Looking back, I cannot believe how far I’ve come. It has been nearly a year since I took a break from this blog in order to go on a bit of an inward journey. In my opinion, it is important that those of us who do development for others, walk the talk and get development for ourselves as well. I knew that I didn’t need another degree or leadership/business certification; what I needed was to slow down, look within, and give myself permission to just be.

I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to put things on pause. In December 2015, I started working with an amazing mentor and coach, Kenton, who slowly introduced me to concepts and tools that I had not considered in the past. While at first, I thought his suggestions were a bit unconventional, I was intrigued enough to give them a shot. Slowly I began to grow and I started recognizing that there was something missing in my life. Here I was teaching others about the importance of purpose and I wasn’t even sure I knew what mine was.

About six months into working with Kenton, I began to understand that I needed to allow myself to explore something that I had been ignoring in my life for quite some time.  I enrolled in One Spirit Interfaith Seminary to begin the process of truly understanding the spiritual traditions of the world’s religions.  The program focuses on interspirituality, giving students the ability to move beyond theological beliefs, rites, and observances, and connect with a deeper unity and shared spiritual experience found in all traditions.

It was a bit strange walking into this program as I am not a religious person. Early the first day we introduced ourselves and stated what our spiritual path was. I didn’t feel I had an answer. I had been exposed to many different spiritual practices through my work with Kenton but none of them led to a specific path. They were more an approach to gain deeper insights into who I was and wanted to become. I knew though, if I could get more of those experiences, and explore even further, I would be grateful. One Spirit insisted that I didn’t have to subscribe to a specific belief to participate, so I decided to give it a shot. I remained open to the possibility that there was something waiting for me to discover and I embraced all of the experiences.

Over the past year, I have been exposed to and have practiced multiple ways of living. From Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the traditional practices of various Indigenous religions, I have tasted the rich diversity of practices that have shaped humanity for thousands of years. And I have grown to realize that the beauty that is within us as human beings have many ways of expression and all serve to help us grow into loving beings.  Underneath it all, we have a strong desire for loving connection and community, something that is missing in so many of our lives.

Unlike my usual blog posts, I’m not going to end this with a suggestion for building your own skillset. This is simply a reflection of where I am today. I’m more aware of the people around me. I’m more open to connecting with total strangers. I am conscious of the importance of a smile, or simply being present and not saying a word.  And I believe that fundamentally if we can all just be a little more aware and seek to connect in an open and loving way, without an agenda, we will feel happier, more complete, and have a higher impact than we do today.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

Ryan