After beginning a dialogue with your mother about subjects like self-image, romance and aging, I hope that you're starting see a change in the way that you communicate. Now you can use the methods you've learned in this workshop to talk to your mother about another important issue: spirituality. When I speak of spirituality and spiritual beliefs, I mean the entire range of experiences beyond the tangible and explainable. These include but are not limited to religion and religious beliefs. Miracles, the power of love and visions, intuition, telepathic and psychic experiences, and our connection to animals and nature are also ways of connecting to the spirit.
We all receive spiritual beliefs from our parents. Some of us stick with them throughout our entire life. Others of us are raised with one set of spiritual principles, only to embrace new ones upon reaching adulthood. Like politics, money, sex and private matters, talking about our spiritual beliefs with anyone has tremendous emotional powers, and particularly so with our mothers. We want her to approve of our choices. We want her to understand and agree with us. For some women, that is easy. Sharing prayers, reading scripture and singing favorite hymns together are part of the sweetness of life. For others, discussing religion with their mother is much harder.
So why talk with your mother if you already share the same beliefs or it's going to be disastrous? If you share similar spiritual views, you'll reinforce and enrich what you already believe by asking the questions at the end of this step. If you've never talked with your mother about spirituality, you will take your relationship to a deeper and more meaningful level, and you'll learn things about her that you didn't know. Whether you agree or differ in your beliefs, I recommend discussing spiritual beliefs and issues because someday you may need to make some difficult choices, and you'll be clear about what to do. Spiritual beliefs are at the root of every person's choices. Your mother's choices influence not just her life but also your own.
What are your spiritual beliefs?
Before you talk with your mother, it's important to know what your own spiritual beliefs are. What does spirituality mean to you? How do you envision God? What do you think happens after death? Your clarity will guide you in your discussion, as well as provide your mother with a framework in which to express herself. It may even inspire her to go deeper with her own understanding of her beliefs. To prepare, try completing these sentences in your journal:
- The best way to describe my spiritual beliefs is ...
- The best way I can describe God is ...
- I feel most connected to a higher power when ...
- What I think happens after death is ...
- When I am unable to make sense of tragedy or loss, I turn to ...
- One of the most mystical or spiritual experiences I've had is ...
Now that you've written your thoughts down, read them out loud to yourself. You want to be really comfortable with your answers and able to articulate yourself clearly. The more at ease you are in expressing yourself, the more opportunity there is for spontaneous, open and ongoing dialogue with your mother.
Broaden your horizons and explore your mind-set
If you and your mother share the same spiritual path, you may attend the same church or temple, exchange Bible or Torah passages or celebrate holidays in the same manner. But you have the chance to broaden your horizons. Consider whether there are new questions you could be asking. Are there new books you could be sharing, new lectures you could be going to with your mother, or volunteer activities the two of you could do together? There are many new and exciting ways to explore your spirituality, as well as revisiting the basics together.
If the two of you differ in your convictions regarding the divine, you know how challenging it can be to find common ground with such powerful and intimate thoughts. You may feel sad or indifferent that the two of you aren't closer. If your mother doesn't share your beliefs and you've given up talking with her about this topic, ask yourself the following questions: Is it okay for the two of you to have different beliefs and still respect and enjoy each other? If not, why? If you're the one trying to convert her, understanding and accepting her perspective can be far more effective than convincing her that your way better. If your mother is trying to convert you, can you honestly say that you have listened to her with open ears? Or have you tuned her out because you're tired of hearing the same old story? Have you told her what your beliefs are, or have you stayed silent to avoid a confrontation? Use this workshop as a chance to uncover your true beliefs about spirituality, and learn about the way your mother's views have helped shape them.
Questions to ask your mom
As always, the following questions are designed to help you talk to your mother about a very important subject. Be sure to keep track of any progress that you have made in a private journal.
- Do you believe in God? If so, how do you envision God? Heaven? Hell?
- Did you have a specific experience where you learned there was a God, or have you always believed and never questioned?
- What do you think happens after death?
- When or where do you feel most connected to a higher power?
- Where do you turn when you are unable to make sense of tragedy or loss?
- What is one of the most mystical or spiritual experiences you've had?
- Where do you feel most connected to your spiritual self in your life?
- Have you had an experience that tested your faith? Confirmed your faith?
- What are some of your favorite prayers? Spiritual passages? Songs?
- What is your favorite religious holiday?
- Have you ever been to a psychic? What would convince you to go?
- Have you ever had your astrological chart done? Do you believe it helps?
- Have you ever witnessed a miracle? What happened?
- What intuitive hunches have you had that you're glad you followed?
- If you were God for a day, what would you do with the world?
One last thing
If you haven't said "I love you" to your mother lately, don't wait. Pick up the phone right now and tell her, even if she's never said it to you.