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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Be You

This past Saturday, I attended a presentation by internationally acclaimed speaker and intuitive medium, Lee Harris, which was hosted at Unity Spiritual Center Denver. I had not met Lee previously, nor did I know a great deal about his work. Prior to scheduling the event, I perused his website and read some of the endorsements, so I felt comfortable hosting him. However, I had no idea what his two-hour presentation would involve. What I experienced was most likely nothing that Lee could have anticipated. It was certainly nothing that I expected.

Let me say first that I had the opportunity to meet Lee on Friday when he came with his agent to see the space and discuss how they would set up for livestreaming. I experienced him as warm, open and sincere. After having attended the event on Saturday, I genuinely trust his integrity and commitment to helping people through his acceptance, development and sharing of his intuitive gifts. I recommend his book, Energy Speaks, and his other offerings through his website – – and workshops. I told him and his agent at the close of the evening that we would gladly host him again when it works in Lee’s schedule.

Lee began the evening by sharing his personal journey. He was a sensitive child who was connected to the energy of people and things around him. He felt as though he didn’t belong, which he coped with by eating which resulted in being overweight and being taken to Weight Watchers at a young age. He said that music saved his life in his teens and early twenties. He tried to break into the music business as a singer, but it didn’t work out. He still sings and records his music. He told us about his later thirst for knowledge and experience with self-help books and teachers. He talked about his first awareness of hearing his guides, which he refers to as the Zs. He shared openly about his initial resistance to channeling and his fear of working with people individually. He laughed about how coming out as a channel was as scary as coming out as a gay man. He spoke about how saying ‘yes’ to offers and invitations to speak, teach and lead workshops over the years led him to be where he is today as a renowned speaker,  transformation leader, intuitive medium, and a musical and visual artist.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I connected with much that he said following his introduction. I was struck by his story. Much of what he experienced, I also experienced. I was sensitive, overweight, and felt as though I didn’t belong. Music was a saving grace in my life and still is. I read all the self-help and spiritual motivational books I could find. I often still do. I attended as many workshops and retreats as I could manage and afford. He could have been telling my story – except for the part about saying ‘yes’ to the invitations to practice his intuitive gifts and share them with others. I made other choices, some of them involved saying ‘no’ to offers to share.

This is where my lesson began on Saturday. My mind immediately went into coulda-shoulda-woulda mode. I shared about this pattern in my post from March 28. It went something like this…”I coulda been where Lee is now. He is famous and making big money doing this. I shoulda said ‘yes’ to the opportunities I had back then. I woulda been more successful…happier…more fulfilled…whatever.” My small self was free-wheeling. And, I went along for the ride. I was telling myself the story that I had let opportunity pass me by. That I have not fully accepted and used my gifts and talents. That I have failed in some way to fulfill my mission and my calling. I fell into a deep hole of regret. And, I am reluctant to admit that I stayed there for the better part of three days. It’s no coincidence that the number ‘3’ metaphysically represents every level of being – mind, spirit and body. I needed to integrate my lesson on all three levels.

With the help of my prayer partner, Rev. Karen Romestan, and my life coach, Deborah Jane Wells, I was able to remember that the story I was telling as I compared myself to Lee Harris is just that – a story. I cannot know what woulda happened if I had made different choices. I was terrorizing myself with the story I was telling and causing myself to feel fear, stress and regret. I realized that I was telling myself that I am not living up to my calling or my mission, at least not to the extent that Lee is. As I said, my small self was free-wheeling! With help, I was able to come back to sanity and recognize that I am fulfilling my calling to the best of my ability in every moment. I may not be as famous or wealthy as Lee, but that is not truly my deepest desire.

Karen and Deborah also helped me to remember that I am not here to be Lee Harris or anyone other than me. All I have to do is be the best David Howard I can manage to be right here and now. My spirit is, as is everyone’s, a unique and wonderful expression of the One. Each of us is here to embrace who we are and to share it with the world. My mission is to be true to me. Lee’s is to be true to his.  Yours is to be true to yours.

Finally, Deborah also helped me to see that being true to me might just be simpler than I think. It is not particularly helpful to review past decisions and judge ourselves based on the coulda-woulda-shoulda method. There may be things we can learn from our past choices, but judging ourselves for making them is not beneficial. The question to ask is not, “Why I did, or why I didn’t?” The question to ask is “What now?” What decision do I make today that is in alignment with my true nature and who I have come here to be?

The answer to those questions rests within. It requires me to be still, center my attention and awareness in my heart and embrace the knowing of my spirit that abides there. Trust the wisdom of the spirit and know that I have everything I need to fulfill what I am called to do. Also, know that I have the will and the strength to stay the course and live my mission one-choice-at-a-time. I have faith that when we follow the leading of our hearts, we are lead to the highest and best unfolding of who we are in Truth.

I am not Lee Harris. The world doesn’t need another Lee Harris. I am David Howard. The world needs me to be the best David Howard I can be. The same is true for each of us. The world needs us to be who we are and to give of who we are. I encourage us all to embrace our own unique expression of the One, own our gifts without apology, and let that light shine. Just be you. That is enough.  

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Power of Speaking From Presence

In my post last week, I shared some thoughts about the Power of Presence. I also invited everyone to join me in a presence practice. If you have not yet begun this practice, it’s not too late. You can begin today. This week, I want to share what I believe to be the next step in our process of practicing presence and being present.

Connecting with and honoring our ‘body’s energy’ which in his book, Radical Wholeness, Philip Shepherd defines as “everything you are feeling as your life right now. It is an umbrella term covering all the sensations that show up in the body: the energy of your emotions, ideas, muscles, libido, breath, and of your exchanges with the Present” is a vitally important first step. The next step is learning to express it.

Being willing and taking the risk to express our ‘body’s energy’ is the next level of practicing presence. The thought of sharing with another what we become aware of through our presence practice can stimulate fear and resistance. We all want to experience love and acceptance. When we believe that we might be rejected, criticized or abandoned by sharing our emotions, ideas, and experiences, we often retreat and deny ourselves the gift of being real. In his book, Say What You Mean, Oren Jay Sofer encourages us to learn and practice ways of communicating that foster connection and promote understanding.

Saying what we mean in a way that is honest and compassionate requires willingness, presence and practice. I recently had an opportunity to experience this first-hand. I wish I could tell you that I succeeded in communicating my ‘body’s energy’ effectively, but I would be lying. I did, however, learn from this experience and will make a conscious choice to do it differently next time to the best of my ability.

Last week, as I was participating in a meeting, I felt uncomfortable and agitated. I wanted to stand up and leave the meeting. Instead, I chose to stay. My body was present for the entire meeting, but I was not present for the meeting. I listened to what others were saying, but I was not connected to what they were saying. Rather, I was evaluating what they were saying and interpreting it through my lenses. I left the meeting feeling despondent and disconnected.

When I shared my experience with my life coach the following day, she helped me to recognize the story I was telling myself about myself during the meeting. It was a prime example of reacting, rather than practicing presence and being willing to speak to my experience in the moment.

Had I been practicing presence in the way that I wish to, I would have said to the group something like, “I’m feeling disconnected, would anyone not be agreeable to us taking a short break. I would like to have a moment to reconnect with myself so that I can connect with you.” Assuming the group was in agreement, I would have taken a few deep breaths, done my best to become the silent witness of my thoughts and feelings and give myself empathy. If the group had not been in agreement, I would have said, “Thank you. I feel the need for a break, so I am going to step out of the room for a few minutes. I will be back.”

After having had time to self-connect, I would have come back to the circle and said, “I’m feeling some fear around the thought of sharing what came up for me, but it will help me to be able to express it. Would anyone not be willing to hear what I have to say?” Again, assuming that the group was in agreement, I might have said, “At the beginning of this meeting, we agreed to share openly and honestly with each other. I am feeling uncomfortable because I have not done that, and I am sensing that there are things being hinted at by others but not being shared openly. I would like to know that we are free to express ourselves freely and that, to the best or our ability, we will be present for and with each other no matter what.”

My opportunity in doing that might have been to see how present I could be if someone in the group had challenged me, tried to fix it for me, or discounted me in some way. It might have also been an opportunity for me to be present with another’s displeasure about something I did or did not do. If either of those arose, I would have been well served to go back to step one and begin again. Ideally, my willingness to be vulnerably honest would have served connection and opened a way for others to share as well.

Practicing presence within ourselves is essential. We cannot be present with or for another unless and until we are willing and able to be present for ourselves. Had I been willing to take time to practice presence during the meeting, I am certain I would have had a different experience. Sharing our present awareness with another or with others is an important next step toward being fully present. Further, sharing ourselves with another is one of the most meaningful gifts we can give the other and ourselves. It enriches our lives and brings us closer to each other.

In Nonviolent Communication practice, we often encourage the use of “post-hearsal.” Rather than rehearsing what you are going to say or do in a situation, “post-hearsal” is reviewing a situation as I did above and connecting with how you might have done it differently. This practice helps to imprint upon our consciousness words or phrases that we can use in future situations. It also helps us build a consciousness of presence.

I encourage you to think of a situation from the past in which you were not willing or able to connect with and express your thoughts, feelings or desires in the moment. Take some time to imagine the setting and yourself in it. Take a few deep breaths. Practice self-connection and self-empathy. What were you feeling? What were you hoping to experience? What thoughts were running through your mind? Did you want to get up and walk out? Now, imagine that you are back in that situation, but this time you are fully present, completely self-connected and centered in your awareness. What might you have said or done differently?

Practicing presence is more that connecting with the ‘body’s energy.’ Practicing presence is having the freedom to express our thoughts, share our feelings and speak to our experience in the moment when we are alone and when we are with others. This takes courage, willingness and practice. I encourage you to practice alone first. Write it down. Describe the scenario and your response. Then, imagine and delineate your preferred response. Next, connect with someone you know who loves and values you and practice with them. Any form of practice will strengthen your presence consciousness and create new neural pathways that will begin to change your responses in the moment. How do we achieve presence consciousness and learn to speak from presence? Practice! Practice! Practice!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Power of Presence

As I have shared before, I frequently read and/or listen to audio recordings of several books concurrently. Not surprisingly, I am doing so now. In addition to The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer which our small groups have been exploring and which has been the basis for Sunday lessons over the past several weeks, I am also engaged in Philip Shepherd’s Radical Wholeness and Oren Jay Sofer’s Say What You Mean. While each of the authors offers different paths and perspectives, I find that they share a common thread – the power of presence.

Singer points out that we often engage in habitual patterns of behavior that distract us from being fully present in the moment. For example, we pay attention to the incessant chatter in our heads which he humorously refers to as our “inner roommate.” Additionally, he says that, metaphorically speaking, we construct elaborate devices to avoid our “inner thorns,” which are memories of past events that may stimulate pain. Further, we build “houses” to separate us from all the things we fear. He posits that the walls of our “houses” are our psyche - our “past experiences; thoughts and emotions; all concepts, views, opinions, beliefs, hopes and dreams that [we] collect around [ourselves].” Singer asserts that being present to our pain and fear is the way to freedom. He encourages us to feel everything in the moment, to be with what is rather than hiding from or resisting it. In short, presence is a path to freedom.

Shepherd asserts that being present in the body for all the information accessible through our defined physical senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight, as well as to our more subtle senses, is the path to experiencing the wholeness of life. He says that our culture teaches us to separate ourselves from each other and from the world around us, thereby cutting us off from our connection to the Life Energy that moves through and as all creation. He offers practices to help the reader to connect with “the body’s energy.” He defines ‘the body’s energy’ as “everything you are feeling as your life right now. It is an umbrella term covering all the sensations that show up in the body: the energy of your emotions, ideas, muscles, libido, breath, and of your exchanges with the Present.”  In short, presence is a path to wholeness.

Sofer draws on his experience with mindfulness, somatics, and Nonviolent Communication to present a framework for helping the reader engage in healthy, effective communication. He says, “Effective communication depends on our ability to be present…The first step of mindful communication is to lead with presence.” He goes further to say that being present begins with connection with one’s own feelings, thoughts and desires and the willingness and ability to remain present with another’s. Further, Sofer states, “Awareness is the primary foundation for all communication. If communication is about creating understanding, mindful communication is about creating understanding through awareness.” In short, presence is a path to mindful communication.

I hesitate to admit it, but at times I can be oblivious to the messages my soul is delivering. I can easily find ways to distract myself; however, this is not one of those times. This message is obvious and urgent – Practice Presence. Practicing presence requires me to slow down. I have noticed that when I am rushing from one thing to the next, focusing solely on accomplishing a task so that I can move to the next one, I am not being present. When I am not present, I am not truly giving of myself. Further, I am not availing myself of the gifts of the present moment. I am now reminding myself to SLOW DOWN.

I also find that at times I have to remind myself to breathe. I know that may sound ridiculous considering that breathing is a process of the autonomic nervous system. I mean that I have to remind myself to consciously breathe, to breathe deeply and fully. Deep, full breaths relax the mind and fuel the body. Conscious breath is one of the best ways I have found to bring my attention back to the moment and to being present.

When I slow down and breathe consciously, I can become aware of my ‘body’s energy,’ as Shepherd defines it. When I am connected to my body’s energy, I can make conscious choices that support me emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. From the place of conscious connection, I am more available to connect with and support others emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.

It seems that the adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” has never been more true for me. I am ready to practice presence so that I can more fully support my own well-being and the well-being of others. These authors are my current teachers. I invite you to join me.

I encourage us all to set aside 60 seconds three times a day to practice presence. Set an alarm. Stop whatever you are doing immediately or a quickly as possible. If you are at work, take a break, go to the restroom if you need to be alone. Take a few full deep cleansing breaths. Bring all of your awareness to the moment. Connect with your ‘body’s energy.’ What are you thinking, feeling, and needing? Sense the energy around you. Feel the energy of the plants, animals and other people in the space. Without judgement or resistance, just become aware of what is. There is nothing else you need to do. Simply practice presence. One-day-at-a-time commit to this practice for the next 12 days. Pay attention to any shifts in your perspective or in how you approach interactions with others or engage in daily tasks.

Practicing presence is a moment-by-moment choice. No one can do it for us. It is an inside job. And, borrowing from Alfred, Lord Tennyson it is “closer than breathing.” It is more and more apparent, as these three authors have expressed, that practicing presence is a path to freedom, wholeness and meaningful connection with self and others. From where I stand, that makes it well worth my investment of time and attention. How about you?

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Power of Gratitude

I admit it: I am a sucker for singing competition television shows, such as American Idol and The Voice. I casually followed American Idol this season which concluded on Sunday. I did not watch the broadcast, but I did see who won. Not my choice, by the way. However, I avidly followed The Voice, which concluded its season last night with a two-hour star-studded extravaganza. I’m happy to report that my favorite singer won. In case you are a fan and haven’t yet watched it, I won’t spoil it by revealing who that is. While I appreciate quality singing and vocal performance, this post is not about that.

Instead, it is about one of my “triggers,” and my curiosity about what I noticed last night as I watched as the names of the finalists were announced in the order of their standing from fourth place to the winner.

I have noticed, and it seems to be especially prevalent among country singers, that when they succeed in advancing to the next round of the competition, they will frequently look up or point up as if acknowledging and giving praise to God in heaven. One singer on The Voice this season wore a silver cross pendant prominently displayed each week. Each time he advanced in the competition, he touched the cross as if to give thanks or acknowledge a special blessing he had received from it.

Having been raised in the ideology of traditional Christianity, I can understand why those who place their faith in Jesus, which the cross represents for some, would believe that their faith gives them a special “favored” status ensuring that advanced in the competition while others didn’t. I also understand why one would give praise to God in heaven for what they perceive as “his” blessings on their lives. Traditional Christianity teaches its adherents to believe in a supernatural God who either blesses or curses according to one’s faith or lack thereof. I totally get that. I’m sure that’s why I am triggered by it. I still have some of my own forgiveness work to do around the negative effects that traditional Christianity had in my life and the negative effects I believe it continues to have on our culture. But, that is a topic for another post.

Spoiler Alert – the following may give away the results of the show.

As I watched the finale of The Voice last night, I noticed that the contestants who had previously looked upward, raised hands in praise, or touch the cross in gratitude did not do any of that when it was announced that they were in fourth, third, or second place and not the winner. I was not surprised by this, but curious what was going through their minds. Did they believe that they had failed God or lost favor with Jesus and therefore did not win? Did they believe that Satan had taken over the hearts of the voters who chose someone else to win? Were they so disappointed that they forgot about the biblical teaching that says, “In everything give thanks?”

I realize that it sounds as if I am calling out hypocrisy and being critical of these contestants. Admittedly, when I began writing this post, I was reliving the “trigger” I felt as I watched the show. Writing about it seems to have dissipated some of that energy. So, thank you for indulging me this far.

Gladly, I have learned, through many life experiences, that when anything stimulates that much feeling in me that there is something in my psyche calling out for me to give it attention and to address. The following is what comes to me as I sit with it in the moment.

While I no longer believe in an external God who blesses or curses depending upon faith or lack of faith, I do believe in the power of gratitude. Gratitude is an energy vibration of the heart. It is born from a deep connection in Love. When gratitude is felt and expressed, the energy extends well beyond the heart and reaches out into the universe to bless all creation. Gratitude is also an attracting vibration. It attracts to itself like frequency. Feeling and expressing honest gratitude attracts into our lives more gratitude and more for which to feel and express gratitude.

All things originate from one Source. That Source is Love. I don’t need to look up to express gratitude. I only need look at the world around me, acknowledge the Love imbued in all creation, breathe into my heart and connect with the Love I Am, and from my conscious connection, feel gratitude with and for all that is. I don’t need to touch a representation of the cross to connect with gratitude. And, I can respect the need of those who do connect in those ways.

I now recognize that those reality show contestants are my teachers. They triggered my recognition that I do not “give thanks in all things.” In fact, I often do not allow myself to fully feel gratitude even in the things that I believe are “good” and “positive,” forget about those that I judge as “bad” or “negative.”

Today, I am committing to making a change. For years, I have heard and even talked about the power of a gratitude journal, yet I have never had one. I have played with the practice of making a mental list of things for which I am grateful before going to bed or upon waking, yet it is not my daily ritual. I have experienced the power of expressing gratitude for and to others, yet I don’t often do it. In fact, even though I am reluctant to admit it, I am aware that I often focus more on what I believe is missing or what someone doesn’t do rather than on what I have and what others contribute to my life. I am changing that today!

I also know the power of the adage, “one day at a time.” So, for today, I am starting a gratitude journal. I am taking one small step at a time. I commit to making a list of at least three things I am grateful for today, with the intention of doing the same every day. I will place a reminder about the power of gratitude somewhere so that I will see it before going to bed and when I awake in the morning to remind me to make my mental list. I will write at least one note of gratitude this week to someone who has contributed to my life, with the intention of making this a weekly practice. I will do my best to call forth the goodness in my consciousness in every situation, remembering to give thanks in all things and for all people.

Yes, gratitude is a powerful energy vibration. In this moment, I am grateful that I was triggered by the contestants on The Voice. I am grateful for the self-awareness that resulted. I am grateful for my willingness to be honest with myself and with all who are reading this post. I feel the heart-warming energy of gratitude. I am grateful for the blessing of gratitude. Thank you!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Living Unity

I recently began reading Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer which I highly recommend. In his book, Sofer combines principles of mindfulness, somatics and Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and offers practices intended to help the reader develop healthy, effective, connecting communication.

I was struck by a quote from Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of NVC, which Sofer shares in the Introduction.

“I still get chills when I consider what [Rosenberg] said in 2005, at a retreat in Switzerland.

‘If I use Nonviolent Communication to liberate people to be less depressed, to get along better with their family, but do not teach them at the same time to use their energy to rapidly transform systems in the world, then I am part of the problem. I am essentially calming people down, making them happier to live in the systems as they are, so I am using NVC as a narcotic.’”

As I read the quote, I was dumbfounded when, in my mind, I replaced ‘Nonviolent Communication’ with ‘Unity.’ It touched me deeply to say to myself…

If I teach Unity principles to help liberate people from the limited ideas of separation, encourage them to realize the power within them, and support them in creating the lives they desire, but do not concurrently inspire and encourage others and personally strive to use the Unity principles to transform the world, then I am part of the problem, and I am using truth principles as a narcotic.

Or, if I learn Unity principles solely to liberate myself, create the life I desire, and have a clearer perspective on the world, but do not also apply Unity principles to affect change in the systems of the world to help those who suffer because of those systems, then I am part of the problem, and I am using Unity principles to soothe myself and feel better.

What a powerful wakeup call! I can talk about unity in God (Spirit, Life, Source, Allness) and oneness with all creation; I can believe it; I can teach it; I can preach it, but if I am not doing something to example it in my actions, I am not truly embodying Unity.

Our path to embodying Unity principles begins with an intellectual understanding. While our mental processes are, by their very nature, limited to comprehension, learning begins there. While I use the word ‘learning,’ I do not mean to imply that we are being taught something new, but that we are recognizing (re-cognizing) or making conscious what our souls have never forgotten.

Some Truth students, feeling satisfied with intellectual understanding of Unity principles, do not go beyond this point. However, if one is to embody Unity, Truth must go beyond the mind and into the heart. It is in the heart that true realization happens. Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore describes ‘realization’ as,

The deep inner conviction and assurance of the fulfillment of an ideal. It means at-one-ment, completion, perfectionwholeness, repose, resting in God… The supreme realization is unity with God-Mind, complete oneness with the Christ consciousness. ¹

Realization does not happen in the thinking mind, but within the place of knowing deep within the center of our being. It occurs at the level of the heart. It may be felt in the physical heart as warmth and an expansive sensation, but it is experienced in the even deeper level of the spiritual heart, a place (which is no “place”) in consciousness. It is knowing beyond the mind. It is connection with the Inner Knower. 

While realization is a deeper connection in Unity principle and a point in spiritual development that many seek and then often stop there, it is not embodiment. Embodiment of principle is only complete when we live the principles in our daily lives. 

As Unity’s fifth of the Five Basic Principles states, it is not enough that we know the principles, we must practice them. We practice the principles by first centering our minds on Truth. When you notice that your perspective is out of alignment with what you know to be true, stop and re-cognize principle. Contemplate a truth teaching, word or phrase, such as “I am one with God,” or “I Am That I Am.” Continue to focus on this until the mind becomes aligned with it. Allow the Truth to reveal itself to you. It is there. You do not need to seek it. Relax and let it be.

Once you feel the connection with Truth, breathe your attention and awareness from your thinking into your heart, allowing the Truth to resonate at the core of your being until you experience realization. You will know when it happens. And, you will know that you know. Feel the expansiveness in your chest. Feel your breathing become more relaxed and open. You shall know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free (John 8:32).

Here is a practice that will help you incorporate living and not just knowing the principles. 

In the consciousness of realization, and only when you have achieved realization, bring to your heart any person(s), life situation, system, or structure that has, in your usual waking awareness, stimulated concern, fear or pain for you. In your heart, hold it in love and ask for guidance for what, if anything, is yours to do. It may be as simple as writing a letter or making a phone call. It may be working for human rights and justice issues. It may be working for a political campaign of a candidate you believe in. It may be as big as founding an organization dedicated to addressing a particular issue.

Trust what you receive. Know that the idea is a seed, and that the seed contains all that is needed for its flowering. Your part is to plant the seed in your mind, water it with Truth, fertilize it with love, time and attention, and do what is yours to do to bring it into manifestation.

We transform the world through our transformed consciousness, but also through our thoughts, words and actions that embody that consciousness. Let us re-cognize, realize and practice the principles of Unity in our daily lives and know that together we are co-creating a new world that works for all.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Be Still And Know

In the past, I have found it quite humorous when spiritual teachers and authors in their books admonish the reader to stop reading so many books or listening to spiritual teachers. I thought it odd that they would write a book expounding on their perspective of truth and simultaneously suggest that the reader not read books or follow their teaching.

Today, I more fully appreciate the importance of the message they were attempting to convey - listen to our own inner wisdom and connect with our inner “knower.”

H. Emilie Cady, in her seminal text Lessons In Truth, one of the first comprehensive books on New Thought teaching published by Unity, says,

My advice: If you want to make rapid progress in growth toward spiritual understanding, stop reading many books. They only give you someone’s opinion about Truth…What you want is revelation of Truth in your own soul, and that will never come through the reading of many books. ¹

Unless Truth is revealed to you by “my Father in heaven” it is of no practical benefit to you or to anyone else. ²

Similarly, in his book It’s All God, author Walter Starcke says,

By continuing to think that if you go to one more class, learn one more truth, study one more teaching, or pray to God one more time for the purpose of becoming something you are not, you are still in Self-denial. ³

We say that God is all knowing, all knowledge, and that we are one with God. If so, then everything we hear or the inner voice that speaks to us comes from our Selves, our union with Omniscience. ⁴

During a recent meditation, I received the following message. While I believe it was in response to my personal questioning, I also believe that it applies universally.

Listen to the voice of your Self. It is not something that is external to you, not something that is apart from you. It is your voice. Release any idea of separation. Again, listen to your Self, your own wisdom, your own guidance. You have been listening to many other teachers. You have gathered much from other teachers, from books that you have been reading, from teachers that you have been studying, from all of those who have guided you along this path, and that is a beautiful thing. There are many guides along this path, many in human form, and many who have been in human form, many who have written many books, done workshops in their beautiful expressions of light, gathering in and sharing the information they have received.

It is important information for you to be receiving, for you to be integrating, for you to grow in your own awareness of that which ‘I Am; you are.’ It is now your opportunity to listen to that voice for yourself. Yes, to know that you have the wisdom. The wisdom is within you. The wisdom is you coming forth into your own awareness.

Be still and listen. Be still and know. Be still and know ‘I Am.’ Be still and know I Am that within you. Be still as often as you possibly can. Give yourself permission to be still and to know, to know what you need to know and trust what you know to be present in your own knowing. That is what you are being called to now. It is not about not reading or not studying other works or other teachers, but it is about really claiming your own knowing that it is within you. It is your knowing that you are to claim. Now it is your knowing that you are to share in whatever way is yours to share.

You have done much. You have been on this path for quite a while. You have contemplated. You have meditated. You have prayed. You have read. You have gathered together in groups. You have gleaned information from those teachers who are around you, from those to whom you have been drawn. It is all good, and it continues to be good. Also know that you have the power to discern for yourself what your own wisdom is and to bring forth that wisdom into your own knowing.

You know in the moment that you need to know. In the moment that you are willing to release the idea that you do not know, you know. You bring that knowing into your conscious awareness, and in that awareness you are receiving and you are grounding, and you are embodying that knowing. It is an energetic vibration of knowing, and you know when you know. You know when you know that you know. You feel the knowing. Again, be still and know.

There was much more to the message which I may share in subsequent posts, but this is the gist of what I received which reflects the messages of Dr. Cady, Starcke and many other great teachers. It is time for us to claim that we know and what we know, to share it and to live it.

I encourage us all to “Be still and know.” ⁵

¹ Page 38 Complete Works of H. Emilie Cady
² Page 80 Complete Works of H. Emilie Cady
³ Page 277 It’s All God, Walter Starcke
⁴ Page 238 It’s All God, Walter Starcke
⁵ Psalm 46:10

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Heaven Now!

I continue to be thrilled and amazed when a single truth is repeatedly reinforced from various perspectives by different teachers whose books or messages I “happen to” be reading concurrently. I enjoyed one of those experiences today.

I subscribe to the daily emails from the Center for Action and Contemplation, the organization founded by Franciscan priest, author and teacher, Fr. Richard Rohr. You may subscribe here. Today’s (April 30, 2019) message was entitled Heaven Now. Fr. Rohr says,

“Jesus’ primary metaphors for the Eternal Now are “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven.” He is not talking about a far-off celestial heaven.”

Jesus speaks of the “kingdom of God” in the following from Luke 17.
“Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”

Likewise, in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is quoted as saying,
“His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?" Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'Here it is' or 'There it is'. Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it."

As Fr. Rohr says in today’s email, also in alignment with what Unity has been teaching for over 125 years, heaven is not a place that we go after death: Heaven is a state of consciousness that we may attain now. Further, that we attain heaven consciousness by being present in and for everything that happens in the moment. He says,

“Nondual knowing is learning how to live satisfied in the naked now, which some called “the sacrament of the present moment.”

This is also the message that I heard this morning as I listened to the audiobook of Michael A. Singer’s The Untethered Soul, the Journey beyond Yourself which we are currently using for our small group book study groups.

Like Rohr, Singer encourages us to be fully present for everything that happens in the moment. He asserts that by experiencing the now and all that it brings, we allow our minds and hearts to remain open and free from the energy that can build up and block us from enjoying life fully. Further, Singer says that when we resist our current experience, we create what is referred to in the yogic tradition as a Samskara, or unfinished energy pattern that keep us in bondage to our past. When we live with an accumulation of unprocessed energy, we create hell for ourselves and sometimes contribute to it for those around us.

Even though they were created in the past, our Samskaras exist in the present and can be stimulated by current experiences. When they are stimulated, the energy of the past experience arises. In that moment, we have the opportunity to be present with all of the mental and emotional energy stored there and allow it to move through us. If we are willing to be present with it, the energy clears and we are freed from it.

Although Singer does not use ‘kingdom of heaven’ or ‘kingdom of God’  to describe the resulting freedom, he does say that it is possible for us to live in a constant state of joyous present moment awareness, allowing all events to be as they are without clinging or resisting. As Rohr might say, to enjoy the “sacrament of the present moment” or, to live in the consciousness of heaven.

WOW, what a concept! As I ponder the significance of this in my life, I am aware of the subtle and not-so-subtle ways I keep myself from living in the consciousness of heaven, even when I know, as Jesus said, that it is right here, right now.

For example, I was sitting here at my desk writing this as a blog post when I noticed my discomfort. I was struggled to find the right words, short of writing a dissertation, to capture what I wished to convey. So, I stopped. I took a deep breath, turned my back to my computer screen and stared at the plant across the room. I allowed myself to observe the thoughts I was thinking about this post and about my struggle, and I allowed myself to feel the feelings of worry, frustration, and impatience. As soon as I processed through the energy of my feelings, I experienced more clarity and freedom. Aha! Heaven! Releasing resistance and meeting what is with present awareness. I returned to my keyboard and began typing.

Once again, I proved to myself that I can read and comprehend the words of great teachers; I can wholeheartedly believe that what they are saying is true, but until I experience it, it is not mine. It remains a mental construct until I embody it.

“The kingdom of heaven is within you” has been one of those concepts. I thought I understood it. I thought I knew what Jesus was saying. Now, I realize that I have grasped the idea, and I have actually experienced it many times before, yet the gift is that now I can merge the two. I now know what ‘heaven’ is, at least for me. I now know that heaven, as I have often heard, is just a breath away. The breath can bring me into the present moment awareness where I can observe my thoughts, feel my feelings and be with “what is.”

The kingdom of heaven truly is all around us when we open our minds and hearts to it. I am committing to myself to practice “the sacrament of the present moment” as frequently and consistently as I am willing and able. I invite you to join me. Heaven Now! Let us live it.