Creating Community Beyond Social Media
As is likely true for many of you, I have had a complicated relationship with Facebook. I first entered the realm of social media because that is “what you are supposed to do to become a successful business.” Yes, Facebook has helped me get my name out there. Yes, I have connected with and made many new friends through Facebook. I am grateful for much of what FB has provided for me.
BUT…..BUT……BUT Facebook has also proven to be a HUGE time sucker and an easy way to be distracted from how and where I should be using my energy. Facebook has also become increasingly divisive and, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sick of Big Brother gathering data about me through Facebook. I have no delusions about Big Brother not watching everything we do and that there is actually any place surveillance is not engaged, but in Facebook it is arrogantly obvious. I am also increasingly aware that the business efforts I make on FB are actually thwarted by the platform itself. Posts deleted. Blocked. Etc. It’s exhausting.
So here’s the deal: I’m DONE! Probably not 100%. (how many accounts do you have set up using your FB login!?) But I’m done turning to FB to fulfill my need for community and connection. Instead, I’m focusing my energy and intention on my own social network – Authentic Freedom.love. I’m going to create the space I want to connect in and invite you to join me! And for those friends who I only see on FB, I’m just going to ring them up and set up a coffee date! What will that look like?
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An excerpt from the Authentic Freedom Weekly Lesson. Full content available for Basic – Premium Members. Learn more HERE.
“He is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.”
God: The big “G” word. So much evil has been done in the name of an “on behalf” of “God” that I am hesitant to even use this word. At the same time, we don’t have another word in our English language that describes that which cannot be described.
When we look beyond the patriarchal interpretation and manipulation of “God” to the mystical Jewish tradition of which Jesus was most certainly a part, God is understood as this:
- Ain-Sof: Ain-Sof is the Hebrew word meaning “No-Thing.” Ain-Sof is the limitless Nothing out of which all of creation was brought forth. Ain-Sof is empty, nothing, void; but at the same time, it holds infinite possibility. Every possible thing, idea, creation, image, etc. etc. etc. is present within the void. This is the Source of all that is, and is what existed (or didn’t exist) before the BIG BANG ignited the unfolding creation of the universe. Ain-Sof would be the highest understanding of that which we might now call “God.”
- Emanations: Because this Ain-Sof cannot truly be grasped by the human mind, “God” distilled/constricted itself so that it could come into material form. In the Kabbalistic tradition of Jewish mysticism, these progressively distilled emanations of the Divine are represented on the Tree of Life as the Sefirot. These are the various aspects of the Divine that are involved in the bringing forth of all that is: Keter (Light), Chokmah (Wisdom), Da’at (Knowing), Binah (Understanding), Chesed (Mercy/Compassion), Gevurah (Severity), Tiferet (Beauty), Netzach (Victory), Hod (Splendor), Yesod (Creativity), Malchut (Creation/The Word).
- Formless, Faceless, Nameless: The ultimate Divine cannot be named, has no form and no face or image can capture its infinite nature. While human beings continue to create God in our own image, God cannot be contained by our limited perceptions or experiences. In the Hebrew tradition, this truth is lived out in the titles that are used when referring to God, never daring to utter God’s only name which has been described in four Hebrew letters which illustrate the power and majesty of the Divine. Titles like “Adonai” or El-Shaddai are used out of respect (and fear/awe) of the nameless, faceless Source.
- Masculine, Feminine and Everything in Between: In the articulation of the Divine Emanations as described in the Kabbalah, the actions of the Divine are defined in terms of “active” or “receptive.” These Emanations have been given masculine (active) and feminine (receptive) names to distinguish their active or receptive principles. Those along the middle column (Keter, Da’at, Tiferet, Malkuth) are neutral as they are that which comes forth out of the balance between the active and receptive principles of life.
In short, never in the Hebrew tradition has God been exclusively male – this interpretation is simply a distortion of the patriarchal culture out of which Christianity emerged. Therefore, Jesus’ understanding of God was not exclusively male. He is quoted as having called God “Abba/Father,” though it is just as likely he also called God “Amma/Mother.” While this cannot be proven through scripture, we do know that Jesus found himself to be ONE (John 17: 6-26) with God and in that Oneness, found great peace, contentment and joy. This “Oneness” Jesus called “Malkut,” inaccurately translated as “Kingdom of God.” From the perspective of Jewish mysticism, Jesus fulfilled the emanation of the Divine within him by attaining “Malkut” – Oneness with God and the fulfillment of the purpose of the human journey. This is what Jesus tried to teach his disciples.
My whole life I have been restless – longing and searching for more. Typically, that “more” meant something other than what I was currently experiencing. My mom recently reminded me that I was always looking for that next opportunity, next goal, next degree, next job, next relationship. I was rarely, if ever, satisfied with what was right in front of me, I was always looking for that “something new” that must be right around the corner. This searching did not arise out of boredom with the status quo – in fact, as one who thrives on order and routine, status quo has always provided me with a sense of comfort. But still, my heart was restless. Where was that satisfaction that my Soul longed for and relentlessly searched after?
The good news is that my searching has not been in vain. Everything I have explored, searched after, studied, discerned, discarded or applied has been food for the searching. Every place I landed (albeit temporarily) showed me a part of my Soul and provided me with tools which have proven, not only helpful but life-giving in the great search. What I had begun to suspect a few years back and which I have now come to understand fully, it was not anything outside of me for which I was searching.
This whole entire time I was only searching for one thing and that one thing is MYSELF.
Lauri Ann Lumby. Thriving in order and routine. An Introvert who likes people and who cherishes intimate friendships. Creative yet also logical and reasoning. Outwardly appearing aloof while harboring deep, deep, deep feelings. Highly, highly, highly intuitive (some might even suggest psychic). Hungry for knowledge – specifically of a spiritual nature. Enjoys a quiet, gentle, ease-filled flow to life. Repelled by conflict or competition. Enforcing hard-core boundaries for the sake of self-care. Recoils from entanglements and anything smelling of co-dependency or manipulation. A vessel of kindness and support, insight and wisdom. Yearning for a world where we can all just get along and where people can remember that we are all one.
This is me. I have also learned (something I’ve actually known all along) that knowing myself isn’t enough. What this search has also led me to understand is what MYSELF needs to thrive. It is not and has never been what our culture keeps trying to sell us – work hard, get a job, make lots of money, buy lots of things, invest your money, save your money, buy cool things with your money, be famous. You can imagine the inner conflict I’ve been feeling all these years with the world and my Soul constantly fighting for my attention.
No more. Now I get it and I am living it. I have set down my conditioned desire for wealth, power, fame and success (as it is defined in our capitalistic culture). Instead, I am embracing what my Soul needs – a monastic kind of life. But what does that mean in 2019 for a 54 year old divorced mother of two? The answer to this question has come from living INTO the question – asking my Soul what it needs from moment to moment and doing my best to deliver.
Yesterday, I had the perfect monastic kind of day – one that filled my Soul! It looked like this:
- 6 am wake up.
- Breakfast and coffee
- Check emails and Facebook for messages.
- Upload two additional lessons to my Order of Melchizedek Level 6 training.
- Make a healthy, nourishing lunch.
- Get a massage.
- Come home, do dishes and clean for my evening class.
- Draw some more while enjoying coffee and a few Fig cookies.
- Eat a light dinner.
- Prep my class.
- Transfer money from my Paypal account (yay….I love getting paid to “do nothing”) into my checking.
- Pay a couple bills.
- Meditate for 20 minutes
- Welcome my guests for a 6:30 class.
- Watch Dark Crystal on Netflix while enjoying a glass of wine.
- 9:00 bedtime.
Easy day. Easy flow. The perfect blend of being and doing and only “doing” that which came forth out of my being. Hurray!
Today is much of the same. The only difference will be grocery shopping, a stop at the bank and my job at the ballet studio (chop wood and carry water while also getting my necessary outside of my home people interaction).
In embracing my monastic spirit and making a commitment to it in my daily life, I am indeed finding “heaven on earth.” Yes there will still be conflict. Yes, there will still be anxiety and stress. Yes, I am spending a fair amount of my time alone – which actually fits my temperament. No, my life is not complicit with what a capitalistic culture requires of us. No, I don’t have any of the things our culture says we must have. I don’t own a home. I don’t have any savings or investments. I own the simple furnishings and artwork (much of it I have done myself) that are in my home. Much of what I own came to me second-hand, including the clothes on my back. It is a simple life. It is counter cultural. And it is founded on and established in one thing:
My relationship with MYSELF and my relationship with that which some call “God.”
Everything else springs forth out of and revolves around this simple goal – to be One within Myself and therefore One with God and One with everything that is.
It is here that we find true contentment and peace.
If the monastic life speaks to your Soul’s yearning, follow my daily posts on Facebook and Instagram. If you are looking for connection with others walking a similar path, consider becoming a member of our growing community. All are welcome.
The closer we draw to our true nature (which is God/Source/Love), the more inessential parts of our life, nature and personality fall away. Apparently just saying “yes” to a more monastic life is not enough. (As if I didn’t already know this!). As I live into the answer of what it means to be monastic as a 54 year old single mother of two I’m simultaneously finding answers, along with many more questions. At this moment, everything is up for grabs. Every….single…..thing……I have been offering as my gifts to the world; every….single…..title/role/name I have given to myself; every…..single…..way……I have attempted to describe who I am and what I do is up for debate. Actually, it is much more than that, every…..single…..thing……is asking to be SET ASIDE. Maybe not forever, but in this moment, in this snapshot of time, I am no longer teacher, counselor, author, priest, prophet, artist, or writer. I’m feeling a little like Arya Stark in her stay with at the House of Black and White.
“The Girl is No one. The Girl has no name.”
As Arya discovered in the end, I will never be without my name. I will always be Lauri. But as Arya also learned, some of the roles and responsibilities may need to change. In the past this would have terrified me, but I’ve been here before. It’s simply another one of those COMPLETE REWRITES over which I have no control. It is being done through me, for me, and on my behalf. So all I can do is SURRENDER to what is and as is appropriate during this Scorpio season, take the deep dive.
The Deep Dive for me has shown up in the form of a profound emptiness. I find myself with literally nothing to do, and no inspiration for doing. Yeah, there are tons of things I could be doing, but I have learned not to force things or to push against the energy of the Universe which is clearly telling me to get out of my own way. (Thank you for your patience Torrie as Lesson 6 is taking its own damn time in being born!)
With nothing to do, I have nothing left but to be. To be WITH that which is presenting. 1) a book on monasticism by a recovering Catholic divorced mother of two like me. 2) Friends showing up out of nowhere wanting to meet for coffee. 3) My regular meditation and yoga practices. 4) Caring for my children. 5) Being with the breaking down.
Breaking down is proving to be a mash up of life review, revisiting old wounds, witnessing those things that are still in need of transformation. It is like someone stirred the pond and the muck that had settled on the bottom has come up to the surface to be seen. The most important part of this stage in the process is to OWN MY OWN SHIT! No finger pointing. No blame. No shame. No projections. Instead, it is simply seeing, witnessing and evaluating. In taking the stance of objective observer, I can simply assess what is coming forth and evaluate its place in my life. What is working? What is not. What is life-giving? What is not? What can stay? What may need to go? As I am still human, this process is less than perfect, but once I get through the initial emotional reaction, I see more clearly how EVERYTHING is mine.
In this stage, the temptation is to then think I have to do something about it. NO NO NO. Now is not the time for action. Now is simply the time of observation and evaluation. As human beings we are so damned impatient and think we have to be in charge. When we think we have things all figured out and then hurry to get ‘er done, it usually blows up in our face. Instead, we are invited to MOVE BEYOND our human nature and WAIT. What we eventually find is that the Universe has the perfect timing in mind and is orchestrating all necessary change in the perfect way and in the perfect time. We also find that when we “Let go and let God” the result is usually (mostly) pain free. The only “pain” that is present is related to how much we are clinging to what has been and what needs to pass away.
Sigh! Being human is hard. Being spiritual in a human world is even harder. But as I am continually reminded, it’s not like I have a choice. I came here to do one thing and that is LOVE. Apparently love isn’t done with me yet.
There are many times throughout our journey home to ourselves (self-actualization) where our lives are completely re-aligned. This re-alignment begins on the day we are born in the moment we are expelled from the comfort of our mother’s womb into the cold, often cruel, world. No longer are all our needs continually met unbidden, we have to make people aware of our needs with no words to express them. As we find our way through infancy and childhood, every moment is a re-alignment – a constant exploration and learning of how to be and who to be in this world. The re-alignments continue as we graduate childhood and become students, when we move from the routine of grade school into the hormone infested chaos of middle school, and from there into the segmented atmosphere of high school – defined by social groups and activities. From there we move to the job world or college, to love and marriage, parenthood, etc. etc. etc. At certain steps along the journey a complete overhaul is required.
Finding our way home to ourselves is no different. The past several years for me has been one letting go and emptying after another. Just as I think I have emptied enough, the Universe presents another opportunity/invitation/command. (It’s really more of a command. I have discovered in this journey toward Self that we really don’t have a choice. If we are serious about our commitment to Self/Soul, freewill isn’t really an option. It’s more of a do or die.) I find that I am facing another one of these commands.
When I proclaimed to the world my commitment to my monastic self, I thought (how silly of me) “Ok we’re good.” I figured it was simply a matter of living into the monastic-ish lifestyle that has been beckoning me. Hah! Just as we think we have things figured out, God/Goddess laughs. Instead, I find that not only am I living into the question of what a monastic life looks like to me, I am also witnessing the further falling away of everything I thought myself to be and every role/offering I thought I had to share with the world. For the past several months, my students have been falling away left and right. I have few clients to speak of. The membership options I launched on my site are not thriving in the way I hoped they would. Etc. etc. etc.
To add insult to injury, as a normally prolific writer and creator, my creative inspiration seems to be dried up. I have four creative projects staring me in the face – one with somewhat of a deadline. They are all standing there looking at me waiting for some movement but I got nothin. Zilch. Nadda. Nothin. Not one spark of inspiration to get these things done and bring them into fruition. Nothin.
Old Lauri would have worried and fretted about the “looming deadlines” and the (seemingly) ever-decreasing income stream. Even more, I would have worried about having nothing “to do.” Instead, I know this is simply more of the movement toward Self. As Jesus modeled for us and the ancient mystics further demonstrated, the intent and purpose of the spiritual journey is to be made empty so that we might be filled by God. The journey home to ourselves, is ultimately about returning to Source – God, Love, Truth, Ain-Sof (No-thing), the Void, Allah, Brahma, Sophia, Shekinah, Abba, Amma, – whatever name/image/form/formlessness you want to give it. The human journey is all about Source calling us home to our true nature which can only be accomplished in an emptying of ourselves.
At this point in my journey I know better than to resist the call of the Soul. Those things that are falling away are doing so to create space for something even more amazing, life-giving and fulfilling. I have absolutely no idea what that might be, but I am open to receive and getting out of my own way so the Divine can make its home in me.
Since giving myself permission to embrace the monastic lifestyle that has been calling to my Soul, some interesting things have happened. In short, I have never in my life felt so secure in myself. I feel content, grounded and whole. It is as if every scattered part of myself, every fragmented part of me has been drawn into wholeness. It seems that the decision to embrace my own unique form of monasticism created a magnet that simply drew every part of me into a state of wholeness within myself. In making this commitment to myself, I have come home – home to myself.
Coming home (to myself) came about through the simple and singular act of permission. After 54 years of struggle, I gave myself permission to BE who I have always meant to and yearned to be. With that, all the struggle simply fell away. It is obvious to me that the 54 previous years has been a constant leading toward and unfolding of this simple, inevitable moment of permission. Everything I have done; all I have been through and every single tool and practice I gathered along the way provided the support I needed to acknowledge and accept this calling in a world that would have me doing everything but.
In a world where we have no models or examples of regular, ordinary, working folk embracing a monastic lifestyle, it is a commitment we must live into. What does it mean to be monastic in the regular ordinary world? For non-religious, non-vowed women and men, the answer will be unique to each individual. For me, the answers come only in the moment, in each decision I make about how to spend my time.
As one who thrives on structure, I find comfort in the daily actions that reflect my Soul’s calling – morning meditation, yoga, time for reading and study, time to create, time to interact one-on-one with my spiritual friends (who I consider family), and time for work. As I create time and space for these activities of BEING, I am finding the fruits of this permission-giving. Time expands and I can accomplish tasks that I would normally procrastinate. Joy steps in and makes itself a home. Miracles happen and connections are made. In giving myself permission to live my Soul’s own unique rhythm, a quiet and gentle flow has entered my life.
I love it.
That is not to say that the journey has been easy or that there won’t be consequences to the permission I am giving myself. I have worked very hard to move through my fears, anxieties, unhealed wounds and societal conditioning to arrive at this place. I had to set aside our societal dreams of fame, wealth, and success (as it is defined in our culture). I have had to find a way to live as the working poor. I have no savings and no investments. I own nothing except the car I am slowly paying off. If these pronouncements make you feel uncomfortable – you understand what I have been up against in arriving at the calling of my Soul. I have also been single and have had to learn how to be alone without being lonely. In this, I have discovered contentment in my own company. Who knew?
As for the consequences – these are for others to suffer. Because of the commitment I have made to myself, I find that I have to say “no” more often then I previously have. I already had pretty good boundaries, but now they are even more secure. Many will not understand the container I am creating for myself and will take my no’s personally. Some will then have to make me the enemy for caring for myself instead of bending to their will. When we live in a culture that says it is our job to make other people happy and that everyone else’s needs are more important than our own, when we say yes to ourselves, and no to others, we are challenging the cultural norm and the conditioning in which many still live. I have already experienced the clearing of relationships that happens when we choose ourselves. Some would find this sad. What I have found instead, is that those who remain are closer and more intimate. There is a naked honesty, transparency and vulnerability that emerges because in each other’s gaze, we have nothing left to hide for the simple reason that we are no longer hiding from ourselves.
What would happen if you stopped hiding from yourself and gave yourself permission to live the life your Soul yearns for?