Thursday, April 23, 2009

Divine Distraction—Part One

What does distraction teach us about what we need to be happy?

I decided recently that I have probably earned a PhD in the art of becoming distracted. I’ll bet you know exactly what I mean. I have something I want to get accomplished that just might make a significant difference in the world, or at least my life, and of course that is when life bombards me with distractions.

They all seem so important. My daughter needs me. My grandkids need me. My husband, my friend….everybody needs me and by the end of the day everyone else’s needs got addressed except mine.

I was chatting about this with my new radio co-host (yes, there will be an internet radio program coming soon) the other day and realizing how easy it has been to make everyone else a priority over me. I’ve been looking at this and actively changing my behavior with concerted effort over the past three months and I have made some worthwhile discoveries.

When I fix other people’s problems I am very likely disempowering them. A few weeks ago, my daughter was chatting with me about a problem she had and because I didn’t want her to have to be in emotional pain, I was trying to figure out a solution for her. The problem was that the answer lives inside of her, not me, so my solution was missing the mark. At the end of our conversation she said, “I’ll figure it out, Mama. I always do.”

That’s when it hit me. She just needed me to listen for a bit and ask her a few questions that would help her get to her own solution. If she wanted my advice she would have asked for it. The best advice I really could offer, anyway, would be to remind her about the strengths I see in her and to help her consider ways she could apply her skills to find her solution.

Here is what is wonderful about helping people see their strengths: They have something to work with for a very long time! They don’t need your help as often! They feel empowered to solve their own problems! Cool, eh?

Now I spend much less time on the telephone now allowing myself to be so absorbed in other people’s lives. Getting involved in everybody else’s lives has been a great way to keep myself distracted from facing my own fears about doing what I am here to do. So, with fewer distractions, I am making more progress in my professional life.

When I encounter some inner resistance, instead of letting myself become distracted, I have been looking for ways to enjoy the next step rather than retreat into fear. “What would make this fun instead of scary?” I have been asking myself. Once I began looking for the joy, here was the next discovery I made.

I was allowing myself to become distracted by people because I love to solve problems and see people be successful. Can you tell I was school-teacher for many years? However, as a teacher I learned to help my students develop the skills they needed to meet their challenges. I didn’t try to do it for them. It seems when it came to my family and friends I was forgetting that their greatest empowerment would come through their own discoveries in solving their challenges.

The distraction seemed important because other people wanted to solve a problem in order to be more successful. Therefore, a deep need in me was being met through the distractions. That is why the distractions seemed worth the time. All I needed to do was make my own problem solving and success the priority, and because I enjoy the social interchange of problem solving, I also needed to invite help for my own challenges.

Well, as soon as I made myself a priority, I was tested. Of course I was tested. I had created a habit that needed to be broken and everyone else was just engaging with me the way they always had.

Instead of dropping what I was doing to help them, I scheduled a time to meet with them that was better for me, after I had completed my priorities for the day. In the meantime, they often figured out a solution on their own, and if they didn’t, they had more time to give it greater consideration before involving me.

Next, I opened my heart to receive help from others for myself—that would serve us both. Voila! Wonderful, talented people entered my life and together we are solving the growth challenges of New Dream Foundation, publishing a book, starting a radio program, sharing sound medicine…for my benefit, theirs, and a lot of special people we are privileged to serve.

There was a lesson in my distractions about what makes me happy in my work. The distractions were filling a need. All that had to be done was to fulfill that core need inside my work, rather than outside.

For prayerful inspiration about this topic: Trusting Spirit and You

Friday, April 17, 2009

Divine Reunion

April 22nd is a significant date for the Divine Reunion of Feminine and Masculine energies.

Next week, the Institute of Cultural Awareness is hosting global ceremony called the Return of the Ancestors that includes 70 elders from indigenous cultures around the world. The dates they chose for their ceremony take place over a ten-day period with an auspicious astrological peak between April 21st – 23rd. (For more information about the ceremony and the astrologically significant nature of April 22nd, see the link below.)

Noting that several of us have been writing about the Divine Feminine and Masculine on the Forums, one of New Dream Foundation’s Trustees who will be attending Return of the Ancestors alerted me to the significance of April 22nd. She explained that Mars, the archetypal male planet and Venus, the archetypal female planet will be conjunct.

That means they will be existing together in balance and harmony. Combine that with some activity among Chiron, Jupiter and Neptune in Aquarius and you have an expansive doorway for planetary spiritual harmony and transformation.

So what does that mean for us? Perhaps you have already been feeling an inner call to appreciate the distinctive and powerful natures your own masculine and feminine energies on a personal level. Perhaps you have been feeling a desire for greater spiritual union between you and your beloved. Perhaps you have known in your heart for some time that such union is necessary for the spiritual advancement of humanity.

In our desire to remember our oneness, it is easy to forget the wonder of experiencing the distinctive characteristics of these natures within ourselves. In acknowledging the beauty of their uniqueness, we are then in the perfect position to invite these energies to co-exist peacefully, joyfully, passionately within ourselves.

There is a place of great creative power when these two energies are not experienced in their merged state as one, but rather are experienced as separate natures, loved with deep adoration and appreciation within their individual states.

Why else would Divine Consciousness have become feminine and masculine natures, if not to experience the awesome, ardent tension of these counterparts? Based in love, such profound expression of passion could give birth to a more balanced and fulfilling earthly existence, don’t you think?

Recognizing the spiritual power inherent in honoring these energies, we added a new ceremony to our SpiritQuest Retreat in June— The Divine Reunion. In this ceremony, we release ancestral wounds and limiting perspectives of our masculine and feminine natures, embracing the unique qualities of both, so that in this time of profound transformation, we can be fully alive and present as we create new experiences of life on earth.

For some of us, April 22nd as well as between now and Summer Solstice represent an opportunity to create within ourselves what we want to attract in our worldly experience—union in partnership that opens us to the full expression of our Divine natures. During this favorable astrological time for the alliance of our feminine and masculine energies, we have an opportunity to more completely honor our diverse natures both internally and externally.

Perhaps on April 22nd and during SpiritQuest you will take a moment out of your day to honor your masculine and feminine natures. Then perhaps you will offer a prayer of gratitude to the men and women in your life who have shown you the beauty of these natures. In closing, perhaps you will then want to offer a prayer of hope to those who still struggle with their love and respect for these most precious, sacred energies—the Divine Masculine and Feminine, and their ultimate reunion.

For more information about the Return of the Ancestors, visit: Return of the Ancestors

Then check out the New Dream Forums for more thoughts and prayers about Divine Reunion. (Link in the right column of this article site.)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Turning Crisis Into Opportunity

Did you know that inside the chrysalis a caterpillar's body becomes completely liquid before emerging as the butterfly?

Just the other day a friend told me he had been laid-off from his job. Someone I was counseling and yet another friend told me recently their hours had been cut. Others I know have lost money in the stock market, real estate or other investments. It is a challenging time for a lot of us, and when the losses are significant it can be difficult to believe that a crisis could become an opportunity.

When my friend told me he had been laid-off, I asked him how he was doing with that, especially in light of the fact that he provides for both he and his wife who has been unable to find work. His response told me a lot about how he was choosing to perceive his crisis.

“Well,” he said, “I have been working long days, six days a week for months so I’m enjoying some time off. My legs aren’t aching from standing on concrete all day, plus I’m getting more time for my spiritual practice.”

“What do you think you will do?” I asked him.

“We are thinking about downsizing and moving to a city we have been interested in for some time. We are both looking forward to the change.”

I didn’t hear any panic in his voice. He was consciously choosing to treat his crisis as an opportunity to make some changes he and his wife had been considering.

I reminded him about how quickly he finds work when he wants it, and he agreed. He knew that when he needed to be making income again, he would. Therefore, he and his wife decided to use it as an opportunity give their life new direction.

Sometimes our fear of what might happen is greater than what does happen, so when the crisis occurs we assume the worst, panic, and attract the very results we fear. Fortunately, I learned to circumvent this process from my business mentor.

As you may recall from earlier articles, I chose some years ago to leave my secure job and start a consulting practice. I wasn’t making a really great employee anymore and I figured if I didn’t make the move to become self-employed my employer was going to find a good reason to let me go.

My adrenaline was pumping because I was both excited and scared. It was the fear that most needed to be addressed, so my mentor got me to pause and look squarely at the fear.

“What is the worst thing you can imagine happening?” he asked me.

“I wouldn’t be able to get any contracts and use up all my savings,” I replied thoughtfully.

He probed deeper. “Then what would you do?”

“Hmmm. I guess I would take whatever job I could get and ask a friend if I could live with them for a bit while I get back on my financial feet,” I decided.

“Could you live with that? You, don’t have to like it, but could you live with it?”

“Yeah, actually, I could if I had to.”

“Then you will be just fine,” he assured me.

That was all I needed. I knew what I would do in the worst outcome I could imagine and that gave me enough strength to move forward with what I knew in my heart I had to do.

While it is true that this was a self-created crisis since I had a secure job—if we are indeed the creators of our own reality—then aren’t all crisis situations at least in some part, our responsibility? And if we have created or allowed crisis to occur, then doesn’t it make sense to use it to create opportunity? And even if you don’t believe you have any responsibility in the crisis you are experiencing, doesn’t it still make sense to leverage the moment?

In case you are wondering, I had a part-time contract (enough to cover all my living expenses) within two months of leaving my job. Sometimes we create or experience a little crisis to create enough pressure to get things moving in a new, more satisfying direction.

When life presents crisis it is a great time to create opportunity. However, to emerge from our own chrysalis, perhaps we must be willing to become liquid enough to engage the flow of our own emergence.

For a reflection about the sacred power of emerging, visit Prayers for All Occasions at the Forums: Emergence

Friday, April 03, 2009

Creating Mystical Experiences

Your life will change if with all your heart you say these words each day. “Teach me, dear God, all that you know. —St. Teresa of Avila, Mystic who was known to levitate in ecstasy

My mother and father named me after a mystic saint. Then, I chose another mystic to be named for during my Confirmation. It seems my relationship with mysticism began from the time I was born (actually, long before that) and is still a significant part of my spiritual life.

Mystical experiences of varying degrees, or ‘peak experiences’ as Abraham Maslow called them, have been fairly regular occurrences in my later adult life. In contrast to this, someone recently wrote that she had been meditating for years, but was not having mystical experiences. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why I do I have mystical experiences and other people don’t?”

Is it in the DNA? Does someone have a predisposition for it before they are born? Does one have to live an ascetic life as a monk or nun in order to reach these heights? (Okay, that one is not a factor because I am not a nun.) Does a person have to reach a certain state of awareness in their meditative practice or have a near-death experience? Or does a person just somehow get cosmically bonked on the head and voila—a mystical experience occurs?

I’m not inclined to favor the bonked-on-the-head theory, though I certainly know people who believe they just happen and then you simply have to wait for the next one. I’m not a big believer in spiritual accidents—unexplained events, yes—accidental peak experiences, no.

DNA? There are certainly some people who believe certain bloodlines are more superior, but I don’t buy that. All bloodlines are created in the image and likeness of the Divine, and we all have the capacity to deepen our connection with the Divine. Heck. the deer in the backyard of my previous home at times were more tapped in than I was, so I am convinced the ability lives in all of creation.

Predisposition? Hmmm. A friend of mine says we pack our bags carefully before we come to earth because we only get to bring a couple of them with us. Maybe some of us pack our bags with an inclination toward a greater opening to mystical awareness. I could buy that. Could that show up in one’s DNA? Probably. So from that viewpoint, maybe predisposition is genetic. But then, does a predisposition ultimately live in everyone because we are ultimately of the Divine?

Reaching a state of awareness through meditation or near-death? It has been my experience that there are some events that open the door widely. Furthermore, I have discovered, we can create the opportunities for mystical experiences to take place. We don’t have to wait for them to bonk us on the head, seemingly out of nowhere. Since I don’t recall having mystical experiences as a child or young adult, I believe I stimulated those experiences into being.

How do you do that? How do you stimulate the mystical experience to occur? Here is what I did:

1. I stopped assuming I understood God and the universe.
2. I surrendered to not knowing anything.
3. I opened to new ways of experiencing the wonder of the Divine—not only as Father,
but as Mother, Friend, Non-human, Universe, Undefineable Presence, I Am, Beloved….
4. I fell in love with the Divine and allowed the Divine to fall in love with me.
5. I visited sacred sites and regularly participated in mystically focused ceremonies
that expanded me beyond my physical reality.
6. I did not seek mystical experiences; I opened to a greater capacity to love and to
7. I meditated and prayed daily, opening my heart and mind to the unknown, ineffable
nature of the Divine.
8. I committed to being in loving Divine service each and every day.

What we as humans may long for most in our lives is intimacy—a depth of it that is beyond what we can presently imagine. And it is through our intimacy in Divine relationship that we enter the mystical realms. We cannot make mystical moments happen; we do not have to wait for them to come from out of the blue; and they do not happen to only special people—we invite them in.

For more quotes about the Divine Beloved, visit Universal Prayers at the Forums: