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Monday, May 6, 2019

Continuing to Learn About Myself: My Identity and the Beliefs Behind Them

Ever since I could speak, I was questioning my surroundings. How did we get here? What is it like in heaven? If we are a product of our environment, then who am I truly? I’m made up of my life experiences and the conditioning of the society I grew up in....

In 2014, I had the pleasure of meeting author and motivational speaker, Hyrum Smith. He speaks about our self worth, our core values, and their origins. He believes that when we make important life decisions, we refer to our governing values. But are they truly serving us and are we conscious and aware of them? And if they change and we don’t acknowledge the change, are we harming ourselves?

At my core...when I think of who I am, the word, “Jewish” is there. I was raised in a very liberal, relaxed Jewish setting. Religion was not forced upon me. We celebrated traditional holidays and G-d was mentioned on occasion, but we didn’t pray before we ate or before we went to sleep. We didn’t regularly celebrate the sabbath or keep kosher. I relished every moment, I spent in Hebrew school and loved going to Temple services on Friday nights, so I could sing my favorite songs and connect to G-d. 

As I got older, I began learning about other faiths. In high school I was a part of Face to Faith, which is an initiative to bring together teenagers from varied faiths/religions. We’d go to a Jain Indian Temple, Jewish synagogues of different denominations, an Episcopalian church, a mosque, virtually anything you could think of. I’ve had the unique experience of drinking water from sacred Mecca. 

I became quite spiritual as I began exploring holistic health (if you’re not familiar with my chronic pain journey, click here). 

Around age fifteen, I started to travel. I  found myself in many “Science of Mind” type places, such as Center for Spiritual Living. Recently, I’ve been studying more about Jesus. I always had an appreciation for diversity and if I find someone is really passionate about something, I want to learn about it. Feel what they feel; I can find a message or a meaning in most anything I take part in. 

Over the last year, I’ve gained clarity...a lot of new age practices have left my life. Mysticism exists in ancient Judaism, but it’s intent is often different in today’s society. I’m not against any of it per se, but I had to become still and ground myself in nature. All the voices needed to go. I spent a lot of time with myself. I find my life to be easier and more simplistic now...It suits me better. I’m happier and healthier, and I feel closer to G-d.

Very recently, I was working at the Paleo Fx conference in Austin, and was wearing a beautiful, vintage cross necklace that I borrowed from my  “Momma T.” ( I really didn’t think anything of it). Hundreds of people must have passed our booth. 

I don’t know how to explain it, but there’s this recognizable quality that someone is Jewish. There’s a familiarity and it’s comforting. I’m used to someone realizing that I’m Jewish and a conversation being struck up. It wasn’t happening and I started wondering why?

A woman came up to our booth and mentioned that I appeared to be Jewish; I lit up. I acknowledged I was Jewish and then she questioned why I was wearing a cross. I told her that I appreciate the symbolism of the cross and in the beauty of the piece of jewelry itself. 

My father went to school with an accomplished Jewish woman who went on to become an artist, sculptor and jewelry designer. She had a close friendship with a woman who was extremely ill; this led her to create cross centric artwork to inspire and comfort others. 
We are each unique and despite our differences, have much in common. 

For me, Judaism is more than a’s also a culture, and shapes who I am.

Hyrum Smith teaches that there is a belief gap, which is between what we believe to be true and what is actually true. We must discover what is in our belief window. Once we can identify, we can than clarify and from there...commit to our personal beliefs. 

I feel more committed now to my faith. This clarity exists for a few reasons...One being, I realize now my connection to G-d comes from within, And every day, I am changing...We all are. What is true for me today, may not be a week from now. My beliefs are allowed to change...(And I allow others the same privilege, without judgement). What’s important is allowing the process. My identity comes from my heart my core. I need to feel the connection internally, not be recognized for it. It doesn’t make me “more Jewish” for someone to acknowledge it, my relationship to G-d is my own. 

Another reason for my new found clarity, is because I’ve let go of much of the foundation that was present in my past 8 years. We all want to feel we belong, that feeling of connection with like minded individuals...a “tribe,” if you will. It’s easy to get caught up in something when the people around you are too. Unfortunately, I know that it was detrimental to me...almost too much of a good thing. 

When I was with my "tribe," everything became about the “universe” and the laws of attraction and the power of positive thinking. Listen, all these laws exist, I truly believe that; but it can consume you...if you let it. Though these laws are working all the time and many are true, I gave too much focus to every thought and word that came out of my the point I was anxiety ridden and wasn't being true to myself. I felt that my being “different” made me special because I was constantly told so. It reached a point that I didn’t want to associate with “normal human beings.” If conversations weren’t about doing oracle card readings and delving into past lives, it didn’t seem important me, and it became isolating. I no longer felt connected to many of the people in my life. I was doing my best to stay in the  "present," and focus on what was in front of me; but the truth is, I was escaping reality. Though, I never felt better than anyone else, I had come to believe I was “enlightened.”

I do believe some of us have a better understanding of the way the world works, and perhaps, are more in-tune...
From this whole experience, I have learned that I don’t want to be anyone’s “guru.” It's exhausting, none of my business (unless others make it), and takes me off my own course. I can impart my wisdom when asked. My truth is exactly that...MY TRUTH. It doesn’t mean it has to be yours. 

I needed a balance and I’ve finally found it...but it came with a high price. One being stepping into a myriad of practices that had me going in circles. What’s interesting is I thought all these practices were helping my anxiety, but they ended up fueling it. There was so much I had delved into that was clouding my own beliefs. It took radical self love to decide what practices I had to let go of, the outings and experiences I partook in, and to the extent I engaged with certain people in my life. This is not a judgment against new age practices. I still engage in listening to binaural beats/frequencies, yoga and various self care practices including mindfulness. This journey hasn't been easy; quite painful at times, but I am very grateful to have reclaimed my personal connection to God. The source of us all. 

While I was writing this blog, a dear friend of mine tagged me in a post on Facebook. She’s the daughter of a holocaust survivor and a singer/songwriter who ‘births’ these songs that just speak to my soul. She shared an original song, called “Remember,” and it made me weep. A Facebook fundraiser has launched in an effort to produce her humanitarian album. If you feel called to share her music or donate, here’s the link. 🙏

I encourage anyone reading this to share their thoughts and personal experiences in the comments. 

As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment below or feel free to email me at TheZenFashionista@Gmail.Com 

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Until next time,