Doing Our Spiritual Work

Picture by -- mon of the loin

For 18 years, I had chronic back pain.  It began four or five months before I was in an automobile accident or I might have blamed the other driver.  I had been working full time,  doing research for my doctoral thesis, moved in with my husband’s family, taken a new job which I barely tolerated,  left it for another job with higher visibility,  and regularly traveled internationally. I began to have constant pain during those months and then I was hit from behind by a van at a stop light.  The entire back of my car was crunched to the back seat.   I wore a neck brace off and on for months. This began my chronic pain odyssey.

Looking back,  my way of responding to all this could be summed up as pushing, harder and harder. I did not really reevaluate my choices, take care of myself, ask my Greater Power for help or work less.  In truth, I did not personally know a Higher Power.  I was determined not to let the pain, hold me back, keep me down or seal my fate.  I simply ramped up doctors’ appointments, scheduled more exercise,  added weight lifting, and mostly tried to ignore the pain during the week.  However, every Saturday, I was either a whiny lump in the bed or an angry, impatient demanding person, still on the treadmill of life.

I don’t know if someone had suggested then, that I meditate whether I would have listened. Probably not, as I was not listening much anywhere and certainly not to myself.   I was so determined to “get this pain licked” that I pursued all types of treatments and doctors looking for a cure.  I went about this with my relentless determination to conquer the pain.  I simply would not give up and I would not be beaten.

One day when I had gotten my husband to rig up a picnic bench on a 45 degree angle and had strapped myself to it with bungee cords, head down, feet up,  I did briefly wonder whether I was completely beyond the pale.  Bless his heart, he did not say a word !  I could have been dubbed “the little train that could”.  At that point,  I had not yet encountered anything that I could not manage, respond to, overcome or solve, myself.  The idea of asking for help from God literally never crossed my mind.  There was help everywhere.  Along this pain trek,  I had personally experienced enough pain management techniques to write a book.  I knew I was an independent woman, completely competent and self-sufficient, just one in constant pain.

Picture by -- ericarhiannon

The pain finally wore me down. My stubborn independent streak was very deep, however and persisted for 16 years until I actually asked out loud for help.   I was away on a weekend with my husband and was  in such excruciating and constant pain that I was in the bath tub crying, running the water so he could not hear me.  In a moment of great surrender, I said out loud that I so desperately wanted to be free of pain so that I could stop focusing on me all the time and use my energy to help others.  By that time, all my discretionary time went to pain management and seeking help.  I had lost myself in all that misery.  I had hit bottom.

It took me hitting bottom before I really, really asked with all my heart, my soul and my energy for help from the Great I AM.  When my time came, I was calling out for help from a sense of  deep anguish and pain.  The moment though froze in my memory because I realized it was the first time I had actually asked for help for myself.  I had spent years and years trying to get well myself and I suppose I thought this was my last hope.

My general learning from this odyssey in looking back is:

  • ask for Divine help in the beginning
  • ask in as many ways as needed
  • ask knowing without a doubt help will come
  • hold the healing space until it comes
  • stay open as to how it comes

Ask even if you don’t think you know how, even if you don’t think you know God, even if you think you have asked before and feel you were not answered.  Ask anyway.  Keep asking.

The question may arise, do we ask God for help in the same way we might ask a friend for help? Maybe yes, maybe no.   No, if we think of asking for help when we feel lack, insufficiency, need or frustration.  Yes, if we ask friends for help from a place of appreciation, possibility and expansive positiveness.  When we come to a place where we feel imbalance, ask knowing that all the help that is needed is available, that your positive energy is expansive,  that the Universe is full of infinite possibility.  Limitation is fear speaking, not possibility speaking.

These are the most powerful commands I know, which I take to Divine Knowing now, when I am in a situation which is unbalanced.

  • Show me where am I separated from God/Divine Peace/The Great I AM.
  • Show me what lessons I need to learn before I can move on from here.
  • Show me the  fear I am I carrying which is fueling my pain/this situation/my thoughts and feelings.
  • Show me what benefits I am getting from continuing to live my life the way I have been in this situation.

I have to be absolutely sure I am fully ready to ask for this type of support and insight before I act.  What usually follows is a series of  very tough interactions with people or myself, usually resulting in my feeling upset, angry, embarrassed or all three until I “get” what is fueling my pain,  my situation or my relationship.  Before I knew this, I did not realize I was jumping into the flames and that this was super hard and super productive.  Typically when I ask to be shown,  I get many, many chances in the space of a few days to fully see what I am doing which is manifesting imbalance in my life.

kill the voices_by_aindschie

One week when I was just beginning to see what was behind my back pain,  I got very angry with everyone in my path because I felt I was getting no support on several projects at work,  on every single task at home and from committee members at my church.  By the end of the week,  I was literally steaming and in horrible pain as well.   I finally got that if I continued to think I needed no help, was totally self-sufficient and continued to make no space for people to want to help me, I would continue to feel as I was feeling.

Love Light by Dreamer

As I let this all sink in, my back started to relax.  Here was a tiny glimmer of connection.  This glimmer  continued to grow and grow as I learned to stop pushing myself, began to ask for needed help with appreciation and felt moved to feel gratitude inside for my blessings.  At the end of the week, I remembered that I had of my own accord, asked to be shown what lessons I needed to learn.  I was dumbfounded by  the entire week.  It had all been orchestrated for my learning.  This was both humbling and utterly amazing for me to experience my very own self.

We can only change ourselves.   However, we can spend as much time as we want to thinking of how to change others,  what it would look like if another would act in a certain way and what it would be like for us if they would simply change and do it our way.   In fact, we can spend whole lifetimes thinking in this way.  We have all the time we need.  It is up to us.  We can change our thoughts and feeling now, or later, or never.  We only have consequences ahead to encounter, depending on our choices.

Focusing on changing others is a great way to remain separated from our own power.  If we work out our imbalances as other people’s issues, we can repeat the situations over and over again in all kinds of settings until we do finally get good and tired, or good and sick, or good and fed up.   Then we might begin to ask to be shown what we need to learn with our entire heart and soul in order to work our way out of the imbalances we are in.

This is doing our spiritual work. This is growing our consciousness.  This is claiming our power.  This is creating with the bountiful love that is all around us.  This is the future that awaits us which is full of the amazing choices for love in every aspect of our lives.  When we look at our part in imbalance, with love and seeking, we are likely to see what we have not seen before, name it, release it and move on.  And so it is, for all of us.

If you would like to comment on this piece, please click below on no comments, yet and be a first.

Asking Forgiveness

If we are already forgiven for what we have done, as it says in the Bible, why do we need to ask for forgiveness ourselves?

In Psalm 103, we read, “Praise the Lord with affection and do not forget God’s blessings and benefits, for God forgives all your iniquities and heals all your diseases.  In summary, therefore, this does say, all is forgiven.

for future generations... by Amanky

Asking for forgiveness, however,  is as much about our receiving forgiveness and knowing we have been forgiven as it is about the asking.  If we don’t ask for the forgiveness we need, we keep carrying around the imbalanced energy of what we have done which has caused that imbalance.  When we receive forgiveness, we reestablish the whole,  we open ourselves to healing and to the blessings of Divine Grace.  That opens up many other options of healing for us as well.  The forgiveness is always in the unformed energy around us.  If we ask for forgiveness, we give it form by making the request, and the vibration actually comes into our energy field bringing a new balance and equilibrium where we have been out of balance.  The Iranian mystic Rumi says, ” if you never know forgiveness, you’ll never know the blessings God gives”.

Forgiveness is a prerequisite to authentic prayer. If we are harboring negative thoughts or feelings in our hearts, they literally short-circuit and neutralize our prayers.  When forgiveness is received, what has been previously blocked or sealed off from love is thereby opened to receive God’s Love.  That’s how it happens.  When we are too filled up with un-forgiveness, there is no room, no space, no place of peace where we can receive the Love of God.  It’s like having a house too full of clutter to be able to offer a guest a place to sit and rest.

You might  feel you have been asking for Divine Healing Presence but that you do not feel it. Why might that be? It is most likely something in the connection and it is probably on our side.   One of the most prevalent reasons for a poor connection with Spirit is blockage because  we need to forgive someone or we need forgiveness ourselves.  Another block may be that we are not consciously seeking a relationship with Divine Energy/God/All That Is.

When we need  forgiveness, we are energetically out of balance.  Therefore, we can’t receive that which we most need, even when it is all around us.  We have to make space for the Energy of God if we want it.  There is almost no way to make space for the Divine Presence without making a conscious effort to do so.  Most of us aren’t likely to run into this energy on our way to work though that is not impossible.

We can live our entire lives without making a conscious effort to connect with our Higher Power.  Why would one want to go to God if we are not sure how we will be received? If we have been raised to believe that we need to be good in order to be loved, we may have a sense of unworthiness before God.  We might not want to acknowledge our  mistakes and the poor choices we have made.  We might not feel worthy of God’s love for ourselves.  It is all too easy to  think of our Higher Power as judging energy.

However, there is little to no “truth vibration” in this judging concept of Divine Presence. We see a judging God as probable because all around us, those in power often act in judging ways.   We might have been told as a child that God is watching so we had better behave.   Isn’t it just accepted that God is like a person, an entity, a being, and usually is separated from us?  Our language reinforces this and we know lots of folks who think this way.

Divine Presence, however,  is boundless energy in all its unformed perfection.  Further that same spark of Divinity is inside every single person in body regardless of how covered over it might be. This has been proven again and again to me through the medium of healing.  I call for healing energy with another, the energy comes,  is received and healing happens.  It does not matter at all who the person is.  This healing energy is available for all.   Based on this experience,  I have developed some ways of asking for help,  which work for me.

How do we ask for forgiveness or for the healing presence of God?

We ask for help

  • knowing that we will always be heard,
  • that God is always for us and never against us,
  • that what is needed is given, and
  • that there is nothing we can do which can make us unworthy of the Love of God.

    I cry out to you by Rachel Sian

From John 3, “Beloved, I desire above all else that you may prosper and be in health even as  your soul prospers.” God’s love for us is the constant here.  We essentially cannot earn it because it is freely given, fully given and available all the time.  There is nothing we can do that will set the love of God beyond our reach.  We are loved because we are.  Simply that.  We are, therefore, we are loved.

We are children of the Great I Am/All That Is/God , created in this image, a tiny spark of the Divine.  We can’t do anything that will forever separate us from the Love of God. However, we can be distanced from the Love of God by simply not being tuned into that Love or by not  embracing the fact that there is real, practical help from the Divine for every aspect of our lives.  We can choose to have any kind of relationship with Divine Wholeness we want.  It can be close, trusting and mutually appreciative.  We can have a theoretical relationship with All that Is, one we hold in abeyance in case we might need it someday when things are really bad.  We can also live our lives as if the Love of Divine Oneness is something we heard about in temple, the synagogue or the church.  We just never quite get around to really knowing that love for ourselves or asking for that love to come into our lives in ways we can know its fullness.

What type of relationship do you want with God? All the help you need is fully available to you,  if you ask, if you embrace it, if you listen for it in the Silence of your day.  Sometimes the help shows up without a conscious seeking of it in a particular situation.  Who knows why that is?  I like to think perhaps it is because our deepest desires and needs are always known even when we ourselves are closed to them.  However, I increasingly know when I need help.  If I go after that help,  I feel in the act of asking, I am preparing to receive it when the timing is right.

Put your trust in what which is really worthy of your trust. Put your trust in The Great I AM, your Higher Power.  I spent many years putting my trust in “being somebody”, in “having prestige”, in “being respected”  and in “being really good at what I did” and probably in  a myriad of other conditions, as well.  Many of us have likely spent years putting our trust in others or in our outer, public selves.   Take a step towards getting yourself a new partner for life, one that is always available, immensely powerful and loves you unconditionally.  Get into Right Relationship with God.  Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened.  A vibrant fully actualized relationship with Divine Spirit results in wholeness, peace, health and balance.

  • Start with asking forgiveness for everything you ever needed to ask forgiveness for.
  • Offer forgiveness to all those you need to forgive.

    Atardecer (Madrid) by laullon
  • Find the fountain of gratitude within and visit it daily.
  • Speak with the Great Knowing even though you may feel unprepared, awkward or unworthy.  (Those are all human judgments that will pass with time. )

The risk of stepping out with Divine Oneness is that the experience will be more loving, more insightful and more powerfully present than you can possibly imagine.

Loving of Self

“Loving myself seems indulgent.  What is all this stuff about loving oneself?  I get the best feelings when I help others meet their needs regardless of myself.  When I focus on myself,  I feel selfish.”

A spiritual definition of loving oneself might be a place to begin.  Indulging oneself is yielding to our wants, desires and whims whether or not they are good for us.  Loving oneself is making space for those things which feed our soul, our heart and our bodies.

Indulging oneself might be buying another tee-shirt in a color we don’t have or drinking the third beer when two is really enough for the particular evening.  Taking a walk outside to be in fresh air and allow all our cares to float away with the wind, is loving of self.   Calling a good friend to reconnect because we have been meaning to do it could also be loving of self.  The first examples are little treats we might want which we give ourselves permission to do.  They can be fun and though they are not really needed, we might say, “go ahead, you deserve them”.  The second set of choices are  gifts to ourselves of something we really need and benefit from, in order to feel love’s flowing energy in our lives.  They are both fine approaches to living, the latter though can bring balance and flowing energy to our sense of self and our bodies.

Hiking   Swiss Alps near Grindelward by Joffe Striker
Hiking by Jofre Ferrer Swiss Alps near Grindewald

Why is loving ourselves so hard to do?

Perhaps because we have not ever seen this behavior modeled.  Perhaps because when we do things for others, we get recognition and appreciation from another which strokes our ego temporarily.  Perhaps it is hard to love ourselves because  we don’t recognize our real needs or even know what is a loving act for ourselves.

Loads of us put a very high value on what gets external recognition, reward or influence with others.  Others make daily choices that will “get them ahead”, “get them in good with so and so”, or “pay off in the long run”.  For example, Washington D.C. is one place I have lived where folks actually get together at breakfast meetings for the long run. When I first moved there, I was astounded to discover this repeatedly. When we continue to fill our days with such choices, our time gets filled up with things we think will bring us concrete rewards in the future.  The present can become stale and literally lifeless. Our self suffers.

Then there are choices to help others because it is the right thing to do, it is my role in life, it is required and it is certainly expected of me.  Frequently, women tell me they have no time for themselves because they are fully committed to their children, their husbands, their parents, their pets, their neighbors, their synagogue ( church) and the PTA.  Men often tell me between home and work, there is no time to even consider what might be a loving act for self.  The very thought of it is often strange to contemplate.

A choice to love oneself is foreign in a world where we so often measure ourselves by how well we are doing externally and how fully we meet our responsibilities.  A loving choice towards oneself only works when we move beyond finding pleasure in the way others see us, in our external indications of success and in the material possessions and experiences we can gather at will.  A loving choice for self, requires some deep time with our own integrity to even begin to recognize what that might be for ourselves. We may have to make some mistakes before we know what really feeds us on the inside.  Keep trying though, it is a pathway to the Divine.

When we love ourselves, we are actually able to come closer and closer to the divinity within. When we lose ourselves” to an endeavor of love such as a garden, a hot bath, a painting or walk up a mountain, we totally commune with ourselves.   We are One with All That Is.  We are not separate from All That Is unless we choose to be by not taking time to “be still and know that I AM God”.  Loving oneself is a spiritual act, an act of loving kindness which enables our deep well of love to flow without consideration of the outcomes, rewards or implications.  A choice for love enables us to be in the present moment which is all there really is, anyway.

Lots of  by
Lots of by Sandra Mora

We are not loving ourselves when we are pushing ourselves to do ANYTHING. We are not loving ourselves when we see ourselves as sacrificing our health, well-being or personal needs.  We are not loving ourselves when we are trying to please others, influence others, impress others, get something from another or act some way other than in integrity with ourselves.  We are not loving ourselves when we constantly choose others’ needs over our own needs.

Well, what about if we have to do something and the only way is to push ourselves to do it? A mental and spiritual adjustment may be needed but pushing is really not loving of self.

I was a life time hoarder before I worked with my mother to clear out her house where she had lived 40 years.  I rarely threw anything out and the thought of spending an afternoon cleaning out seemed a completely distasteful experience.  At 86,  my mother finally decided she needed to move to a retirement center.   I was the only one able to work with her to clear out the house, make the choices for keeping, throwing and selling of her things.  I dreaded the thought of what had to be done.

I literally felt sick thinking that I had to do this but there was no other way presenting itself.  I knew enough spiritually to realize that I needed to clear my fear of clearing out the family homestead and my fear of getting overwhelmed doing it.  If I didn’t,  I would simply make the process agony for myself and my mother.  My mother was already overwhelmed enough for the both of us.

I asked myself, what is the most loving way I can do this without pushing myself, beating myself up, or going into anger and rage about what needs to be done? I decided to move my work around to allow for two days out of town with my mother each week until the work was finished.  That schedule, I could handle.  I could enjoy being with my mother if I was not paying heavily with my own life.  I could  have enough energy in small doses to actually  be helpful.  I could retreat at a given time and re-marshall my energy to be my most effective loving self.  This way to work with my mother was a choice for love, and one of the biggest I had ever made.  That time became a blessings for us so thoroughly and deeply, I could have never imagined it, ever.  The love simply grew and grew between my mother and myself and between my brothers and me as well.  The love simply took over and the work got done with the Grace of God, with Love’s Divine Presence!  That choice for love turned out to be one of the best experiences Mom and I had ever had in our entire life.  We laughed and cried with abandon and wove our hearts together in a new way.

When we choose to love ourselves, everyone around us benefits. We engage our highest self because we put ease, grace and love on the front burner.  The act of loving oneself is deeply sacred because it helps us really know the deep integrity involved in making a loving choice for ourselves.   One act of loving towards self can teach us more about love than helping everyone on the street and all our next of  kin.   When we put ourselves into the equation for loving acts towards others, we truly engage the part of us which acts from a pure place of service, loving without need for recognition, reward or attachment.

There is such a thing as a self-centered or selfish person.  That is different from making loving decisions for oneself.  A self-centered person operates from a space of lack.  I need this to happen in this way and these folks to act in that way,  for the following to occur.  A loving choice for self can only be made  from a completely different well inside.  In that well is integrity, self-acceptance, allowing and kindness.  From that one space, love can expand in infinite directions.

When we experiment and practice making loving decisions, then our choices to help others come from that well of loving kindness inside rather than from the well of shoulds, ought to and have tos.  We can then allow the natural order of Divine Love Energy to swirl around, up and through us and extend out to all we meet.  Make the choice for love of self with as much humility, kindness and gentleness as you can.  You and everyone around you will be richer for this.

What choices can you make today which are loving ones for yourself ? Share these if you’d like, in the comments section at the end of this post.

Full Partners with The Divine – Healing service excerpt

Welcome to this healing service tonight. Whatever your reason for coming, you are likely to receive exactly what is needed for healing.  This is because God, Divine Knowing, Universal Creator already knows what it is that you and I really need for healing.  The Great I AM already knows why we are here and what is in our hearts.  However, because we have consciously gathered in Sacred Space  for this express purpose of healing, we have begun to take our place as full partners in the sacred process of healing.

The Glimmer of Hope by Storm Crypt
The Glimmer of Hope by Storm Crypt

Here is how it works. By issuing an open invitation for the Holy Spirit,  Great Oneness,  Highest Divine Energy to bring about needed healing, we initiate the very means through which such healing can take place in the human realm.  God works through us to bring us back to our own True Selves, that is, to a full partnership with the Great I AM.  This is especially evident in healing.  Healing or Wholeness is the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical manifestation of a fully actualized relationship with All That Is,  God,  Perfected Love .

The reason I am here tonight is because five years ago (now fifteen years) a family member became inexplicably and seriously ill.  I did everything imaginable to try to deal with that crisis for a solid year.   I did everything, that is, but directly ask for God’s help.  When I finally realized that we did not have the strength, the wisdom nor the vision to see what might be needed, I  realized our family needed to directly ask for God’s loving, healing presence in our lives.   We needed to turn over the pain, anguish and our sense of loss to this Higher Source because we as humans had exhausted our tiny reserves.  We were depleted.   The ensuing healing process was nothing short of miraculous.  Though it was not spontaneous, it was nonetheless miraculous.  So I am here to celebrate God’s Love and healing presence among us and to share some of what I have learned these last few years about healing.

God is Love.  Not the kind of love we know the best in our human experience.  Human love is all too often “I love you when” or “I love you if, or “I love you, but”….  God’s Love is wholly unconditional, from everlasting to everlasting, beyond all understanding.  It is with us always.  God’s Love is boundless, without limitation.  God’s Love is not of this world though it is the fueling power behind all creation.

So then, how do we receive this boundless love?

In James 4:1-3 in the New Testament, we find a clue.

Where do all the fights and quarrels among you come from?  They come from your desires for pleasure, which are constantly fighting within you.  You want things, but you cannot have them, so you are ready to kill; you strongly desire things, but you cannot get them, so you quarrel and fight.  You do not have what you want because you do not ask God for it.  And when you do ask, you do not receive it, because you ask wrongly; you ask for things to use for your own pleasures.

More clues are found in James 5:14.

Are there any among you sick?  They should send for the “Spiritual Guides of Assembly” (The original translation meant those of a spiritual nature, later it was translated as church elders.) who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord.  This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven. So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed.

Shower of Light on You - St. Peter's Basilica by David Paul Ohmer

We must ask for what we need in order to open ourselves to receive God’s blessing.  Divine blessing is always there for us to receive.  Life itself is a blessing.  We just have to be tuned in, to consciously know we have gotten it.  If we are on a different wave length, the blessing may not be received by us even though it is always available to us any time, day or night.  We give form to the endless unformed potential energy when we call God.  We have to call in Divine Energy to this dimension for it to manifest in our lives.  In James, we read that if our motives are bad we will not receive God’s blessing.  This refers to motives for self-aggrandizement, riches, or even just total focus on the life of this world.

  • Sample –  Forgive me for my impatience with myself this week.  I open to Divine Knowing and call that Wholeness and Power into the emotional and physical challenges facing my sister.  I release all my fears I am holding about her.   I call Peace and Balance into this household.
  • Sample –  I ask that the anger I am carrying towards my body be taken and transformed.  I call the Highest Divine Presence into my imbalanced body,  feelings and thoughts.  I call the perfect help in the Universe to me.  I especially release this fear of chronic pain.  Show me how to claim my wholeness.

God is constantly broadcasting love, healing, peace and serenity.  Sometimes we tune in.  Sometimes we don’t.  Perhaps because we are trying so hard to solve the situation on our own; to bear the burden, to present a stiff upper lip to the outside world, to accept what has been given and a whole host of other things we think are good responses to trials and crises in our lives.

A woman praying

Some time ago, a woman came to see me and said that her son had been quite ill for several years.  She reported that she had recently begun to get very depressed about what was happening for him and that her prayers were just not being answered.  I asked her specifically what she had been praying for and she said “Well, I guess I have prayed for the strength to respond to ‘Brad’s’ illness and to bear the burden.” I replied that from all she had told me,  I thought that her prayers had been expressly answered.  She had just related for 45 minutes how she had expertly, relentlessly and stoically managed their lives through some very painful and debilitating experiences with her son for the past 4 years.   She said that she had never thought of it that way.   She  also said that she did not know what to really ask for regarding her son from this point forward.  She eventually decided to release her fears and sense of negativity about her son’s illness.  Then she call in the Highest Good for “Brad”,  for her family and for herself.  We agreed that whatever that might look like, she could leave all her burdens in the hand of the Great I AM, the hand of God.  She could release her burdens and trust in God.

We were created with free will in the image and likeness of the Great I AM.  This free will, will never be violated by God.  If we don’t want help, we don’t have to accept any.  If we do want help, we have to ask, ourselves, for that help.  We have to envision the life we want and how we want to create it.  We are all continuously called to a full partnership with God.  This process of seeking forgiveness and asking for the help we want is one aspect of this full partnership.

What does this practically look like? One possible take on this are the steps given below.  Experiment and use whatever works for you.

  1. Enter into stillness, The Silence
  2. Name specifically where you are out of balance, separated from Divine Peace, need forgiveness
  3. Ask for forgiveness and/or  release from these imbalances (forgiveness actualized)
  4. Call in Divine Presence, Wholeness and Balance to the specific areas needed (healing)
  5. Give thanks for a growing connection with All That Is/Spirit/God