We've all heard of spiritual practices such as meditation, prayer and contemplation but a powerful less-known spiritual practice is self-emptying or "kenosis." Self-emptying is practiced in many faith traditions from Sufism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity.
The practice of self-emptying moves us away from the egocentric operating system to an open heart space that allows the living light of the Divine to shine through in all its glory. This Divinity is always present inside of us; but, all too often, we are so filled up with junk that it is overshadowed by the ego's creations. We live in a society that is plagued with materialism, consumerism, greed, corruption, violence and competition. We are so overwhelmed with the demands of daily living that we get filled up emotionally with anger, fear, clinging, regret, shame and blame which takes up space in our hearts, minds and souls. With our culture's pull to fill us up with what we don't need, there is not much room for loving kindness and compassion let alone for God's divinity within us to be experienced in totality.
The Christians, for example, look at Jesus as the great example of self-emptying. He showed us a way of living which entails breaking free of clinging, attachments and all notions of the "I" and relying on the Divine Presence for everything. He showed us how to move away from the egocentric operating system, which thrives on separateness, into unitive consciousness that can only be gleaned from deep within the heart space. He didn't cling to his Divinity; rather, he humbly took human form to minister to people - he was willing to empty himself to become human while his divinity existed at the same time. In much the same way, the Divine Presence eternally lives within us. All we need to do is allow our humanness to fade away and rely on Divine Principle for everything - and I mean everything. It's not that we become empty to be filled with the Divine Presence, because we are already filled with it; rather, we become empty to reveal the Divine Light of God that is eternally present but overshadowed by the ego's creations.
Emptying ourselves allows us to take on the mind of Christ. This means to have the same mind that Jesus used, which is the mind of God. In metaphysical teachings, it is believed there is only one Mind, this Mind is our mind and it operates in, as and through us. We don't have to go anywhere to access a God out there somewhere because God (the one Mind) is within us right now. Dr. Ernest Holmes tells us, "We have the mind of Christ in such a degree as we trust implicitly in the Universe, and no longer do things which contradict the fundamental goodness...Every man [woman] has the mind of Christ...but can only use this Mind when in harmony with Life."
How, exactly, do we empty ourselves and take on the Mind of Christ? Is it even possible in this turbulent world where we are filled with regrets, sorrow, suffering, anxiety, unresolved relationships, anger and busyness to make space for God's action in us? First we must become self-aware and discover what traits we need to expel. Do you have fear? Anger? Greed? Selfishness? Pettiness? Negativity? Hopelessness? Ask yourself what you need to get rid of to put on the mind of Christ. We must let go of the false self or small self for the true Divine self to emerge.
Take a deep look inside of yourself. Can you trust God for everything? Can you give up attachment to worldly form and stand naked and ready to let God fill you up? As Meister Eckhart says, "When God finds you ready and empty, he must act and fill you to overflowing with himself, just as sunlight must flood and fill the clear, pure air. He cannot fail to do this when he finds you so empty and bare."
I invite you to be bare before God, to shed Earthly pulls and fascinations, to be without negativity, without the ego, without clinginess, hate, greed or selfishness - to let go of control and trust that a Universal Power of Good meets all of your needs. Doing so will unleash a love bursting in your heart that is unstoppable. Compassion and humility become your only way of living in the world. It's an ecstatic place to live in the sacredness of the most high. Your light is urgently needed in the world. Empty yourself of everything unlike God and shepherd in a new world - one of love, light and compassion for all living things.
As always drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and share with me how you are doing. If you need assistance with the practice of self-emptying, we can work together in coaching sessions.
Peace to all,
Today more than ever our world is crying out for peace. But peace on our planet will continue to be wishful thinking until we embrace unitive consciousness. Humankind needs to really get it that we are connected with each other, all living beings and the entire ecosystem as well. Living from this state of awareness ignites our inner light with love and grace, revealing our divinity and our kinship with the totality of the Universe. By developing love and compassion for all life forms on our planet, we become less preoccupied with the "self" and freer to feel our oneness with creation.
Honoring the Godliness in all and through all is the natural outcome of true unity consciousness. If all of us embraced this oneness of the whole, many current problems would vanish. Violence against others, terrorism, war between nations, aerial gunning down of wolves, gas and oil drilling on our pristine wilderness, and other practices that pose a threat to our beautiful world would cease to exist. Hurting others would become unthinkable because we would know that causing harm to others would be causing harm to one's self.
A lack of understanding about the interconnection of all of life and disrespect for any of creation, causes severe consequences for the individual and the planet as a whole. It is this feeling of separation from God, from the sacredness of being, that is the root of all suffering in the world.
Finding peace is the topic of an ancient legend I once heard. In this story, a farmer asks a rabbi when there would be peace on Earth. The rabbi replied, "Follow me." He then brought the farmer to the side of a brook, put his hand on the farmer's head, and pressed it into the water until the farmer came up gasping for breath. The rabbi then said: "This is your answer. When people want peace as much as you just wanted air, when one comes up gasping for peace, when the individual is ready to give everything in him or herself to have peace, as you have given to have air, there will be peace."
Is our planet not yet gasping enough for air? What will it take for our nations or our law enforcement agencies to give everything to have peace? The only place to start is with our own consciousness, the most fertile ground for individual and world transformation. By practicing love and compassion and honoring the sacred in all, we can extend peace one heart at a time and resuscitate the world.
If we are not the shepherds of a new era of peace, who, then, shall lead the way? With this in mind, would you join me in taking the peace challenge? For one month, extend loving kindness and compassion to one living being a day, including those outside of your immediate family. See how that feels and how it brings an expansion of heart and a deeper sense of unity to your life. As always, you are invited to drop me an e-mail at email@example.com and share your results.
*Adapted from Live Your Joy: How to Awaken from Spiritual Slumber by Barbara Gulbranson.
My friend and I are both writing books at the same time, so when we get together it's typical for our conversation to turn toward our writing process and progress. On one of these occasions I found myself saying to my friend, "Mickey, when I'm writing I feel so ALIVE!" I was surprised to hear myself verbalize the vibrant energy and bliss that courses through me as I work on what I love. It brings to mind an image of people at the side of the road holding up signs saying "will work for food." My sign would say, "will work for joy," because that is the only way I will spend my time.
How about you? Do you feel alive in your work? Does your work bring you deep joy? Are you fulfilling your life purpose? You see, it's not about getting a better job. You may still be hungry after acquiring that position. It's about giving yourself over to God as an instrument of expression here on earth. When you know the experience of God and really feel it, you see the limitless possibilities that exist for you. Sadly, many people are afraid their dreams may show up, so they back off when opportunity for greater expansion presents itself and stay stuck in a humdrum existence. But everything is about to push you into remembering what is true of you and the world.
Without remembering who we really are, an individualization of God, we can only be an occasional instrument of the Divine. We want to be an instrument of God all the time. Doing so takes shedding the ego and surrendering to Spirit. Take the step and give up the idea that other people will understand your unique calling. Just go forward in meeting your dreams head on with love in your heart. Don't have anything in your life that you don't love. If you get into fear about this ask, "Who is doing my life?" and remember the Divine Presence behind all things.
We get into fear when we feel separated from God. We are never separated from our Source and; therefore, never walking alone on this sacred path. From a deep-seated place of love and compassion allow yourself to answer the call of Spirit and take the next step in fulfilling what you came here to do. Give your gifts. Share your talent. Radiate your love.
I am divinely guided in all that I do. I am an instrument of God.
Stating this affirmation sets a law in motion like a light switch being turned on. Opportunities present themselves. Ideas flourish. Grace comes in unexpected ways. Allow the surge of Spirit to flow through you and have the courage to answer the call. Follow your heart wherever it takes you. Trust in a power of good that yearns to express itself through you.
You, too, deserve to wake up in the morning charged with love in your heart and eager to meet the day. You have everything that you need in order to blossom into your full potential. Trust that you are being supported always. Know who you are and allow yourself to be immersed in the Divine Flow. And experience how it feels to be really alive each and every day.
Peace to all.
New Joy Book Coming Soon
Live Your Joy: How to Awaken from Spiritual Slumber is now in its second printing. I'm delighted to announce that it is coming out with a beautiful new cover design. Same inspirational message, new design. Look for it at your bookstore or online at the end of June.
In an episode of my favorite TV show, The Blacklist, mastermind criminal Raymond Reddington explains luck to former FBI agent Liz Keen. He tells her that his friend was an art thief who promised his mother he would never steal a Picasso because she loved Picasso's work. One time when the thief was stealing masterpieces from a museum he came across a Picasso. While the temptation was great, he remembered his promise to his mom and did not take it. The thief considered it bad luck that here was this valuable painting that he could not acquire. It turned out, however, that the Picasso was wired to the police station and he would have been caught had he stolen it. With deep insight, Raymond tells Liz, "Sometimes bad luck is the best luck you will ever have."
Of course in New Thought we know there is no such thing as luck because our life unfolds exactly according to our thoughts and beliefs. However, what Raymond is saying is that it can be possible that things are working out for us even if they appear to be going wrong. This is what I call shake-ups that wake us. It's the transformational drama that brings us to a higher state of being - a higher vibration of love and light. While we are going through this transformational drama, we can know that everything that happens to us is for our greater good even if it doesn't seem so while we are experiencing it. So when something seems to be going wrong, keep the possibility in mind that in the bigger picture, in the grander scheme of things, something may be going right.
The obstacle, which you may view as the enemy, might possibly be your greatest friend. Think for a moment of the tadpole. I recently read somewhere that tadpoles require a huge obstacle within their environment, like a rock, to give them the incentive to climb up and split their tails so their legs can begin developing. Without this hurdle to offer resistance, they will not have the motivation to leap forward. Without the obstacle, the tadpole will not grow into a frog because they cannot learn to hop by swimming. A rock, the seeming obstacle, is vitally important to the tadpole's development.
We can learn a lot from the tadpole's experience. When a sharp, jagged rock appears in your path, for example, remember that it is there to help you grow and to carry you to the next stage of spiritual development. Just see the rock, bless it for showing up and realize that it is redirecting you to a better path. Know that there is a gift for greater growth in this opportunity and that you can continuously create new things in your life. Keep your focus on what you want and not what you don't want, and quietly observe what's happening while keeping firm in your faith.
Many coaching clients tell me that if it weren't for the obstacle they would not have awakened or come to a place of greater vision. Many of us spiritually minded people think we have to see what the lesson is in the seemingly negative experience. And we want to know right away. I tell my coaching clients instead of struggling to figure out the lesson, gather the gifts from the experience and move on in faith. Every seeming negative experience or negative interpersonal relationship offers us a gift for greater good in our lives. Many people don't see the gift until time has passed, but the gift is always present for you. Open your heart and trust that a Universal Power of Good is at work in all circumstances. Keep the faith no matter what the appearance. Surrender to Spirit and allow yourself to be in the Divine Flow no matter what is happening in the world of effects. Shift your vision and view life with gratitude and appreciation.
Thank you God for all of my life's experiences. I know that the Power of Good is behind all, in all and through all.
Allow your heart to open up and be receptive to whatever path Spirit is showing for you. Embrace all of life and live with wonder and in the magic of the moment. Don't resist the rock, don't fight it; just let it gently steer you to where you need to be going. The Universe will never let you down. Let the obstacle help you grow into the radiant spiritual being that you are just like the tadpole grows into the frog. Rest into the embrace of the Divine. Begin creating something new and wonderful in your life by centering your thoughts on what you want to manifest. And like our friend Raymond Reddington advises, take comfort knowing that what seems like bad luck may be the best luck you have ever had.
Peace to all.
At this time of year, I am inundated with coaching clients looking for a loving relationship. I am frequently asked questions such as, "How do I find my soul mate?" "How do I recognize my soul mate?" The answer to these questions is to simply master the art of loving, and everything else will fall into place.
So many of us assume that true love is what we see in movies and on television. In Hollywood films, the hero and heroine meet, fall in love, have a falling out and unite in the end to live happily ever after. At Valentine's Day, in particular, love is measured by how many diamonds, flowers, greeting cards and chocolate are purchased for the loved one. Women especially focus on their physical appearance with Americans spending over $12 billion dollars a year in cosmetic procedures. Sure these methods may bring a superficial, fleeting type of romantic love but it's not the avenue to true, lasting, spiritual love.
The key to attracting a soul mate is simply this: master the art of loving in a deep, genuine and sacred way. The type of love I am talking about is when our heart overflows with love for all, and we see the light of the Divine in everyone. This is unconditional love pure and simple - when we give without seeking, or asking for, anything in return. In this higher state of awareness, love is not reserved for one person alone. A higher consciousness develops when we are a channel for Divine Love. We undergo a spiritual transformation and expand our hearts to touch all of creation.
When we cross the bridge from conditional to unconditional love, we experience the true joy that giving of ourselves brings. Everything in your life shifts when your heart expands from giving unconditional love. You can no longer hold a grudge. You can't live from fear-based illusions. You cannot indulge in selfishness. Your vibratory rate rises, and your entire life changes because you become a magnetic energy for good.
We must listen to the urge to love beyond human constraints. We are, after all, on this planet to express God's love. While human forms of love change (people die, leave us, move away), God's love is permanent and everlasting. Love is the most powerful healing force in the universe. The last time you were emotionally wounded, it was love that healed you, love that dried your tears, love that revealed your wholeness once again.
To master the art of loving, give love. Give it fully. Give it freely. Don't keep it for just a chosen few in your life. Expand your love parameters. Let your radiant light shine and touch the heart of everyone you come in contact with. Give a smile, a touch, an act of kindness and compassion. No one can resist the flame of love that blazes out from you sweetly and beautifully.
Activating the love in you is the most powerful way to attract a soul mate. Love is irresistible. You become radiant with beauty when you are courageous enough to give your love to all. Keep in mind that your beauty is not measured by your physical attractiveness but in the amount of love in your heart that you shine onto others.
Another important key in mastering the art of loving is forgiveness. Forgiveness is essential to love. That includes letting go of the past. Holding onto grudges or resentments will not move you into a healthy relationship. Forgiveness is a key for finding a soul mate because it creates a shift in energy. It sets you free. What happened happened, and you can't change that. But you can change your energy around it. Your ability for happiness decreases as your inability to forgive increases because you have not let go. Hanging on to the past will block your future. Simply accept the gift from the experience and deepen your connection with God. Experiences of suffering and emotional woundedness are what's called in my book, Live Your Joy, "transformational drama" and "shake ups that wake us." It is through these challenges that we learn compassion, kindness and understanding. Struggles such as ones that have transpired in love relationships help us discover renewed strength and inner beauty. As painful as it might have been, forgiving expands us as spiritual beings and we come to a place of softness and gentleness.
The Divine Lover (which is God) beckons you to forgive, release and respond with love. Then we live in higher vibratory states and are fertile ground to meet a soul mate. Expansion of the heart through Divine Love results in love flourishing in personal relationships. All love given is precious. No amount of love exchanged is ever wasted. So don't be afraid to love with abandon no matter what may have happened in the past. Affirm:
I forgive, release and respond with love.
I will love every being and all of creation with all my heart and soul until all of life is uplifted by my love.
I give the endless love God has for me; one heart, one life, one mind, one love.
After practicing Divine Love, you are sure to attract your soul mate. When you do, you will recognize your beloved because you will feel drawn to that person. My research shows that people who have met their soul mates have felt magnetically drawn to the person stronger than just an attraction. Why? Because the soul recognizes the other person on a soul level. You feel a familiarity -- like you have known the person all your life. And you have because you have been together before being incarnated on this Earth.
This Valentine's Day master the art of loving by loving all in a sacred and holy way. Simply BE LOVE. This, my friends, is the secret to attracting a soul mate and the key to everlasting joy.
Be sure to take advantage of my Valentine's gift to you, which is the free book study guide on How to Attract Your Soul Mate. This guide is a powerful companion to the book. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for your free copy today.
Peace to all.
Recently, my daughter started college far from the Midwestern town that we live in. Leaving her there gave me apprehension about whether or not she would be okay, whether or not I would be okay and what would it be like to have such distance between us? Despite my concerns, all is extraordinarily well. You see, my daughter is a powerful manifester and always has been. She set her intention on going to this school in this location; and no matter what obstacles seemed to appear along the way, she would not deviate from her dream. By setting her intention and keeping her attention there, she manifested exactly what she wanted. She called me last night and to my heart's delight said, "Mom I'm living my dream."
Living our dream is what all of us want because we know that this is the key to happiness. When we live our dream, we are fulfilling our Divine Purpose resulting in a heart that expands with love, joy and passion. We break free of strain and struggle and be who we were meant to be as a unique expression of God. Sadly, many of us are not living our dream. Why? Because we are filled with fear. Instead of having the bright eyes of a young adult starting the journey, we have been immobilized by fear, holding on to the past and burdened by our conditioning. Our past struggles and disappointments freeze our hearts and prevent us from living in the Divine flow. We get into real trouble when our fear outweighs our love, and we can't move forward into a fuller and greater expression of our Divine selves.
Today, in particular, there is a great disconnect between what society dictates that we do and what we know in our hearts and souls that we are meant to do. Our true nature is not to settle for a mediocre existence eking out a living to pay the bills; rather, our true nature is love, abundance, creativity and power. But here's the upside. You can connect with the unlimited potential in you right now.
What would it take for you to live independent of what's expected of you with a passionate commitment to fulfilling your unique purpose? Ask yourself what would your life look like if you were living your dream? What would you be doing? Who would you be doing it with? Where would you be located? Don't judge what that picture looks like. Don't call it impossible or childish - just let the image flow into your mind and embody it fully. Now take one small step this week toward that dream. It doesn't matter how small it is, but let it be movement in that direction. Next week do the same and continue to take steps in the direction of manifesting a new reality. Know that you are a powerful co-creator with God, and Spirit within you wants to express fully and freely. The Universe will never say "no" when you give the green light in your consciousness.
Also be sure to empty yourself of anything unlike God. Empty yourself of fear, confusion, discord, judgement and trust that a Divine power within propels you forward. Fill your consciousness with the fact that your word is the living word of Spirit. Affirm that you are inspired and guided to fulfill your purpose right now. Your words backed by feeling have a magnetic energy behind them that sets the activity of Spirit in motion attracting like energy into your experience. The Creative Principle is acting through you always and is limitless. That's why your success in this life has nothing to do with luck or circumstance and everything to do with your consciousness.
To learn to listen to Spirit beckoning us to fulfill a greater purpose requires us to become fully realized and awakened. We must not only be aware of the Christ consciousness within us but become completely aligned with it. This means that we allow ourselves to take a journey of transformation completely -- bare of anything unlike God. We trust in a Power and Presence that will travel with us to a greater expanse of consciousness.
The ability to live your dream is here today. Take the first step and, as always, drop me an e-mail at email@example.com and let me know how it is going for you. Like my precious daughter, you can make the call to someone you love and say with joy in your heart, "I'm living my dream."
Peace to all.
I have the best job in the world. My job description is basically this: love other people. Whether I am working with Hospice families, coaching private clients or writing books, my purpose to love others remains the same. We all have the same purpose here on Earth, which is to express God as love. Opportunities to give love and kindness abound everywhere you look. It's in the loving that we are spiritually lifted to higher levels of consciousness. A heart steeped in love is the most beautiful and precious gift to the world.
The heart is the organ through which spiritual perception takes place. Which is why cultivating a kind and loving heart is the path to enlightenment. When we have this unbounded love for God and all of creation (including the animal kingdom), we attain what I call the Infinite Bliss mode of action. In this highest state of consciousness, we remain untouched by anything unlike love. Yes we are faced with challenges like anybody else; but even in the bleakest experience, we transcend those challenges and stay rooted in love. From this peaceful place, we arrive at a state of consciousness where the light of Christ within intensifies. While the Christ light can grow dim from stress, pain and negativity, it can never be severed from you. It is the eternal flame of Spirit alive within each one of us.
In this high place of awareness, we become fully awakened and realized human beings who don't love out of clinging, or for validation, but from fullness of our heart giving and seeking nothing in return. Our love is transformed from a "what can I get from this" attitude to an overflowing river of generosity. From this vantage point, we drop the ego and stand pure as an instrument of God on Earth. For me, when I begin my day I request the angels use me as their instrument to bring divine messages, guidance and blessings to those I meet. I ask the angels to use my human form as their messenger on Earth. This sets the tone for the day and I feel wide expansion in my heart from being a willing and humble servant of the celestial realm.
To love completely, we shed any hard shell that we might be using as protection. We discard the mantle of hard-heartedness, no matter what anyone has done to hurt us. When we drop the armor that seemingly protects us, we feel deep compassion and unbounded joy. What a relief to no longer hold any grudges, resentments or judgements no matter what the appearance. After all, we know there is always a bigger spiritual picture that our human minds cannot fathom. If we entrust our affairs into the keeping of Spirit, we are released from the clutches of anything unlike love and can let our soft and gentle side be predominant in our lives. Life's hardships can toughen us or can make us more understanding and kind. When we clear away the weeds that strangle our capacity for unconditional love, our heart becomes wide open for the living Presence of God. This is the moment when the awakening takes place.
As spiritually savvy readers of this newsletter, you are already a loving individual. Now I'm inviting you to go a little deeper, to become more sensitive and vulnerable and empty yourself of everything except love. I'm not talking about doing random acts of kindness (although it is one form of love). I'm talking about emptying your heart of anything and everything that is unlike love - release blame, guilt, resentments, pettiness, grievances, criticism and judgements - and let your heart be bathed in the warm glow of love. For success in this life is not measured by how much money we make, but by how much love we give. Start your day volunteering to be an instrument of love. Let the Christ light shine bright and strong, and step into the glory of sacred love. This is our job description for eternity - to love and be the light on Earth. Let's walk this path together and uplift the world and those who live in it.
Peace to all.
Lately, I've been making preparations for my daughter to leave home for college in January. I can't help but reflect on all the shared times we've had together and how my role as mom is going to change. "What will I be," I asked myself, "without being a hands-on mom, without my girl bursting through the door each day full of vitality." As I wondered what I will become, I thought about all of humanity and what we would be without the labels we have adopted. I realized that when we stand bare before God and shed everything else, we are in a most sacred space. We are much more than father, mother, husband, wife, brother, sister or however we define ourselves. We are spiritual beings who get to embrace all of life's changes - the comfortable ones and the not so comfortable ones.
When our lives change in significant ways, we get to express an even greater version of ourselves. That need to express more than we can fathom is the Divine urge pressing against us inviting us to fulfill our dreams. It's much like the child leaving the nest filled with excitement about living the life they have always dreamed of. Is there a Divine urge nudging you to express your authentic self in new ways? Are you yearning to stop just getting by and start living a life passionate about every day? The greatest awakenings come when we are thrust into the face of change. Sometimes that change is fraught with challenges, but it is the fuel for growth and expansion. For example, this past year I personally had challenges and changes. These changes led me to fulfilling my dream of earning a Doctorate in Divinity, working on a new book that I am passionate about and feeling my heart expand into a greater state of love and compassion. I accepted the invitation to express my authentic self and more of my full potential.
Reflect for a moment on whether you are daring to live your full potential. Or are you taking the safe path even though the life force has diminished, for example, being in a relationship where the connection has died, settling for a job that doesn't excite you, drowning in a sea of bills that keep piling up. What if you answered the Divine urge and took a leap of faith? What would your life look like if you stood bare before God and trusted that you can live your dreams? What would happen if you did not resist the Divine urge pressing against you to trust in something greater than yourself and create something new? God is constantly beckoning you to expand, to grow to step out into new territory and not to stay stagnant in the realm of the known. Within each of us is a fearlessness that is willing to explore unknown territory and dare to live passionately, which always translates into success and, more importantly, translates into a heart steeped in love and kindness.
In the poignant words of Christopher Logue,
"Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It's too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came,
And he pushed,
And they flew."
I invite you to come to the edge and dare to achieve your dreams. Come work with me if you are afraid to take the step alone, and, as always, send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how you are doing. I promise if you come to the edge, you will not fall.
Peace to all.
The way to happiness is not by accumulating wealth, climbing the career ladder or acquiring material items. The secret to happiness is simply this: give to others without expecting anything in return. When you drop the ego, stop focusing on the "I" and focus on others, the doors to happiness will be thrust wide open.
Giving loving-kindness and compassion not only ensures happiness but it helps others on their path of awakening. The kindness I am talking about here is what I call "authentic kindness." It springs from deep in the heart and is not something we are doing because we should or feel we have to. It is kindness at its purest and comes from realizing that we are all connected - we are all part of the one source, one heart, one life, which is God. Realizing the inter-connectedness of all is what allows kindness, love and compassion to spring from deep in our hearts and touch others in a most intimate way.
This is what Jesus was talking about when he said to love your neighbor as yourself. He was talking about actually seeing your neighbor as an extension of your very own being. He taught nondual, or unitive, consciousness - no separation between God and humans or between humans and humans.
Coming from this nondual consciousness opens our hearts and allows us to have authentic kindness from within that extends out to others and eliminates their suffering. The Mahayanan Buddhists call this heartfelt need to alleviate suffering in others and help them awaken, bodhichitta. When we have a bodhichitta attitude, we yearn to be an instrument of Spirit to bring peace, love and joy to sentient beings.
What can interfere with our inherent kindness are the challenges in this life that harden our hearts making us anxious, afraid and selfish. But we have a choice. We can take life's hard knocks as a way to soften our hearts and cultivate a gentle, loving attitude. Instead of breeding anger, negativity and blame, we can touch the tenderness of our sadness and use it to deepen our compassion for others. Even during our most difficult times, we can connect with the loving heart of bodhichitta. It's always within us like a flame of love that is never extinguished.
Keep in mind that bodhichitta attitude is not about doing random acts of kindness to rack up good points with God. It's about a profound kindness that bursts from our hearts and creates a yearning to help others on their paths. One good way to develop bodhichitta attitude is to wake up in the morning and dedicate your life to others. Say an affirmation such as:
"God use me as your instrument today. May I go about this day bringing love and compassion to all who I meet."
In this way, you will have unbounded joy and happiness the whole day long. We need this attitude in the workplace, community, families and in our government today.
Another way to develop bodhichitta attitude is keeping at the forefront of our minds that other people feel just like us - they have the same feelings, needs and fears that we do. Remembering our shared humanity with others we are able to send loving-kindness not only to those we love, but to those who have harmed us as well. This is the deepest form of compassion, and it is this compassion that heals us as individuals and as a society.
What's next on the path of enlightenment? For me, I am making a commitment to nourishing my bodhichitta attitude. Won't you join me in this effort? I'm certain it will bring about the most happiness for yourself and those in the world today. I invite you to drop me an e-mail email@example.com and tell me what you are doing to enhance the bodhichitta attitude in you.
Peace to all.
Spiritual Coaching with Rev. Barbara
"Barbara Gulbranson helped me through one of the darkest periods of my life. She shined a light on my situation, providing healing and comfort. Her confident and compassionate guidance helped me to resolve and move on from a long career that no longer fulfilled me. I cannot imagine where I would be today if it were not for Barbara's skillful and loving coaching. I thank Spirit that at the exact moment of my greatest sense of desperation, I found Barbara's book, Live Your Joy: How to Awaken from Spiritual Slumber, which prompted my contacting her for a session and starting on a new path of really living my own joy. Barbara's work is truly a gift to the world."
-- Mickey Hay, PhD. Thriving in the Third Act
Have you listened to how you talk to yourself lately? I mean really listened to the tapes playing in your mind. They've played for so long now that you probably don't notice anymore. When we participate in negative self-talk, we're judge, jury and prosecutor all in our minds. We would never speak to a stranger that way and definitely not a friend. And because the law corresponds to our thinking, you can be sure your judgments and criticisms will manifest as conditions in your life.
Here are some examples (you can fill in your own blanks). Have you ever thought?
"I'm always buried in bills,"
"I'm never going to get promoted,"
"I'm fat and unlucky,"
"I always come in second, never first."
These lies you tell yourself keep your childhood wounds fresh and upfront in your daily life. Today, I'm asking you to make a radical change and to start speaking to yourself in a loving manner. Your life will always present challenges and hurdles to climb, but your false stories don't create positive energy to meet those challenges in a productive way. We are our own worst enemies, and judging ourselves is a destructive habit we must break.
Here's an example from my own life. Yesterday I was working out with my trainer. I was about 10 minutes from the end of the session. Suddenly my chest began to hurt, I couldn't catch my breath and I felt like my chest was caving in. Surely I would never make it to the end of the session. My inner voice was already being critical of me whispering "Who do you think you are? A bodybuilder? An athlete? You're just a girl from Queens who couldn't throw or catch a softball in grade school. No one wanted you on their team. You're spastic. You're terrible at sports." I felt like a complete failure, and then my trainer reminded me that I could do it. He said, "B, you're just afraid of falling. Don't worry. The floor will catch you every time." His words made me laugh and helped me remove the self-criticism from my mind, and I was able to catch my breath and make it through the workout. With my trainer's motivation, the negative self-talk was neutralized.
Our negative self-talk has tremendous power over us. Catch yourself today if you hear yourself speaking unkindly to yourself. Remember these are lies that were fabricated when you were younger. Next time they appear, stop and really look at what's behind these thoughts. Is it fear? Is it hurt? Is it sorrow? Take a moment to dismantle them by seeing the emotion behind it. You see, the truth is that you are a beautiful child of the Divine with all of the qualities of God within you. You are that peace, power, beauty, love, harmony, creativity and wholeness right now.
This evening before going to bed, I invite you to do something to deflate these thoughts. Look in the mirror (yes you can do it), and say these truths about yourself:
"I am beautiful,"
"I am whole,"
"I am worthy."
Say these statements again in the morning when you wake up and repeat them during the day when you catch yourself having a negative thought about yourself. Be gentle and patient as you allow these new thoughts to take root in your mind.
Relax and feel the love of the Divine express in you, as you and through you. Know that God did not make a mistake in creating you perfect, whole, complete and glorious. Stand in your truth right now and I promise your life will change. You will have the full bounty of love, peace, power and happiness right now. But first stop judging yourself so harshly and practice loving kindness on yourself and all of humanity. Develop deep compassion for yourself and others and feel the love in your heart expand to new heights.
And, yes, during my training session, I realized that the exertion wasn't what was weighing me down. My critical self-talk was the weight that needed releasing. Once I realized that I was able to take a deep breath, dissolve it and complete the workout.
When negative self-talk appears for you, I ask you to look the lie squarely in the face and don't let these thoughts derail you. Remember,
"You are beautiful,"
"You are whole,"
"You are worthy."
Peace to all.
Dr. Barbara Gulbranson is one of the nation's leading spiritual teachers, author, spiritual coach, ordained minister and director of the Suicide Prevention Center, a program of United Health Services.