Faith by definition is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”.
Over the course of this past week a lot has come to Light on different aspects of faith for me. Before I dove into my curiosity, this is how I defined faith from Within myself; and, looking back, I would keep these definitions:
-faith is having and holding the belief that love and goodness are more powerful and supportive than hate
-faith is trusting things have purpose, even when they hurt
-faith is trusting Source
-faith is surrender
-faith is holding relation with Source in my heart
-Faith feels to me like working to clear along path between two giant mountains of adversity and challenge and knowing that the path is going to work for myself and that it will serve others, even if I am not the one that finishes the path. And, I have faith that the work in creating the path is meaningful.
Others that I spoke to defined Faith as “offering salvation by providing peace, meaning, and purpose”. Another define faith as “fortitude to believe that no matter what things will get better”. Yet another defined it as faith being “the belief in the unseen”. “Faith is hope.” And when my father responded back in my question about what faith was to him, he said that his father would have responded with Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.”
And it is just that, the ‘unseen’, that kept coming up again and again in my small research around faith for last week’s intention in my yoga classes. This is why I felt wholeheartedly that this was one blog that needed to be written about. That faith is something that we could all use in these times of unrest, unease, discomfort, uncertainty, and so much more. I invited people to inquire within themselves what Faith was to them? What does faith mean to them? What does it mean to have faith? What does it mean to walk with faith? What does it mean to step into faith?
Because of the persistence of the ideas of faith in the ‘unseen’ coming up again and again, I really began to feel the embodiment of faith in the unseen as our breath. Our breath is this life force that we cannot see; it streams within the nadis, rivers of energetic life force pulsing within us, and the chakras, the wheels of life forece that are the portals between our Inner realms and the outer environmental realms of life. These ‘unseens’ are exactly like love, hope, and kindness. We might not see it, but we have felt it, we know it, we resonate with its wisdom, we flow with it…whether ‘it’ is our breath, or love.
So how do we cultivate faith in that which is unseen?
I love how the late Vatican astronomer, Father Coyne, spoke about faiths ability to bring life to our hopes and dreams. And the positive ways of seeing around things that are uncertain and unseen in life. He recognizes that we have doubts; that he has doubts, and that faith takes work and effort.
Father George Coyne past recently. His interview with Krista Tippett and fellow Vatican astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno is here, click the link:
Listen to the wonderful full length podcast with Friar Coyne in “On Being” HERE!
Father Coyne said that there was one moment where he had forgotten to take off his Roman collar when he was giving a lecture in the scientific field at a university. Normally he would have taken off his collar, but on this given day he hadn’t had the time to do so. During the lecture a person in the front row stood up and asked, “Father, it must be wonderful that with all the uncertainties we have in our scientific pursuits that you have this Faith, this rock of Faith to stand upon.” Mr. Coyne’s response was this…”who told you that my faith was a kind of a rock? Every morning I wake up, I have my doubts. I have my uncertainties. I have to struggle to help my faith grow. Because faith is love. Love and marriage, Love With Friends, love with brothers and sisters, it is not something that’s there once and for all and always kind of a rock that gives us support.”
So I invited my practitioners to inquiry how do you cultivate Faith? How do you keep the faith? How do you support your faith to grow, especially with those things unseen such as love and goodness and hope? And this is where I begin to feel that I agreed with Coyne when he stated that faith often comes from an experience.
In my classes I invited during savasana, final releasing pose/corpse pose, for people to reflect on an experience around either love, or peace, that they had in their life. To replay that story in their heart and in their minds. And then to notice how they felt within themselves after replaying that story. Then I reminded them that this story is always with them, in their cells in their body, in their hearts and minds, and that they could call upon it as one way of strengthening their faith in love and peace.
Anne Lamott wrote, “The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty. If you’re sure about something then you don’t need Faith. It’s when you have the doubts that faith kicks in.” She also wrote that ‘faith is a verb, not a noun’. After this past week, I tend to agree that faith is a verb and not a noun. Faith is something that we must continue to cultivate. Whether it be through the simple act of our inner dialogue and reminding our Self that love, equity, inclusiveness, harmony, and goodness on Earth is all possible… Or whether it be through an action that we offer to another from a place of love and support… Or if it’s a simple action of a caring smile offered to a stranger. Faith can be cultivated thru rituals that we do in practice to connect us to Source. Acts of faith that reconnect, and remind ourselves, of our trust and complete confidence in the Creator, in Source, and in that Source that is within each. Another rituals to cultivate faith could be prayer, the practice of yoga, a moment of silence in remembrance of someone who embodied Faith, or even just that act of calling into our minds and our hearts someone that has a very deep conviction and trust for the Light in this world.
As a last question to you, dear Reader, I’m wondering if you think you would walk differently, act differently, or speak differently if you were moving from place of strong faith in love? When we were doing the side plank pose in our yoga classes, it really felt like an embodiment of this question. That the strength and engagement on one side of the body resembled faith and the opposite side of the body that was opening, stretching, expanding, and growing resembled Self and all Beings. It gave me the sense that this physical embodiment gave light to the fact that walking thru the world with deeper faith could expand our capacities to grow within ourselves and as a collective!
So, after getting strong and taking action, may you also remember to surrender and let go. Having faith that love is guiding your path equally as much as you’re taking action on your path. And having faith that the path you are on is the one that’s meant for you, and it is rising to meet you, in support of your purpose and your belonging.
May you discover what/who your faith lives in, and may you strengthen that faith.
Breathe and Believe.