Friday, March 26, 2010

The Global Spiritual Community of New Dream—Who Are We?

At its inception, New Dream was created to support and educate individuals that wanted to offer ceremonies or become ministers without a specific religious affiliation.

Now…we support many more people with a variety of goals!

Within months of our initial discussions, the original founders, Jim Matthewson, Ariann Thomas, my husband Jeff Burger, and I decided that we could be more. Jeff introduced us to a plan he had co-created years ago for an online global spiritual community where people gathered together to inspire and support each other in our unique journeys.

We were blown away. So many of us feel isolated and alone as we attempt to follow spiritual paths for ourselves—drawing from teachers, healers, and traditions that speak to our hearts—putting together concepts, rituals and teachings from various practices in some meaningful way for ourselves.

Creating pathways for one’s own spiritual development and consciousness is a mighty task. And those of us that founded New Dream recognized this. So, together, we created an environment where you could feel supported in your choices and your courage. And where you could be honored for the blessing of your unique presence and the gifts you bring to the communities you serve.

In our desire to create a space of support for you, we adopted the mission statement: “Creating Global Spiritual Family.” (And we meant functional and healthy spiritual family.) That mission statement is being refined, as you will read in the next Soul Purpose article, but this mission has carried us to place where we are meeting some of the most extraordinary people like you!

Are you wondering who some of those other extraordinary people are? From surveys we have taken, here is what we have discovered. We come from a variety of races and cultures, though we are still predominantly Caucasian, and looking forward to embracing greater diversity.

Among us you will find spiritual practitioners that are primarily Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, Protestant, Hindu, Native American, Pagan, Unitarian, New Age, Metaphysical and from many other traditions and people with no labels for their practices.

Most of us are in the U.S.; however, we are delighted to say we are growing globally with participants in England, Germany, Mexico, Portugal, Canada, Australia and more.

The majority of us are women, and we get really excited when our men participate with us! And the vast majority of us do not have children at home under the age of 18. Though about 12% of us do have children we are still raising. Most of us live alone or with a partner. In terms of age range, 84% of us are between the ages of 36-65. About 60% of us do not have spiritual communities in our area that are meeting our needs on a regular basis. So, we come to New Dream for inspiration, spiritual connection and community, meaningful ritual, rites of passage, spiritual development, and support in fulfilling our purposes and making a difference in the world.

Some women have chosen to be initiated as Keepers of the Water Ceremonies in order to offer specific ceremonies in person in their communities. Still others have decided to become recognized or initiated elders. Yet still others join together annually at SpiritQuest in order to experience yet another level of what it can mean to be with spiritual family. These represent the Native side of me in terms of what I bring to New Dream, and while honoring my gifts, the trustees and I aspire to offer even more from various spiritual perspectives to you.

The vast majority of us participate in ceremonies and meditations together over the phone as well as selected tele-classes, and some of you are now listening in on the radio with us. In fact, some of you have been participating so regularly that we recognize each other’s voices on the phone! How cool is that?

I could write another page about the incredible volunteers that have created this sacred space for support and inspiration. But instead, let me suggest you get to know them a little bit. Then let me suggest you offer a prayer of thanks to them for holding true to the vision and putting in long, dedicated hours to creating global spiritual community and family. Volunteers for Our Global Spiritual Community

My elder used to say, “When you do ceremony together, you become family.” If you have joined us in spirit in any way, we consider you to be part of our global spiritual family and because you are here with us, we know we are richly blessed!

Friday, March 19, 2010

What Makes a Wish a Blessing?

The other day, I reread an Irish blessing in honor of St. Patty’s Day. Actually I put this blessing to music on my Awaken the Dream CD, because I love its sentiments.

May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine on your window pane.
May rainbow be certain to follow each rain.

These are beautiful wishes for life, aren’t they? Such sentiments cause me to wonder, “What makes a wish for someone a blessing?”

Doesn’t it feel wonderful to receive good wishes from someone? Or does it?

Wishes are not always blessings. It feels great when someone, for example, wishes you Happy Birthday and really means it. However, if the same person were to extend you birthday wishes because it was the appropriate thing to do, but didn’t mean what they were saying, it probably wouldn’t feel nice at all. Saying the words and meaning the words are two different things.

Too many times in my early years, I said a meaningless prayer over my food—words that droned on without meaning. Even if I was asking God to bless my food, the way I prayed would have put God to sleep. If I wished for my food to be blessed as a result of my prayer, I doubt anything was happening.

Then I learned a different way to pray. I learned what it means to truly bless.

One of my very first energy teachers taught me to pay attention to the energy that ran through my body and my hands. She taught me to notice that when my heart was truly open, energy from my heart naturally wanted to flow through my arms and out of my hands.

She taught me to recognize that in this state, there is a pulsation of energy between your hands if you hold them just a little ways apart. You can literally feel the energy transference. Then she encouraged me to place my hands over something I wanted to bless, and to allow the myself to feel the energy from my hands radiating to the person or object I wanted to honor with my love.

After learning to do this, I found it easy to place my hands over my food as I prayed. I wasn’t just saying words. I considered my words from my heart, so together the words I spoke and the energy coming from my hands were working in unison to actually give love to my meal.

Now, when I write on the inside of birthday card, I don’t just scribble some meaningless wish to the receiver. I pause for a moment and ask Spirit what blessings this person needs. Do they long for joy, prosperity, peace, love, fulfillment, fun, rest…? That’s what I wish for them and to make sure it becomes a blessing, I write that wish with my heart open, and the energy flowing from my heart to the paper.

A wish becomes a blessing when we get our heart into it. You can feel the difference when you give a true blessing, and you can certainly tell the difference when you receive one.

When blessing your food, here is something from Prayer by Tich Nhat Hanh

Friday, March 12, 2010

Discovering Your Worthiness

I remember some years ago supporting an artist by being a part of a living art piece she was creating outdoors. A couple bus loads of us were driven to a gorgeous grassy area not far from our home town. We unloaded and were guided to lie down in the grassy field while the artist positioned us into the shape of a goddess.

She then jumped in a helicopter and flew above us taking pictures of us in our goddess shape. The whole project took several hours, but it was truly wonderful to help someone create her vision. And I didn’t even know her!

When the shooting was over, we were bussed to another location where we shared food and listened to music. My music group sang and then a Native American drum entertained us. When the drum finished, one of its players got up and introduced himself. He was a sun-dancer, meaning that through this Native ceremony he had direct experience in what it means to sacrifice for the benefit of others.

He talked about the rightness of being there to help someone else and of sacrificing time and energy to support another’s needs. He asked us if we were worthy to be acknowledged. Then he asked us to stand if we were worthy.

You can probably imagine how many of us scuffed our feet and dropped our heads, wanting to say, “It was really no big deal.” But one person at a time, most of the people stood up.

He created a moment of truth for us. The acknowledgment that matters is the acknowledgment we give to ourselves. One of the ways we see our true value is in service to another—when we give for their sake—selflessly.

Nearly 20 years later, this story lingers in my heart as the SpiritQuest Council makes preparations for SpiritQuest. I know that the people who are called to come, are people like you, willing to help; willing to make a sacrifice to help someone else; willing to support another’s spiritual journey and quest.

In doing so, they also support themselves in their own inner discoveries.

After you have tended a sacred fire with a peaceful heart for several hours across several days; after you have cooked a meal for the camp or chopped some wood; after you have gotten up early in the morning to sing and dance for others, you change.

After you have gone to an afternoon ceremony and shared your hat with someone standing in the sun or taken their place so they can rest in the shade, witnessed a teenager accepting her womanhood, honored a man as he received his sacred name, stood behind a woman making a life commitment to Spirit—you discover truths about yourself.

After you have prepared with prayers and journeys, and you sit alone on Mother Earth for a few hours simply being present to her, to you, and to Spirit—you begin to recognize how worthy you truly are.

This is SpiritQuest. After last year’s Questing week, I told my husband:

“You probably have no idea how much impact you just made on the lives of the people at Quest. Many women came to make significant commitments in their love for the Sacred Feminine, and there were no family or partners to witness them. But you were there, at their backs, honoring them for their dedication to themselves and to Spirit.

Imagine the volumes this spoke to them, that there are men who honor a woman’s commitment to the Sacred Feminine. Imagine what it said to our grandson about what it means to honor women. Imagine what is said to our grand-daughters!

Now imagine how much it filled the women’s and children’s hearts to honor you as a father even though you have never had a family of your own, and yet you still choose to be there for them—your sisters in spirit, and your adopted daughter and grandchildren. Imagine how it filled their hearts to thank you for the fatherly love you shared with them. Some of them have never known that kind of love.

You may never know how much your presence affected their lives, but I can assure you, your witnessing and your love has touched their lives forever in a good way.”

Over the next few weeks, you will see several invitations to come join us at SpiritQuest. You don’t have to be Native to participate or be a supporter in the ceremonies. You just need to have a Native heart—the kind that is willing to help; to be of service to others; to pray with a sincere and humble heart; to honor others with your loving presence—to be worthy.

Discover more about SpiritQuest—a Place to Belong at New Dream Foundation

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Watch Out for Those All or Never Prayers

Have you ever said a prayer that you believed was going to improve your life, only to watch your world turn upside down and inside out?

You can end up wondering what is wrong with Spirit or the Universe. Or you can end up wondering why your prayers only seem to make matters worse. One of the reasons things may be getting worse is because of the very prayer you offered to make things better.

Prayers are powerful and Spirit responds to exactly what we are praying for, so we need to become conscious about the effects our words are actually having on our lives.

Some years ago, and elder taught me to pay attention to how I pray. She suggested that when you use the words “all” or “never” you are likely to be in for a rough ride. Why?

Here is how it works. Let’s say you are offer a prayer like this, “Take away all of my judgments.” Think about this with me for a moment. What do you think is likely to happen?

Here is what I have actually seen happen. All of the cells that harbor some form of your emotional judgment start detoxing physically and emotionally, all at the same time. Then, as if that isn’t bad enough, you start making some very poor decisions, putting yourself in harm’s way because you are releasing all of your judgments.

There is a reason some things bother us to the point that we have judgments. For example, if you are standing on the edge of a cliff, you might very much value that icky feeling that causes you to judge the edge of the cliff as unsafe.

Certainly attaching to our judgments in such a way that we are unable to find compassion for others, or using our judgments to wish harm to others is an abuse of that energy. However, judgment in and of itself is not always a bad thing.

Watch out for absolutes in your prayers. Let’s take a look at the other word, “never.”
You know the adage, “Never say never,” because what you say you never want to experience is likely to happen. There are a myriad of explanations as to why an event will occur when you clearly express you don’t want it to happen.

My personal belief is that earth is a planet created for learning. If you are attached to something happening, it often doesn’t. If you are attached to something not happening, it often does. The lesson is about living each day in the fulfillment of your soul without being attached to how that occurs. When we acknowledge and engage without attachment, creative energy flows. We then exist within the center or vortex of our creation, aware of the right opportunities for fulfillment, rather than in the reactive desires of absolutes.

What does that mean? Well, when we are creating from concepts like “never,” “always,” “all,” or “forever,” we are often reacting to circumstances in which we felt unfulfilled. In our language of absolute, we are telling our subconscious minds how important this is to us. However, in absolutes, we often actually deny our truest desires. This is how it works:

“I never want to be selfish again.” The greater truth might be that most of the time you don’t want to be selfish at the expense of someone else’s happiness, and yet, there may be times when it is appropriate to make sure you are taken care of first in order for everyone’s happiness to be provided. Remember the instruction of the flight attendant on the airplane. “If oxygen masks drop down, put on yours before helping someone else with theirs.” What they don’t say is, “Otherwise you are likely to pass out while helping someone else.” Even selfishness has its place.

“You are always so cheerful.” The greater truth is probably that she is frequently cheerful and that pleases you because you would like to be more cheerful. Now imagine the pressure your absolute statement might put on her if she has a difficult time allowing herself to experience her other feelings.

“Be there for me forever.” If you have felt abandoned, you might expect someone to make up for that pain within you by promising to be there for you forever. Such an expectation doesn’t allow for energy between to people to flow naturally, and often, not honestly either. Forever, for some people, becomes a pressure that eventually tears them apart. Fulfillment occurs in each moment that you recognize someone actually is there for you (and not abandoning you) right here and now. It is even more fulfilling when you are there for yourself (and no longer abandon you).

“All I want is to be happy.” You probably do want to be happy, and you would probably like to feel blissful sometimes, and feel sad when someone you love dies and more. If you have been sad for a long time in your life, it may be difficult to imagine actually wanting to feel sadness, but even this emotion has its proper time. We get to feel here on earth and our feelings help us understand the breadth and depth of our Divine nature.

These kind of wishes are prayers. They disclose our deepest desires, but when we use absolutes in our language, we may be limiting how the Divine can work through our lives. We may create a healing crisis where none was necessary. We may even subconsciously attempt to limit the lives of others. Consider praying without words that indicate all or never.

For some insight about how prayers can positively or adversely affect your healing, visit Self-Healing Secrets