"Do You Have A Faith?"

Last week someone asked me the following question: "Do you have a faith? A religion?” 

My answer was something like, “No, none.” 

The person then asked: "Not a Buddhist? Not anything?" 

“No”, I said. “I’m a very spiritual person, but I wasn’t raised with any religion.” 

She nodded and things ended there. 

But of course, things didn’t end there. 

Her question kept coming back to me. It came back to me at the end of the same day as I queued to buy food for dinner. It came back to me later that evening, when I was waiting for the kettle to boil. It came back to me at breakfast the following morning when I told my wife about the question and how it had set me off thinking about what it is that I do believe in. And it came back to me on my yoga mat when I went to a weekend yoga class. The bottom line was this: what is my “faith”, what is my “religion” and what is it exactly that I believe in at this point in my life? 

Out of that contemplating, I came up with a list of 12 things or people that I believe in. Here they are in no particular order: 

1. Jivamukti Yoga 

I used to take incendiary Jivamukti classes over 2005/ 2006 with Manizeh Rimer and Durga Devi. After a lengthy hiatus, I'm now back studying at the London centre, with Cat Alip-Douglas. Her classes confront everything I never want to get confronted about and for this reason, they're so very, very good for me. I spent the last few years "hiding under the table". Cat doesn't let her students hide under any table. 

2. India

Inspired by yoga, I’ve now been to India three times. Every trip has been a transformation. A skin-shedding. A humbler. A leveller. Country and People as mass enlightenment. There have been times in India when a child’s face or a burst of bright colour or a palm tree or the light at a certain time of day has made me want to describe what I’m feeling using the word “God”. It’s a magical, spiritual country and like nowhere else I've ever been. I carry the lessons of those three trips with me wherever I go. 

3. Vegetarianism

I don't eat meat or fish and that's a locked belief for me. Recently, I stopped eating eggs and drinking cows' milk, too. A plant based diet (more on who inspired that in a bit) works just fine for me. 

4. Spiritual Reading

I love books that are spiritually enlightening, that help us live better, think better. You can never have enough teachers, whether that's Deepak Chopra, The Mother or Lao Tzu. 

5. Kris Carr

After Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin's book, Skinny Bitch, opened my eyes to eating healthily and safely, Kris Carr and her Crazy Sexy motivational teachings about all things healthy and uplifting, became and continue to be one of my family's most important gurus. 

Her book Crazy Sexy Diet literally changed our lives. 

6. Ayurveda

Yoga led me to India and India introduced me to Ayurveda, which I follow as closely as possible.  

7. Nature

As I get older, I’m ever more attuned to nature. A simple walk in Hyde Park these days - trees, birds, light - is pretty much a spiritual experience. 

8. Children Are Our Best Teachers

When my wife was midway pregnant with our daughter, I interviewed Perry Farrell and he was new to being a father and shining from having conquered his drug addiction and deep inside a mounting personal spiritual journey (he sent me away from the interview inspired to order copies of The Torah, The Koran, The Bhagavad Gita and a book about Kabbalah). When I told him I was soon to be a father too, he told me that our children are our best teachers; that everything we say and do gets sponged up by them via osmosis and that in turn, makes us rethink all the messages we send out through life. I have thought of what he said almost every day since becoming a parent. 

9. Meditation 

I find meditation the toughest of the toughest (headstand is right up there too) but I credit Gabrielle Bernstein with teaching me how to have a meditation practice. She made it accessible and relatable where so many before her couldn't. Now I'm at it everywhere - on the bus, walking down the street (listening to her meditations), in the bath, in bed. 

10. Music

It's always been there right since I was a child, soundtracking my life, setting and defining moments and eras, offering mentors and guidance. 

11. Movies

Films take me far away from everything like very few things can. 

12. Perseverance

No matter what the challenges have been in my life, I’ve always believed in perseverance. Yes, I’ve bent as far as I go many times, but I’ve never broken. Everybody I respect bent too, but didn't break. I continue to believe that no matter how tough things get, there is always the potential for change, for things to start over, to transform, to get better, to improve. I wrote a piece the other year about this for Sophie Chiche’s Life By Me. You can read it here.

Can that be everything? 

I’m sure I’ve missed loads of stuff out. I’m sure the second I post this, I’ll get a rush of things I forgot to include. That’s okay. Like Cat Alip-Douglas is fond of saying in her Jivamukti yoga classes, life is a work in progress, everything is a work in progress. 

Thanks for reading.


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