I’m never sure how my role as unofficial pastor of Oshkosh will be called on, but when it is I am humbly awed by the tiny little ways I can be a vehicle for loving care and support, or to be the recipient of some profound gem of wisdom. This morning, I experienced both, and it was the gem of wisdom is what hit me the strongest.
For the past almost 20 years, The New Moon Café and Coffee Shop has been my official home away from home. It is one of my places of refuge and a place I can go to for my daily hug – both in the form of a cup of dark roast and in the loving relationships I have cultivated and enjoyed with owners and the ever-evolving staff of young people (young to me) who work there. The New Moon draws an eclectic crowd of students, artists, professors, business owners and the local disenfranchised. At the New Moon everyone is welcome (unless they try to cause harm to someone working or another customer). I love the New Moon and during this shutdown I have made it a point of visiting there as much as possible to help support their being able to continue past the Covid-19 frenzy.
It was just this frenzy that became the point of conversation as I stopped at “the Moon” after my Sunday yoga practice. Behind the counter were two young women I haven’t seen since the shutdown and it was a reunion of sorts. As the only customer in the place, we had time to chat. “How are you surviving shutdown?” I asked. Both women shared their respective tools for managing in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis along with their observations of what they see happening in our world. For anyone who is still critical of Millennials and Gen-Xers, I would say, you have not met the crew at the Moon. Both young women had a really good handle on their own self-care, along with a deep well of compassion for a world in distress. The message that pierced through the many aspects of Covid-19 we explored was this:
Handle with Care!
Through the wisdom of these young women, I was reminded of the many reactions we are witnessing to the Covid-19 event and the invitation to not be too hasty in judging those reactions. Instead, these wise young women reflected on the necessity of holding these reactions in loving compassion. We do not know how people’s unhealed fears, past traumas, or societal conditioning might be influencing their reaction to Covid-19 and everything related to this (literally) viral event. We don’t know people’s individual vulnerabilities – most especially those who may have a health situation that makes them especially susceptible to the virus. We do not know what tools people have or (most likely) don’t have for managing, stress, the unknown, fear, the inability to control, etc. etc. etc. We just don’t know. Neither will we know unless we ask, and even then, we might not understand. How can we know unless we have walked a mile in their shoes?
The bottom line is this: when we feel ourselves triggered by other people’s reactions to Covid-19 we are invited to refrain from judgment, contain our temptation to react and then Handle with Care. Instead of casting a finger of criticism or blame, can we instead hold each other in loving compassion? Maybe if we learn to handle each other with care, together we can find our way through the Covid-19 event and to the new life that is seeking to be born on the other side of this crisis.
Thank you Sierra and Kristi for your compassionate wisdom! <3 <3 <3
In the beginning and middle stages of spiritual growth, it is helpful to perceive God as intimately personal and human-like and as something distinct from us. At the same time, these personal images of God do not begin to touch the vast nature of our Divine Source. Eventually, to truly embrace the fullness of the truth of Oneness, and of love as our true nature, we have to look beyond these personal images to something more infinite. Looking to the deeper translation of the term Abwoon that Jesus so frequently used to address God, we begin to get a glimpse of the vastness of the Divine.
O Though from whom the breath of life flows and is present in all forms of vibration and light. (Prayers of the Cosmos, Neil Douglas-Klotz)
It is difficult to grasp the transcendent, indwelling and infinite nature of God with our human mind, and so we have to reach beyond our minds to the lived experience in order to grasp this truth. The writings attributed to John best express the fullness of this lived experience. It is clear through these writings that the author had a deeply personal and experiential relationship with the I Am. It is through this experience that the concept of God as love itself is most clearly articulated.
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because God loved us first. 1 John 4: 16b – 19
As the author of John experienced, God is love. Applying this expanded understanding to our existing relationship with God, it stands to reason that if God is love, it is in fact, love that created us. As such, the love that is God lives in and through us. In this way, not only are we loved, we are love itself. Love is, in fact, our rightful inheritance, our true nature, our identity. We are able to live out of this true nature when we remember that we are One with God and hence, one in love.
HOLY VIRTUE – Compassion
As we accept the truth that we are One in love with God we become content in the love that we are and we no longer feel compelled to seek that love outside of us. This love-filled contentment invites us to explore the rewriting of our fairytales. As we (the protagonist) come to know the love that is deep within ourselves, we exponentially increase our ability to live in the truth of this love. Knowing that we are comprised of love, we no longer need to build defenses around ourselves, and the fortresses around our hearts begin to disintegrate and we find that we can trust ourselves and others. Understanding that conditional love can never be a source of fulfillment, we no longer find ourselves compelled to seek the handsome prince or beautiful princess that will be able to give us our happily ever after. Love, we remember, is who we are. As we grow in this confidence, we are able to go out into the world reflecting the love that we now know within ourselves. It is here that we shall experience the truest expression of the virtue of compassion. It is here that we shall find our happily ever after.
Authentic Freedom is also available as an online course, facilitated by Lauri Ann Lumby. Learn more HERE.
In our journey of ascension, spiritual evolution, enlightenment, self-actualization, personal growth: we come upon a practice that helps us to manage the relationship conflicts in our lives and keep them in the proper perspective. The practice teaches us that every relationship conflict we experience is there as a teacher, revealing to us our own unhealed wounds. With this practice, instead of lashing out at or projecting blame upon the other person in the conflict, we STOP and take a look within: What is being triggered in me relating to an unhealed wound or unacknowledged fear? What can I do to help support the healing and release of this wound/fear? This practices invites us to ask the question, “What is mine in this?” while freeing us from the temptation to harbor resentment, blame, anger or to entertain thoughts of retaliation toward the other person in the conflict – owning what is ours and taking care of our own sh.t. This practice also frees us from the temptation of wanting to “fix” or “correct” the other person in the conflict, recognizing that we are only responsible for our own healing and leaving them to work on themselves (if they choose to do so).
Holding ourselves accountable to our own part in relationship conflict is a profoundly freeing practice. It facilitates our own self-awareness. We experience healing and release of fear and the wounds that are still haunting us. We are able to enter into a place of detachment in our inter-personal communications – freeing ourselves from reaction, blame, projection, resentment, hurt and anger. We are also able to grow in compassion toward the “other.” As we realize our own woundedness we become more sensitive to the unhealed wounds of others, allowing us to have empathy for those who have not yet found healing.
This practice of self-reflection and self-scrutiny is a powerful and important step in our individual journeys toward wholeness and while we should never NOT engage in this practice, there is one grave danger we must be conscious and aware of:
As we engage in the practice of self-scrutiny and self-evaluation in our relationship conflicts, it is easy to fall into patterns of taking all the blame for the conflict and neglecting to hold the other person accountable for their own unhealed wounds and unacknowledged fears. This over-responsibility shows up in subtle patterns of self-blame, shame and sometimes even evolves into self-loathing. To put it simply, we find ourselves always questioning our actions, motivations, roles in relationship challenges and we neglect to REMEMBER that the other person is AT LEAST 50% of the problem. As it is said, “it takes two to tango.” We feel these patterns inwardly as a sense of heaviness, feeling burdened, even depressed or slightly angry or resentful.
When we find ourselves bearing the full burden of blame in any relationship conflict, it is time to TAKE OUR POWER BACK! Yes, it is important to enter into self-evaluation, acknowledging our part in a relationship conflict, but it doesn’t end there. It is critical that we also acknowledge (to the best of our ability), the other person’s role in the conflict. We might even know them well enough to surmise the unhealed wound or unacknowledged fear that caused their part of the conflict. Whether we are able to do this or not….it is IMPERITIVE to keep the responsibility where it truly lies – and at least 50% of that burden lies on the shoulder of “the other,” and that is where it should remain. In taking back our power, we acknowledge what is ours and do the work of cleaning that up, and we leave the rest for the other person to deal with. Whether they deal with it or not is none of our business as the only person we are truly responsible for is ourselves – and that is work enough on its own!
As we examine the seemingly increasing states of violence in the world (are they increasing…or does the media just make it look that way?), it is easy to point the finger of blame – it’s his fault, it’s her fault, it’s their fault. We are quick to make other people the enemy when in fact, we are the greatest enemy.
“WHAT…..how am I the enemy?” you might ask. It’s simple. WE are the greatest enemy because we do more harm to ourselves than we ever thought of doing to another human being. Hatred toward others ALWAYS begins with our hatred of ourselves. When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” he wasn’t issuing a commandment, he was making an observation. We do love our neighbor in direct proportion to the love we have toward ourselves. When we know ourselves and are comfortable in our own skin, we can’t help but treat others with kindness, compassion and respect. When we judge and condemn our selves for every little thing – how our hair looks today, what we are wearing, trying to hide our insecurities and imperfections from the world, etc. we judge the world likewise. When we cling to same and hold out for predictable, safe and orderly, the truth of our chaotic and unpredictable world makes us feel unsafe. Instead of loving ourselves in spite of our unease, we turn the finger of blame outward – “It’s their fault the world is in the state that it is in.” We’re busy shaming ourselves for being too afraid to ask for our needs to be met, so we lose our patience with our kids and yell at them for being….kids.
We are the enemy in all the ways we criticize, condemn, judge, shame, belittle ourselves and for all the ways we suppress the uncomfortable feelings within ourselves (anxiety, fear, sorrow, anger, resentment) because we judge them as “bad”. We are the enemy when we do these things, first, by doing harm to ourselves and second, for all the ways these feelings come out sideways in anger, hatred, intolerance, impatience, condemnation, toward others.
Healing the violence in our world starts by healing the violence within ourselves. We do this by learning to love ourselves. Here is a simply little practice you might try to begin that process of loving yourself without condition so that you are no longer the enemy to yourself first, and then to others.
Below is a prayer you may all be familiar with – The Prayer of St. Francis. In this practice, instead of using the prayer as intercessory (directed outward toward God or toward the world), turn it inward. With every phrase, turn the words toward yourself. (Here is a musical accompaniment for the song if you wish to attend to this practice through music…the prayer itself starts at 3:39 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wrcn85_MPYI )
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy
Oh Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving (to ourselves) that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in dying that we are born into eternal life.
May we all learn to love ourselves without condition so that we can love the world in the same way – slowly and surely turning a world of fear into a world of love!
Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, MATS provides programs and services to support you in your journey of self- love and self-actualization. Call (920) 230-1313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
This week’s Agape Meditation Newsletter, in preparation for this Sunday’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church, provides us with THE solution to the struggles of the human condition. If we want peace, love, joy, and harmony in the human experience, there is only one thing we need to do. It can’t get any easier than this! To find out what that is, read on….
Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter
Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service for Sunday, October 26, 2014.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Mt 22: 34-40
Ex 22: 20-26
Ps 18: 2-4, 47, 51
1 Thes 1: 5c-10
It Doesn’t Get Any Easier!
If you ever only read one passage from scripture, this is the one to read. It doesn’t get any easier than this. LOVE. Period! Love God. Love your neighbor. Period! This is all we are asked to do. This is all that is expected of us. To love God and to love each other. Everything else in scripture, every other commandment boils down to this. When we successfully accomplish both of these tasks, we will experience – actually create – heaven on earth. What are we waiting for?
How are you giving time to loving God?
How are you being loving toward your neighbor?
How are you NOT being loving toward your neighbor (hint….EVERYONE is your neighbor)?
Spiritual Practices – Knowing God’s Love
There is a critical key to Jesus’ commandment to love your neighbor. This critical piece is as yourself. In order to love our neighbor, we have to first love ourselves. More specifically, we need to know the love that we already are in our intimate connection with God. The path to knowing this love is FIRST to know the love of God. Cultivating an intimate and personal relationship with God is where it all begins. The rest flows from there. The more we know God, the more we know ourselves and the more we are able to know and love another. This week’s simple spiritual practice will help facilitate knowledge of God’s love:
Sit in silence.
Bring your attention to your breath. Be conscious of each breath as you draw it in and release it.
Recognize that the very breath you are breathing is GOD breathing love into you.
Breathe in God’s breath and feel it filling you with love.
As you breathe out, imagine the breath taking with it your fears, anxieties, any inner obstacles to knowing and believing in God’s love.
Continue to breathe in God’s love and breathe out fears, old wounds, etc.
Stay with this breathing practice, feeling it drawing you into a place of peacefulness, recognizing that this peacefulness is also God.
When you find your mind wandering, return your attention to your breathing.
Continue this practice for 15-30 minutes.
In Authentic Freedom, Compassion/mercy is the spiritual virtue that is attained when we allow ourselves to remember that God is love and we too are Love in our intimate connection with God. When we know God’s love and realize the love that we are, we have no choice but to be compassionate toward other human beings. When we remember this love, Jesus’ second commandment arises without effort, we are just generous, kind, loving, forgiving, tolerant, understanding and accepting of our neighbor and we soon discover that EVERYONE is our neighbor.
How are you growing in compassion as you grow in your love of God?
A message on the strange times we are in and on the hope of birthing a new world. I dedicate this to my children and the other young people who will ultimately bear the consequences of this current transition.
These are strange times with all the conflicts going on in our world, most obviously the failure of the US government to do its job, thereby forcing a shutdown. In addition to these outward signs, people have been sharing with me, personal feelings and experiences of disproportionate anxiety, depression, restlessness, impatience, anger, rage and the feeling as if their world is in a complete state of chaos and overwhelm. I heard it described as if we are riding a rollercoaster of unexpected and unpleasant (for many) happenings. The people who might call themselves sensitives, or just plain “spiritual” seem to be feeling all of this even more acutely. As spiritual people, we are compelled to wonder, “What does this all mean, what is the purpose in all of this and what can we learn?”
In a nutshell, what we are experiencing is the death throes of the hierarchical and patriarchal cultural and sociological paradigm in which we have been imprisoned for the past 5 – 10, 0000 years. If any of you have ever witnessed a death, you know what that looks like – extreme anxiety, depression, restlessness, bursts of anger and impatience, physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual discomfort. This is ultimately what we are experiencing both on an individual and collective level. Hierarchy and Patriarchy, and every structure built upon these models of leadership are coming to an end. And, those invested in these kinds of power structures are desperately clinging to the life they have known and are resisting the release of what has, up until now, given them the false sense of power and control. As the shields, which have carefully guarded government and corporate structures founded on corruption and greed, are falling away, the American people (and the world) is saying, “ENOUGH!” Our job, in the midst of this, is to let the old order self-destruct (which it is doing at a rapidly increasing rate) and be ready to step in to re-create a world that is based in something more life giving.
How to Manage the Dismantling
As I see it, there are two levels to this dismantling: 1) One that is personal and 2) one that is collective. Here is how we can support this dismantling, both within ourselves and within the world around us.
1) Personally: For each of us personally, the dismantling is about undoing the parts within us that are ruled and manipulated by fear. It is about identifying the parts of ourselves which are feeling anxious, depressed, restless, angry, sorrowful and which might even be experiencing these sensations physically. In short, our fearful/egoic self is dying, right along with the fearful/egoic parts of our culture. A portion of this personal dismantling also includes a life-review of sorts. All those unhealed wounds within us or things we have suppressed or ignored seem to be finding their way to the surface in order that they may be named, healed and released. The simple formula for participating in this dismantling is to imagine your fearful/egoic self as a separate individual. Visualize this part of you and HOLD IT in love and compassion. Thank it for enduring the suffering of the human condition and project thoughts of healing and release to all it has carried for you so that it may ascend to a place of peace.
2) Collectively: For the world, the dismantling is the same – allowing the fearful/egoic parts of our human community to die. And, the practice is the same. HOLD the world in love. THANK it for bearing the suffering it has born for the sake of our fear. Project thoughts of healing and release to the broken, fearful, hurting and wounded parts of our world so that they too might ascend to a peaceful place.
This part of my message is specific to those who have identified themselves as healers, lightworkers, lightwarriors, Indigos, Crystals, peacemakers, lovers, etc. Whatever name you call yourself, you have been aware of a special call within you to be a vessel of love and healing in this world. You have a special job. Because of the gifts you have been given, you are especially skilled in transforming fear into love, ignorance into wisdom, confusion into insight, hatred into compassion. You all have your own unique way of bringing love into the world, you are now called to step forward and do what you know you have been called to do. Additionally, I have heard many rumblings about the healers coming together. I’m not sure, exactly, what that means, but let that invitation ring in your heart and guide you toward what that might mean for you.
Way showers and Pioneers Get Ready
And, now is the time for the way showers and pioneers, the millenials, post-moderns, Gen-X’ers and Gen-y’ers to GET READY! As the outgoing power-hungry hoards have accused you of being “slackers,” (which we all know has never been true!) this is YOUR TIME to shine!!! You were born with the knowledge of what the new world needs to look like, and you were born with the vision, gifts and passions to make that happen. Of course, the old regime first needs to fall away. But GET READY….because the new world is YOUR world and will be crafted by your hands, your vision, your wisdom and most importantly, your compassion. You are the most loving and compassionate generation yet to be born on this planet and as the old world falls, you will be the ones bringing the new world to life! Get ready….your time is very, very near.
A Vision of the New World
Of course, no one can predict exactly what the new world will look like, especially since it will be the generations behind me (at 48) who will grow the roots of the new world. For my generation, we are merely the seed planters and the bridge. My sense is that the new world will look nothing like what we have previously known. The new world, will not be ruled by fear or power over, but by love and cooperative collaboration. Perceived separations will fall away and we will come to see how we are ONE, while honoring what is unique and special among us. We will learn to be STEWARDS of our planet, not rapists. We will honor the planet for the gifts it gives us and we will treat her with gentleness and kindness. We will learn to grow crops organically and without harmful and deadly chemicals, and we will see that there is enough to feed every mouth on this planet when we emphasize the growth of living foods. In a spirit of unity, we will ensure that every person is fed, housed, clothed, kept safe, provided with adequate medical care and a quality education. We will honor cultural differences, while finding the love between us. The world will be governed by peace, harmony, love and compassion. We will learn that when we come together in love, there is enough, all of our needs are met in abundance, we will find our own unique gifts and discover meaning and purpose in sharing these gifts for the on-going betterment of the world, we will find support for who we are, we will know love, the value of honoring our own truth as well as the truth of others, we will find direction in wisdom instead of fear and we will discover that we are never alone. Too big of an order? I don’t think so. In short, we will discover the kingdom of God among us and we will walk in peace.
My prayers and blessings to you as we witness the death of what has been, in anticipation of the birth of love.
What happens when we try to share our gifts in the world and find that some are unable or unwilling to accept our gifts. As Jesus said, “shake the dust off your feet and walk away.” Learning detachment is a critical tool in the journey toward self-fulfillment and peace.
Sharing my Gifts
As I became aware, a few weeks ago, of my life’s purpose – which is to help others remember the love that they are, I began to reflect on how I have used this call throughout my ministry and my life. With this newfound awareness, I was astonished at how this “call” or “purpose” seemed to be making itself known all the way back to my earliest memories. I remember seeing the best in people and wanting to help them know this about themselves as well. Sadly, not all people are able or willing to see this good in themselves and will do everything they can to resist embracing this goodness. In the past, I used to take this as a form of rejection of myself and my gifts. Now, I know better.
Each and every one of us has a unique purpose and reason for being here and specific gifts we are called to share in the world toward this purpose. It is through our purpose and through our gifts that the world can become a happier, healthier, more harmonious, loving and peaceful place. Unfortunately, as you have probably already realized, not everyone is able to receive our gifts. This is not because our gifts are not of value or because we are not of value. It is simply a reflection of the other person’s unhealed wounds and the primary wound that remains unhealed is the wound that says they are not worthy or deserving of a vibrant, joyful, peaceful, fulfilling and love-filled life. I remember very specific examples of this being played out in my own life as I have made my gifts available to others. The invitation, when we try to share our gifts and the other is unable to receive them, is to practice the art of detachment. Detachment is the art of being able to freely, generously and openly share our gifts without any attachment to the outcome. Detachment allows us to share our gifts and not take it personally when another is unable to receive our gifts.
Detachment and Compassion
To some, the idea of detachment might seem cold or cruel….how do we just shake the dust off our feet and walk away from the people we care about who continue to choose fear, suffering, constriction and imprisonment in their lives? Detachment, does not mean that we do not feel for the people in our lives. Of course we can still feel compassion, even sadness, over their inability to remember the love that they are, to embrace freedom and joy in their life, to experience peaceful contentment, to be receptive to loving intimacy, to know fulfillment. I know how truly sad I have felt when I see people I love continue to choose fear, constriction and an unfulfilling life. I know how my heart breaks when I watch people I know continue the same destructive patterns. Yes, we feel sorrow, empathy and compassion. Detachment, is the skill that allows us to surrender to the process – to know that in sharing our gifts and holding another in love, we have planted a seed….and that in their own way, in their own time, if they so choose, that seed may take root and grow. And that if it does not, that is ok too….we are all on our own unique and individual life journeys and we are still love regardless of whether or not we know it and regardless of how we choose to live that out in our lives.
Where have you shared your gifts and seen them joyfully received?
Where have you shared your gifts and had them not received?
How have you cultivated detachment in your own life?
Last night in the gathering of the Authentic Freedom Contemplative Community, we reflected on the topic of “call.” We explored how each and every one of us is uniquely called to reveal Divine love, mercy, compassion, joy, peace, etc. in the world. We were then invited to write our own Psalm response to this call. I thought I would share with you what showed up in the Psalm that I wrote:
R: Here I am Lord, I come to do your will
I am imperfect Lord, filled with judgment and rage,
and yet you called me.
Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.
I am not eloquent of speech.
I am young and lacking in wisdom.
And still you called me.
Here I am Lord, I come to do your will
An insatiable passion for learning and a restless spirit you gave me.
Your law is written in my heart.
Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.
“Be strong, fear not,” are your words when I tremble in fear.
You remind me that I am precious in your eyes and that you love me.
Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.
Eyes and ears to see and hear the truth beyond the words.
Your word is more precious than the finest gold.
Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.
Grant me humility and compassion, mercy, peace and obedience
that I may know your perfect love and help others to know it too.
Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.
How is God calling you to reveal Divine love in the world?
Two days ago I wrote about Shaktipat – the moment that we are awakened out of our ordinary existence and called upon the path of spiritual exploration, growth, healing and transformation. What happens after Shaktipat? GOOD HARD WORK – that’s what!!!
I want to thank my friend, Heidi for sharing the following quote from her spiritual teacher that she posted in response to Sunday’s blog on Shaktipat (spiritual awakening) and the path to enlightenment:
“Both my masters so thoroughly enbodied Sri (the most resplendent aspect of the Divine) that is would be easy to write off their accomplishments to a blessed birth or to the teachers that guided them. Don’t kid yourself. The heights they scaled reflect the sheer force they generated day after day through practice. Yes, you reap what you sow. Remember: practice is how the teachings breathe their sublime light into you.”
Amen. Amen. Amen. Spiritual transformation does not end with Shaktipat. In fact, Shaktipat, while frequently dramatic in its experience is perhaps the smallest and most insignificant portion of the spiritual journey. We might have a moment of sublime awakening, but then what? The image that springs to my mind is the perception that somehow the moment of Christian baptism or the moment we profess “Jesus to be our personal Lord and Savior” the slate is wiped clean and we are now and forever saved. Enlightenment does not end with a profession of faith, a sacred ritual or shaktipat. These personally fulfilling moments are only the beginning. Sound spiritual growth, healing and transformation only come about because of hard work and diligent practice.
The foundation of Spiritual growth, as we are reminded by Heidi’s teacher, is PRACTICE. Practice is the diligent attention to whatever vehicle we use to remember our intimate connection with the Divine/God. In the Christian tradition practice is experienced as prayer, worship, mindful service, meditation and contemplation. In the Eastern traditions practice includes these with the addition of movement (yoga, tai chi, chi qong, etc.). The thread and crucial element that ties all of these forms of practice together and makes them effective is ATTENTION.
Practice is focused attention on the Divine/Highest Self. Practice transcends the activity of the mind and the restless actions of the ego and draws us into communion with the center of peaceful contentment that lies within. It is in connection with this peaceful contentment that we remember our Oneness with God. Sounds easy, right? WRONG! Spiritual practice, while simple, is NOT EASY! In fact, diligent attention to our spiritual practice might be the most challenging thing we will ever do in our life. The good news is that as challenging as maintaining a diligent spiritual practice may be, the rewards are well worth the effort!
Here are some of the fruits of maintaining a diligent spiritual practice:
Healing – of spiritual, emotional, mental and physical wounds and disease
Release from spiritual fears
Recovery from compulsive behaviors and actions
Increased peace, contentment, joy, compassion
Deep and profound knowledge of love (Divine love)
Discovery of our unique giftedness and call to share these gifts in the world
The ability to surrender
Do these qualities sound appealing to you? Then what are you waiting for? Get to work! Enlightenment only begins with our spiritual awakening. The rest is up to you!
As we continue the exploration of the ministry of Spiritual Direction, we explore the role of a Spiritual Director in assisting their client in learning how to recognize the fears that are standing in the way of their ability to embrace their most authentic self and the role of the Spiritual Director in offering the client effective tools for finding healing of these fears.
The primary role of a Spiritual Director is to stand as objective witness to the spiritual journey of their clients. The task of a trained, professional Spiritual Director is to hold space for their clients to move through the process of coming to embrace their truest and most authentic self. Attentive presence is the greatest gift a Spiritual Director can offer as the hidden and vulnerable highest truths of their clients attempt to emerge. A large part of this process of emergence is to confront and overcome the obstacles to freely living as our most authentic self. These obstacles consist of the fears, wounds and false perceptions that imprison us within our false-self. It is my job as a Spiritual Director to help you to recognize these obstacles and find effective ways to give them release so that your truest self may take flight.
One of the things that I am most grateful for as a Spiritual Director is my knowledge and experience in the field of energy medicine – specifically Reiki. Through the integration of my knowledge and experience of Western Spiritual Practices and Reiki, I have found a short-cut to assisting clients in their journey of emergence. Through the integration of these seemingly separate disciplines, I have come to the awareness of an intimate connection between our outward compulsions (addictive and unhealthy behaviors) and the spiritual fears that are at the root of these behaviors. While changing our behaviors is an effective way to clear the path for our true self to emerge, what would happen if we could heal the behaviors at their source? This is where healing our spiritual fears comes in handy.
In the work that I have done, I have uncovered seven core spiritual fears that seem to be at the root of all of our human compulsions, addictions and unhealthy behaviors. These seven spiritual fears are the obstacles to our ability to stand fully in our truth and live as our most authentic selves. The fears are as follows:
There is not enough (money, food, love, time, power, etc.)
I am insignificant and have nothing to contribute to the world
I cannot live as my most authentic self
I am not loved
I am not free to express my truth
I do not know my truth or my path
I am alone
Through the ministry of Spiritual Direction, I have been able to help many people learn how to recognize these fears as active within their lives and have offered effective tools through which they have been able to find healing and release from these fears. Releasing these fears has the compound effect of releasing our compulsions, addictions and unhealthy behaviors and eases the release of these compulsions by healing them at their root. Bringing healing to these fears allows us to live more and more fully as the women and men of compassion, contentment and joy that our Divine Source intended.
What is currently standing in the way of your ability to live more fully as your most authentic self?