Monday, June 14, 2010
The first time I heard a spiritual teacher discussing true freedom, something about what she said, or better yet—emanated from her being—rang true for me, and it has taken many years for the concept of spiritual freedom to sink into my bones. At the time I was listening to her, I hadn’t thought about enlightenment as freedom. I hadn’t thought about life as a journey taken to ultimately experience inner freedom.
What surprised me the most in my own journey is that I didn’t expect very much, if any, of my freedom to be the result of being present with the challenges in my life. But for me, as it is for many of us, this is where the journey to freedom began. I wanted the journey to be lofty and fun. I wanted happiness, angels, light, and waves of love. And, there was plenty of that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the need to take a conscious, yet loving, look at the messes I was creating.
Like the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, freedom occurs after everything gets cleaned up. The real challenge is in responsibly cleaning up the mess without blaming yourself or anyone else in the process.
Perhaps you are thinking, “Yes, but other people need to take their share of responsibility.” And I would agree with you. I would also add that there is a difference between holding one’s self and/or others responsible and blaming with a heart filled with angry judgments. By assuming responsibility for your own part in the creation of whatever mess has been made, you are in a better position to expect others to step up to their share of responsibility.
In my quest for spiritual freedom, I found myself and still do find myself, needing to take a look at the reality I create in its entirety, including the habits and choices that are uncomfortable for me to acknowledge. The key to freeing the broken, messy parts of me is to look with loving eyes.
I have found no greater freeing agent in my own spiritual development than compassion for the ugliest parts of myself. Within my compassion, what I have created that I am most ashamed of, regret, or am embarrassed about, soften in the presence of compassion.
They are no longer messes of energy inside of me that I try to keep hidden from the view of others. They no longer come spontaneously spilling out in moments of anger, frustration or despair. They quietly find their rest in the understanding of my own heart. They simply cease to exist and are replaced by freedom.
In my experience, sometimes we hesitate to assume fair responsibility for our messes because we are afraid of the judgment we will impart upon ourselves or we fear the harsh criticism of others. However, the wonderful result of assuming compassionate, yet honest self-responsibility, is that it typically creates an opening for greater compassion from both yourself and others.
You don’t have to wait for a dark night of the soul or a time of great despair to wrestle with your inner demons in the journey to greater spiritual freedom. You can do it that way, but as many of you know, it is a very hard path.
You can choose to do it daily as you open yourself to greater and greater compassion for yourself and others. Compassion can be generated by catching yourself from saying something judgmental to another or slowly releasing critical judgment of yourself. Compassion can be reflected in a thoughtful e-mail, an honest yet kind word, or a true and caring gesture.
For a meditation focused on compassion visit: http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php/topic,75.msg77.html#msg77
You can decide to become a daily giver and receiver of compassion, and in doing so, become the spiritual freedom that you seek.
This week, some of us have been at SpiritQuest in Reno, participating in an annual spiritual gathering where we honor traditional Native ceremonies for the earth, our spiritual community and ourselves. One of us just finished a quest, alone on the Mother Earth for several days, fasting and praying.
When a quester chooses to sit in the silence on the Mother, he or she is agreeing to get still and to listen to the wisdom of the earth, the ancient ones, and the Mystery itself. It is a time to become humble and quiet one’s busy thoughts. Quest is a decision to deepen one’s commitment to spiritual service for the good of the community.
Those of us that supported the quester—ate for him, prayed for him, and tended sacred fire that was kept burning 24 hours per day for him—know that his revelations strengthen him as a member of our greater spiritual family. We humble ourselves to be of service to him so that an even greater good can be served.
For those interested in learning more about SpiritQuest 2011 visit: http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php/topic,757.msg849.html#msg849
In our busy, hectic lives it is so easy to forget how deeply connected we are to each other. It is easy to forget that the choices we make effect not only our own lives, but the lives of everyone connected to us. Yes, we are individuals that must make our individual choices, and we are also threads of a greater web. Questing helps us remember our chosen place in the web—the place we chose before we incarnated here on earth. It is also the place from which our individuality best expresses itself as a positive influence in the world. So we find harmony between our individuality and our service to our community.
For many of us, Quest in June marks the beginning of our spiritual year. During quest we receive our own insights regarding clarity and direction on our paths. We have healed familial wounds by becoming sacred family for the sake of our quester, and in doing so we leave with greater trust in our ability to function healthily with other spiritual family members in our greater community.
Some of you may have felt connected to the sacred fire. You may have felt a call this past week to go inward and to become more reflective about your life. You may have felt an urge to spend more time with the Mother with a humble heart, opening to her wisdom. You may have found yourself freeing your mind to the ancient breath of the Mystery blowing through you. You may have heard the drum beat of your own heart experiencing the joy of release and self-acceptance.
What are you questing for in your life? Is it greater clarity, a sense of purpose, belonging, or recognition of your spiritual gifts? What do you long for beyond your day-to-day concerns? If you allowed yourself to grow even more still inside than you usually allow, what answers might you receive?
From time to time, we all need to pause and reflect if we are truly dedicated to spiritual awakening. We immerse ourselves into the Mystery to be awakened by the Mystery. We awaken to a greater awareness of our experience within the web of life.
If the question, “What are you questing for in your life?” calls to your spirit, then an even deeper question within your spirit is longing to be answered. May I invite you to be with the question as it is doorway into the freedom of self awareness and an opening to greater intimacy in your spiritual community.
SpiritQuest is a registered trademark of SpiritQuest Sedona Retreats and is being used with their permission.
In the age of single mothers raising their children, I have observed that the true role of fathers is sometimes misunderstood and needs to be honored if our children are to experience the best of what fathering and mothering has to give them. While it is true that a father has a profound capacity to comfort, tend to, cuddle, nurture and love his children, fathers often feel another calling inside of them that is as important for children to experience in their development.
Fathers encourage us to stretch our wings. They teach us to explore our world and take on the adventures. They teach us about meeting the challenges in our lives and becoming our personal best. We learn from them the concept of reasonable risk.
We learn about pride, accomplishment, and setting goals just a little bit beyond what we think we can do.
Yes, mothers can effectively teach these things too, yet fathers have their own unique way of introducing us to opportunities and encouraging our growth. Fathers look at us when we are growing up with that special nod of the head that says, “You can do it. Be wise. Be mindful. And do it.”
Fathers know we may skin our knees many times as we learn to ride our bikes. They expect you might fall off the monkey bars learning how to hang upside down. They don’t typically mind how dirty or sweaty we get when you are on a grand learning adventure. When we ask for help, they are often cautious about how much help to give, because they really want to see us succeed on our own.
Fathers teach us to aspire to our greatest potential. They know that the challenges will help us discover who we are and what we are made of. They know life isn’t always easy or soft, and they often even seem to like the challenges. Dads are our heroes.
Of course, some dads have been too wounded to be heroes to us, and they need our compassion—being willing to understand there are challenges they encountered that we may not yet be able to fully comprehend.
And some dads have given us more than we could have ever asked for. There are those wonderful fathers that welcomed us into the world from the day we were born and raised us into adulthood. There are those fathers that found us years after we were born, and loved us as if we were their own blood. There are also fathers that found room in their hearts to bring loving father energy to many people when they needed it or fathered ideas and businesses into being.
Fathers physically and metaphorically, stand us up on their shoulders so that we can get a better view of the world around us. They know we like to feel important, special, excited, motivated, and enthused about life, and they help us experience that exuberance for living.
The spirit of Sacred Father is like that of white light racing through the vastness of space. It flows through the arms of the loving fathers here on earth that wrap their arms around us, kiss us on the head, and then release us to the world, telling us to fly.
For a prayer honoring fathers visit: http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php/topic,1482.0.html
Today, let us honor the fathers that have been a part of our growing-up. Let us recognize them for the choices they made that helped us find our wings to fly.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
A fictitious story based on a rather natural tendency.
I was guiding someone in creating a personal medicine wheel, a task I often do with individuals receiving spiritual counseling support from me. After creating a wheel and inviting her to create four quadrants—physical, emotional, spiritual and mental—I asked her to take note of her strengths and abilities in each of those four areas.
When she finished noting her strengths, I asked her to note areas she would like to develop within those four quadrants. She completed a rather lengthy list about what she would like to develop. I commented on the length of her to “to do” list compared to her rather short “has accomplished” list. Then I invited her to take greater note of her skills, abilities, and accomplishments.
I suggested she investigate his life as though she didn’t really know herself yet to discover the depth and breadth of the gifts she brought with her to this world, the talents she has developed, and the accomplishments she has achieved.
Isn’t it easy to recognize everything we want to be and accomplish, without really recognizing what already bring to our lives and the lives of others? It is often easier to see our perceived short-comings, than it is to see what makes us truly unique and remarkable.
For a prayer honoring the uniqueness of you: http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php/board,38.0.html
Yet, when it comes to the medicine wheel of who you are—the circle of life reflected through you—your gifts, talents, abilities and accomplishments are a significant part of who you are. They are also the strengths that you bring to the challenges you face.
Imagine being an electrician and not knowing what tools are in your tool box to address a problem. Imagine being a teacher and not knowing what resources are available to you when you encounter a troubled child having difficulty learning.
It helps to know what tools you have in order to assess what tool you most need to use when you are developing yourself. Here is an example. Let’s say you love to do research and are very good at doing it. Let’s say you also have a desire to lose weight. You might do better treating your weight loss program as a research opportunity than adopting a system that is not as in sync with your natural talents and proclivities.
On the other hand, let’s say you have an exceptional ability to hold your emotions in great compassion. Let’s say you also have a goal of becoming a desired weight that is less than it is now. You might do very well addressing your emotional feelings and motivations in order to support yourself in your weight change.
In a world where “how to” has too often become “do what I do and you will be successful,” it is easy to lose site of the unique talents, perspectives, knowledge and abilities that you bring to any given challenge or opportunity. When you adopt a “how to” method that aligns with your natural tendencies and talents, you are far more likely to get the results you desire, adding to the gifts you are now able to bring to your world.
Please allow me to invite you to get to know how remarkable you are. Think of yourself as the investigator of a mystery—and the mystery is you. Discover just what it is about you that makes you incredible and remarkable!
Saturday, June 05, 2010
My marketing adviser shared an insight about human nature the other day that made complete sense to me. He explained that we tend to be primarily motivated to act by either desperation or inspiration.
He was actually reflecting back to me an insight I had some years ago when I realized I needed to stop creating crises as motivation to deepen my relationship with the Divine. I was really good at creating heart-wrenching dramas and intense physical pain as means for catalyzing my spiritual growth.
I used my fear of failure to learn how to love more deeply, surrender, accept, honor others and myself, discover my intuition and my healing gifts, and trust in Divine guidance as much or more than I trusted my logic and my need to control. It worked. Motivation by desperation actually did catapult me into a more profound connection to the Divine, but it made life extremely challenging to enjoy.
This is a prayer I wrote committing to freedom from the fear of what I wanted: http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php/board,38.0.html
At some point, I got it. I clearly understood that I could continue to create dramas of desperation or replace them with a motivator that was a bit nobler and a lot more fun. I decided to replace crisis with inspiration.
Now this was a challenging feat because I was used to crisis. Inspiration seemed like a world I wasn’t so familiar with. I actually had to reflect on times in my life when I could honestly say I was more motivated by inspiration than desperation.
For example, the first time I auditioned for a role in a musical production, I was honestly inspired. When I applied for my first teaching jobs I was at least as inspired to teach children as I was desperate to find employment. When I left my successful consulting practice to embrace a spiritual journey I did not yet understand, I did so with a heart full of inspiration.
Acting out of inspiration does not mean there is no longer any fear. When I left to embark on a spiritual journey of travel to sacred sites and ceremonies, I certainly felt some apprehension about stepping into the unknown. However, it was not the clinging fear of desperation. It was a healthy fear that comes with stepping forward, knowing I was following my Divine guidance into a world of wonders yet to be discovered.
When I traveled and lived out of the back of my little pick-up, it never occurred to me that I was homeless. I never became desperate about how I was going to survive. I was on an adventure of Spirit and each moment was an opportunity to be inspired by life. As I abandoned desperation and opened to inspiration, my world opened with it.
Now, I’ve learned to hear when my voice is sounding desperate or my body is tensing up with the anxiety of desperation. I know it is my old pattern creeping in. I shake my head and grin at myself thinking, “There I go again.” Then I ask myself, “How can I change this feeling to one of inspiration?”
Within moments, hours or days of being with this question, the answer comes. What once was the cause of my fear becomes a reason to live an even more inspired life.
If this concept is new to you, do be patient with yourself in the journey. It took me many years to learn how to flip the switch from desperation to inspiration. And you could ask my husband or my marketing adviser about how I still get caught in little moments of desperate fear. They just pass more quickly now.
Let me invite you to consider how much more enjoyable your life would be if you flipped the switch from acting in desperation to living an inspired life.