What Worked

I took the time to sit and meditate for 20 minutes this morning.  What came to me in meditation was a reminder of what worked for me in the past.  The other day I wrote that post titled “Healing” and mentioned how in 2008 I was more intuitive then I am now.  I wasn’t really asking why that was.  At some level I know and just haven’t said it out loud.  What came to me in meditation inspired me to put the answer out here.

When I first started down this path I did two very important things.  I read The Law of Attraction: The Teachings of Abraham by Jerry and Esther Hicks and I took a meditation course.  It was around that time that I was manifesting a level of success and peace I’d never seen before in my life.  In that time I decided to write a novel after 12 years of not writing at all.  I’m sure the idea sounded crazy to everyone around me.  Most people didn’t even know I could write.  But I set the intention with absolutely no plans of failing.  I also just wanted to create a better me and a more joyful life.

I started meditating 2 times a day for 20 minutes at each sitting.  The girls were very young at that time.  Looking back on it I don’t see how I even thought it was possible, but I did and it became possible.  I was disciplined and it worked.  It changed me forever.  I also started visualizing my day on paper every morning and reading a daily devotional.  I would write out the way my day would look, filling the page with affirmations about peace, love, and joy.

When the idea for my first novel came to me I made a writing schedule.  I’d write three pages of my novel every evening NO MATTER WHAT.  I took my lap top and wrote when we were on vacation.  I wrote when a friend came to visit from out of town.  I stayed up late and wrote if necessary, but I always finished those three pages and often wrote more.  Before each writing session I’d write my intentions and affirmations about what would be achieved in the session then I’d say a prayer.

I finished that book in 3 and a half months.  It ended up being 100,000 words which is almost twice as long as the second novel that I spent over a year writing.  That first one is raw and amateurish, but it is also intense and powerful. I was truly tuned into God when I wrote that book.  Often times I’d go back and read in disbelief that the words had come from me.

I continued some of those practices long after the book was finished.  It was at least 2 years before I missed a meditation session and I planned my day on paper for about a year.

At some point though, I got overconfident or lazy.  I thought I’d reached a point where I didn’t need to “plan” my day or meditate as often.  I allowed myself to get busy or slack.  So I made those quantum leaps of progress a few years ago and am no where near where I thought I’d be by 2011.  Without a doubt I took 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.  I can never go back completely, but right now I’m close enough.

So I’m examining what worked for me before and I am setting the intention to embrace something that works for me again.  I do so want to be an instrument for the Divine and not a slave to my Ego.  To take an idea from Wayne Dyer…I’ve had enough of this Edging God Out.

Spirit-Led

The month of December is here.  Another year is winding to a close.  Crazy!  Time is moving so fast these days, my brain can barely keep up.  2010 did not bring big changes the way 2009 did.  I think that is for the best.  There is only so much a girl can handle.

My 2010 vision board was filled with spiritual pictures representing prayer, meditation, and contemplation.  My 2010 tarot card was The Hierophant which to me represented a spiritual teacher (whether finding one or being one).  I found a teacher in my friend, Mildred and I did become a teacher to the kids at church.  To an extent though, I let my ego take the wheel back this year.

I meditated less this year then I have in the last three.  What had been a disciplined twice-a-day-every-day practice became a sometimes event.  I let anxiety creep back in at a level I haven’t felt in years.  I spent a lot more time with my thoughts on the future or the past then on the present moment.  Basically, I lost sight of the most important resolution I made last year.

In the coming weeks, I should receive in the mail the letter I wrote to God last year at church.  We do this every year so that we can see what our intentions were and whether or not we allowed them to manifest through us.  I’m pretty sure my intention was to simply let God lead the way.  I wanted to surrender fully and become an instrument.  It’s the same request I made and released into the fire at the Goddess weekend back in June.

Ever since my busy summer, I’ve found that things have been too noisy inside my head to hear that still small voice of God.  I get ideas and I don’t know where they’re coming from.  Is it my ego trying to make something happen or God encouraging me to let something happen?  I really can’t tell!  There was a time when I wrote so assuredly about listening to inner wisdom and knowing the right thing to do.  These days, I don’t seem to know anything.

At the beginning of this week I sat down to meditate.  These days when I do that a thousand thoughts bombard me, but in this particular session I found ample silence to hear something.  It was a pretty clear message that I should have written down because right now I can’t quite recall it.  The gist is that I have tuned God out lately and it’s time to tune back in.  I need to listen with my whole being in each and every moment.

Committing to a spirit-led life isn’t a one time promise you make, it is a daily, hour to hour, minute to minute practice you engage in.  At the end of this year it is ever clear to me that I must re-engage!

Why Are We Doing This Anyway?

Mandy's Chapel at Camp Weed where the Uniteen retreat was heldThe first weekend of October, I went on a Uniteen retreat.  Uniteens is the program for middle-schoolers in Unity churches.  My church just got our Uniteen program started up again and I am one of the leaders.  I must admit I had doubts about going on the retreat.  I have been and will be traveling a lot more than I usually do and this trip at moments felt like too much.  I ended up going though and it was AMAZING!!

From the moment we broke out into our “family groups” and I got to know some of these kids I was just in awe.  These kids were the most open, respectful, fun, confident, compassionate, and well-adjusted people (I said people, not kids) that I’d ever encountered.   The weekend was absolutely joyous!  Out of about 70 kids I only noticed a handful that were not completely with the program (which is all about love) and even those few kids had moments of being loving.

When I think back on my own church experience in middle school, I don’t remember this kind of loving atmosphere.  I remember never quite fitting in and moments of wanting to crawl under a rock or out of my skin.  On this retreat, even the kids who “didn’t quite fit in” were thrilled to be there and seemed to love every minute of it.

In Unity we stress the power of making time for meditation and silence.  We also encourage looking for God everywhere and in everyone.  Kids are introduced to meditation in the Unikids program and those practices continue.  With that being said, of course meditation was part of the retreat.  On Saturday night we did something called a Night Walk.  We were instructed to link hands and walk the path through the woods in complete darkness and silence to the chapel.  I was thrilled by this.  I just knew it would be such a powerful spiritual experience.  Instead, I had three kids behind me who just wouldn’t stop chatting.  I shhhed them 3 times before giving up.  I wasn’t going to break my silence to actually talk to them.

As we neared the end of our walk one of them said “why are we doing this anyway?”  It was then that I realized I hadn’t been spending the weekend with miniature enlightened souls, but kids.  The fact is kids are kids and they just want life to be as fun and easy as possible.  True spiritual understanding doesn’t typically come until you’ve been in the game for a very long time.  We can’t expect our children to receive divine revelations during meditation or to even understand the true meaning of scripture.  But we can give them tools that can help them navigate life and perhaps lead to spiritual growth later on.

What I love about Unity kids is that the tools they have been given seem to make them better able to take responsibility for their lives and choose positive ways of living and being.  They carry no guilt, shame or burdens from being told they are miserable sinners.  What they do carry is a divine light within them that they are well aware of.  They know that what they put out into the world comes back to them.  It seems they at least shoot for putting out love.  They know that their thoughts matter and they seem to think in a positive manner.

I often wonder about the relevance of church and Unity in my daughters’ lives.  My girls love to go to church, but is it really necessary?  After attending the retreat, I realized I should and will make it a priority for them.  Mark pointed out that maybe the kids were good because they come from good families (Unity people are pretty awesome).  That is true too.  I could teach all of this stuff to my girls at home but there is something really powerful about being with a group that proves this kind of love, acceptance and positivity really does exist!

A Unity Lesson

I talk about my church, Unity Eastside, a great deal on this blog.  A few people have asked about Unity or made remarks about wishing they could find a church or minister like mine.  There are Unity churches all over the country.  If you visit their website you can see if there is a church near you.  Over the next year I am going to be teaching the kids at my church and Unity lesson plans are going to be on my mind a lot (particularly on Sundays).  I thought it might be nice to share some of those lessons here for anyone who wants to learn more about Unity.  So here goes my first such post…

Sunday morning,  I taught my first real lesson to the 5-8 graders in my group at church.  Our first unit of study is on the Unity Basics.  I find myself getting stumped when I try to explain the beliefs and ideals of my church to people so I am really excited about the opportunity to learn as I teach.  Although I feel that most of the time I live the Unity principles, I couldn’t quote them for you if you asked me.

Yesterday’s lesson was an introduction and overview of the 5 Basic Unity Principles.  They are as follows:

1.  There is only one Presence and one Power active as the universe and as my life.  God the Good.

2.  Our essence is of God, therefore we are inherently good.  This God essence was fully expressed in Jesus, the Christ.

3.  We are co-creators with God, creating reality through thoughts held in mind.

4.  Through prayer and meditation we align our heart-mind with God.  Denials and affirmations are tools we use.

5.  Through thoughts words and actions, we live the Truth we know.

The lesson quoted the scripture Matthew 7:24-27.  This is the section where Jesus talks about building your house on a foundation of rock verses sand.  The house built on rock withstands winds and floods, the house built on sand does not.

How does this relate to the 5 principles?  Well because in Unity, those principles are the rock on which we build our spiritual life.  Basically if we face difficult times in life and we know that at our core we are connected to God, that God is the only real power (Omnipotent), then we will take the time to get quiet and make that connection.  We will listen for the still small voice or the inspired idea that gives us the answers we need.  Another illustration of this is to imagine a lost child in a grocery store.  The child goes into full-on panic mode.  They are running, calling for their mom or dad as tears stream down their face.  But usually the minute an employee or helpful bystander stops them and reminds them their parents are still in the store and they will find them, they calm down.  If your spiritual life is built on the idea that God is always there and all you need to do is be still and experience it, life will run more smoothly and effortlessly.

The other very important aspect of this foundation that Unity offers is the idea of paying attention to your thoughts.  Like I’ve said in here before and it is also a song we sing at church…our thoughts are prayers.  Whatever we give our energy and belief to is created in our life with God’s help.  God is more or less the Super-Conscious.  If we give enough energy to a thought it goes from our conscious or unconscious mind out to God’s and pulls to us, like a magnet, whatever it is we are focused on.  So when your egoic mind (which is as close as you get to a Devil) is thinking crazy thoughts, it is good to say “No that’s not real” and replace the thought with something that brings you feelings of peace and love.

I’d say that the most important of these principles is number 1.  All we really need to know is that.  If that is where our thoughts lie, life will be easy breezy.  Even when things are tough you can get through.  The other principles, in my opinion, reiterate that one and give you tools that help you get to the place where you are living number 1 to its fullest.

Reality

Last week I had an interesting comment on a post.  It got me thinking and I wanted to reply but chose not to.  I wasn’t sure if it was a sincere response or just someone trying to reel me in for a cyber-fight. Since he made such an interesting point, I decided to address it in a post.

The commenter expressed that he was an atheist and from what he wrote it seems he had some knowledge or experience with New Thought or New Age ideas.  He talked about meditation and “God is Love” and “Cancer isn’t real.”  This is all stuff that I’ve read and learned too.  It is a very hard concept to wrap your head around because Cancer is real and people battle it, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, every single day. I know people who have died from cancer and people who have overcome it.

The first part of this is death.  Our bodies die.  It’s simple.  Although our souls may be eternal, our bodies are not.  And I think that is a good thing.  But it is hard to lose people or pets that we love.  The suffering goes very deep.

The second part is the reality of it.  In the spiritual realm cancer, sickness, suffering, and death are not real.  That is the realm of “God.”  We all have access to that realm if we choose to connect to it.  I’m not sure anyone lives there though.  The great mystics have come the closest.  So even a great yogi or spiritual teacher can die of cancer or other ailments that are sometimes called “unreal.”  But regular people have been known to experience miraculous healings by aligning themselves with this spiritual vibration.

Finally there are the “laws” of nature.  One of those laws is The Law of Attraction.  I am currently reading The Master Key System and it teaches that law.  Supposedly this is a spiritual principle that is unwavering.  Just like 2+2 always equals 4, the Law of Attraction is always working.  In essence, whatever comes to you good or bad has come from your thoughts and consciousness.  So at some point you have knowingly or not set an intention and backed it up with enough emotional energy to make it happen.  This has been a hard one for me to believe because when I see a 3-year-old with cancer or hear the story of a women that was molested in childhood, I think how could they have attracted this to themselves.  If it is indeed law, the only answer is that their consciousness existed before their human form did, and they intended these events to take place for whatever reason.  And as morbid as this sounds if we do “create” our lives to a degree before we enter them, we see the big picture and know how each puzzle piece fits.  We also know how each experience contributes to our soul’s development.  So the suffering may in fact be necessary to help us grow or the souls around us grow.

“God” is such a charged word.  And I think that for the most part “God” is a neutral presence in the Universe.  I don’t think God punishes us with disease and devastation.  I don’t think God rewards us with success and health.  I think God is just an energetic part of these natural laws that we either follow blindly or follow knowingly.

Nothing is Against You

I read something recently about the idea of spiritual warfare and outside forces pulling on us.  I felt I needed to address it in a post as I suppose many people feel this way.

Here is what I believe, plain and simple:  NO ONE AND NOTHING IS AGAINST YOU!

Those “forces” that are out to get us, come from egoic FEAR.  I believe that “God” is love and light that is always present and all powerful.  If we build our foundations on that rock we can release the fear of being brought down.  If our foundations are set in Love even the “bad” things make us better and stronger.

I took the topic into a session of soul-writing.  I asked what I should write to respond to this idea of spiritual warfare.  This is what came through:

God is omniscient and omnipotent.  There is no place we can be and nothing we can do in which God is not with us.  There is nothing more powerful and we are never alone.  How do we suspect these forces are going to pull us away?  We are the prodigal sons.  We get to decide where we will go and how far we shall travel from the Beloved (or at least how far away we are in our minds).  It is not about giving in  to the threat of the world.  It is about forgetting to bring our presence back to God, the ever-present power that moves around us and in us.  Do not give power to outside forces.  Take responsibility.  You get to choose to live a life of fear or love.  When presented with a hardship you supply the meaning.  It can be a curse or a gift but that is not the decision of something outside of you.  This world is what you choose to see it as.  It is a mirror for your own consciousness.  Does the mirror show you hatred, fear and obstacles in your path?  If so it would be helpful to go inward and ask why that is all that is visible to you in this world full of miracles.  We are all-powerful in the sense that everything in our life stems from who we’ve decided we are and how open we are to the gifts of the Universe.  Nothing is out to get you.  You are loved, provided for, protected, and embraced as long as you accept this to be true.  As long as you hold figurative swords and take a fighting posture, enemies will find their way into you life and you will be in Hell.  God saves you by helping you save yourself.  You get to decide.

When I first started meditating, someone said to me with great fear in their voice, “Oh no, you’re not a Buddhist now are you?”  When I answered no, the relief that washed over them was visible.  This person chose to create an enemy of one of the most peaceful, loving religions in existence.  An institution built around compassion was, in this person’s mind, a monster pulling me away from God.

I believe our faiths are continuously tested for a reason.  That reason is so that we can grow and discover our own personal truth with the Spirit that lies within us.  I also think this is why Jesus said “Love your enemies.”

Prayers

If you’d asked me years ago what it meant to pray, I would have answered that it is simply asking God for something for yourself or others.  I didn’t pray unless I was scared or desperate.  If Mark was late or on a trip, I’d pray for his safe return to me.  If we lost power on a really hot evening, I’d pray for the electricity to be restored.  If I was forced to drive in bad weather, I’d pray to make it unharmed to my destination.  If a loved one was sick or having surgery, I’d pray for their health.  I pleaded with God to do this one thing for me.  Sometimes I’d make promises that I would pray more often.  I probably even promised to go to church a time or two.  That’s what I thought it was all about.

These days I have a different definition of prayer.  I believe that prayer is being mindful of your thoughts and emotions and listening for inspiration and guidance.  I would like to say I “pray without ceasing” as this is a goal of mine.  I want to be present and attentive to the thoughts that enter my mind.  If I get an idea to call someone I want to act on that guidance, assuming that perhaps it was a message from spirit that would make someone’s day brighter.  The act of listening is one of my methods of prayer and the messages I receive are the answers.  If I ask to be shown the way I need to pay attention to what doors open before me.

I believe that everyone’s core beliefs create their lives.  What you accept and tell yourself everyday goes out to the Universe like a prayer.  Although you may lie down at night and go through a list of rote requests, it is the thoughts you have that are fueled by feelings that are answered.  You may have a number of people to pray for, but unless you take the time to really feel something for each person, it is no different than singing the alphabet song.  It is not the words or the thoughts that create the prayer, but the emotions that carry the energy to make change happen.

Last week in my book group the topic of praying for others came up.  This is something that I, at times, feel guilty about.  You see I don’t have a daily session where I send prayers up for people in my life.  A lot of the people in my life are right where they want and need to be.  Like I said on Monday change comes from the inside.  Even if things aren’t ideal for them, change will not come until they are ready to embrace it.  I think about my friends and family through out the day.  I often feel love and gratitude while having those thoughts.  That, I believe, is also prayer.  When I read a story and feel empathetic and deeply hope for healing and recovery, that is a prayer.  When someone asks me to pray for them, I take the energy of that request into meditation and wait for it to be acknowledged by spirit.  That is how I pray.

So if anyone were to ever ask me who I pray for.  I’d answer whoever I am made aware of.  If something sparks love in my heart for you than you are receiving my prayers.   And I truly hope that one day I can say that I move through this world in a constant state of prayer, because that will mean I am sending and spreading love with every breath I take!