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Ok, I admit it.  I officially have short timer's disease.

I graduate in June.

This Masters Degree program I'm in has been wonderful:  4 years of learning, and each class has changed me from the inside out, and given me more skills and more training.  If you are just tuning in, I'm in an accredited Masters Degree program called Consciousness Studies.  (www.holmesinstitute.org)

I have loved every minute of it.

One of the things we teach is that it is counter productive to think in terms of:  when this happens I'll do that, or when that happens I'll be this.  The opposite is actually true:  I'll do that now, and effect this to happen.  Or, more specifically, it is not "when I win the lottery I'll be happy."  It is, "I'll be happy now, and then win the lottery!"

And yet, I have a list of things I want to do when I graduate.  I have dozens of books I want to read!  I want to take a trip.  Not a trip to Santa Rosa for class, but a vacation.  I want to go to the annual photographer's convention that I haven't been to since I began school.  I want to begin working in my new and chosen field.  I want to do workshops....lots and lots of workshops.

I created, before school began, a New Year's Eve workshop.  I happen to think New Year's Eve is the perfect time to plot out how one wants the next year to proceed.  Resolutions don't work, they never have.  But intentions do, especially with a solid plan in place to implement those intentions.  Plus some ritual release of the old.  I was doing this workshop every New Year's Eve and it was fun, successful and well attended.  but school got busier and busier and somehow the last couple of New Year's Eves it just seemed indicated that I should stay at home and be quiet.

Then there is this football thing.  I admit it:  I don't watch football.  I think there are much more productive things to do with one's time.  I also realize that I am out of sync with much of the population  in this.  I'm OK with that.    Last night, while my partner was watching football, I was writing papers for school, and I got a lot done!  But there is still one more game to get through, and I couldn't help but think it would be the perfect time for a workshop for those of us who would rather do just about anything than watch football.

But I have papers to write and finals to study for, so this will be another thing to add to the list of things to do when I graduate.  If you don't like watching football, stay tuned.  There will be a workshop next year!  Maybe even a series of them:  one on every Sunday there is a football game!

 

I am so grateful.

Recently I was reminded that I have a Gift in my life.  And with this reminder came a grief that others don't have this Gift.  It's a bittersweet sort of thing:  gratitude and grief.  I wish everyone had this Gift, but they don't.  It's why I became a Spiritual Counselor, because I want others to have this Gift.

It's not an easy one to accept, this Gift.  I understand that.  Because the Gift entails looking at one's own stuff.  The Gift is a box of personal responsibility and forgiveness, all neatly wrapped up and ready and waiting for you to open.

It takes a while to open this Gift, and it takes a lot of work, and it takes the assistance of people like me to open it.  But once it is opened, be prepared to experience things like freedom, peace, joy, happiness, and strength.

These are the attributes that come from having personal responsibility and forgiveness in one's life.  These two things go hand in hand, each one building upon the other, until one is standing on a high altar of light that is unshakable in its foundation.

I invite you to join me on this altar.  It's very pleasant here.  Take the Gift of personal responsibility and forgiveness, open it, and allow it to work its way into your life so you can be free.

It is New Year's Eve, and I have already begun seeing lots of posts on Facebook and hearing comments from quite a few people that they are saying, "goodbye and good riddance" to 2013.  The general feeling seems to be that 2013 was not a good year.

Really?

I'd like to present a different take on it.  There are more productive ways to ensure success in the New Year.  Here's a few of those ways:

  1. Don't regret the past.  It really is true that what you think creates more of what you are thinking about.  Regretting the past is a real good way to experience more of the same.
  2. If 2013 really wasn't a good year for you, view it as a stepping stone or part of a process to get where you want to go.  Look forward in the direction of your dreams, not behind you.
  3. Do some inner work.  No matter how you are feeling about 2013, doing some inner work will allow you to move into 2014 with enthusiasm.  Ask yourself some tough questions:  why?  how?  what could I do differently? Be gentle with yourself while you are doing this.
  4. Be grateful.  Make a gratitude list of what you are grateful for in 2013.  Did you know that gratitude increases life satisfaction?  If you make a gratitude list every day, you will experience more satisfaction with your life.
  5. Don't do the New Year's Resolutions thing.  They don't work.  Instead, do some visualizaiton.  Picture yourself as how you want to be.  Don't loose sight of that picture.  Think about that picture every day.  As you go about your day, ask yourself if the action you are about to take is a step towards that picture you have in your mind, or a step away from that picture.
  6. And if your life truly isn't the way you want it to be, if you really think 2013 sucked and you just want to move on, consider that if you don't do something differently, 2014 is going to be more of the same.  Harsh language?  Perhaps.  But you are not a victim of circumstances or anything else.  You are an empowered being who may need some help to realize that.   Spiritual counseling can help you navigate your way from  victim to empowerment.

2014 can be the best beginning of the rest of your life!  Happy New Year!

Christmas is six days away, but it's not too late to get into the Christmas spirit if you haven't already.  I've been encountering some folks who are  having trouble getting into the spirit this year.  Here's a quote from one of my friends which seems to sum up what I've been hearing,

"Of late, I have been dreading the over-commercialism and expected gluttony of consumerism. Avoiding Christmas at best..."

And yet, I'm also noticing that many of these same people who are objecting to the commercialism and crowds are also deciding to do something new.

And I think this is really what Christmas can be about:  a rebirth of sorts.   We can decide to view things in a different way.

Ernest Holmes says that viewing Christmas as a time for honoring birth is more about "a birth in our consciousness as the realization of love, of truth, of beauty and of power."  (from the December issue of Science of Mind magazine, in continuous publication since 1927)

"The new birth comes not by observation nor by loud proclamation, but through an inner sense of reality."  Science of Mind textbook, page 472

If you are having trouble enjoying the beauty, love, truth and power of Christmas, maybe it is time to look at changing your perception about it.

imageLike art, all of life is a collaboration.  It's a collaboration of choices.  This artist chose chairs for the canvas, a restaurant to display the art, and a type of paint that would adhere well to the wood of the chair to produce these lovely works of art.  And there is the bonus of functionality to this art.

All the elements work together, and they came together because of the choices of the artist.  And the artist made these choices, and not some others, because of a combination of the intent to create the beautiful chairs as well as the skill to implement that intent.

Life is like that.  We are continually making choices, and implementing them, sometimes with a lot of skill, and sometimes...not so much skill.   But the choice, the intent, is always there.  We can choose consciously, or by default, but the choice is always there.  If we choose by default, the art of our life may seem a bit unorganized, or non-productive, or scattered, or maybe it just doesn't work.  Like a piece of art that just didn't come together well.

Perhaps it is time to choose with conscious awareness, which is the initial step in the process of collaboration.

Here are a few tips to ensure success in the collaboration process:

  1. Remember that choices are not meant to be a reaction to life, but instead a proactive tool to create.  Do not make choices nor act on those choices when in reactive mode.  Instead, pause for all long as it takes.
  2. Choosing wisely happens when you are aware of what your are thinking and feeling, and what your beliefs are.  This takes instrospection.  Take time every day to check in with yourself and notice what is happening inside of you.
  3. Choosing wisely happens when you are calm and at peace.  If you aren't calm and at peace, I highly recommend the practice of meditation.  If you don't know how to meditate, or don't feel as if you are successful at it, take a class or hire a coach to teach you.
  4. If you don't feel as if you have choices in life, get some help.
  5. Once the choices are made, act on them by using tools and skills to implement those choices.  Just as an artist begins by learning the basics of his craft, then building upon those skills, so do we begin by learning the basics of life and building on them, ever enlarging our skill set.  You can learn new skills by taking a class, reading a book, hiring a coach or joining a support group.

Affirmation:  I choose wisely today, from a place of peace and calm, and implement my choices to create the wonderful work of art that is my life!

 

I'm in the midst of an intensive review of course work for the Masters Degree program I will graduate from in June of 2014.  It's called Consciousness Studies, by the way, you can find out more information about it here.

One of my favorite areas of study turns out to be the mind body connection.  I have long believed that any illness I experience is a result of some unresolved emotional or spiritual issue.  I have spent all of my adult life tackling physical illnesses from a foundation of inner beliefs and wisdom.  So when I discovered that what I instinctively knew to be true had scientific validity, I was excited to learn more!  Turns out there are literally thousands of studies that prove there is a powerful and profound connection between the mind and the body, even if we don't understand how it works.

To put it simply and briefly, there are dozens of scientifically verified techniques that you can use to learn to listen to the wisdom of  your body and allow it to heal.  These techniques are not meant to be in place of traditional medicine, but as complimentary techniques.   Two of these techniques are meditation, specifically one point meditation, and imagery, specifically visualizing work crews repairing your body.

Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not about emptying the mind, or clearing the mind. It's about focus.  It's about training your mind to focus so that when, in the course of a day, it goes to places that don't serve you well, you can redirect it.  One point meditation is about focusing on one thing, over and over again, for a period of time.  Twenty minutes once a day is ideal.   While you are focusing your mind, you are freeing your body to heal.

Visualizing work crews is a fun type of imagery.  Imagine you have, for example, high blood pressure.  Again, I am not recommending you disregard doctor's orders.  These techniques are meant to be complimentary, not alternative.  High blood pressure is caused by a build up of material in your blood vessels that simply makes it harder for the blood to move through them.  So you could imagine a crew of people/critters/robots...whatever suits your fancy, in your body, hammering or chipping or hacking or dissolving or in some other way getting rid of that buildup.  You can  have fun with this, giving them names and assigning a supervisor, maybe giving them uniforms and any other attributes that will help them do their jobs better.

The mind body connection is powerful.  Don't ignore it!

image"You don't get in life what you want, you get in life what you are!"  Les Brown

If you want something in life, wishing or praying for it isn't going to help.  That will just get you more wanting.

Instead, try being what you want.  If  you want a better relationship, be a better partner.  If you want better friendships, be a better friend.  If you want prosperity in your life, embody the feelings of being prosperous.

Banish thoughts of lack, self pity and worthlessness from your life.  This is where a trained mind comes in handy:  when your thoughts turn to things that don't serve you, you can divert them and get them back on track.

Training the mind does not happen overnight, but with consistent and persistent use of things like meditation and imagery, you will find that your thinking patterns are more positive and you are able to be that which you want.

 

image

I have a sticky note on my desk that reads, "A lot of spiritual work is dealing with the idea that we are separate from God."

In my experience, it is this idea of separation that causes feelings of loneliness, stress, overwhelm, burden, anger, isolation, distrust, doubt, guilt and any myriad other host of negative feelings.

I have never believed in a God separate from me, but I never voiced that, because of a perception that most people believe in the separate "God in the sky" version of Spirit.  Even many so called alternative religions believe in a Force separate from us humans.  Every day I hear folks say things like, "The Universe will provide."  It's still a separate God, even if they are calling it something different.   I could never make sense of a separate God.  And when I returned to my childhood roots at a Center for Spiritual Living and began to take classes, I soon learned why:  One of the first things we are taught in our classes is that God and I, we are One!

In fact, that concept is the first of ten of what we call the Core Concepts of Science of Mind. It is also the first statement in a list of "We Believe" statements that have been adopted as a way of explaining to newcomers who we are and what we believe.

Ironically, around these parts we don't tell anyone what to believe.  But we do have ten statements telling everyone exactly what we do believe. Here is the first of those ten:

"We Believe in God, the Living Spirit Almighty; one, indestructible, absolute and self-existent Cause.  This One manifests Itself in and through all creation, but is not absorbed by Its creation.  The manifest universe is the body of God; it is the logical and necessary outcome of the infinite self-knowingness of God."

The part that says we are each free to believe what we wish is the part where I interpret that rather wordy sentence in my own way.  I choose to interpret it thusly:  I believe in God, it manifested itself in and through me by knowing me.  Yet God is much more than that, it isn't just me.

The ramifications of such a belief, or lack of one, are far reaching, and the subject of another blog post, but for now, I will leave you with this:

God and I, we are one!

How do you feel about the concept of being one with God?

imageSometimes it is beneficial to spend some time with your head in the clouds.

Studies have shown that when you allow your thoughts to drift aimlessly you activate a creativity app in  your mind.

Creativity helps us in many ways.  It's not just about artistic creativity.  It's also about resting.  Have you ever lost something and searched high and low for it, ending up frustrated because you couldn't find it?  Then you turn to another task and forget about it for a while, and all of a sudden the location of your lost item "magically" appears in your mind.

Spending time with your head in the clouds, at rest, is like that.  Let it rest and roam, and do this on a regular basis, and suddenly a "magical" solution to something you've been pondering will appear.

 

I was having a chat with someone today who told me that she had been feeling a bit depressed lately.  Nothing clinical mind you; if you find yourself unable to get out of bed or with suicidal tendencies due to depression, contact a physician.  I'm talking about those down days that we all get sometimes, seemingly for no reason.

But there is a reason.  Many times, a feeling of being down or mildly depressed can be a message from the body that it is time to rest.  The body contains wisdom  and it will send us messages that it is time to be doing something different with our lives; mild depression is one of those messages.

If you are feeling mildly depressed, or a bit down, or just unmotivated to do much, consider what your body is trying to tell you:

  1. Have you been burning the candle at both ends?  There is a reason most religions advocate a day of rest.  Even the ancients recognized that we all need a period of rest in our lives.  If you work seven days a week (self employed people are very good at this!), take a break.  Force yourself if you have to.  You'll find you are much more productive when you return.
  2. Get enough sleep.  We are a chronically sleep deprived population.  In spite of the fact that we need about 8 hours of sleep per day, most people allow themselves 6 or even less. This lowers your immune system and your productivity, as well as reaction times when driving or operating machinery.
  3. Investigate:       have you experienced a loss lately?  Even small losses can trigger a need to rest, which is what mild depression feels like.  Or perhaps you've recently had a medical procedure?  The more invasive, the more your body will need to rest, hence the feelings of mild depression.  Anniversaries can also sometimes trigger a feeling of mild depression.

The key, no matter what the cause for feeling down, is to honor it.  Take a nap, go spend a half day or an evening at a spa, get a massage or a pedicure, go to a museum and aimlessly wander, go for a walk.  And talk about how you are feeling.  A simple conversation with a caring person can work wonders!

If you honor the message of a mild depression, you will learn something about yourself and feel better in the process!