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My Path To Spirituality
There have been several times in my life that I have lost my spiritual balance. It has taken hard work to get my balance back. Being spiritually balanced is crucial to my mental and physical well-being. Long before I even understood what it meant to be spiritually balanced, unbeknownst to me, I used tools to maintain this overall life balance.
From the time I was around ten, I kept a diary where I would write my thoughts and feelings. Did I know it was essentially journaling? Not at all. In hindsight, I now understand it was a way to release any negative feelings. Because I used this tool, I would highly recommend it as a constructive approach for expressing one’s innermost thoughts.
The Early Years
As a tomboy growing up, I certainly was feeding my physical body. Mindfulness and visualizing were another story. Whenever I found myself in a stressful situation, I would practice calming my mind by telling myself to breathe, to not get upset, that everything would work out. I had not yet incorporated yoga or meditation into my spiritual practice.
Creative writing and expression have been a passion project of mine since I was young. I attribute that to helping me maintain balance and find the funny, good, unique outlook in people and in situations. I considered myself neither an optimist nor a pessimist; in fact, whenever someone would ask whether I was a glass half empty or half full, my response was it’s both. I thought of myself as a realist.
This did not mean that I did not believe that positive opportunities could come my way. Mostly, I felt that if I were to stay centered and balanced and avoid negativity and getting angry beyond words, then good things would come my way.
As a writer, visualization comes naturally. It is how my creative process works. I found it fairly easy to see where I wanted my future to go both from a job perspective and a personal perspective. Was this me manifesting my needs and wants to the universe? I certainly did not believe myself enlightened enough to be able to bring about the desired outcome.
During the times of personal struggles, of which there have been many, I spent a lot of time reaching out to God and asking for help. It has been through these struggles when I was feeling off-balance that I have been faced with physical and emotional challenges.
Bringing Calm to My Headspace
Even when I was around people who were verbally unpleasant, I learned to tune out their words and tell myself to not engage, to take a deep breath, and not let someone’s nastiness impact the way I felt about myself. Some may have thought I was being self-centered but in actuality, I just found that maintaining balance meant staying away from negativity. I found myself asking the universe for clarity as I needed to find a way to understand why people would not treat others nicely.
Losing my Balance
When I became a widow, my balance was completely gone. Everything I believed about the importance of “living in the middle,” a phrase I often used to describe balance, disappeared overnight. How could anything good happen in this situation? Would I be able to move forward with gratitude when, at the time, I could not fathom what I should be grateful for?
A Big Shift
I was attending morning Kaddish every day as is customary for the spouse. It was at my first Kaddish that I was introduced to a woman who was sitting Kaddish for her mom; that is an 11 month period of mourning, not 30 days. This person, who I had never spoken to nor seen prior, brought me grief readings and made time after services to see how I was doing and to offer me comfort. . When the 30 days came to an end, which is the customary period of time of reciting Kaddish for the spouse of the deceased, I felt this pull to continue attending even though I would no longer be standing.
Several explanations as to this Jewish custom have been shared with me. The first being that historically, the period of saying Kaddish is 11 months for a parent and 30 days for a child, spouse, or sibling. The explanation is not to suggest that the grief is more intense for a parent than a child or spouse or sibling. It is merely that parents who have given unconditional love to their children, given birth to them, raised, educated, and transmitted Jewish and human values to them deserve the most prolonged and intensive period of mourning. Children are the continuation of their parents and therefore asked to mourn for the longest period of time.
A second explanation is that a child, sibling, or spouse has been an individual first and known life without those relationships. But a child has never known life without a parent. But the 30 days just does not feel right. Because I am turning to my faith for healing, I end up attending services every Friday from then on until the pandemic meant no in-person services.
There’s A Reason You Meet People
I had been reading several sayings that greatly impacted me. One went “There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs.” The other was “We don’t meet people by accident, they are meant to cross our path for a reason.”
After my husband passed, I needed to put together a team of professionals to guide me with legal, business, and financial decisions. Ironically, in the months prior to losing my husband, I had met several professionals who had close ties with my family and friends. Additionally, one of my sisters is a CPA specializing in Corporate Tax, and the other an accountant specializing in Trust and Estates.
Thanking the Universe
All of these professionals, aside from my sisters, came into my world at a time I needed them the most. In my heart, I believe it was a gift from the universe. Having this gratitude allowed me to shift my thoughts toward healing.
At the same time, I realized how blessed I was. My daughters were young adults, not young children I’d have to raise as a single parent. I was not left raising young children by myself. Financially I knew we would be okay even if it meant letting go of material possessions.
Spiritual Roots Staying Strong
My renewed sense of religious faith has provided the spiritual roots to move forward on a new path.
I’ve also learned to use other tools when I feel off-kilter including meditation, yoga, vision boards, journaling/blogging, and prayer. These tools I would recommend to anyone that finds themselves off- balance whether through loss or life in general. I still have days that are physically and mentally challenging and shake me to my core. They come and they go but the days of having my balance far outnumber the difficult ones.
I try to comfort people I meet that find themselves facing loss. Everyone’s journey is different but I am sharing my blogs on how I handled Grief and Breaking from Jewish Tradition.