how i met god
I often miss writing to you. I often think about you, about all the things I’d like to tell you, all the things I’d like to share with you. Maybe just to share, to some outside people, really outside. Not the people I meet here, who have all, more or less, the same story as me. Here we’ve all left everything in order to live another life. We didn’t really recognize ourselves anymore in the life we were living until now, and left to find something else.
A few years ago, when I got back from India, one of my aunts, the most religious one, told me once that by traveling and working so hard on myself, I was on a quest. And especially on a quest to find God. I was at that time impervious to any forms of religion. I’d rejected my religion (Judaism to be precise), God, the dogmas, the rites and every other idea of believing a few years before, after my parents got divorced. How God could exist and let me suffer so much, it didn’t make any sense. I also had the conviction that religion was dividing people, and also very clearly my family. I didn’t see religious people happier than me, even sometimes less happy and often as lost as me. So it was obvious that her observation was completely unfounded. And it had even less importance than it was coming from my aunt, extremely religious, who had tried, many times already, to spread the Word to the little rebel I was.
As all the things that echo inside us, her observation stayed engraved in my memory. I remember exactly the moment, the discussion, her intonation, the way she looked at me when she said it. I felt her tiny–observation enter me, beat hard in my mind, go for a little while in my heart and go hide in my memories, file « unclosed ». I remember as well exactly what I answered her. I first raised my eyes to heaven (pretty ironic considering the subject), blew with exasperation and retorted with all the aplomb of the world: Pff, non-sense. A really convincing argument, for sure. I never really thought about this for years. God and I, it was a closed affair, and it would have taken really huge miracles for me to return to it.
I often said that I didn’t know why I went to India. Or rather I often said really factual things like : I wanted to meet suppliers for the clothes brand I was about to launch (and that I never launched), I wanted to do a yoga retreat, I wanted to backpack, visit a new country and get a new sexy stamp on my passport. All of this was true, of course. I met suppliers, did a yoga retreat, backpacked and got a new sexy stamp on my passport. And at the same time, it was far from being completely honest. Truly, I went to look for something in India. I know it and worse, it seemed that everybody knew it before me. I went to look for myself. Which is, with some distance, really not far from looking for God.
I left for India at the end of my therapy. I suffered a lot when I was young and at nineteen, I found myself for the first time in my psychologist’s practice. When we suffer a lot, we look for answers. Some people go to religion, others to drugs (which, I must say, have an effect on the same part of the brain). For my part, I went into therapy. I answered the questions « and at this moment, what did you feel? » and « in your opinion, why? » about three thousands times in seven years. I did everything I could to understand myself and to heal myself. Which I succeeded in doing. I understood myself and I healed myself. With my head. I understood everything with my head. I understood every one of my mechanisms, I learned to tame myself, to talk too, to live in society probably, to let go of all my memories, all these things I had kept in me and were weighing too much. At the end of my therapy, so seven years later, in theory I was good. But in practice, I had no idea of who I was, of what was vibrating inside of me or of what I wanted to do with my life. My head was working, for the rest it was the total emptiness. It is exactly when I realized that that I blew up everything and left for India. I left for India to look for me, to find me. And it was my first contact with my spirituality.
I discovered in India a new relationship with religion. A faith which makes one happy, a faith a lot more turned inwards than rites and traditions outward. I learned in India and through yoga the principle which changed my life forever: We are not our body, neither our emotions, neither our thoughts but the consciousness behind all this.
When I got back to Paris, I didn’t really know what to do with that. I left it in a corner of myself, and I kept walking my path. Except that I brought back from India my yoga practice. I practiced yoga regularly during the five years which followed. At every session, I learned a little bit more about myself, about my body, my emotions, my mind and about that famous consciousness-behind- all-this. I learned everything from yoga and it would take me probably three hundreds articles to talk about it. I learned to tame my thoughts and I met my consciousness, my soul, my real self. Little by little, I started thinking things like: everything happens for a reason. I started to get interested in the law of attraction and to listen to my intuition. I wasn’t putting a word onto it because I wasn’t aware of what I was doing, but it was there. Something bigger than me. My spirituality.
And then, exactly a year ago, I came to Bali for the first time. I dreamt of Bali all my life, without really knowing why. I arrived here and something opened in me. I didn’t really understand at that time, I just knew that I had to come back, that I had begun something that I had to pursue and that it was the time. I was ready. I am passing the administrative part when I came back to Paris, left my job and convinced my parents. Although my parents were quite supportive the second times that I left, it was the third times that everything became complicated. I came back to Bali two months later to do a yoga teacher training. I couldn’t leave everything to go find my spirituality, I didn’t really believe in it then, I needed a better excuse, I needed a holding hand to catch. And I caught Tanya’s, my yoga teacher. Every morning, for a month, Tanya invited us to set an intention for our day. I set my intention the first day of the training and I kept it several months. My intention expressed itself by itself. It just materialized itself into my thoughts, it came to me without even calling for it or thinking about it. I just heard this two little words in my head: I trust.
Of course, my brain freaked out a little bit and tried to analyse it. Ok, you trust, but you trust what? I trust myself first, I trust others, I trust the Universe. I didn’t put the word God on it. It has nothing to do with God for me, not the God I’ve been introduced to in France and in Judaism. I didn’t recognize myself in that. I trust the Universe. It was my first step. I trust something bigger than me.
I discovered my spirituality through yoga, by connecting to myself. Meeting my consciousness, inside of me. Getting rid or my materiality: my body, my emotions, my thoughts. Often, there is an inner war inside of me. My material self fights with my spiritual self. Usually, my material self asks a lot of questions: what are you doing? where are you going? how will you make money? when will you get married and have kids? My material self looks strangely like my dad on his bad days. My spiritual self is more like: don’t worry, have faith, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, live in the now, everything happens for a reason. I must confess that life is softer when my spiritual self is winning.
I got back to Paris after my yoga training and I was there. I got back to Paris and my material self was partying hard. My apartment, my job, my family, money in my bank account, restaurants, longtime plans and the next holidays. I understood that I had been this material self my all life, that I had accumulated clothes, books, pictures on the wall, friends and stories. But that I had finally discovered a new part of myself, a part of myself that I wanted to discover for so long, a part of myself that I wanted now to know and understand. I realized that I wanted to be my spiritual self for a while. That I’ll be able to really find my balance only after being my spiritual self all the time. I don’t have the vocation to become a monk in a temple, or a hermit on top of a mountain. But I need to understand my spirituality, go to its extremity and keep what I want to keep from it. So I came to Bali a third time. I shook hard my material self when I sold everything that I’ve been accumulated until then and left my apartment. But I am sure it will forgive me.
Often, we talk about spirituality like an external strength. An external and powerful God that we must respect and worship. Heaven, hell, beautiful stories and life lessons. Rites, alimentary diet, obligations, moral code and code of conduct. Guilt as well and sins. If only we’d talk about spirituality as an internal strength. To look for ourselves, to learn to know ourselves, to learn to love ourselves, to learn how to sort out all we have inside of us. And to know exactly what is good for us. To not follow the rules to the letter, to establish our own rules. To meet our consciousness, our soul, this pure version of ourselves. This little voice we hear inside of us, witnessing our lives. This little voice is your real you. This little voice is God inside of you.
God is inside every one of us. God is inside every thing. This is how hindus worship what surrounds them. They don’t have a motorbike God or a road God but in the motorbike and in the road, they see God. In the motorbike, in the road, in the little ant who is wandering on my arm for an hour and that I won’t crush, in you, in me, everywhere. It is exactly the meaning of the word Namaste. Namaste means: the divine light in myself honors the divine light in yourself. God in myself acknowledges God in yourself, and it works the same if you are jewish, christian, muslim, hindu, atheist, white, black, tall or with red hair. To hurt you or to hurt the little ant on my arm, is to hurt myself. Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t like others to do to you should rather be: don’t do to others what you wouldn’t do to yourself.
This connexion to ourselves requires work, it asks for work everyday, without break. For me, it comes through yoga, writing, drawing lately, meditating. But it can truly come through anything. This connexion to ourselves is nothing more than a connexion to the present in complete awareness. To go out of our thoughts, out of our body, out of our emotions. It can be to knit, to juggle or to walk in the forest. As long as when you knit, you think only about knitting, the only thing you do is knitting and the only emotion you feel is the one which knitting gives you. Complete awareness. And in a way it is close to the prayer principle. When we pray, chanting with a lot of people in a temple or a church, it is a form of meditation, a form of trance. It is even stronger when you pray in a language you don’t know. The meaning doesn’t really matter, only the state counts. To go out of our thoughts, out of our body, out of our emotions. To connect to our consciousness.
Five years later, I think about my aunt’s observation: you’re on a quest to find God. People who are on a quest stay on a quest all their life. They never stop searching. I am not on a quest, I am finding. I found myself. And by finding myself, I found God.
We can have faith without being religious. I don’t have any religion for now. Maybe I will go back to it later, and probably if it is the case, I will choose mine.
A few days ago, I saw myself write the following sentence in one of my journals: You were never alone, you’ve always been with yourself. Thinking about it today, I realized that I could have written: You were never alone, you’ve always been with God. But I am not sure I am ready yet. I will leave before having regrets and delete all this!
Don’t forget that everything happens for a reason. And that if you’re reading me, at this moment, wherever you are in the world, you didn’t arrive here by accident.
With all my love, as always.