Where do you practice your form of spirituality? Do you have to go to the mountains in order to feel that inner connection? Do you have to be near the ocean to experience the motions of your soul just as the waves rise and fall? Or do you live in a city that doesn’t shut up and is overcrowded? Is it possible to be spiritual and feel that connection to your inner world in a bustling city?
It is not necessary to live in the most beautiful and natural places to have that spiritual connection. Nor is it necessary to visit those places, to visit an ashram and other retreats, to experience profound spirituality and even enlightenment. Peace and love can be achieved in the city as well as in the wilderness.
I have never been to the mountains. I have never been amongst inviolate nature. My life has been confined to the grey towering walls of New York City. This place where I have lived since birth I once absolutely hated. For a long time I hate NYC so much that I planned to leave this entire country behind. But I’m still here. Sometimes I can’t stand it. New York City is loud, it is dirty and polluted, people are rude and are more concerned with themselves than with anything or anyone else, and economically speaking, most of us that live here are drowning. But it is here where I have found my spirituality. In the confines of my room, beside my piano and altar, I have experienced the most beautiful connection to myself and the world. In this city I can see what the endeavors of humanity can build and I can see the resilience of their souls in their faces. I can see the suffering and toil and I can see their joy and love. I can see the hopes they have and the fears the flee. Before I was able to see any hope in anyone and feel any joy for living and appreciate this city as it is, I dreamt of different landscapes and a different life. How I found my spirituality in this place that barely allows for serenity and whose starkness made me grimace, was by following my curiosity. My curiosity concerning the tarot and magic. Because the world all around me was so ugly and I felt equally hideous, I turned within. I turned my attention within. And that is what spirituality is: it is turning your awareness within.
Everything is interconnected. Everything is woven together to create this tapestry that is life. The soul is something intangible and perhaps it is confined in the body or perhaps it exists simultaneously within and without, but it is conscious of everything. However, what the conscious mind is aware of is limited by our physiology, by our beliefs and practices, by our education, but it does not have to be limited by where we are. The soul is an interconnection of energy that travels through the body and multiple planes of existence and this allows us to feel the Earth; the celestial being some call Gaia, mother Earth, and so on. To feel that inner energetic connection between the soul and the Earth, between the universe and the self, all one has to do is turn one’s attention within. Through meditation, yoga, sacred/tantric sex, through music and writing and art and science, consciousness can be focused to what’s within and it can be expanded to understand more. And then, you’ll be able to see the beauty that is already around you.
Being in the forest or mountains or the ocean definitely makes it easier to connect to the inner self and to experience whatever aspect of spirituality you wish. But some of us have to practice in the middle of chaos. The nature of life, of the vital energy that runs through everything, is unbounded. The breath of a tree in the amazons can be felt across the world on the face of a smiling child.