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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Grow Up!

In my Sunday lesson on October 18, I mentioned that I recently celebrated my 55th birthday. I also shared that I have come to the unanticipated realization that it is time for me to grow up. When I say “grow up” I am not referring to learning to behave in socially acceptable ways or accepting responsibility for my well-being as an adult. I am speaking of something much deeper, and honestly, I am not yet completely clear about what it means to “grow up.” I am continuing to seek inner guidance and to explore others’ teachings. However, at this point in my understanding, I believe it is a process of personal transformation that can be expressed through developed innate human capacities as well as learned and practiced skills.

In the not so distant past, I believed that enlightenment, or awakening to the awareness of our shared Ultimate Reality, the conscious realization that each of us is God/Life/One Mind expressing, is the ultimate purpose of life. I believed reaching nirvana was the objective of my life, as well of all humanity. I also believed that, once awakened, we would create a Utopian egalitarian society in which not only the basic survival needs of all people are met, but where all people live together in love, peace and joy.

I am now beginning to wake up to the realization that enlightenment or awakening to our shared spiritual nature is not our sole purpose, nor is it the solitary solution to the end of suffering and the dawning of new earth. Yes, it is vital that we wake up to our unity in God, expressing that fully with each other and all creation. It is equally important that we grow in our human capacities so that we possess the necessary skills to live our truth and co-create a world that works for all. It is also imperative that we learn to live from a state of wholeness, which is the integration of waking up spiritually and growing up personally.

Synchronicity, when I am open to recognizing it, continues to delight and surprise me. Last Thursday, I received an email from Integral Life, the organization co-founded by philosopher, theoretical psychologist, author and teacher, Ken Wilber. The email promoted a newly released online program entitled Full Spectrum Mindfulness, a series of lessons designed to support one in the integral process of Waking Up and Growing Up. In the first lesson, Wilber asserts,

“So humanity is today—and has been throughout its entire history to this point—in a very strange situation. We have at least these two major paths of development—a path of Growing Up and a path of Waking Up. But never have both of those paths been practiced together—ever. This means that humanity has actually been practicing, working, to be partial, limited, fragmented—and virtually from day one. In short, humanity has actually been working to be broken. And all of history is a history of a broken humanity. It is only in the past decade or so that it was realized that we have both of these paths of growth, and that both of them are incredibly important and truly necessary if we want to be fully developed and truly whole human beings. And this very possibility opens us to an entirely new and radically innovative future, the likes of which we have never, but never, seen before.”

I often think I “should be” used to the ways Life responds so abundantly to my sincere questioning and desire, yet I continue to be amazed when moments like this happen. Often, I delete these emails because I assume they are marketing their ideas on how I can become enlightened so they can make money. I opened this one, and was thrilled to see what I interpreted as a confirmation of my recognition of the desire to “grow up.” After watching the introductory video, I immediately registered for the class. I am looking forward to delving into the material and practices offered. It is my hope that these lessons will support me, and assist me in supporting others, in living more fully from my wholeness.

I also continue to be delighted when a book I have had on my shelf for years comes into my awareness at just the right time to support me in my current evolution. Such is the case with SQ21, The Twenty-one Skills of Spiritual Intelligence, the bestselling book by Cindy Wigglesworth. She explores Spiritual Intelligence and delineates an associated skill-set that can be developed and measured. These skills, when understood and practiced, can assist us in living from our wholeness as spiritually awake and evolved human beings. We will be facilitating a study of her book as part of our Leadership Curriculum which will be launched in January 2016.

I am excited to be embarking on this inspiring journey of integrating spiritual awakening and personal transformation. I believe I have found a missing piece in my understanding of what it means to truly show up as a spiritual mature human being. And, as I said, I am still not completely sure where this path will take me. I am open to allowing the journey to reveal itself to me one step at a time. I am grateful for this auspicious beginning, and the support of Life as it brings me answers to my unvoiced questions.

As one of my first Unity ministers said once, “what is going on for me will be going on for you.” You will be hearing more about my process in my Sunday lessons and future posts. We will also be offering more classes and book studies that focus on the integral process of spiritual awakening and personal transformation through engaging in conscious practices. I hope you will join me as we journey together on this path of Waking Up, Growing Up, and embracing and living our wholeness.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

We Are One

“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
October 24, 2015 is Global Oneness Day, a worldwide celebration of unity, diversity, harmony and compassion, cosponsored by The Association of Global New Thought and Humanity’s Team, an international spiritual movement whose purpose is to communicate and demonstrate the truth that we are all one with God and life.

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 their website - 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 The Center for Nonviolent Communication. There are also opportunities to learn more about NVC locally.  Please visit Rocky Mountain Compassionate Communication Network to learn about classes and workshops offered in the area. We will also be continuing to offer classes at Unity Spiritual Center Denver in 2016, as well as offer practice groups for those who have already completed the classes that J and I have facilitated.

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.

Our Sunday service this week will be in honor of Global Oneness Day. I hope you will join us at 10:00.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Your Spiritual Authority

The belief in “sacred contracts” or “soul agreements” is widespread within the New Thought movement. In her book, Sacred Contracts, bestselling author, lecturer and workshop facilitator, Caroline Myss, explores the idea that our lives are guided by a contract that our soul makes prior to incarnation. She says that this contract affects every aspect of our life experience. Myss asserts that this concept is an ancient one which is supported in the writing of Plato. In the final book of his work The Republic, Plato relates the Myth of Er about a man who experiences this realm between death and rebirth.

In his book, The Little Soul and the Sun, Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God, tells the story of a little soul who realizes that he is “the light” and then chooses to be incarnated in the physical in order to experience being forgiveness. He makes a pact with another soul who agrees to come to Earth to be with him and help him experience what it means to be forgiveness. The other soul’s only request of the little soul is that he always remembers who he really is no matter what he may do in order to facilitate the little soul’s learning.

I honestly don’t know whether this ideology is true. I have heard it from the time I began exploring New Thought, and many people subscribe to it. It certainly offers the potential to help us feel better about our life experiences when they are less than ideal. If we believe that, from an expanded awareness, we chose our life lessons including our closest relationships, we might approach life with greater understanding and compassion for ourselves and others. However, it also offers the potential for engaging in what we lovingly call “spiritual bypass.”

We engage in “spiritual bypass” when we use spiritual practices or beliefs to avoid facing painful or scary situations from our past or in our present. Rather than learning from, or growing through them, we reply on our belief in spiritual teaching to help us understand and feel better about our life experiences.

Author and Unity Institute faculty member, Robert Brument, in his book, Living Originally, refers to these spiritual teachings as “translational.” He says that translational spiritual teachings “often provide a source of comfort and consolation amid the difficulties of life.” These types of teachings have become prominent in the New Thought movement.

Brumet further states that while translational teachings can be helpful, “complete freedom, unconditional peace of mind, and the experience of a deeper reality” can only be realized as we embrace transformational teachings which challenge our perspective of reality.

It is my hope and my intention that rather than relying on translational teaching, we are instead choosing to go deeper and explore transformational teaching. It is my desire for us to come together and engage in spiritual practices that, as our mission statement says, “Inspire spiritual awakening and personal transformation.”

In order to do so, we must be willing to grow in spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is a process through which we increase our understanding of and capacity to embody, express and use our spiritual faculties, thereby claiming our spiritual authority.

I am not suggesting that we are in control of everything that happens in our lives. We are not. I am also not suggesting that we can undo past experiences. We cannot. Nor am I suggesting that we deny that painful experiences occurred. They did.

I am suggesting, however, that we are in authority over everything that happen in our lives. We have the power to decide how we will perceive and interpret events and how we will respond to them. We have dominion over what we believe about ourselves and others. We have the power to choose how we will treat ourselves and others.

It may be true that we execute “sacred contracts” on a soul level before taking on these human forms. It may also be true that every aspect of our lives is affected by the contracts we make. I don’t claim to know.

I do know that regardless of the agreements we may have made, it is essential that we do not use this teaching to abdicate our responsibility to respond to life as it happens now. In order for us to truly transform our lives, we must realize that the full power of God is present and available to us right here and now. We must claim our spiritual authority in order to demonstrate it.

As we claim our spiritual authority and live it, our lives are transformed.

Please join us on Sunday for our 10:00 service as we explore more about claiming “Your Spiritual Authority.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Get Above Your Raisin'

On my one year anniversary in June, my Unity Spiritual Center Denver family gave me a gift card to a day spa. In case anyone is interested, these are perfect gifts for me. I enjoy treating myself to a facial occasionally.

In celebration of my birthday, I used my gift card this past Monday. When I walked into the spa the receptionist greeted me warmly and offered me a beverage of my choice. Since it was Monday before noon, I chose water over wine or a mimosa. (Yes, those were options.) She left me to complete some paperwork, and when she returned with my glass of water, she escorted me to the men’s changing room where a plush robe and comfortable sandals were laid out for me. A private shower and an array of toiletries were also at my disposal.

After giving me a tour of the changing room, she led me across the hall where soothing music was playing in the softly-lit relaxation room furnished with cushy chaise lounges arranged around the glow of the gas fireplace. She invited me to return to the relaxation room, after changing into my robe and sandals, to enjoy a variety of snacks and to wait for my aesthetician to greet me and take me to the treatment room.

One might think that I am accustomed to such attentive treatment and posh surroundings. One might also assume that I would feel right at home in the luxury of this space.  One might think that. I might even think that I “should” be comfortable in such a place, but the truth is I am not, and I wasn’t.

After changing, and securing my belongings in a private locker, I walked across the hall to the relaxation room, sat in a chaise lounge, put my legs up, and immediately became self-conscious. When I say “self-conscious” I mean conscious of the small ‘s’ “self,” the ego, the one who believes he is separate and unworthy. In that moment, I was not conscious of the capital ‘S’ “Self,” the True Nature, the Divine Self, the Christ Self.

I found it interesting and enlightening to sit in that room alone and listen to the voices in my head saying things like, “You don’t belong here;” “They know you can’t really afford to be here;” and my favorite of all, “Who do you think you are?” I also felt a pang of guilt arising, when I thought of all the people in the world who are hungry and homeless. I heard the voice of my mother saying, “Children in Africa are starving,” in her attempt to guilt me into eating my dinner. (I wonder if that ever really works on children or if it’s just another “Momism” that all mothers use.) I was also reminded of the old Southern colloquialism, “Don’t get above your raisin’” which I remember hearing as a child. It was an admonition not to get too “high headed” and think you are better than you are.

I assert that it is important for those of us who received and integrated these and similar messages to indeed “Get above our raisin’” and transcend these limiting messages in order to experience the fullness of life.  We do that by first inviting the awareness of the beliefs that limit our willingness and ability to receive all the Good that God is in our lives. It is not difficult. We only need ask, sit quietly and listen. They will reveal themselves.

Our tendency is to ignore them, deny them, or to resist them, but that only gives them more power. As psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung said, “What you resist persists.” Once we become aware of them, it is important that we remain curious and inquire as to the validity of the thoughts. By being present with the thoughts, rather than fighting or resisting them, we allow them to be revealed for what they truly are – concepts that stimulate feelings within us, but do not define us. They are thoughts that have arisen from the consciousness of fear, our own or another’s. They do not represent our Divine Nature which is created from and as the consciousness of Love.

The next step is to welcome the feelings associated with the thoughts and beliefs. Not wanting to experience the feelings is the primary reason we attempt to resist the thoughts. But, it is important to invite the feelings while not allowing ourselves to be engulfed by them. Feeling the guilt, remorse, sadness and pain associated with limiting thoughts and beliefs helps us to heal and release them. It is essential to remember that we are not our feelings, just as we are not our thoughts.

As we engage with the thoughts and feelings, much of their energy dissipates, at least in the moment, so that we are more open and receptive to the frequency of the Christ, our True Nature. The awareness of the Christ Light arises within us, and we feel more peaceful, centered and connected. As a result of observing our thoughts and feeling our feelings, we are able to experience our wholeness and embody it in a more visceral way.  And, as we are more open to perceiving our Christ nature, we are more open to perceiving it in everyone and everything else.

Fortunately, on Monday I was in a quiet space that supported my contemplation, and I was able to remain open and curious, rather than become defensive or sneak back into the changing room, put on my clothes and run out the door. I sat in that luxurious relaxation room, and came face-to-face with the limiting thoughts that I could have allowed to ruin my experience. The ones that I have, at times, allowed to restrict me. I was willing in the silence of that room to feel the fear, pain, guilt and shame that came up for me as I entertained those thoughts. And, as I engaged with them, they began to lose their grip on me.

I was in the relaxation room alone for what seemed like an eternity, but was actually only about ten minutes. Just before my aesthetician walk in, I felt a peaceful calm and I laughed silently. In that short time, I moved from being self-conscious to being Self-conscious. It turned out to be one of the most pleasant and nurturing facials I have ever had.

Join us on Sunday for our 10:00 service. I will continue with a series of lessons entitled, "Get over your self." We will explore how we can, indeed, “Get above our raisin’.”