Finding Yourself in Transition

Have you ever found yourself in transition?

Let’s break this down: How you ever found yourself in a transition that you chose? Have you ever found yourself in a transition that you didn’t choose?

Those can feel a lot harder, can’t they? Transitions we choose can sometimes feel exciting, empowering, refreshing. But if we didn’t choose it, it can feel like the rug got pulled out from under us. Those can also be the best spiritual lessons ever!

Chris Chenoweth, who has spoken here in the past and was the minister at Unity Village Chapel for years, called these kind of lessons “Blessons” because they were both blessings and lessons all in one topsy-turvy package.

I recently moved from an apartment to a house with my son, and it’s been a whole bunch of blessons left and right and it’s been a great time!

While I was packing, I somehow managed to pack all of my coffee filters two weeks before my move, or at least I thought I did. And let me tell you why this is a big deal. I’m the person who sets up the coffee the night before so all I have to do in the morning is push a button because when I mess around with ground coffee before my coffee, I end up making a mess all over the place. That’s the kind of morning person I am. I’m cheery and pleasant, just don’t ask me to make any major life decisions before at least half a cup of coffee.

I was packing and taping boxes together with a tape gun. You know those large tape dispensers that get the job done fast? I’m taping up boxes and somehow I pick up this tape dispenser by the sharp edge and poke a couple holes in my finger. So now I’m bleeding everywhere, and do you know what else I packed?

No, I hadn’t packed my Band-Aids because I hadn’t gotten to the bathroom yet. The things I barely use, like Band-aids, were right where I needed them in the moment; while the things I use every day, like coffee filters, were packed in a taped-up box somewhere. So, lucky me, right? The Universe was watching out for me that day, right?

Yes, so I bandage up my finger, not because it was a bad wound, but because I didn’t want to bleed all over everything as I was boxing things up. So I bandage my finger and I’m finishing boxing up the kitchen, and guess what I found? More coffee filters. Doh!

So why am I telling you all of this silly stuff? Because things can be topsy turvy in times of transitions! That’s part of the fun!

St. Francis advised his followers to“wear the world like a loose garment,” What he meant was that in order to be free, you need to be in the world without being attached to how it hangs on you.

Transitions, times of change, are those times when we are pushed to hang more loosely, loosen our grip on what we thought was solid ground, because there is no permanent solid ground in life! Things are always changing, and if one thing in your life isn’t changing now, just stick around–it will!

Wear the world like a loose garment. Jesus demonstrated being in the world but not of the world. That’s not so hard when it’s a simple move and we’re talking about coffee filters, but what about losing a job, or a loved one, or a minister, or a house in a hurricane?

I learned from my meditation teacher, Jane Elizabeth Hart, to manage change with grace and wisdom. She taught me about her “Seven Steps” process soon after I first met her 25 years ago, right before I got married because it was a big life transition, and the whole title of the original Seven Step process is “Seven Steps for Moving through Life Transitions.” That’s exactly what it’s for!

It came to her in a vision when her mom passed. She was grieving and didn’t know what to do. She saw these Seven Steps and the different facets of a grieving process: Gratitude, Good Times, Hopes and Dreams, Disappointments and Difficulties, Forgiveness, Release, and Completion. She knew she had to work those steps, too, so she journaled them and was able to move forward after losing that outer connection with her mother.

Over the many years or working with this process, for changes big and seemingly little, I learned that embracing any change is part of life, and it is possible to flow with it, even when you puncture yourself with a tape gun!

In my therapy practice, I share the “Seven Steps” all the time because it’s a great tool for working through all the emotions and confusion that come up during times of change. Doing this work does, indeed, make the crooked road straight! So I share it with everyone I possibly can, as often as I can!

Whenever we have something in our life that we have invested time and energy into, it becomes part of who we are; be it a relationship, a home, a car, a job, anything! When something becomes part of our identity, it’s a garment that we’re wearing. When it’s time to change, we need to take it off the old garment, appreciate all its aspects, then let it go, so we’re ready to put on the new and improved garment of the next scene in our play.

Anytime I’ve ever moved, I’ve taken the place I was moving from up those “Seven Steps” in order to release the attachment and emotion from the current situation so that I’m walking into my new circumstances as clear and open as I possibly can. Before I started packing my coffee filters prematurely, I took my condo up the “Seven Steps” to let it go and move forward.

Our road is clearer when we aren’t taking our emotions, positive and negative, into our new situation. But we have to do our part on that.

I don’t always quote the Bible in talks—I usually leave that to the professionals—but when I do, it’s because a quote or a story has stood out to me and meant something significant to me over the years.

One story that I both love and resist (and you’ll find out why shortly), is Jesus’ parable about the ten virgins:

The Parable of the Ten Virgins (NIV)

1“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9“ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Why do I resist that? Because it’s a great story about being prepared for the next step that’s coming, and that means work on my part, and I’m human, so I resist that! Isn’t there enough work to be done during a transition? Why would I put myself through more work?

Because, like the women in this parable, we have to be prepared for our next step. If we’re not clearing the way for that step to happen as seamlessly as possible, we could end up missing something very important—like making our transition much easier on ourselves!

What’s one thing we can be fairly certain of in times of transition? Uncertainty! We’re moving from one thing to the next, and we have only an imaginary idea of what’s coming, based on the little information that we have.

In times of transition there is so much going on already, why would we want our emotional baggage to interfere and put a hindrance there that isn’t necessary? Why do that to ourselves instead of doing what I call the “front-end maintenance” of the spiritual/emotional/mental work of releasing the old and preparing for the new?

Right now, think of a life transition that may be coming in the future, maybe a making job change, getting a new car, moving to a new home, perhaps someone in your life is preparing for a life transition that will take them out of your life somehow. What in your life needs releasing? What garment needs to be worn more loosely, or replaced altogether?

Use the “Seven Steps” or some other conscious, thorough release process to let it go so that you can walk forward free and clear. Then when you prematurely pack your coffee filters, it’s no big deal! You can adjust and keep moving forward!

 

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Note: This is not a verbatim transcription of the talk. In preparing for a talk, one often prepares far more than needed, and remembers far less than desired. At least, that’s true for me. So this “article” is based on my rough notes before the talk, which is not exactly how the talk went. But, I’m a busy professional, so this is the least time-intensive thing I could post with the video.  I hope you enjoy it!

Here are other ways to connect with me:

http://www.chicagobrainspotting.com

https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiPZRbreVv-QYhu5NlWsq3Q 

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You Might Be a Soul Evolutionist If…

Are you a Soul Evolutionist?

You are a soul in evolution, awakening over time to who you are as a human being, and who you are in your divinity.

Our friends at Mirriam Webster define evolution in this way: “To develop by evolutionary processes from a primitive to a more highly organized form.”

Soul Evolution, then, is the process each soul goes trhough to develop from lesser to greater awareness of itself as Pure Energy, part of the Infinite Presence of the Universe.

We are all in this process together; so, you might be a Soul Evolutionist if…

You want to be connected to that Infinite Presence, and want to develop that connection even more.

You have a desire and longing to feel your connection to something greater than yourself, and feel that longing in your heart and whole being.

When I was 19 years old, I had just completed my term as International President of the Youth of Unity (Y.O.U.), the youth group of my denomination. It was a fantastic year, filled with joy and loving connections across the country. I felt satisfied as I entered my sophomore year in college. Over the second weekend, my roommmate had gone home, and I decided to clean our room (primarily my mess!). I put in a cassette tape (eek) of some of my favorite spiritual chants to listen to while I was cleaning. My favorite one came on, so I sang along with the words: “I surrender to the Love of God, flowing through my life.”

I sang these words over and over again as I moved around the room picking things up. Suddenly, I started crying and dropped to my knees. As I watched myself cry from the inside, I wondered, “Why am I crying? Everything is going well; I have no reason to cry.”

I then “heard” a loud, booming voice. I turned to see if someone was in the room with me, but knew it was coming from inside of myself.

“Don’t be done with God, just because you’re done with Y.O.U.”

A montage of images flashed through my mind, showing me how one part of me thought I was doing my spiritual service for the accolades from family and friends. What this “voice” was showing me was that I was acting out of the deepest desire of my heart. MY heart; not anyone else’s. I adjusted my life plans to align with this desire from that day forward.

What is your deepest desire, and how do your actions align with that?

You might be a soul evolutionist if…

You know there is a “morfe” to life than what you experience with your five physical senses.

We call this intution, and it is an innate appendage to who you are. The more you use it, the better it works for you. Call on it. Ask for guidance in the little things to help hone and strengthen your awareness of and trust in your intuitive promptings. The Soul Evolutionist knows to turn to that inner resource in life circumstances, big and small.

You might be a Soul Evolutionist if…

You want to understand why things are happening inside and outside of you.

You see the injustices of the world and wonder why they exist. Why is my son a natural musician and I fizzled out of my piano lessons when I was ten years old? Does God love him more than me? Is he special and I’m chopped liver? Or, did he work hard to deveolp that talent before he came into this world?

There are answers to these questions, and the Soul Evolutionist is no longer satisfied with the mystery. You ask “Why?” and forge your way deeper into learning the workings of the Universe, while at the same time beginning to understand your own inner workings.

You might be a Soul Evolutionist if…

You know that you are responsible for taking part in the awakening of yourself to your Self, and you embrace that active participation.

It’s not just about knowing a little bit about meditaiton, or forgiveness, or intuition; it’s about realinzing that with that knowledge comes a palpable responsibility to do something about it–to put your spiritual understandings into everyday practice. How do you use meditaiton to support your awareness? How do you use forgiveness when up against someone who is really pushing your buttons? How do you incorporate your intuition in every area of your life?

How do you consciously, willingly, triumphantly support your soul’s evolution?

Thank you for watching, and please join me for a workshop delving deeper into this concept of Soul Evolution!

Monday, September 24, 2018
7:00 to 9:00 pm
Infinity Foundation
1280 Old Skokie Road
Highland Park, IL 60035
Link to register: http://www.infinityfoundation.org/courses/spiritual-inquiry-practice/soul-evolution.aspx

Video recorded:
2018 July 22 Lynn Barrette Unity in Naperville, Illinois

It Takes a Whole Lotta “No” to Make a “Yes”!

Greetings!

Lynn Barrette, here, licensed clinical therapist and spiritual counselor, talkiing to you about how it takes a whole lot of “no”s to make a “YES”!

As we set up a goal, the first thing we do is have an idea for a goal. Perhaps we’d like a new job, behavior change, relationship, or life tranisition of any kind.

Next we define that goal: What it looks and feels like, what action steps are involved, and so forth.

Then the tricky part comes in: Keeping your focus on your goal, and aligning your actions and choices with that goal! That includes saying “no” to anything that doesn’t back up your goal.

Let’s take, for example, the goal of eating healthier foods. You say “Yes” to healthy foods, and “No” to all the tempting sweets and processed foods that aren’t going to fit your goal. Yes to greens, no to cookies. Yes to whole fruits, no to that third piece of bread; and so forth. Each time you say no, you are brining yourself back to your goal and strengthening your resolve and building confidence and assurance wtih it.

In this video, I give a personal example that I’ve been working on, that came to a wonderful fruition just this week. As I describe my process, as a side note I mention a journaling and release process called “Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions“, and promised to include the link, so simply click for a pdf download of the wonderful tool.

I can tell you more about it in another video. In fact, here’s one place where I talk about it more:

Through the process of saying “Yes” and “No” toward your goal, you define and refine your focus, then you know when your goal is achieved, that it is exactly what you are looking for. Be willing to say “Yes!” but don’t forget that your “No!” is just as valuable on your journey.

Thanks for watching!

Spiritual School Is in Session, Every Moment!

Are you aware of the spiritual school of life that is teaching you all the time?

Every day you wake up is a new day in spiritual school. Your life is your classroom, and all those around you are your classmates! This spiritual school has structure, lesson plans, and homework!

What does spiritual school structure look like? Since you don’t have a specific, physical classroom to go to everyday, you have to create your own daily structure that supports the rest of your learning. Lessons are always coming your way; having a daily structure in place gives you the mental and emotional space to be aware, receptive, and ready to tackle the lessons that arise.

Do you have a daily prayer or meditation time? A 10 minute time set aside to journal about your day, what came up for you, what you learned, or what you’re grateful for? Do you make your bed in the morning as an outer ritual representing setting the intention to be responsible for what belongs to you in the day’s lessons?

A few years ago, Naval Adm. William H. McRaven shared with University of Texas, Austin, graduates that making their beds in the morning was the best way to start their day. Among chuckles, he reiterated that making your bed is “accomplishing the first task of the day”, giving you confidence and motivating you to accomplish your next several tasks in your day. One accomplishment leads to another, and each “little thing” you do for yourself supports the bigger things that arise.* Every step we take to be on target with your day, supports your spiritual growth as well!

Having structure holds the space for everything else you do during your day. If you don’t have at least an idea of how each day flows, you have to spend time each day figuring out your structure–with less time left to handle the lessons that are taking place all around you! You don’t want to be rigid with your structure either, however. Then you are spending all your energy controlling your structure, which also takes your focus away from what you’re really supposed to be doing–learning!

And oh, those spiritual life lessons! The major lesson in spiritual school is mastering yourself. There is a lot floating around in your mind/body system. Your job is to learn to sort out what is real and what is not.

There’s a saying that goes, “God made man in God’s image, and man returned the favor.” Everyone has a false “god”, or authority figure, in their minds that erroneously critiques along the way. Your spiritual school lesson is to kick out that negative voice and replace it with what is real and true about you. If you believe what created this universe is loving and wise, then so that must be true about you.

As a therapist, I can often sense that when people first come in to see me, they are expecting me to confirm that negative voice in their heads. “I’m disorganized, I don’t eat right or exercise, I yell at my kids…I’m a mess!” But what I see is a soul in evolution doing the best they can, while that critical voice in their heads is telling them everything they do is wrong. It’s lying to them, just as the negative voice in your head is whispering “alternative facts” at you throughout the day. Pay attention to it–then say, “NO!”

Spend some time daily “marinating” in the feeling of being 100% okay, even as you are learning and growing every day. Have a meditation practice as part of your spiritual school structure, and sit with the feeling of peace, even if you have to just pretend what that might feel like. Cultivate the opposite sensations of “I’m not okay”, and watch that new experience support you fully!

The next chapter to that lesson in mastering yourself is to practice forgiveness. The need to forgive is all around! Parents, kids, siblings, coworkers, neighbors, other drivers on the road, pets… Ev. ‘Ry. Where.

Our family dog has had issues with his ears since he was a pup. My job was to put medicine in his ears, a process he actively hated early on. We had some pretty serious tussles. We struggled and growled at each other, but I never bit him back. I did, however, realize that there was a very thin line between “I’m not a violet person” and “Worth it”. I finally realized that since I am the more evolved species of the two of us, it was up to me to do a little forgiveness work on this canine so that at least one of us was mature and calm. After that, I was able to take less personally his survival instinct struggles and administer his ear medicine. Today, he is patient and happy to get his bribe, er, treat afterwards.

There are a couple tools that I like to use, both personally and in my practice, that help master emotions. So here are handouts for your spiritual school assignments!

The first is the Spiritual Thermometer. Here’s a link: http://www.spiritualpowertoolssupport.com/free-chapter.html

You can use this graphic to measure where you are on the emotional mastery scale at a given moment. A “5” on the thermometer is a neutral state. Anything below a 5 is emotional overload, whether the emotion is anger, fear, sadness, or ecstasy (read: mania). Above the 5 is your clear-thinking state. The higher you go, the more intuitive connection you can experience. When you feel yourself in your emotions, or below a 5, don’t take action. Check in with yourself throughout the day. Ask, “What emotion, if any, is running me right now?” Use the emotion to discover, process, and release what you need to as part of your spiritual school homework. Lighten your load!

Another handout for this spiritual school lesson is called the “Agitated Energy Process”. I use this simple, three-step process frequently in my practice, as well as with myself. It goes like this:

1. When you feel agitated (stressed, tense, emotional), ask yourself, “What is the emotion that I am feeling?” (Use emotion words to label what you are feeling; i.e., anger, hurt, sadness, fear, frustration, etc. This is a brief one or two word response. Take emotions one at a time and keep it simple.)

2. Then ask, “What story am I telling myself that is causing me to feel this way?” (What is the emotion telling you/saying? Remember, sometimes this story has some facts to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s always telling the truth about those facts. Even when it is telling the truth, the awareness that the “truth” is agitating you means that there’s a perspective shift that needs to take place.)

3. Then, “What new perspective could I take that would be calming to me?” (What comes up as your new way of looking at the situation?)

Do you feel calm once you’ve walked through the process? If so, you’re done! If not, repeat the process until you feel relative peaceful and calm in your body. This is a great daily emotional/mental/spiritual hygiene practice!

Spiritual school is like a Montessori-style classroom: No matter where you are, there is someone you can help along the way; and, there is someone who can help you take your next step. Spiritual service to others is part of our spiritual school homework!

When you wake up in the morning, spiritual school is in session! Set your intention for the day. Make your bed and say, “Okay, Universe, help me see my lesson today, and give me the support to master today’s lesson!”

Happy new school year!

 

*You can watch a portion of the Admiral’s speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6OoCaGsz94

What Is Your Inside Saying?

How do you hear your inner authority? How does your inside speak to you?

And most importantly, do you listen? Do you follow the inner promptings of your soul? Do you pay attention to what is going on on the inside of you, as much as you are paying attention to the outside?

Just like all the social media, politics, or cell phone games that you might keep track of, your inner Voice is speaking to you, wanting your attention. The wonderful difference is that your inner Authority will give you useful information!

Just like our streets have limits and guidelines to keep us safe and on track on our automobile journeys, so too does our inner world have its needs, guidelines, instruction that keep us safe and on track on our life journeys!

Two years ago, my dad had part of his esophagus removed due to a growth found at a doctor appointment. I detoured my family vacation to go help out after his surgery.

My inside was telling me that I felt afraid for him. What would happen? What could happen? What if he dies? All these worries went through my mind over and again, and I knew what I had to do. I took the “Seven Steps for Moving through Difficulties” journaling process by Jane Elizabeth Hart, and used it to write my way through my fears. Actually, I had to go through that Seven Step process twice because I didn’t get it all moved through the first time.

As I worked through my fears, I came to realize that his well-being had nothing to do with me or my desire for my dad. His wellness, his life, was between him and his soul; no one else. If he was going to live, awesome! If it was his time to pass on, then ultimately, that was for the best possible outcome for him and his soul awakening.

By the time I arrived at the hospital, my dad was walking around. I was able to be present, aware, mindful, faithful, and strong as I did what was in my power to do to help out. I didn’t drown in my fears, nor did my judgment get foggy because of my emotional attachments to him. I was able to use my love for him in the highest, most useful way possible. Plus, we had a great time laughing at all the food commercials that one doesn’t notice until sitting with someone who can’t take in solid food in that moment!

What if I hadn’t listened to what was going on with me? What if I tried to ignore the feelings that were there, and just tried to listen to my inner Voice? Knowing myself the way I do, I imagine my emotions and fears would have out-shouted my calm, subtle, inner guidance.  I imagine I might not have been much help or moral support for anyone during that time. My fear energy might have stressed out everyone around me, especially my dad who was busy working on his visualizations and healing processes.

It was hard to release my dad, to let go of my attachment to him being around for a long time. It was scary. But, it would have been harder to move through that time in fear and despair. I did my “front-end maintenance”, a car term for keep your vehicle tuned up so you can avoid unnecessary problems. I am so glad he and I had that time together for his healing and our closeness.

What is your inside saying? Is it telling you that you have work to do, like I did with my dad? Is it giving you encouragement in a direction that you might not want to listen to? You don’t have to listen, but your life will be much simpler if you do.

Watch the video and learn a few ways to practice listening to your inside!

Mental Health Apps

cbs2

I recently had the honor of adding my two cents to a local CBS news station report on mental health apps. Here’s a link to the clip:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2017/06/29/mental-health-apps-for-that/

Although they’re not for everyone, especially when someone is in crisis, apps can help us become aware of what needs adjustment in our thinking and perceptions. When we pay attention to the emotional noise going on in our minds and make adjustments to our thinking and behaviors, we are one step closer to supporting our healing.

Why Look at the Past in Order to Heal?

As a therapist, I often hear the question, “Why should I spend time on things that have already happened?” It’s a valid question, based on how we have been taught to understand time.

Time, according to our academic learning, is on a timeline, where today is a physical spot on that timeline, and something that happened when were four years old, let’s say, is a certain distance away from where we are standing today. That is how we have come to measure time—that we can have a measurable physical distance from an experience we have had.

But in consciousness, in our psyche, that’s not how time works. Within us, our mind/brain/body connection, we carry all of those experiences around with us in this moment. All of the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and more, that we have ever had are stored in our amazing system we have as a soul living in a human body. We don’t gain a physical distance from those experiences; they are with us all the time.

For example, when we learn something, that new knowledge stays with us. In first grade, I learned that one plus one is two. I didn’t leave that knowledge back at my six year old self in time. I brought it with me, and it was reinforced over and again. I learned and used that knowledge as I grew, experienced, and learned more about numbers.

We do that with all experiences. We experience, and gather information, make decisions, have feelings, and create beliefs around those experiences; then take all of that with us moving forward. Sometimes those decisions, information, and beliefs are erroneous, but they are temporarily stuck in our programming. When we look at past experiences, we can uncover those faulty thought patterns, and be more able to consciously reprogram ourselves today.

We address our past in so far as it is getting in the way of our present experience and expression. What tools have you used to heal from past experiences?

Here’s a link to Spiritual Power Tools: Support for Your Soul that has the iceberg image that I mention in this video: http://cfenlightenment.org/store/free-downloads-mp3s-and-e-books/6986974 Be sure to practice good karma and leave a donation if you choose to download the book!

Thanks for watching!

Lynn Barrette, LCSW
http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/