Expressing and even discussing my spiritual views has never been easy for me in America. I was raised a going to a Christian church but my immigrant family were Hindus and Muslims. Converting to belong to American society was something that was taught to me at an early age. However when I would return to my grandmother's house and hear the bhajans and smell the food cooking and watch my grandfather kneel on his rug to pray, this is felt like God to me. My family and these rhythms of my day felt like God to me.
As a teenager I liked to go to church and wanted to gain that feeling of oneness with my community under God but I never agreed with all of the teachings of the Christian church. I found myself lost in a daze and often praying and crying and meditating all on my own. I felt like a complete outsider as I watched the rest of the church eye every teenager's colorful hair and piercings instead of greeting them happily as they entered. I remember how so many of us teenagers felt judged and ostracized from the churches, as if society hadn't given us enough of that already and I thought "This isn't how we're supposed to be. How can children be judged so harshly in a place where God is supposed to accept everyone." Christian churches always felt like a fashion show and judgement day all tied into one and although I enjoy some sermons here despite my family's wishes it just never sat well with me.
I have always prayed but was not able to commit myself to Christianity totally and for that I felt a lot of guilt for a long time. Afterall, isn't that why my family came to this country? So that I could be a good, Christian American girl. Throughout my life I kept coming back to the only religion that has resonated with me which has been Hinduism. I later discovered that many of my beliefs and way of life line up with the teachings of Rastafari. These belief systems made sense to me. At 30 I finally decided I didn't need to choose any religion to define myself to the rest of the world. I could live my life and pray to whomever I feel since religion itself is still made by man. Taking the teachings from my culturally diverse family and melting them together into practices that made sense to me has been my practice. Some influences come from culture, some from religion. Although I am not Buddhist living in Thailand has allowed me to incorporate some beautiful teachings from Buddhism that has enriched my life.
I've always been extremely shy about sharing anything about my spiritual beliefs or practices as most people can't understand my points of view. We live in a society that calls anyone a traitor or confused that refuses to be put in a box. But I now am in a place where I practice and display my beliefs regardless of what others think. I have a Ganesha tattoo on my arm for my grandmother, who introduced me to Hinduism, which resonates deeply within me. I still have people that ask me " Oh my God! Do you know what that means?" I simply reply "Yes, it's on my body. Do you?"
I plan to share more bhajans and mantras on this site however if you are looking into wellness and spirituality but don't resonate with Shiva or any Hindu God or Goddess, you're not alone. This is an excellent video featuring a woman who was feeling the same way. Sadhguru explains to her why Shiva doesn't need your devotion. And I don't need your approval.