Posted in Authentic Freedom, Authentic Freedom Book, Inspiration, Mystics, Spiritual Practices, Uncategorized, world changes

How to Change Ourselves so WE Can Change the World!

Yesterday, I responded to the current political debacle (the government shutdown) and complete failure of our government to do what WE hired them to do, by issuing an invitation, “If we want the world to change, WE need to change ourselves.”  In today’s blog, I remind us of how we can change ourselves so that we can see real and enduring change in the world.

changing ourselves/changing the world
changing ourselves/changing the world

Not Just Some Pie in the Sky Idealism!

The tools for personal change that I will share with you today are NOT just some pie in the sky idealism preached by vagrant prophets from far-off lands.  While the following tools have been tried, tested and proven to be effective by thousands of years of yoga practitioners, mystics and ascetics, we NOW have the proof of science to verify what contemplative men and women have known all along, mindfulness based practices:

  • decrease anxiety, fear and stress
  • increase physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing
  • decrease violent behaviors
  • help us to cultivate empathy and compassion – the building blocks of healthy communication and harmonious interpersonal relationships, and communities.

(If you need the science to convince you, simply Google Richie Davidson, Andrew Newberg, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Thich Nat Hahn.)

STEP ONE – Seek out a mindfulness practice that works for you! 

There are as many forms of mindfulness based practices as there are fish in the sea!  A Zen-inspired sit works for some, but not for all.  Mantra or Kirtan brings some to a state of inner quiet…but it isn’t for everyone.  A rosary or string of meditation beads may help some to focus, but others will need something more engaging.  Take comfort in knowing that if you haven’t yet found your meditation style, keep looking, there is sure to be one out there perfect for you.  Maybe it is something as simple as gardening, cooking or being in nature.  Some find running and aerobic exercise mindful.  And please disregard the ridiculous Western notion that mindfulness has a goal and that if you don’t experience a complete state of bliss any or every time you failed.  Your job is to simply SHOW UP.  And, the key to cultivating and maintaining a mindfulness practice is to find one that WORKS FOR YOU!  (For a wide variety of mindfulness based exercises, check out my book, Authentic Freedom – claiming a life of contentment and joyWhile the context is Christian Contemplative Prayer, the exercises are universal.)

STEP TWO-Identify and root out your fears

In conjunction with cultivating peace and love within us through mindfulness practices, the greatest gift we can give to ourselves in our journey toward change is to OVERCOME OUR FEARS!  FEAR is the number one obstacle to peace, contentment, love and joy!  Fear creates all the perceived separations favored by our wounded world:  prejudice, discrimination, racism, sexism, nationalism, etc.  Fear is also the root of all of our non-loving and self-centered behaviors – gluttony, lust, wrath, envy, greed, sloth and pride.  Fear causes us to seek outside of us for its remedy and makes us believe that happiness will be found in things, money, power, fame, status, power, control, other people, etc. etc. etc.  Fear also keeps us silent and ignorant of the truth that seeks to be known within us and that seeks to be expressed in the world.

STEP 2.5

In my book, Authentic Freedom, I reveal what I have come to know as the seven core fears that plague humanity, along with their resulting compulsions:

FEAR:  “There is not enough”

Compulsion:  Gluttony

FEAR:  “I have nothing to contribute to the betterment of the world”

Compulsion:  Lust

FEAR:  “I can’t” (be my most authentic self)

Compulsion:  Wrath

FEAR:  “I am not loved”

Compulsion:  Envy

FEAR: “I am not able to express my truth”

Compulsion:  Greed

FEAR:  “I do not know” (my truth, my path)

Compulsion:  Sloth

FEAR:  “I am alone/have to do it alone”

Compulsion:  Pride

You can start your journey of overcoming fear by NAMING the fears that are currently at work in your mind.  I have found that naming the fear is 99% of the journey…..like they say in classic horror books and movies, “Once you name the demon, it no longer has power over you.”  😉  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog where I will explore in more detail how we might move through the fears once they are named.

Lauri Ann Lumby

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Gifts of Contemplation, Inspiration, Jesus, Mystics, Spiritual Practices

Just Sit! Guest Blogger Steve Makar

When gathering contributors for this series on mysticism and the contemplative life, I couldn’t NOT ask one of my dearest friends and trusted companions on the spiritual path.  Steve and I have journeyed together through the twists and turns of life including marriage, divorce, children (I am honored to be the godmother of his son), ministry and just plain stuff.  I am grateful for all the ways Steve has been a source of support for me in my life and ministry and he, along with the woman he loves, hold a very special place in my heart.  Thank you Steve for your characteristically Zen conciseness.  I admire how you can say in only a few words what it has taken me a lifetime to express!  I love you brother!

Just Sit: Reflections on the Contemplative Life, from a Male Perspective

Makar_Stephen_2011_picture

Christian Zen integrates Zen Meditation with Christian Contemplation. In this practice, men and women are invited to “be still and listen” (Psalm 46). One form of stillness in Christian Zen is sitting meditation (zazen). For me, the diligent practice of zazen offers insight into why it is important for me to practice sitting meditation. It helps me to remember my true nature, and live accordingly.

What is this true nature or “Big Self?” Are there male and female dimensions of Big Self? My short answer: I do not know. I can, however, offer some reflections on the contemplative life from a male perspective.

The heart is of primary interest in my Christian Zen practice. It is the “hearts of men” that Jesus emphasized. Similarly, the “Heart Sutra” is a central teaching in Mahayana Buddhism. In the stillness of sitting meditation is a spaciousness that allows gratitude and compassion for my male experience.

As a son, my heart aches when I sit with the joys of spontaneous play; the adventurous exploration of the deep woods, and the carefree flow of an aimless day.

As a father, my heart aches when I sit with the love of my son, and reflect on the teaching that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only son” (John 3:16).

As a partner, my heart aches when I sit with the great souled desire for intimacy, and the mystery of solitude greeting solitude.

And when the ache within the aches becomes too great to bear, I let go and just sit. I let go of my need to win, and to be right, and to have more, and even to understand. As I let go, I return to the moment.

May you listen with loving attentiveness to the present moment. May you remain at peace, free from unnecessary suffering.

May you practice steady beginner’s mind, and see things as they are. May you awake to your true nature, and live accordingly.

Meta.

Steve Makar has been a student and teacher of the integrative practice of Christian Zen for more than 10 years. With a PhD in accounting and international economics, he also integrates the solitude of research with the ministry of teaching. Steve is a father of a teenage son, and partner with the woman he loves.

Posted in Being Human

Let’s Talk About Love

I have decided that love is a mystery.  In today’s blog I wave the flag of surrender – surrendering to my complete ignorance and hoping someone can enlighten me. 

Lover and Beloved by Toni Carmine Salerno
http://blueangelonline.com

I KNOW NOTHING!

Of late, my thoughts have turned to love.  Love is a mystery that confounds me more and more every day and at this point, I am stepping into the ring and waving the white flag of surrender that says, I KNOW NOTHING!

Fairytales and Happily Ever After

As a child, I grew up with the typical message sold to little girls, There is a handsome prince who is going to sweep you off your feet and take you to your happily ever after.  Well, after marrying the knight in shining armor who I thought had come to my emotional rescue and having that end in miserable ever after  (not really, but that sounded dramatic didn’t it?), I decided to put the fairytales on the shelf.  I decided these were stupid stories sold to little girls and boys to imprison them in the illusion of love as a commodity and as a way to manipulate us into spending our lives trying to please others.  Fairytales and Happily Ever After are lies I boldly declared.  And “You complete me” is the most dangerous movie line of all time!  (curse you Jerry MacGuire)

Enter my Zen Garden said the Spider to the Fly

After setting the fairytale stories aside (while still secretly longing for them to be true), I decided to explore other thoughts, beliefs, etc. about love.  Long story short, I came to the conclusion that love is something that can only be found within and that the best we can do is reflect the love we know ourselves to be; that love is not something that we can “get” from another human being and that it does not have to be earned and cannot be taken away.  Our very nature is love and we are invited to remember this love so that we can reflect that love to eachother.  In the context of relationship, these beliefs about love expand our ability to hold others in the space of compassion – accepting them for who they are without expecting anything more. It also suggests that love is a matter of choice – that we choose to reflect love to another human being because we are so grounded in the love that we are.  While I was holding my mala beads in quiet contemplation and getting beat upside the head with the bamboo of humanness, I discovered that there is a problem with this theory about love. This theory of love ignores the deep human desire to love and to be loved in return.

Chemistry?  Love at First Sight?  WTH?

As I sit in these quandaries about love, I have also been invited to ponder the possibility that there might be some truth to the fairytale stuff.  ARGH!  Is there something about chemistry, love at first sight, pheromones?  Is there something invisible to the human eye that makes one person fall in love with another or prevents this love from ever taking root?  Is there something that creates a spark that stirs the pot of infatuation and keeps the fire burning after infatuation has died away?   Is there something beyond a list of similar interests, common goals and values, shared intellect and complementary temperments, physical attraction and compatibility that is required to create and support and enduring love?  Is there something to the idea of soulmates and twinflames?   My Zen master would say that this is all illusion.  My heart wonders if there is something more.

Posted in Gifts of Contemplation, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices

Herein Lies the Rub – The Spiritual Journey requires WORK!

Today’s blog explores the WORK that is required if we want to have peace, contentment, joy, love and fulfillment in our lives. 

Coffee with a Friend

Yesterday, I had a long overdue coffee with my friend and spiritual brother, Steve.  Steve and I have been friends and fellow sojourners for nearly 20 years.  While our temperments differ greatly, especially in regards to spiritual practice (Steve is a Christian Zen practitioner, my practice tends to be more active.), we are 100% alike in our commitment to our respective spiritual practices and our passion about the value of contemplative living.  As we sipped our mutual beverages of choice, we shared the ways in which our lives have been dramatically altered because of the commitment we have made to our spiritual practice.  As we mused on about the fruits of diligent practice and the many ways our lives have been enriched through contemplative action, we couldn’t help but wonder, “Why don’t more people practice meditation, contemplation and mindfulness?”  We nodded our head in mutual agreement when the answer presented itself:  “Because it requires WORK!”

Herein Lies the Rub

As Steve and I arrived at this conclusion, it answered the question that I have been struggling to answer for at least 15 years.  Since first learning the rich traditions of Christian Contemplation and realizing the benefits of this practice, I have sought to share these practices with others.  Those who have said yes by attending the classes and meditation gatherings that I have offered have experienced enormous benefit.  Many have gone on to embrace a daily, if not at least a weekly practice and have experienced the fruits of their practice – greater peace, increased fulfillment, a deeper experience of compassion and love and the motivation to serve.  The struggle for me has been to get more than just a handful of people to say yes.  And I have never understood why this is such a struggle.  Doesn’t everyone want more peace, joy, fulfillment and love in their lives?  Of course!  But, in order to have these things, we have to work for them.  And it seems that the hard truth is that we want these things, but we don’t want to do the work that is required to obtain them.

Peace, love and joy require WORK!

The common search among human beings is for fulfillment.  We begin that search by looking outside of us to people, money, material possessions, fame, power, etc.  We soon learn that even in the aquisitions of these things, fulfillment is fleeting at best. As all spiritual teachers have come to know and eventually teach is that the only way to achieve fulfillment is through spiritual practice (defined by me as any activity that helps us to connect with peace, love, joy, leads us to the knowledge of our gifts and compels us to nurture, cultivate and share these gifts in service to the world for the good of humanity.).  And just like any other goal, inner fulfillment requires WORK!  If we want to lose weight, gain strength, learn a task, we have to work at it.  Spiritual Practice is the same…..which is why it is called PRACTICE.  If we really want peace, love, joy, fulfillment in our lives, we have to WORK FOR IT!  We have to make a commitment to our practice and we need to STICK WITH IT.  This, in and of itself is probably enough to keep most people from even trying meditation, let alone making a commitment to it.

Our Greatest Fear

If making a commitment to the work isn’t hard enough, an even bigger obstacle to beginning and maintaining a contemplative practice is that which strikes the greatest fear in human beings.  And this is not the fear of death, but something we fear even more.  And that fear is:  CHANGE.  More than death itself, (and maybe public speaking), human beings fear CHANGE.  Being creatures of habit and seekers of pleasure, we enjoy the perceived security in familiarity and predictability.  And if there is one thing for certain about embracing a spiritual practice, you and your life will CHANGE.  Ah yes, the changes that you experience will all be for your highest good and it will all be for the better…..but as we all know, CHANGE is NEVER easy!  It isn’t easy to give up our compulsive behaviors, our control dramas, our attachments, our entanglements, our habitual behaviors and thought patterns.  Let’s face it, our inner critic, martyr, dictator, perfectionist, glutton, sloth, slave, victim, miser, performer, worrier, control freak, etc. etc. etc. serve us in some way.  Giving up who we have thought ourselves to be and the life that we have known is not easy and as we move along the path of spiritual growth, change is 100% guaranteed.

The Few,  The Brave, The Contemplatives

The realization of humanities’ resistance to change and reluctance to work invites a different tool for measuring the work that I do.  Which brings me full circle in yesterday’s conversation with Steve as we pondered the question, “How do you measure success in spiritual endeavors?”  As I have sought to share the gift of contemplative practice, I have been tempted to measure success using the traditional, capitalistic, Western model.  Numbers and money = success.  The answer, it seems is not in the numbers or in the money.  Instead, it seems that the measurement of success (if we can even use the word “success” in regards to spiritual work) is in a single life.  If a single person has grown in peace, released compulsions and fears, found comfort, support, healing, etc. then I have done my job.  The invitation for me then is to remember that it is only the few and the brave that will say yes and that my job is to let go of my attachment to the outcome, numbers, money, etc. etc. etc.   SIGH….And here is where I am invited to do more WORK!  🙂

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in About Lauri

Shameless Self-Promotion – Part 1

It is time for a little shameless self-promotion.  As I explore my own giftedness, I invite you to explore your own!


There comes a time in every self-employed, professional’s journey when we must wave the flag of our own greatness, or our businesses would never get off the ground, and those that could benefit from the sharing of our gifts would never have the opportunity to enjoy those gifts.  Today is one of those days.  The invitation for me today to wave the flag of my own magnificence brings to mind the words of one of my teachers, Julie Tallard Johnson, “You each have your own unique medicine and there are people out there just waiting to receive it.” It is to those folks that I pen today’s blog. 

As you probably already know, I am a trained, professional Spiritual Director and Reiki Master Practitioner and see clients in person, via Skype and over the phone for these services.  What you might not know are the things about my education, training and background that make me unique in the field of holistic healing, personal growth and transformation:

  • I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic schools, studied Catholic/Christian theology and spirituality for seven years and worked professionally in the Catholic Church for 10 years.  As such, I bring a sensitivity to issues related to being raised Catholic.  Many of my clients are men and women who have been raised Catholic and are trying to find their own truth in the midst of what they were taught.  Some clients are trying to recover from the guilt and fearful images of the Divine that sometimes come with being raised in this tradition.
  • As part of my studies in Catholic/Christian spirituality, I learned ancient spiritual tools and practices not readily accessible to most Catholics or Christians.  These traditions have been carefully guarded by monastic communities and have been part of the Christian tradition for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, but not shared with the average Joe or Jill in the pew.  When practiced diligently, these tools help to facilitate profound spiritual growth, healing and transformation.  The focus of my work has been to make these tools available to EVERYONE!
  • Along with my studies in Catholicism, I have studied and enjoyed the practices of many other traditions: Buddhism, Paganism, Wicca, Hinduism, Yoga, Zen, etc.  Exploring and learning from these traditions has taught me to look for the places of connection between all the world religions and spiritual traditions, something I have brought into my own practice and have incorporated into my writings, my curriculum development, my program facilitation and retreat work.
  • In addition to studying and practicing Reiki, I have studied Chi Qong and Chinese Medicine.  Knowledge and experience in these fields of energy medicine have enhanced the work I do as a Spiritual Director and teacher.  All of the classes I teach incorporate this knowledge and experience.
  • Oh yea, and I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Iowa and 10+ years of corporate experience in sales, management and marketing.

So, there’s my professional resume in a nutshell.  This is for your knowledge and if you know any of those people just waiting for the “medicine” that I have to offer, I invite you to share this blog and website with them.  I also invite you to take some time today to reflect on the education and experiences that have contributed to your own unique medicine.  How has this made you special and unique?  When was the last time you took the time to wave the flag of your own unique magnificence?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries/yourspiritualtruth

http://yourspiritualtruth.com