Spiritual Sidebar: Kristin B

Kristin B is an infectious ball of light and love. She is one of Ang’s fellow yoga teachers and a overall lover of life. We definitely wanted to know her spiritual secrets! You can also follow her blog Sorta Enlightened for more inspiration!

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Hello! I’m Kristin Booth. Wife, dog-mama, yoga teacher, sandwich-lover, lover of travel and pretty things.

I grew up in a small town in Southern California and was introduced to ‘church’ at a very young age. My father, mother, sister, and I went to The United Methodist Church in my hometown every Sunday and were highly involved in activities and happenings going on there. It was not uncommon for us to be at the facility two to three times a week for various events and my parents could often be found cleaning up after spaghetti dinners and other gatherings late into the night.

The United Methodists are a denomination of the Christian church with the belief that Jesus is the son of God and through his death on the cross we receive the grace of God, should we accept it. This belief, and others, was taught to me through Sunday school, youth group, summer camp, and Bible Studies. I memorized scripture and was an acolyte- bringing the lit candles to the church altar during Sunday service. I met some of my best friends in my church home and credit them with keeping me out of trouble during most of my high school years and well into college. ‘Spirituality’ wasn’t a factor during this time- ‘religion’ was and I accepted all of it at face-value.

During my college years I didn’t go to church. I wasn’t used to not being in ‘my church’ and felt uncomfortable exploring other options on my own. There was the occasional venturing out, but nothing felt right. I felt guilty for not being involved in a church and felt ashamed that it wasn’t a priority for me to find a new church home.

It was during this time that I traveled out of the country for the first time, started practicing yoga on a regular basis, and started to develop my own opinions about who I am and who I want to be. It was on my yoga mat and in the outdoors that I started to feel more spiritually connected than ever before. I came to realize that my connection with the Devine did not have to be facilitated in a religious service- it can be anywhere- and that my relationship with the Holy Trinity, the Devine, is an actual relationship.

As most relationships go, they need to be cultivated and nurtured. Relationships go through highs and lows, they experience distance and extreme closeness and connection. My spiritual life right now consists of having a small space in my home that serves as a retreat where I can go to pray, practice breath work, and be. In addition, I have been become a student of the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and A Course in Miracles. Both have given me fresh ideas and principles and have been building blocks to the foundation that my early church upbringing gave me.

It has been a long time since I have been in a traditional church service. In the meantime, I have been blessed by a Buddhist monk, skipped work to go hear the Dali Lama speak, prayed in the Sistine Chapel, seen heaven over the Alps, and experienced the greatest peace riding an elephant in a forest in Thailand. I feel like my spiritual practice is…practice. It’s sometimes easy and sometimes complicated. It takes effort, but sometimes is effortless. My practice is not pretty, but I cannot help but whisper a prayer of thanks when I’m surrounded by beauty.

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My greatest recommendation is to soul-search to discover your own connection on your own terms. If you spend all of your time in a church only surrounded by people who agree with you and never allow you to question your own beliefs, you miss out on the world outside its walls and challenges that will help you grow. This big universe was created for YOU- to enjoy, to explore, to love, and to cherish. Enlightenment is not a destination, it’s a journey. There’s so much joy in the journey!

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We are interested in hearing about your spiritual journey! If you would like to be featured on Spiritual Sidebar, please email us at spiritualbahana@gmail.com or comment here!

Hair In A Bun Friday: Tying it up For My Sistah Friend Iyanla Vanzant

“I gave myself permission to feel and experience all of my emotions. In order to do that, I had to stop being afraid to feel. In order to do that, I taught myself to believe that no matter what I felt or what happened when I felt it, I would be okay.” Iyanla Vanzant

Angelina and I always tie our hair up in a bun right before we discuss anything that has to do with Iyanla Vanzant – we love her!

I was first introduced to the Yoruba priestess back in 2012 after reading her book Peace From Broken Pieces: How To Get Through, What You’re Going Through.

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 I. LOVED. THE. TITLE.  Little did I know I’d love her autobiography much, much more. There are two ways a person can approach her life’s story; poor black child who made it out of the projects or a strong spiritual woman who uses her life’s journey as a way to teach about destructive generational patterns.  I’m currently listening to the audio book – for the 5th time – as I go to and from work.  It always inspires me and gives me hope on those days when I’m so out of it, I can’t even find the time to dry my hair before tying it in a loosely fitted bun.

If you’re a sister who believes in generational patterns and the distruction it can cause if gone unchecked, then this book is definitely for you.  You can also find her on Iyanla Fix My Life (I completely get it when it comes to the title) and also on Oprah’s Life Class.

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Hope all our sisters take time to rest this weekend.

Peace,

Ed

Outside Forces that Shape A Spiritual Life: Part 3

Even in my really bad, drugged-out days, I didn’t go away. I still toured, still did interviews. I never gave up the fight. That’s why I’m who I am today, because I didn’t leave. And I think I made the right choice. Stevie Nicks

When we are born, there are personality traits already instilled deep within us.  Those personality quirks shape our life.

Then there are those outside forces: people, places and events that cause us to rethink our direction.

Handling all the above it what makes life – life.

Ed

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I look at where I am now and what is shaping my spiritual life and if I had to sum it up in one word it would be: everything.

I am finding God, inspiration, other hearts, spirituality and love everywhere I look. I see it in nature, connections with others, kindness, yoga, wisdom, choices, people, music, passion and animals.

When I opened my heart up to follow a spiritual path, I found roads everywhere.

Thank-you for continuing to follow along with us as we explore these paths and connecting with our hearts as we discover what God has in store for us all.

In love & sisterhood,

~Ang

 

Outside Forces That Shape A Spiritual Life: Part 1

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

When I think of life and my place among the millions of other life forms tossing, spinning and turning around me, I often see myself as a solar system.  In it, I’m the sun and the planets orbiting around me are life’s little surprises that are waiting to shape my future destiny.  Each one is out there just spinning around waiting for the right moment in life’s journey to make itself known.  So far, the planets I’ve explored have brought me to where I am today.

When I touched base with the first planet within my orbit I encountered planet Gay; when I allowed my rays to shine upon it, I had to deal with it; figure it out and get over it.  As dark and menacing as it looked from afar, I found the unknown terrain to be harmless fun.

Once Planet Gay became overpopulated and I had explored every corner there was to explore, it was time to move on.  The second planet I encountered was the giant gas planet of organized religion.  At the surface, it was filled with dangerous mind altering gases but at its core lie the solid truth.  I moved on from there after a long drawn out stay.

Recently after spending time seeking I found another planet in my solar system that for many years appeared to inhabit a loving atmosphere.  Unfortunately there was a volcanic explosion that clouded the sky with soot and ash and the inhabitants are currently trying to find their way out of it.

As I move forward from planet to planet, leaving behind parts of myself and taking with me what I’ve learned, I’m finding that the concept of God and the spiritual life are changing right along with it.  It’s starting to resemble a Lisa Frank type of world.

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~Ed

As I look back, I realize that most of my spiritual life has been dictated by outside forces. It has probably been only in the last year that I have allowed my spirituality to be explored internally, by the soul, God and cosmos that compose my genetic make-up and sentinent being.

My spiritual journey started off being dictated by man. I listened to what man said about who God was and blindly trusted the way that God was explained to me. I did not question whether or not that was right or wrong, I openly accepted that what my pastors, my family and community leaders said about God was accurate.

As I grew older, I did have my questions and doubts, but I was too scared to voice them, I was afraid my faith would be called into question and I would not appear to be a “true” Christian.

Things shifted and changed as I got closer to adulthood, but for much of my childhood and adolescence, I followed around wherever I was led by man.

Unicorns Lisa Frank I loved all things Lisa Frank, while I was growing up and wished I could live in a world where unicorns had rainbow tails. I think that trusting naivete gives an accurate comparison of my early relationship with spirituality.

In love & sisterhood,

~Ang

Hair In A Bun Friday: Wrapping Up 2014

Sleep is the best meditation.  Dalai Lama

As far as I can remember, I’ve often had a reoccurring dream that has haunted me over the last several years.  In this dream, I find myself trying to speak either in a large crowd or one on one with another person.  When I open my mouth to talk, all that comes out are garbled words.  From within my chest, there’s a pulling sensation as well that keeps the words from coming out.

Over the last several months, as I’ve grown deeper in my relationship with the Creator – which has included making peace with myself as a gay spiritual man – I’m finding that in these dreams the words are slowly starting to come out with more clarity.  As recent as last week, I had another one.  I dreamt that I was in a movie theater, fighting for a seat that was rightfully mine.  I guess I had gotten up to get a view the room, in the meantime a female came and sat down.  When I saw what she had done, I went up to her and said, that’s my seat, you need to get out.  But as I was saying the words, I felt that pull in my chest and the words started to garble.  In the past, I would have fought for the words to come out, with no resolution.  This time, I repeated what I said, fighting the embarrassment of my sloppy language.  As I finished the second request, the girl responded with, get out of here you faggot.  Again, I spoke up and said, Get out of my seat and don’t call me faggot.  As I said the last part, I woke myself up as I was yelling it in my sleep.

For me, 2014 has been about vocalizing my relationship with the Creator after many years of running and hiding from it due to shame and guilt.  I never thought I’d have the courage to one day write or speak about spirituality as I do; or practice it on a daily basis.

Hair In A Bun Friday is always fun to write.  It allows me to find a feminine nuance that I connect with and relate it to God in some way.  As the new year begins, I’d like to continue challenging myself in all areas of life that I’ve either hid or stifled.  Maybe by the end of 2015, my dreams will include me confidently reciting long winded speeches before large crowds without the hint of fear.

 

Hair In A Bun Friday: When Wrapping It Up Simply Isn’t Enough

Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate. Carrie Bradshaw

Hair in a bun Friday is a symbolic gesture for wrapping up the work week and surviving on what little energy is left.

Lately life has been very busy for Angelina.  After working with students over two weeks straight including the weekend without a break – she’s ready to break. As for myself, I’ve started to see the light at the end of the tunnel on a personal issue I’ve been dealing with over the last several months.

Although I have been sticking with my spiritual practices on the daily to get me through my issue and Angelina has remained conscious of her yoga routine and healthy diet, we both agree that there are times when healthy coping strategies simply aren’t enough.

This morning I text Angelina this picture with with the caption: Uuuh, we totally need this right now!

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Angelina and I have never been smokers but we both agree that there’s something to the idea of lighting up a cigarette next to an open window and smoking away the stress.  It’s even more fun if you have on a pair of gold bangles that make lots of clinking noise while swishing away the smoke that happens to make its way into the room.

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Even though our blog is a spiritual journey between two sisters, we believe that every once in a while it’s okay to divert from the usual and dive into something else – with moderation.  Here’s hoping all our sisters try everything with moderation this weekend.

Ed

Hair In A Bun Friday: When There Was No Need For Such A Day

Youth is wasted on the young – George Bernard Shaw

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was able to spend a lot of quality time with my parents.  Now that I’m older and have a little bit of worldly knowledge under my belt, I love to reminisce with my mom about life and how she experienced it.

While growing up, I only saw the version of my mother who tied her hair up in a bun on Fridays after a long grueling work week behind a sewing machine.  She was dedicated to her family of four and sacrificed a lot.  But before that time, there existed a carefree woman who had friends of her own with lots of leisure time for herself.  Here is a picture of her prefamily:

Mom is in the back row, center.

Mom is in the back row, center.

Mom has a special photo album that she’s carried around with her since we were young; it carries a lot of her early days as well as our childhood memories.  As every year passes and I revisit this particular picture, it takes on a different meaning.  This year I realized that there was a time in her life when she didn’t have to tie her hair up in a bun out of frustration or from pure exhaustion; it was a carefree time when her dreams were only meant to be realized.

Thank you mom for all you’ve sacrificed.

Ed