Most of my life, I have been an agnostic. Actually, I usually say, “Most of my life, I have struggled with agnosticism.” That is because I’ve repeatedly seen family members, friends, co-workers, etc. practice religion or a spiritual way of living to bring purpose and meaning to their lives. I suppose I’ve always wanted that as well; thus, I’ve struggled with agnosticism. One of the biggest influences in my life has been my grandmother, and she always relies on prayer and faith to get her through whatever challenges and uncertainty that comes her way. I believe at some point, everyone goes through something in their life that seems far to difficult to get through alone. Perhaps this something is even too difficult to get through with only the help of loved ones. Sometimes it seems that turning to a power greater than human power is necessary. I got to one of these critical points in my life where I needed to look beyond my agnosticism and keep an open mind to the benefits of a spiritual practice.
At the time, my wife was exploring the practice of meditation. She had recently started attending a fellowship center in San Diego, California, where we live. This fellowship center was founded by an Indian man who moved to America to teach an ancient form of meditation that had been passed down to him. My wife invited me along, and I reluctantly accepted her invite. The formality of the pre-meditation sermon reminded me of the church of my childhood; however, the message being delivered made me feel encouraged. I sat and meditated and tried to follow the directions being given. Meditation is hard! It is certainly not comfortable to sit quietly with only your thoughts.
I don’t remember feeling drastically better after that first meditation, but I do remember a subtle calmness. This was enough to bring me back the following week. I quickly learned that meditation is a practice, just like many other things. It is never perfected—at least in my experience! I kept attending this fellowship center for several years to learn meditation techniques, and I also explored several other meditation sessions at other centers in San Diego. Meditation has helped me in so many ways. It’s helped balance my emotions, reduce resentful feelings, increase my connection to others and nature, and enhance my sense of compassion for others. I no longer regularly attend group meditation sessions, but I practice meditation at home and share what I have learned with others who are interested in learning. I’ve also explored spiritual affirmations, mantras, and prayers to help develop my spiritual connection. My grandmother is proud!
In addition to meditation, another way I try to practice spiritual wellness is by looking for many ways to be helpful to others. Most spiritually minded people I’ve met seem to practice service to others as a way of life. I find that when I practice helpfulness to others, I feel better about myself and more connected to the world and the people in it. Service to others can be offered anywhere. At PRA, I feel fortunate that this practice is part of our mission, but I can offer service to others in any area of my life, and I have found when I do this consistently, I feel more spiritually connected. I’m not perfect at this by any means, but I try day by day. I think I struggle less with agnosticism since I’ve adopted a more open mind to spiritual practices. I’m truly grateful for this.