Inside Me

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In honor of April as National Poetry Month.

In honor of April as National Poetry Month.

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Soul Lodestone

This image is of a lodestone, as depicted in the info article on Wikipedia. Clicking the image will take you to the article.

As I was meditating this morning, it came to me that when I use my favorite abundance affirmation, “I surrender to the flow of abundance that already surrounds me,” I am actually surrendering to the creative principle of the Divine.

My perception of this creative principle is sort of like a primordial soup, where all the elements necessary for anything I might imagine are swirling about, waiting to be pulled into form. When we are open to this flow, we become a lodestone, drawing to us the things we have magnetized by our prayers, our desires, our emotions.

Connect your heart to your words

I mention emotions because I truly believe that they are the power behind any prayer, any desire. When we pray, most of us have been taught to use words. I see no problem with this, except that we each need to realize that words are most effective when we let them be triggers, releasing the power of emotions to the focus of the prayer. The more deeply we feel the sentiment of the prayer, the more magnetized our soul becomes to draw the desired outcome into being.

That is simplified of course, and a lot more plays into it. For example, to manifest effectively, we need to have our intention aligned with the Divine (I will to will Thy will), and we need to truly be receptive to the outcome. How many of us pray for help with a problem … perhaps a money issue? … when we really don’t believe we are worthy of the resolution? If this is you, don’t feel too badly. You are not alone.

Are you strong enough to surrender?

This is why I pray for enough strength and trust to surrender. Huh? Strength to surrender? Many might think that concept doesn’t make sense. But it does! When we are strong in our sense of self, the paradox arises that we become most able to trust that self to retain or improve its core being with the changes that inevitably come with surrender to the Divine Will. Imagine a person who is so confident in their abilities that they are willing to stand up to both authority and / or bullies, without fear. Now, take that image and see if you can shift it a bit: Trust that your core is real enough, true enough, strong enough that surrender to the Divine is simply acknowledging that It is your very Source. How can you possibly be afraid of what sustains you?

We often hear about surrendering to God as an abdication of our selfhood. I even met a man once, who said that he was afraid that if he surrendered completely to God he would be sent to be a missionary in a place he didn’t want to go. That fear held him back for a very long time! He was afraid that God’s ideas for his life might not line up with how he wanted things to go. Think about that for a minute. He was afraid that his will and God’s will were different and his ego wanted his own will to win out!

Maybe the question comes down to whether you believe your ego IS you? I am telling you it is not, but I don’t expect you to necessarily believe me. I have found out that people need to come to this realization all on their own, and no amount of insight from strangers will force it upon them. However, it might make them think. So, I am one of many asking you to consider whether that might be a false belief. Check out Eckhart Tolle, as any of his books go into this topic far better than I can.

So, back to surrendering: When you know that your core self is sourced from the Divine, you suddenly realize that you aren’t surrendering to anything truly “other.” You trust in the Divine, but that trust is a judgement call that the soul has made based on the knowledge that you are truly a cupful of God-energy in human form. To me, that is the ultimate sense of one’s self as a multi-dimensional being and proof of a solid faith in the soul’s power of discernment.

You are not who you thought you were

As we awaken to a more complete sense of our self identity as multi-dimensional beings, I think that the fears of the little three dimensional being we thought we were will all disappear. We will know that we are more than what we ever understood before, and we’ll recognize that it is ok to trust the flow of the creative principle. At that point, we will recognize that the prayer doesn’t just change the outer world in the form of manifesting what we hope, it also changes the inner self to open the doors for that manifestation to take place.

Then, FINALLY, we shall see ourselves as an integral part of the equation and our ability to manifest our heart’s desire, in alignment with Divine Will, will be endless.

Reinventing Worship

Question from The God Article on FB:

If you were to (or do) worship in a church, what would the perfect worship service look like?

(What would it include? What would the setting be? Would there be liturgy? What kind? Music? What kind? Sermon? What would it be like? Who would do it?)

I like this question, mostly because it is the type of thing I would wonder about anyway. You see, I miss my “home church.” Yup. That’s what we called it. When you have a church you attend where the people that attend it are as close or closer than family and you feel connected to its lifeblood and it sustains you, it is your home church. Mine was back in New Hampshire. Since the time I attended there, more than the miles have grown to separate me from that sanctuary. I have always questioned dogma and that was what I liked about the church I attended. I remember that the minister told me once that “Methodists didn’t have to leave their brain at the door.” I took that statement very much to heart, and followed the still, small voice even when it led me to go contrary to church dogma and policy. He always supported me in my questionings, and for that I will always be grateful.

When I moved away, I tried attending several churches in my new home city. I never did find a place that could both accommodate the turns that my personal evolution of faith was taking, and give me the sense that I was part of something greater than myself. That hasn’t stopped me from hoping that someday, I might find a community of people that will allow me to connect and grow in a way similar to the Methodist church I knew when I was younger. I sometimes imagine what that might entail. So, the question becomes: What would I want now?

My mom used to remind me that a church was the people and not the building. While there is truth in that statement, I recognize that buildings and sites that inspire awe have always been included in worship for a reason. To me, sites for worship would have to include the out of doors, or places with access to nature. However, I don’t like the restriction of “church” on any specific day of the week. I really have a distaste for separating my life out that way. In my dream church, services wouldn’t be necessarily be on Sunday or Saturday, either. My faith is part of my every day life and I would want worship to be similar. I love the idea of including the cycle of the seasons and the turning of the sun and the moon in my worship. I do this already on a personal level, but I would love to have a community that thinks similarly!

I would want to include music for sure. I love hymns, chants and spiritually expressive songs. I don’t know if I believe in having a minister (I may be too gnostic for that!), but I would love having some type of “sermon” or insight sharing, perhaps from multiple people. I would want to honor divergent paths like the Unitarians do. I would want to talk about things such as how to live a connected life, how to raise one’s vibration, how to live from the heart, how to “ascend” or become “enlightened.” I would love to talk about Unity Consciousness and how to live a life with integrity and impeccability. I want a place where the feminine face of the Divine is just as honored as the male aspect. I would want to learn from the teachings of Jesus, of Buddha, and of Guru Nanak and others. Sharing, studying, supporting and building community would all be vital parts of the group dynamic. Group meditations are something I enjoy, so I would love it if that were included too.

Too, no book would be an ultimate authority. You see, I believe the concept that words are pointers and one should never confuse the pointers with what they are pointing at. So, any book could be a jumping off point for discussion and insight. It doesn’t have to be anything like the Bible or the Quran. It doesn’t even have to be non-fiction to be speaking a truth, in my opinion. However, wariness should always be present whenever an absolute is stated (yes, I see the irony in that statement!).

I have been to a few Unitarian services that were close, but I never felt connected for some reason.

I have often been inspired by this quote by Einstein: “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity.” Frankly, this may be as close to my personal faith as words can come.

Stone Light Retreat

Crystal Cabin Guardian

When I finished my last day as a Network Systems Administrator, and stepped off the cliff into creating my own business, I knew that the change was huge. I have always believed that 80% of just about everything in life is mental, so I knew I needed to shift my mindset before I dug into the business, in order to give it the best possible chance of succeeding. The method I chose for doing this was to go on a three day retreat in Viroqua, Wisconsin.

Viroqua is in what is termed The Driftless Region of Wisconsin. Technically, the driftless region is defined by the fact that glaciers did not leave any of their mess behind. Boulders, silt and sand are called “drift,” and so none of this was left decorating the region when the glaciers last melted. Practically, it encompasses a region with gorgeous landscape, deep river valleys, and amazingly uplifting natural aesthetic influences.

The natural beauty makes this a perfect place for a retreat. Lucky for me, I already knew of a place that would fit my list of requirements: Moderately isolated, “off the grid,” and preferably friendly to my spiritual path. Stone Light is a place I found a few years ago. I have hiked its paths before, and recommended it to many a friend, but this was my first opportunity to take up residence there, myself!

Stone Light is not huge, but don’t be fooled by its size. Steve, the owner, has gone through a lot of effort to create paths and features to draw you into the natural setting. We are not talking untouched wilderness here, but a natural beauty enhanced with a blessing here and there. You might be walking through the woods and come across a bowl on a tree stump that is lined with 100 or more small crystals. There are rocks placed near the path that look like nature carved them into shapes such as a person praying. There is a labyrinth, an outdoor altar space, and so much more. What there isn’t is electricity and the electro-magnetic interference that goes with it. Nor will you find running water in the cabins. Instead, the Amish-built cabins are accompanied by a nearby outhouse. Steve opens a portion of his home to the retreaters so that a shower can be had the morning after hiking in the woods all day. It was very appreciated!

I arrived on Monday and explored the town a bit before heading up to the retreat. There is a food co-op, a rock shop and a few restaurants to enjoy. I hit the co-op and picked up a few things to take to the cabin with me. Nothing that needed refrigeration, of course. I was going off the grid and excited to be doing so!

I had brought a bunch of crystals to enhance the goal of my retreat, which was releasing the past and being open to the new life I wanted to lead. The cabin had a few crystals of its own, so I was able to use them to set up a wonderful grid after calling in the directions and creating my sacred space. I felt very comfortable and “at home” in the space. This allowed me to do the rituals and practices I needed over the course of the three days I was there.

I read. I journaled. I did lots and lots of meditating, especially outside. Initially, I focused on release, but by the end, I was opening myself up to the world around me and pulling energy from the Earth. The last night I was there I did a wonderful Listening Meditation, where I sat outside for about an hour or so and simply listened to all the noises around me and documented them in my journal as I did so. That was actually a wonderfully opening meditation.

This retreat was everything that I had wanted it to be. It was both exhausting and rejuvenating, healing and cathartic, cleansing and enlightening. I came home on Thursday afternoon feeling like I had been scrubbed clean inside and I knew I was ready to face the new life I planned on creating. If you have never taken time to be totally alone with yourself – no tv, no phone, no internet – I highly recommend it. Facing yourself without distraction can be challenging, but it can also be extremely rewarding!

So, here we are a week and a half later, and I can still say that the retreat did what I needed it to do. I won’t say that I feel ready to conquer the world every day, but I keep working to find the steps to create this life I want so much. Every day, I am wake up and feel like it is going to be even better than the day before. I haven’t been disappointed yet.

I am so glad that I went to Stone Light. I am also glad I went for three nights, instead of the two I had originally planned (thanks for the nudge, Ann Marie!). The only downside was realizing at one point that no electricity meant no fan to give any relief to the stifling heat that sauntered in on my second night there. (edit: Please note that the heat was part of a record-breaking heat wave socking the Midwest at the time, and not reflective of normal weather in the area! ~RnT) But then the rain came and all was well again. The energy at Stone Light is amazing. Steve goes to great lengths to enhance the healing energy of the land with judicious placement of crystals. The cabin came with its own sage stick (good thing, as I had forgotten mine!) and the book selection in the cabin gave me much food for thought. He has a variety that rotates through all the cabins and the books encompass many different faiths and approaches to spirituality. In other words, there is a little bit for almost everyone. I will definitely be going again, and hope to make this a regular ritual.

Stone Light Retreat

Click above for slide show images of my retreat

Thunder Moon

Tonight rises the thunder moon
But there is no rain in sight
No lightning
No thunder
Instead
I look at the parking lot and see
Heat rising in waves
Blurring the ordinary reality
Giving a glimpse of the non-ordinary
I think of the thermal drafts
That turkey vultures use
To ease their flight up and away
My spirit longs to join them
Rising up with the heat
Away from the confines of brick and mortar,
Workday tasks and project milestones –
Over fields and woods and streams
Toward the setting sun
And the rise of the thunder moon

Wave or Particle

Meditating on gratitude, one of the things I have realized is that gratitude is not about changing my life, in the sense of changing what happens to me. It is about changing my perception about those things, and the things that already exist in my life. A side benefit of practicing gratitude may well be that the things in my life change, but nothing is promised. The big change really is a matter of perception.

The frontier of science is busy right now proving that very fact. Seriously. If you are at all interested in science, I suggest you google “wave or particle.” That is all it takes to enter the frontier. Some of what you find will be hard science, complete with formulas, mathematical symbols and lots of big words. Other hits will be less technical, but no less interesting for all that. It basically boils down to a question that has fascinated scientists for a long time: Is light made up of particles or is it a wave? Conflicting results eventually led to some experiments that have hit hard in the philosophy world as well as science. It turns out that light expresses itself as a particle OR a wave, depending upon the observer.

This is exciting news and is proof of a concept that philosophers and theologians (or thealogians) have as a core principle: Our intentions / prayers / focus has an impact on the material world around us. Whether I look at the New Testament where “the faith of a mustard seed” moves mountains (Matthew 17:20), or the concepts behind The Secret, or even the idea that our karmic debt changes our reality, we are still talking about how our perceptions change the world around us.

When we practice gratitude, we are making ourselves an active observer, interacting with the energy at play around us. Wave or particle? That is our call to make. As we bathe events in positive energy, we call the most positive aspects of our life into focus. What we call into focus becomes. At some level, it is called into its most positive aspect and we start an upward spiral of gratitude to blessings to gratitude.

I love how we are starting to see a re-convergence of science and spirit. We are in a different place than we were in Galileo’s time and I hope that we have learned some lessons about separating dogma from truth. Remember, the first principle in scientific analysis is that we know nothing. Once we know something to be “fact,”  we can’t learn any more. That is why science deals only in “theories.”

My scientific experiments this month are about turning my focus to gratitude and my whole spirit can get behind this: My analytical side sees the value of the experiment and the creative side is seeing the excitement of something new and beautiful entering my life. If nothing else, I have learned this month that I am much closer to being whole in my outlook on life, and I believe I can say that I am on the right path to integrating this perception into my days. What a great feeling!

Stepping Off the Edge

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual PracticeStepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice by Sandy Nathan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This reads almost like two books in one. The beginning is much like a spiritual self-help book. Although there are some personal details in the beginning, I felt the writing had a bit of distance to it, plus it included exercises to take you away from the reading and attempt to get you jumpstarted on your own path. A few chapters in, there is a dramatic shift and this book becomes deeply personal. It morphs into a spiritual memoir, a description of an awakening period in her life.

As such, it is an amazing read. I found it difficult to put down except to ponder the inevitable “aha” moment. More than once, Ms Nathan reminded me of truths I should know, consciously did know, and did not actually think to apply to my own life circumstances until I read her version of it. For that alone, the book was worth it to me!

I highly recommend this book, with one small caveat. The resource portion of the book is of limited usefulness. There are quite a few interesting and informative books listed. However, when she writes that there is more information on her web page, steppingofftheedge.com, it is misleading. I found only an ad for her book and some contact information. The detailed lists she mentions simply are not there. I don’t know if it will eventually be there, or if it was removed for some reason, but I would have loved to peruse them!

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