I’ve come to realize that life is all about perspective, how we choose to look at different things can really change our state of being. Over the last few months, my perspective on many things has changed, mainly spirituality. This article is my perspective, people may disagree with it, agree with it, or both. That doesn’t matter to me. A lot of this is inspired by what I’ve learned in the last few months and from my religious upbringing.
I used to think that spirituality was all about religion, I was wrong, there’s a lot more to it than just religion. Spirituality is possible without religion too, but my journey involves religion. I was born into a Muslim family. I’ll admit I wasn’t the most religious kid, I had my phases that came and went. For me praying and practicing Islam wasn’t a choice by me, it felt like a chore I had to do to please my family, that’s the honest truth. Therefore my heart wasn’t in my prayers, I lacked connection. Recently at the treatment center I was staying at, for 6 weeks, to help treat my issues with drug addiction, I learned that spirituality is in fact connection, not just connection to God, but to people, places, and things as well, and from there, ideas started to flow in me, I derived my own understanding of Spirituality that I would like to share as this understanding has bought me great peace in my life that I never thought was possible.
Connection is something that I have lacked all my life until recently. I have always been full of ego and selfishness. During my phases of being religious, I would pray selfishly, for material, never was my prayer on the plane of connection to anyone or anything. Or I would act in ways to impress others, to make people say, “look at what a good kid Danyaal is, he’s so religious, he’s so smart.” My thinking was always based around how I could gain something from people or situations. In hindsight, what I was looking to gain weren’t even things that were of my benefit, rather they were damaging my spirituality. I wanted to build this false persona, a mask, of what I wanted people to see in me. Really I was becoming more and more detached from who I really was, from my spirit. Connection was being lost from my spirit. A loss of identity, which resulted in an identity crisis. I was becoming more and more attached to my mind which was full of negativity and ego. I followed my thoughts which led me to some very dark places. Places I felt trapped in. Places full of hatred, envy, resentment, and fear. There was absolutely no connection to anything in those places. It was full of discontent and disconnection from what was in and around me.
We all have varying beliefs. Some of us believe in a God, some in multiple Gods, some in no God, and some people find a power greater than themselves in different things, such as nature, the unknown, and many other examples I have come across. My belief is in the teachings of Islam, but of course, many of you reading this aren’t Muslim, so I have to be mindful of that, but it’s important to be open-minded as this is my perspective that I am sharing. I believe that everything in existence is the creation of God. Every human, animal, and object. Even a man-made object is the result of intellect that God, or a power greater than us, has given us. I believe that everything is connected in spirit, as we are all the creation of a God of our understanding. How does this tie into my experience? As a person who was full of negative emotions such as hatred, resentment, envy, and fear, I was feeling all these negative emotions towards God’s creations, I was growing disconnected to them and to God by holding these emotions against these creations. I was, in a way, undermining and undervaluing the creations of God. I envied birds for their ability to fly and be free, I envied many humans, I held resentment against many people, and I hated the fact that others could be happy but I couldn’t. I feared the future, a path that God had laid out for me, and the worst of all, I resented God as I felt he did me wrong. All of this damaged my spirit, I was losing connection. And to top it all off, I fell into the disease of addiction, something that I used to escape my mental health issues that had partly resulted from my lack of spirituality. I have been taught recently that the opposite of addiction is connection. Through addiction, I grew completely disconnected from God, people, and everything around me. I lived in a world that revolved around me and drugs, the using and getting of drugs to numb me out was all I ever thought about. I had lost all spirituality, my spirit was unconscious. I didn’t want to feel anything, not even God. Even the people around me were just mere tools that served my using and getting of drugs, there was no real connection to them.
After I eventually got clean from drugs, I was still stuck with the negative emotions and thinking, my perspective of doom and gloom was still there, in fact to an even higher degree. Feeding my depressive thoughts, my pain-body, became an addiction in itself, it’s all I knew because I didn’t allow anyone or anything into my true life, so I was stuck with my only perspective. I let them see the mask, but not the purest form of me, my spirit. I was spiritually closed off to everything. Eventually, I couldn’t handle it on my own, I relapsed and fell back into my old ways for a month. Some would be shocked by me saying this, but I am truly grateful for this relapse as it started a life-changing journey. I checked into a rehab center. I was open-minded to what was being said to me in rehab because I knew that my old ways hadn’t worked out for me, that’s why I was sitting in rehab. I listened to what was being said and took it on board. Spirituality was a huge part of the program I was working on over there. For the first time, I began to pray because I wanted to and knew I needed to, not to please anyone else. I was desperate to get well, so I let God into my life, and I let people into my life. There was still resistance in me to let people in, but that started to disappear with time and learning. This is where I learned that Spirituality was, in fact, connection not just to God, but to people and all creations too.
Then my spiritual breakthrough happened. I began to truly realize that all people, places, and things were creations of God or a higher power of your understanding. To feel negatively against anything was feeling negatively towards God. I learned the power of gratitude towards all creations. Choosing to feel negatively towards everything was just fueling my pain-body, that anger, hatred, and fear were just fueling depression. So I thought “what if I see the positive in everything, let’s try that, nothing else has worked.” So I tried that, and I found myself appreciating the details in rugs, the sound of the birds, the people around me, and the beauty in nature. Even for people with flaws, I chose to see the funny side rather than get angry over it. I was overcome by this peace that I had never felt naturally in my life. Rather than feeling hatred towards certain people, I prayed for their betterment, as feeling hatred towards them would be feeling hatred towards the creations of God. I found peace through prayer and acceptance. I stopped praying selfishly, instead, I prayed for others, I prayed to God to make me a better person so I could help others, I prayed for forgiveness of my wrongs, and I thanked God for all that He had given me. I got rid of selfishness in my prayers and I felt like my prayers were finally being listened to. So I kept doing it, and I felt a connection to God. I had always believed in God, but now I felt God. Transformation. I felt God through prayer, presence, gratitude, and trust in His power. I finally felt like God was on my side for the first time in my life, all through a shift in perspective.
It was quite simple really, I had just been complicating it for myself all my life. There are still times when I lose that peace and start to creep into my old ways of thinking, that’s when I have to remind myself to be present, be grateful, and go to the prayer mat. I remind myself to get out of my head and just feel and be connected to what is happening in me and around me. The mind is a tool that should be used when required. Being in your mind all the time will take you to some dark places full of ego. The ideal state of being, I have come to understand, is, “Spirit awake, mind asleep”. This can seem difficult to achieve, but through the practice of prayer, presence, gratitude, acceptance, and connection, in my experience, it is achievable. Living with my mind awake all the time drives me crazy, and I get lost in the craziness and start to believe I am crazy, therefore I act crazily. It’s important to note that it’s the mind driving me crazy, not my spirit. My spirit keeps me sane and connected. If I can dis-identify myself from the mind, and treat it separately from what spiritual teacher Ekhart Tolle calls “Self”, I can recognize that I am not crazy, therefore I won’t act on those crazy thoughts as that is not me, in fact, the thoughts themselves will diminish in strength. I can still use that mind when required, but I have an off switch now. Again I will repeat what that off switch is: prayer, presence, gratitude, acceptance, and connection.
Life has gone from ugly and unliveable to beautiful and worth living through this increase in spirituality. This increase in spirituality came from a change of perspective. So life really is all about perspective. That’s Life, and now I can honestly say I love life.