Saturday, March 30, 2013

Society

Ah, to go against the dictates of society to be one's true, authentic, and soulful Self. As Jean Shinoda Bolen observes, “You have the need and the right to spend part of your life caring for your soul. It is not easy. You have to resist the demands of the work-oriented, often defensive, element in your psyche that measures life only in terms of output -- how much you produce -- not in terms of the quality of your life experiences. To be a soulful person means to go against all the pervasive, prove-yourself values of our culture and instead treasure what is unique and internal and valuable in yourself and your own personal evolution.” This is an evolutionary process. The closest some people get to this point may be in their retirement years, and by then most of life will be behind them. Why wait until the autumn of your life to begin to live? Now is your “spiritunity” to begin. You can begin making constructive changes to allow for quality of life.

I once worked in the corporate, dog-eat-dog world. The more corruption that surrounded me, the more it started to consume me. I didn't like the person I was becoming, and I knew that if I didn't make some serious changes for my own sanity, safety, health and life, then I would be overtaken by its dark side. I took a drastic measure. I quit. I had no other job lined up. I took a big chance. I walked out into the wilderness of the unknown, one step of faith at a time. And I saved my life. This is not to say that you are to quit your job, your spouse, or anything else that is not feeding your spirit. I did what I had to do for myself. For some it may be a matter of re-examining priorities and making positive decisions to bring about the change that is needed. Will uncertainty lurk around the corner? Yes. Will there be discomfort at times? Most likely. But the sweet scent of freedom will encourage you to keep going. It did for me.

It doesn't matter what society thinks about you. Society will think what it will think, no matter what. There is no need to defend your actions to those who don’t care about your personal or spiritual growth. When you take a stand against the demands of the pervasive cultural rot, you take a stand for your evolving authentic self. You take a stand for freedom rather than slavery. And that's more important than anything society can offer.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Power of Words

We are profoundly affected by the way in which we choose and use words. We’ve grappled with words in our early childhood, and we’ve learned to weave them into sentences in our effort to convey meaning. We’ve used words to get what we wanted, to defend our positions, and to encourage others and ourselves, but we’ve also misused words to hurt and bring about pain. Words are often taken for granted; people don’t always realize the effect words have and how words can contribute or detract from our overall health. We have been given the gift of communication through language, through words. What an awesome responsibility to have.

Have you stopped to examine your own use of words? Are they encouraging or discouraging? Have you used them to lift someone’s spirit, or have you misused them to tear down someone with criticism, judgment, and bitterness? Taking the time to examine your handling or mishandling of words is the first step in making positive changes. Developing alternative phrases with positive connotations and impact will replace those negative speech patterns and thought processes. This change can only begin with you.

As humans, we are emotive beings. We feel a great deal. In the heat of the moment, it’s not always easy to censor ourselves. We sometimes hurl vocal javelins at our targets in our effort to win an argument or to prove others wrong, especially if we feel wronged. Our elevated emotions can make it very difficult to exercise self-restraint. It is easier to tame a wild animal than it is to tame our own tongue. In the words of Dorothy Nevill, “The real art to conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

The next time you feel the urge to blurt out something hurtful and damaging, stop. Stop what you are doing, stop what you are thinking, and just breathe. You may want to walk away temporarily to compose yourself. In your mind, recite, “You are a divine being. I want to see the divine in you, and I want you to see the divine in me.” Take another deep breath -- or breaths -- until the tension passes. Of course, this may not be easy all of the time, but it is a positive step forward.

Our words are powerful. We are responsible for what we say. Let us choose -- and use -- our words wisely.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Problems? Or, Opportunities?

Hugh Prather, in I Touch the Earth, the Earth Touches Me, touches upon his experience in dealing with problems that surface in life.  “By approaching my problems with 'What might make things a little better?' rather than 'What is the solution?' I avoid setting myself up for certain frustration. My experience has shown me that I am not going to solve anything in one stroke; at best I am only going to chip away at it.”  How we approach our "problems" will be the deciding factor in the outcome.

We are human. We make mistakes. Mistakes have consequences that cause problems -- or opportunities -- depending on your approach.  We can be proactive and allow “problems” to teach us new information, or we can be reactive and allow problems to consume us, making us feel incompetent.  When a "problem" arises, it becomes our "spiritunity" to turn it into something that allows for our highest good.

If we ask, “What is the solution?” we are taking a close-minded approach. Here, the focus is on the problem as a problem, rather than the problem as an opportunity. This kind of question asks for a quick fix; it suggests that there is only one answer, and when we don’t find that answer right away, frustration sets in, we begin to doubt ourselves and our abilities, and then we close ourselves off to the creative flow. Asking “What is the solution?” is really asking “How can I fix this problem so it doesn’t happen again?”, which is an ego-based question.

If we ask, "What might make things a little better?" then we are allowing ourselves to open up to possibilities that help us to place "problems" in their proper perspective, one that allows for creative solutions to emerge and materialize. This kind of question is open-ended, allowing the creative process to flow. The problem becomes an opportunity to learn, to stretch our imagination, and to grow in ways we may never have expected. Asking “What might make things a little better?” is really another way of asking “What will come out of this that will help us and others to be better?”; it leaves ego out of and brings the higher self into the creative process.

If we approach a problem as a problem, we are essentially approaching it from a lower vibration than if we approach it as an opportunity that will raise our vibration, allowing the creative process to flow. When a “problem” arises, rather than react, take a more proactive approach. See it as an opportunity and ask what it has to teach you. Open yourself to the possibilities. The solutions may not present themselves right away, but they will, as we trust in the creative process.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Faith

Let’s face it. Some days it is hard to have faith. It’s easy to say “have faith” to someone who is struggling through life, but it’s a whole different game when we are on the receiving end of those words, especially when we are challenged by the things that make the world uncomfortable -- death, fear, loneliness, pain, shame. It’s times like these that we wish we had an Easy Button, but there is no guarantee for a smooth ride.

Faith defined is “complete trust and confidence in someone or something.” This definition makes the process of faith a completely subjective one. How do we know who or what to trust? We don’t. We have to go on faith on that question as well. We may look to others for guidance, but in the end, it is up to us, individually, to determine where we will place our trust, if we place it in anything or anyone at all. When we finally offer our trust and confidence; however, we enter into a relationship with faith and with something much greater than ourselves.

Entering into a relationship with faith is really about entering into a relationship with the Divine. It grows over time just as any relationship we enter does. We must work with it to cultivate it; we must remember that we are not alone, that we have a partner in all of this. Faith is our human response to the Divine. Does that mean there will be certitude in our lives? No. It doesn’t. But our relationship will only grow when we accept the elements of paradox and become content to live with mysteries that may never be solved or explained. Every new experience, each new challenge, becomes a call to faith in which we must act in either love or fear. These are the only two ways in which we can act.

The main challenges to faith are not disbelief and doubt; it’s resistance to Spirit. It’s the heart that has closed and become hardened because of dark times. Faith is not something we are to have; it’s something that we are in. In facing dark times, we must take faithful measures by trusting that such times will pass -- they will and they do -- and whatever the outcome, we know that it is for our learning and for our highest good. In the end, it’s the relationship that matters.



Photo Credit: www.rodale.com

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Devotion

The word “devotion” is derived from the Latin devitio for “allegiance,” “loyalty,” or “vow.” It is total dedication. When we are devoted to someone or something, we pledge our fidelity and love. Spiritual traditions tutor us in many ways to practice our devotion. Buddhists sit in silence or chant. Hindus offer sacrifices in temples. Sufis whirl. Native Americans dance. Catholics pray with rosary beads. Some Christians fold their hands, while others open their arms. Jews bow repeatedly. Muslims bow toward Mecca several times a day. The devotional act becomes a sacred link to the Divine.

No matter what we do as a devotional practice, it must be done on a regular basis. Devotion is not something that is done once a week. Nor is it reserved only for religious holidays. And it’s not just a response to life-altering events in our lives. As a spiritual practice, it takes commitment and self-discipline. It becomes an act that recharges our spiritual batteries as we demonstrate our love for the Divine. The act becomes a prayer, no matter how it is expressed.

When we practice the mindfulness of devotion, we find that everything we see, hear, touch, or taste -- everything we do and think -- becomes a living prayer, whether done formally or informally. Episcopal priest Matthew Fox tells us that activities such as yoga, tai chi, and making love are all examples of prayer. Any activity to which we devote our time and love -- preparing a meal for a sick friend, watching nature’s creatures through the window in the early morning hours, cultivating a garden, losing oneself in a symphony -- is prayer in motion. It is these acts that feed the soul and invite the spirit to grow.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Questing

“If we are spiritual beings on a human path rather than human beings who may be on a spiritual path,” Jungian analyst Jean Shinoda Bolen says, “then life is not only a journey but a pilgrimage or quest as well.” Our journey is a quest for meaning. It’s a search for fulfillment and wholeness. Such quests are spiritual treasure maps that we are called to follow.

What is the point of questing? What prompts us to undertake certain journeys? Is it to pay homage at a sacred site? Is it to explore one’s spiritual roots? Is it to find forgiveness? Is it to answer burning questions? Is it something else? Whatever it is, the pilgrimage is an adventure into the unknown, into the spiritual wilderness where we will face and confront difficulties and dangers, temptations and turbulence. Such questing polishes the rough diamond of the soul, bringing out our true brilliance.

As we see in many wisdom traditions, if not all, the pilgrimage is a strong theme, especially for those seeking spiritual renewal or healing. Moses’s people, in the Bible, wandered in the desert on the way to the Promised Land, and Saul converted to Paul on the road to Damascus. Muslims must journey to Mecca at least once in their lifetime, and Hindus travel to the holy river Ganges for absolution. These sacred journeys are journeys of transformation.



While the outward quest to sacred sites is important to many, the inward quest is equally important to others. This interior journey becomes a matter of growth and of surrendering to something much greater than ourselves. Here, we ask questions that incubate, spurring us to connect with the creative source of love. As social activist Fran Peavey observes, “A very powerful question may not have an answer at the moment it is asked. It will sit rattling in the mind for day or weeks as the person works on an answer. If the seed is planted, the answer will grow. Questions are alive.” Our questions become our guides, sparkling gems along the path, encouraging us to keep going and growing.

Whatever the reason for questing, we know the journey will lead us to spiritual treasures that will transform our minds and lives. The journey is one that takes discipline, perseverance, and courage, whether inward or outward. It stretches our minds, our bodies, and our souls in the process. As we embrace the path, we partner with Spirit to open our hearts, to take risks, to overcome fears, and to find refuge. Spirit leads us to uncover -- and discover -- the sacred jewels that we are. Such finds are priceless.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Unknown

The "unknown." The word itself evokes a sense of mystery and uncertainty. It even strikes fear in some. What is it about not knowing what lies ahead that scares us? We cannot always see the path ahead, especially when doubt overshadows our view. Remaining optimistic in the face of uncertainty is a difficult art. In times when our sight is limited, we must practice the discipline of keeping a positive attitude by consciously choosing to expect a future in which our highest good will shine despite our shaken faith.

There are only two ways to embrace the unknown: with fear or with faith. And the beauty of this is that we have the freedom to choose how we will approach what lies ahead. We can cling to our known, safe life, or we can say "YES" to opportunities for new adventures when we act in alignment with our coming good.

Life will alter and expand as we allow it. But it begins with us. Stepping out in faith is not easy at times, but as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." The alchemy begins with that first step. When it comes to taking that step, I often think about the Indiana Jones film The Final Crusade in which he must find his way to the Holy Grail to save his father from a life-threatening bullet wound inflicted by villains who want the grail for selfish purposes. He is tested in the long, booby-trapped passageway, nearly losing his life. When he comes to the ledge of a chasm, he sees that there is no way to cross over to the other side. At that moment, as he leafs through his father's notebook for some kind of answer, he spies an illustration of a man walking on air between two cliffs. In this moment of realization, he says, "It's a leap of faith." So, he takes a deep breath to calm himself and closes his eyes.  He places his hand over his heart, steps off the ledge, and to his surprise, Indiana finds himself on an "invisible" bridge...it was there the whole time; he just couldn't "see" it until he believed.

No matter what we may be facing, when we choose to embrace our inner Indiana Jones to take that positive leap, our "bridge" will be there. We will always face unknowns in our lives. Embracing them with faith rather than with fear will allow for possibilities to unfold in ways we would never expect. Have faith. Your future depends on it.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Embracing Mystery

I saw a status on Facebook that read, “Please grab a book you are reading off the back of your toilet or nightstand. Turn to page 23 and type the third sentence from that page as a comment below.” I was intrigued.

I am a voracious reader. Books live everywhere in my house, so I grabbed the nearest one from my bedroom dresser and opened up to page 23. The line read, “There is no knowing where you are headed.” And I thought, how uncanny. How absolutely true. None of us know where we are headed. As much as we try to divine our way, we will never know where our path is taking us in life. This can be quite exhilarating for some and terribly frightening for others. Mystery can be our constant companion and friend, or it can haunt us to no end.

In an age where information is literally at our fingertips, its immediate accessibility has spoiled us. We forget to pause and enjoy the process of discovery. All the mystery is taken out of the equation. Then we wonder why we feel so disconnected from things that matter. What we need to do is to celebrate the unknown and what is has to offer. We need to reclaim our reverence for mystery. We need to be able to live with our questions, letting them incubate within us, so that we can someday live our way into the answers as our inner readiness allows. Making peace with unanswered or unanswerable questions allows us to embrace that which we do not understand with the inner knowing that the answers will come in their own time. This is our “gap insurance” between the known and the unknowns. Sometimes we just aren’t ready for the answers; we must trust and accept the process in all of its mystery.

So many aspects of life are mysteries even with all the information available to us. Both science and religion have offered explanations, yet answers continue to elude us. I am reminded of a story from Eduardo Galeano’s book Walking Words. In an effort to impart the value of mystery, a young couple baptized their son on the coast. In it, he writes: “The baptism taught him what was sacred. They gave him a seashell: ‘So you will learn to love the water.’ They opened a cage and let a bird go free: ‘So you’ll learn to love the air.’ They gave him a geranium: ‘So you’ll learn to love the earth.’ And they gave him a little bottle sealed up tight: ‘Don’t ever, ever open it. So you’ll learn to love mystery.’” The more we learn to relish mystery, the more meaning we can draw into our lives. May we approach it with the reverence it deserves, and may we find peace despite the absence of clarity. We may never know where we are headed, but rest assured, we will get there.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Inspiration

The sage Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga Sutras, once said, "When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world...and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be."

As we reach toward and grow into our authentic selves, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that just as we need nourishment physically, we also need to supplement ourselves spiritually. We need a divine diet of enthusiasm to inspire us along the way. The root word of "enthusiasm" in the ancient Greek is "entheos," literally "in God." Interestingly, the word "inspiration" means literally "to breathe in and be filled with the spirit of God." So, when we are inspired and enthused, we are breathing in Spirit that motivates us to begin anew in life, especially if we are to be productive, thriving, authentic, spiritual beings. 


We all depend on inspiration in our lives, that flow of energy that moves through us when we tune into our higher selves. We find ourselves creating without effort, be it writing, painting, singing, dancing, crafting, folding laundry, or cleaning. What an amazing gift to us. Because of this gift, each day becomes enhanced and enriched; our days and our existence takes on deeper meaning.

If you are feeling blocked, ask yourself what generates enthusiasm in your life. Sometimes we have to do some soul-searching and inner questioning to discover this answer. We can also look to other sources like books, people, music, art, and nature for inspiration. Usually, when we get out of our own way, inspiration and enthusiasm step in, breathing life into us once again.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ego as Captor

Stockholm Syndrome, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor.” This occurs when people are held against their will. In this situation, hostages feel intense fear and believe escape is impossible. They often suffer isolation, threats, and abuse. In an effort to survive, the hostages begin to bond with their captors. The name is derived from the 1973 bank robbery that took place in Stockholm, Sweden, when four hostages were held captive for six days. Months after their release, the victims continued to show loyalty to their captors by refusing to testify against them. Some even helped raise money for their captors’ defense. Without any intervention or deprogramming, victims of such psychological weaponry will remain enslaved and are doomed to relive the nightmare they suffered. The mind becomes a prison.

Let’s take this a step further. What happens when the ego takes the mind hostage? Is this not a form of Stockholm Syndrome? The ego is a highly skilled, stealthy captor. It can seize our minds with lightning speed, and if we are not prepared, it can cause irreparable harm. Once it takes the mind captive, it begins to feed us its gospel of lies cleverly disguised as truth. In our isolation, it makes us feel that escape is impossible, that we are not worthy or deserving, and as a result of ego’s constant barrage of negative messaging, we succumb to its power. We become enslaved by our own thinking.

Ego can be very charming at first. If it can’t trap us outright, it can trap us subtly by fooling us into believing things about ourselves that make us think we are larger than life. It falsely builds us up only to tear us down later, like Macbeth when he visits the three witches, demanding to know his future as King. In the witches’ equivocation, they conjure visions -- apparitions -- that provide him with a false sense of security and assuredness. Macbeth interprets the messages as ones of his invincibility, only to realize later the truth of their lies, as his world falls apart. In his darkness, his ego devours him.

I liken the ego to the serpent in the biblical story of the Garden of Eden. It sold lies as truths to two unsuspecting people, like us, who were then thrown out of Paradise to suffer the consequences. When we believe the lies spawned by ego, we exile ourselves from our own personal Gardens of Eden within, severing our connection with our divine source. God didn’t exile Adam and Eve; they exiled themselves by following the voice of ego rather than listening to their Inner Source.

Breaking the ego is not easy. For some, it may require intense professional help, depending on the extremity of the situation. For others, it requires an understanding of how the ego works and learning strategies to keep it under control. For every negative seed that ego implants in the garden of the mind, it will take at least two positive seeds to cancel out the original seed. Knowing how the ego works, we can reconnect with our divine source (which never left) by taking part in activities such as meditation or prayer, or by involving ourselves in other creative or spiritual endeavors that empower and edify us, lifting us out the victim mentality into one of victory.  We shatter the illusion, thus releasing ourselves into freedom.  We shall be hostages no more.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Self-Forgiveness

In our divinity, we are perfect creations. In our humanity, we still make mistakes. It’s natural. It’s part of our human incarnation. Some people move on from mistakes with relative ease, while others tend to hang on to the guilt. When we continue our grip on guilt, we are really focusing on our ego, another way of trying to control our life. It’s a lie we tell ourselves. When we LIE, we are Living In Ego. And we are left feeling that God or the Universe or Karma will punish us for our mistakes. This is self-abuse, not self-love.

Such self-abuse prevents us from opening ourselves to the grace of Spirit that has always been there. In our guilt, we block that grace. Spirit knows and loves us unconditionally. God is not waiting for us to act the “right” way before S/He can forgive us. Since Spirit’s nature is love, and since Spirit can’t be anything other than love, this makes it easier to return to God’s grace. 



When we realize that we have made a mistake and truly regret it, we are ready to make the shift from self-abuse to self-love. This is our "spiritunity" to make things "right" with ourselves.  Our regret shows that we are willing to change our actions or thinking so it doesn’t happen again. By hanging on to guilt and to the thought that we ought to be punished, we separate ourselves from God. This is what the ego wants. In our moment of remorse, we can either wallow in the ego’s illusion of separation, or we can forgive ourselves, thereby embracing and reconnecting with Source and Its unconditional love. Spirit will never cut Itself off from us; we cut ourselves off whenever we choose to do or say things that harm others or ourselves. When we make peace with ourselves, we make peace with the Universe.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Transcendence


    In an episode of Frasier, both Frasier and his brother Niles stand salivating over a can of black market Beluga caviar that they procured from a rather unsavory character who beguiled them into buying his wares at a cheaper rate than what they normally pay to their regular vendor.  With the anticipation and enthusiasm of three-year-olds, they dip into the holy grail of caviar.  Shuddering with sheer delight, Niles utters, “It’s like being kissed by a lusty mermaid,” while nearly collapsing in ecstasy.  

    In their moment of elated bliss, the brothers Crane transcend beyond the physical realm into one of complete joy, not worrying about anything or anyone around them as they each place a spoonful of heaven into their mouths.  If the world had ended, they would not have known it. 



    When such moments sweep us away, we know that we have been touched by something extraordinary and otherworldly.  Once touched, we find ourselves yearning to be touched by that “something” again...and again...  Such moments are the pearls in the strand of life, moments when we make a connection to something much larger than ourselves, one that holds everything together. Such is a moment of spiritunity.

    For the brothers Crane, Beluga caviar opened a divine door that transported them beyond themselves, if only temporarily.  For us, though, caviar may or may not lead to the avenue of transcendence, but whatever it is, may it allow us to “taste” the Divine one spoonful at a time.

    

Monday, March 18, 2013

Anger

As we awaken to our authentic, spiritual self, we are like newborn babes coming into the world. There’s a lot to learn! As we accept our divinity, we still have to contend with our humanity, and that means there will be times when we must deal with the ugly side of ourselves. We’ve all had to deal with anger from time to time, that uncomfortable yet powerfully seductive emotion that fills us with feelings of fury, rage, vengeance, hostility, and so on, tempting us with that edgy energy that makes us want to react. Anger can be so self-indulgent. Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition, says that “there’s something delicious about finding fault with something.” This is true, especially when our ego is involved because the ego likes to protect our anger, causing us to justify it and feed it. When we react to anger, we express our displeasure and dissatisfaction. When anger stops by for a visit, what should we do?  It becomes our “spiritunity” to host it, learn from it, and then see it out the door. The question posed to us is, are we going to let anger make us bitter or better?

The seed of anger exists within us. It is part of our emotional mapping. Changing our perspective on anger will go a long way in helping us to deal with it in healthy ways. Anger is one of the ego’s first cousins. It creates an unhealthy separateness when we use it for self-righteousness or self-justification. And it’s power is addictive, if we are not aware of what it can make us do.  In facing anger, there are some questions we must ask ourselves.  Does someone “make” us angry, or are we choosing to be angry? What is really at the root of the anger we are feeling?  When we examine its root, we find that anger is a reaction to fear. So, we must ask ourselves, what is it that I fear in this situation?

Anger can have a positive side.  It can motivate us to action that creates positive change. When we see injustices being done, ones that harm others, we find ourselves wanting to correct those wrongs. In the Christian bible, Jesus’s anger flared quite frequently because of others’ self-righteousness and injustices. In this case, we must ask ourselves if this kind of anger will bring us closer to God and community, or will it cause division through destructive means? Will it serve the highest good of all, or will it only serve ourselves?

How do we deal with it on our spiritual path?  Anger likes to affect our lives. It upsets us. It shatters our peace of mind. It causes us to feel pressure. It throws us into its hellish crucible.  What can we possibly learn from it? What purpose does it serve? The first thing we can do is to admit our anger. When it visits, remember that it’s stay is only temporary. It may be uncomfortable, but it will leave in time. Patience is key. Don’t suppress it or run away from it. And don’t deny it. Instead, take responsibility for your anger. Turn it into something constructive rather than destructive. I’m not saying it’s easy, but with discipline and practice, we exercise the fruit of self-control. Acknowledge it and observe it. You may have to sit down and take a few deep breaths to calm yourself and then listen. Understand why it is there. Tell it to take its time. Let the emotion of it settle. In the process of this acceptance, we actually begin to set ourselves free; its grip begins to loosen. As we give quiet attention to it, we begin to take control. In having patience, we wait to speak and act until we can do so without causing harm to ourselves and others.

Anger is one of those teachers that challenges us for our own good. We don’t like it when it visits. It seduces us into doing and saying things we usually regret later, or it can motivate us into positive action. Like love, it is one of the strongest emotions we can feel, often overwhelming us with its energy. Rather than repress it, recognize it for what it is. Choose not to use it to hurt others or ourselves. As we deal with it in healthy ways, we empower ourselves keep the highest good of all in mind, we remain safe, and we stay connected -- all important features of spiritual health.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Alienation

Eckhart Tolle states, “Many people who are going through the early stages of the awakening process are no longer certain what their outer purpose is. What drives the world no longer drives them. Seeing the madness of our civilization so clearly, they may feel somewhat alienated from the culture around them. Some feel that they inhabit a no-man's-land between two worlds. They are no longer run by the ego, yet the arising awareness has not yet become fully integrated into their lives. Inner and outer purpose have not merged.” 

With these words, Tolle captures the essence of the growing process when we align ourselves with Spirit. When we open our spiritual eyes, and as changes begin to occur in our lives, a feeling of separateness sometimes sets in. We feel disconnected from the things we thought would fulfill us. We find ourselves outgrowing the material world. The alienation we feel initially is normal and is to be expected on our newfound journey with Spirit. We may find ourselves alone, yet oddly enough, we don’t feel lonely. Instead, we feel a strange peace.

Alienation, in this sense, is the “spiritunity” that nudges us toward our Highest Self. It can be viewed as part of the evolutionary process in our spiritual growth. We no longer feel the need to sow our oats or to rule the world. We don’t care about making millions or being trendy. We don’t care if we don’t fit in with the in-crowd anymore. We begin to crave solitude and peace. We explore our creative side. We appreciate the small things that we overlooked in the past. We feel something greater leading us beyond ourselves. When we are ready, we say goodbye to our former self and our old ways that held us back from our evolution, and we embrace a life from a new perspective with a renewed mind.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Attitude & Gratitude

Ever stop to think about why you are living this life? Or do you find fault with nearly everything around you? If we are constantly complaining, how will we ever find joy? Gratitude is one of the best ways to improve our attitude. One can not feel troubled and grateful at the same time. The two energies oppose each other. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change." A shift in perspective, from a negative one to a positive one, can make all the difference.

A negative attitude fills the mind with worry and fear. It unleashes stress within the body, mind, and spirit; it wears us down and takes its toll in various ways. If we spend our time creating a vision of an unhappy future, we help create that future. How scary is that? Our thoughts guide our decisions. What we gain from visualizing the worst outcome is more stress, more worry, and more fear. This can be absolutely paralyzing, thus ruining our moment-to-moment happiness.  This opens our bodies up to a host of ailments and illnesses, and in extreme cases death. Making the conscious decision to move from the realm of negativity to positivity will allow our desires and intentions to achieve the best possible result.

A positive attitude fills the mind with love and gratitude. It unleashes a wave of goodness within us that begins to flow outward into every area of our lives. Things begin to take on more meaning, and we begin to feel better as our level of vibration increases. We begin to heal and grow into wholeness. The change may be small at first, but as we improve, we start to make a difference in our lives and in the world. We make a positive difference by what we choose to do.

One way to begin this process is to make a gratitude list. Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Turn off the TV, your cell phone, and anything that may distract your concentration. Make a list of at least ten things for which you are grateful. You may start with basic necessities like having food to eat, a warm bed, and so on. Then grow your list as you examine the more meaningful and personal areas of your life. Family. Friends. Pets. Health. Work. Leave no area of your life unexamined.

When you finish, display your list where you will see it most often. Perhaps on your bathroom mirror, or next to your bed. You want to see it and read it every day, especially when challenges occur or troubling thoughts arise. Keep adding to your list over the next month. This list is your reminder to yourself to continually be thankful for what you have in life. This becomes our "spiritunity" to renew our thinking on a daily basis. Ephesians 4:23 tells us to be constantly renewed in the spirit of our mind (in our thoughts and attitudes). Some things must be done consistently and persistently in order to experience results. If we are to grow spiritually, it is our duty to put on this fresh mental attitude until it becomes a part of our being. When we adopt the spiritual attitude of gratitude, we adopt an attitude aligned with love. It becomes more than doing the right thing; it’s about living a life filled with love in the spirit of our authentic self.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

When God Plays Hooky

God always seemed to be absent whenever I attended church.  I never felt connected to any source of Spirit while sitting, standing, singing, or kneeling in the pews.  Sermons didn't move me.  Communion lost its appeal, especially when priests or pastors worried more about the precision of the performance than the true meaning.  I wasn't content with going through the motions.  I knew when a minister was bored; it filtered down to the congregation.  I saw it in their faces...heavy eyelids, tiny snores, stifled yawns.  Some pastors were too pious for their own pants with their Pharisaic approach and their holier-than-thou attitude.  My restlessness always got the better of me, and I'd leave to find a new church. I tried various denominations.  Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ...but God never showed up in those churches either.  I didn't care about denominational differences; they taught basically the same things.  I began to see churches and their specific denominations as football teams playing in a great spiritual arena.  It seemed they tried to out-do one another.  Which one had the best services?  The best sermons? The best programs?  The best facilities?  The highest enrollment?  It was downright depressing to someone who wanted less pomp and circumstance and more substance.  I couldn't take it.  It was then I knew my path would be a solitary one.  No church was able to help me connect with Spirit.  I felt like an outcast.  I wanted more, whatever more was.  I left church services feeling more unfulfilled than when I entered.  Spirit's absence every Sunday only added to my frustration in wanting answers to questions I couldn't articulate but felt in my being.  When I entered seminary to study theology, I thought my quest for answers would finally be satisfied.  Guess what?  God played habitual hooky there, too.  It turns out that seminary left me even more unsatisfied, but I finished my graduate studies, graduating at the top of my class, and then left the church for good.  Don't get me wrong; attending church and studying theology served their purposes.  They provided stepping stones to advance my spiritual growth but not in the ways I had expected.  I am grateful for the experiences, but my hunger to connect with Spirit grew.

After seminary, I dropped the title of theologian.  It does not capture my spiritual essence.  I felt compelled to follow my own spiritual path, one which I didn't have to intellectualize God or Jesus or to use principles of systematic theology and hermeneutics to fit them into a 15-minute sermon.  God is more than a 15-minute sermon.  It was time to fly solo.



Learning to fly on my own spiritually was scary, but it gave me the "spiritunity" to transcend religion.  I didn't know what to expect.  I felt called to explore faiths other than Christianity.  While Christianity was my "first," I wanted to know what else was out there to help me grow spiritually.  But I had that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that if I "strayed" off the Christian path, God would get angry with me and damn me to hell.  I felt damned if I did and damned if I didn't.  I didn't want to feel as though I was "cheating" on God, yet I couldn't help feeling that God was encouraging me to explore. Odd. So, I did. And I loved it.

In my effort to connect with Spirit, I explored various religions and traditions.   While the word "religion" has many meanings, it concerns itself with the sacred and supreme values of life.  Spirituality, on the other hand, is a more hands-on approach; it refers direct experience of the sacred.  Religion talks about God, but spirituality teaches us to be more godly. The difference for me, and probably for others seeking enlightenment and communion with Spirit, is that religion is for those who don't want to go to hell, while spirituality is for those who have been there.  I don't recall when I first heard this phrase, but it fits within my framework.  Religion smacks of institution, dogma, and fundamentalism -- not what I want or need.  Since God liked to skip church whenever I was present, I took it to  mean that God's "church" was elsewhere and that Spirit wanted me to find it.  Game on!  I sought a form of spirituality that fundamental Christian churches could not provide me.  That's when I started attending the church inside of me.  And guess what?  God showed up.  I found that true spirituality transcends all forms of religion.  Spirituality is not institutionalized.  It doesn't require debates.  It is not monetarily based.  It doesn't have committees.  Communing with Spirit can take place anywhere at anytime, no matter what the "experts" say.

When on the spiritual path, we never really know where we are headed.  My path has had many twists and turns, many obstacles and detours, but they were there for my learning.  My experiences may have seemed devoid of Spirit at times, when in actuality, they were not.  Spirit had been in the details the entire time: I simply didn't see this because I was taught to believe that if I "sinned," God wouldn't be there, and so, I allowed this "belief" to block my own spiritual growth because I saw God as something separate from myself, as some white-bearded man in heaven, who meted punishment and blessings based on my behavior. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is within.  It is not some ethereal place up in the clouds with a bunch of trumpeting angels.  Spirit dwells in us, in all things because of it's unconditional love.  Spirit will never stop loving us.  It can't because all it knows is love.  And because of this love, Spirit will guide us on paths meant specifically and only for us.

Attending church was a starting point for me, but I outgrew it.  I needed more than a 15-minute sermon every week to know and to connect with Spirit.  God is as diverse as the people S/He has created.  There are many paths up the sacred mountain, and they all lead to the same summit.  The next time Spirit seems to be playing hooky in your life, take it as a message that it has something else planned especially for you.  



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Adventures in Spirit

M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, states, "If we know exactly where we're going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we'll see along the way, we won't learn anything."  I have never been one to sit still.  As a child, I could be found exploring the woods, nearby ponds and creeks, or following the railroad tracks past quiet farms and open land.  As an adult, I've traveled the world, learning new cultures and meeting new people.  I never knew where my journeys would take me.  Not knowing where my explorations would lead lent an air thick with mystery and intrigue that urged me -- lured me -- to continue in my adventures.  I liked not knowing where I was going.  These adventures became my "spiritunities" to find "treasures" around every bend.

As spiritual beings, our journeys are as diverse as Spirit.  There is no "correct" path; all lead to the same Source.  Each journey is personal and unique to that individual.  No two paths are the same; although, they may be similar.  Each of us comes to know Spirit in his or her own way; what I learn and what you learn are different pieces we can share with each another in order to gain a better understanding, knowing full well that the current of mystery will always flow, enticing us and encouraging us on our individual spiritual quests.  The Mystery knows exactly what to do to romance us on our journeys.  Sometimes we like it; sometimes we don't, but somewhere deep inside, we know it's what we need for the highest good of ourselves and others.



Spirit "speaks" to us daily through people, places, and things.  But most of us are blind to these ways until something acts as a catalyst, parting the veils.  Then we begin to see Spirit in everything around us and within us.  Spirit reveals answers, solutions, inspiration, help, encouragement, etc., in many unexpected and uncommon ways.  Ordinary things suddenly reveal the extraordinary.  Eureka!  We reach a moment of enlightenment.  It's these moments, these treasures, I love to discover and collect.

In this age of technological wonder, I don't rely on a GPS to guide me whenever I venture to new places.  I'd rather wander, finding the roads less traveled, and enjoying the scenery along the way.  If I have a destination in mind, I give myself plenty of time to wander and explore, and to discover or learn something new. So it is with the spiritual journey.  Our path is a treasure map to Spirit.  We never know what we'll discover as we journey through life.  The treasures we seek rest within, and our inner navigational system will lead us to where we are meant to go.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Spirituality of Spring Cleaning

As we grow in Spirit, we find ourselves beginning to let go of things that no longer serve us.  This is our "spiritunity" to so some spring cleaning by decluttering our lives, our minds, and our personal space.  Sometimes something as simple as moving furniture, or tidying up our surroundings, helps us to move forward in our personal journey toward our goals, our dreams, and the Divine.  When we take the time to arrange and nurture our environment, we bring a sense of orderly flow to our lives.

Living in a chaotic, disordered habitat only serves to create chaotic, disordered habits.  When we seek spiritual alignment in our domestic spaces, we begin by discarding the things that distract us from our personal and spiritual growth.  We may recycle what we no longer need or have outgrown.  We can donate any items that others may need.  Instead of allowing guilt and sentiment to clutter our space with things that no longer serve our highest good, we can thank those things for their service to us before letting them go.  We may also employ the principles of Feng Shui, the Chinese system of geomancy believed to use the Laws of both Heaven and Earth to help us improve our lives by receiving positive chi.  We are familiar with the adage "cleanliness is next to Godliness."  As we take this spiritunity to emphasize serenity and beauty in our surrounding, we create an environment that knows and serves our Highest Good.

Clutter in our lives and domestic spaces puts our health at risk.  Clutter steals our vital energy.  It traps energy and lowers our vibrational levels whenever we are around it.  Research shows that when confronted with clutter and disarray, our bodies secrete a stress hormone known as cortisol.  This lowers our immunity.  Taking control of clutter allows us to reclaim our surroundings, serenity, and vitality.  It reduces the level of stress in our bodies and in our lives.

To reduce clutter involves taking one small step at a time.  Small steps lead to big improvements.  In the long run, we find our environment (and mind) easier to maintain.  We have to acknowledge that clutter is a problem, and we must resolve to rid it from our lives if we seek to grow into our authentic selves.  There are many benefits to clearing out the clutter.  For one, it saves time.  When we organize things into proper places, we avoid the stress of having to look for things that we've misplaced.  Another benefit is a safer home.  We significantly reduce the risk of tripping and falling.  A third benefit is money saved.  Gone are the late fees to bills that we couldn't find on time.  We are also less likely to buy replacements for misplaced items.  A fourth benefit is more "me" time.  When we reduce the commitments or activities in our lives that no longer bring us joy or value, we open our time to include the things we do value.  As we clear the clutter in our outer lives, we begin clearing the clutter in our inner lives.  We regain our energy, our sanity, and our spiritual essence.

If the body is a temple, why would we want to defile it by cluttering it with things that serve no purpose?  When we crowd the Spirit out of its living place, we find ourselves being crowded out of our living space as well.  Let the spring cleaning commence!



Monday, March 11, 2013

Spiritual Anemia

Robert L. Wise begins his book Spiritual Abundance with a line that struck me the first time I read it.  He writes, "Once upon a time I lost my soul."  Those words have stuck with me to this day.  Sometimes life gets so busy and out of balance that we neglect ourselves spiritually.  When we wither spiritually, everything else in our lives begins to wither...our relationships, our career, our creativity, our minds.  Our souls get buried under burdens and responsibilities.  We end up with spiritual anemia, and in worse cases, spiritual amnesia, when we forget who we are altogether.

Anemia is defined as "a condition marked by deficiency of red blood cells or of hemoglobin in the blood, resulting in pallor or weariness."  When our physical health is compromised by such a condition, our strength is weakened, and we become targets for more serious illnesses if left untreated.  So it is with spiritual anemia.  Spiritual anemics don't realize that they are spiritually sick, at first.  It is a gradual decline.  It starts when we begin to skip our daily devotional activities such as prayer or meditation or yoga in favor of other pressing issues that have cropped up in our lives.  We find it easier each time we skip.  We rationalize with ourselves by saying, "I'll do it tomorrow," or "I don't have the time now that these other issues are happening in my life."  The excuses keep coming.  It grows easier and easier to repeat the process again and again.  As we continue to neglect our daily centering, contagion sets in.  Then our anemic attitude begins to have a negative influence on the people around us and in other areas of our lives.  Our weakened state produces feelings of spiritual apathy, vulnerability, negativity, and fear.  In our attempt to fill the void growing in us, we find ourselves being given over to unhealthy activities, indulgences, and even addictions that lower our vibrational level and our resistance.  Suddenly we find life out of tune, out of sync, out of balance, and lacking the passion we once had.  The imbalances in our outer lives become a vivid reflection of our inner imbalance.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.  It is in this moment that "spiritunity" presents itself:  we find ourselves faced with two choices.  Either we choose to get back to our activities to center ourselves and to reconnect with Spirit, or we allow the things of the world to continue to drain us of our spiritual essence.  If you choose option one, continue reading.  If you choose option two, do not read any further.  You have some thinking to do, and I wish you well.  So, how do we make things right again?

First, we need to remember who we are.  We are divine beings.  Our spiritual essence is what makes us different from any other creation.  When we disconnect from Spirit, we disconnect from others and ourselves.  We find this loss taking many forms:  materialism, apathy, meaninglessness, emptiness, deception, infidelity, etc.  If we are to avoid losing our souls, we must nourish ourselves with what is meaningful and with what matters in life.  We need to reacquaint ourselves with those activities that once centered us.

Second, we need to forgive ourselves.  We may be divine creations, but we are human beings who make mistakes.  Spirit loves us unconditionally despite our choices.  It will never stop loving us.  It can't because all Spirit knows is love.  This does not mean to continue in low level behaviors and activities that don't nourish us.  It means that as we give ourselves over to Spirit, as we surrender, our love and respect for Spirit is what will help us amend our thoughts and actions, and get us back on the path to our Higher Self.

Third, we need to pledge allegiance to Spirit and turn away from the thoughts and behaviors that distracted us away from Spirit in the first place.  We can't serve two masters.  Either we are devoted to Spirit, or we are not.  When we are devoted to Spirit, our life flourishes, and when things come our way that test us, we can draw our strength from Spirit to guide us through.

Fourth, we can surround ourselves with people who have traveled this same path, people who understand both our divinity and humanity.  Sometimes we may need the guidance of someone who is skilled at helping others.  Such people are the models of spiritual maturity.  They can teach us to become spiritually healthy again as we get the support and love we need.

Once upon a time I lost my soul, too.  In fact, I've lost it a couple of times.  But I've never lost my faith in Spirit to restore me.  No one ever said being on the spiritual path was easy.  Sometimes it's downright challenging and exhausting, and I know what I must do to sustain myself.  Just as it takes more than one meal per week to nourish our physical bodies, we must feed ourselves a spiritual diet on a regular basis to nourish our souls.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Acceptance

Spirit does not discriminate.  Spirit loves all.  We incarnate in different shapes, sizes, and colors as beings on this planet.  Since Spirit creates and accepts us as we are, who are we to reject ourselves and others?

Every day we are bombarded with messages from the media, from advertising, from the workplace, from society about how we should act, how we should look, how we should think.  We are told which clothes to wear, what to eat, which organizations and clubs to belong to, and so on.  It's a never-ending barrage of messaging that batters self-esteem and self-confidence, especially if we are not careful or aware.  Our ego lies to us, telling us that if we don't lose weight or wear the right clothes or join the right group, we are nothing; we are less than perfect.  We get caught in the trap of trying to prove ourselves over and over, constantly looking for validation of our worth from others and ourselves.  We compare ourselves to others, and when we don't measure up to someone else's standards, we crumble in self-despair.  It's no wonder people fall into a viperous pit of depression and self-loathing.  How do we begin to break this cycle?

First, we must accept lies for what they are:  lies.  We are divine beings, and when we are aligned with Spirit, we realize how lies try to define and defeat us.  Saying no to these lies becomes our "spiritunity" to transcend the untruths that bite at us.  We come to understand that we are divinely created, "perfect" just the way we are, and we have nothing to prove to anyone.  By adopting this attitude, we begin to remove fear and doubt from our lives.  Our Higher Self has no need for such emotions because they impede our inner peace.  Spirit renews our mind.  Our perspective changes.  When our perspective changes, the things around us begin to change.

Second, when we practice and accept ourselves as unique, divine creations, we free ourselves from anxiety and anguish when things don't go as planned for us.  There are things and situations we can change and influence, and there are those we cannot.  The things we cannot change, we leave to Spirit.  This allows us to open up to more which we can influence.  Instead of listening to and wrestling with the ego, we allow our intuition and inner guidance system to lead us in the direction of our Higher Self.  We learn to trust Divine Timing.

Third, as we accept the way of Spirit and as we accept ourselves as divine, we find ourselves being led to judge less.  The ego's best weapon is prejudgment.  Become aware of the judgment process.  Go back in your mind to a time when others judged you without knowing you.  How did it make you feel?  Did your body tighten?  Did you feel hurt and anger?  The ego loves this!  As divine creations, we use our renewed perspective to see others as extensions of ourselves; we understand that we are all of the same spiritual energy.  If we judge others, we judge ourselves.

Spirit offers us the gifts of acceptance and unconditional love.  We can let go of any pretenses and be who we are.  If others do not accept us because we think and act differently, that is not our problem; it is solely theirs.  Nothing we can do or say will change their minds, nor do we need to defend ourselves to those who are not willing to open their minds.  We can only extend our hand in love, leave them in peace, and hope that their eyes of understanding will someday open.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Accessing Spirit

We all want access to Spirit.  It's our birthright.  There can be no healing or growth without a personal connection to a source of spiritual guidance.  We all want to know what is our highest good, the right direction for ourselves, and how to manifest what we desire.  While some people feel the need to trek through distant lands to find a guru to guide them in connecting with Spirit, surprisingly, however we can access Spirit right where we are, and it's not hard to do.  But, first, we must raise our level of vibration.

The spiritual realm and the physical plane here on Earth operate at different frequencies, the spiritual realm vibrating at a higher frequency than the physical.  To understand frequency, think of tuning into a radio station.  When we tune into a station, the sound comes through crystal clear, but as soon as we are out of range, static sets in, the frequency drops, and we lose connection.  Or, imagine walking into a room full of angry, negative people.  Tension hangs in the hair, filling the room with a heaviness -- a low frequency -- than can be quite stifling.  Compare that to a room full of loving, joyous, positive people; this room has a feeling of lightness -- a high frequency -- that uplifts us.  We can tune into that negativity or positivity; it's our choice.  But, if we are to access our Inner Guidance System, Spirit, God, we need to raise our frequency to a higher level.

There are many things we can do to raise our vibration level, but it must first start with our intent.  Intention is the most powerful tool we have in our spiritual repertoire.  No action we take will increase our frequency without our intent.  This is our "spiritunity" to examine what our intentions are, if we are to access Spirit.  We incarnate onto this planet with free will; this means we choose to be loving or unloving, kind or unkind, open or closed, etc.  When our intent is to be loving, kind, and open, we are seeking to take responsibility for our actions, our thoughts, and our feelings.  Likewise, if our intent is to be unloving, unkind, and closed, we lower ourselves, our vibration, only to attract more of the same in our lives.  Ask, what is my intent?  Am I trying to hurt or help the situation?  Am I loving myself and others, or am I inviting and doing harm to all?

Once we set our intentions in the spirit of love, we automatically raise our frequency, and once we have this intent, there are many methods to use to further increase our vibration.  This can be done through prayer, meditation, yoga, tai chi, dance, chanting, whirling, music, creative or artistic activities, burning incense, gardening, spending time in nature, and much more.  Use your gift of imagination to find or create what feels right for you.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Awaiting the Spirit's Next Move

We’ve opened our hearts to Spirit, and now we find ourselves awaiting the next steps, whatever they may be.  This is where we tend to grow frustrated because things aren’t happening as fast as we would like them to happen.  This becomes our spiritunity, our lesson, in developing patience.  

We live in a world of convenience.  We are spoon-fed consumerism, raised on technology, and we end up reciting the mantra, I want what I want and I want it now!  We don’t know how to slow down, and we certainly don’t like to wait.  When we are forced to wait, we get cranky and irritable, lowering our vibrational level, thus opening ourselves to negativity.  We begin finding even the smallest things unbearable and intolerable.  Anger sets in.  We can't take it anymore. We explode.  We have lost this spiritunity to change ourselves because of our greedy little ego throwing a tantrum.


No one ever said that developing patience is easy.  It takes discipline.  It takes dedication.  It takes a lot of practice.  Some of us learn rather quickly, and some of us continue to wrestle with our egos for quite some time.  But, there are steps we can take to learn the art of awaiting the Spirit and its timing.  


First, we must let go of our need to control the situation.  Our impatience will not change it; in fact, it may prolong it, which adds to stress.  Acknowledge your impatience.  Give voice to it and vent briefly so you can move on, taking care not to hurt anyone or yourself in the process.  Letting go can involve deep breathing, physical exercise, singing,  working on crafts and hobbies, shifting our negative thoughts to more pleasant ones, or some type of metaphorical or symbolic activity like writing down your concerns and then burning them or burying them as a release.  Heed Eckhart Tolle’s words, “Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.”  Question your impatience and stress and how both serve you.  When you realize that it serves no healthy purpose, it’s time to let it go.  Find what works best for you.


Second, we must understand that Spirit’s timing is not our timing.  Divine timing is perfect.  Things are working behind the scenes, things we may never fully understand on our physical plane of existence no matter how much science or logic we use.  If things don’t happen in the time frame we want, we have to stop and ask why.  Sometimes we forget that we create our own experiences through our thoughts and beliefs, consciously and subconsciously.  And sometimes we may not get what we want on our timetable because we still have some learning to do, we are not ready, or because we are blocking the flow.  It’s in this moment of spiritunity that we must examine ourselves and take responsibility for our actions and thoughts.  When we give into our impatience, we give away our power to allow things to flow into our lives.  We may not be able to control the situation, but we can change ourselves by changing our thinking and behavior to align with Spirit so that it’s energy works in our lives in the most beneficial way.


Awaiting the Spirit is our opportunity to reflect; it teaches us to slow down and listen for our own good.  We learn to trust the process even if we don’t understand how it works.  When we let go, we open ourselves up to all kinds of possibilities, some we may never have expected.  Spirit yearns to bless us, but in due time, and that depends on our inner readiness and faith.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Answering the Call of Spirit

When spiritunity knocks on the door of our heart, we are immediately faced with a choice.  Do we answer the call, or do we dismiss it?  What happens when we answer?  What happens when we don’t answer?  How do we answer?  

Spirit expresses itself to us in diverse ways.  Answering the call to Spirit may be gradual or sudden, or it may take an on-again, off-again approach.  It could be a whisper, a shout, or a gentle, undefinable, unexplainable, undeniable tug on the heart.  My own call came when I was a child, exploring nature.  I was ever the adventurer, conquering new territory, even if it was only the woods and fields down by the railroad tracks behind our house.  I couldn’t wait to escape the confines of my room to connect with nature.  I felt a deep rapport with the trees, the creek, the different birds, and the spirit of the forest.  I shared a deep alliance with something mysterious, something greater than myself.  I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was something good.  I knew I could rely on its guidance.  I had no words for what I felt.  I knew it as a passionate feeling of connection with something intimate, something much closer than my next breath. 

 
Sometimes, spiritunity comes in the form of our day or night dreams.  We may find ourselves wanting and needing to give voice to creative endeavors, such as art or music or writing, so much that these activities begin to vie for our attention in such a way that we can no longer deny them.  Some of us may feel called to give voice to caretaking, healing, teaching, or guiding.  Ask yourself what you feel called to do.  


At other times, spiritunity comes in the form of emotional crisis, illness, loss, or a near-death experience.  While misfortune happens in our lives, and while painful, we discover that it has a spiritual dimension, if we choose to listen to and learn from the experience.  


The call of Spirit may take the form of magical synchronicities.  In our search for answers, we may come across the right book or the right person or the right program in the exact moment of inner readiness.  We find that with our call comes the help we need to fulfill that call.  We can’t help but be grateful for what Deepak Chopra calls “synchrodestiny.”  


After hearing the call of Spirit, in whatever form it takes, we are left with the choice of answering it or ignoring it altogether, but even then, the call may grow stronger the more we ignore it.  Remember Jonah in the Christian bible and how he ignored God’s call to the point that he tried to escape via ship?  He continued to ignore his call and in desperation found himself overboard only to be swallowed up by a whale for three days until he came to his senses.  When the whale spit him out on the beach, Jonah ended up exactly where he was supposed to be.  He couldn’t ignore it any longer.  He answered the call, though reluctantly.  God needed Jonah to do a job that only Jonah was called to do. 

 
If you choose to answer the call of Spirit, listen to it.  Give voice to what it is nudging you to express.  Spirit will point the way through various mediums -- people, places, things, animals, nature, etc. -- but the discipline and dedication of fully answering that call is up to you.  Why would you answer it?  Because you received it.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Adapting to Change

The natural world teaches us the power of change.  When we examine the cycles of seasons, we see the promise of spring as it births newness, the ripeness of summer as it nourishes new growth, the fullness of fall as it matures for harvest, and the quietness of winter as it gives rest.  We see how each season adapts to the next, working together for the good.  No season is without its worth.
 
Spirit speaks to us through these seasons, teaching us how to adapt to the changes in the seasons of our lives.  We discover the spiritunity for growth, expansion, fulfillment, and eventually, completion and transition of one’s life from one realm of existence to another.  While some of us adapt more easily than others, there are some who need a little more assurance or reassurance to move forward in life.  Changing or adapting “traditional” beliefs, the beliefs we learned from parents, teachers, and other authority figures in our lives, can be unsettling and upsetting. 




When our belief system is shattered, we are left with little or no foundation on which to stand.  We try to patch the pieces; we try to regain control, only to find ourselves having to move on, for our own good, whether we like it or not.  We can choose to remain stagnant, or we can embrace the spiritunity for what it is -- the chance to experience life from a new perspective.  When we open our minds and hearts to Spirit, we find assurance by reaffirming our trust in It’s infinite wisdom.  Of course, it is impossible for us to envision or understand Spirit’s plan in its totality, and this can seem bewildering or unfair, but that’s when we need to be open-minded to Infinite Wisdom.  We can choose to go with the flow of life to see where it will take us.  We can be the mighty oak that topples in the storm, or we can be the graceful willow that bends and flows with the winds of change.



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Adversity

Spirit understands adversity as opportunity.  When adversity slaps us in the face, we are shocked, stunned, and surprised that “something bad” could ever happen to us.  Our normal reaction is to resist, retaliate, or retreat into denial.  When encountering difficult times we sometimes doubt the good which is unfolding.  We actually block ourselves from adversity’s gift.  

We’ve all heard the expression, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”  When adversity strikes, no matter what our spiritual inclination, we find ourselves praying fervently in our threatened, helpless state-of-being.  When things finally settle down, our reliance on Spirit wanes, and we go back to handling things ourselves.  We step out of spirit and back into ego. . .until adversity rears its monstrous face again.


Adversity is life’s unwanted gift, but it is also our "spiritunity" -- our spiritual opportunity -- to broaden and deepen the channels between ourselves and Spirit.  Suffering forces us to change, but it is a way to strengthen our soul.  We have all suffered adversity in one form or another; it is the inevitable result of the passage of time.  Things change.  Nothing is permanent.  That is a hard pill to swallow because we like to remain in emotionally familiar places, even though those places may not always be healthy for us.  Sometimes, suffering is so great that we have to give up.  We surrender.  And that’s when the alchemy begins.  As we face our resistance to change, we choose to align ourselves with events as they are unfolding.  We find in our acceptance a strange sense of peace.  




Adversity, though uncomfortable, prunes us for our Highest Good.  It helps us to define and nourish ourselves.  Life is full of re-directions because of adversity.  How we deal with it is important.  The key is to keep an open mind while experiencing such times but not let them affect our outlook and attitude in a way that destroys the future.   When my mother was a young child in war-torn Germany, she lost her home, her family, and her innocence.  She was skirted away to an orphanage with other forgotten children in Czechoslovakia.  But later in life she called it one of the best things that happened to her because it taught her how to survive, to help others in need, and to value everything in life, from big to small.  


Finding constructive (rather than destructive) ways to channel our energy helps us to cope with and move through the experience.  When adversity shows up unannounced, what do we do with the experience?  Do we curse God, grow bitter and grieve the rest of our lives, or do we embrace this re-direction as a spiritunity to bring more meaning into our lives?

Monday, March 4, 2013

What is Spiritunity?

Life is a sacred adventure.  Every day we encounter opportunities to grow spiritually, through acts of love, forgiveness, compassion, and kindness.  I call these moments “spiritunities,” or opportunities for an individual to connect, commune, and converge with Spirit, the Higher Self, God, etc., that leads to his or her authentic, divine self.  Life is filled with these moments, if we are willing to open our eyes and hearts to such moments.



 Spiritunity is about becoming aware of all the wonderful and important things going on directly in front of us, and seeing how these things are interconnected by and with Spirit.  But we miss them when we aren’t paying attention.  When we are in too much of a hurry in life, we lose moments of insights, epiphanies, grace and beauty.  We take things for granted, and we close ourselves off to the world of Spirit.  Life becomes rather boring and mundane.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

    To become spiritually aware, we must consciously choose to put ourselves in a place where we are open, receptive, and totally present in the moment.  We do this by asking and inviting spiritunities to reveal themselves.  Once we open our spiritual eyes, we see a world of wonders that has been around us all along.  We slap ourselves on the forehead like the V8 commercial...it’s our “Duh!” moment. 

 
    As we become spiritually aware and as we see with our new eyes, we come to understand that there is a natural course that this awareness follows.  We can’t rush it.  We can’t ignore it.  We can’t get in the way of it.  We do this by having faith, not necessarily in any particular religion, but in the counsel of our Spirit.  We let it unfold in it’s own time.  Will we hit bumps in the road that prolong it’s realization?  Sure.  This becomes our spiritunity of patience.  Will we find things accelerating in our lives?  At times, yes.  This becomes our spiritunity of adapting to change.  Our job is to look long and steadily at things because they will speak to us and reveal themselves.  Spirit is in the details.  Paying attention requires discipline and practice.  


    As we develop our spiritual awareness, things begin to flow in our lives.  Synchronous events occur.  We find ourselves in the right place at the right time.  Resources seem to magically arrive to help us on our journey.  We begin to sense the inner, spiritual essence of all people and things.  Through our regular spiritual practices, our intuition grows, and we get in touch with our Voice of Knowing.  It may speak with a whisper, but it speaks volumes.  Learn to listen to it and trust it.  When we do, we begin to value our insights, especially in dealing with life’s challenges.   


    Awareness is the spiritunity to see and experience life from a new perspective, one filled with meaning and adventure.  As our awareness grows with attention and intention, we find ourselves expressing a higher frequency of consciousness, one that leads to a state of harmony and balance.  We discover that the whole world is charged with sacred meaning.  We are born into a new life.