Operation Basecamp: “Welcome Home.”
I begin this article with a heavy heart. And that heavy heart is the reason I would like to bring my thoughts to fruition to others. This week a good friend of mine took their life. When this happens in this manner, it is very difficult to allow for peace, and how to talk about it with others. Thoughts enter my mind, such as, “Why bother talking about it. Others didn’t know the person, so they won’t understand,” realizing how that statement begins to create separation and disconnection within myself, and between myself and others. The mix of emotions circle through every feeling one could possibly imagine. Anger, frustration, sadness, happiness for good memories, desperation in attempting to understand, and the centrifugal machine continues, sometimes releasing for moments of feeling fine, and then not feeling fine, mainly due to one word - love. Love for the individual and trying to grasp, with knowing, I will not see them again in this form, and struggling with how to find closure. This isn’t the first time in my life where I have had to search for closure having lost connection with someone or something in order to process and progress forward. This all leads me to what we are focusing on at The Heart Revival this month of July - A Spiritual Practice. And in moments like these, I realize even more in another added layer, how important a spiritual practice is for many reasons, which I will further explain in this article.
There is nothing unusual about me waking up in the morning, drinking copious amounts of coffee (to quote Gilmore Girls, “Give me coffee in an IV drip, Stat!”), and pulling out three books at a time, placing them in front of me to see which one is calling to me the most. And it has never failed to offer some form of wisdom and insight into what I am supposed to contemplate for the day. Oftentimes this leads to a meditation sit, prayer, mindful walking, singing, long texts to friends, or whatever may come with what I am studying that day that brings me back and keeps me connected to Big Love. Welcome to my mind, my heart, and a big part of my spiritual practice. Which leads to many questions, such as, what is spirit, what is a spiritual practice, and why is it important? In essence, what is spirituality? And the truth of the matter is, the answers are personal. You have to walk a bit to find them.
In order to explain this, I need you to take a step with me into my own personal life and practice. With that said, you have to remember this is my own personal practice that has been created and developed over the years, and it is continually evolving based upon experiences that introduce themselves into my life, such as the one I just shared about a friend taking their life. Experiences like these make me take a step back and question what I am doing. And I mean, rightfully so. No? We have choices in these moments of what to do with new information and I go back to what I call Basecamp. It’s the home that resides within myself where I can allow myself to feel and reassess what is happening inside. It is an opportunity to reground and really to go back to the basics, which is basically remembering my personal foundation.
With that said, I have an inter-spiritual practice with Christianity and Buddhist teachings. And there it is. I think I just heard it, the close of the tab, a scoff in a throat from many for one reason or another. There is much anger and frustration for those who have had really horrible experiences with Christianity or the like. So, really, even based upon my own experiences, I don’t blame them. I don’t make excuses for any of it. I too have had to walk away from what I thought I knew in order to regroup and find answers to many frustrations and pure rage over what I have felt have been judgements about my spiritual character, or for other reasons I could categorize into spiritual abuse. And this gives rise for me to back the train up and share a little more in depth about my personal journey into a spiritual practice.
Over 12 years ago, I went silent, walking away from what I thought I knew to be my personal base of spirituality. I hiked back down to Basecamp, away from most people, away from church, etc. Throughout this process, my paradigm of what I thought spirituality was, began to shift. I realized throughout most of my life I didn’t have a personal practice I could call my own. I did whatever I was told in remote recitations. Memorizing passages, hymns, and the like, that I can now say have their place, but at that time, it wasn’t connecting within my heart as much as it could. I had a deep longing to rebuild my own foundation of spirituality, asking myself, What do I personally believe?
Along this path, I have met so many people that offered me guidance and space to grow. These are only a few of them. My Dumbledore professor at Concordia asked me what my definition of spirit was and how this relates to expression. My friend Kristine sat there and listened to me ad nauseum as I unpacked that question. Yoga entered my life around that same time, and I mean Tibetan Buddhist yoga, the spiritual stuff, to which my friend Meg and I have amazing discussions based upon my own questions and vice versa, and my parents and I discussed many of my curiosities. Within all of these experiences and connections I could feel myself literally shifting into my personal relationship and understanding of God, faith, love, compassion, and what it means to be connected on a very deep personal level with Spirit. I began going back to church, and slowly the inter-spiritual practices naturally merged. I had to push out other’s judgments, and unselfishly, focus on myself. This turned into daily meditations infused with prayer, readings and study of spirituality, yes, including the Bible, hiking in nature, which is honestly where I find the most clarity that is needed as part of my personal practice. Nature is my muse and much of my return to self. All of this helped me to create Basecamp within myself. Therein lies a place to search doubts as well as where I find my confidence. It’s a renewed sense of self that develops harmony with all of life.
So, where am I going with this? As a spiritual practitioner, this is encouragement for others, if they haven’t, to find their Basecamp and develop a spiritual practice that creates a welcoming home within themselves. It has been and is one of the most important journeys I have taken from the head to the heart. You know when you have found your practice when you begin to feel space. When actions are not reactionary, where the eyes begin to witness people as thinking, feeling, tender human beings, where judgements begin to recede like waves, when the breath becomes less labored, the muscles less tight, storms lose their grip, and kind of like the Grinch, we begin to feel the heartbeat. In essence, Love. The foundation of Basecamp. Many thoughts and feelings will come and go, and underneath those, Truth rises. Stick with yourself. Find your people. Stay curious. Come back to self to welcome yourself home.
Restorative and Spiritual Yoga Instructor
Spiritual Life & Writing Coach
Visit The Heart Revival for more information
Author of the following books:
Under Willows. Over Flowers.
When Sensitivity Breaks
Waves: The Cell of Me
Photo: Lottie Lillian Photography