- The most important part of a spiritual journey is to establish a connection with God.
Growing up in an Indian household, I practiced Hindu customs. My parents sent me to religious school on Sundays where I learned about the core beliefs of Hinduism and listened to a plethora of stories in Hindu mythology. Apart from that, I went to the temple, fasted, and attended festivals whenever I was told to do so. However, I did not know why I was doing these things. When I went to the temple and prayed, I did not understand the meaning of the prayers that were recited. To me, going to the temple meant asking God for things that I wanted, and He gave them to me somehow (kinda like Santa Claus would).
When I fasted, I did not understand the symbolism of sacrificing food in the name of God. When I attended festivals, it seemed like another opportunity to dress up in Indian clothes and take cute Instagram pics. I was doing all these things because they were habits and custom, but I was unable to realize the depth of my actions and establish a direct connection with God. I realized I wasn’t the only who felt that way, everyone my age felt like that. But life at that point was smooth sailing, so I was never too curious to delve into my spirituality.
Eventually when I went away to college, I stopped going to the temple often. I was completely disengaged from my religion and my parents stopped forcing me to go, too. College was also weighing in heavily on me; there was stress of performing well academically, maintaining a social life, getting the right internships, and creating a network.
The Low Point
By junior year, I was at a low point in my life because I was failing at balancing all the responsibilities on my plate. Specifically, the day I was denied an internship and insulted out of an interview with a Wall Street bank. I felt worthless and I could not pick myself up no matter what I tried. I was so fortunate to have a father who sensed my stress and took me to a new temple that was meditation based Guruji’s Ashram. Little did I know, this was my divine intervention.
When I went to the temple satsang (a spiritual discourse or sacred gathering), it was for two hours. The first hour and a half consisted of spiritual sermons and the next half hour was spent consuming prasad (religious offering of food). In those two hours, I felt more connected to God than ever before. I felt like I was sitting in heaven and no amount of worry could touch me. I felt like I was meant to be there in that moment. I couldn’t really wrap my head around what was happening to me, but I was very eager to learn.
I decided to dive right into my meditation practices because the essence of the temple was so magical. So every week, I attended satsangs and through those, I was able to create a meaningful bond with the youth group. I decided to go to our morning prayer every day from 4 am to 5 am, called Amritvela and meditate there in the crisp morning air alongside my religious community.
Nourishing the Soul
Doing this was a great start to my day, it replaced any negative thoughts with sweet, positive nectar. I started reading sections from the Bhagavad Gita every day to really understand the depth of the teachings of Hinduism. Lastly, I watched videos and read books from different Hindu spiritual leaders. Learning from them nourished my soul and it was a great escape from the material world and everyday life. My experience and my connection with God have been one that has changed my life for the better. I am happier, I am calmer, and I am aware of who I am.
The reason that I decided to talk about my journey is because it’s important to understand that the journey within is the most important journey of all. Everyone has their own spiritual journey and that is how we grow. To that person who is going to their place of worship because your parents have always made you, start learning about the beauty of your religion. To that person with nowhere to go and nobody to turn to in a time of need, join your religious community and see how people with similar values can impact your life. To the people that are curious to learn more about their religion, now is the time and you won’t regret it.
To everyone, I want to say that becoming a spiritual or religious person is not something that happens overnight. It takes time, commitment, and practice just like any good blessing does. I’m not saying that you should wake up at 4am every single day and meditate for an hour or start reading the Bhagavad Gita every day. What I am saying is that the most important part of a spiritual journey is to establish that connection with God. To build that relation, the one thing that I would recommend doing every day is taking at least 20 minutes to meditate and pray. Meditating and praying can consist of listening to spiritual leaders’ sermons, kirtan meditation, mantra meditation, reading holy scriptures or even as simple as just being grateful and saying thanks to God.
Everyone’s journey is different, and I hope that you were able to gain perspective from my experiences. What good is knowledge unless it is shared?
Sayantika Sarkar is a product manager. She wants to make an impact by developing innovative products. People are her passion and she loves learning everyone’s story. She is a dreamer and a complete nerd who is interested in technology, history, and space. She loves to spend her time reading and cooking. She lives in New Jersey.