As we age, many Boomers are seeking a spiritual way of being that moves beyond religious practices. This may include everything from integrating eastern and western philosophies and meditation, to journal writing, bodywork, yoga, tai chi, Qigong, mindfulness, and appreciating our blessings and expressing gratitude. For many, this spiritual journey encompasses self-reflective practices leading to wholeness and joy, personal growth and development and living our lives with meaning and purpose.
My first experience of the spiritual world began in the desert in Israel when I was four years old. I lived with my family in a small town near Tel Aviv. The hot, barren and dry desert sands were my playground. However, one beautiful sunny day, just after a rainfall, I found it ablaze with brilliant red, orange, yellow, purple and white flowers. The sparse vegetation of the day prior was now transformed into this breathtaking display.
Mesmerized by this colourful panorama and intoxicating fragrances, I walked into the middle of a particularly vibrant patch and began to twirl around and around and around. As I danced, I flung my head back and raised my arms to embrace the sky above. I felt connected to everything around me. There was no separation between the flowers, the sand, the sky, and me. I was filled with intense joy, love, peace and harmony.
Many of us have had spontaneous experiences of oneness, lasting a few moments or longer. For me, feeling one with the universe happens when my heart is wide open through loving relationships, nature or going deep within. I describe it as being in the “zone” and I know when I’m there because I feel like a butterfly is flapping its wings in the centre of my heart.
I felt it recently when I saw my newborn granddaughter for the first time and immediately fell in love with her and everything and everyone in the universe. I feel it when my whole family is together and we’re enjoying each other’s company. I also experience being in the zone when I’m immersed in nature, walking in a forest or viewing breathtaking wonders like a sunset in Hawaii, standing on a cliff at the Grand Canyon or seeing the Painted Canyons of North Dakota.
Today I understand these experiences as cosmic oneness with all there is. Many of us have enriching experiences that leave indelible imprints and play a formative role in our lives. Although they may last only a few minutes, we never forget them. They are life changing.
For example, my desert experience nourishes me and helps me cope during challenging times. When faced with a traumatic life event or health challenge, I visualize myself as the young girl dancing in the desert, at peace with myself and at one with my surroundings. I see myself as a spark of the Divine, a higher power. I’m able to tap into my intuitive voice, that part of me that is all-knowing and says, “You’ll get through this.” And I do because I trust that the universe has my back and pushes me forward. Although it’s not always in the direction I want, it’s always what I need for my soul to evolve and thrive.
I believe we all have an inner wisdom connected to Divine intelligence that directs our journey in life. For some people this consists of a belief in God. For others, it’s a belief in a cosmic intelligence or universal order. Still others find this connection in nature. When feeling this connection, it’s important to tune in and give ourselves permission to listen and trust its message. We’ve been conditioned to give our power away by looking outside of ourselves and trusting outside “authorities.” I’m not suggesting that we do not consult with these outside authorities. In many instances we need their input. However, it’s equally important to listen to the wisdom of our own bodies and inner voice for guidance.
There is an infinite source of knowledge, love, power and creativity, deep at the core of our being. If we quiet our minds long enough by regularly spending silent time in meditation, repetitive movements, calming music, etc., we can access it and take conscious control of our lives. As we begin to do so, we feel in charge of each situation that arises. Our confidence increases as we empower ourselves with our own capability and successes. Our intuitive wisdom is always communicating with us, guiding us towards self-improvement and reaching our full potential.
My dancing in the desert flowers remains forever etched in my memory bank. I call such experiences “soul food.” In fact, I love being surrounded by flowers in my living environment. In fact, most of my clothes have floral designs on them.
Have you ever had a time when you felt connected to everyone and everything? Can you recall a mystical experience that nourishes you, something you are in awe of? Do you have a spiritual practice that makes you feel that you are an important part of the tapestry of life – of all that there is in the universe? Think of one and allow it to ground, nourish and replenish you. Please feel free to share it with our readers in the comments.
Myra Giberovitch is an educator, consultant, author and professional speaker. She is adjunct professor, McGill University School of Social Work, specializing in gerontology and author of Recovering from Genocidal Trauma. Watch her speak at TedxMontreal – Genocide Survivors: Contributors Not Victims.