Friday, February 27, 2009

Peek-a-boo


More about places we hide from ourselves.

Go to a restaurant, pick a booth behind a child, and smile at them. The next thing you know, they are playing peek-a-boo with you. They manage to get a real thrill out of “hiding” and then being discovered by you.

I wonder if we adults have our own versions of peek-a-boo. I know as an adult, I have gotten a lot better at hiding. As a child, I wanted to be discovered so hiding was pretty superficial, but as an adult, I have learned to hide behind all kinds of beliefs and feelings that make it difficult for me to even find myself.

The other day I got really frustrated with one of my husband’s more common and aggravating habits. Normally, I just ask him to please notice what he is doing because I’m finding it difficult to live with. This time, I presumed to understand his motivation. Mind you, I did not ask him about his motivation or intention. Now, I’m a spiritual counselor, I know it is rude and inappropriate to assume I know someone’s motivation better than they do, but there I was doing it anyway.

The thing about making presumptions is that they usually backfire because the person you are making the presumption about now has justifiable cause for trenching in and not listening to you because “Clearly, you don’t really know them.”

You got it! My presumption predictably backfired.

To make it all a little stickier, I was really upset with him, told him so and expected him to change so that I would feel better. (Those of you who have done some personal growth work know where this is going, don’t you?) Trying to get someone to change long-term to please you is most often a futile effort. People change because the change makes their life better, and ideally comes from a desire to create greater happiness, not to avoid anger.

Attempting to browbeat someone into changing by sharing my angry feelings is manipulation, not good communication. Browbeating someone based on a presumption is really shaky ground because presumptions are usually not accurate.

So let’s put this together. I’m angry with someone, not as much about his behavior, but more about my presumptions about his motivation, which has not been proven. I’m building a case on my volatile emotions. (No wonder so many men have come to believe that women’s emotions are just about raging hormones and have no real foundation.) Here is where I got confused and other people get confused too. My emotions were valid, but they weren’t about my husband. They were about me.

If indeed, I am the creator of my reality (and I believe I am) then I am angry about my inability to create or influence a reality I want but am not experiencing. By lashing out and blaming someone else, I don’t have to face myself, do I? I don’t have to address the real source and motivation of my own anger. I am hiding from my own insecurity. I am hiding from me.

Does that mean my husband is exempt from ever doing anything that should irritate me? No. He has different ways of doing things and sometimes his choices are down right irritating. It is appropriate to ask him to consider how his decisions affect me.

But it is inappropriate to attempt to shape his behavior with my anger. It is especially inappropriate when I haven’t looked inside to face my own insecurities and the motivations behind them, before asking him to do the same thing. When I do look at myself first, I usually find myself approaching my husband with a lot less presumption and a great deal more compassion.

For those of you doing the Creation Meditation with us, this is one of the main reasons we do this meditation practice. When emotions are strong, we take them into the womb of all possibilities and hold our feelings in compassion until they transform. We stop blaming others and we stop hiding from ourselves. We learn how to love our limits with infinite compassion; thereby, discovering more of our own radiant and limitless selves.

After all, children have the right idea about peek-a-boo. We are meant to be discovered!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Benefits and Challenges of Spiritual Sampling


As many of us evaluate whether or not the spiritual traditions we grew up in are meeting all of our needs and coincide with our changing spiritual beliefs, we may find ourselves sampling from other spiritual practices.

We are seeking with a hope that there is something to be discovered within other practices that will fulfill some of our unmet needs. We hunger for an understanding about what makes other people tick—wondering what gives them their serenity, joy, or inner peace. Sampling is how we learn more about others and deepen our understanding of ourselves, and our emerging and ever-changing personal beliefs.

I did a fair amount of sampling when I took a hiatus from my church of origin—the Catholic Church. I visited Jewish synagogue, Muslim temple, Native American sweat lodge, Episcopalian services, Pagan ceremony, Buddhist temple, Hindu satsang and spiritually based events for drumming, chanting and dancing, along with numerous New Age events and ceremonies. I listened to the wisdom of shamans from Peru, medicine people from North America, rabbis, monks, ministers, priestesses, and wise women and men living quiet everyday lives.

What I discovered in this process is that the Divine is bigger than any single tradition or religion. It is we humans that create the boundaries of our various practices. We give our traditions shape and form based upon our experiences. Those forms become pathways that lead us to our spiritual freedom and fulfillment. Each path serves a unique purpose, as does every set of beliefs, and ultimately, they can all lead to deep and profound relationships with the Divine.

Where we get ourselves into trouble is when we make our path the only path at the expense of all others. When we do this we are going beyond the benefits of creating a defined pathway to the Divine. We are limiting the nature of the Divine and attempting to shape this great Mystery of life into a tiny form we think we can grasp. In my travels and experiences I have discovered that the expressions of the Divine are as countless as the creations of life itself. Regardless of the practice, where there is love, the Divine is there.

There is wisdom to be found visiting territories unknown to us. When we open to other places and ideas where the Divine Mystery exists, we discover the hidden parts of ourselves that have been waiting to emerge. Because I was willing to explore other traditions, the priestess in me finally found a place to exist through the Native American, and self-created rituals I offer today. Here I can fulfill my destiny as a ceremonialist who helps people uncover and express the sacred within them.

While exploration can be a spiritual practice, sometimes without even realizing it, exploration can also become a place to hide. We can be so busy looking for the next spiritual high within yet another tradition that we don’t settle into any one practice long enough to really work through and ultimately transcend our limiting beliefs.

I’m not talking about choosing a new religion, though that might be the right choice. I’m talking about the willingness to engage in a consistent practice of personal development, public ritual or both, that allow you to really see yourself when you are bored, impatient, unworthy, judgmental, unable, selfish, greedy, sad, angry, jealous, etc. When we engage in regular practice we are bound to bump up against our limiting beliefs—the ones that trip us up in our lives, and keep us from knowing the fullness of Divine love.

If we are afraid of learning how to witness and find compassion for all of our nature—including our limits—we may keep ourselves in a constant state of exploration so that we never have to experience the discomfort that often comes with true transcendence of ourselves. But through regular practice, we create consistent opportunities to break through our thresholds to greater freedom, and ultimately to greater recognition and ability to fulfill our destinies. Many gifts come through sampling, but mastery is not one of them.

Spiritual exploration can be good for you, and if you think you might be hiding from yourself by not committing to regular, meaningful practice, consider these questions. Are you limiting your opportunities for the Divine to express more freely through you by waiting for the next unique event? Have you ever met a master who did not choose a pathway and master it? What would you be willing to commit to so that you too could become a master of yourself and a more fulfilled Divine being?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Creating a Circle of Hope


How to Create Income By Stimulating Your Circle of Hope

I was having a really difficult time. I had left my financially successful consulting career to spend a few months (that turned out to be about 10 years) on sabbatical to meditate—healing my body and soul from too many years of abuse. I was offering spirituality based classes and counseling, putting out a lot of energy for the people I served, but there wasn't much coming back to me in the way of money.

My good friend, Ariann (now the President of the New Dream Foundation) listened to me moaning about my circumstances and then shared a basic principle of creation that I hadn't understood. "You get what you give, Misa. You give a lot of your time and talent. That's what you receive in return—the time and talents of others. What you give is telling the universe about what you are hoping you will receive."

I was shocked at how well she was seeing the reality I was creating. Giving of my talents was relatively easy because I had lots of healing to give. People who needed someone to listen to their stories as part of their healing process found their way to me, because I had the time to listen.

In return, I received gracious gifts from people, such as places to live so that I could take the time to heal. People shared some of their precious time to help me create my emerging ministry. I was blessed by people who provided me with the gifts of their talents in protection, promoting, and healing energy. I visited powerful sacred sites and met many individuals who had significant spiritual wisdom to share with me. All of these were reflections of what I gave most freely.

But giving money was difficult because I didn't have very much of it. I looked at my humble bank account, which looked like more like a gas tank sitting nearly on empty, and quieted my mind to decide what I needed to do. Someone I cared about came to mind who was in greater need than me.

That was all I needed for confirmation. I pulled out my pen and wrote them a check. Before I wrote their name on the line, I paused. I anticipated writing this check was going to hurt, but it didn't. I felt free. I knew—absolutely knew—I was making a wise decision. I was going to be fine, and now, so were they.

I am a generous woman, but I am also prudent. I made sure I still had money for true necessities, yet knew I could afford to sacrifice a few meals out or some cups of coffee to help someone in greater need. I made the check out for what I could afford to share. It felt good to know I had just made a difference in someone's life.

Ariann had explained to me with great clarity that in giving money, the universe would respond with money. She was right. It did. Work started coming in and money began flowing once again. I had stimulated my own circle of hope by giving what I most wanted to receive. Perhaps, I had answered someone else's prayer and in the process, created an opportunity for an answer to my own.

This is just one of the powerful principles Ariann will be teaching in the New Dream Foundation's Prosperity Garden Classes. If you missed the first class in the series, you can still sign up for the last two. I highly recommend them. Just this one insight turned my life around. In fact, it works so well, I'll be writing a check as soon as I finish this article. My own circle of hope is needing a little attention. How about yours?

Check out the Prosperity Garden Classes at: http://www.newdreamfoundation.com/prosperity.htm

Friday, February 06, 2009

Can Making Money Be a Spiritual Practice?


For many years I lived in the Native practice of receiving only donations for my spiritual/healing work. In this traditional view, as I learned it, a person gives of her gifts without any of the reservations that might arise if you were concerned about a receiver's ability to pay. Therefore, no fee is charged.

In return, the individual receiving the gifts assumes the responsibility of adequately honoring the healer for what has been received. In traditional circles, gifting for healing is substantial. However, I wasn't working in traditional circles and many times, I was handed $20 after sharing my healing gifts for an hour to an hour and a half with someone, only to hear later that the same receiver spent hundreds of dollars with someone else just days later.

I'm not complaining. I attracted the lessons I needed to learn. I actually personally prefer the Native traditional way because I believe it puts responsibility where it belongs. However, I wasn't able to financially support the full breadth of my spiritual calling, so I had some choices to make. I chose to be in better alignment with the people I served and began charging for my services, while never turning away anyone who was truly in need. That decision allowed me to find greater peace and harmony within myself so that I could be of better service to others.

Yet, during those years, I couldn't help but witness that I wasn't alone. Many of us have a difficult time living in a spiritually balanced way when it comes to money.

My life has provided me with some poignant examples about how my beliefs and judgments around money were limiting my opportunities for greater spiritual growth. In what now seems like another lifetime, my former husband and I spent several summers working for a summer theatre. I was acting and he was a designer. We loved our work, and if it hadn't been for my primary income as a school teacher, we would have been living on food stamps. Summer theatre employees may have fun jobs they love, but they don't make much money.

One season, a friend of ours in the area, a multi-millionaire and business owner, invited us to dinner and took us to a lovely restaurant. After polite social conversation, my husband and I talked about how much we loved our work and then ungraciously started complaining about our pay. Our friend was wise enough to listen respectfully and then finally said, "We all have challenges with the lives we choose. You get the joy and freedom of doing work you love, though the pay is not good. I make a lot of money, but my life comes with its challenges too. Every direction we choose has its challenges, and we get to work through them."

It was difficult for me to imagine then that a multi-millionaire's challenges could be as significant as my own—after all he made a good living and could afford to pay for the help he needed. Now I realize, he was probably longing for some of the freedom of expression we enjoyed. Some years later, as a communications consultant for businesses, I came to understand the constraints and challenges you can experience when you have money, as well as the significant challenges of owning and running a company. Indeed, our millionaire friend had his own unique challenges.

He was right. Every path has its challenges. Lack of money, making money, having money—aren't they all external reflections of our own inner desires and struggles? And aren't the reflections of our desires and struggles a major part of what we call our spiritual path?

Our relationship to money can be a powerful place in which to explore our core beliefs because we tend to spend money (however much or little we have) on what we currently value most. With our money, we can see the limits or limitlessness of our capacity to trust, to share and to receive. In our relationship to money, we discover our attachments, our fears, judgments and our doubts, as well as our greatest hopes and desires.

We create money from what we believe we have available to work with or offer, and what we perceive its value to be. Aren't these perceptions at the root of our views about ourselves as spiritual beings? If I want to deepen or expand my views of myself on my spiritual path, doesn't it make sense to embrace my relationship to money as a reflection of that inner journey?

Making more money may or may not be a significant part of any individual's spiritual journey. That completely depends upon your purpose for being here. If it is, you can learn a great deal about your spiritual nature by stepping back and witnessing yourself as you create money. If making more money is not significant to your purpose, observing and understanding how you currently relate to money and how you want to relate to money can provide you with clues about your spiritual beliefs and the resulting choices you make, including how you use money to make a difference in the world.

I have encountered many people who believe that making money is what they do to support themselves so that they can explore their spiritual journey elsewhere. In other words, they work a job in order to be able to expand their spiritual awareness through classes, ceremonies, retreats, and workshops. But what if making money itself is part of the spiritual journey, not just a support for spiritual exploration in other settings?

Consider this question: What part of your life is not part of your spiritual journey? Then consider this. Is your relationship to making money worth exploring in order to gain a greater understanding of yourself as a spiritual being? If it is, then let me encourage you to join some of us at the New Dream Foundation as we become greater observers of our relationships to money, embracing some new perspectives about creating money as part of our spiritual paths.


Check out the Forums for more insights about making money as a spiritual path. For an opportunity to explore your relationship to money in greater depth, check out the New Dream Foundation's Prosperity Garden classes. http://www.newdreamfoundation.com/prosperity.htm