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.

E is for Effect… Spirituality A to Z

Once more, here we go…Ask, Believe, Choice, Decide and then comes the Effect, the result of the first four Spiritual Principles. We can go from A to E in a matter of seconds or take years to see our “asking” come into manifestation or form. The process is known as the Law of Cause and Effect.

Effect does not make itself and always follows Cause (the first four steps, A-D). Effect is created through the power behind it, bringing it into fruition. As stated in the Science of Mind textbook, “Everything which we see, touch, taste, feel, hear or sense with the physical senses is an effect.” Effect, that which shows up in our physical, visible world, is a result of our intentions (conscious or not) powered by the invisible, Divine Intelligence of creation. The invisible into the visible…what we see comes from what we do not.

While this process is often identified with things we can see and use in the physical world (stuff), the same steps can be used for those intentions and goals that are not so concrete… such as a healthier relationship, a new attitude, a different job, and the like. Such “things” are very real to us and yet they are not made up of anything we can put our hands on, nothing of the material world.

For example, I heard the story of a young man who moved from one state to another, looking for a fresh start. One of his intentions (Cause) in the new location was to work a retail job that was unique to anything he’d done before, but something he’d always wanted to do. He established an intention before moving. Within 48 hours after arrival to his new address, he was working in his field of choice (Effect).

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit family members I hadn’t seen or even talked too much in a few years. I went with the intention (Cause) of experiencing a healing of the angst that had existed between us far too long. While I pride myself with being able to communicate with nearly anyone, I was unable to say anything without getting a defensive or angry reaction from this person. What little I said was based in Truth, Principle and a desire for greater understanding and cooperation. Alas, such was not going to happen.

As I listened to the tidal wave of emotions spewed in my direction, I saw the deep fear of a wounded ego behind the words. In that moment, realizing it was not really about me (I was just the target of choice for that day), I felt a deep, loving compassion for this person. All the frustration I had held, up until that moment, just slipped away like black ooze down the sewer drain. And I smiled as my heart opened to allow a greater understanding to enter my being. I experienced a healing in an unexpected way and my soul filled with joy (Effect).

I have seen and experienced how the Law of Cause and Effect works with unwavering certainty. What we declare in our thoughts, words or habits, especially those done repeatedly over time, will without a doubt manifest in our lives according to our declarations and beliefs.

  • If you think you’re never going to be successful in business, the Law agrees… that is what you will create.
  • If you say you’re never going to have a meaningful, loving relationship, the Law agrees… that is what you will create.
  • If you intend to be proficient at playing the piano or working a computer, the Law agrees… that is what you will create.
  • If you believe your life is filled with happy events and all you need for a satisfying and rich experience, the Law agrees…that is what you will create.

The longer you hold in consciousness, in your own mind and heart, what it is you want/intend to experience or create, and hold it with passion and clarity, the faster Law (God) can bring that into your life. But if you keep changing your mind, or don’t really know what you want, then what you will tend to experience are pieces, close-calls, or a hodge-podge of what the final result could be.

I think getting Clarity about what I really want to experience is sometimes the most difficult part of the formula. The Law of Cause and Effect works with amazing accuracy and perfect timing. It must bring back to you what you put out into the ethers, the energy, of creation. The Law has no choice but to obey your direction. It’s up to you to determine the intention (steps A through D), do your part of the creative cycle, and expect only the Good to show up in your life. Look for the Good and be Grateful when you see it.

God never fails me. God never fails you. We fail ourselves. But we can also correct that – at any moment…and the next…and the next. Start right now! What you focus on…in consciousness… with your words… in your daily habits or actions… what you focus on WILL grow into manifestation in the physical world. And so it is.

D is for Decide… Spirituality A to Z

I love how Universal Principles follow the alphabet in a natural and logical progression. Thus far we have looked at how we need to (A) ASK for what we want. Then, it is critical to (B) BELIEVE in what you have asked for; that it is already a possibility in the Mind of God. This abundant Universe will most likely provide you with (C) CHOICES from which you can select the best options…and usually better ones than you could have thought for yourself. However, until you DECIDE, take action, nothing happens. D…is for Decide.

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”  Elbert Hubbard

You can ask, believe, and review the choices in front of you, but until you act…until you make a decision …it’s as if you’re standing in front of an open refrigerator full of food expecting a meal to jump out at you – all prepared and ready to eat. It’s not going to happen! You need to select/decide what you wish to eat, prepare it or cook it, and put it on your plate.

The same is true in Life. The same is true about your thoughts and beliefs – you can and do choose them. And as a result of deciding what you think and believe the majority of the time, you create your world. Your beliefs, consciously created or absorbed through culture (race consciousness), become thoughts, actions, and eventually your life. Gandhi said it wonderfully:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts… Your thoughts become your words… Your words become your actions… Your actions become your habits… Your habits become your values… Your values become your destiny.” – Gandhi

Every step in this process involves making a decision. No one thinks for you. No one speaks for you. After you come of age, no one decides your habits or your values. You get to decide what you will keep as your own from childhood – or from ANY experience. It’s empowering! Each one of us gets to decide how we will respond to Life’s challenges. Each one of us gets to decide how we will serve or be in the world. And each one of us gets to be responsible for what we decide.

Whether we’ve been aware of it or not, these Universal Principles (and more) are how Life is created. Whether we acknowledge the Principles through using them – try to ignore them or work around them – they’re still in place responding to our thoughts, words and actions. Whether our experiences are of our own conscious creation or as a result of the world’s impact on us, these Principles, these Laws, rule. It’s so much easier to work WITH the Universal Laws than to keep getting knocked down because we refuse to acknowledge them.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Every day is your opportunity to Decide anew. You can continue on the path you’ve been traveling or take a new one, even if it’s only to test out something different for awhile – then Decide again. Perhaps it’s time to try a different approach in a relationship or a new attitude at work. You might be thinking about job options or an alternate living arrangement. Maybe you want to express your art or fashion choices with new designs. It might be time to go back to school or change careers or stop working altogether. Whatever it is that keeps coming up in your thoughts, it will not go away until the issue is addressed and a decision is made.

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Then, once you make a decision, one based on that Spiritual “knowing” (intuition)… one that has no doubts about being the right choice… amazing things begin to happen. It’s the kind of decision where you know that you know that you know. There’s no sound of the ego voice debating in your head. Everything unfolds in absolutely perfect timing for your highest and best Good, and your life expands in Joy and Beauty and Love and Peace.

If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. – Henry David Thoreau

I have learned to trust Divine Power by starting with little decisions, witnessing the results, and gradually working up to grander ones as my “mental equivalent” has grown. As my trust grows, my choices and decisions have gotten larger, too. My confidence in Spirit has increased. My vision and life has expanded in wonderful and loving ways I only dreamed of years ago.

My challenge now is to ask and believe in ideas and endeavors that heal me, challenge me, and grow me in areas dear to my heart…maybe even make me a little nervous because they’re so much bigger than I used to dream. True, it can be about acquiring material things, and those are also in my realm of possibility thinking. Yet, they’re not the only areas of growth on which I must decide.

The decisions I make today are more often about the person I’m creating inside this human form. The focus is on becoming the highest expression of God I can envision. And just when I think I’ve achieved the best “me” possible…that this version is decidedly so much better than what I used to be…another choice presents itself and the A-B-C-D process begins anew. And so it is.

C is for Choice… Spirituality A to Z

C is for Choice … and has been my favorite Spiritual aspect of Life for many years. We have so many choices! The only limitations are those we place on ourselves. Even NOT making a specific or direct choice is making one. NOT having a CHOICE is NOT an option. Isn’t that great? That means there’s no excuse not to be involved in what kind of life you ultimately enjoy or experience and how you respond (react) to it. You choose.

When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice. – William James

I suppose I could stop there. I mean, really, how much is there to say about Choice? Actually, I can’t say enough about it! It’s been the foundation for my life’s direction and creation for so long – my underlying mantra – my driving force and inspiration – that it deserves more than just a short paragraph. I believe so deeply in the freedom of Choice and live it so passionately, that it’s actually irritated folks I know from time to time. They get tired of me saying, “You can do _____ OR you can do _____ OR ….”

Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice. – Ayn Rand

Mostly, I think, the reason for the upset is because I don’t buy into being stuck…there’s a choice for everything:  job, home, relationship, attitude, religious focus, hair color… the list is endless. There’s no reason to feel trapped. Each experience brings with it the opportunity to make a Choice each step of the way. Each Choice brings with it a consequence (good or bad). One Choice at a time, Life unfolds before us and lays down the path on which we tread.

Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim. – Aristotle

Perhaps the biggest Choice to make is what we “think” about anything, especially our attitudes and beliefs. No matter how hard our parents tried…no matter how hard we try with our children or grandchildren… with our spouse or anyone else for that matter… we can’t be told or dictated to about what to think. The mind, if nothing else, is the one sacred space we call our very own. The secrets of our mind are safe behind sealed lips. Let not the eyes betray us. We have the Choice to think thoughts based in positive energy and Universal flow, or to sink to depths that would require lengthy ropes to pull us out. Still, it is a Choice.

We need to teach the next generation of children from day one that they are responsible for their lives. Mankind’s greatest gift, also its greatest curse, is that we have free choice. We can make our choices built from love or from fear. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

With such a powerful tool at your disposal, where do you direct your Choice? Perhaps, it’s how you will use your time… what approach you will take to getting well… who you will share your life with… where you will go to school or on vacation… what attitude you will bring to work today… what priorities you will address in any given moment. Does Choice not offer the most incredible opportunities to create a life uniquely your own?

A life lived of choice is a life of conscious action. A life lived of chance is a life of unconscious creation. – Neale Donald Walsch

Choice, when done with Love behind and through it, for the highest Good of yourself and what you can offer to the world, is a gift of God beyond compare! It’s pure, Divine Intelligence speaking to us as that still, small Voice. Listen well…and choose with Love.

Spirituality A to Z

As often happens when I pay attention to Spirit, an idea will just “pop into my head” at some odd time and be totally irrelevant to what I’m supposed to be thinking about or doing. That is the case now as I am inspired to create a series of essays on “Spirituality A to Z.”

Thus, for the next few months I will focus on one word or phrase of spiritual significance and offer a New Thought perspective on the topic…from A to Z. If you have any particular words or phrases you would like to offer for a topic, feel free to send them to my church email address:   pccrs2945@gmail.com.

 

A is for Ask begins our series. Of course! Asking is what generally begins anything of significance in our lives. Perhaps the most famous of Bible quotes on this word comes from Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” (KJV) Later, Matthew also wrote (Ch. 21:22): “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

The first verse is part of a long list of sayings, doctrine, which is credited to Jesus and that we are instructed to follow. The second passage came after an incident where Jesus had come upon a fig tree that had no fruit. He was hungry but found only leaves on this tree. It is reported here that Jesus told the tree it would never again grow any fruit and the tree immediately withered away. Jesus explained to his amazed disciples that if they had such faith and no doubt, if they asked in prayer, they could do the same type of thing, whether it was a fig tree withering or moving a mountain.

Whether real or metaphorical, the story provides clear direction for all of us. If you want to create something in your life, claim an experience for yourself, or attract an opportunity of some kind…you must ASK for it or declare it so. The desire needs to be as clearly described as you know how to do. There should be passion, feeling, in the declaration, preferably positive emotions toward the longing. The point is, if you don’t ASK directly for what you choose to experience in your life, the Universe (God, Spirit) can only provide to you the average of what your thoughts focus on most of the time.

Ernest Holmes in the Science of Mind textbook wrote that asking also refers to mental acceptance of a situation or thing. For example, if we desire new employment, a home, greater health, money or a certain type of relationship, then we need to pray as specifically as we are able for that desire. Put as much detail into your prayer or mental work as you can until you embody the idea so completely that there’s no doubt in your mind about its creation. You may need to repeat this process daily. It’s your fears you need to change, your doubts that need convincing. Only in this way can we co-create with God through the Laws of Mental Equivalent and Cause and Effect.

On the other hand, let’s say you’re not feeling well and you think (belief) you’re not going to get any better. So you isolate, stop seeking treatment or taking medications. You don’t call the doctor or anyone who might be concerned about you. As a result, no one knows and no one can help you. And you have created exactly what you think and believe was going to occur. The Laws still work!

You MUST ASK to receive your Good, even if the asking is just a mental operation…like a thought… a prayer…or a whisper. This is not about wishing or day dreaming. This is about choosing what you desire to have manifest in your life, your experiences, and then declaring it so as though it’s already a fact.  Because, in fact, it is…in the “Mind” of God. Once you’ve claimed your Good, it’s already done Spiritually in that moment. It’s just a matter of human time – and maybe with some action steps of your own – before you see the physical demonstration show up in your life.

So how much Good are you willing to claim for yourself? Ask, and you shall receive. It works for me. I know it works the same way for you. It’s a Divine Law, a Universal Principle. God can only do for us, what God can do through us. Ask away…believe it’s done…and watch what happens in your life. Hallelujah! 

It’s All In Your Mind

There’s a colloquial saying that claims, “It’s all in your head.” I remember hearing that phrase on occasion when I was growing up, especially when I would start to project about some concern or problem happening in the future that would totally ruin my teenage life. The phrase was meant to stop me from such a negative train of thought. I later took it to mean that I was creating an unnecessary problem in my life. Both interpretations are correct…I know that now.

It truly is all in one’s head or mind. What we think about most often…positive or negative…we create in our lives or attract to us in some way. This means we must be diligent in our thinking and not fall into complacency. It means being aware and rigorously honest about the intentions, the motives, behind our thoughts, asking ourselves from time to time, “What was the real reason I said that [snippy, loving, mean, kind] remark?” or “Why did I treat him/her that way?” or “Where did that comment come from?”

I find it interesting to examine my thinking patterns to be sure I’m on the right track toward creating the life I intend to have – now and in the future. What is it I REALLY want to experience?

Right now, my focus is on Balance/Harmony, Abundance and Peace. This means I must also consider living from Love and acknowledging my connection with all Life. I must focus on the Universal Principles that are behind all creation…these (and other) “qualities” of God (as referred to in Religious Science).

This type of focus can be a challenge with so many distractions in the world or life in general. What I’ve noticed is that as I become more attuned to living and thinking from my God-Self, my human ego-self gets a bit unsettled, wanting to return to old habits and avoiding any change in the status quo. Opportunities for Spiritual growth continue to present themselves as a kind of challenge to see if I’m really making any progress…to test my commitment to this path. Sometimes, it can be two steps forward and one step back, depending on whom I’m interacting with and what the challenge might be. Yet, the evolution of Higher Consciousness will not be stopped.

The point is to be aware…to stay connected to Divine Love…to know that what you create in your life and what you are now or will experience… is truly all in your mind. You and I get to decide–in each second, each moment, with each thought, word and action–how we’re showing up in the world.

What does that look like for you today? Pay attention!

LETTING GO… BY CHOICE OR OTHERWISE

Our church recently hosted a special healing event where several alternative wellness practitioners and healers shared their skills and wisdom with curious would-be clients. Healers offered services such as Reiki, SRT, or Yoga Nidra. One gentleman offered his intuitive skills through reading Tarot cards for folks. I was one of them and the last person to sit at his table.

As it was the end of the day and nearly time to start packing up the event, the reading needed to be shortened in some way. I asked him to do just one card. He shuffled the cards. I cut the deck. He fanned the cards across the table and waited for my selection. I used my own intuitive nature to select the perfect card – the 5 of Swords – and with no verbal input from me to offer any clues (I thought), his interpretation began.

This card, in general terms, is about the fear of loss, of losing control…an illusion of its own. With his eyes focused downward to the card on the table, he talked of how I was going through or may soon be going through some sort of loss. His eyes questioned my face as I remained silent and unaware of anything about which I may have felt a sense of loss. My mind was blank…open.

He continued this line of explanation and then reassured me that, while I may be saddened for a time over the loss, this void would open my life to greater expression and possibilities. His commentary and the session came to a close. We all packed up the event. I put the experience aside as something that was fun and interesting. I could think about it later.

Later came sooner than I expected.

Two days following, my husband and I agreed on a new wall-hanging/headboard idea for our bedroom… one that would utilize an embroidered duvet cover I had painstakingly created about 20 years prior and that had become our bed’s covering in the early years of our marriage. As our bed size had changed, and to preserve the memories associated with the piece, we no longer used the coverlet but had stored it away.

The detailed needlework designs on the queen-sized muslin coverlet had taken me two years to complete, with subtle, hand embroidery work that filled the center and ruffled sides. The angelic design symbolized our Divine introduction and enduring Love. It was the largest and most complicated fabric art I had ever done. I knew I could reconstruct the coverlet into a beautiful wall-hanging, a visible reminder of how we met and how our love had matured. I couldn’t wait to get started! I fell asleep with great anticipation for the project.

The next morning I went to the linen closet to fetch the coverlet from the plastic storage bag. It wasn’t there. Each shelf I searched revealed only towels and sheets, but not the embroidered masterpiece. I expanded my search to the craft closet, sewing bins, guest room, dining hutch, boxes of holiday decorations, and the garage. While I located many items that were no longer useful and could be given or thrown away, the coverlet was not among the finds.

Besides my own prayers of resolution and peace, a friend offered prayers to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things. I called a couple of my children to see if it was accidentally packed among their belongings during previous extended visits. I changed my affirmation from “I can’t find it!” to “It’s somewhere in this house and it’s ready for me to see it!” I cried at my loss. The words of the Tarot reader came back with haunting clarity.

I fully realize my sense of attachment to this artwork and the memories I have threaded into the design. Still unwilling to face the loss of this treasure, I’m continuing the systematic search box by box, closet by closet, corner by corner, and drawer by drawer…until I know with absolute clarity what I truly do have as my earthly possessions and if this one accomplishment is among them. I will do a thorough and complete investigation. In the process I will also “release” many other things, more clutter and unused possessions that no longer serve my new direction and the life I now express.

cherub_trumpetIf by some accident the embroidered cherub truly has taken his trumpet and departed my realm, I will let go … by choice or otherwise … and open my consciousness and my interests to richer and fuller experiences. And so it is!

 

ADD & All Hosed Up

I’ve developed a habit of “home and garden time” where I spend a couple of hours each day outside or do home maintenance projects. It’s also a time where I get clarity for the day or on a particular topic. This morning as I was winding up several garden hoses and placing them on the new hooks I’d just installed, my mind found clarity about a disturbing topic that had been troubling me.

A few days ago I read that apparently America has lost its ability for long-term attention. Not only are its over-achiever citizens under the influence and pressure of the “crazy busy” syndrome, but that, as a result of being constantly connected to technology through apps, email and texting habits, America is considered the most “ADD” on the globe (“ADD” as in Attention Deficit Disorder). Initially I had strong objections to such blanket statements that generalize our entire country and population, including me. Then I looked at my own behavior to see why I was so irritated about the matter.

Frankly, I enjoy using technology to stay connected to the world. I carry my phone with me EVERYWHERE. I have two phone numbers and five email addresses that forward to my smartphone, as well as sending duplicate emails to my computer. I stay updated throughout the day. This system allows me to answer and/or delete emails regularly and not be overwhelmed when I sit down at my desk. If the subject line is uninteresting or if the sender is distributing political, promotional or spam-like messages, I can read a few characters, make a determination of its follow-up value to me, and click the DELETE key in less than three seconds. If the nuisance messages occur more than once or twice a week, I can UNSUBSCRIBE from all future communications. For those email subscriptions that continue to uplift and inform, I eagerly read them before deciding whether to SAVE TO FILE, FORWARD or DELETE.

The arrival of social media has presented a whole new challenge to time management and the feeling of overwhelm. I’m somewhat of a novice in this realm, so I’m sure there are short-cuts still to learn that would make sorting and reviewing postings more efficient. Meanwhile, I limit my viewing activity on these sites. Since I don’t listen to radio news or watch television very often, one online media community comes directly to my smartphone so I can at least know about major events in the world as they occur (as well as how my family and friends are faring for the day).  I’ve become quite accomplished at scanning the first few words of text to determine just how much more I want to know about someone’s situation, recipe, activity or inspirational message. Anything more than three or four lines warrants a return visit later in the day.

This “crazy busy” schedule and impatient nature certainly expresses as ADD behavior in me from time to time. But I don’t like labels. And not every area of my life includes technology.

AA026660In fact I’m the most serene in those areas that have no high-tech devices in them at all: gardening, hose-winding, meditating, painting, reading (a real book), crafting, etc. These simple activities encourage long-term attention without the short-term distractions of advancing technology. Such tasks, as simple as they might be, have immediate gratification benefits while also creating a solid foundation for something more. They “add” to the life I’m living now…the one I’m building for the future. For example, sorting, winding and hanging the garden hoses resulted in acknowledging how many I have…more than enough to spare and share. (Abundance comes in many forms.) I can ADD to the lives of others by giving them away and find more meaning (and space) in mine!

Through my intention to ADD and to serve, an enduring life unfolds in a very positive way. This new meaning…to ADD to life and have long-term meaning for what I do…is no longer objectionable to my consciousness. In fact I can say with confidence: “I have an ADD- approach to life!” Try this new definition and see if it works for you, too. It’ll only take a few seconds.

Quality of Life

One of the privileges I have as a teacher of Spiritual Principles is that I get to continue to learn them…over and over and over again. As my students are introduced to various spiritual texts, I get to review the pages and passages that opened my eyes and heart the first time I read the writings. I find peace in the highlighted phrases and joy in the scribbles in the margins…and I smile.

On most days those notations are enough to lift my spirit and remind me how lucky I am to have found such a foundation of faith and to practice it through my ministry. On other days I must delve further into the texts for the inspiration that will most certainly uplift my consciousness and release the mental burdens…the heavy weight of my unceasing plans and constant doing-ness…under which I place myself.

You were not made for failure, no matter who you are, nor how much you know, nor what anyone has told you. God is your prosperity. God, the Most High, is your defense. God, the Absolute Good, is your friend.”                                 ~Emma Curtis Hopkins

It is important to remind myself of “first things first” when I start spinning from all the mental activity and ideas circulating in my head. What do I focus on? How much can I really do and do well? What is actually mine to do?  While my current life theme may be “simplicity,” it also must include the element of “balance” to address and achieve those tasks that are mine to complete on a daily or weekly basis…and into the distant future.

My intent is to create a quality of life that is improving and ever-expanding in all directions: spiritual/physical… work/play… home/community… relationships/solitude… activity/rest… learning/teaching… in an evenly-paced and sane approach of longevity and growth. Up until a few years ago, I would get so excited about the possibilities for expansion and the opportunities to learn or do, that I would work myself into an unsustainable frenzy of activity. It would be inevitable that a crash would occur …physically, mentally, emotionally…forcing me to rest, re-evaluate and recover from this self-inflicted abuse of over-doing.

My insatiable desire to learn all I can within this human lifetime, I’m sure, has something to do with my high level of activities, my growing collection of unread books, website searches on a myriad of topics, my eagerness to listen to the wisdom of others (conversations, classes, lectures, etc.), and my misguided enthusiasm to take on more than I can reasonably handle in a given day. Fortunately, I’ve become more aware of this destructive and innate pattern of behavior, and am now able to slow down the mental spinning to a more balanced and consistent forward movement. But more is needed.

clockThankfully, I’m willing to ASK for help, recommendations, suggestions or guidance when I feel lost. An idea, posed by a loving partner with whom I recently shared these darting thoughts, is being implemented, starting today:  Block out my schedule for various activities/tasks throughout the day/week and stick to it!

It sounds simple, right? Balanced? Logical? It’ll be interesting to see how my ego committee mind reacts to this “novel” idea. Yet, you and I both know this is not a new approach. I’ve brought it up before when I shared my work-aholic tendencies and the “power of an hour” concept of achieving things. However, I obviously need more than just an hour-by-hour plan. I’m adding a long-term view for a higher quality of life.

The wonderful part about this idea is that I have the freedom to create the schedule, starting today. The new blocks of time include spending more time with God than with projects, trading technology for daily periods of meditation, working only six days each week (for now), expanding my  exercise options, increasing creative art and gardening activities, and reading more books.  My aim is eventually to take off from work two full, consecutive days each week. Can you imagine that? I do. And so it is!

Back to Basics: Simplicity

Some months ago a friend told me how she picks one word on which to focus for the entire year. I liked the idea so much that I decided to do the same. The word I chose to begin this practice was “simplicity.” I’ll admit there are times when I forget about it. However, I’m quickly reminded of my intention whenever life starts spinning into chaos and confusion or I start experiencing feelings of overwhelm. It’s then I know to take a deep breath, stop whatever I’m doing, and evaluate what’s most important in that moment.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as getting a cup of tea…practicing songs on the piano…going outside to feel the sunshine…petting the dog. When I physically remove myself from the situation and the moment of confusion, it’s easier to gain new perspective. I’ve found it works with people, too. While it may not always be possible to remove myself from someone’s presence, I can stop talking or mentally planning my next sentence. I can listen. I can see them more clearly in that moment of heightened awareness. I can connect with them soul to soul where words are not necessary.

zen_gardenThe practice of simplicity brings added benefits I had not anticipated. I’m learning to have Zen-like focus in all of my tasks and activities. While I’ve been an accomplished multi-tasker, I’m more willing now to limit my attention to one task at a time until it’s completed. I actually get more done by having dedicated focus on one single project rather than trying to do several at once. The quality of my work has improved. The moments of chaos and confusion happen less often. I’m able to work for longer periods of time without feeling nearly so tired or stressed. One step in front of the other. Back to basics.

I’ve also begun applying the idea of “simplicity” to my life’s greater vision. Everywhere I focus I consider how I can do things with the least amount of commotion, effort, money, time or energy. Sometimes this means delegating a task or project to others…taking my time to arrive at a decision…or just not doing it…right now. When I get into that mindset that I have to “make things happen,” then I need to look at whether its creation is a matter of forcing something (ego) or a sense of lack in my life (not enoughness).  In either case, it’s necessary to go back to taking a breath, being grateful for “what is” and giving more thought to the validity of the desire.

As I’ve simplified my life, I’ve made numerous changes. I’ve gone back to basics with my diet and nutrition… planted a garden… make my own laundry soap… visit more with family and friends… changed careers… am more successful in financial matters… enjoy a variety of creative activities… and am constantly grateful for my life and everything in it! It’s simple, but not always easy. Yet, so worth the effort and diligence required to calm my busy mind. I live more from a sense of peace than I ever have!

Such commitment to a simpler way of living and being means that I get to experience daily the basic feelings of happiness and contentment…love, serenity, abundance, and connection… to life, people, my work, and God… one purpose, one action, one simple thought at a time.