Friday, September 24, 2010

What is the Meaning of Surrender in Spiritual Practice?


One of four healing prescriptions from the Path of the Sacred Feminine

Have you ever thought that surrendering to Spirit meant resigning in defeat? Surrender somehow meant giving up and throwing out everything you have been doing. Surrender was like waving the white flag and giving yourself over to your enemy to be tortured and executed. It meant walking away from what you held dear to you. Surrender was a difficult endeavor and the last resort.

Surrender in spiritual practice is actually much more inviting than this perception; however, it is no less difficult. It is difficult because ultimately surrender means letting go of everything. In spiritual surrender we give up our attachment to specific beliefs and desired outcomes; we let go of our preconceived ideas about how things should be and rest in the wisdom of a greater Divine knowledge. We stop attempting to figure things out for a while and we return to Source, allowing ourselves to be in complete service to the Divine Consciousness.

The challenge is in stopping the machinations of our mind and compassionately witnessing our intense feelings, so that we can let go into the serenity and peace of not knowing. It is from the not-knowing—the realm of all possibilities—that we emerge refreshed and renewed with a truer sense of what is next for us. We may discover that the very same goals we had prior to surrender are still appropriate, and now we are able to approach those goals with a clearer sense of purpose and trust. Or we may find that the goals and desires we have been clinging to are now out-dated, so to speak, needing to be replaced with more relevant considerations.


In surrender, we let go of it all—what we perceive to be good, bad, right, wrong, helpful or limiting. We disengage from the duality, where we may have been feeling trapped. In doing so, we are free to receive new input that may demonstrate to us better and more effective goals or means of achieving our greatest desired outcomes. We may learn that there are other approaches more in alignment with our own awakening and the awakening of others.

If you think of surrender as letting go of your individual will and opening to God’s will, or if you would like some really wonderful concrete examples, I like this article at Meditate for Life: http://www.meditateforlife.com/topic-surrender.html

Even the author of the article above agrees: surrender requires much effort, but it does not have to be a struggle. This is a surrender to a quiet mind and still emotions so that you can know what is beyond the struggle. You might find it helpful to think of the effort as what is needed to fully surrender to love. This is not a surrender to romantic, sexual, friendly, parental or conditional love, but it is a surrender to agape—the highest form of universal, unconditional love. This is a surrender in which you allow yourself to trust in the Divine without any care about how things should be. It is a choice to rest in the Divine and allow yourself to be nourished.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Greater Truth of World Peace


September 21 is World Peace Day and I’m wondering what that means for you? Is peace a concept some of us share and talk about or is it a palpable reality—a greater truth of who we are?

I can’t help but wonder how many times in my life I talked about global peace and then was rude to someone in my life. Something tells me I played out that story more times than I probably really want to know. Is world peace even possible if I allow myself to become stuck in my stories and do not sink into the peace that lives in the deeper realization of greater truth?


A very wise man once suggested to me that there are two kinds of truth. As I ponder on his words I believe he was describing these two kinds of truths: one is a personal reflection of my momentary feelings and beliefs; the other is the greater truth that permeates all of life. It is in this greater truth where we find commonality, love and that deep abiding peace.


When do we experience that greater truth? We know it when we realize that we as humans share similar, universal emotions that do not know the boundaries of race, creed or culture. We know it when we are in silence together, or even when we are alone in the depths of our stillness. We even know the greater truth when we laugh together—that space where our thinking stops and purity of being exists.


I remember a dream in which I was with a small group of people and Satan. He was getting to me to do little errands for him that were actually quite harmless, but I was becoming perturbed because I was feeling a little used. Someone in our group cracked a joke and there I was standing next to Satan, and we were laughing hysterically. There was no longer an enemy, no evil or good, no feelings of being perturbed, nor any superiority. There was only the oneness and peace we were experiencing through our laughter.


If I am at odds with someone and I can share laughter with them, a meal, a heart-felt discussion in which I truly listen to understand them, it has been my experience that the barriers break down very quickly. What I perceive to be their thoughtlessness, carelessness or even evil intent, prove to be their attempts to reconcile the fears and wounds of their own earthly existence. My judgments quickly dissolve into nothingness if I open to compassion before opening to judgment.


Because I am human, that takes practice, but it is consciousness I am willing to invest in because I really do want world peace. I want the greater peace—the greater truth—for myself personally, and because that awareness is so rich and fulfilling, I want it for all. True peace is that serene place of consciousness beyond our illusions and fears.


Some of us choose to be that peace in the world. And some of us then choose to act from that peace in service to the world. One of New Dream’s volunteers, John Brown, has a deep dedication to peace. In his commitment, he brought to life a dream that would support the peaceful efforts of individuals and organizations through his program, Rooms for Peace. You can discover more here: http://www.roomsforpeace.org/ This is a natural and beautiful way to meet like-hearted peace-makers and put dollars you would normally spend for travel lodging into organizations that further peace in the world.


On World Peace Day, I invite you to join me in opening to the greater truth—the peace that exists in all of us. May we become what we wish to create in the world.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Do You Know How to Put Your Spiritual Terms of Agreement in Place?


Recently, I was chatting with my husband about a couple of different business opportunities that have shown up in his life, neither of which seem like ideal matches, yet both of them seem like answers to his prayers. As his biggest fan, I decided to support him in his quandary by exploring what these opportunities do and do not have to offer, and then considering ways to negotiate for more potentially ideal business arrangements for him and the other players.

Have you ever walked away from an opportunity because you didn’t know how to negotiate for what you really wanted? Have you ever opened your heart to receive, invoked a flow of energy into your life, such as money, health, or new and meaningful relationships, and prepared for it to come? Then, when something did show up, but didn’t seem quite right, did you walk away from it?

If it happens often enough you can find yourself becoming disappointed, wondering why God hasn’t answered your prayers or assuming you must need to do a better job of defining what you want. It is certainly possible that you will receive a better answer if you define what you want more clearly, and it also possible something else is going on.

If the energy comes in and you don’t know how to channel it, the energy can bounce off of you in such a way that you don’t even realize what you wanted was right around the corner. Or the energy instigates discomfort because it pushes against old beliefs and feelings that don’t support the flow of new opportunities. You get caught up in the seeming lack of response or discomfort and miss the opportunity. If you want to experience the flow of new opportunity, it helps to create a channel.

If you wanted to direct water from a river to a nearby field, you would need to cut a channel, wouldn’t you? Spiritually, that’s what creating your personal terms of agreement can do. This is not about telling Spirit what to do or figuring out the details—who, what, when, where and why—of how your intention is supposed to manifest. It is about establishing the parameters that will allow you to live in harmony with the flow of energy you have summoned.

Let’s say, like my husband, you have prayed for a new money source to come into your life. Because you have set an intention for something new, you might not know how to prepare for it in advance other that to state that it needs to be a profitable, harmonious, honest experience with people you respect. An opportunity presents itself, but you realize it isn’t entirely perfect for meeting other needs, such as your creativity and your desire for a flexible schedule.

You could just walk away because it doesn’t seem quite right, and go back to the drawing board with your intentions. In the case of some jobs, relationships, or health solutions this might be the very best choice you could make. Sometimes walking away and re-evaluating is the best you can do. You might also want to consider that while what you have attracted may or may not be perfect for the rest of your life, it may offer you some benefits right now. In the income example I cited, perhaps this opportunity does have the ability to provide you with what you truly need and want if you are willing to negotiate.

I call this establishing your spiritual terms of agreement. The terms are spiritual when you are negotiating for what best supports you spiritually and emotionally, as well as physically and mentally. These terms of agreement can create a channel between you and the Divine that clarify how this energy can best serve you. Here is one way you could approach creating your spiritual terms of agreement. List the ways in which:

1) the energy you have called in (money, relationship, health, etc.) shall support your spiritual awakening;
2) you will feel when this energy comes in;
3) your knowledge will expand as a result of the energy; and
4) how your life will be physically enhanced when this energy arrives.

With my husband, we outlined the parameters that would allow him to be happiest. They included: highly creative work, flexible scheduling with multiple clients, preferred hourly rate, acceptable hourly rate, having fun, emotional equilibrium, adequate personal time, expanding into new business arenas, life-style preferences, travel preferences and more. Next we took that outline and discussed proposals for both of these new opportunities that would allow his new potential clients to get their most significant needs met while also honoring his spiritual terms of agreement.

This can be done with jobs, contracts, various types of relationships—from business to personal—health care options, and even vacation planning. In our world of duality, it is easy to think of life as though it is an on or off switch—either this will or won’t work. Yet, there is a whole world of opportunity that opens up when we are willing to negotiate options. We honor others and ourselves when we acknowledge their terms (whether spoken or implied) and honor our own spiritual terms of agreement. Then when we invoke something we want, our terms create a channel through which the energy can flow.




Friday, September 03, 2010

Retreats—Who’s Got Time For That?


How Retreats Can Help You Experience Greater Health and Spiritual Awakening

I used to read retreat announcements and think, “Who’s got time for that?” I had things to do for heaven’s sake and my list didn’t include sitting around talking and contemplating with a bunch of people I didn’t know… and then I went to my first retreat. In just one weekend, I rewrote my perspectives about life and found a greater sense of peace and balance than I had ever known before.

Fortunately, my first experience was with renowned facilitator and author, Judith Duerk. Her approach was simple and in its lack of complication, it was profound. The gifts of that weekend didn’t come from all the cool stuff we did--the internal rebirthing came from the authenticity with which each person shared from the depths of their being, and held space for others to explore their inner worlds.

Because I was in the midst of some of my most significant healing around sexual abuse, the retreat became a safe container where I could stop doing everyday things long enough to feel and honor the profound transformation that was longing to take place within me. I went to the retreat living life in reaction to my abuse. I left in the peaceful knowing that the whole of me was beyond my wounds.

I began living life with respect for myself and the lessons I had learned from my abuse, rather than weighed down in the reactionary sorrow and anger I had been feeling for so long. I discovered perspective that translated into greater balance in my life. I became less judgmental of the world and more compassionate toward myself and others. I also discovered that there was less distance between the one being abused and the one doing the abusing than I wanted to believe. Realizing how “one” we really are, was a difficult but necessary aspect of finding inner peace.

After that one weekend, I made retreats part of my regular ritual for furthering my peace of mind and spiritual growth. Retreats, like my first one in which an individual led an experience for a group of us, stretched me into realms of insights and experiences that I wouldn’t have imagined on my own. Witnessing the experiences of other participants opened my mind to possibilities of mystical experience and interpretations of life that I had never considered. I grew exponentially as I tried on the viewpoints of all those people I didn’t know.

The unexpected surprise was that my health improved as I gave myself opportunities to meet and accept myself through retreats. It is too easy to run away from yourself when you are meeting daily obligations. There are a million excuses for putting off a deeper relationship with yourself and discovering the truths behind illnesses and injuries, but in a retreat you are dedicating time to be with yourself. The insights beneath the pain are the ones that lead to substantial healing and ultimately to more enjoyable living.

Recognizing the spiritual and healing benefits of retreating, New Dream is hosting a special weekend for women in October. If you would like to know more about how you can be a part of this weekend going deeply into the Sacred Feminine, visit: http://newdreamfoundation.com/womens-retreat.htm

Eventually, I longed to go deeper into myself, and I created a private retreat for myself at a cabin in the woods. I had significant spiritual experiences in my aloneness. Although I was single and living alone at the time, retreating was different. I was consciously stepping away from my daily activities in order to be present with my true self.

With each step that I took in retreating to be present to myself I found greater balance and harmony in my life because my perspectives were truer. The painful beliefs I adhered to, the dramas I created in order to give meaning to my existence, and the attachments I clung to in an attempt to satisfy myself, became less and less a part of my world. What I needed to be happy and healthy was an honest and loving relationship with the real me that was emerging.

Retreats are presents we give ourselves. Before I had attended a retreat, I thought they were luxuries. It only took one good retreat to realize that retreats aren’t luxuries at all. They are opportunities we give ourselves to unplug for a while and to discover the happiness and health living below the surface of our crazy, busy lives.