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R is for Reflection … Spirituality A to Z

This topic of Reflection first brought to my mind the process of looking back: of evaluating past history; noting how far my life has traveled; the experiences of accomplishments and failures; the lessons learned; the wisdom gained; and desires for my future path. All of that is part of what I mean as Reflection. It is why I chose this word as the title for these writings. It’s an ongoing process throughout our lives.

The other Reflection that comes from such a review of the past is how I see myself in the present – in the mirror of self-examination and in the physical world. I am my own worst critic. Maybe we all are. The itty-bitty committee inside my head is full of judgments, criticisms, and verdicts. It pushes me into unrealistic deadlines and perfectionism tendencies. This critic does not rest! It can be a challenge to find balance with the gentler part of me that wants to escape the self-imposed pressures of constantly achieving more and greater expressions of who I am now or on my way to becoming.

I want to see Love in my eyes when I look in the mirror…for myself and others, my life, and the world around me. I want to know that I make a mirror-lg-silverdifference in this lifetime. On most days, I do. And then there are days when I recognize that my personal and spiritual growth is not over yet. There’s much more that I can develop and learn, with the help of Divine Guidance as well as through the individuals around me…my teachers.

We are mirrors for one another. Positive or negative we reflect back that which we put out in the world through our energy, our words and behaviors, our thoughts and beliefs. I recently implemented a new practice where I now have a small mirror with me at all times, especially at my computer. It helps me to stay Spiritually-centered when I notice my facial expressions going awry during a phone conversation or when I’m writing emails about a challenging situation. If my expression in the mirror is angry or fearful, imagine what my voice must sound like or the tone of my emails. That’s not who I truly am. That’s not my God-nature. The small mirror in front of me reminds me of exactly that.

The goal of how I see myself is as a person who, easily and effortlessly, comes first from a place of Divine Love. (I’m getting there.) As happy as I feel most days, I see myself expanding this Joy even more deeply. I’m satisfied to feel Grateful so much of my time. Life is a precious gift not to be wasted or taken for granted. Each moment counts!

My times of Reflection also reveal a great deal of Forgiveness in my life…and this leads to Contentment in every aspect. It’s important to let go of the mental baggage we carry – that which keeps us from growing into a higher expression of ourselves. Contentment is part of not taking things, situations, and people too personally. Release and let go.

Finally, I choose to fill spaces in my Life with Divine Love, Joy, Gratitude, Forgiveness and Contentment. In doing this, I can once more reflect on whether I’m progressing through Life or remaining stuck in some area. All I need do is look in the mirror and my soul tells me what is so. And so it is.

Q is for the Quality and Quiet of Qi … Spirituality A to Z

As anyone who plays Scrabble will attest, the sooner you learn a good number of valid “Q” words, the better your score can be. I am still learning. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to find hundreds of “Q” words on one particular website, including a link to each one’s definition. Score!

The discovery certainly provides a Quality and Quiet Qi (energy)…a calm self-confidence…an improved inner knowing…and an increased enthusiasm to play Scrabble.

This same calm, confident energy can be found through a solid connection with the Divine Power (God) within. As a matter of fact, the feeling I have at the sight of this “Q” word list is very similar to the way I feel at the completion of a powerful prayer session (spiritual mind treatment).

When I think about anything of Quality it connotes something enduring and stable; something made of the highest materials, created with dedication to the art of its creation, and imbued with love. I think that’s how we (humans) were all created in God’s “mind” from the very beginning. God don’t make junk.

Unfortunately, there are times when we get pretty adept at defacing the beautiful living artwork we are. For some it takes reaching nearly self-destructing levels before reconstruction is seen as an option and the process is reversed. Hopefully, before it’s too late. Some people never see the wonder of who they are and spend their lives down-playing their talents, listening to negative comments (from their own minds or the words of others), and being less than the magnificent beings they could actually be. Yet, even in this version of expression, they are teachers to those around them. Without saying a word we are capable of instructing and learning through our very essence.

It is in this Quiet that we learn to know ourselves and determine what we are willing to know of others. It is in this Quiet that we make decisions, determine our beliefs, set our intentions, and grow into the image of who we think we are. It is where we become us.

Also, it is in this Quiet that we best connect with our Divine Intelligence and Power. Here is where our soul is fed and our heart finds warmth and rest from the challenges of the world. The Quiet (aka stillness) is a powerful place to reside. Anyone who meditates knows the magic of this blissful realm.

Qi-symbolMeditation and prayer are wonderful tools to enhance your Qi (aka chi) – the essence of you. This inner self is the ethereal energy or life force that is with us forever. You can strengthen your Qi through having a Quality connection to God and spending daily periods in Quiet contemplation. Not only will your Spiritual life benefit from such practices, but your emotional life will deepen and your physical life will attract greater Good.

Quality. Quiet. Qi. Three great “Q” words to succeed in life.

 

P is for Prayer and Patience … Spirituality A to Z

Here’s what I’ve learned about Prayer: the answer comes in its own time. That’s where Patience enters and is of great value. I’ve heard it said that we receive “all good things in all good time.” Yet there’s a part of me (perhaps in everyone?) that doesn’t like waiting…period. However, waiting can be good for me. There are lessons to be learned.

One of the key things I recognize when I am waiting, seemingly too long, is that perhaps my prayers, my asking for or declaring my Good, have not been specific enough. Sometimes they are not passionate enough. Sometimes I’ve forgotten to pray altogether about that specific thing I desire to experience. I think God should just “know” what I want without my asking and in that I forget the rules of creation. The turmoil I put myself through (I blame my ego for that), while trying to be patient, acts as a trigger – a reminder – that I haven’t done sufficient prayer work. It’s very humbling and necessary to get me back on-track.

praying_concrete_handsWhile one of my personal and ongoing intentions is to live such that my life is a constant prayer, to keep my conscious awareness focused on the Spiritual Reality, on God, I know it is absolutely necessary to pray aloud …to say the words with earnestness. This allows my mind and heart to hear what is inside me seeking to express in the world. Prayer allows my God-self to have a voice in the creation of my life and experiences. Prayer always overcomes the negative or fearful thoughts of an impatient ego self. Prayer drowns out those limiting habits.

A tool that has helped keep me focused on doing consistent prayer work (spiritual treatment) is to maintain a daily “gratitude list.” This list reminds me of all the Good already in my life and which I desire to experience more of…and so I pray for that. This list provides a road map of what I’ve been doing and where I want to go; it helps to set intentions to create more Good in my future…and so I pray to do what I can in the time I have. This list includes the people in my life and their impact on me, to teach me what they came to offer…and so I pray to learn.

As the gratitude list continues through weeks and months and years, I get to see patterns of where I am still stuck and where I’ve grown. I can also see where Patience has played a part – whether I have been serene as life unfolded at its necessary pace or where my ego has messed up the process with its insistent impatience. The lessons are everywhere! The patterns reveal where I have work to do and where I have succeeded. I like success, so I pay attention and pray for more Patience.

Creation and life’s experiences happen at Spirit-speed – whether it takes a microsecond, a decade, or a lifetime to manifest. I know my prayer, the clarity and passion of my words and thoughts, my conviction and beliefs, are all part of the formula for whatever transpires. So I take time to consciously pray each day…to reflect on the progress made in my life and activities through the gentle passage of time.

The combination of Prayer and Patience brings Peace within and many other gifts. I highly recommend the practice…and pray you experience empowering results. And so it is.

O is for Oneness and Oldness … Spirituality A to Z

The idea of Oneness is too important not to mention in an “O” writing, even if the other reference (Oldness) was actually the preferred topic for this piece. Together, they offer a depth and meaning to a Spiritual life that is richer when both are included.

Oneness can be another way of expressing connection…to other humans, to Life itself, to Divine Intelligence. It’s often a word used to describe a person’s relationship to God. In my Spiritual belief, we are all individual­ized expressions of the One Mind. We are each created with all the qualities of God within us. We develop or acknowledge those qualities as we mature on our Spiritual path and livingness in this physical world.

The idea that we are all made from the same “God stuff” – that the same type of cellular structures and processes are present throughout creation – solidifies the concept of Oneness. Regardless of how far back or how deep science investigates, similarities exist enough to show connection. And it is these familiar patterns or substances on which the future is created and from which it evolves. The threads of Life are long, sturdy, and enduring.

It is this type of Oldness that gives credence to Oneness, and that shows up in day-to-day living. For example, when a grandparent creates a special activity with his/her grandchildren, it can be the start of a new annual event for the family. This activity connects the participants in Oneness as a family and a bond is created through this shared event…special only to those involved. This is how memories are created. This is how tradition begins.

Oldness and Oneness are like two pillars of DNA rotating and spiraling through the core of our lives…connecting us by strands of love and DNA_moleculeexperiences. Even if we separate from the past or the familiar, we take some of those strands with us. They’re a part of us that will never be lost. The Oldness gives us the gift of Oneness, the connection to family, to humanity, to Life, and to our God-Self.

The older we get, the more strands of connection we have created. Perhaps that’s why we might sometimes have feelings of sadness at the thought of leaving this Life, or letting go of those who have passed on, or not being able to visit loved ones during holidays, or having a longing for familiar traditions of days gone by. The strands of connection, of Oneness, may get bent, but they never really break. Old memories are as important a link in all of us as our DNA, as the God-stuff that binds us together.

When we recognize how truly connected we are, such awareness breaks down barriers of indifference and judgment, of lack and loss…and opens the portals to Acceptance, Peace, Love, and so much more! The Oldness of God and these enduring Principles tie us together in the Oneness of this Life’s expression…and perhaps, into the next. Nothing is truly lost. And so much more is gained as our consciousness expands and we open our hearts to the ever-evolving possibilities that lie before us.

N is for No’ing to Know … Spirituality A to Z

I never expected such a title or topic to come to mind when writing about aspects or practices of Spirituality. As I gave more thought to the idea of saying “No” to those things that do not support my soul’s expression or highest Good, the topic made perfect sense. It’s a way of setting boundaries yet doing so in a loving way, a positive way, and thus, a positive “No.” Let me offer a couple of examples.

When I say I’m unable to babysit for one of my darling little grandchildren, it’s not because I don’t want to spend time with them. I often have multiple reasons for everything and this is no different. In this case I might say “No” because the timing doesn’t work with plans I’ve already made…and…because it’s important that grandma not be the only source of babysitting services. When I tell certain church members that a particular idea cannot be pursued at the moment, it may be because of other budgetary obligations that take precedence or it conflicts with something else already planned for that time period or it doesn’t fit with the vision of the church.

In either scenario the decision to say “No” brings with it a need or desire to Know why such a decision is being made – both for the person making the decision and the one(s) on the receiving side of the decision. I believe the Knowing comes before the No’ing; to be sure I can stand behind my decision.

One of the things that drove me crazy in childhood, when I was learning how to reason things out, was when a parent or other adult would say “No” to a request, followed by “because I said so” when challenged. This taught me to be certain about my responses. And since I’m a relatively positive person anyway, saying “No” does not come as easily as “Yes!” – although my young children would have debated otherwise.

However, lately, I know that saying “No” to someone else’s request that places a burden on my time and energies is really a “Yes” to me. It’s a way of setting my boundaries so I don’t take on too much. Also, a temporary “No” provides additional time to evaluate a situation before moving forward and perhaps changing the answer to “Yes” or a stronger “No.” Whatever the situation may be, it’s important to Know the reason for your answer and be able to respond to the “why” if someone asks the question.

As I have learned to say “No” to situations and people for the benefit of my growth and independence, as well as for their growth and independence, I have come to know myself in ways I never imagined. I’ve learned courage and strength in standing up for myself. I’m uncovering what it is that I like to do and not do. I’ve discovered where I’ve been giving away too much of myself – to the energy-drainers around me (whether people or unproductive habits) – and am plugging up the leaks in loving and firm ways. I feel a greater sense of serenity as I say “No” to the chaos and drama, sooner rather than later.

I’m “No’ing” to Know the authentic and vibrant Life that is me. This truly is a Spiritual practice and one that requires diligent self-care and commitment to a deeper vision, a higher consciousness, of who I am. What a journey this is! You’re all invited to come along.

M is for Mother/Father God … Spirituality A to Z

As I’ve been going through this alphabet of spiritual qualities and practices, thought has been given to each letter’s meaning at least a few weeks in advance.

Up until now I envisioned the letter “M” would lead to writing about Meditation…the benefits and bliss experienced in those contemplative moments. I have been looking forward to sharing the different types of meditation one can experience…whether sitting in silence, walking in nature, staring into a fire, or painting a wall. Such a focus was not to be. My muse had something else in mind.

I was introduced to the idea of “Mother/Father God” a mere 20 years ago and immediately warmed to the concept. My childhood God was the image of an old man (Father) in the sky looking down and handing out one judgment or conviction after another, a stern being of limited warmth and compassion, but with strength and courage to protect in my time of need.

While the possibility of God (Spirit) having a feminine side was new to me, it made sense. Aren’t we (humans) all created with both masculine and feminine characteristics? So why would God not have the same attributes – or more – than each of us? If we’re made in the image and likeness of God, then the idea of a Mother and Father as One Divine Intelligence seems a logical one.

Since embracing the idea of a Mother/Father God, I developed an interest in religious archaeology. The research has provided me with knowledge about matriarch societies, feminine deities, and goddess worship, as well as evidence of artifacts, worship halls, and rituals, once considered common in the ancient world, to support the idea of feminine-based religions. However, through the passage of time and changes in leadership or political directions, whether driven by fear or a desire for domination and superiority, religious and spiritual beliefs were directed toward a masculine-led world.

The Mother/Father alternative brings the God concept back into a balance that blends the best of both perspectives. It feels more whole…seems more complete…more authentic and real.

The main characteristics I attribute to the Mother side of Spirit are gentleness, acceptance, warmth and creativity. All these Mother characteristics complement those of the Father side and together provide me a Supreme Energy and loving guide through life. When I meditate with this Divine Presence, I feel safe, peaceful and alive. I can take this Oneness into my heart and soul and do my best to emulate it, sending that love into the world and sharing it with those closest to me.

I welcome and embrace the strength and gentleness, the discernment and acceptance, the conviction and creativity…and so much more! There is no doubt in my mind that the Divine Presence, God, is everything – all the Good – that you can imagine it to be…whatever image brings you comfort…her or him or both as One.

L is for Love and so much more! … Spirituality A to Z

L-O-V-E is one of those four-letter words that carries a power all its own. Its impact on your mind and heart can be determined by recent or past experiences and relationships. In the human realm the idea of love can often be a fleeting one…here today, maybe gone tomorrow – or at least in a few years. Even love of ourselves can be conditional if it’s based on how we’re feeling about ourselves physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually. And yet, there’s more to love than this elusive nature we often give it.

Love, with a capital “L,” the one that relates to the eternal and Divine Nature that is God and that also resides in each of us…is always present…never fails…never waivers…never gives up, but is always giving. This Love is eternal within us. Yes, we can sometimes obliterate its presence from our awareness, but it never leaves us and is always seeking expression in some way through us.

How many of us have gone through a relationship break-up and sworn never to love again? …until we’re in the company of a puppy or an infant puppies2_whiteand we start goo-goo’ing with baby talk all over the place. Love. Have you ever worked your way out of an angry moment or event by cleaning up the house or garage or garden? …and then you stand back to admire your work and realize how good you feel about yourself. Love. There are many ways to reconnect with or awaken that deep Love within. You can play the piano, sew a garment, paint a wall or canvas, watch your favorite movie, read a special book, listen to great music, look through a photo album, take a walk in nature, hold hands with a loved one, cuddle up in a warm bed, meditate, or gaze across the ocean or from a mountain top. Love.

Rekindling Divine Love – if that be the case for you from time to time – does not require being in human relationship with another. Divine Love is the connection and deep sense of belonging we can and do share with God. Love, as God, wants to express through us in a multitude of ways and depths. Love, as God, knows only Oneness and Good, and desires us to experience the same.

Yet we can choose whom we will love on this earthly plain, and how much or how little we give to each one or ourselves. We decide who or what gets our attention. We can inventory our Spiritual center, the core of Love within each of us, and portion it out. We choose who gets close to us and how much we share of ourselves and our Divine Nature. But Love never stops trying to express.

The thing is…when our best and deepest Love (that is God) is awakened in that soulful center within, we will never know a sense of loss or pain. puppy_whiteAny human connection is temporal at best…we will all leave this physical life at one time or another. So Love to the fullest. Enjoy heart-to-heart connections. Peer into the deep knowingness of another and express your true and authentic self as well. You are never alone, never abandoned, when Spirit is your all-powerful and eternal Love. Truly, Love is all there is!

K is for Kindness… Spirituality A to Z

I remember how uplifted I was the first time I saw a bumper sticker that displayed these words: “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” It was in the mid-1980s and I had recently moved to Colorado. The words were on many cars in Boulder and I enjoyed being reminded to offer these efforts.

Actually, this phrase is attributed to Anne Herbert. She is said to have written it on a placemat in a California restaurant (in the early-1980s). Now there are millions of bumper stickers, a non-profit foundation and website (listed below), a Wikipedia page, and multiple internet references on how people can go about doing random kindness for one another. That’s a good thing.

Kindness is inherent in all humanity. We might need to be reminded about the importance of practicing it in our lives…on a regular and on-going basis. I’m fortunate to remember it every day. My life is filled with so many people doing Kind acts for one another. Sometimes I get to be the recipient of such Kindness and, at other times, I get to pay it forward. I find it the most fun when Kindness can be done for someone without them knowing who provided it…like a wonderful surprise gift!

I’ve noticed a few social media postings in past weeks where young adults are providing a number of acts of Kindness on their birthdays – one for eachKindness_two_girls of their years of life. A celebration of Kindness! As my years have significantly added up, I’m not sure I could do that many Kind acts all in one day. Thus, I’ve decided to do at least one or two purposeful ones EVERY day…in secret or otherwise…and see what effect it has on the people around me, whether I know them or not.

In order to get some ideas and not keep repeating the SAME Kind acts all the time, I visited a couple of websites for inspiration. And I was inspired!! You might be, too. Take a look at these and see what Kind acts come to your mind:

http://mashable.com/2013/10/21/random-acts-of-kindness/

http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

http://www.therandomact.org/getinvolved/randomacts/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/26-random-acts-of-kindness

What I’ve noticed, is that when you start looking to see what Good you can do, what Kindness you can offer, you see more of that Good, more of God, showing up in your world. We don’t need to wait for the holidays before we send a donation, lend a hand, or offer a smile. People can use our help or just a Spiritual uplift any day. We can always do more.

The thing is, what you give out, comes back…in some manner…from somewhere. This is a reciprocal Universe; it works in circles. As you give, you receive. Give from your Divine Source those aspects of yourself that have no limit…such as Kindness…Joy…Love… and so forth. The only time such parts of you stop is because the human or ego part of you quits…because you think you’ve done enough or have no more to give. That’s not true. The God-self of you never stops wanting to do more Good.

Open your heart and your mind to the Kindness within you. Tap into that Source right now and Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty. You’ll be uplifted from the uplifting…I guarantee it.

J is for Joy!… Spirituality A to Z

There are numerous ways to stir the Joy within…which we also may call Happiness. Joy is all that, yet a more deep-rooted, more soul-based kind of Happy. Joy is the delight that comes from within and bubbles up on its own. Joy needs no prompting or stimulation to experience. Joy just is.

I’m happy to say that Joy is my authentic nature. And I know it’s the God-nature of everyone, but sometimes we need to look long and hard to see it expressed within ourselves or through other individuals. They may not have found it yet…their natural state of being…Joy…Happiness…Delight.

I once was married to someone who actually got irritated with me because I woke up happy and glowing every morning. I was delighted to be alive and looked forward to the possibilities the day held in store for me. And even though he acted sullen and spewed ridicule in my direction during many of those early morning hours, it did not detract me from staying in a gleeful state. I simply left the house earlier (to go to work). After several years, I left the marriage. The Joy remains.

The difference between being Happy and being Joyful is expressed in numerous ways. Maybe you can relate to some of these examples:

  • Happy – listening to a favorite song on the radio
  • Joyful – listening to a favorite song on the radio and clapping along and moving your body to the rhythm because you have to…and it doesn’t matter who sees you bee-bopping in the car!
  • Happy – noticing your grandchild walk up the driveway as he or she comes for a visit
  • Joyful – noticing your grandchild is now mimicking one of your behaviors…a good one
  • Happy – planting a tree or an herb in your yard or garden
  • Joyful – discovering that what you planted early in the season, while it seemed dead for awhile, actually survived and is growing strong
  • Happy – laying down to rest after a long and productive day, feeling good about what you did
  • Joyful – waking up from a deep and restful sleep, eager to start a new day, a new beginning

Joy is a state of mind, a way of being. It expresses in varied ways…as an eternal Light of God that never goes out, no matter how we try to cover it up with our problems or grumpiness. Joy continues to shine its rays of Happiness and Delight until, finally, we open our eyes to its presence and radiate a Spiritual glow out into our world.

Thank you, God, for this glorious gift! Amen.

I is for Intuition… Spirituality A to Z

There is something magical about listening to that Still Small Voice within me, which I refer to as Intuition. When I listen, and actually follow that Divine Inner Guidance, I am repeatedly amazed at the Good that unfolds in my experience of Life. The key to following the correct guidance, however, lies in being able to identify it properly: is it Intuition or ego?

The way I’ve been able to simplify knowing which “voice” is speaking to me is by the length of the dialogue that goes on in my head. I always know it’s Intuition if the thought is instant and complete. It happens all at once and there is no question about it. I know that I know. However, if an idea comes to me and then is followed by a mental debate or other mind questioning chatter, that’s my ego. This delineation of these two guidance systems has never failed me.

Intuition has expressed itself when I’ve been guided in a particular direction – whether it’s an idea that comes to me to create something, in my writing, or to drive down a particular street. Some people call it a gut feeling, a knowing, or a sixth sense. One definition I found describes Intuition this way: “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” I prefer to substitute “conscious reasoning” in this case, with “human reasoning.”

I need to be Spiritually conscious in order to hear that inner voice. I like to think of Intuition as the way God communicates with me. And what I’ve learned is that the more I pay attention to Divine Guidance, the more God communicates with me. Unless I’m open to listening (such as through meditation), unless I’m Spiritually conscious, my ego mind-chatter drowns out any God-messages that are there for me to hear. It’s up to me to pay attention.

Pausing in my activities and daydreaming during moments of writing or other creative endeavors are really ways to stop and listen to the Infinite Creator’s direction of what to say next, or where to go, or to try something new. It’s a way to separate the wheat from the chaff…of what is truly important from the non-essentials of my experiences. My ego doesn’t always like such pure direction and thought, so it can sometimes get in the way of what truly needs to be communicated by adding a bunch of gobble-di-gook for attention. (Like that last sentence.)

Intuition allows me to stay connected to Spirit, to God, in a most personal and intimate way. I see it as God’s way of speaking through me…expressing as me…and I honor and cherish those moments of awareness. I’m paying attention more so I can connect more; to demonstrate a higher quality of living and a loving beingness in Life. As a result, I get to be in that Universal Flow where everything just happens in perfect timing and Divine right expression. It’s amazing!