How Can I Feel More Spiritual?

Spirituality-and-Healing

  1. Keep the lines of communication open between you and the Divine through prayer and/or meditation- in the mornings, evenings, before meals, and throughout the day. If in this communication you feel inspired to do something in your life, do it. The more you are in silence the more valuable information you will receive about your life.
  2. Have a morning or evening ritual, such as relaxing music and herbal tea- watch the sunrise or set and contemplate about how your life is going and where you could improve, take action or slow down. Journal if you like. 
  3. Buy less stuff and declutter your surroundings.
  4. Spend some time in nature every day. See the Divine in all things. 
  5. Go to bed early. Read something inspirational before you turn out the light. Pray or Meditate. Rise early.
  6. Don’t forget to breathe deeply. Breathe into any part of your body that needs healing. Don’t forget to take a deep breath to clarify feelings before responding. Be mindful of your actions. 
  7. Be present with others. Take an interest.
  8. Follow your intuition and promptings when it comes to service and giving. 
  9. Take care of yourself with healthy food and exercise. Yoga, hiking or outdoor running can be a spiritual form of exercise. Drink adequate water. Clean, healthy living can help us be more in tune with Spirit.
  10. Practice gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and love. 

 

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How Can I Be Good?

wolves-2969361_960_720An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

“One is evil – this wolf is anger, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

“The other is good – this wolf is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

“This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”

The old chief simply replied,
“The one you feed.”

lonely wolf

How Can I Communicate With God?

alone-in-a-crowd (1)

“One evening, out to dinner with friends, I felt profoundly depressed. At 38 years old I had stopped eating. As usual, I watched everyone eating with a hearty appetite while I sat before my plate of grated carrots pretending to savor every mouthful. In reality I was starving. I remember how utterly desperate I felt when I went to bed. I simply couldn’t go on any longer and wished I could die.

In the middle of the night, I woke up with a strange sensation, rather like a force or energy rippling like waves throughout my body. It grew ever stronger until my body was vibrating. I wasn’t frightened because the effects were warm and comforting and I no longer felt alone in my despair. It seemed someone was with me to share it. This sensation stayed with me all night, and I began to talk, expressing my innermost thoughts as if someone were listening to me. I whispered, “I don’t know who you are, but I know that you’re here and I can tell you everything.”

Shortly after, I began to breathe in a totally different way. I wasn’t frightened but, rather, curious to know what would happen next. I continued talking to the “Presence”, which had become a part of me, a faithful friend and companion ready to listen.

I talked to the Presence as a child might. When I woke up terrified by a nightmare, my friend would comfort me and I would feel the warm and gentle ripples within as if he were caressing me. The experience began my journey to discover truth.

Was it possible the presence with whom I spoke  was God? I asked it.

“Are you God, our Heavenly Father?

I felt the answer was affirmative.

“Are you sure?”

Again the reply was affirmative. I was exuberant, for God was extremely loving, simple, accessible, willing to listen, full of joy. He was nothing like the strict, severe God who judged and punished about whom I had been taught.

I heaved a sigh of relief. I had finally found Him. Yes, this was the Father I had been seeking my entire life. I gave myself up to his warm embrace, no longer doubting the identity of the mysterious Presence I had felt.

After so many years, I realize, God, You have always been with me, You have never abandoned me. I am infinitely grateful for Your Love. ”

prayer

-Interview with Patricia Williams Scalisi, edited by David Paul Doyle in When God Spoke To Me

 

How Can We Build Trust?

pabloneruda_poetofthepeople5

Illustration by Julie Paschkis from Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica

Trust that you have a good and compassionate nature.
You are part of the universe; you are made of stars.
When you look at your loved one, you see that he is also made of stars and carries eternity inside.
Looking in this way, we naturally feel reverence.

True love cannot be without trust and respect for oneself and for the other person.
[The essential mechanism for establishing this trust and respect is listening.]
To know how to love someone, we have to understand them. To understand, we need to listen.

-Thich Nhat Hanh (legendary Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, and peace activist b. October 11, 1926)

Can I be at Peace when the Storms come?

zen-stones-1395147656aNVJ. Krishnamurti, the great Indian philosopher and spiritual teacher, spoke and traveled the world for more than fifty years, finally after all those years, he shared his secret.

“I don’t mind what happens,” he said.

He did not elaborate, but the statement implies acceptance of what is, no matter how difficult and even if one will take action in relation to what happened. There is an acceptance, a calmness during every step, every second of the action or non-action.

This means to be content as things are now even in the face of things that are hard for yourself or others, and then when the now changes, to accept again. To be in a state of inner peace, nonresistance or nonjudgement with how things will turn out in the future, but being active and at peace in the moment while traveling the journey- striving toward right action.

Every situation is simply met with the thought or statement, “Is that so?”

Always responding to what the present moment requires while at the same time accepting what is.

The ego wants to go crazy with rage, sadness, and frustration when things never work, when items or money are lost, when sickness, accidents or tragedy strikes, when others or yourself are unkind, dishonest, judgmental, forgetful, abusive or controlling, when basic needs are not met, when the news disappoints, when stress overwhelms, etc. but this is a dysfunctional relationship with the Now and the cause of unnecessary suffering and human drama.

Heal your relationship with the present moment. Decide that it is always your friend. Some may object crying, “What about justice, or what about this or that?” But if all injustice was considered, the Now would never be your friend and one would be in a state of constant misery and pain.

So use your imagination to become friendly toward the Now, welcome it no matter in what disguise it comes, and soon you will see the results. Life becomes friendly towards you; people become helpful, circumstances cooperate.

Don’t focus on accepting the future when things are resolved, but love the circumstances you find yourself in. Never being a victim of circumstance, but rather the ruler over your own life happiness.  Focus on this happiness even as you seek to make the world a better place.

  • Ideas adapted from Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth

Can A Sermon Be Meant Just For Me?

girl patientHe said he would die if I left him alone,” I worriedly explained to the nurse. “I have to stay!”  My stepfather, Claude, a minister at a local church, had been run down by a car in the Houston Astrodome parking lot, and it seemed every part of his body had been shattered…

I sat there alone overnight in the near dark of the hospital room looking at Claude’s mangled body. It reminded me of my own mangled life. I had grown up in a home with an abusive parent, leaving me a timid and fearful child. To escape, I married really young. Nine bitter lonely years and two children later my husband revealed a dark secret so repulsive to me I could barely stomach looking at myself in the mirror. How could I have been so blind? We divorced, but the emotional trauma had been firmly embedded in me and my children. One of my children suffered with bipolar disorder so severely that three times she tried to commit suicide. I lost track of how many times she had run away. She turned to drugs.

Sometime around 3a.m. I sat there in the hospital staring at a “man of God” writhing in pain and wondered if he too questioned a loving God and if he also felt abandoned. Then I heard Claude stirring in his bed.  He mumbled and moaned with pain. I reached over to pull the sheet up to his chest. As I slumped back into my chair, he suddenly sat straight up in bed. I was shocked. It usually took two of us to turn him over, and he had not been able to even raise his head alone!

Without a pause, Claude thanked his “audience” and began one of the most amazing sermons I had ever heard. His voice was clear and strong. I frantically glanced around, hoping someone else would come into the room to witness this. No one did. I, alone, was meant to hear.

My stepfather spoke of the importance of using visualization to create a positive state of mind. He urged his invisible audience to use their imaginations to see their circumstances in a better light. He said that seeing things in a positive vein, as if that was the truth, would mirror that perception in reality. Visualization, he went on to say, was a way to bring healing and hope into expression, because seeing things the way one wished they were would cause them to become one’s experience.

For 15 minutes, he eloquently described how thoughts and actions become reality. It was Claude’s voice- his body- that delivered that sermon, but the source of those words was not of this world. I had never heard him utter the word “visualization” before.  He came from a background of traditional practices and these ideas were foreign to a conservative church like his. Even though he acted as if this were one of his usual Sunday sermons, he would never have said these things in his own church.

I chuckled as I imagined the response he would receive if he repeated this sermon to his own congregation, but I was also entranced by it. This sermon, clearly was meant for me. I perched on the edge of my chair eagerly listening, barely breathing for fear of missing even one word. Every sentence was relevant for me. Every word was directed at my attitude toward life. My heartbeat thundered in my ears and my breathing grew shallow.

A warm fullness filled my chest, expanding in the room. The deepest love I’d ever known exploded all around me. I tearfully whispered through measured gasps, “Oh my God!”

Just as suddenly as it all began, it ended. He fell back on his pillow and was sleeping once again. I stat motionless-stunned. The voice still echoed in my head, interrupted only by the steady beeping of the hospital monitors in the background.

Now I understood why I had needed to stay that night. I left that experience with a desire to return to the roots of my spiritual understanding. I began to visualize God in everything. And my whole world transformed.

  • Interview with Jodi McDonald and edited by David Paul Doyle in “When God Spoke To Me” 

 

Why Do The Righteous Suffer?

Job-camel-copyRighteous living does tend to bring its own rewards, but it doesn’t protect people from suffering or hardship.

The story of Job is a fantastical poem of God making a bet with Satan, but it was written in the Bible to teach a real-life lesson.

Job is a rich man living with his large family and extensive flocks.

Job is “blameless” and “upright,” always careful to avoid doing evil.

Yet, Job receives news that his livestock, servants, and ten children have all died due to marauding invaders or natural catastrophes. He goes on to lose his health, looks, and friends.

Job is miserable, but can now better empathize with other people’s pain.

Despite accusations of sin, Job begins to understand that bad things happen to good people. That being “good” doesn’t protect you from tragedy. He learns that horrible things happen to innocent people all the time. He sees it in his own story and in the world. He realizes that it is an illusion to believe that if you do good you will always be “blessed” with good fortune.

He realizes that justice in this world does not exist in terms of suffering and ease. The world is filled with injustice. It is erroneous to believe that people always bring upon themselves their own suffering, or that their suffering is equal to the exactness of what they deserve.

Job’s friends suggest he must be a sinner and his children must have brought their deaths upon themselves through their own erroneous actions, but Job knows it isn’t true.

This teaches us that our sufferings or ease in life are not the point and we shouldn’t get too attached and reliant upon our current conditions.  We also shouldn’t judge others, assuming they have brought their own hardships or misery upon themselves through bad decisions because we don’t know their whole story.

We learn from Job that meaning needs to come from something other than how well we are prospering.

“Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return,” states Job.

Job continues to praise God because that is all that really matters in the end- our relationship with God and His love.

Job learns that we can’t fully understand or comprehend God, but Job decides to persist in pursuing wisdom by staying loyal to God and avoiding evil. Besides some confusion and lamenting, he decides to fully accept whatever circumstances he finds himself in.

In the story- Job is materially rewarded in the end by God, perhaps to symbolize an eternal reward, but this may or may not be someone else’s story. Whether or not we prosper or suffer, God’s love, comfort, and sustenance are always there if we tune into His presence and work to show that love to others.

  • The Story of Job/Old Testament