Keeping with my promise from yesterday to keep this simple…
I am committed to doing this Journey as deeply and intensely as I can every day, for 40 days.
I am committed to releasing judgments, and to staying still and calm in the eye of any storm.
I dedicate myself, my work, this Journey to you.
I always say things like, “We’re all in this together”; “When one is lifted, all are lifted”; “Oneness…blah blah blah…Equality…blah…Love is ALL…blah blah……Oneness (again!) blah blah blah.”
Well. I believe all that, even the “blah blah blah”. What I know from experience is that when I go deeper and find those nuggets of Truth, something in you opens. When I go deeper and release my obstructions, hindrances, fears, uncertainties, doubts…something in you releases. (You may not know it…but we are–truly–all connected.)
This Journey I do for you, for your discovery of Truth, for your release of the things that hold you from it.
John Cassian, a saint in the Orthodox Christian tradition, was a late 14th, early 15th century ascetic monk. In his writings, he relayed a story of John the Evangelist, here paraphrased:
“St. John the Evangelist was one day sitting quietly with a partridge in his lap, gently petting the bird. A hunter came up to him, and in an accusatory way asked how St. John, a man of high standing and repute, could be found demeaning himself with such a base amusement.
St. John looked at the hunter and his bow and asked, “You are hunting. Why do you not have your bow strung and pulled?”
The hunter replied, “If I always had my bow pulled, its tension would tire my arm, then I would not have the strength and vigor to deal a forcible blow, when I come upon prey.”
St. John replied, “Just so. This brief relaxation of my mind similarly eliminates constant tension, so that when I am called upon by Spirit to do Its bidding, I can obey.”
A 40 day Journey holds the mind in tension—the tension of being and becoming. The ten-day reprieve between Journeys is like petting a partridge. At the end of a Journey, my mind deflates; it just lets out all of the tension in one deep exhale as I attend to “base amusements”, so to speak. I re-accustom myself to what my life feels like when it’s not on a Journey, when I am not in that mode of constant contemplation, heightened awareness, and always attuned to connections, alignments, and congruences (or inconsistencies).
For the first few days after this Journey I felt almost lost, unanchored, like I was drifting aimlessly. I didn’t know what to do with myself; my routine was not there to tether me. Life without the Journey felt disassembled, fragmented, and random. This was not unexpected, nor was it upsetting or inconvenient…it was just different. At times I have caught myself thinking, “Is this how people experience their lives [without a Journey to anchor them]—fragmented and random”? Of course, I will never really know the answer to that question.
By the end of a Journey, my mind can be pretty worn out. It takes a lot of energy to maintain a contemplative practice, especially while maintaining a semblance a “normal modern life”. Everyone’s point of tension is different; that is one of the reasons I encourage people to do what they can do, drop by drop. Everyone needs a rest from the mental-emotional-spiritual-physical work, and only each individual knows that point for him/herself. I honor your work. If you are here, reading this, I know you have commitment to your inner work, whether it is with me on these Journeys, or through your own practices.
I also honor your base amusements! The time spent in relaxing the tension gives force and vigor to the next movement!
It occurs to me that even this is part of the overall alignment. In a way, I am at a similar place as I was in May, when I began Journey of Abundance. This time of rest is a period of allowing the spiritual work to merge with the material experience.
When I am in the Journey, doing the work, I am consciously, intentionally moving my mind, becoming. At the end of the Journey, the effort has brought me to a new place of being. Doing the work is the tension; relaxing is allowing that new place of being to exist in my life naturally, easily, without the work…thus the necessary period of rest and re-alignment.
In each of these Journeys, there is an aligning process of a different aspect of the spiritual-material experience. If we accept that humans are “multi-faceted”, then this aligning process must occur with and for each of these facets…infinitely, until everything is aligned.
It feels daunting and exciting all at the same time. Step by step, drop by drop.
Each time I finish a Journey, regardless of how mentally tired I am, I am still greatly overwhelmed with gratitude for how far I’ve come. This time of reflection helps me to see it, appreciate it, to know this is a process, and the process changes me and my experience of life. So often, when I am in the Journey, I have a sort of tunnel vision: I interpret experiences through the Journey. Stepping back helps me to understand the whole thing, to watch my steps, to watch my own evolution.
How did I do on this Journey of Freedom? For the past several days, I have been assessing the Journey, and that has resulted in self-criticism. Without going back and actually reading the Journey with fresh eyes, I was thinking, “I really let myself down on this Journey. I did not live up to my expectations. I had a whole lot of days when I was not in the right mind-space, in the flow…” Then I went back and read: Why, oh, why do I psych myself out like that? The Journey was fine. In fact, I can see, and now feel, progress. All is as it should be. Now I feel good, optimistic, and ready to start the next Journey!
The next Journey should be fun (for real). It’s a Journey of Gratitude. The value and benefit of gratitude has been circulating in the mass mind for a few years now with the Gratitude Challenge, and gratitude memes on social media. Unlike the mass gratitude movement, the Journey of Gratitude is going to go broader and deeper than just gratitude (would you expect less?). It is going to pick up where a Journey of Freedom left off, and begin to explore the connections between gratitude and trust, gratitude and living harmoniously, gratitude and Divine individuality, gratitude and expansion, gratitude and praise…
When we live in that mental-emotional-spiritual space of Divine Love and trust, praise and gratitude are a natural extension of our Being, and of our experience in the material world. How can we not be grateful for Being and being in Divine Love? That is the experience I am going for—knowing the fullness of my Being so thoroughly I cannot help but to praise and thank all of Life for who I am. Would you like to join me?
I focus my mind and thoughts on my Inner Divine Self—my Self of Peace, my Self of Joy, my Self of Infinite Being and Intelligence. When I am aware of my Inner Divine Self, I radiate these qualities, expressing the freedom of Being in Life!
When I write about the Inner Divine Self, I am writing about a concept that is vast. This concept is not something that can be considered superficially; there is a lot to it. It abides a variety of other concepts, without which, the Inner Divine Self is incomplete. Today, I am going deeper into this concept and invite you to consider for yourself these concepts, and what the Inner Divine Self means for you.
Most people consider the Divine in association with a concept of God. The problem with this is that some people don’t believe in God, others believe that we can’t know if God exists. I believe in God, but I also believe that people who don’t believe in God, or people who don’t know if He exists, have the qualities of love, compassion, kindness, or acceptance. These qualities are different for everyone, whether or not a person believes in God. For me, when I am thinking about “the Divine” I am thinking about the qualities and how they are embodied within me, not a supernatural being who inhabits my body.
So, when I contemplate the Inner Divine Self, I am contemplating the qualities of love, peace, compassion, joy, kindness, sharing, giving, etc.
Because I believe I can always grow and evolve into embodying and expressing more of these qualities, I also like to think of the potential for these qualities to grow infinitely. Doing this pushes me further. I know I have just a sliver of how much love, compassion, and kindness is possible. People I see or read about that express these qualities so naturally and easily are sources of inspiration to me (whether or not they believe in God). These are qualities I want to embody, so I am willing to work on it.
What I have experienced is when I am consciously working on these qualities within myself; I do embody them—“radiate” them, if you will. Bringing those qualities into my life, into my relationship has nothing to do with my belief in (or someone else’s disbelief in or uncertainty about) God. For me, the term “divine” is more about learning more of these qualities: scriptures and sacred texts teach us about these qualities; their value is in showing us how to be better humans. But there are a lot of non-theistic writings and teaching that teach people about these qualities: Buddhism is an atheistic philosophy. Humanism, which broadly teaches how to “create a better world”, relies heavily on concepts like dignity, integrity, kindness, and interdependence (often extended to animals and nature).
I want to be a better human. It’s really very simple, in this regard. I use what tools I can to do so. Sometimes I use philosophy, sometimes meditation/contemplation, sometimes prayer. Contemplating my “Inner Divine Self” is, for me, a way of thinking, “How can I do this better?What are the qualities I need to work on today? Where have I been inconsiderate? Where have I been selfish? What do I need to do to change that in myself? What is the highest concept that I can express right now? What are the highest thoughts I can have right now?”
Trusting life allows the flow of Divine energy to come in and through me to bless All. I step gracefully into expansive, unlimited, harmonious, Divine being. I praise and thank Life for supporting me, and I relax in its process.
Trusting life leads to relaxing in the process of life. That’s a bit of a chicken and an egg situation, don’t you think? Which comes first, the trusting or the relaxing? How do I relax if I can’t trust; how do I trust if I can’t relax?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about patterns like this: one thing leads to another, to another, and then back to the original place it started. In this Guiding Thought, the first thing is trust, which leads to Divine Energy, which leads to gracefully stepping into Divine Being. Once that step is taken, it’s as if there is this “a-ha” moment, in which I realize how amazing it is to trust life, because of what that brings (gracefully stepping into Divine Being) and it becomes easy and natural to praise and thank life, and to relax in its process.
But it all depends on that first step—in this case trusting life. I feel a bit like this is spinning…in a different way. Instead of wanting to stop something, I want to start something; I want to get the spinning going, and I am not quite sure how. (I get hung up on that how thing a lot, don’t I?)
This is actually very different than the spin cycle. With the spin cycle, the loop kept spinning in one place: not knowing. It fed back into itself and always led to not knowing. Instead, this cycle is an experiential loop that proceeds through different stages, leading back to the same place, but with the experience of that place (trust).
So in this loop, the loop itself takes you through a progression. The more you can tap into experiencing where this cycle is taking you at each turn, the more confidently you can approach the next bend.
I think, though, I was wrong when I said above that “it all depends on that first step.” Now that I think about it, in this cycle, I could start anywhere, and the progression would still “work”. If I don’t feel particularly trusting, I can skip that “step”, and focus on allowing Divine Energy to flow. If I don’t feel the flow, I can focus on blessing all. If I don’t feel that mojo, I can think about being my Divine Self and do my best to be that. It doesn’t matter where I start. Each step leads to the next one, regardless. It’s just a matter of starting…wherever you are, wherever feels right. They all lead to a new experience, which leads you ultimately back to Life itself, supporting you, supporting the process. Just start.
It occurs to me that the next Journey will pick up where this is leaving off. The next Journey is a Journey of Gratitude, which is all about praising and thanking life, being truly happy with your Self, and blessing all through your Divine Presence. It’s no accident these things work the way they do. If you have had some trouble on this Journey…let’s see where gratitude can take us; I am looking forward to it!
My connection with the Infinite Source of Love is and always has been enough. Love loves me always, everywhere. Assured in love, I am perfectly lovable and perfectly loving with all people in all situations.
Have you ever picked something up to put it away or use it, gotten distracted and put it down, then just a few minutes later forgotten where you put it? Have you ever lost your wallet or keys and retraced your steps trying to figure out where you left them? In the moments I have done things like this, I was thinking, “I just had it…what did I do with it?” Or, “This is something I use all the time, how could I have lost it?”
I find myself in similar situations when it comes to Love, my Inner Divine Self, or my connection with Source. “I know I had this, what did I do with it, where did it go? Where is the ease and flow of Love?”
It baffles me that I can forget in a few moments where I have placed something; it baffles me that I can have such clarity and strength in Divine Love, then something happens, or I sleep, or go to the store, and I don’t “have” it anymore. How does this happen!?
There have been periods of time in my life when I was simply clear and connected; every day I was solid. I look back on those times and wonder what I was doing, what I was thinking, how was I there? On every Journey so far, there have been days of clarity, of Knowing, of certainty, and assuredness. And on every Journey, there have been days of doubt, skepticism, or uncertainty.
Do spiritual leaders have days of doubt, skepticism, or uncertainty? Did Paramahansa Yogananda? Did Nicholas Cusanus? Does the Pope? Does His Holiness the Dalai Lama?
So often, we hear about elation, exaltation, joy, peace, stillness—the qualities that are so often associated with a divine experience, but rarely do people want to mention darkness, doubt, fear, lack of faith, turmoil.
Does God understand? I know he does (of course!), but this simple question gnaws at me sometimes…does God understand that my doubt and uncertainty have nothing to do with my love or my striving? That I, myself, do not understand my turmoil and that creates further doubt? Does He understand that I know these feelings are causing feelings of separation, of lovelessness, and that I understand those things are not His Will, but I don’t know how to fix it?
This is a bit of a leap, bear with me, but it made sense in an odd way: Hershel Greene, of AMC’s TheWalking Dead, once said, “You walk outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water, you risk your life. Nowadays you breathe and you risk your life. You don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for.” Somehow that fits, “You don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for.” We don’t always have a choice when the distractions come up, when we forget, when anger wells, when the frustration overwhelms, when the darkness creeps in. “The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for.” The nature of life is this ebb and flow, the risk of never exploring the darkness is never finding more light.
In Buddhist teachings, suffering is the human condition, the nature of life. Any one in a physical body goes through suffering—mental and emotional turmoil. This is known as the First Noble Truth; everyone suffers. Too often, this is where people remain. They don’t know they have a choice, that understanding suffering is the first step on the path to relieving suffering. “You don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for.”
When it comes up, do you go deeper into darkness, or do you use it to go deeper into answers, into awareness? Do you use it to question yourself, “What happened? How did I get here? How did I become lost in this?” And retrace your steps to find your Self again? Or do you remain in despair? What do you choose to use it for?
People don’t intentionally forget where they put something like keys or a wallet. People don’t intentionally forget their connection to Divine Source. Being human is about making the choice to remember; just like we can retrace our steps to find our keys, we can choose to use our human condition to remember better, to understand how we forgot in the first place, and choose different causes.
I allow my physical body to experience itself fully as Light and Love. My physical body embodies Light; I am an expanded body of Light and Sound. I move as Light, perceive as Light, behave as Light—I am everywhere—permeating, expanding, unifying, and healing. All things are possible.
What if everything were neutral? What if every encounter was a blank slate, unmarred by memories or expectations? What if everything was fully Love and Light, equal in Being?
What would that be like? I can’t even imagine. But what if it really were possible? What if living in the fullness of Love and Light really is the reality of Being?
What if all things really were possible? What if I could expand, unify, and heal…in this body, in this life, in some span of time that occurred before bodily death? What if I could know myself as Light and Sound?
Do I believe any of this? None of these Journeys make any sense whatsoever unless on some level I believe what I am saying throughout: that I believe every drop counts, that every thought, action, emotion matters, that we areon a Journey of Freedom, a Journey of Truth, a Journey of Knowing and living our Divine Selves.
There is so little I know or understand! How am I expected to believe when I don’t know or understand; when I cannot see connections, causes, effects; when I do not know my place in life, in the great chain of being; when I don’t know my purpose, or if I even matter?
I am asking myself to believe in the unknown, the unseen, the incomprehensible. I am asking myself to trust there is more to this than I will probably ever understand.
So, do I believe this?
Yeah, I do. Sometimes I can’t believe I believe it. Sometimes I don’t understand what it is I believe (most of the time!) or why. A lot of the time I roll my eyes. Sometimes, I shake my head at myself. You are way too rational and skeptical for this. When I look at other people who have faith, who do “god-talk”, who talk about love and light, I think they must be crazy…and yet, here I am.
Here I am.
There is so much knowledge and information that has been around for eons upon eons that people today have not figured out. There are things mystics seem to understand, something they communicate through poetry (Rumi, Lao Tzu). There are mysteries of life and beyond. Who would I be to question or doubt the unknown, the unknowable, the immense body of information that I simply do not have access to? My little sliver of knowing is nothing in the enormity of what is out there, the ages upon ages of wisdom and learning.
There are so many clues pointing us toward something more, something beyond. Clues have been out there for thousands upon thousands of years. How long have ideas of Prana/Qi/Ki existed? How long has Om existed? How long has it been taught that people can channel said energy, and that it is all around us, surrounding us, and within us? How long have people been teaching that breath connects us to this energy?
I realized as I was writing this, I can’t…not believe. I can’t rely on just what I know to convince me of what reality is. I have to believe there is some wisdom of the ages that I simply do not yet understand, maybe that I don’t yet have access to. I have to believe I can get there, I can follow the clues, I can do the meditations, I can explore and experiment and get closer.
On some level, I can’t believe that I am saying “I can’t…not believe” and I’m rolling my eyes, shaking my head. But when I really look within and think about who I am and what I do Know (which barely scratches the surface)…that’s enough…this is who I am, this is right for me…this is my pursuit, slowly ascending the path of enlightenment and liberation.
Through my physical body, I bring Divine Light and Love to the physical universe. I heal unresolved issues through loving thoughts, words, and emotions, and I become lighter and brighter. I bring light to all I have denied and heal my past-present-future NOW. Every day I am lighter and lighter!
Back to basics!
It’s just so interesting to me how we have SO many different aspects we are bringing into alignment. Sure, there’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, which are kind of the big umbrella terms, but within each of these there are different “breakdowns”: physical has to do with food, exercise, health, work, relationships, sexuality, use of time, sleep, etc. Mental can be about information, logic, puzzles, intelligence, creativity, how we process stimuli, meaning, interpretation, perception, etc. Emotional… how many different emotions are there? I won’t list them! And Spiritual can be about healing, sensitivity to others, openness to the inner divine, transcendence, enlightenment, meditation, love, etc. The point is that under each big umbrella aspect, there are infinite aspects, and each of those can be broken down further and then even further still.
When I think about feeling “off”, it’s good for me to remember this. I have been very much in my head over the past few days, disconnected from my feelings…but, it’s not that something is “off”, rather it’s that something is coming into alignment. Everything else is aligned and is running smoothly, but this one thing, it’s still adjusting, and it’s affecting other parts until it comes into alignment too.
Have you ever put up a canopy tent by yourself? There are four legs that hold up a canvas or vinyl top; the legs are most often two metal tubes, one sliding into the other and held in place by a pin. Each leg, in turn, needs to be extended by inches until they are all extended to their full height. With four people, it’s easy—you just put one person at each corner, and everyone at the same time slides the metal tubes on their corner, extending the legs, lifting the canopy, 1 – 2 – 3…done!
But with only one person it’s not so simple. With one person, you have to start at one corner and slide the legs out an inch or two—they get stuck at a certain point because the other legs are not also extending, which puts pressure on the sliding leg. Then you go to the next corner and slide it up an inch or two, then go to the next corner and slide it up an inch or two. By the time you get to the fourth corner, you can usually slide the leg up two or three inches, because the pressure has been relieved from raising the other three corners. But then you have to go back to the first corner, raise it up two or three inches…go to the next corner… raise it up two or three inches. You get the idea. You walk around the canopy, continuing to shimmy the legs up one at a time, a little by little. By the fourth corner of each rotation, all of the legs are at about the same point, so the shimmying is easy on that one corner then, you can start over.
Think of those legs as the mental-spiritual-physical-emotional aspects of being. They all work together to hold up the canopy of Divine Love. (May I have some hippy music for the background, please? >rolling my eyes< Maybe a daisy chain?)
We’re raising the canopy by shimmying each of the poles up, one corner at a time. Work on the emotional aspect…good, it’s in position; now go to the mental aspect and shimmy it…good, now it’s raised; now work on that physical alignment… there ya go!
Most of the time one or more leg is out of alignment with the rest. Until all legs are up at the same time, something is going to feel catawampus. But that feeling is not that something is wrong; it’s that something is shimmying into alignment.