Growing up, life felt like a warzone. I could never tell when I would face ambush.
In elementary school, an array of timed homework assignments were thrown at me. So, I could never finish anything on time. In high school, I was attacked with standardized testing formats I could never comprehend. So, I often remained in the C-grade range.
Being Indian-American, I had interests and talents that contradicted the stereotype so I was barraged with judgment.
Now I feel judged when I watch the news, seeing a man running for president leading in the polls by preaching insanity, hate and fear.
I began to wonder: How can there be a higher power of justice when reality is unjust to begin with?
According to the Mental Health Foundation, spirituality can help people cope with everyday stress and keep them grounded. It also helps maintain good mental health.
My spiritual journey began last December with a group of 75 other seekers through Chunmaya Mission Houston.
We embarked on a journey to understand what role spirituality played in shaping this world, our lives and what our purpose was.
Upon visiting four different ashrams and immersing ourselves in the culture of sainthood, purpose began to unfold. I realized that the warzone I was trapped in was my own mind. Our ability to make life a heaven or hell lies in our mentality alone.
I came to understand how important spirituality is in empowering one’s mind and soul.
Whether one is religious or not, spirituality remains at one’s disposal, especially in recent times, where philosophers like Sam Harris, who build momentum through the New Atheist movement.
“The way we think can profoundly influence our lives and the lives of others,” Harris said.
Without following a religion, he came to the same conclusion I did after spending time in various ashrams.
“Spirituality is not about subscribing to a religion,” said history senior Hayder Ali, founder of the Secular Student Association. “It is a feeling that there is something out there more meaningful than the material world.”
This means spirituality can exist without religion. It all lies in one’s mentality and outlook on life.
However, faith also plays a drastic role in shaping one’s mind and health for the best.
“Because of faith, I find that my anxiety is reduced in a self absorbed manner,” said Ved Chitale, a third year law student who is an active member of Chinmaya Mission. “When I worry about winning a case or getting the grade I want, I am, ironically, more likely to fail. With faith, I am able to do my best without any worry about the result. That gives me the peace of mind needed to perform at my potential. Even if I fail, I still know I did my best.”
Faith is about trust. When one trusts in God, the universe or even Newton’s third law stating that every action results in an equal opposite reaction, he is able to sacrifice anxiety for the fruits of action.
Through knowledge about spirituality, I learned about the importance of controlling my own mind.
By practicing mindfulness, I cognitively started to see that happiness is much more than an emotion, a goal or even a lifestyle. It is an active choice one makes daily.
Opinion columnist Krishna Narra is a marketing junior and may be reached at [email protected]