Chasing Childhood Dreams

Do you remember what it was like to be a child? The world seemed like it was full of possibility, life was easy, and we found joy in everything. Fast forward to today where we’re working our days away, not getting enough sleep, and definitely not experiencing the joy we once did.  Wouldn’t you like to go back sometimes and feel the lightheartedness and simple pleasure of life again?

I do. Towards the end of last year, I felt like I was plodding my way through life. Get up, go to work, go grocery shopping, do laundry, answer emails, go to bed. And repeat. Over and over and over. As I’ve been slowly approaching 30 (still two years away, thank you!), I’ve been promising myself that I will go back and take tumbling or gymnastics classes again. I took gymnastics from age 3 to 9 years old, then came cheerleading and tumbling for three years throughout middle school. I threw in some street jazz classes that took me all through high school, and it was as a freshman in high school that I discovered my passion for singing and began vocal lessons that spanned five years. I loved being active, performing, and continually improving my skills. A few years out of college, I began to miss the feeling of challenging myself and the thrill of victory as my talent rose to the next level.

So I made myself a promise late last year. I would get in shape in order to relive my childhood passion and take an adult gymnastics class. Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been working out three to five days a week with cardio and strength training. At the end of each workout, I diligently stretch my body back into positions that it hasn’t been in since I was twelve years old. I started out barely able to hold my legs in a split, but now, after about six months of training, my legs are on the ground, and my split is pretty darn good, thank you very much. No matter how exhausted I am, I always push myself to work out because I have a goal in mind, and I don’t want to lose the progress and momentum I’ve gained. All the hard work will be worth it when I step out on the spring board floor and throw myself into a round off back handspring. I’m looking forward to that familiar feeling of strength and power that pushes me into the air like I’m flying for just a split second.

What makes you feel like you’re flying? Were you on your local swim team, spending weekends and summers in the pool? Or were you out on the baseball field, throwing curve balls and striking the opposing team out? I think it’s important to rediscover your childhood passion and reconnect with a part of your soul that is innocent and pure. Feeding your soul doesn’t just come through spiritual discovery. It also comes through personal discovery, and if you’re ignoring your soul, the essence of who you are, then the spiritual enlightenment that you’re seeking will never be attained. Your soul needs to be nurtured, and a great way to breathe life into your heart is to practice the activities, sports, or hobbies that ignite a passion inside you.

Now, you may think you’re too old or there aren’t any opportunities for you to step back into a hobby you practiced twenty years ago. However, I’m here to tell you that you’d be surprised to see how many adult leagues there are for almost any sport you can think of – baseball, kickball, volleyball, basketball, biking, etc. Heck, if there’s a gymnastics class for adults, one of the most strenuous and demanding sports that exists, then you should have no trouble finding an adult class for any activity you may be interested in. As you enter back into the world of your childhood passion, I hope you’ll find excitement in life again, as I have. Practicing your hobby with abandon will bring a nourishment in your soul that will spread through the rest of your life.

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Super Soul Sunday

Feeding Your Soul

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I’m sure most of you have watched Oprah through the years, and you are probably familiar with her new network OWN. However, have you ever seen her program on Sunday mornings called Super Soul Sunday? If you haven’t, you are missing out! I feel like Oprah also has the same big picture view that I’ve been discovering on my own. She brings on different spiritual leaders, regular people with extraordinary spiritual experiences, and makes you question things in a new way. She’s spoken with Christian leaders, Sufi teachers, and regular people with no particular religious affiliation. I like the fact that she is religion-neutral and instead focuses on the overall truths that exist – there is a God, our Earth is a divine creation, the path towards love and acceptance is taught in every religion, and the Holy Spirit is moving throughout our lives in ways that we aren’t even aware of.

One particular episode that I really enjoyed was Oprah’s discussion with Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. He spoke about how Sufism focuses on discovering your oneness with God and entering into a love with God that occurs deep within the soul. That comment of entering into a love with God really struck me. We always talk about loving our family or worshiping God, but the phrase “loving God” does not come up. If someone asked you if you loved God, how would you respond? I know my response right now would be “I guess so.” But how do you love someone you’ve never met? Well, according to Llewellyn, you can meet Him because God is inside of you; He resides inside your soul. If you stop and think, this actually doesn’t sound so far off. If you believe that we came from God, then does it not make sense that we are made up of God? Sufi followers devote themselves to this exact journey of traveling deep inside themselves to enter into fellowship with Him. This relationship goes far beyond praying to God or sending thanks His way. They know Him intimately, just like we would know our husband or wife. Llewellyn even referred to God as “his Beloved.”

I’ll share a quote with you from the episode that I feel encapsulates his message –

“Sufism is a path of love. The Sufi is a traveler on the path of love, a wayfarer journeying back to God through the mysteries of the heart. For the Sufi the relationship to God is that of lover and Beloved, and Sufis are also known as lovers of God. The journey to God takes place within the heart, and for centuries Sufis have been traveling deep within themselves, into the secret chamber of the heart where lover and Beloved share the ecstasy of union.”

As ideal as it would be to become lovers of God, it is certainly not easy and not a quick journey. As I was watching the program, I thought “I’d love to be in a place of endless joy with God, but how would I ever get there?” I think we can find God when we’re quiet, and when we open our minds and hearts to hear His message. His voice is always speaking, but too often, we drown Him out with jobs, TV, and responsibilities.

One way in which I try to hear God is by driving to work without the radio on. Have you ever driven to work on a sunny day with silence in the car, looking around to notice the blue sky, the green trees, the brilliant sunlight? In our busy world, this moment of silence in the car is an easy way to find quiet time with God. Sometimes I pray while I’m driving, and other times I just observe nature passing by my window. I try to turn off the endless chatter in my brain and think nothing at all. This is when your mind will open up and start to hear God speaking.

Try driving in silence one morning or evening. I hope you’ll hear God’s voice or at least find some quiet time to relax.

The Third Jesus

Feeding Your Soul

A lot of us attend church on Sundays, focus on God for an hour, and push him to the back of our minds for the rest of the week. And we’re left feeling unsatisfied. Or maybe you’re like me, and you don’t attend church at all, but you feel a nagging sense that something’s missing in your life. You desire to have an inner peace in your soul, but all you feel is out of breath from racing through the mundanities of life.

I’ve felt this longing for inner peace, and I determined the best way to start my quest for a richer spiritual existence was to read a book by someone who had already achieved such enlightenment. Enter “The Third Jesus” by Deepak Chopra.

I’d heard of Deepak Chopra by watching Oprah,  but I’d also heard others refer to him as “a great spitirual leader” as I read and explored more. So I perused his books in Barnes and Noble and settled on “The Third Jesus.” Even though Deepak is Indian (as in from the country of India), he was exposed to Christianity along with Buddhism at a young age. I was surprised that the book dove into the scripture and analyzed Biblical verses on a deeper spiritual level. I expected him to ignore the Bible all together and speak to a more metaphysical experience. However, this fresh approach to scripture intrigued me.

The title “The Third Jesus” comes from the premise that there are three versions of Jesus. The first is the historical Jesus, the man who lived in Galilee and lead a human life. The second Jesus is the Jesus created by the church to manipulate people into following a political agenda. This Jesus is also the “feel good Jesus” the church has created to lull people into believing they can practice a watered down version of Christianity. Finally, the third Jesus is the real Jesus who meant what he said. When he commanded “love your neighbor as yourself,” he didn’t mean “only when you feel like it” as we practice today. He meant “love the terrorists who attacked the Twin Towers because they are your brothers, and you must forgive them.” This is a tall order, and a level of spiritual advancement that most of us will be unable to achieve in this lifetime.

But that’s why I like this book. It asks you to explore Jesus’ teachings on a new and deeper level outside the confines of Christianity. I’ll leave you with an excerpt to get you thinking as you ponder your own spiritual journey –

Jesus did not physically descend from God’s dwelling place above the clouds, nor did he return to sit at the right hand of a literal throne. What made Jesus the Son of God was the fact that he had achieved God-consciousness. Jesus said as much over and over when he said “the Father and I are one.” He knew no separation between his thoughts and God’s thoughts, his feelings and God’s feelings, his actions and the actions God wanted performed.

I highly recommend this book, no matter what religion you are or where you are in your spiritual journey. It is well-written, a reasonable length, and has practical ideas on how you can have a deeper relationship with God. I hope you’ll at least check it out at your library. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.