While we don’t advocate any particular religion or practice, we have experienced firsthand how spirituality can bring meaning to our lives. This week we talk about how we’ve independently tapped into our spiritual tendencies and have influenced each other along the way.
“Spiritual journey” – it’s a cliché, but I don’t know a better way to describe my quest over the past two years. There are three things that spurred me to embark on this trip and two of them have to do with Jenna.
My yoga practice was the first reason I decided to plunge into learning about Buddhism, Humanism, yoga philosophy and Judaism (the religion in which I was raised.) I found that practicing yoga stirred a deep place within me and made me more aware of myself in relationship to the world. I walked out of each yoga class feeling more connected to myself and others and with a more positive outlook. I wanted to attain more of that feeling in my life, off the mat.
The second reason is that Jenna acquired a thirst for Jewish knowledge in college and has become spiritually connected in a way I never expected. I watched her incorporate Judaism into her life more and more and while at first, I was surprised and skeptical, over time I was drawn in, wanting to understand and be a part of something that had become so important to her. In fact, joining her Jewish journey on a parallel path has turned out to be one of the most beautiful and special parts of our relationship. We eagerly share Jewish books and class content, talk about different rituals we’ve experienced and joyfully spend Jewish holidays together.
The third reason I embarked on my spiritual journey had to do with an emotional outburst that Jenna had in the car coming back from a weekend yoga retreat two years ago. It was an incident that I will never forget, because it hurt so deeply and ultimately, became a catalyst for a self-development program that I have followed with a great deal of passion. While I don’t feel comfortable sharing the details, during that car ride, Jenna expressed some criticisms of my parenting and character. After recovering from the hurt, I came to the conclusion that I could do nothing to change the past, but I could become a better person in the future – someone who Jenna would admire and want to emulate.
My New Year’s resolutions that year consisted of a list of self-development intentions and my strategy was to use spiritual work and religion as the pathway to behavior change. It has been a spectacular journey so far: I have learned a lot and have made some marked improvements in the way I view and interact with those I love. Importantly, I am committed to staying on this journey for the long haul, as I know Jenna is too.
As a child, I never really contemplated the idea of spirituality. My mom raised me to be logical: she is very bright and is the first to admit that her brain naturally functions in a very rational, skeptical way – if something is true, show her the proof. This definitely rubbed off on me as a kid and I think I developed a similar mentality. But once I left the house and became exposed to different ways of living and thinking, I began to have questions.
While I was raised traditionally Jewish, a trip to Israel in college made me recognize that I knew the cultural and holiday traditions but never learned the “why’s” behind them. After learning more about Jewish history, rituals and customs on this trip, I came home intrigued and have been reading books and going to lectures ever since. At first, I remember my mom’s apprehension when I began to form my own beliefs; she was surprised by my newfound interest and quick to defend her religious opinions. But over time, she began exploring Judaism (and other religions) for herself and has become very interested in learning more about the spirituality and meaning behind our traditions.
And as my mom went on her own “spiritual journey”, I too explored other ways I could enrich my life and my relationships through spiritual concepts beyond Judaism. As an avid yogi, I decided to get my yoga teacher certification to truly understand yogic philosophy which is based on Hinduism. .I also began talking with Jewish yoga teachers and reading books on Jewish meditation to marry my yoga practice with my religion. Most recently, I have joined a mindfulness group in business school and am learning about different spiritual practices across cultures and religions. It has been an eye-opening experience!
It’s been interesting to watch both my mom and I explore these concepts over time, especially since spirituality was so foreign to us just a few years ago. We have taken our own paths and yet connected in the end with very similar practices. If you have been reading our blog for a while, you may know that our relationship was not always as good as it is today. We have spent a lot of time deeply reflecting the past, honing our listening skills, empathizing with each other’s perspectives and most of all, fostering more love and affection in our relationship. Looking back, I think we were able to work through many past issues by harnessing lessons we have learned through our spiritual endeavors.
Have you explored your spirituality? If so, how has it impacted your relationship with your mother or daughter?