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

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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

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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/

This Ain’t Your Mama’s Idea of Forgiveness — Part III: How to Forgive

Let’s talk about how to forgive! In this video, I give you a few specific processes for how to work your forgiveness need, covering the steps from previous videos in this series: Acceptance, Compassion, Release.

You can find the Seven Steps for Moving through Difficulties worksheet that I discuss in the video, as well as that for the Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions, on this page.

My websites for my spiritual mentor, Jane Elizabeth Hart :
Center for Enlightenment
Soul Evolutionist

Other Seven Steps resources:
Web radio podcasts

Free downloads:
Seven Steps workshops, CD/mp3
Spiritual Power Tools – Support for Your Soul (pdf, ebook) (Contains detailed explanation of each step in the Seven Step process.)

Please share your questions and reflections on forgiveness from your own experience. It’s an important topic!

Thanks for watching!

 

This Ain’t Your Mama’s Idea of Forgiveness — Part II: Redefining Forgiveness

In my previous video post, we took a thorough look at what forgiveness is not; this time we are going to look at what forgiveness is, in a way that is healthy and palatable.

Forgiveness is the process of Acceptance, Compassion, and Release.

The first part of forgiveness is the acceptance that something has happened. If someone has hurt me, for example, I can’t do anything about that fact; it is what it is. I don’t have to like it, approve of it, or try to get anyone else to see or understand it.

When we’re dealing with the facts of what has happened, we are willing to be honest about those facts overall, not just the facts about what the other person did, or what the circumstances threw at us. Maybe I lashed out when I was hurt by another person, maybe I withdrew for a while, maybe I stood up for myself in the moment, maybe I was the one who screwed up first. All these are part of the facts that we accept.

Why is acceptance important? If we deny the facts of a situation, we’re not fully able to deal with our responses or the other person’s behavior, or process the forgiveness need. We know what really happened, even if our thoughts—or those of people around us–try to turn it into something else.

For example, if someone was sexually abused, but their family members are giving an alternative reality to that situation, it becomes difficult for the victim of that abuse to make peace with their own internal experience and reaction, which affects the healing process–which in turn has lasting side effects. When our experience is denied, by others or ourselves, we don’t have the clarity necessary to deal with the otherwise heal-able trauma around the event.

We must give ourselves permission to acknowledge facts. That goes back to what forgiveness is not, right? It is not denying ourselves the truth of what happened, or pretending nothing happened. Working with the facts helps us through our own emotional responses more efficiently.

Forgiveness is acknowledging the facts of your experience.

The second part of forgiveness is compassion, being able to look at the whole situation beyond our own emotional experience of it. This is where we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes to try to see what they might have been intending or going through in that moment. We also try to see where we were coming from in the moment. We look above the facts in this step, to try to see the hurtful experience within the context of the time it happened, as honestly as possible.

In this part of the forgiveness process that we can learn what we need to about ourselves, about the other person. We see what we need to about our part in the situation, and what the event triggered in us. We see what we need to about the other person, and learn how to adjust ourselves given the new information we have gathered. (See my video post on Discernment versus Judgment for how to see behavior for what it is without getting all judgy about it.)

I’m not saying this is easy! Often it’s harder to have compassion for ourselves than it is to generate it for others. And sometimes we don’t want to have compassion for the other person; we want to hold on to the anger and resentment. But that’s why forgiveness is a process, right? We work at it until we are ready to rise above our emotional response. We don’t forget what happened, remember? We simply work with forgiveness process so that we can come to this point of compassion, and the next step, release.

Forgiveness is working toward compassion for the other person and yourself.

The third part of forgiveness is release. This is the point at which we are willing to release the emotional pain created by the hurtful experience. That pain is going to come up over and over and over again until we release it, so this is a vital step! We won’t forget to do our work, because life will remind us that our work isn’t done by those little triggers from the past. They poke at the emotional pain like when you poke a bruise on your arm and it hurts a little. That means the bruise hasn’t healed, right? Our emotional body is the same way. It will keep feeling sore until it is healed. But unlike our physical body that heals itself, we have to put conscious effort into the healing of our emotional pain.

When we have done the work of the first two steps, Acceptance and Compassion, the Release step is the action step of being aware when the emotional bruise gets poked at, or triggered, and reminding ourselves, “Oh yes, there it is. I am letting this go now.” And we pull ourselves back to a peaceful state of mind, not indulging in the pain or the story. This is the step where we choose Acceptance and Compassion as our reality moving forward, instead of holding onto resentment and emotional pain as our reality.

Release is the step where we choose acceptance and compassion as our reality instead of resentment and emotional pain.

And that is what forgiveness is.

In my next video, I’m going to talk with you about how to forgive. I have a couple tried and true processes to share with you to help you with your forgiveness work, so stay tuned, and thanks for watching!

This Ain’t Your Mama’s Idea of Forgiveness – Part 1: What Forgiveness Is NOT

Hi, Lynn Barrette here, licensed clinical therapist and spiritual counselor.

I want to talk with you today about forgiveness. Forgiveness can be a heavy topic sometimes, so this is going to be a several part series to help us break down this concept and make it palatable and accessible, because if we can’t forgive, we get stuck, and we don’t want to do that, right? So we’re going to take some time on this one.

Anytime I bring up forgiveness with clients or in workshops or classes, I always like to clarify what forgiveness means because there are so many ideas and misconceptions about what forgiveness is.

When I help someone define forgiveness, I start with what forgiveness is not. And that is what this video is about: What forgiveness is not.

First of all, forgiveness does not mean “forgive and forget”. Our brains aren’t made up to forget things unless we get a severe head injury or some other brain trauma, like a stroke. We are simply not biologically wired to forget things. We have beautiful memories, and whether you are more spiritually-minded or more scientific, we are created like this for a reason: those memories are there to ensure that we learn from our experiences and evolve as a species and in consciousness. So how can we be expected to forgive and forget when we’re not wired to do so?

Forgiveness does NOT mean “forgive and forget!” It means that we learn and grow.

Another misconception that comes up is that forgiveness means everyone gets a fresh start, even the person who did wrong, and we pretend like nothing happened. That’s not it either. If we are learning from our experiences, we take our new understanding with us every moment, and apply that new understanding moving forward. If someone hurts me, I have learned something: Sometimes this person is hurtful, and she certainly has been hurtful to me in this situation, so I need to adjust my mental, emotional, and sometimes physical behavior so that I can either deal with being around her, or make sure I am not around her anymore!

Forgiveness does not mean to pretend like nothing happened. It means adjust your internal and external behavior to support yourself, your safety.

A final myth I often hear about forgiveness is that if we forgive, we’ll be letting the other person get by with something. That’s not it either. Once we have taken care of our part of an interaction with someone—either by confronting them, adjusting ourselves internally and externally, or staying the heck away from them—our part is done.

There is a law that is scientific both in our physical and spiritual realm that states that whatever energy we put out comes back to us. And that is true at the physical, emotional, and mental levels of our existence. This doesn’t mean we turn that into some kind of superstitious curse on another person, as we often hear that “Karma will get them”! If we are saying that about someone, our forgiveness is not done! When we forgive, we are releasing ourselves from having to be a part of this person learning what they need to be learning. We don’t have to be responsible for seeing that “they get theirs”; we are only responsible for our own behavior, and what we are putting out at those physical, mental, and emotional levels. That’s a big job in itself, isn’t it?!

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that anyone gets by with anything; but it does mean we don’t have to worry about it.

So if all that is what forgiveness is NOT; what is forgiveness? That will be in my next video for you, so hold tight, it’s coming!

Thanks for watching!

Lynn Barrette, LCSW

http://www.dynamiccounseling.info

https://lynnbarrette.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/