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I live in Los Angeles, the Mecca of spirituality in The U.S.A. You would think that I would only have great things to say about this, right? However, just like in life, not everything is black and white. Nuance can be applied to everything, including spirituality.
Even though both of my parents are spiritual people, I had to discover my own path. I don’t regret the journey at all because most times, not knowing opens space for us to truly learn with an open mind and heart.
If I could’ve know some things before my journey, they would be the following:
1. Spirituality is not always light.
I come from two extremely positive parents who always encouraged me that God and The Universe has my back. I know that this is not the average perspective because some people believe in the dark. I don’t mean dark like witchery (which can be darkness or light), I mean curses and using The Universe to manipulate people and things. One of the many great things about our lives is that they are usually direct reflections of what we are putting out. You might call yourself spiritual but what kind of spirituality are you aligning yourself with? The darkness (manipulation and force) or the light (manifestation, abundance and acceptance).
2. Just because you smile doesn’t mean that you aren’t in pain.
Everyone can wear a smile. However, internal happiness and wellbeing takes work. Daily practice and daily work to choose the path of enlightenment. As a yoga teacher, I encounter many yoga teachers who are in it for the enlightenment and wellness of all; however, unfortunately, I meet more teachers who are in it for self-elevation and Ego. The Ego is often an of extension of pain and until we learn to heal the pain that has occurred and manifested in our minds, bodies and lives, we will continue to think that we are above everyone else. However, the foundation of spirituality is connection- understanding that we are of the same: love.
3. Spirituality is a journey not a destination.
An extension of the last paragraph, in Western culture, we believe that if we receive a teacher-training or certificate makes us worthy of being followed on our spiritual path. However, in other cultures, who you are and what you represent is. Growing up in South Africa gave me an irreplaceable perspective that if I hurt my neighbour, I hurt myself because we are all connected. It also taught me that positivity is a daily practice and doesn’t happen when I get something but when I choose to be positive. Western Culture focuses so much on what we can get and then we’ll be happy: cars, phones, houses and other materials. This has been translated into our spiritual practice through having the right yoga-wear, practicing at the ‘best studio’, drinking the right kombucha, having celebrities practice next to us- all of this and then we will be spiritual. However, spirituality isn’t attached to when, it is attached to now. In this moment, will you be here?
4. Spirituality is not a replacement for therapy.
There is a huge difference between spirituality and therapy. The two cannot replace each other. Sometimes I hear people say that yoga can replace therapy which is dangerous. If you have been through something traumatic and need to speak to someone, please do so. Yoga teachers and the Asanas are not a replacement for someone who has been through years of study to hold you accountable for your healing. The same goes for tarot card readers, psychics, reiki healers and more. Asana (physical practice) of yoga is meant to show you your sanskars (behavioural patterns) so that it can enlighten you; accountability is a choice. If you have been through something that requires professional help, please seek it! So that someone can apply their expertise to what you are going through.