Spiritual Sidebar-Maria

Ang met Maria at reiki training. Ang was inspired by Maria’s energy and commitment to healing. Maria’s life has not always been easy, but she has not let the negativity of outside circumstances eat away her soul. Her commitment to her spiritual journey is admirable and she shares her thoughts with us today.

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1. Tell us about yourself. My chronological number is forty-three, my mind, spirit and soul are ageless. I am a mass of energy made up of love, resilience, with a side of chicken. I am  a free spirit, lover of words, music, dancing and all things different. I am passionately curious. A natural born teacher, a solver of problems, a perfectionist, a SURVIVOR, a warrior. I am genuine. I am me and I am learning to love me.

2. What do you believe spirituality is? I believe spirituality is a force that lives deep inside of us. It is in the songs of the birds, the warmth of the sun and the light of the moon. It is all around us. I believe that when we self-care and self-love we nourish our spirituality and grow in it’s abundance completely flourishing! I believe spirituality is the fruit of our heart and must go through the harvest season in order to continue growing, rooting ourselves deeper and finding our true north.

painting by Maria

painting by Maria

3. Did you attend church? Did you identify with a specific religion? How was it presented to you? How did you relate to it? I had a very strict Catholic upbringing, in a very traditional home. Friday nights echoes of the rosary could be heard through our neighborhood. Padre  Nuestro, Ave Maria, Ave Maria, Gloria…Saturday was catechism and Sunday morning was service. Our religious release time slips were always signed. At Christmas, family, friends and neighbors would gather and recreate Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus’ pilgrimage for a total of 9 days. I loved it. Religion was always present in my life, it gave me a sense of belonging, of community that I loved and related to.

4. Tell us about a significant moment that caused a shift in your spiritual development. From the ages of 5-13 I was sexually abused. I clearly remember sitting in my hurt almost negotiating with God. I could accept the path and asked that in return one day know, feel and live in true love. A feeling so powerful, yet comforting, passed through me. That moment, I knew with no doubt he truly existed and thus my curiosity was born and my free spirit took over. In that moment, I was five, but my mind, spirit and soul were ageless.

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 5. Did your spiritual views change as you entered adolescence? As life went on, my voice was hushed by the same people who I loved and believed were there to protect me. My wings were clipped and my spirit defeated. That is when I begin to question, “why, dear Lord, why?” I fell into a deep depression, but still prayed and continued with my confirmation classes. I still believed and questioned. Because I did, I was told to live life by the cross, the most important part of life is that you have a relationship with God above and treat those around you with love and respect. I still questioned, but still confirmed myself as a Catholic.

6. Has your relationship with spirituality shifted as you entered adulthood? Spirituality and I have a love/hate relationship. I broken up and made up with it many times. After years of therapy, I was finally able to let go of the hurt, anger and grieve properly. I let go of all the pain. I am now building and growing new relationships with new friends, my family and my most cherished one of all, my mama. Today I am fully committed to my spirituality and have no plans of every breaking up again. Ever. I am blessed.

Maria 1 7. What is your spiritual life like today? It is one of abundance. I flourish in the lessons, the knowledge and strength. I continue honoring myself and doing the work. I walk with grace and see life through the eyes of my heart. Today, I am blessed.

8. Are there any books, movies, etc. on spirituality that have had a significant impact? I am a little stuck on this one. I have read many books, some I have read all the way through, some I start and go back to, as needed, some I have yet to open. The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz’s True Happiness, Pema Chodron’s Feeling Good, David Burns’ She Walks in Beauty, Poems selected by Caroline Kenney, Oprah’s What I Know for Sure, Victor E. Frankl’s Man Search for Meaning and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings are just a few. I believe one needs to find what works best for them, whether it be through painting, music, creating, journaling, going to park, beach, etc. Whatever brings your soul joy and comfort.

spiritual sidebar 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!

Creating Your Own Religion Through Music

I have always found a spiritual experience through music. I think many people can relate to being taken to another realm through a certain rift, beat or lyric.

If music has been a part of my religion, then Michael Jackson and Prince were my deities.

I cannot remember a time when I did not love them both. I danced to their songs while “cruising” around with my cousin in her Honda when she would baby-sit me. I tried to learn the Thriller dance and was entranced by Purple Rain. You know all of this. I don’t have to tell you how amazing they both are. Were. Ouch.

I was inconsolable when Michael passed. I don’t remember ever crying so hard over a celebrity. I watched his funeral live on TV and sobbed. My sisters and I did a photo shoot because we needed to work through our pain. I wore my Michael Jackson button for days. There are still moments that I have to stop and remind myself that he is gone and I realize how terribly unfair it is.

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My life’s dream of seeing MJ live was dashed and I vowed I would see Prince. I would not let that opportunity slip by like I had with MJ.

I saw Prince multiple times after MJ’s passing. I had purple stars in my eyes the whole time. I was wrapped up in his amazing energy. He lit up the entire stage with his many hits and would play encore after encore, sometimes hours apart. He was worth the wait and I could not believe how good he still moved.

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And now, well….it’s hard to say. It’s hard to process. You know this.

How does a religion exist when the founders are gone? Who can run the church of funk without it’s heart and soul? I don’t see much up and coming hope, but maybe I am wrong?

For now, I will hold on to the memories and hits. Thankfully, we were blessed with many.

Hair In A Bun Friday: Taking Time For Reading

I may cry ruining my make up.  Wash away all the things you’ve taken.. and I don’t care if i don’t look pretty…Big girls cry when their hearts are breaking – Sia

As a spiritual seeker, I’m always interested in finding new authors who describe their interpretation of the spiritual world.  I’m finding that everyone has a different take on the journey but there are common threads that tie them together.  Last Friday, I tied my hair up in a loosely fitted bun and started listening to Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.

9780470907757As a former religious person and continuous detoxer of the shame and guilt I learned from it, this book was a breath of fresh air with its little bits of wisdom shared throughout.

One of the more enlightening points I learned from the author are the words shadow boxing.  From our birth it is necessary to build a container or ego structure that will get us through the first half of life.  Richard Rohr believes the first half is from about birth to around 35 to 40 years of age.  The second half of life is all about dying to ourselves by letting go of the false self we created during the first half of life.  That includes past hurts, trauma, fear, insecurity and all the other structures the ego creates.  Not only does he use the bible as a resource but he also includes Native American tradition as well as Eastern Philosophy to back up his claim.

The term shadow boxing is used as a metaphor to describe the sometimes painful experience of having to look inward.  And if anyone knows what I’ve encountered when I’ve looked inside it’s sister Angelina.   The author even goes as far as to say that religion gets it wrong when it uses the word sin to describe our shortcomings; sin is a necessary evil that we create as human beings because we are just that – human.  Instead of trying to merit a future heaven by praying away the sin, or acting like it doesn’t exist by sitting in a church pew every Sunday, we miss the opportunity to do shadow boxing with ourselves to face our weaknesses and heal and learn from them.  In return we learn true compassion and love.

This book was a breath of fresh air especially having experienced the tiring effects of running from my own sins.  What religion taught me was to hide in shame and guilt over actions that were deemed hell – worthy.  But when I look around the world I live in and the people I intermingle with everyday, they’ve done the same as I if not worse; why was I holding myself up to such a high standard when all I was doing was being human? Religion teaches to be part of a group or sub culture that’s separate and better than everyone else, when the reality is, we’re all humans fighting the same fight.

I recommend this book for anyone who is going through a divorce, losing a job, depression or facing a death in the family.

I also recommend Sia’s latest album 1000 Forms of Fear to go along with your own personal shadow work.

sia-1000-forms-of-fear-650Because sometimes we have to ruin our eye make-up in order to set ourselves free of the pain.

“I come home
On my own
Check my phone
Nothing, though
Act busy
Order in
Pay TV
It’s agony”