One morning last week I received a call from one of my mother’s friends whom I see maybe twice a year. So it was random. ‘So sorry to bother you this early, I figured if anyone would know what Kabbalah is, so I called you….I got invited to this thing…things really need to change. I just need to do something different, it’s time.’ I found nothing unusual about this call coming from her, as I am aware of some of her miserable circumstances. Her trepidation in the call had more to do with being ignorant of the practice, a derivative of Judaism.
Often, and unfortunately, it takes a breaking point before we seek solace or answers outside of ourselves. And these breaking points are when we are willing to try something new or at least out of usual routine character. For some, it’s praying for the first time over the illness of a loved one, asking why the misery-anger-fear is taking over, questioning how we’ve lost our way and minds, or relief from depression. Under all these situations, it’s about finding solace and comfort.
Nothing can be lost from trying something different to seek some resolution. You will learn. You will at least learn it wasn’t for you. At the worst, the message didn’t resonate, nothing was relatable, or the environment was uncomfortable; at the best, you heard exactly what you needed to hear, the question finally got answered, you feel confident about the next step you need to take, or calm about where you are. The waiting till moments of desperation are the worst. Why wait?
It’s good to have a place or a space for retreat or at least a mental zone to tap in to in times of stress or fear. We don’t need traditional religious structures to strengthen our resolve. Some people were raised with the choice decided for them. And choice of religion will always be contentious, so leave that alone. The only question should be whether the practice itself or the acts coming out of it produce good or evil. We do need an outlet or a practice that helps us reach calm or find centeredness in our daily lives, something to tap into when those inevitable difficulties show up.
Coincidentally that same evening, I was riding around scoping out venues and settings for some upcoming photo shoots. Downtown has a number of gorgeous old cathedrals with formidable scaffolding and ornate stained glass, to brand new modern structures with straight clean lines. On my way home, I passed another cathedral, a Greek orthodox church, and many Jewish temples. There is a place to fit whomever you are even if it’s just a yoga studio for deep breathing. We always have options! Following the previous post, sometimes we wait till the situation is too dire before things change. “There are no atheist in foxholes” is an aphorism used to argue that in times of extreme stress or fear, all people will believe in or hope for a higher power. We can’t ever anticipate what circumstances could lead us to fuse with this cliché. Aside from practicing religion, there are ways to build up our disposition to fight against times of stress. It can simply be a long drive out of the city to disengage, or reaching ‘the zone’ in your cardio, or fixing a relaxing dinner.
Truthfully, the last few times I’ve sat in church pews have been for weddings and funerals. I don’t discredit any message I may receive from going to church, but I have not found that medium to suit me, and I find most prayer to be a selfish act anyway. There are many ways to facilitate the same level of connectedness, personal calm or contentment with life. I clean. To me, it’s meditative because it’s mindless. The routine I go through has been honed for years that the act itself is involuntary and it allows my mind to reach a meditative place. Because my hands and body are moving, the ‘acting’ hemisphere of the brain is occupied while my mind ‘thinking’ hemisphere can achieve calm. No it’s not a religion or going to church or even a spiritual experience. But it is a zone I have. I just think it’s imperative to have ‘something’ or ‘someone’, i.e. G*d for ourselves and for our sanity.