I had an incredible High Holiday experience this year. With a Catholic mom and Jewish dad, I wasn't really raised with any religion. But I always had my own "spiritual" beliefs and thoughts growing up and always spoke to and connected with a Higher Power. When I got older, I really started seeking. In the past 10 years alone, I have tried meditation groups, Buddhism, Agape, Conservative Judaism, shamanism and many more. I have loved pieces of all of them, but nothing ever stuck for me. They bring much inspiration and help to many people, but I never felt fully at home in the communities. I never felt fully connected to whatever it was I was seeking.
But all of that changed for me this year during the Jewish High Holidays. A good friend of mine told me about Nashuva, a Jewish "spiritual" community in Los Angeles. It doesn't have a home, but rather does once-a-month Shabbats and the High Holidays at churches, by the beach and in nature. I immediately felt drawn to go.
I have found the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to be full of fear for many people. They are scared that if they don't go to services, or don't fast on Yom Kippur, they will have the worst year of their life. They are afraid that if they don't go, they will, like, go to hell. So they go, from fear. They complain about all the standing. They complain about how long the services are. They are there resentfully. You can tell they don't want to be there, and you can also feel their fear.
But I walked into Nashuva, and the energy was incredible. I felt that everyone there wanted to be there. I didn't feel fear. I didn't feel begrudging attitudes. Just being among a roomful of people like that is inspiring. For my first Rosh Hashanah ever, I didn't feel fear that if my mind slipped and I had a negative thought, I would be judged by God and have a bad year. Instead, I just turned my focus back to the seeds I want to plant for this year, and to the help I would like from a Higher Power to remove whatever it is that is keeping me from having those things.
My friend joined me part of the time at the services. But for a good chunk of them, I was alone. I came alone, yet didn't feel alone. The majority of "groups" or "congregations" I have tried out in the past, when I went alone, I was alone. I was not welcomed warmly, as the groups were cliquey. The energy didn't feel welcoming. I did not feel that for one second at Nashuva. Yes, the people here are open and welcoming, but that wasn't it -- that wasn't why I didn't feel alone.
I know it sounds cheesy, but I wasn't alone there because a Higher Power was with me. I felt it, truly in its wholeness, for the first time. I don't know if it's just the place I'm at in my life now after all the work I've been doing on myself, or if it truly is the environment and energy that is created by Nashuva, but for the first time in any spiritual service, I felt 100 percent enveloped in the presence of something Higher for the whole of all the services. It is a feeling of wholeness, of completion. It is a feeling of safety and love and peace and utter acceptance. It is the feeling we all crave and search for. And I had it, for hours and hours and hours. I got to experience it, to know that it's possible.
Our search for love or romance from a mate, our search for a high from performing or playing sports (and winning), our search for acknowledgement for a job well done at work, our search for validation from others, our search for money, for fame, for power -- really, all these things are our search for wholeness or completion with a Higher Power. We want that rush. And we get it when we're on stage, or winning a game, or falling in love, or making a lot of money, or getting a promotion, etc. But it's fleeting. The feeling doesn't last long.
But the feeling of being at one with a Higher Power -- well, really being at one with your Higher Self -- isn't fleeting. And when we are living in that place of completion, we are always being guided -- to the right people, to the right places, to the right situations.
I realized, for me, my work is not in trying to figure out what I need to do draw in the right man, or what blockages are keeping me from getting to my next level in my career. My work is to connect to the Higher Power, the Higher Me. To be in a state of completion with It. When you are, you are full. There's no man (or woman) that can fill you up. There's no job or validation or money that can fill you up. Because you're already full. When we expect anything outside of ourselves to "fill us up," we will be in constant cycle of unhappiness. Because all those things are fleeting.
I encourage you, in whatever you believe in or study or practice, or whatever community you are a part of, to do this for yourself. Whatever works for you is right, as long as it doesn't harm you or anyone else. Different people connect to different things. In the end, it's all the same; we all have the same goal of wanting to feel ourselves whole and complete.
During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, for the first truly extended period of time, I returned to myself. I got to experience myself in a state of completion, and got to see and feel who I am when I am whole. The layers of programming, doubts, self-defeating patterns and thoughts were removed to reveal my true, pure soul.
And then I realized nashuva means "to return."