Let’s start this week by discussing Spirit V Religion!
This is week 4 of 4 in our mini-series, POYOOMF – Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First, – the essential guide to self-care for a busy person – and today we discuss the fourth pillar that is necessary if you and I are to be fully whole – Spirit.
The four pillars of Self-care are:
*links at bottom in case you missed it or want to refresh
Each week we have asked the Big Rock question (what is the Big Rock – the most important aspect of health, wealth, relationships, for you that is currently out of whack?) and the One Thing question (what One Thing could you do that would have the biggest positive impact?) and we encouraged you to do it.
This, in week four is where we pull it all together as we begin to construct the fourth pillar, Spirit.
So, as I said at the top of the article, let’s start by discussing Spirit V Religion!
Having been born in Dublin in 1963, it is unsurprising that I am Catholic, born into (and very happy to have been) a traditional Catholic family, where baths were had, good clothes put on and we all trooped off to mass every Sunday. Indeed for many of my later years I was a staunch practicing Catholic, having been a happy contributing member of several church folk choirs in my time (an aside – I remember telling a man from the North of Ireland I was a practicing Catholic and his hilarious response was, “Keep practicing and some day you might get good enough to be Protestant!” 🙂 )
Growing up as one of five kids on Dublin’s Northside, in the era before easy credit, we lived in a cash society, so I remember wearing hand-me down clothes from an older cousin in England and using second-hand books in school, upon one of which was a scribbling from a previous custodian, “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” The same sentiment can be applied to faith – “Don’t let religion interfere with your spirituality, with your relationship with God.” My goodness we just have to look around the world today or peer back into our own islands’s very recent history to see the damage being wrought in the name of religion – “My God is better than yours” – “No it’s not, mine is…” “No, Ours are…” etc, etc. Madness!
Anyhow, spirituality is NOT religion and religion often times is far removed from spirituality. Many of us who choose to believe in God – a higher power – often think of ourselves as physical beings, pursuing a spiritual experience, but what if we change our perspective? What if we are in fact, all of us, spiritual beings having a temporary (70 or 80 years out of eternity) physical experience? Doesn’t that shake things up a tad?
Read that again. What if we are spiritual beings having a temporary physical experience? Bet some of you didn’t see that one coming.
You see, what I am learning is at a sub-atomic level we are all made of the same stuff, yep, and not only are we, but everything else is as well – the grass, the trees, the ocean, the rocks, the phone in your hand, the chair you are sitting on and the cup of coffee you are enjoying! (head melted yet?)
Oh, it gets better – and that same stuff is largely … nothing!
You know the score from school; cells are made of molecules, molecules made up of atoms, atoms have a nucleus of protons and neutrons, surrounded by a cloud of electrons whizzing around at a rate of knots, the orbit itself and the perpetual movement deriving from the constant attracting and repelling effects of the proton/neutron nucleus.
Can you picture it?
Now picture that the distance between the nucleus of the atom and the electron cloud in each atom is the equivalent of you standing in the middle of Croke Park as the nucleus and the electron cloud whizzing around the upper seating tier!
There is far more nothing going on than there is something; do you get that?
So atoms are not solid. They are instead information and energy – and bursting potential!
And if we accept that we are all made of (and everyone and everything else is too) the same ‘nothing stuff’, then we must accept by extension that we are all connected to everything and everyone else ‘out there’.
The human body is miraculous. At conception it starts as one cell. One. and it subdivides and becomes two. And they subdivide and become four and four become eight, eight become sixteen and so on until it becomes 37.2 trillion (that’s a big number given that a trillion is one thousand billion and one billion is a thousand million) cells! All from one little cell! As if that wasn’t miraculous enough, at some point in the process, that one cell, made up of nothing but information, energy and potential, becomes different TYPES of cells – eye cells, heart cells, bone cells, hair cells – mad when you think about it (but then we don’t do we?)
Can you accept therefore that there must be a Central Intelligence, manifest in the Universe, that is controlling (or perhaps allowing) it all?
Having met him at Pendulum New York in September, I am reading one of Deepak Chopra’s books at present, “Synchrodestiny”, In it he uses an analogy to describe how we are all made of the same stuff which I’ll paraphrase here in my own words to help us all stay on the same page.
Imagine your looking down on the earth from space and you see all the oceans of the world as one – it all looks the same and is in fact all the same, made from the same blue stuff. In his analogy Deepak refers to that as the ‘nonlocal’ domain. Imagine flying down so you are skimming across the surface and you can see that instead of it being the beautiful static blue entity it appeared from a distance, it is in fact boiling and roiling in perpetual motion. No fly to a shoreline and imagine a wave cresting and breaking and rushing to meet the land; all the same stuff, the wave and the ocean just in different forms; the wave being a localized ‘interruption’ in the ‘nonlocal’ flow. But even though it is a local interruption in the flow, there is no difference whatsoever in the makeup of that interruption – they are just different forms of exactly the same thing, the wave and the ocean are made of the same stuff; inseparable.
I subscribe to Deepak’s proposal that you and I are similarly localized interruptions, positive aberrations or disruptions if you will, in the overall Universal soup that makes up everything that we perceive as ‘real’.
I’m sure you can recall seeing a shoal of fish or a murmuration of starlings, perhaps on one of Sir David Attenborough’s wonderful TV programs where the shoal or the murmuration move beautifully, majestically in unison – no leader, no obvious communication and yet they dance together in exquisite choreography without ever crashing into each other – wonderful! What’s this about? It is proposed this is about the ‘nonlocal’, sub-atomic communication that takes place way below cellular level, where space, mass and time have no meaning and so communication is instantaneously and effortlessly ‘felt’ by each fish or bird at exactly the same moment.
Is this the higher intelligence governing the Universe – could this be God?
All of this to say that you and I at a very deep, sub-atomic level, are connected to everyone else on the planet and to everyTHING else on the planet and by extension everyone and everything else are connected to us. Everything that you and I do, therefore must have a ripple effect ‘out there’. It is also true that everything that everyone else does has a ripple effect too.
So if you and I want to change the world, we must change our own world first.
Firstly by getting in touch with it.
If we accept even for just this moment that we are in fact spiritual beings, enjoying a temporary physical experience, then wouldn’t it make sense we should spend a little more time getting in touch with that self-same spirit? I think so.
How is that possible because the world would have us distracted? noise and distraction everywhere.
Let me start by saying that there is going to be some work associated with the ‘how’ here (at least at first); you and I are going to have to find a way to carve out some time to get in touch with our spirit.
How might we start? Perhaps it’s through walking in nature – you’ve done it before, you’ve walked by the ocean, along a riverbank or in a forest or meadow and have felt better, so you know what I’m talking about. Is that just an accident? No it’s not just an accident and you know it. There’s something going on under the surface here and you know it. This is the local ‘you’ connecting with the ‘nonlocal’ everything else for replenishment – and the replenishment itself is effortless.
On a more regular basis perhaps you can get there through daily reading; by absorbing the written word, penned to challenge the miracle that is the grey matter between your ears. Read something that will add to your human journey, something that will add to your spiritual journey. Indeed why not start with Deepak Chopra’s ‘Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’. (A tip here: when I read a book I most often get my next book as a recommendation from the author of the book I’m reading – he/she will refer to something they read by someone else and I often go there next).
For what it’s worth I read the Bible every day; I just don’t push it down people’s throats or beat them over the head with it. I also read the likes of Deepak Chopra every day too as I don’t see any conflict between these two complimentary views of the world and the Universe (I don’t read the newspaper though – I remember Zig Ziglar saying he did; Ziggy said “I read the Bible every day and I read the newspaper every day; that way I know what both sides are up to!”)
Another practice I recommend is meditation so we can train our minds to ‘shut the feck up’ to allow us hear that ‘still small voice’ that is alluded to. So that we at least have some chance to hear the messages from the Universe, the voice of the God, some possibility of catching the whispers. I spoke in week 1 as to my own meditative practice if you need a starting point.
As I have said repeatedly, I am not an expert in this stuff, I just do what I do and am happy to ‘think out loud’ so that others can benefit from what I am learning as I meander through my temporary physical experience. I do so in the hopes that my ruminations may nudge some soul out there – it could be you – towards a course of action that will have a long-term positive impact on that soul, it’s world and therefore the world at large.
That’s my hope. That’s my prayer.
As ever we are asking the two questions:
- What is the Big Rock for you around this topic of Spirit? What is your soul saying you need to do, or consider?
- What One Thing can you do this week that will have the biggest positive impact on your Spiritual Big Rock?
Will you commit to doing it? Thank you.
In conclusion, here is a beautiful anonymous quote I stumbled across, recorded and read every Sunday:
‘Much as we hate to admit it, we’re shepherdless sheep…born out of one eternity and frighteningly close to another…We can’t answer our own questions about love and hurt…can’t solve the riddle of ageing…don’t know how to heal our own bodies or get along with our mates…My point is: uncontrolled anger won’t better our world…sympathetic understanding will. Once we begin to operate not from a posture of anger but of compassion…we realise the lights are out…a lot of people are stumbling in the darkness…So we light candles.’
I hope and pray my ruminations are me lighting candles and I trust some soul will therefore light candles for others. Will you join us?
As ever, thank you for thinking with me.
Bye for now.
MORE. Did you enjoy that? Fancy a sip of some of my recent “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:
- Part 3. Self Care is Not Selfish – Today we focus on RELATIONSHIPS (or POYOOMF part 3 of 4) – click here.
- Part 2. Self Care Is Not Selfish – This week we focus on WEALTH (or POYOOMF Part 2 of 4) – click here.
- Part 1 Self Care Is Not Selfish – This week we focus on HEALTH (or POYOOMF Part 1 of 4) – click here.
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