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.

maria

 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!

Mantra Monday: “I Honor the Power Within Me”

This week I focused on my solar plexus chakra. This chakra is located around the navel area and is associated with confidence, empowerment and self-assurance. The solar plexus chakra is mostly thrown off balance by SHAME. This can leave one feeling doubtful, without a strong sense of self or lacking in assurance. On a physical level, this can produce digestive issues, problems with the liver or ulcers.

solar plexus

This is one of my stronger, balanced chakras, but it has not always been that way. I think as a woman, shame can be a stronger force. It is not always encouraged or taught to speak up for yourself or feel confident in who you are. I feel it is almost discouraged at times to feel good about yourself and it’s automatic to downplay or refute compliments.

mean girls I have worked hard to re-train my brain and gut instincts to know that I am enough. I am confident and happy with who I am. I have work to do still and I will always try to improve, but I am OK with being imperfect. I am confident in myself and continue to honor the power within me.

I chose Dancer’s pose for the solar plexus chakra. This pose looks very pretty and effortless, but it takes strength and balance. The standing foot needs to be firmly ground into the earth. You keep the hips level, while lifting up the foot. It is a deep backbend and chest opener, while the shoulders, head and mind stay relaxed. I feel this a wonderful metaphor for what it’s like to be a woman. It can be a huge balancing act of putting forth an effortless, beautiful image, while exuding great amounts of strength and balance behind the scenes.

I Honor the Power Within Me This week can you practice honoring the power within you? Can you remind yourself that you are enough? Can you unapologetically embody our strengths, flaws and confidence?

Honor the power within you.

Mantra Monday: “I Allow Myself to Feel Pleasure”

This past week’s focus was on the Sacral Chakra. The Sacral Chakra is associated with pleasure, creativity and sexual energy. When this chakra is too closed, there can be repression, suppression of creativity, a sense of being out of touch with sexuality or a denial of pleasure. This chakra can also be too open and one can be overly sexual and too free in their creativity, without the balance of being grounded to reality.

I find most of the time, my sacral chakra is pretty balanced, but can be knocked off and closed down when I am feeling tense and putting too much pressure on myself. The main culprit that attacks this chakra is guilt.

From a woman’s perspective, I think women particularly have a hard time keeping this chakra in balance. Generally speaking, I think guilt can often creep in when we want to give ourselves time to experience pleasure and explore our own creativity.

Personally, I struggle with allowing time to do things completely for myself. I feel GUILTY when I want to take a day alone, when I want to not talk to my family and would rather attend a yoga class (alone), get a massage or simply read in bed.

However, I have found that those moments alone to basque in simple pleasures or let my creativity flow through journaling or blogging keep me balanced and calm. When I have denied myself these joys for too long, I feel tense, frustrated and easily irritable.

One of my absolute favorite yoga poses is specially for this chakra. It is Goddess pose, which is done by turning the corners of the feet in opposing directions and sinking down into the hips, with a stable pelvis. Once the legs feel solid, various options can be taken with the arms. I like moving my arms around sometimes and letting the creative energy flow around my body, or settling in to a mudra with my hands.

I Allow Myself to Feel Pleasure This pose does have a feminine flair. It is truly opening to the sacral chakra (which is on located in the lower abdomen) and takes solid strength in the hips and groin. It can look very pretty, but it is also a very strong pose that takes focus, stability and strength. I believe this describes women beautifully. I love how solid I feel in those pose, yet free to move and flow.

What keeps your creativity, sexuality or pleasure from freely flowing?

Music Monday: Theme Song of 2016

I like to start off my year by picking a theme song. Along with setting my intentions for the year, I like to choose a song as a personal ballad to play through my head as I move towards my intentions.

This year, I intend to move towards more intensity in various areas of my life. I have treated myself with a lot of care, softness and healing in the past year, because I needed it. I still reserve my right to use these methods when I need to, but I feel ready to move on and turn up the heat in my life.

In 2016, I want to sing more in my car.

I want to push myself more in my workouts.

I want to go to more hot yoga classes.

I want to say yes more, but still assert my right to say no.

I want to make the most out of my time alone in the mornings.

I want to read both for fun and for knowledge.

I want to become a better yoga teacher.

I want to infuse passion into my career.

I want to strengthen my personal relationships and move them past the point of shallow conversations. I want less pleasantries and more honesty. I want to decrease any conversations based on toxicity or negativity.

I want to stop relying on negative coping mechanisms and be brave enough to cope honestly with my issues and stress.

As I reflected back on my favorite books of 2015, I realized I was gravitating towards women who garnered their strength from vulnerability and honesty. I spent the past few years opening up, finding peace with my own vulnerability and decreasing my shame in my own perceived “weaknesses.” I feel ready to now emerge into the strength and embody the lessons I have learned from the hurtful moments of my life.

The song that will rally me along is Fleetwood Mac’s “Golddust Woman.” Partly because I want to picture myself as Stevie Nicks wearing this super fun hat:

super fun hat But mostly, because I interpret this song about a woman who is not to be messed with, a woman who will not be stopped or driven off her path. A woman who rocks on and does not fall in line to anyone’s limitations of her.

Rock on, gold dust woman will be pumping through my veins when I do not want to go to the gym, when I would rather sleep in or when I want to hide from myself. I am ready to embrace my strength and be brave.

What is your song for 2016?

Music Monday: The Wild Woman Version

Last week, Ed & I went to see Wild, a movie based on the book of the same name, by Cheryl Strayed.

The book is the autobiographical story of when Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.  This book resounded with me on so many personal levels. I initially bought it because hiking the Pacific Crest Trails is a dream of mine that I truly hope becomes an attainable goal.

However, the book is about so much more than a long hike. Cheryl Strayed gets hit by life hard and responds by letting her whole world fall apart. She makes bad decision after decision and hastily embarks on this hike.

Ed & I could relate to her plight in a number of different ways. We have each had our moments of being that wild woman and letting our lives spin out of control before us. We have each tackled our own trails, getting lost and found along the way.

This song by another wild woman about a wild woman truly captures the essence of being that woman who rings like a bell through the night.

Here’s to all of our sisters who take to the sky like a bird in flight.