I felt called to share my story of how I came to walk with God, as the old saying goes. I grew up Catholic. I went to RE (religious education) school and was confirmed in the church in the 8th grade. We didn’t go to church every Sunday, but here and there, and always on holidays. Though church was a part of my life, I never felt connected to it. I didn’t understand why we were singing or to whom. I knew the story of Jesus, but I did not know how it connected to me and my human experience. I did not understand how praying five hail Marys meant I was forgiven for my sins. I also, from a young age, internally knew I didn’t agree with many of the narrow beliefs of the church. As I got older, this divide between what I knew to be fair and kind versus the rigid rules, grew. I tried attending a non-denominational Christian church with my high school boyfriend. My family rejected the idea of me being religious in any other way aside from the Catholic way. This caused me to completely abolish all religions from my system. I became a proclaimed atheist. I believed in nothing but science, all religions were toxic systems of oppression, and anyone who blindly followed religious doctrines became in my eyes, ignorant.
I held fast to the pillars of science. I always felt I understood why people needed or had religion. I knew that it made existence lighter. It provided people with purpose. I was still so stuck in my existentialism I felt I was above this ignorant bliss I encountered in those believers. Still, to this day, I have a hard time separating religious doctrine from the true meaning of connecting with God. But as I grew older and the pandemic began in 2020, I felt a shift. I felt the need and desire to connect to something greater than myself. My yoga practice deepened, I moved away from the asana and into the other limbs of yoga. I read, of course (I’m a librarian, after all!) The most influential book on my journey to finding god was the Autobiography of a Yogi by Parahamsa Yogananda. This book revealed to me the essence of spirituality, it showed me the connections between Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, etc. It allowed me to peel back the layers of religious trauma and to glimpse into the underlying philosophies of love and compassion. The moment though, that truly sealed in for me, the realness of God, the universe, creation energy, whatever it is that you connect with, was at the Space, during a class with Treasure. I’m not even sure which class it was anymore, it could have been yin or a sound bath. This had to have been in 2021…she placed her hands on my back. And I felt her hands there for so long. I couldn’t believe she was spending so much time with me, channeling reiki. But then I heard her footsteps all the way across the room. After learning about reiki, I realize this is quite a common experience. But it was the first time for me, and it truly shone a light into my mind’s eye and heart that we are all connected, we are all one. During my confirmation RE courses one of the facilitators shared a story about when he felt Jesus’s arms around him, holding him, while was crying at a ceremonial event. At the time my fourteen year old self scoffed, rolled her eyes and could never imagine that one day I would have a similar experience, at a yoga studio!
I tell my story because I know that there are those who can relate. I know that religion itself is not bad and my perspective has changed and softened towards those within those communities. I do feel that I will never personally prescribe to one specific doctrine, it does not align with my highest good or highest self, it doesn’t work for me, and that is okay. My religious trauma never allowed me to see that you can be a believer, you can connect with God, without having to prescribe to anyone’s rules. It always felt like to me it was one or the other, you’re a believer and you follow the rules, or you’re an atheist outlaw, vacillating between existentialism and nihilism. But no, I have finally discovered that is simply not the case. The world is not black and white, I don’t have to choose. I can connect with the Divine within my own self. My journey to this place has felt long, contradictory and confusing. But somehow, I finally feel like I am home and I know I am on the path exactly as Spirit intended.
I’ve always felt connected to nature, it has always been one of my biggest healers since I was a young child. Now, when I look to the sunset, or see a cactus in bloom, I cannot fathom how I failed to see God in those spaces for so many years of my life.
Shared by Kelsy Martinez. Kelsey was introduced to yoga by her father at just fourteen years old. Her practice has grown and deepened since that time. She now teaches others with a focus on providing a space for students to feel safe to move their bodies and explore their innate spirituality. Kelsy’s joyful and invigorating Movement and Meditation class can be enjoyed Saturdays at 8am starting in June.