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Spiritual growth & wellness

Growing up surrounded by an array of beliefs, I was privileged to experience a spiritual connection at an early age. Unspoken transactions between myself and others were enough to fill even the emptiest of rooms with profound purpose.

Despite the admonishments of relatives, my children were raised without specifics when it came to religion - although they were given access to explore and uncover their own paths. Most importantly though, I endeavored to instill within them values that encourage respect for all living things and would make them into dependable human beings. Unfortunately, there were times when we bore witness to suffering and pain - which can easily spread throughout communities from those lacking spiritually.

My daughter was more than excited when she heard about the "Spiritual not Religious" class offered at the University of Virginia. This course is designed to cater to that new generation of Americans who are finding traditional religions too harsh, judgemental and controlling; something which goes against what all religions teach - selfless love for everyone equals liberation. I have witnessed this idea in action with each person I know who is truly spiritual, as they spoke only words of love in their last moments.

My initial exploration into Buddhism brought lots of response from my son and daughter. They gave me their opinions on the fact that I was choosing a religion, even though I had always stressed to them that no one faith was "correct". It took me time to identify myself as Buddhist, since it seemed more philosophical to me than a religion.

Throughout my life, there has been a great deal of exploration into the various religious ideologies that have surrounded me. From books to conversations with people and places of worship, nothing truly resonated in my spirit until Buddhism came into the picture. It was then that things started to make sense and clarity was brought to my search.

In a conversation with a buddhist nun at a monastery, she told me I was at the beginning of my journey and I needed to allow the process to happen as opposed to forcing it. At first, I found myself overwhelmed with hurt and anger, but then I realized one thing: detach from all expectations and allow life to take its natural course.

To withdraw can be a powerful act. Though, this does not mean to become fully unengaged in the world. To detach oneself is to set free ideas, items, individuals and environments that no longer serve your goal with an absolute lack of vanity - making way for what you truly wish to accomplish and take part in with immense love and appreciation. Consequently, it will be effortless to scoff at difficulties which others may experience as they are no longer linked to the end result.

For two days now, we've been in a high wind advisory. It's not constant though, it comes and goes - fascinating to observe. Through it all I feel myself come back into equilibrium; I can write, be kind to me and find my own balance once again. Even when I have to go out in this weather which is usually not my favorite - I remember that these winds play an important role in pushing aside any cold or dullness so bring on more of what I do enjoy. So, despite whatever discomfort might come with it, there is still much appreciation for this cleansing power of Nature.

We have the power to adjust our perspective and change our own narrative. While I am “white passing” I grew up with a very strong sense of my Native American heritage on my father’s side and was surrounded by my black and brown brothers and sisters. I don’t feel as though we are the minority when we stand together. We are stronger in fact and for white supremacy folks, that is intimidating, only because they have blocked themselves into a false narrative that is void of spirituality and intellect.

I still pray for those folks that want to perpetuate those false beliefs, because they are trying to dismantle the beauty of the spiritual world that was created for us to live in and to appreciate. Some can consider this world, hell, while others look around and see the beauty in the struggle as we shift, morph, change, grow and get back to the power of egoless love.

While I see the brutality we have inflicted on each other and our earth, I have to make a conscious decision to detach from it being a sign of an apocalypse and instead see it as an opportunity to craft 8 dimensional wellness plans for those determined to pursue their purpose in this lifetime.

In these times, it can be difficult to deal with the feelings of anger and frustration. But why not take those emotions and use them as a motivator for change? Put thoughts of ego aside, and pour out love to everyone in your life as well as those who may not have all that they need. This can be a powerful way to turn negativity into something positive.

For me, finding spiritual wellness has been a journey of discovery. However, my co-founder Chaitra and each of our wellness practitioners have found their own paths to this same goal. Each of us have managed to get into alignment with our purpose - no matter the method used.

In my journey towards spiritual wellness, my routine has been influenced by several different cultures and ancestors. Taking from my Native ancestors the sage, from my great uncle the teachings of Buddha, and from Tibetan culture the use of sound bowls, along with aromatherapy, have allowed me to create a space where prayer, meditation and centering can be achieved.

In cultivating your spiritual wellness plan, I encourage you to adopt an attitude of courage and assurance. Be willing to take risks, make mistakes and venture beyond your comfort zone.

May Buddha’s egoless love fill your days.

Yours truly,

👩🏽‍🍳Chef Lara™️

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