Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Simple Practice: Small steps to bring more Love into Your Life Babies radiate love. People gravitate to these beautiful little beings that know only love. We connect with them and want to experience the simple joy of their smiles and giggles. Puppies have the same effect. They automatically love you. You don’t have to do anything to earn their love. It is unconditional and holds no bounds. This is our true state - radiant love without bounds. But what happens to reduce and diminish us to a consciousness of fear and restriction, of distrust and anger. Somehow we forget who we are, our radiance. Instead of expanding our love to include everything and everyone, we start to retract and become selective. That one has contrary beliefs to mine; he looks or acts funny; they are from a different country. You love your ethnic group, family, tribe, and religious sect and close out those who seem unusual. We are afraid of folks who look, dress, or speak in dissimilar dialects. Soon we are retracted into balls of opinions, delusions, judgments, and preferences where before there was radiance. As thinking, rational beings we have the ability to make choices. We can look at the outer shell and project our own insecurities, fear, and unknowing, or we can see the light in each person and recognize that the outer form is just a defense and definition. Inside there is light (love) beaming its boundlessness and desire to share. Holding in love when it needs expression is painful. Why? Because we are going against what we are – our natural state. We are still babies ready to grin, giggle, and share our inner essence. Let’s return to that state of innocence and purity by making it a practice to smile at people. That is what babies do. Tell them (mentally, if you wish) how much you love them. You love their light. You love the purity of their essence. Even if they have lost sight of it themselves,. See it for them. This can be your practice with each person you encounter. See their inner essence of radiant light and love. Bless them with a smile. And, guess what, through the law of cause and effect, what cycles back to you will be love! Take the restraints off and guess what – fear and restriction disappear. It is a choice. Enjoy!! Jean
Rest as Spiritual Practice Rest is a musical term. It is a tiny breather (break) built into the rhythmic structure of your life. It gives the beauty of your song a little space that it might expand in consciousness. Rest, is also a spiritual term. We are told to rest in our faith, rest in Spirit, or rest in the loving arms of Jesus or God. And we are told to “be still and know that I AM God.” We may discern this instruction as “focus.” We are accustomed to thinking of spirituality as hard. Yet the opposite is true. The idea that it may be simple, easy, and flowing is quite foreign to us. Rest in God means stop efforting. It means allow God to be an intimate experience. Stop thinking about God and let God / the Universe to give you some attention. Relax in your quest! Receive! Open yourself to receive the concept of God, the Universe, as a kind, open, loving heart or hearth, a nurturing warmth. Receive the recognition that your spiritual relationship if present without effort. This idea that you don’t have to be active, that being receptive, soft, and open is the only requirement may take getting used to. Animals and babies don’t work to be in relationship with God. It may take some discipline to “not work,” to allow the water level to rise (energy to return) until action again becomes the natural spilling forth of inner fullness. There is a cycle to life, a recognizable on-off rhythm. When we go with this current, we experience a sense of rhythm or rightness – perhaps centeredness. And when we force action, we experience strain and struggle. It is a form of resistance. Yet pushing or forcing action can be more comfortable as it is the familiar thing to do. Ambiguity often will breed a kind of anxiety and this discomfort in turn, catalyzes new ways and new directions. Discipline is required to endure ambiguity. This is a learned skill. Ambiguity passes when it is time to take your new direction. When you are centered (through practice) in Spirit, you sense this timing and you honor it. There are reasons that people avoid meditation. Most think of it as work. They also fear that they won’t do it perfectly. Sometimes they fear what they will discover. Their fear is that they will find out that they are not good. (That never happens.) What if you don’t have to meditate perfectly? What if you find out that you are beautiful? What if you don’t have to do it at all? What if you can rest and let go and God will do the rest? Practicing the Presence of God is just that, experiencing the Presence. You think GOD and that’s it – no other action is necessary. It is a form of remembering. Remember your best friend in grade school. Remember the prom or your first boy (girl) friend. God is like this. God is a Presence, like air. We don’t think about air – we forget about God. When we remember them, they are everywhere. It is ordinary and miraculous at the same time. Another phrase for taking a break is called having quiet time. The only action is to TAKE the time. The quiet does the rest. In the Bible there is a saying, “Come into the Kingdom as children.” It means be open, receptive, and playful. Children rest and play, they don’t work hard. Rest and play can be foreign ideas to most regarding connection and spirituality. However, if we peak at most successful spiritual lives we discover that they are grounded in those principles. Here is the experiment – it is not official! Because we live in a busy, sometimes driven world, spirituality can be conceived of as one more thing to put on the agenda. Yet, being “spiritual” is an attribute to add to the list of “personals,” rather than your TO DO list. We try so hard that it gets in the way. So this week, expand your concept of what spiritual includes….. a little more breathing space, some quiet time. Here are some suggestions to help make it easier: • Instead of listening to a meditation CD, put on a great Broadway musical. • Go to a comedy club or a funny movie instead of seeing something that is educational and politically correct. • Read a great mystery or novel instead of a self-help book. • Instead of getting up an hour earlier, sleep an hour later or go to bed an hour earlier. • Instead of adding more to your TO DO list, try taking some things off it. In other words, tackle less. Lower your standards. • Let God work on you instead of you working on God. PLEASE NOTE: THERE IS NO OFFICIAL EXERCISE! Many blessings, Jean
Finding Your Way during Transition Emily came to me because she was depressed and anxious. She had lost her job (down-sized) and felt like a ship without a rudder or a port. Truthfully, it was not a great job – answering phones, some computer work and record keeping. It wasn’t inspirational or particularly fulfilling, but she did get a paycheck. As I got to know Emily, she admitted that she never had a passion for anything, or a career vision, or something she was driven to do, but she always liked helping people. She also had a strong spiritual connection and found comfort in solitude. Those were the two things we decided to build on…. quiet time and helping others. First to deal with depression, Emily had to come to terms with the idea that losing her unfulfilling job was not a great deficit. Her greater loss, in her estimation, was not having structure in her life. She felt lost without a plan or a place to go to implement it. The disposition of the paycheck was really more about the cultural idea that to be paid money for what you do equates having value. Yet, on investigation, there are other ways to be paid that do not involve money. This is what Emily was about to discover. Thus, Emily started listening to her heart and she took action. She had always enjoyed working at the community food pantry handing out groceries to people in need. And they were so appreciative. So she upped her hours at the food pantry. Then she found another charity that assisted young girls obtain party dresses so that they could attend school dances and proms. She helped this group get organized and devised efficient methods to serve more young ladies. Plus, there was the bookstore that needed help and Emily loved books. It seemed Emily’s niche was in discovering community needs and filling them because next she volunteered at a home for older folks and visited weekly with some of the residents. And they loved that! In a few months Emily’s anxiety about “not working” and her depression over not feeling valued was gone and in its place was a radiant woman with a beautiful smile and a heart filled with joy. The weight she had lost due to worry was being replaced slowly and that was a good thing. Emily knew she had been guided to her new life and the structure she needed was of her own making. Tuesday and Thursday she put smiles on people’s faces as she handed out broccoli and turkey at the pantry; Monday she helped at the “prom dress” charity; Friday she visited the older adults and so on. In the middle of all this, she took up yoga, and spent time in quiet at the local chapel. The last time Emily we visited, Emily beamed brightly, ”I have the best job in the world and my payment is personal fulfillment.”