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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Explicit Gratitude

Several months ago I was in an airport waiting to board my plane, when a young girl, along with her mother, sat down in the waiting area next to me.  We were all seated facing large windows that looked out onto the tarmac.  As the plane pulled into the gate, the young girl exclaimed loudly and with great excitement, “there’s our plane.”  Later, with equal delight, she exclaimed with a sense of wonder, “I can see my luggage being loaded on the plane.”  I was overcome with feelings of appreciation and joy as I observed her expressions of excitement and fascination.  She helped to awaken me from whatever mind-dominated state I was in at the moment.  While I did not think it appropriate to express my gratitude verbally in that particular situation, I did so with a silent prayer and blessing.  Even now as I recall that experience, I am again feeling much appreciation for that young girl who helped to awaken me to the fact that there is much in my everyday life to delight in and to express gratitude for. 

In this country, we have designated one day in November to give thanks for all that we enjoy.  For many of us, Thanksgiving Day may be a special time to gather with friends and family and enjoy a big meal.  For some, it’s the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, and for others it’s just a day off from work.  I must admit that, at various times in past years, it has been for me any one or all of these things.  This year, however, I am consciously choosing to think about and celebrate Thanksgiving Day in what is, for me, a more personal and meaningful way.  I have decided to observe Thanksgiving Day as the beginning of a conscious “explicit gratitude” journey.  I chose the word ‘explicit’ because I want my expressions of gratitude to be “definite and unreserved in expression” as defined by

I have noticed myself, at times, speaking what I would call empty words of gratitude.  By that, I mean sometimes I tell others that I am grateful because I tell myself that I “should” be grateful.  I have the belief that saying “thank you” is the proper response when someone does something that enriches my life.  Sometimes these are empty words spoken from a learned response rather than from a feeling of gratitude.  This awareness is an invaluable reminder of how I have learned to relate to others and to the world around me from a mental state (my mind), rather than from my feeling nature (my heart).  I have set my intention to change that.  In choosing to embark on an explicit gratitude journey, I have decided to not only express words of gratitude every day, but to empower myself to truly experience feelings of gratitude daily and allow the words to arise from that space of deep connection in the heart. 

My plan is to make this part of my spiritual practice, along with keeping a daily gratitude journal, and celebrating with family and friends, on November 28 with a meal and a time of sharing.  My hope is that this practice will help me to unlearn my mental response and reconnect me with my natural expression of deeply heart-felt appreciation.  My intention is to make explicit gratitude my way of living in the world.

When I boarded my flight that day I was blessed to be seated in the row across the aisle from the young girl I had encountered in the waiting area.  As the plane began to taxi down the runway and lift off, she exclaimed, “Whee, we’re taking of.  This is fun.”  What a wonderful reminder for me to approach every day of my life journey with a spirit of excitement.  I invite you to join me.  Let us reclaim our natural sense of wonder and appreciation and make November 28, 2013 truly a day of giving thanks and the beginning of a life full of explicit gratitude.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Know As I Am Known

Have you ever had one of those moments, sometimes referred to as mystical moments, when even  if only for a split-second you knew that you are not separate from the Allness that is; not separate from God, or from anything, or anyone?
For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.
- I Corinthians 13:12 (KJ21)
My guess is that if you are reading this, you have had one or more such experiences.  Perhaps it occurred during a time of prayer or meditation, or while spending time in nature, or just looking at the stars.  I have a vivid memory of one such moment which happened the first time I visited the redwood forest in Northern California.  The early morning mist was lingering just above the ground as I entered a grove of trees.  I was immediately overcome by a deep sense of belonging, love and nurture as I smelled the earth and heard the soft sounds of birds singing in the trees amidst what was otherwise a glorious silence.  Walking along the path, I looked ahead and noticed rays of sunlight streaming down through the trees.  As the sunlight encountered the mist they created the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen.  It seemed close enough for me to reach out and touch.  In that moment, time stopped.  I lost all cognitive recognition of where I was.  And, for what seemed to be minutes, but what turned out to be only seconds, I also lost touch with the conditioned mind that believed in a separate self.  I became the rainbow, the birds, the earth, the trees and the mist.  Of course, I know now that I did not “become” anything that I was not already.  I was simply enjoying a moment of knowing the truth that there is only one, and I am that.

There are no words that can fully capture the feeling that arises.  In fact, it is only in the seconds following the experience that conscious awareness of feeling is evident.  In the moment, there is no reference for ‘feeling’; there is simply the knower knowing Self as all that can be known.

During such experiences the veil between our usual waking consciousness and our natural awakened consciousness seems to lift, and we know as we are known.  Some have described such moments as euphoric experiences with a resulting feeling of ecstasy. defines ‘ecstasy’ as “rapturous delight.”  That was my experience as well.

As ecstasy begins to subside, it is replaced by an overwhelming sense of gratitude; not gratitude like one might express to someone for giving them a gift, but gratitude that arises from the core of your being as the natural expression of knowing you are the gift presenting as both the giver and the receiver.

To know this and to experience this awareness of “heaven on earth” in varying degrees is not, as many believe, a promise of the afterlife, but an assurance of what is possible in every moment.  It is our choice to open ourselves to this realization of Oneness.  We do that when we are willing to look upon everything and everyone in our experience and say to ourselves, “That is I” and allow the truth of that statement to reveal itself to us.  As this truth is revealed, we can feel it and live from that knowing with every thought and every action.

When we see God in all as All; when we know the Truth of our Oneness, we are free.  We are free to live ecstatic lives.  In rapturous delight we express gratitude in every moment of every day knowing that everything and everyone is a gift I am giving to my Self.  I see all as though seeing my Self face to face.  
I know as I am known.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Living Oneness

“Oneness – the realization that all of life is one inseparably connected evolutionary process – is not an idea being put forth by any one particular organization. It is a growing movement of consciousness that is being increasingly embraced by individuals and organizations all over the world.”
– Taken from Humanity’s Team website

In my talk this past Sunday, I spoke about Oneness, and how our realization of it shifts us from the experience of fear, stimulated by the belief in separation, into the experience of love for ourselves and others as ourselves.  We give from the conscious awareness of Oneness because we know that as we give, we receive.  When we give to another, we are in reality giving to ourselves.  Oneness is a concept that can be challenging to discuss, but certainly one worthy of further exploration.

The belief in Oneness is fully supported by Unity teachings.  In fact, the first of Unity’s five basic principles states “there in one Power and one Presence active as the universe and as my life, God the Good.”  What is Oneness? We believe that it is a universal Truth, but how do we realize and practice Oneness? 

As stated very clearly in the quote above, Oneness is the realization that all creation is not just a part of the evolutionary process, but that all creation is the evolutionary process itself.  All creation is an expression of the same source – the One.  However, we are not always consciously aware of this Truth.  The awareness of Oneness, as with all Truth, begins with each of us - the One [God] individuated as a localized point of intention and attention expanding in the conscious awareness of Itself, expressing Itself, experiencing Itself and reflecting Itself to Itself.  Until and unless we embody that awareness and live consciously from It, we will continue to see separation because we will continue to live in a mind of duality.  In other worlds, one cannot truly be aware of Oneness until that one realizes Self as the One.  We will only see the One as all that we observe when we truly know that nothing else exists.  There is not ‘you’ and ‘me.’ There is not ‘God’ and me.  There is not ‘God’ as me.  There is only ‘God,’ the One.

We are never separate from the One, thus we are never separate from each other.  Only in the ego-identified mind can separation appear to be a reality.  Nothing separates me from you except my belief that there is a ‘me’ and a ‘you.’  When I believe that I am a body and you are a body, then my belief in ‘body’ separates us.  When I believe I am a man and you are a woman, my concepts of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ separate us.  When I believe I am a Christian and you are a Muslim, my belief separates us. 

How do we demonstrate Oneness?  It begins with connecting deeply with our Essence through prayer and meditation and engaging with practical tools that help to connect us with the Truth in the every moment.  We can then choose to behave in ways that acknowledge our intent to know ourselves as expressions of the One, and to see all humanity in that Truth as well until the point at which we no longer have to think about it.  Instead, it becomes our way of being in the world. 

We must question every belief of the ego-identified self.  There must not be any “sacred cows” when it comes to our beliefs.  When we question our beliefs, more often than not, we will find that they are limiting in some way, even those we hold to be most dear.  The Work of Byron Katie® provides a simple and effective tool for questioning our beliefs.  It consists of four questions and a “turn around.”  When practiced in earnest, The Work® can free us to a greater awareness of Oneness.  If you would like to learn more about The Work® please visit  You can watch videos that demonstrate the effectiveness of the process.  You can also freely download worksheets and other valuable information that will assist you in engaging this tool for embracing Oneness consciousness.

We must also connect deeply with the pain and suffering, our own, and others’, caused by the ego-identified self.  We share the “human condition” with more than seven billion people on the planet, each of us attempting to find our way back to the Garden of Eden, which is a metaphor for Oneness consciousness, not realizing that in Truth we never left.  Our belief in separation causes us to struggle to get the things we believe we are lacking.  We must be willing to face our own pain and suffering, connect with the sense of lack that stimulates it, give ourselves empathy and compassion, and eventually come to the realization that we are that which we have been seeking – the One.  And, we are not alone; we are in this together.   When and only when we are willing to give ourselves empathy and compassion are we able to extend that to the perceived “other.”  Through the practice of empathy and compassion, we connect deeply with ourselves and others and begin to recognize, and eventually realize, the possibilities of knowing and living from Oneness.  Nonviolent Communication (NVC), a.k.a. Compassionate Communication, provides a foundation for facilitating Self-connection and connection with the “others” in our lives.  There are many online learning opportunities available through  There are also opportunities to learn more about NVC locally.  Please visit to learn about classes and workshops offered in the Dallas/Fort Worth area by our own Owen Kinser and J Kendel Johnson, as well as other facilitators.

Now is the time, and we are the ones who are here to remember our Oneness and live from that consciousness awareness.  I suggest spending time today in quiet contemplation, meditation and prayer, questioning our beliefs, consciously choosing to hold on to only those that empower us, giving ourselves empathy and compassion and then extending that to all the "others" in our lives. There is only One.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Heart Thinking

As I continue to study and assimilate the message in the latest book by Lakewood Church Pastor and bestselling author, Joel Osteen, entitled Break Out! 5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life, it has become increasingly clear that his overarching message is that if we change our thinking; thus over time change our beliefs, we can change the circumstances of our lives.  This is certainly in alignment with the instruction of our master teacher and way shower, Jesus, who said, “It is done unto you as you believe.” Matthew 9:29

It is also in agreement with the primary teachings of Unity specifically and the New Thought movement as a whole.  Simply stated, changing our thinking changes our experiences.  The principle is that we experience life as a result of our beliefs, which are established according to the thoughts we habitually think.  Many of us who have been a part of the movement for some time have read books, attended various workshops, classes and retreats, all promising to teach us how to “change our thinking” in order that we may manifest the lives we desire.  We have learned how to use denials to clear our minds of limiting thoughts and to use affirmations to fill our minds with positive thoughts that assist us in demonstrating our desires.  While they are beneficial, there are times our thinking has not significantly changed after years of using the tools of denials and. It then becomes easy to wonder just how long it will take and how much effort must be exerted in order to make the changes we desire.  To paraphrase Albert Einstein, “You cannot solve the problem with the same mind that created it.”

While it is true that our way of thinking greatly impacts what we experience, there is more to the story and it is now time for us to move beyond focusing solely on the mind.  It is time for us to shift the focus of awareness to our heart.  This does not mean that we have to dismiss the foundational philosophy of Unity.  We are being called to build on that foundation, expand our awareness, and embrace yet another level of understanding. Charles Fillmore, the co-founder of Unity very clearly stated that we cannot change our thinking by relying on “the thinking faculty located in the head.”
“The most important power of man is the original faith-thinking faculty. We all have the thinking faculty located in the head, from which we send forth thoughts, good, bad, and indifferent. If we are educated and molded after the ordinary pattern of the human family, we may live an average lifetime and never have an original thought. The thinking faculty in the head is supplied with the secondhand beliefs of our ancestors, the dominant beliefs of the race, or the threadbare stock of the ordinary social whirl. This is not faith-thinking. Faith-thinking is done only by one who has caught sight of the inner truths of Being, and who feeds his thinking faculty upon images generated in the heart.
Faith-thinking is not merely an intellectual process, based upon reasoning. The faith-thinker does not compare, analyze, or draw conclusions from known premises. He does not take appearances into consideration. He is not biased by precedent. His thinking gives form, without cavil or question, to ideas that come straight from the eternal fount of wisdom. His perception impinges upon the spiritual and he knows.” – Charles Fillmore, Dynamics for Living
The thoughts that come from the thinking faculty located in the head originate in the hard drive that is the subconscious mind.  Similar to the hard drive in a computer, the subconscious takes in and records information from various sources, primarily from our families of origin, collective consciousness, and whatever we choose as our source of information and entertainment, whether television, movies, novels, or other.   This hard drive becomes the source of our thinking. Unlike the computer hard drive, however, there is no convenient and effective ‘delete’ button for the subconscious.  We have done our best to delve into the subconscious mind and eliminate the beliefs that do not serve us.  And, at times we have stimulated a great deal of pain and suffering for ourselves in the process.  It is time for us to STOP. 

It is now time to embrace the fact that this method does not produce permanent positive effects.  It is futile to believe that by using the mind we can change the mind. It is time for us to accept this, let go of the struggle and, as Mr. Fillmore said, allow the thinking faculty to be filled with images generated in the heart, which is the seat of true wisdom. It is time to embrace a new paradigm, and begin to allow the heart, not the head, to be the source of our thinking.

We achieve this, not be resisting the thoughts or by attempting to change them, but by surrendering to them.  When thoughts arise, we can invite the wisdom of the heart to take the lead by taking a deep breath and feeling the breath move into the region of the physical heart.  Mr. Fillmore said the physical heart is the representation of the Divine Heart which is the source of all.  He said, “God is the great heart of the universe.”  As we feel the heart center expanding with the breath, we can imagine the energy of Love as a light that emanates from the heart.  As we allow the Light of Love to extend from the heart into the region of the head, we see that light cleansing the head-centered thinking, and filling the thinking faculty with images from the heart.  We then breathe into the images, allowing them to reveal themselves to us without evaluating, analyzing or comparing them to the things the head-thinking faculty has stored and thinks it knows.  We relax and allow the heart wisdom to be the source of our thinking. 

These images may at first seem foreign and we may not immediately comprehend them. This is normal.  In response, the head-thinking faculty will typically attempt to categorize these images and make them fit into its usual way of interpreting things.  It is important not to resist, but instead breathe even deeper into the awareness of the Love Light in the heart, continuing to allow it to reveal its true wisdom.  In this way the heart-thinking (or faith-thinking) faculty is strengthened.

I encourage each of us to not work at changing our thinking.  Instead, we allow our thinking to be changed by focusing on the true Source of all wisdom.  In doing so, we use the power of Mind and Heart to bring into manifestation a world that reflects Divine Love and Wisdom. That is the Essence of each of us.  When we do that, our lives are changed and we live the extraordinary richness of a life centered in the heart.