Do you have one of those people in your life who will sit you down when you need it?
I didn’t think I did until one day, he sat me down and said, “Andy, in Spanish, we have this saying called Cura da Alma…. care of the soul. How are you caring for your soul?”
If anyone else had asked me this, I would have gotten kind of offended. “How do you know we even have souls?!” or “that’s none of your business, thank you very much.”
Instead, I knew right away what he meant. Because in that moment, he was doing it. He was caring for me in a way that bypassed all the defenses and excuses and b.s. and went straight to the soul of the matter.
This week, we’re starting from the Arabic word Ya- Muqit, which in Islam means the quality of the Divine that makes sure we get the sustenance we need. It’s a sort of practical sustenance, though… not foofy or extravagant.
One of the other meanings of the word’s root means the fat in the camel’s hump… which is where they store up energy that allows them to be so self-sufficient in harsh climates.
This theme is about sustenance… something I talk about quite a bit.
Well, it deserves all this attention because it’s really what helps us survive. Phyiscally, our bodies need nourishment with decent sustenance. Sure, a trip to the donut shop is tasty (and I’m a big fan of donut shops), but we both know that isn’t sustenance. You eat like that regularly, you begin to live with a body that is perpetually unwell.
What my mentor was saying was akin to that. If you live your life habitually feeding your soul with junk, you will get soul-sick.
Are you getting stuck on the word “soul”? I get it. I’m talking about that part of you that makes you ….. You… The part of someone that goes away when they die. You know… how we can have a funeral and bury a person’s body and all, but really, that isn’t the person. The actual “person” is already gone before we bury them.
That part of you.
Now I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent here. How do you feel about the word “Religion”?
What does it conjure up for you? Is it about buildings and power structures and rules and someone telling you what to do?
This is where I think we can cheat ourselves.
Religion means literally “to re-bind” ourselves.
Re: as in “to do over and over” (Like the insructions on the back of the shampoo bottle – you know – “lather, rinse, and repeat”…. it’s the same root – “re” – “to do again”
and “ligio” which means “to tie” or “to bind”
Like in ligament or if you watch crime shows, you’re heard the word “ligature” which means something used to tie…
So Re-Ligion – to to tie ourselves or to bind ourselves to something over and over.
Thinking about it this way, I would go so far as to say that everyone has a religion. Everyone binds themselves to SOMETHING.
What is YOUR religion?
To what have you bound yourself? Is your family your religion? Is work your religion? Is money your religion?
Here’s a quote by Radhanath Swami:
Religion is meant to teach us true spiritual human character. It is meant for self-transformation. It is meant to transform anxiety into peace, arrogance into humility, envy into compassion, to awaken the pure soul in man and his love for the Source, which is God.
Now in some ways, it doesn’t matter what you believe about the nature of existence. What does matter is that we choose mindfully. The question isn’t so much WHETHER religion is right for you…. it is “WHAT religion have you chosen – and is that the right one for you?
I think the reason my mentor sat me down that day was exactly this—he could see that my religion had shifted toward discomfort or struggle. I had made a spiritual practice out of noticing when something made me uncomfortable and then exploring that discomfort by walking straight into it.
While this has made me strong in many ways (it’s like a continual spiritual workout or maybe crossfit of the soul), he could see that I had taken it from a spiritual practice and had begun to bind myself to it.
Spending time at the gym is a good thing, but spending 24/7 at the gym and never resting begins to cause problems. It begins to wear you down.
So this is me sitting YOU down, lovingly. Imagine yourself in a quiet, comfortable place, and someone who cares about you very much asking you that question.
Friend, what are you doing for cura da alma? How are you caring for your soul?
It’s good to challenge yourself if you’ve grown too comfortable or lazy spiritually.
If you are too UNcomfortable spiritually, if you beat yourself up, or if being around unkind or abusive people is your religion—I invite you to find a place of rest.
I wonder what this brings up for you. If you feel like it, drop me a line at my website and share what your non-traditional religion is. To what beliefs or habits have you tied yourself?
Where can you go for Cura da Alma?
Part of my own care of the soul is right here. Sharing with you every week. Thank you for that.