Happy Solstice! Happy Yule! Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Joyous Kwanza….and happy whatever else you are celebrating this time of year! Here is my holiday gift to you! The (dot)Love weekly newsletter FREE FOR ALL (usually available for (dot)Love Plus members only). Please enjoy! If you find it meaningful, pass it on. If you loved it, consider signing up for a Plus membership. Now….without further ado:
Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
IS 43: 18-19
There could not be more joyous words to hear than these words from Isaiah, which are then repeated throughout scripture and then brought into fruition in the Book of Revelation. As we approach the end of 2018, these could not be better words for the many I know for whom 2018 has not been the greatest of years. Many I know have experienced 2018 as a year of suffering, struggle, great challenges and most of all – death. Physically and metaphorically, 2018 has been a year of letting go = letting go of loved ones, letting go of things we have known, letting go of things we thought we knew about ourselves and our mission and purpose on this plane. 2018 has also been a year of financial difficulty for many I know – whether it be due to staggering medical bills, funeral costs, job loss, or just plain old struggle. It seems that no matter where we turn, 2018 has been a year of having to face physical, material, tangible struggle and hardship and learning to find ways through it – or not. Regarding the “not” I know that for many, 2018 has brought with it the desire to QUIT – for some out of despair, desperation, frustration or just plain exhaustion – and for those who have been paying attention – the desire to quit because what used to be is quite simply no longer life giving and needs to be set aside to make way for something new.
And the something new is coming. Or rather, it is already here! Do you not perceive it? We are at the place in our planet’s movement around the sun where the new is being born! No matter your beliefs, the Winter (for the north) and Summer (for the south) Solstice is a time of great celebration. Whether we are celebrating the sun at its highest point (Summer solstice) or the birth of the sun which ushers in the end of the dark days, the world over has something to celebrate! Spiritually, we are at the threshold of a new year and our entrance into a new world – for those who have eyes to see and a heart to believe. But, in order to truly receive the new that is promised, we have to let go of the old. This we have done over and over and over in 2018, but now, we are invited to REALLY LET IT GO and to BELIEVE that IT IS DONE!
It is done! Whatever suffering or difficulties you experienced in 2018, LET THEM GO! But more than this, we are invited into an even deeper letting go. This is a letting go that requires an intellectual understanding, a willingness to change, and belief that change is possible. It goes something like this:
Intellectual Understanding: There is a little thing that psychologists take for granted and quantum physicists consider as doctrine: We are conditioned by what we have known. Whatever experiences our life has held for us forms who we are while also forming our expectations about what life has in store for us. If we have experienced poverty, we expect poverty. If we have felt rejection, we expect rejection. If we have felt abandoned, we expect abandonment. If we have been betrayed, we expect betrayal. Do you see where I’m going with this? We are conditioned to expect what life has handed us, and most often, we expect nothing more. Not only do we expect what has been, we become emotionally addicted to the chemicals that are produced in our brain that come forth out of these experiences – the anxiety, worry, frustration and victimhood of poverty, the self-loathing or rejection or abandonment, the shame of betrayal, etc. We become addicted to these “negative” emotional states, and until we know better, we unconsciously seek out life situations where we are certain to have experiences that will give us our emotional drug. Gross, right!? But, it doesn’t have to be or remain this way….because today I am going to offer you something better:
Willingness to Change: Scripture is going to help us here – Remember not the things of the past! God meant this when S/he spoke these words through the prophet Isaiah and again through all who echoed his words. In these words, our Divine Parent is reminding us of one of the only two things that are certain in the human experience: death and CHANGE. What has been is not always what will be. In fact, it is quite certain that what has been WILL NOT BE what will be. In the immortal words of the Byrds while quoting the book of Ecclesiastes:
To everything turn, turn, turn,
There is a season turn turn turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven…..
We are here to fulfill God’s purpose. We are here to fulfill God’s will. We are here to bring forth the kingdom of God which Jesus knew as Oneness and which John the Evangelist spoke of as LOVE. We are here for the single purpose of knowing the love that we are and then being that love in the world. #chooselove! BUT…in order to be that love, we first have to be freed of the things of the past – our old wounds, our past conditioning, our unacknowledged fears, ego attachments and anxieties. We are not free to be the vessel and vehicle of God’s unbounded love as long as we are holding ourselves prisoner to our past.
We need to stop re-membering (putting these experiences back into our body) all the suffering we have experienced. We need to make a conscious choice to CHANGE and let go of the patterns of what we have known (a process we might call forgiveness) – along with our emotional addictions to it – so that something new might come in taking its place. This change moves beyond the intellectual, and invites us to literally take on a new body – replacing the body conditioned by fear, abandonment, rejection, betrayal, shame, etc. and allowing LOVE to take its place. It is that simple…..and yet it is also that profound. Just like love!
Belief: As many are aware, I am not a fan of either “The Secret” or “the Law of Attraction.” I cannot believe in a universe that punishes us for our thoughts – many of which we have no control over. As one who has experienced anxiety, depression and panic attacks, I can attest that we are not in control of our thoughts. Our mind is simply our mind, casting out thoughts in an attempt to help us feel safe. Our thoughts do not have the power to dictate our life circumstances. I can also attest that I can think great thoughts about that million dollar house on the lake I think I want, but if it is not in my highest good to possess that house no thoughts in the world will make that house mine. Thoughts (alone) do not dictate our world.
Beliefs, however, do. As it relates to the invitation to change, when we believe that we can change the impact that past unpleasant experiences have had and continue to have on us…..then we can most certainly experience that change. It doesn’t mean we will get that million dollar house on the lake, but it will mean that we are no longer prisoners of our past experiences. We are now free to be the love we are meant to be in this life and in being that love, reminding others of the unbounded love that they are as well. And if we struggle with belief (as many of us often do) or are plagued by doubt about the possibility of healing and change, scripture helps us here too: When a man approached Jesus seeking healing for his son, Jesus said:
“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” To which the father responded: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9: 23-25)
Our loving Divine parent understands the fragile nature of the human condition and is always there to help – especially when the help we most need is with our struggle to believe.
Receiving the New
As we allow ourselves to identify the past patterns and beliefs through which we have been conditioned and consciously work on releasing/healing/transforming them, we are now free to receive the new. As a friend just recently reminded me, when we empty ourselves of that which is not made of love, LOVE (another name for God) rushes toward us, excitedly filling those spaces made empty by our healing efforts and intentions. When we are filled with Love/God instead of our past suffering and pain, AMAZING things begin to happen. Instead of feeling like prisoners of our past, we are carried toward the path/mission and purpose that God/Love intended for us and which is in our highest good. Not the life that our limited minds can imagine – but a life far beyond what we could ever imagine for ourselves – a life born out of, made from and living only from a place of love. Who wouldn’t want that!?
Suggested Spiritual Practice – Emptying to be Filled
The suggested spiritual practice for this week is an adaptation of the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Tonglen. In and through this practice, you will allow yourself to heal/transform and be freed of “the old” so that you can be ready to receive “the new.”
Set aside 20-30 minutes to complete this practice, knowing that you can return to this practice again and again and again as the need arises. You will also need a notebook or journal and a writing utensil for this practice.
Begin by creating a quiet space where you can be free from interruption. Turn off your cellphone; make sure that all other devises are silenced.
Begin by reflecting on your past. What are some of the negative or painful experiences that you have had in your life that have caused you to feel: abandoned, afraid, rejected, ashamed, jealous, guilty, anxious, despairing, betrayed, etc.? As these memories arise, list them in your notebook or journal. Record the experience and the feeling associated with it.
After your mind runs out of memories, go back through each one reflecting on how these experiences are coloring your current expectations. How have you been conditioned by your past experiences to expect these negative experiences to continue? Where are you expecting to be betrayed, rejected, abandoned, etc.? Record your thoughts and reflections in your notebook or journal.
Now, with your journal in hand, you are invited to enter into a powerful healing process through which you will consciously release the experiences of the past while creating space for new and better things to take root in you.
Begin with any of the experiences you listed. Drawing the experience to mind, allow yourself to FEEL the feeling that lodged in your body as a result of that experience. FEEL the feeling, and then take a moment to identify where in your body you might be feeling this emotion. You might find it is in your neck or shoulders, in your lower back, in the center of your abdomen – or any other place in your body. Once you have identified where you are feeling the feeling, breathe into the feeling – directing your thoughts and intentions for healing into the place in your body where this feeling is held. Breathe into the yuk, and then breathe out LOVE – believing and intending that as you breath into the yuk, the pain is being broken up and as you breathe out LOVE you are giving it release. Continue with this practice until you feel freed of that past experience and the conditioning that happened because of it, knowing that as you are clearing your body of the yuk, you are making room for love or peace or hope to take its place. Once you have completed work on that single experience, move on to the next one of your list. Continue this practice until your allotted time is up.
After completing the practice, observe how you might feel differently in your body. Do you feel more free? Do you feel lighter, more peaceful? Do you feel more optimistic or energized by a new-found hopefulness? Observe these new feelings and BELIEVE that they are here to stay. And WHEN (not if) you feel your own conditioning trying to sneak back in, return to the practice you just completed above, remembering that this is a practice you can return to whenever the need for healing arises.
Remember not the things of old….
behold YOU (have the power) to make all things new!
Please share your thoughts, feelings, questions, experiences with this week’s lesson in the comment section below.
Wishing you a very happy holiday season and blessings for a joyful new year!