Who even IS God? And is religion still relevant in today’s world?

Who is God? And should we be worried about following religious scriptures and rituals in our spiritual journey? Here’s a deep introspection.

I love the ongoing conversation around the relevance of religions as we know them, and their “upgraded” counterpart, spirituality. And I hear you when you wonder, who even is this God, and whether you should be focused on idol-worship or the many rituals that encompass religions around the world.

Or is there something more to all of this, that we simply have forgotten? I’d like to use this space and article to address some questions around religion, rituals and God-worship.

To begin with, why do we even need a “God”?

Many spiritual teachers love the analogy of Earth as a school for life.

This is like a giant playground where we get to play, get hurt, and go home with some experiences. To continue with that analogy, I see the importance of having a “teacher” or some form of guidance to regulate all the children on the playground. Without guidance, there is chaos.

playground, earth school, who is god

To put it in a similar analogy, we need a God for the same reasons that we need teachers and not just a classroom. We need something to help us remember what our potential and purpose should be, and pull us out when we’re in lower states of mind.

Even before getting into the conversation of how real God is, let’s appreciate the intention. Having a “concept” of someone watching over us helps us self-regulate in many ways! It’s kept the world grounded. And from time to time, people have found that idol in the many souls that have incarnated here, like Jesus, Buddha, the Prophet, etc.

The challenge arises here though. Were these souls really God?

In all essence, I do believe that all these incarnated deities were a representation of the highest good, here to give us reminders of the ultimate truths of life. However, they were messengers of a higher truth, and over time, religion has driven us away from the “message”, to glorify the messenger.

This glorification knows no bounds – we have all kinds of superstitions and fear-mongering that somehow implies ideas like sin, hell, punishment, etc.

Then what should we believe in? And then coming back to the original question, who IS God?

To further answer this in a more spiritual context, I would like to share a brilliant framework that I learned in one of my Vedanta (ancient school of thought) classes. Though it arises from a certain scripture, it holds relevance to us in whatever headspace we are. Hope you enjoy this!

The Five Components of Self-Actualization

We were taught that there are five levels that we must go through to attain true inner awareness and self-realization. Think of each component as the “next” step.

#1 – Becoming a student of life.

This is what I consider to be a spiritual awakening. It’s when we stop becoming passive and wake up to the greater truths of life. It’s when the desire erupts to know one’s own nature that the journey finally begins.

spiritual awakening, blue butterflies, student of life

So, in essence the first component requires us to be willing and wanting to pursue the path back home. Up till that point, there’s very little “healing”, because of our autopilot tendencies. Lifetimes go by and we trod the path at a snail’s pace, not realizing yet that there are any other options.

However, when we finally are shaken awake, we are compelled to change. In that pursuit, we move towards the next component.

#2 – Finding answers from a higher evolved being.

Think along the lines of a Guru or spiritual teachers that you feel deeply inspired and moved by. They act as a pillar in your spiritual journey. Someone that can ground you when you are losing your grounding. At times, they can even be the “shelter” we are seeking from the world.

who is god, buddha, ashram, spiritual teacher

And while I’m often asked if everyone will find an enlightened master, I don’t think that should be our ultimate pursuit. After all, this is only the second step. But, why? Let’s move to the third component to find out.

#3 – Grounding yourself in the answers from sacred scriptures.

While a Guru or a good spiritual teacher can hold space for our healing, we mustn’t forget that they are still working through their human experiences too. They too can waiver, and fall into the lower ways of being. And let’s say that even if they are unshakeable, they are ultimately limited by death.

sacred scriptures, spirituality

Then we need to be able to ground wisdom in a more tangible, unchanging and long-lasting way. Thus, holy scriptures become the next leg of our journey, anchoring us to remember the finer truths of life.

While these scriptures provide us deep insight and revelations, we still ache for more. And so, the spiritual seeker keeps searching for something bigger than these gems.

What next, though?

#4 – The idea of a perfect being.

In other words, God. The highest possible standard that we can set for ourselves and for this world.

This perfect being becomes the foundation, the culmination of many religions. And in many cases, the very Guru at step #2 is raised to a pedestal of worship, and the teachings are kept at highest regard.

Long after that enlightened master passes on, we hear stories and miracles that bring us faith, hope and inspiration. We use the rituals and philosophies taught by this perfect being during their time on Earth as a way to get through our ups and downs.

baseball player kneeling on ground

This is the component to self-realization where things become less seen, more perceived. And that’s where the greatest challenge lies.

Until our relationship with that higher energy isn’t direct and personally-felt, we are constantly moving between the ideas of right and wrong, good or bad, this or that.

The word God, for these reasons can bring a lot of repulsion in today’s generation. We aren’t ready to buy into the misconceptions about God anymore. Then, in anguish and confusion, we seek out the ultimate truth.

#5 – Seeking solace in the all-encompassing.

That is, the Universe. Where the concept of God brought in duality, like the Devil, the Universe encompasses both ends of the spectrum.

Everything that has happened, is happening and will happen is always within a context, which we ultimately see as the greatest truth of life. Like the beautiful symbol, yin and yang, symbolizing the nature of life as neither just good, nor just bad, but a mixture encompassing both!

This very cosmos, that subtle thing that watches and lets everything happen, is where we come from and where we’re going to. Our final destination was neither at a Guru’s abode, nor in the lines of a book. It wasn’t even in the gates to Heaven.

universe, spirituality who is god, ultimate truth

Rather that it was right here – where we are, just being in more touch with the very existence and celebration of life for what it is! Because, we are the Universe in motion, experiencing our true nature. And that Universe is in every moment, every where. We don’t have to be any different at our core or travel to a certain physical location, to know the nature of love.

Overview of the five components

Putting these five together, it gives us a flow diagram of sorts.

Student -> Guru -> Map / Scripture -> God -> Universe

This framework means that we are not to stop at a guru, nor scripture, nor deity. Our ultimate oneness is with the Universe, with all of life.

The thing about religious scriptures is that they are sometimes written in a way that comes across as “egotistical “. They will glorify one God as the ultimate one, deeming all other Gods lower or not at par. To top it off, there are so many myths about religious rituals and how grave the outcome will be if you don’t follow them.

That’s where religion went wrong and it created a divide even amongst the very believers of that God. Some Christians followed one school of thought, just like some Muslims followed another from their brethren. We got stuck in the nitty gritty, unable to move past all of that into the unconditional love and acceptance of life itself.

My understanding is that at the time, the world lived in a more fear-based way so that they could be pushed to build unwavering faith.

But fundamentally speaking, having faith simply means surrendering oneself 100% whether to Guru, Scripture or God.

In learning how to surrender to any one of those components, we learn how to create a way for something higher to step in. Whether we know what or who that higher power is never matters, it all just folds beautifully for us when we “let go”.

Concluding Thoughts

At the end of the day, everything is energy. It doesn’t matter which one you call forward in your daily prayers. Because what matters is that when we pray to one energy, we are focusing on the characteristics and virtues that we want to cultivate within ourselves.

So some people like Krishna for his playfulness, some for his intelligence. Some like Buddha for his meditation abilities and some for his ability to be calm in any situation. But no energy is above or better than the other – they are all a part of our journey back to self.

We pray to one specific entity because it helps us as humans to have a “tangible” God. But it doesn’t matter who God is, just that we are willing to look, to surrender and to become that which we had been seeking.

And in that pursuit, it shouldn’t matter how many beads we chant in a day, or what religion we follow. Just that we are on the path, willing and wanting to make our way back home (a place inside of us, nowhere else).

That’s how I’ve come to see all of it, at least. What do you think?

Ready to take your healing deeper? Let’s talk about it! You’re welcome to setup a complimentary 30-minutes call using this form, and learn how you can set your spiritual plans into action. Don’t see a time slot? Fill this form instead and we can plan something else.

What Even IS the Present Moment? And How Do You Stay In It?

What even IS the present moment and how do you build that awareness? Here’s exploring a deeply spiritual dilemma in a practical way.

It’s become easier to catch myself drifting away into thoughts and losing focus from the present moment. But even with this increased sense of awareness, it isn’t easy to stay present. As I learn and grow in my spiritual practices, I want to share some reflections with you and help you understand from my lens what even is the present moment. And then share some tips you can apply to stay more in the “now”.

Let’s begin by addressing what the present moment means to most people.

#1 – The present moment can feel unsafe for some people.

The reason we are not able to stay in the moment is because we get checked out and live in our minds. This can happen for different reasons. For some people, they underwent physical trauma like bullying, sexual abuse or getting beaten up at home, which made their body feel unsafe.

trauma can take us away from the present moment

They may also have had a negative relationship with their body if they were constantly sick or lived in a lot of physical pain. As a consequence of any of these reasons, the mind and the imagination became a safe haven.

So, even when there’s no actual danger, many people just find it more comforting to be in their minds, because their relationship with their body hasn’t healed yet.

#2 – To others, the present moment is underwhelming.

I am grateful to not fall into the first category. However, I used to wonder why I’m so checked out, if it isn’t about safety for me. The truth is, growing up as an introverted only child, the present moment was BORING for me.

I often took refuge in my doll sets and books. So as much as I considered myself spiritual for reading all those heavy spiritual books, it wasn’t helping me get any more present.

reading and meditation can still sabotage our ability to stay present in the now

Even though I have a powerful imagination and it has contributed to the nourishment of my Third Eye energy centre, it took years to realize the fact that I don’t enjoy being alone if I don’t have something to do by myself. Even when I meditate, I am meditating on something. It isn’t without purpose.

So, if you’re like me, the present moment can be underwhelming to you. Especially if you’ve been raised in a predominantly masculine environment, where it’s always about do-do-do. It can become our nature to constantly be achieving or planning something in our heads.

So as a consequence, you might constantly be looking for ways to fill these spaces with something or someone. If you don’t find something in the physical, you check out and live in your headspace.

#3 – And then, to some, the present moment is simply uncomfortable.

For many of us, our inner critic is constantly evaluating us. We are worried if someone will like how we look, or if they’ll judge us. So, ironically, we constantly judge ourselves!

overthinking, what is the present moment

But where did this judgemental way of thinking come from? Most likely from some important people in your childhood who were constantly judging you. This way of living in the head has become a learned behaviour for you.

So when you are in the present moment, it can seem intimidating because you don’t know how to look at anything as a mere observer. You realize that there’s always some kind of chatter, some kind of tainted lens through which you’re experiencing the world.

If the present moment isn’t all of the above, what is it?

The present moment is exactly what is happening right now.

And now.

And now.

Even now.

Only now.

The humbling fact about the present moment is that it’s the only REAL thing happening, at any point of time. You see, if you’re not present, you’re living in your thoughts. And those thoughts don’t have tangibility. They might be from the past, but the past is also just some form of images being recycled in your head on a loop. Or they might be projections about the future, which hasn’t even happened yet.

This might be a shocker to you as you read these realizations. But breathe that in for a moment – if you’re not living in the present, you’re not really living at all. You’re physically present but disintegrated between the past, the future and somewhere in between.

Now what do you do with that piece of information? Don’t let it keep you in shock! Here are basic principles to help you understand what you can do to stay more present.

#1 – Teach the mind what it SHOULD do.

I know how confusing it can be, when you keep hearing things like “don’t think when you meditate”. Or are told to NOT be checked out. But then, what should you do?

There are simple mindfulness practices like breath-work, journaling and grounding which can help you focus on the present moment. All, with the intention of retraining your thoughts to come back “here’.

journaling, grounded

But it’s a muscle, and just like going to the gym, it takes conscious and continuous effort to build.

Just know that you don’t have to beat yourself up for not being able to stay present. Have awareness, and focus on what you should be doing, versus what you should not have done.

#2 – Integrate the past so that you’re not stuck there.

If you’ve undergone trauma, it can actually do you more harm to meditate. As meditation teacher and guest writer Clayton shared with us in this post, meditation practices are NOT meant for everyone. So, work with trauma specialists and integrate your past.

therapy, trauma, healing your past so you can become more present

As you integrate the past, you will become more comfortable and at ease being here, now. Only then, should you attempt to “come back to this moment”.

#3 – Heal your relationship with your body so that it’s safe to be here.

In order to heal your relationship with your body, understand the importance it has to begin with. It’s not just a body that’s meant to digest your food or take you from place A to B. The ego-mind would like to believe that it’s the most important aspect of who you are. But that’s not true, and you should work towards discovering that for yourself.

Your body is a beautiful vessel that allows you to have your spiritual awakening. Here’s a foundational post to help you understand the spiritual significance of your physical body.

You can consider taking on Yoga practices (not the westernized, aerobic version) that focus on slowing down and really becoming present with the body. I know that even Tai-Chi has the same effect in bringing you back to the body, and can be deeply spiritual if you’re open to it.

If you’re not a fan of Yoga or Tai-Chi, play any sports. The amount of present moment awareness it requires to not get hit in the face by a shuttlecock in the badminton court is deeply spiritual in itself!

#4 – Come to the present moment afresh.

I talked about the “now” being boring. And even as adults, if we live on autopilot, walking into the same office or same house everyday can be dulling. I invite you to try this on with me – come to the present moment afresh.

What if you arrived at work or to your bedroom every single day as if it were your first time? How would you see it differently?

I used to get bored on walks. And then one day, a conversation with my Forest Bathing friend Katriina, really changed my way of thinking. She told me that she walks through the same forest every single time and it looks different. She was right.

I tried that out and haven’t found a single walk boring ever since! It’s because now, I can appreciate the ways in which the sun changes angle, the water levels dip and rise, the different birds and animals that come with each season, and so on.

nature, present moment awareness outdoors

I also applied this to my workspace and realized that the energy of my room seems to move up and down with me. Even though everything is inanimate, there are subtle changes.

When I’m present, I can see when there’s a small layer of dust collecting on the surface, and notice when the carpet is vacuumed. Sometimes when I walk into the room afresh, I see a book on my shelf that I had completely forgotten I had ever bought!

So, you see, the present moment is not boring if we are invested in it. If we are in reverence of it. Of course, this is easier said than done, but try it on. See how that lands for you, and if it makes each day significantly different, no matter how similar it was from the day before.

#5 – Ask yourself, what are your thoughts even about?

Science reveals to us that when we’re on autopilot mode, we tend to think the same, old train of thoughts on repeat. A majority of our thinking is redundant. Well, knowing what we know, how can we reduce the redundancy?

By analyzing what it’s about.

Are you constantly looping in thoughts about work, relationships or money? Most likely. If you didn’t have all those things to think about, what would you do with your time instead?

journaling and self reflection to become more mindful and tune into the present moment

As you gain awareness and step off that autopilot train, continue asking yourself what would life be like, if you could just enjoy it for what it is? And don’t answer the question logically, but this time, go out and let all of you, mind, body and soul, really experience the answer to that question!

Concluding Thoughts

It’s not that being present is hard, it’s that we’re not used to the idea of present moment awareness. And when we begin to experience more of it, we can feel the difference between living in our heads, and living in real life. You become your own example and keep working your way up.

Remember, the present moment is rarely as boring, scary or as uncomfortable as you grew up believing it to be. Try coming back “here” more often. You might fall in love with it.

Ready to take your healing deeper? Let’s talk about it! You’re welcome to setup a complimentary 30-minutes call using this form, and learn how you can set your spiritual plans into action. Don’t see a time slot? Fill this form instead and we can plan something else.

5 Unique Ways to Understand & Relax Your Overthinking Mind

What does spirituality suggest for overthinking? And what is psychology’s tips for overcoming overthinking? Here’s a diverse list of ideas!

This article is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a few different angles to explain and slow down the overthinking mind. I hope to keep coming back and adding more to this list, as I explore more avenues of self-healing in my own journey back home.

Diving straight into the different frameworks and how you can use them to understand and overcome overthinking.

#1 – If you’re overthinking, your chakras might be out of alignment.

The ancient eastern philosophy of the Chakra System (energy centres of the body), is a great way to understand what happens when energy gets blocked in different parts of our subtle body.

And one way to look at overthinking, is to see it as overusing and obsessively fuelling your third eye, the chakra of imagination and visualization.

So when you’re daydreaming, living in the past/future, or are cooking stories about life, know that your lower chakras are not being fully utilized. And as a consequence of that, you have moved out of the physical plane to living in the mental plane.

woman holding light string in a dark room, ream, imagination, third eye chakra, checked out of the present moment, fantasy
To get back to the present moment, we always want to start at the base of our Chakra System, at the root chakra, to ground ourselves. As energy moves up from the base of the spine, gently moving through every energy centre, we show up more fully.

A simple technique I teach in my Chakra System Workshop, is to practice using all five senses to come back to the moment. This helps because our five senses are our first source of interaction with the physical world.

Try using the following prompts, and see how it makes you feel:

  • Look around you, and identify 3 different things you can see. Note the colour, the shape of each thing, being fully present with what your eyes are experiencing.
  • Take a deep breath, and become aware of 3 distinct things you can smell. Maybe it’s your clothes or hair, or the smell of an old book. Ground yourself with your sense of smell.
  • Touch 3 different surfaces, being fully present with the feeling of touch. What insights are these surfaces giving to you?
  • Close your eyes, and see if you can tune into your sense of hearing to identify 3 different sounds taking place right now. Notice how your mind had beautifully blocked these sounds out previously, but how your nervous system was still being affected by them.
  • And lastly, take a moment to feel the taste of your mouth. If you want to, you can self-hypnotize yourself to imagine that you’re eating something sour, like Serena had us do in her hypnotherapy workshop.

Once you’ve tried this out, see how you feel. Are you more present and aware of what’s happening right now?

Another great technique to self-soothe and bring you back to the moment is to lie down on the ground and take a few deep breaths in. It works wonders for many people, give it a try!

#2 – Your overthinking can tie into your ‘gunas‘.

Let’s pull out some more wisdom from the eastern world. In Vedanta, an ancient Indian school of thought, there’s often talk about a person’s gunas (Sanskrit for qualities).

In Vedanta, they say that each person is a mix of three qualities –

  • Sattva, the quality of balance, stillness, selflessness, positivity, etc;
  • Rajas, the quality of passion, individualism, movement, etc;
  • Tamas, the quality of lethargy, delusion, dullness, etc.

When we are overthinking, we typically become very stagnant and frozen in thought. As we spiral down in endless thinking, our tamas quality reveals itself. It’s as if a person’s energy shrivels like a prune! They may lose all desire to pursue the situation because they’ve drained themselves of the sattva and rajas.

overthinking, overwhelmed, dejected, sadness, immobile, unwilling to do anything
If you find yourself immobile and losing all inspiration, as a starting point, it’s good to remember that you still have something inside that is inspired. You do have sattva, and with your willingness, you can call it into action.

This first bit is the awareness stage of your gunas, and how you are not limited to just one way of being.

And from there, a good practice is to look at these downward spiralling thoughts and ask yourself – what kind of thoughts inspire me instead? See if you can move your energy up through choosing different qualities of thoughts.

If you choose thoughts that serve you, you can move into rajas. If you choose thoughts that serve the highest good in the situation, you move into sattva.

This teaching is piggybacking on another idea that the Buddhists share, about the ten worlds within us. The idea even there is that heaven and hell are inside of us. And we can pick the state of mind we want to be in. I’ve made a short video sharing more on this reflection.

So, in essence, we can choose to move out of our overthinking ways, if we are consciously working to change this.

#3 – Cognitive behavioural therapy looks at it this way.

I love when psychology explains our mind with analogies. Here is one of my favourites that helped me learn more about overthinking.

Think of your mind, like a car driving on the road. When we get stuck on a thought, it’s like we’re running the car down a steep hill with our foot off the brake. As over-thinkers, we forget that we have the choice to hit these brakes, to come out of thinking.

overthinking is like driving a car without knowing where the brakes are

So if we keep spiralling down in our thoughts, we may find that it becomes very difficult to stop the car. After one point, gravity is working against the car and no amount of breaking will stop the vehicle. So what do you do? You jump out of the car to save your life.

In the same capacity, if you overthink yourself into really detrimental situations, jump out of them. Jump out of your mind, producing a shock-effect. Completely change your track by physically moving away and doing something else. For example:

  • Get up and go for a walk to get a change of scenery and new inspired energy;
  • Dance and shake off the immobilizing thoughts in your mind;
  • Every time you overthink, commit to doing something silly, like going to the mirror and sticking your tongue out at yourself!

The best thing about overthinking is that we may not be able to regain control over our mind, but we can always use the body as a vessel to drive in new energy.

#4 – You might be overthinking the thoughts that aren’t even yours.

Huh? Well, have you ever questioned where thoughts come from?

The truth is, many people don’t realize that thoughts aren’t theirs. We don’t create them, they simply arise and fall. Don’t believe me?

Do a quick check-in with yourself – what was the source of your thought right now? Was it an external stimulus, or did you create the thought yourself? What about that other thought you were indulging in from before? What was the origin there?

As spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle also explains, thoughts are like energy bubbles. They are hovering around everyone, and if we pick a thought and latch on to it, we enter into a loop of thinking! It’s interesting if you reflect on this idea. I talk more about it in this article about telepathy.

And many times, our ways of thinking are learned behaviours. We pick up from people around us and we make the innocent mistake of thinking that these ways are ours. If you’re sensitive to people’s thoughts and energy, you might enjoy practicing this free energy releasing tool.

#5 – You might be overthinking the opposite of what you want.

I want to share a personal story at this point. I’ve had this experience while driving, where we cross an intersection and my mind will create an image of another vehicle crashing into mine. This is scary, and definitely wakes me up if I’ve been a bit zoned out.

black car on brown sand during daytime

For a while, I never understood this and wondered if I was going crazy! But it makes sense that our mind creates the opposite of what we want, so that we are fueled to create a reality that does not allow this mind-made image to come true. In this case, my mind tells me to drive carefully, and to not let an accident happen.

This isn’t really effective, because we end up buying into the opposite image. We actually believe it will happen. I know better than that now, but for a good few times, I thought I was having a prophetic moment. I’m glad I didn’t!

And the truth is, the mind is a bit wonky like that. It thinks fear-mongering will prepare us to do better. Can’t blame the mind though, we’ve all been taught to live out of fear, and to only aspire for better because we don’t want the worst to happen to us.

So, what can we do instead? We can retrain the mind to create positive images. Such positive imagery is also called visualization, and what people use to manifest a better reality. Here’s a beautiful workshop that spiritual teacher Carleen Marie conducted for the tribe, which walks you through a guided spiritual manifestation process.

Concluding Thoughts

In every single idea above, the first step is always to have awareness of your overthinking patterns. The more aware you become, the more distance you’ll be able to create between you and your thoughts.

But sometimes, it can be tricky to not identify with our thoughts. We get very consumed in what we’re telling ourselves. You’re not the only one who gets stuck and forgets to off-board their thought-train.

If you find it challenging to apply these ideas, you can consider working with someone professionally to help you identify your blind spots.

In today’s day and age, coaching is not a luxury, but a necessity for those that want to accelerate their self-realization. I am happy to be of service, if you feel called to work with me. You can set up a complimentary coaching session with me here.

That said, know that we are all a work in progress. Don’t beat yourself up for it, if you haven’t mastered an old lesson yet. We are all getting there, one step at a time.

Add some Love & Light to your inbox. Come join the monthly newsletter to get self-healing tools, insights and exclusive spiritual highlights.

I just sent you the welcome kit – go check it out!