meditating beyond the mosque

It will take me some time to process what I learned about myself in London. I knew it would be an eye-opening journey – I was travelling with my mother and visiting family I’d never met before – but I didn’t expect to be so confronted by my own views on family and religion.

me being a dork in a london phone booth

me being a dork in a london phone booth

I was brought up within a minority Shia sect of the Muslim faith. This group differs from the majority of (Sunni) Muslims in many ways – too many to go into here (and I’m not an expert anyway). I remember going to mosque as a child and not really getting what was going on. My grandparents were extremely religious, my parents less so – but we still attended mosque somewhat regularly.

Being Muslim was my identity. Back then, I referred to all my white friends as ‘Christian’, regardless of their spiritual belief. ‘White’ and ‘Christian’ were synonymous in my little mind.

I always resented that I had to be part of a religion that didn’t get to celebrate fun things like Christmas and Easter. But I also felt conflict and guilt that I didn’t like my religion. My mother tried to make me see the positive aspects of the faith, but it never took. I didn’t understand any of the rituals (and wasn’t motivated to really explore them), and I’d get preoccupied by the dynamics of the people around me. At mosque, I was irritated by any gossiping I heard, or excessive dressing up. It was hard to see beyond those things.

My deep conflict surrounding religion was majorly triggered in London. Several of the family members I met have converted to the more traditional Sunni Muslim path in recent years. They view this path as more ’true’ and ‘logical’ to follow. Each family gathering I went to in London involved discussion of religion and over the course of my trip I was becoming more resistant, irritated, and yes, judgmental of those around me. I was also experiencing the old feelings of guilt, alienation, and fundamental wrongness. I am so different from these people! What would they think if I started talking about ascension and starseeds and blue rays?!

On some level, I always thought that ‘someday’ I would embrace my faith and make my mother happy by attending mosque more often. What I realized on this trip is that might never happen. I mean, I really got that. I also understood that my deep resistance, guilt, and judgment was showing me that more healing is needed. I know a part of me still views the faith through the eyes of an alienated child who wanted Christmas instead – and that’s the part that needs compassion and release. I will never find peace with my religion by running away from it.

I know that there are beautiful aspects of my faith, and I’ve seen the peace and kindness in my family members who credit their religion for helping them be better human beings.

I also know that my own inner truth is longing to be heard, and that it could be very different from the truths of my parents, grandparents, and the long line of ancestors behind them. This path is lonely, scary, doubtful and, at times, filled with grief. It has felt like a betrayal of my family, and of God. But my own truth, whatever it is, isn’t going away. I love that meditating in the mosque makes my mother so happy. But I want to meditate beyond the mosque.

It’s possible that my ancestors are jumping for joy at what’s happening within me, and on planet earth in general, as many of us are finding our own ways of connecting to God or Spirit (or not). Maybe those in my lineage are thrilled that I’m rediscovering my ancient Indian yogi roots! Maybe they’re excited that I and many others are taking it beyond religion, as we expand into something that transcends any doctrine, belief, or dogma.

London is one of my most favourite cities ever…even more so now. I can’t wait to go back for more.

34 thoughts on “meditating beyond the mosque

  1. Gosh Aleya, I always find so many parallels with my life experiences in your posts. Really loving getting to catch up on them now I am back from my hiatus- glad to see you are still as eloquent and inspiring as ever. Thank you for blogging, you are someone I really look forward to reading.x

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    • Laura! It is great to hear from you and thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my posts! I think hiatuses are very important – I took one earlier this summer – but I’m glad you are back, and I look forward to reading and sharing more. Namaste, Aleya

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  3. Wow I can totally relate to that coming from the “white christian” point of view. I never bought what I heard growing up, never! I liked some of it, and agreed with some of it, but did not like, and did not agree with lots of it, and this all began with reasoning at a very early age.

    Additionally people gossiped and did not act out of love. The church I grew up in believed that if you were not a member of that particular sect of Christianity, you were going to burn in a horrendous Hell forever. SERIOUSLY??? I knew that just wasn’t true.

    Also it is not, and never was My faith. It was my mothers faith and her sisters. She tried to make it ours but it did not stick with me or my sisters, my brother is now Baptist, so according to Mom’s faith, he is still going to Hell. lol Whatever. But regarding your journey and all that brought up….it’s good right? Good to see what lingers underneath in our psyches.

    Sorry I have not been around much ❤

    Lots of love sis.
    Namaste
    Sindy

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  5. Excellent post. You have expressed your struggles very eloquently. Although I wasn’t born into the same faith as you, I can relate. All the reasons you described are how I ended becoming a benevolent omni-spiritual warrior without borders. I hope you will join us at Silver Moon Cove. It is for people of all faiths and belief systems.

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    • “A benevolent omni-spiritual warrior without borders” – I love that! Thank you for your comment and kind words – I love your messages and especially that the Divine Feminine is coming through so strongly. Your post reminded me that we need to ask for what we need! I’m looking forward to reading more, as I too believe it’s time to live without borders. Namaste, Aleya

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  6. Hi Aleya,

    I enjoyed this post very much and could relate to it. I was raised Catholic and the roots ran deep through my extended family, including an aunt who is a nun and my confirmation sponsor. I love them, but certainly have had to walk my own path regardless of their druthers. I don’t think making a spectacle of it helps, and am generally reserved around those who would be threatened by my views or experiences. It is not for me worth picking arguments over, for instance. Love can find ways to flow along simpler topics and threads… My father’s family was from Nebraska, and when I began to participate in Native American ceremony I’m sure he and they had a very different picture of what that meant than I did from my own direct experiences. But we follow the heart, and the heart leads…! It is a beautiful journey when walked this way. Sometimes I think our families just want to give to us something that is important and dear to them. It helps them, and so they want us to have it. But also, it can turn the corner and be an expectation of how to live our lives… They can fail to see we are the culmination of their own past… We are the new growth, and behind us will come more new growth…

    I was grateful to have a dream once that included my dad and his brothers, because it suggested to me that even though in this one tract of reality on the earth plane we may not be fully aligned on a few of these points, there was a deeper realm in which we were. It really gave me this sensation that we’re all more than these personalities we wear, and that we truly are understood at a deeper level…

    Wishing you peace and joy as the path of Aleya unfolds!
    Michael

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    • Hi Michael! Thanks so much for commenting. I relate when you say that it’s not worth picking arguments over. On my trip, I really felt the futility and resistance of trying to assert or defend my own beliefs. Actually, it was an opportunity to question my own beliefs- which is a very good thing. Because some of those beliefs were probably born from early experiences of resistance to religion (if that makes sense). I really felt the hardness of operating from this place of resistance…and the softness of allowing others to believe in practice in whatever way feels best to them. I felt the vulnerability in letting my defences down. Ultimately I realized that I have no business interfering in others’ spiritual journeys! But I can’t say my ego was thrilled about all that – so attached to being right, to its own assessments about people and things.

      “They can fail to see we are the culmination of their own past… We are the new growth, and behind us will come more new growth…” I love this. For me it is a new way of being – compassion for everyone. To not fight but to also not abandon myself. I felt the emotional cost of being on the defence, and of not speaking my truth. There can be a gentler but infinitely more powerful way…

      It sounds like your dream was very profound and a real blessing. Much love and peace to you! Aleya

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  7. I understand so well the self-doubt and fear. It always makes me think of something the Apostle Paul said, “I was with you ‘in weakness, and fear, and much trembling.'” It is scary to speak…and live…from the heart for validation is not always awaiting us. It takes real courage, the “courage to be” as theologian Paul Tillich put it. Thanks my friend.

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  8. I think because of your name, I thought you were Hawaiian. Thank you for sharing what arose for you during this trip. It sounds like you had some powerful realizations and simultaneous liberations within as a result. “But I want to meditate beyond the mosque.” Beautiful writing and sentiment. From one yogini to another I can definitely relate to finding that call beneath the grounds of any sacred building.

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    • I’m not Hawaiian but I loooove Hawaii. 😉 I could feel my ancestors with me during the trip, particularly my mom’s parents, and though it was difficult at times I know it was much-needed (and divine timing) for me to not only release some of my resistance to religion but accept and honour my own knowing. Thank you my yogini sister, ❤ Aleya

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  9. A nice read…….but I couldn’t grasp your point…You’re running from religion cuz you want to celebrate Christmas?……..You can always have a fancy conifer tree-loaded with presents in a candle light dinner…..<(")

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    • It’s more the realization that for most of my life I’ve been running from religion because of my early childhood feelings of separation and guilt (feeling different from both my peers and my family). As an adult, I can choose to have compassion for my inner child, and validate her experience. I can choose to embrace my religion more fully, as I’m not coming from a place of such resistance to it. Or- I can accept that religion is not for me and that a different truth is calling. It’s all evolving. Ultimately, whatever feels most loving, compassionate, and expansive is the path for me. 🙂 Thanks for commenting. Aleya

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  10. Love this post! I got chills when you mentioned the part about what they’d think of you if you started talking about ascension and star seeds. You don’t even know how many times a day I feel myself having to hold back on those types of conversations, but when I do find people that understand, it feels like such a wonderful connection 🙂
    And I feel like a blabber mouth about it when I do find others that understand 😉You rock!! Keep rocking the posts 🌀

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    • Thanks my dear!! Glad I’m not the only one who really loves to have those ascension conversations! It’s all about reading the room haha. Sometimes I make a comment to see how it lands. It doesn’t always go further 😉 – but it’s so fun to find people who want to talk about it too. And I also could blabber for hours!

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  11. Dear Aleya,

    I chuckled to myself when I heard myself penning the following words to you, “Dear Aleya, I don’t need to tell you this, but what you are going through isn’t easy.” Reading about your challenges with liberation, in terms of walking your own path, while simultaneously honoring your own value and loving commitment to your family and ancestors, it’s simply a very challenging task! Differences in religion, philosophy, and beliefs have always dominated my family. Cultures collide, and we are made up of so many parts, and we need to, and do aim to honor them all. Thank you sweet sister for being such a beacon for everyone who comes here and reads.

    I have family members who read my blog, and I don’t really feel like triggering them with my posts. I also need a much larger network of support in order to allow some voice within me to be supported. Conversely, sometimes having readers is scary, and makes it more difficult for me to post, because I am trying too hard – and starting to feel the pressure to put forward more *quality* content. So, sometimes that limits the amount that I can share on my blog; yet sometimes, I just wish I could connect more with my readers. I have a feeling that you know what I mean…

    Your post here, it’s like a diamond, a glitter of light in a dark cave, and we all need it 😀 I agree with Dewin: keep them coming. I don’t care if I don’t have time to read. I’ll find a way to catch up. As soon as school starts up again, though, that’s my priority. I’ll also find a way to post my own thoughts about the astrological transits (my passion), poetry, or just whatever I *need* to post for my own health. While I am rambling, what I am saying is that you always have the option of being unclear. I know it’s not popular, but it’s okay to work through things in terms of art. You don’t have to explain yourself and always be 100% aware of what you are doing. I just wanted to say that in case you wanted to write poems, or make marking on paper. You’ve got someone over here (me) *who even if she can’t show up in social media all the time* is very much with you, and supporting you! You are me. We are we. One.

    ❤ aloha nui loa & mahalo
    Ka

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    • Dearest Ka, thank you for your loving words. They really touched my heart! ❤

      I know exactly what you mean re family triggers and connection/support with readers. Being my FB friend, you may have noticed that I don't usually post my blogs on FB! But I do have a growing number of friends reading my posts and that does have an impact on the way I write – I imagine/sense their reactions! But I guess that’s all part of the bumps and growing pains of speaking one’s truth, right? 😉 Making new blogger friends and opening myself up to friends/family has been really amazing, but also feels very vulnerable. It also feels very freeing…and makes me question myself like nothing else hahah. There are more creative and artistic endeavours I'd like to explore and I’m looking forward to that too. I just moved to a new (quieter) city. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I’m excited for what the change, and more relaxed pace of life, will bring.

      Your support is very special to me and I thank you for taking the time to write… and I look forward to reading more from you. Mahalo and much aloha, Aleya

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  12. So good to have you back. Shared this on my FB page with a note of how your story parallels my experience of being raised a hyper-conservative Baptist in the state of Arkansas. Bless you, my friend.

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    • Hi Lew, it’s great to hear from you! And thanks, it’s good to be back! I hope you have had a wonderful summer and I look forward to catching up with your blog. Thanks for the FB share too. 🙂 Aleya

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      • Just came out of hiatus on my blog. Love to get your feed back. Two of my friends from Arkansas…very conservative territory…appreciated my sharing your last post on FB. You are really a very powerful woman…which means that at times you feel very powerless. It can’t be otherwise.

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        • Wow Lew thank you for this comment. Several times I’ve written a post, published, then un-published in a sea of doubt and vulnerability. So to read your words is very encouraging and inspires me share even more of myself. I look forward to reading your blog! Aleya

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  13. Hey Aleya,

    🙂 You are most welcome.

    Should you choose to share your thoughts and be applauded for doing so, then I’ll look forward to listening to your ‘voice’ speak its mind more often and learning more about your personal relationship with your chosen path. Don’t stop the dance now the music is playing your favourite melody! 😀

    Namaste

    DN – 23/08/2015

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  14. Hey Aleya,

    I find this a beautifully written commentary reflecting on inner strength and courage and the power to take ownership of, and self-determine, your own individual pathway ahead. What is immediately apparent is the depth of your belief in the power and influence of your own convictions and ideals and the motivation you have to pursue such glorious ends. I am in total admiration of both your steely resolve and the depth of your desire for independent thinking, discernment, and freedom to exercise personal choice, whilst still retaining the deepest respect and understanding of your family’s heritage. It is an incredibly inspiring and heart-felt post. Thank you 🙂

    I’m also very pleased to see you found a red phone box actually working, or is that just a pose for the camera lol 🙂

    Take care, and have a wonderful week!

    Namaste

    DN – 23/08/2015

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    • Dewin, thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. I’d thought I wouldn’t post for a while, but these words came out verrry early this morning (I’m still jet-lagged)! Ultimately this trip was about acceptance of my own values, but also acceptance of others’. I saw how much anger and judgement I still carried and that was pretty uncomfortable, but also freeing – in that much of the pain I’ve felt has come from silencing my own voice. There really are many paths in this life, none of them better or worse than the other. And the red phone box was indeed a pose for the camera :), after a couple glasses of wine with a dear friend who moved to London a couple years ago. Thank you again and I wish you a wonderful week too! Aleya

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