Spirituality & Privilege

I’ll be blunt about it. If I have to worry about where my next meal is going to come from, or whether I can afford my kids’ childcare fees for the rest of the year, cultivating contentment and peace of mind is going to be the last thing on my mind.

[Warning: This is a long rambling post.]

Since March this year, I’ve been religiously attending yoga classes at studios (almost daily). Prior to that, I had also taken Reiki classes and invested in sessions with wise folks like Lynda Woolf. My Kindle is chock full of titles that deal with matters of yoga, spirituality and lately, highly sensitive people.

I have come to recognise that my lifestyle is a huge gift that the universe has given to me. One that I embrace with full gratitude.

Before I started dabbling in esoteric matters however, I was far from the person I am today. There was tons of worrying – about money, retirement, whether we’re raising our boys the best we can. There was the mindless shopping – oh the terrible crap that landed in my wardrobe over the years bordered on embarrassing – and the guilt after. There was the constant whining. Why isn’t my life this and that, and oh the parent-blaming is real.

Operating from a place of lack – especially for a middle-class person like myself – was ruining me from the inside out. For years, I couldn’t feel genuinely thankful for anything.

But the shifts in mindset started to happen. Contentment happened. I began developing mental muscles for gratitude – yes it’s a habit that needs to be built over time. For a while, I felt like I was operating on a different level, like I was now onto something that most people aren’t. Until it hit me in the face on a random day that I’m able to “indulge” in the quest to “find myself” by virtue of where I was born, the comfortable (not poor, not rich) circumstances in which I was brought up, my ample education, a supportive spouse and my vocation of writing (also a gift that allows me to work as a self-employed person with flexible hours).

Being able to even think about spirituality in a cold, fast-paced, capitalist society is a privilege. To be given the space and time to practice is a bonus gift from the guy/gal upstairs. So is the ability to contemplate issues like environmental sustainability (and applying it to your daily life), read voraciously and consume mindfully.

If you are also on this path, be thankful. And more importantly, be kind and non-judgemental in this tough concrete jungle.

The person who pushes past you to get a seat on the train may have had a terrible day with the terrible boss in a pressure-cooker office.

The parent who says no to a child too many times may be agonising over the household finances.

Someone who raises his/her voice at you may have been raised in an environment where he/she had to yell to be heard.

One who busts his/her credit limit on designer garb may well be going through a necessary stage in his/her personal growth.

And one who chooses low-cost processed food and uses and disposes copious amounts of plastic may simply not have any monetary resources to do things differently.

Simply put, life can be rough for most of us. We bring with us decades of emotional and physical baggage over the years, along with the stress of paying the mortgage, feeding our children and “achieving” (no thanks to societal brainwashing).

And when we can finally sort of see past some of these bread and butter issues – I use “sort of” because we can’t just run off and be a monk or nun in the mountains – it becomes an important responsibility (where possible) to shine positive energy or at least not add on to negative vibes wherever we find ourselves.

With so much hate speech going on right now, the most useless thing we can do now is to criticise someone from an ivory tower. Now is the time to be a fellow brother and sister to the wounded among us. If you are lucky enough to walk the path of spirituality, maybe it’s time to turn your privilege into loving service for all.

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