Each new year brings new energy and a renewed desire for change! How are your New Year’s Resolutions going at this point in our new year?
Often when we have something we want to change in ourselves, the first response we have is excitement and zeal for our changes! But when change doesn’t come as easily as we wanted it to, anger, frustration, and apathy can seep in. We then try to go about our desired change with a hammer over our heads (if we don’t give up on it altogether)!
How many of us do well while getting bossed around, criticized and rejected? It might work for a little while—or a long while, if we are over-tolerant—but after a time, we stop trying so hard, or try to get away from the hammer, thus avoiding the project at hand altogether.
We are better at changing when we have encouragement, acceptance and a caring eye guiding us in the new behavior.
Who is the best person to do that for you? Maybe you have a supportive friend, or an encouraging therapist or group you attend. But you are with you all the time! You are the one who will walk with you through all of the ups and downs of life—which includes those internal conversations!
Here are a few ways to encourage yourself through any change you want to make:
Love first: Ask yourself, “What is there to love about the situation as it is?”
Take one change at a time. Too many changes too fast wear us out! This is why so many New Year’s resolutions are abandoned.
Visualize yourself already changed. What does that look like? See yourself happy and enjoying the results of your efforts! Spend five minutes each day with this exercise. Take notes on how it feels. You will likely come up with new steps toward your goal!
Use lovingkindness. Imagine what you would say to your best friend who was going through a change. Is your self-talk matching what you would say to someone else? If not, write down encourage statements, affirmations or mantras, and place them around your home, car and work.
Exemplify patience. Remember these kindnesses when you are working with others during changes. Patience with others helps us have more patience with ourselves.
A little love goes a long way to melt raw materials and create a masterpiece. Take a best friend with you throughout 2023…YOU!
Welcome to a new chapter in the story of our country, a chapter starting with possibility and hope, as well as unrest. As we watch and wonder how long it will take for our country’s division to be resolved, we can turn our attention from the television, phone, iPad, and other devices, and look inside of ourselves right now.
As part of my new year commitment to myself, I have been taking extra time every day to ingest spiritual teachings that resonate with me. One such reading is from the book Discourses, by Meher Baba, whose place of final rest I was privileged to visit one year ago. In the chapter called, “The New Humanity”, Baba explains that wars and conflict stem from the human tendencies of competition, conflict, and rivalry; and by the time there is a large war or division, these tendencies have long had their way in the hearts and minds of individuals. Wars, Baba states, are just the out-picturing of these states of mind and behavior. Elimination of these tendencies is what will resolve all need for war.
In reflecting on this reading and my Unity-raised background, over 2,000 times in my life singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” (I calculated that number!), I took inventory of where I might be perpetuating competition, conflict, and rivalry. It didn’t take much looking! There are so many avenues of expressing these little human traits: Age, politics, values, beliefs, and even food choices! I’m sure my list would be unending.
Are you willing to take that inventory? I invite you to look at the ways you compete with others, even if in your own head! Do you feel superior or inferior to someone else? The popular catch-phrase in recent years could be included in this inventory: FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Are you afraid someone will get something (an experience, a thing, an attention of some kind) that you might miss out on? That’s competition and rivalry, too!
Once being aware of these divisive tendencies, our challenge is to weed them out of our internal common practice. We could ask ourselves:
If wasn’t looking at this [person, situation] through the lens of “them versus me”, how would I approach it differently?
Can I see that “they” hold their views as tightly and righteously as I hold mine?
Can I have compassion for human opinion because it has ever been thus?
Can I see that the only person I can truly change is myself?
What constructive action can I take with my human opinion, instead of using it to separate “me” from “them”? (Volunteer? Vote? Teach? Forgive? Release my own fears? YES!)
“Be not afraid”. If you look this phrase up on the internet, you will find it in hundreds of passages in the Bible (and many other wise, spiritual teachings), always offering us assurance that everything will work out for good. Jesus, a Divine Spokesperson in human form, encouraged listeners to have faith and be strong—don’t let your fear swallow you whole!
Don’t let fear or anger swallow you whole.
Remember and hold consciously, there is a Divine Plan to wake us all up—even “them”! Join with me in seeing that without conflict, we can’t see what needs to be healed. We are seeing it. Now we can help heal it, beginning with “us”—you and me.
Peace begins now.
Photo by Lynn Barrette, 2020. Meherabad, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India. 51st Celebration of Meher Baba’s Mahasamadi. OM.
Are you tired of dealing with the pandemic yet? Join the club! Yet, here you are, so how are you supporting yourself?
Being aware of your internal reactions to what is happening is essential to staying current with your mind/body system during this time. Perhaps one day you are acutely aware of what is happening, another day you feel distantly removed from the moment-by-moment impact the virus is having on our planet. Perhaps you are staying blissfully positive about the healing that will take place from this global “pause” that is happening. Perhaps you want to stay positive but are also feeling worry or even fear about potential outcomes.
All of these are valid responses—and any other reactions on that continuum. To deny either is to miss an opportunity to be present with and support yourself during this unique experience. Observing your ups and downs can be simple (even if not always easy!) if you keep in mind this cycle:
Body sensation, emotion, emotional thoughts, rational thoughts, new perception.
When you’re paying attention, you can often notice your emotions as body sensations. Sometimes the emotional thought comes first, then a body reaction happens. Either way, when emotions come up in the body, the body needs to be calmed before you can reach a new, calming way to hold your experience.
To calm the body, first have compassion for whatever thought or emotion is coming up for you. Remind yourself that this will pass. Ground yourself by going for a walk, focusing on your breath or a bit of nature outside of your window. Ask yourself, “What emotion am I feeling?” This question starts the movement from body to mind process.
The next step is validation of the emotional thoughts coming up. I call this the emotion’s “story”. Once you name the emotion, ask, “What is this emotion’s story?” What is it saying? COMPASSION is again necessary! Try not to judge the feeling/emotion, no matter how irrational it seems. Journal, talk to someone, or say it out loud to yourself. By listening to your inner reaction, you are being a good friend to yourself!
The next step is asking for a new perspective, moving up to the rational thinking mind. Ask yourself, “What is a new perception I can take that will be calming to me?” Journal your options, talk through them. What is in your control to do, say, change? Anything? Maybe awareness and validation are enough—and often, it is.
When you go through a difficult experience, having validation is important but sometimes hard to find. Self-validation far outlasts any validation you could receive from others.
This is the simple three-step process:
What am I feeling?
What is the story this emotion is telling me?
What is the new perception or action I can take that will be calming to me?
Daily meditation is calisthenics for being able to manage your emotions. During meditation, you are practicing sitting with yourself, being aware of body (comfort, discomfort) as well as thoughts and emotions. You are practicing tolerating all of your mind and body stimulus – just BEING with whatever shows up, without judgment. The result is that you are able to be more aware, mindful, calm(er), of your whole self when something triggers you during the day.
Check in with yourself daily. Keep up with your internal process during this unusual experience we are all going through. Reach out for support or a listening ear. Find things to be grateful for and to laugh about. Most of all, be a good friend to yourself.
We are experiencing a unique time. We all have a great need to connect and support each other, even when physical connection is necessarily limited right now. I offer you what I am practicing myself, and sharing with others in my work.
The pandemic is a global issue that is affecting EVERYONE on the planet right now; and we are all in shock. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are in shock. Whenever we experience something that we don’t know how to fully wrap our minds around, our brain/body system goes into a state of shock of self-protection until we can fully grasp what is happening or has happened to us.
Fear is contagious; so is PEACE. Everything we do right now to support ourselves in maintaining our own calm is supporting humanity. Taking care of ourselves is the best way to help everyone.
How has the pandemic affected you so far? Have you noticed any of these:
Left to our own thoughts
More intense relationship time
Less positive validation from others
Easy to forget our impact
Depletion of positive activities
Decreased human touch / Hugs
Touching on old issues/trauma
What positive outcome can you see coming from this time?
Re-evaluate priorities – What is really important to you?
Let go of bad habits
Reinforce positive changes
Commit to being good to yourself
Remember your basic self-care right now:
Maintain healthy hygiene
Maintain good nutrition
Do those little things that help you feel extra good about yourself
Keep moving! Go for walks as available
Get outside, get sun
Take advantage of YouTube: Yoga, exercise videos, variety of movement
Laughter and play are essential!
Connect with others via telephone, FaceTime, Skype, etc
Be productive – Get those home projects done!
And, be extra aware of what is happening on the INSIDE of you during this time. How you are feeling and coping with our current reality will likely change every day!
Have compassion for yourself right now.
None—NONE–of us know what we’re doing!
Write down your thoughts and feelings about what is happening and how it is affecting you
How are you different because of this? How might you be different?
Look for positive possibilities within the upheaval
Embrace the moment / BE HERE NOW more than ever
Listen to your inner voice and follow that inner prompting
Here is a simple guide to be aware of your inner process:
Proceed from your calm state
Know Yourself: In order to manage your own emotion, you must first be aware of what emotions are arising in you. Pay attention to yourself, your feelings, your thoughts, your body tension. How does feeling stressed or affected by the pandemic show up for you? Other questions to help you be aware of yourself include:
How are you dealing with what is happening? Serious? Flippant? Afraid? Superhero? Numb?
What in your life has changed already because of this?
What might possibly change in the near or distant future?
What do you need during this time to care for yourself?
Be aware—you might not know the answers to any of these yet!
Have alone time if you’re at home with others — Be with YOU!
Stop. STOP. STOP! : Regaining clarity to your body means moving from a state of dysregulation (agitation) to regulation (calm). Your mind-body system will follow your focus. Step away from the thoughts.
Go for a walk and pay attention to the nature that you see.
Notice that birds are still singing, clouds are still blowing by, grass is still growing green, flowers are emerging
Get up and clean something – you know, THAT closet… Be productive!
Quiet mind, quiet body / Quiet body, quiet mind
Proceed from Your Calm State: When your mind-body system is calm, your thinking is clear, “Proceeding” can mean:
Take an action – Reach out, rest, write your thoughts, be productive,
Let go of believing that there is something you can control
Be there for someone else – Get out of yourself
Did I mention, “Let go”?
Flow with the current reality
Your best support of yourself, your loved ones, your community, your global family right now is cooperating with the public safety measures and taking the best care of yourself that you can, with love, compassion, and supporting your own peace daily.
I’ve been a mental health therapist and spiritual counselor for almost 12 years, and I haven’t seen anything like I did starting in November 2016. My field called it “Trump Anxiety Syndrome”, and it started the night he was elected President of the United States.
I have listened to friends, family members, clients, and strangers all expressing fear about what was happening in our country. I have felt it myself. Most days, actually.
As a person who has been trained at depth to look at the bigger picture, I started asking myself, “What do we need to do to heal this fracture that has become US?”
This is a problem for all of us—not one of us is left out of this gaping wound.
The common denominator—and I don’t care what “side” you are on—is that Trump is a predator, a perpetrator; and you are either on the victim side of that, or the enabling side of that. And your choice is based on emotions from your past.
As I listened to all of these people in my life, their thoughts, opinions, emotions, the common thread was that Trump is triggering for each of us all of the times we have ever been on the receiving end of a perpetration of any size. He’s a bully, a violent asshole. Who hasn’t experienced either of those in some shape or form?
Power. Safety. Survival. These are the buttons he pushes in you, no matter what, no matter who you care to vote for in any election.
If you are afraid of him, look into your history and see where you have ever been a victim of bullying behavior, by a parent, classmate, authority figure, or peer of any kind.
He punches you right in that tender, unprocessed place in your body where all that hurt is stored. He reminds you of nearly everything you hate about the darkness of which humans are capable.
If you are sympathetic with him to any extent whatsoever, the same is true for you. He gives you safety from a false sense of threat. He lies and says that you aren’t safe unless you believe his every word and back him up. It’s better to side with the bully than to be the victim, isn’t it?
And he’s right. If you don’t buy into what he’s doing, he’ll throw you aside like he does with all of his nay-sayers.
Just like a bully does.
Just like an abuser does.
Just like a predator does.
Ok, take a deep, belly breath.
What can we do?
Not only does he remind us of our violated places in our own history, he is actively perpetrating against humanity on a regular basis. How can we do anything about that?
Forgive. And forgive like crazy.
Forgive all of those past hurts of all the bullies you have ever encountered because that emotion is coloring your ability to proceed clearly, calmly, wisely.
If you identify with either of the following statements, this work belongs to you:
“I’ve been hurt and I want to hurt you back, so I will attack the bully.” (As tempting as this is, it’s not healing or solution-oriented.)
“I’ve been hurt and taken from, and I’m scared for my safety, so I’m siding with the bully because he’ll keep me safe.”
You can mix and match those and they still fit, don’t they?
Forgive, because while he is still perpetrating, your past hurt makes you lash out in more hurt and anger, and fuels the bully and all of his cohorts.
There is no winning, no healing, no moving forward with past hurt as the powerful fuel feeding today’s fire. We are being shown in full color how being run by emotions ends badly. For everyone.
Forgive because we need your voice! Clear, strong, unrelenting, rational, persistent.
And when you engage in emotional force that results in insults, more hurt, division, separation, you are fueling the perpetrator. You are giving him fodder for his damaging behavior, fodder for his fear-based rhetoric that is Pablum for his supporters.
And if you do support him, or are even mildly sympathetic, forgive. Forgive those you fear. Fear always lies. Forgive those you are afraid will take something that belongs to you. Forgive those who you are are afraid will hurt you. Forgive those you feel misunderstand you. Only then will you see clearly what is real.
Hopefully you also reflect on why you are so fearful; but if all you do is forgive those you feel threaten your safety, you will help us all be a step ahead of where we are now.
It may not seem like much, but nothing will change without each of us taking this step.
The only way we will make it through this is to clear our own past hurts and threats and fears and anger. Then we can see how to stand, how to communicate, how to embrace, how to heal, how to evolve.
Please. Forgive. Today and tomorrow and the next day. Whatever it takes. Heal and rise above the hurt so that you can be part of a greater America. A greater World.
Sometimes what keeps us from changing is a big bunch of nothin’ that we create in our minds. When we want to make a change that will open us to greater Soul contact, the ego knows it is about to be displaced, and fights (with false beliefs) for its existence more than ever!
Years ago, I was guided to enter graduate school to become a therapist. I was so excited by the new adventure! But once I started, the voice of guilt kicked in: “You are abandoning your children. You’re not doing that extra work around the house–shame on you! You are being selfish.” Over and again I would hear these words within myself. While this didn’t stop me from continuing with my studies, it did get in the way of feeling good about my decision.
Journaling about these feelings, forgiving myself for holding limited ideas of what a “perfect” mother and housekeeper is supposed to look like, and letting go of that former, limited idea of myself, helped me through this major life change, this transformation from the old me to a more expansive expression of my soul.
What is that false “voice of doom” saying to you that stops you from pushing through your transforming changes? Journal it, stand up to it, kick it out, and move forward!
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!
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!
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?
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.
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.
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!
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!”