My mom has no religious affiliation, and yet she is one of the most spiritual people I know. She helped me develop a strong spiritual foundation as a child and continues to play an active role in helping me make sense of my world, even as I've moved hundreds of miles away and embarked on this strange journey we call adulthood.
These eight spiritual truths have been among the most formative lessons I've learned in my life thus far, and I have to thank my wonderful and wise mother for sharing them with me:
1. You are not alone. Whenever I got scared or felt insecure as a little girl, my mom would tell me, "Your spirit guides are watching over you." I didn't know who these protective beings were, but I felt their presence and knew that they would see me through whatever challenges I faced. With these words my mom gave me an extraordinary gift -- the enduring feeling of security and protection, even when I didn't know exactly who or what might be out there wishing me well.
2. Trust your gut. My mom is acutely intuitive. When she tells me she has a feeling about something, I don't question it. Even more startling, though, is the fact that she sees nothing unusual in her ability. She thinks everyone has the capacity for intuition, if we learn how to listen to ourselves. Throughout my life, my mom encouraged me to "go inside" and ask myself whatever query might be in my heart. I've done it time and time again, and it almost never fails.
3. Your life is not an isolated event. Whether you believe in past lives and reincarnation (which my mom absolutely does) or if you think this is the one shot we get, it's nice to feel that our lives aren't discrete, stand-alone events. They're part of the fabric of existence, woven together with every other being we encounter. Because we were raised with the concept of reincarnation, my siblings and I developed a strong understanding that our souls are on long and winding journeys -- a powerful antidote to any jadedness that could have arisen.
4. Listen to and learn from nature. My mom always told me that when I was a baby, she and my dad baptized me in the ocean in Southern California. She said it with such gravity and used the religious concept of baptism to impart, I think, a larger lesson about human beings' connection to nature. We did not pick flowers and or kill bugs; we collected excess water from our showers to pour on the rosebush in the front yard. The earth plays an essential role in my spirituality to this day.
5. Mind your dreams. Have you ever woken up from a really vivid dream and wished someone could help you parse it out? That is something my mom has done for me over and over. She has filled everything from notebook pages to restaurant napkins with mindmaps, helping me explore my inner world through dream symbolism. She taught me to keep a dream journal and take note of recurring themes. The wisdom contained within these stories, however fragmented they may be, can be truly illuminating.
6. Don't fear death. My mom has never seemed to me like someone who is afraid of death. If, after all, we believe that life is not isolated to the present reality, then death is not an end but perhaps just another rite of passage we walk through on this long journey of being. Throughout my childhood my grandfather, who died when I was baby, always seemed to be just beyond the veil. The way my mom talked about him made me feel that he was here, somewhere, within reach.
7. You have a life purpose. Deep in a drawer in my mom's office is a beautiful, hand-drawn astrology chart she made me when I was born. Each planet has its unique position on the wheel, mapping its meaning onto the page which acts as a blueprint for what may come. In long conversations about my chart and the potentialities it suggests for my life, my mom has helped me recognize the importance of being exactly who I am and striving toward my goals. I am, after all, the only one of me.
8. Give in to the moment. In not so many words, my mom has showed me over and over again: We are the people who dance, revel, play and explore. Hers is a kind of ecstatic spirituality that welcomes emotion and sensation. There will always be a time and place for contemplation and inquiry, but there is no wiser teacher than the present moment.