There are quite a few messages in my YouTube inbox that I need to address, so I thought I would update this before getting to those in order to track what I've been thinking about before, and then possibly what comes up after, because of people's messages! I've narrowed it to three main things I've been thinking about.
As traveling to England and Wales recently taught me, there is definitely something great about being at home. You have all your own things, a place to put everything, and you can get any one of your possessions right away if you find that you need it after not using it for a long, long time. Traveling was great, and I think if I lived over there, it would be fine to stay for long periods, but being away from my home was the hard part.
I've also seen this effect on me when I stay at my boyfriend's house for a couple nights. I love being with him, and I love staying at his house. Sometimes I really just need to get away from my home and the people there, and visiting him is the perfect way to do so. But I notice an effect on my practice when I go there, which is that I don't really grow much spiritually while visiting him. This is because there, I am a guest. I don't have my own space at his house, and I don't use my time there for study--I use it to spend time with him. This is fine, of course. I like taking time out from my week to relax on the weekends. It's just something I've noticed. I don't take time there to meditate, or to have circle, or anything. I know that if we end up living together this will be different, because I will have my own space, and he is fine with my practice so there wouldn't be anything keeping me from feeling like I could use my own space for my study. In fact that just means he'd be listening to my ramblings about it even more often than he does now! But I do wonder how people might keep up their practice if they are constantly moving, or if I were to travel for a period of time, how I would seek to ensure that I always have time to practice should I desire it.
Or, to be specific, what it means to be "too universal." Someone left a comment on one of my YouTube videos a while back, saying that I was being "too universal," and their view was that certain people should be left out. Without getting into that exact context, the concept of being "too universal" has stuck with me, and probably always will. I wondered, how could one be too universal if being universal is about everything and everyone? Why shouldn't I be accepting? And now, after several months at least (I don't remember exactly when the comment was, but I think it was under a year ago), I think I have come up with one example, whether or not it matches what the person originally meant.
I am well aware that my personal beliefs and practices are not Universal. I never felt they should be. Instead, what I attempt to do is to understand or at least acknowledge other viewpoints as I learn about them. Thus, I say things like "I do it such a way, but I know some people do this, and one person I talked to does this, and I think this other group has this opinion but I've really only read about that." I try to show that I do care (and know) that others do things differently, that my way is not the only way, that the person asking me for advice may prefer another way I happen to vaguely know about rather than my personal way. But sometimes I do find myself feeling like I'm not giving my own beliefs their due status by constantly mentioning other people's views. In other words, even though I do think other people's ways of doing something are valid, I sometimes feel it makes me seem unsure about my own beliefs. I say this because people often comment that they got a different feeling from what I said, when I actually fully agree with them as far as my personal practice goes, and I was just offering another perspective about what other people may do. I wonder if I'm not being clear as to what I actually believe.
I still don't want to ever say my way is THE way, or that no one does things differently. That goes against my belief in itself. But I wonder if the way I speak is sometimes "too universal," and perhaps I need to focus on my ways more, so that I no longer feel I am leaving them untied.
Actually, I now cannot remember exactly what I meant by this keyword when I typed it in the subject bar. There may have been a better word! Let's see. I have been thinking a lot about wanting to study more formally. I've always said if a teacher came along I would like one. I've also been thinking about how it's important to study other views as well, which may go along with the "too universal" point. In fact, I think this brings me to a whole other realization. I do think it's important to study all one can, and to learn about other faiths when given the chance, and especially to be able to have a basic working knowledge of something so that when it's brought up you're not left totally in the dark. But seeing as I've only just recently (as of graduation) begun to follow my OWN chosen path more than I have in the past, maybe I should go ahead and stop focusing on other ways, and learning about other people, and really focus on my own stuff for a while. Again, this is tough because I never want to shut out other ideas, and I always want to learn about other ways! It is part of my belief that this betters me, as well. However... maybe it is time to get serious and put off any outside learning just yet.
This is, of course, aside from the fact that next month, I will be taking a trip to Lily Dale, NY, which is a Spiritualist center. Granted, Spiritualism is part of my path, being defined on their website as "one who believes, as the basis of his or her religion, in the continuity of life and in individual responsibility," also stating that "Spiritualists endeavor to find the truth in all things and to live their lives in accordance therewith." The Lily Dale Assembly is concerned with the Science, Philosophy, and Religion of Spiritualism, so I will doubtless find much that fits my path, but it isn't exactly pagan and I am going with a group of others, including my mother, who is Christian-based. Still, for me the trip will be about how it can expand my personal faith.
Anyway, just some thoughts before I get into responding to a bunch of messages tomorrow! Thank you for reading.