it also has to do with fear. When I slouch, I am, in a way, hiding or protecting my heart from becoming exposed. I never thought about this before, but it was always a natural position for me to hide my heart. Its crazy when I started doing yoga. The major issue for me was to reach my heart forward. For whatever reason, I made it almost impossible to do this naturally because my body was already used to slouching. It's like I've always been afraid of something, afraid of being myself or fear of what others would think... Always been a people pleaser my whole childhood, but was easily frightened and would go into hiding, not fully exposing myself.
After some major personal shifts in my life recently, I'm starting to realize that I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I feel like I've been in an emotional fist fight with myself for some time. Struggling with what is real and what is not real. What I want verses what I need. Its a fucking mind game most of the time. My heart struggles to keep open, when its natural tendency is to close. My heart struggles between feelings of relief and of depression.
Through it all, I've come to realize that free will is like a double-edge sword. Its the things that I can't control that seems to destroy my soul. It breaks down the fabrics of my interior and exposes my deepest pain. But, I can't give up in the pursuit of having an open heart. Even if its just on my blog.
This video stunned my soul. It reached the most fragile and broken parts of me. What she says about shame has been with me since childhood, though it feels like its gotten worse and worse over time as an adult. It's made me realize how I bury virtue, hide vulnerability and look pretty from the outside. The primary reason to this is fear. Fear of what others would really think of me if I was vulnerable. The core of the issue is, I'm ashamed of who I am.
The latest Connecticut tragedy brings many questions to my mind, but these statements point to one major factor for me. If it is so easy to turn the head or not even pay attention to what other countries face in this regard, wouldn't that be considered a biased approach to humanity? I find this tragic when it hits so close to home. But what seems to be even more disturbing is when we seem to pick and choose what makes a tragedy.
Not all who wander are aimless, especially those who seek truth beyond tradition, beyond definition, beyond image. -- Mona Lisa Smile
Hi! Thanks for coming by and checking out my blog. If I had to tell you anything about myself and why I write, it would be this...
I love to write about things that inspire me or captures my attention, or merely what is happening in my life. I don't proclaim to have it all figured out, but I do know this, that I am simply human that has problems and I am not afraid to expose them here. Vulnerability and being authentic is something I strive for, even if it looks ugly at times.
So please feel free to come and have a conversation with me. I can't wait to dig in deep with you!
I am learning how to live loved by God and embrace His grace that will help me fly in freedom. Let the wings of grace take me, all of me, for who I am and not for who I should be.