On Increasing a Sense of Faith and Belonging

Note: This is part 5 out of 5 of the Morning Routine Series. Take what serves/resonates with you. Leave behind the rest.

I joke that seeking spirituality requires a lot of desperation with a hint of curiosity. 

For many of us, we have to reach a certain tipping point in order to be willing to let go of control and certainty. We have to reach a point desperate enough where we feel like we’ve dug through all of the options, and so the only option that’s left is to look up and wonder what else could be out there.

I reached this point doing activism work. Many people stayed apathetic and passive as I tried to explain the significance of shared humanity and understandably, I became very disappointed, frustrated, and angry. I realized that I couldn’t continue on with this work just hoping that people would change. I needed something bigger than myself to ground me when facing willful ignorance or apathy.

Growing up, I heard stories of how Christians are too dependent on their God, and how Buddhists can be unnecessarily strict in their religious hierarchies. My parents told me, you have to do things on your own. You can’t sit around hoping or praying that things will get better. You have to take responsibilities for your own life and make the necessary changes with your own hands. And religion? Stay away; they’re too messy.

So when my parents suggested I look into Buddhism and Christianity in January 2015 (when I got really sick), we all knew I had hit the point of desperation.

When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.
— Dalai Lama

Since then, I’ve dipped my toes in a few places. I’ve lived with a monk for a week in a small local temple in Vancouver, learning some key Buddhist principles. I’ve stayed at a 1200+ year old temple in Korea where we woke up at 3:30AM to participate in morning prayer and chanting with the Head Monks and did 100 Buddhist prostrations (full body bows) before breakfast. I’ve also completed 120+ hours of Bible study at Christian camp, read several books on New Age and started learning about different belief systems of indigenous cultures around the world, including First Nations, Korean shamanism, and astrology.

Today, I don’t associate myself with any religions, but I would consider myself a spiritual learner, seeking the wisdoms of a diversity of spiritualities.

 

WTF is Spiritual Energy?

But what do I mean by spiritual? In regards to my morning routine, I assess my state of spiritual energy every morning with these three questions:

  • Belonging to self: Am I turning towards myself? Do I feel grounded in who I am?
  • Oneness + interconnectedness: Do I feel connected to creation, to humanity and to The Universe? Do I feel a sense of belonging to this life?
  • Faith in the potentialities: Do I have hope in what is coming and becoming? Am I willing to move forward in faith?

While learning to manage my energies, I realized that I need this combination of belonging to self, Oneness + interconnectedness, and faith in order to do ANYTHING in my day. My spiritual energy is the most foundational energy the upholds the physical, mental, and emotional.

In making sense of what spirituality means, Brené Brown’s definition encompasses my three questions and aligns best with my views.

Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.

 

Increasing Spiritual Energy with Consistent Practice

If you resonate with the application of spiritual energy, here are some questions to ask yourself. These will help identify practices to incorporate into your life on a consistent basis (including and going beyond morning routines).

Questions to ask:

  • Which 1-3 activities/practices bring you closer to yourself?
  • Which 1-3 activities/practices remind you of your smallness and your bigness? 
  • Which 1-3 activities/practices remind you of your interconnectedness and your Oneness?
  • Which 1-3 activities/practices bring you faith or a sense of hope?
  • What other feelings bring you a sense of spirituality? What activities/practices can help you generate those feelings?

Some examples of activities to reboot your energy include:

  • Immersing yourself in nature on a hike in the mountains, a walk in the forest, or a swim in the ocean
  • Watching the sunrise or sunset
  • Praying or talking out loud to the Universe
  • Meditating on loving-kindness
  • Reading words of spiritual wisdom in books or religious text
  • Visiting a religious space

Sunrise before an ocean dip at Jericho Beach

 

I’ve incorporated reading words of wisdom (daily passages from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo) and meditation into my daily morning routines. Sometimes, I’ll talk out loud to the Universe because it feels nice to think something big out there is listening. On a weekly basis, I frolic naked at Wreck Beach (clothing optional beach in Vancouver) - swimming, playing in the sand, and building mud castles. I have also started weekly sunrise ocean dips where I’ll drive to Jericho Beach, watch the sun rise over downtown with my cup of coffee, and make myself run into the freezing ocean and dunk my head. These weekly experiences are awe-activating, to remind me of how beautiful the world is, how alive I am, and how I’m alone and yet so interconnected at the same time.

 

NEXT STEPS:

  • Take 15 minutes of your day today to journal on the questions above.
  • Incorporate 1-2 of these practices in your morning routine.
  • Schedule aside a chunk of time for 1-2 of these practices on a weekly basis. Something in nature would be very healing.
  • Do the practice.
  • Live in integrity with what you preach.


Recognize that feeling needs to lead to action. It’s crucial to bring together the spiritual with the physical / the reality. If you consistently exercise a spiritual practice to help you feel more of a sense of belonging and Oneness, but you stay passive to systemic injustices happening to fellow humans, that’s out of integrity. If you’re consistently activating a sense of interconnectedness but throw away recyclables in the garbage, that’s out of integrity. I’ve seen too many “spiritual” people preach togetherness and unity while staying passive and complacent about global and systemic issues.

Take proactive action to come back to a sense of groundedness, Oneness, and faith. And then exercise that spiritual energy to create real difference in the physical world. 

As always, move through the knowing-doing gap.

 

This is the end of the Morning Routine Series. If you enjoy my writing, subscribe to my newsletter here. And if you are committed to creating a sense of groundedness + belonging in yourself, reach out and let's make it happen.


Much love,

Ji-Youn

 

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?
— Eva Cassidy, How Can I Keep From Singing?