Bone to Pick

Last week I caught a segment on a news show about Joe Vitale.  I was extremely interested as I recently read his book and wrote about it on the blog on Monday.  Well after watching the segment I have a bone to pick with the reporter as well as with Joe himself.

I’ll start with the reporter.

The basis of what Joe teaches is that we are responsible for our life experience.  This also goes hand in hand with the Law of Attraction.  From my own experience, I believe in this law.  It is obvious to me that my life is a reflection of my beliefs about myself.  It’s also easy to say this because my life has been by far a positive experience.  So during Joe’s interview he was asked the common question that is always used to “take down” LOA teachers.  What about people who are suffering?  (He used Haiti as the example.)  The thing is there are people who are born into horrid conditions and spend a lifetime existing there and there are also those who escape and make new and better lives for themselves.  No one wills this suffering on themselves.  It is not their “fault,” most people are completely unaware that their thoughts or attitudes create their existence.  I’d say even that a lot of people unconsciously never expect more or different from what they already have.  So in cases people who are born into poverty stay poor, some people face crisis after crisis or one tragedy after the next, and some deal with lifetimes of health issues.  I do not think any teacher of the Law of Attraction is ever blaming people for their own suffering, they are simply bringing to light that each person is responsible for improving their own lives if what they truly desire is an improvement.  In today’s society we are inclined and encouraged to look to other sources to save us.  It really is politically incorrect to admit that life really is one big self-fulfilling prophesy.

Now for Joe…

The book I read that he wrote was based on something called “Self I-Dentity Ho’oponopono.”  The only thing he could really share about the technique is the mantra because the rest of it is confidential.  In order to get the full technique you must attend a training conference and sign a confidentiality agreement.  I didn’t look into it b/c those two ideas were enough to turn me off immediately, but I’m sure the training cost thousands of dollars.  Now I get that he has risen to a certain level of fame and that there are countless people trying to get access to his teachings, but I don’t think healing and spiritual growth of this kind should be limited to  wealthy people.  If something is legitimate and true it should be accessible to the masses.  Which brings me back to the news story.  A woman was interviewed and she had paid $5000 to spend an evening with Joe.  $5000 for a few hours of one on one time with him?!?!  In that moment I realized why the Law of Attraction and related movements get a bad rap.  With price tags like that placed on spirituality it hardly appears that the practitioner is in it for the joy of helping others.

Needless to say as I watched the news program in between my dad and my sister I didn’t dare mention that I had read and LOVED Joe’s book.  It quite saddened me that he had fallen from my pedestal almost as quickly as he arrived there….  Fortunately though I can keep the mantra and I believe there are some resources online from the original teachings on “Self I-Dentity Ho’oponopono.”

I should end this with “I’m sorry, I love you, Please forgive me, Thank you” as I acknowledge there is quite a bit of judgment here!  It definitely struck a nerve with me…

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Stages of Spiritual Growth

I’ve been feeling inspired to write this post.  I’m writing it solely based on my own experience and the various books and ideas I’ve studied.  I’m only an expert in my experience, so if you feel I get something wrong in this entry keep that in mind and (kindly) throw your 2 cents in.

It appears to me there are stages in our spiritual growth.  They are rungs in a ladder that elevates us to the highest levels of consciousness.  The most obvious examples of this highest point is what we know of Jesus and the Buddha.

Here is my interpretation of what seems to me as three stages.

1.  Survival-If you are into energy stuff and yoga then you will understand when I say this is associated with your first Chakra, also called the root chakra.  So this stage is all about security and safety.  In this stage you may find yourself depending on outside sources for your protection and comfort.  I don’t know about every religion but I can say that at least Christianity (or some aspects of it) speaks to people at this level.  It offers an eternity of comfort and security by setting up rules to follow.  If you behave in a certain way or at least beg for forgiveness when you veer off track you will be rewarded even after this life.  At this level we are driven more by fear than anything else.  We work jobs that we don’t love (or even like), cling to our relationships, build kingdoms out of material possessions (b/c stuff=wealth and wealth=security), and hope and pray that our house of cards doesn’t fall.

2. Master of Your Domain-At this level we start to get it.  This is where the William E. Henley quote comes in.  “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” At this phase we become less afraid of the BIG BAD WORLD because we understand that our thoughts, beliefs, and ideas create our lives.  When your boyfriend dumps you instead of crying that he’s an asshole and you’ll be alone forever, you think what am I going to do with this opportunity.  You understand that there is a power within you that you may or may not call God.  You question religious dogma and in some cases leave it behind.  Here you begin to use the laws of nature and the power of your thoughts to bring good into your life.  You are in the driver’s seat and in essence are the God of your own experience.

3.  Surrender to Something Bigger-I know I probably lost a few people when I jumped from 1 to 2, but here is where a lot more will drop like flies.  Because this is where I say that I believe in an Omnipotent and Omnipresent power and it is not Jesus.  (So right there, I lost my Atheist and my Christian buddies.)  Jesus was a human who happened to make it to stage 3.  And this tells you a little bit about what your life looks like when you reach stage 3.  At this stage you are merely an instrument for the Divine.  The force that guides the Universe also guides you.  It is at this stage that you fully come to that realization.  Here you stop inserting your own will and start living from the Christ consciousness.  There is no more duality.  No more right and wrong or good and bad.  Life is love and love is life.

Traveling through these stages is not a clear cut process.  To see the full picture you would have to pull the lens way, way, way, way, way back.  At that point you might see that it takes hundreds or thousands of lifetimes to progress through them.  I also know from my own experience and others around me that we hop around the three.  Just in the past month I’ve had moments where I’ve been scared to death that my whole world would crumble at the loss of a loved one, I’ve used sheer will and determination to get started on a project, and I’ve “let go” and allowed the Divine to speak through me.  There is also the idea that we can be in different stages in different areas of our life.  Someone could be a stage 1 in relationships and a stage 2 in their career path.  I would also venture to say there is a lot of space to play with in between each stage.

Anyway, thanks for reading my theory here and please keep in mind that I did not consult any textbooks or experts.  All of this came from within me (except for the quote), so if you have anything you could add I’d love to hear it!

Forgiveness

So thanks to my conscious connection group and reading the books, Ask Yourself This and Writing Down Your Soul, I have been posing some serious questions to myself.  Once I decided to do this answers have arrived as well as more questions.

I believe in the Law of Attraction and that if you make requests of The Universe, or Spirit, or God and you truly believe it is yours to do or yours to have, it will arrive in your life.  This is, however, easier said than done.  I have believed for several years now that I am meant to help people through sharing messages and stories.  I dream of a career as an author who also speaks and leads workshops.  This is a vision I created for myself shortly after I read The Secret.  Three years later, I have written two novels and over 100,000 words worth of blog posts and planned a workshop integrating some spiritual practices. I have made great strides towards my vision, but I haven’t reached the pivotal point where the vision becomes my career and life’s work.  After too many rejections from literary agents, I shelved the two novels, and the workshop, back in 08 I scheduled it to be held at my church and then canceled it a month later in response to a fear I couldn’t quite overcome.

Lately, I’ve been working on a new project.  I’m almost to the “take action” part of the plan and I am terrified.  So, I have been asking why?  What do I need to do to be ready?  What I am finding is that old memories are popping into my head.  Most of the stuff I am remembering is not pleasant.  I am reliving embarrassing moments, careless decisions, and times when I was downright hurtful.  Most of the stuff that’s invading my thoughts happened years and years ago.  It’s stuff that I should have moved on from and let go of, but instead I am finding that it is all still there within me.  Then there are the words that were either said or implied about me growing up as “the baby” in the family.  Spoiled and selfish.

I have been journaling about these memories.  I’ve given a voice to my guilt and anger.  In soul-writing you put down your thoughts and wait for spirit or “the voice” (as Janet Conner calls it) to answer you back.  On Thursday evening, I frantically wrote what came into my mind.  I was told that I was loved, that I needed to let go of the past, stop worrying about the future, and that I had work to do and people that needed me.  The messages went on for 3 pages and at one point my writing got so large it was as if Spirit was shaking sense into me.

In the days that have passed since that message, it has become clear to me, that what is blocking my vision is lack of forgiveness.  Today in church, someone was talking about a book on the importance of forgiveness.  The author of this book had led workshops on the Law of Attraction for years and what she discovered was that the people who had the least amount of “baggage” were the most successful at manifesting their dreams.  It is vital that we let go of guilt, shame, and regret in order to become the best we can be.

Yesterday I posted a great quote from Carol Burnett.  It mentioned blessing, praising, and letting your foes go.  My foes are those voices and memories that play like broken records in my mind.  They do not define who I am in this moment.  Without even realizing it I’ve carried them with me.  My goal is to forgive myself and those who have judged or mis-judged me.  I’ve already succeeded in leaving a couple of bags behind, but I will probably discover more down there in the basement.  As I find them I will forgive them, bless them, and gently send them on their way.

Vision Board 1

On January 1, 2009, I attended a workshop entitled “Design a Divine 2009” that was led by Elizabeth Barbour.  Over the course of the day we all created these beautiful vision boards.  I wrote a little about this once before so I’ll try not to repeat myself, or at least not too much.  I first learned about vision boards in “The Secret.”  It is a great way to put Creative Visualization to work.  What you do is find images and phrases that represent what you would like to see in your life and you put them together in a collage.  I think, though, that Elizabeth took this a step further and explained that sometimes an image will just call us to it.  We might be pulled to put something on the page without a real explanation for it.  She even shared one of her own vision boards with us.  On it was a picture of a woman floating in a pool.  When she put that picture on the board it simply represented peace and tranquility (or something like that, I may be wrong…sorry Elizabeth if you’re reading), little did she know that months later she would move into a house with a pool in the backyard.

So as 2009 is coming ever so closely to an end and major changes have happened in my life, I have been analyzing my vision board.  I wanted to talk about a few of the things on the board that seem to have manifested or taken me by surprise by manifesting in a way I had not expected.

The first is the phrase “Something big is coming!”  I had finished my board and was cleaning up when I stopped and opened a Rumi Calendar.  On the page I flipped to there it was “Something Big is Coming!”  Okay.  I responded by grabbing scissors, cutting it out, and quickly gluing as the group began to gather.  I knew that the message was for me.  In 2009, something big was coming.  I just had no idea what.  In my ego mind I thought maybe it would be a book deal or possibly a big move or who knows maybe even another baby.  I didn’t expect that I would reconnect with an old friend who would suggest blogging and I would create this space where I’ve expressed so much and been dealt some blows and have shared it all with so many.  It is yet to be determined what that seed will grow into but it is already enough to call BIG! And never in my wildest dreams did I suspect the biggest thing of all – that one of my dearest friends of 18 years would die, just two days after becoming a mother.  It is this that leads me to the next observation I’d like to make about my board.

Before attending the workshop, Heather, Kristin, Amy and I had just started discussing a girls’ weekend.  I was finally, after 5 years of motherhood, ready to do this.  As I flipped through magazines I wanted very much to find a picture that represented my friends and our trip.  I found the perfect (well almost) picture of 3 friends drinking wine and looking through a scrapbook (that’s what it looks like to me) with the caption reading “Get Away.”  I immediately cut it out, but did pause for a minute to consider the significance of only 3 friends in the picture.  I had a couple of ideas.  The women in the photo represented each of my friends or maybe one of us would not be able to make the get-away.  Whichever it was, the image made it to the board.  Upon returning home from Amy’s funeral, I stared at that picture in the upper left hand corner.  There we were the 3 remaining Amigas, doing just what we had done in Kristin’s kitchen when I arrived in NC: drinking wine and looking through photo albums.  We had even had a few moments of laughter through our tears…  I have to admit when I look at it now all I hear in my head  is “and then there were 3.”

I am going to end this on a positive note by pointing out the references to love.  What I wanted most of all in 2009 was to reconnect with my husband.  I wanted us to take time to nurture not just our girls but each other.  It seems that the power of the vision has worked it’s magic.  Tomorrow Mark and I celebrate 11 years of marriage and I am more in love with him now than ever!

*I titled this post Vision Board 1 because I do plan to write a little more about my visions for 2009.  As I learned from the month of October, A LOT can happen in one month and there is more than a month left in 2009.

Books

I have always been on this path.  Everything, no matter how good or bad or mundane, that has happened in my life has brought me to this moment.  I haven’t always truly understood that though.  “Everything happens for a reason” is something I’ve been saying for years…but mostly as a pep talk to myself in difficult times.  Now a days I am very aware of the path, the process, and the lessons along the way.  I have some very wise and spiritual friends  whom I have learned a lot from, but most of my knowledge and awareness has come from books.

A lot of people scoff at self-help books, but that is where it started with me.  I never went to the library or bookstore seeking answers to my life’s problems.  I was very content with my life.  It really was that the books found me.  It started with that Oprah episode and The Secret.  After I got really interested in learning more about the Law of Attraction a friend of mine lent me a Wayne Dyer book.  Wayne Dyer became my first teacher…in the form of his books.  I think I read 10 of them.  I love him, he’s great and the funny thing is that at least 3 times recently when I have been down and discouraged I turn on PBS and find Wayne Dyer giving one of his famous talks.  He’s become my angel of optimism who shows up when I need him most!

Despite my love of writing, I have never been an avid reader.  The love of books comes in waves and bursts with me.  But that changed when I started reading books that taught me about positive thinking and spirituality.  I have not been without a book to read since 2007.  I consider it a part of my devotional time.  The books I read remind me that I am a child of God, that I am a part of his spirit and his spirit is a part of me (even if they don’t use the word God).  They remind me that love is stronger than fear and anything born from that love can become reality.  They tell me that my thoughts are prayers and I should take care as to what I am praying for.  Most importantly they have shown me that I am an instrument and all I need is the Faith strong enough to let my purpose find me and carry me home!

So yes, I read a lot of books and sometimes I even believe what I read.  If the message resonates with me and opens my heart a little, I try to put it to good use.  One thing I have noticed on a lot of blogs is that people have “give-aways.”  It has recently dawned on me that I can have “give-aways” on my blog too.  I’ve decided to start giving away my favorite books.  I hold onto them always thinking I’ll return to them.  I rarely do.  I think it would be an even greater gift to pass along the books to others.  Starting tomorrow, I am going to have a monthly or bi-monthly (haven’t decided yet) book give-away.  The first book will be “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain (my copy is much older than the one featured on Amazon) since I have blogged about that one recently.  So check back tomorrow for the details!

Creative Visualization

I just reread the book “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain.  It is a short book, takes only a few hours to read, but is very informative.  Creative Visualization is putting the Law of Attraction to work for you.  If you don’t know about the LOA it is the idea that our thoughts are things, like attracts like, you reep what you sow, and your consciousness creates your reality.  We use it everyday.  Every time we imagine where we are going to go, what we are going to do, or say, or be we are using Creative Visualization.

I used to use it unconsciously.  When I was a kid I played softball for two years and took gymnastics for a lot longer than that.  In softball, whenever it was my turn to bat, my lack of self-confidence would take over and I’d imagine myself striking out…and guess what?  I always struck out.  In gymnastics, all I wanted was to be able to do a back handspring but I always saw myself landing on my head. So almost  every time I tried I’d land on my head.  There was a few times though that I managed to squelch the vision and do a perfect round-off back handspring.  I knew even then that physically I was capable, but mentally I was sabotaging myself.  The examples could go on and on, but I’ll stop with these two obvious ones.

So once you grasp the concept of Creative Visualization you can use it to build a positive life experience.  The key to it, though, is belief.  I will admit that I have tried to apply this principle in certain areas of my life and haven’t seen results.  Like after writing my first novel, I would imagine the phone call I’d get from an agent saying they were just dying to represent me, I’d visualize myself cashing my first advance check, and sitting at some table in Border’s for my book signing.  But the reality was there was too much disbelief between me and this vision.  You have to clear yourself of all the blocks.  You have to believe it and want it without fear.  My vision will not come to fruition as long as I believe that it is “too hard” or hold onto fears of what others might think of me and how the changes of a career like that will affect my life.  Gawain suggests that in this situation you continue to hold onto the vision, write it out along with the negative feelings that bubble up.  If you face and acknowledge the feelings you have at a deeper level, you can eventually let them go and rest in the positive vision until it becomes reality.

Also, a great thought to add at the end of your Creative Visualization is “This or something better is coming to me now.”  Ultimately it is about surrendering…letting go and letting God.  This is a most difficult place to reach.  In reading books by Joel S. Goldsmith, I am reminded of this key step often and I am also reminded of how hard it is to get out of the human picture.  Until you can surrender in the truest sense of the word, it can only help to hold these positive visions!  (For more thoughts on surrendering check out this post over at Owning Pink.)

Shhhh! It’s “The Secret.”

So I talked about the dominoes and how there was a moment when they started to fall.  That moment was when I first discovered “The Secret.”  I saw a commercial for the Oprah episode and stopped in my tracks.  Somehow I knew it was something I HAD to see.  I watched the episode a few days later and was truly moved.  I checked out the book from the library and devoured it.   If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, it is about something called “The Law of Attraction” which basically states that it is our thoughts and our consciousness that creates our lives.  If we have a positive outlook on life, we will have a positive experience.  Our beliefs about our lives, both negative and positive, become reality.  The author encourages the use of visualization and affirmations to create the life you want.

When I read the book I was reminded of a long lost passion of mine, something I had given up because of the belief that it was too hard.  I had always loved writing, but I thought that I could never make it as a writer (you know that idea everyone has about starving artists).  After reading “The Secret” I realized that people find success in difficult careers everyday and it happens because they know in their hearts that it is possible.    So I set the goal that I would write a book.  I didn’t know how or when, I just had faith that I would.  A few months later, one conversation sparked the idea for my first novel.  The idea came to me in early June and by the following September, the first draft of the novel was complete.  Just six months after reading “The Secret” I had achieved my goal and had written a novel, something I had previously thought was an impossible task.

Beyond writing, “The Secret” changed my attitude towards life.  I am a more positive person with the faith and patience to let miracles happen.