Tag Archives: shadow work

Almost There (The Princess and the Frog)

This whole town can slow you down
People takin’ the easy way
But I know exactly where I am going
Gettin closer ‘n closer every day
Almost There was composed by Randy Newman for the Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog. This is a song about vision and persistence. On our spiritual journey, we often begin with great enthusiasm and a clear picture of where we think we are going. And then real life gets in the way. We encounter distractions and setbacks that slow us down and cause us to divert from our original path. Sometimes we abandon our vision altogether.
What we too often fail to realize is that these distractions and setbacks are not interruptions of our journey, but actually one of the most important parts of the journey. These are the moments when we have the opportunity to dive deep into our own transformation.
One of my common distractions is that I have so many calls on my time that I just never seem to “get around” to working on my vision. When viewed from the perspective of spiritual transformation, I can use this as an opportunity to look at the stories I am carrying. Do I believe I have to “do it all”? Do I believe others are not capable? Do I prefer to do something easy and familiar rather than tackling something new?  All great questions for triggering self-awareness and transformation.
One of the most important lessons we can learn on our spiritual journey is that the destination is not nearly as important as the journey itself.

Advice from an Alligator

In our ongoing series on Wisdom from Nature, today we are taking a deeper look at the alligator. Alligators are perhaps one of the closest experiences modern humans can have with dinosaurs. Not only do alligators have size, strength and razor sharp teeth, they also have thick skin which protects them from would-be predators. Alligators are quite literally armor-plated. Every ridge on an alligator’s back represents a bony plate contained within that area of skin. These bony plates make the skin very hard to penetrate.

This trait reminds me of the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  Agreement #2 says, “Don’t take anything personally.” In other words, develop a thick skin of your own.

Don Miguel writes, “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally…If I see you on the street and I say, ‘Hey, you are so stupid,’ … it’s not about you; it’s about me.” Nothing other people do is because of you, even if they tell you it is. What they do is because of themselves. They are reacting to something from their own story.

All people are immersed in their own story. As much as we try, we can’t really know each other’s story. We only know our own. When we take personally what someone has said, we make the assumption that they know our story. In fact, you might say we are trying to impose our story on them.

The truth is, If we take something someone else has said personally, we do so not because of them, but because of ourselves. If I take something personally, then it’s probably because, deep down, I agree with them. I might think to myself, “How does he know? Is he clairvoyant? Or, can everybody see?”

So, what someone else says or does, comes from their story. My reaction, comes from my story. There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to us when we take nothing personally. We no longer need to place our trust in what others do or say. We simply trust the divine wisdom within us and let it be our guide.

Advice from a Bat

The baby bat 
Screamed out in fright, 
Turn on the dark, 
I’m afraid of the light. 
…a poem by Shel Silverstein
In Unity, we enjoy looking for spiritual wisdom in unusual places. This week, as part of our recurring Wisdom in Nature series, we are seeking advice from the Bat.
A bat is a creature that dwells comfortably in the dark. I, too, can dwell comfortably in the dark, when I remember that there is nowhere that God is not. Even in the midst of experiences that I find painful or challenging, I am never separate from God.
In the light of God, even darkness becomes a tool I can use for my spiritual growth. There is no human experience that I must hide from the light of God. Every experience can be part of my journey toward wholeness, if I will let it be so. When I practice self-awareness and self-acceptance, I remember that light and dark are two halves of a transcendent whole. Resting in this awareness, I am at peace.

Non-Resistance

Abraham Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents. He was president during a time of war in our country, and yet, paradoxically, Lincoln was a man who deeply understood and embraced the ideal of non-resistance.
Lincoln was once asked why he did not replace one of his cabinet members who was known to oppose him on every decision he made – a source of constant irritation. Typically, Lincoln answered with a story…
“Many years ago, I was passing a field where a farmer was trying to plow with a very old and decrepit horse. I noticed a big horsefly on the horse’s flank, and I was about to brush it off when the farmer said, ‘Don’t you bother that fly, Abe! If it wasn’t for that fly, this horse wouldn’t move an inch!”
Lincoln was saying that we need the difficult people and circumstances in our lives. They challenges us. They keep us moving forward. They prompt us to dig within ourselves for greater strength, creativity, and wisdom.
If we invest all our energy in resisting the difficult people and circumstances, then we miss the opportunity for growth inherent in a situation.
What are you resisting? What if you stopped?

Humility / Emptiness

The word “humility” has a bit of a mixed reputation. We typically believe that humble people are good – morally superior, even. We might think of humble people as saintly – so good they set a standard we mere mortals could never hope to achieve. The word brings to mind people like Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama.
Yet humility also carries the connotation of a person who is meek and submissive. We might think a humble person is easily pushed around by the more aggressive people in this word. We might say that being humble is a good thing – just not necessarily good for me.
If we look at some of the great Spiritual Masters, we can see that all of them practiced humility, and yet none of them were what you might call a pushover. The Jesus portrayed in the Gospels was strong and confident and did not cower in front of anyone.

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The Spirit of Money

Many of us carry unhealed stories of lack, shame and fear around money. Whether a person does not have enough, or has too much, we have learned to judge a person’s character by the money they have. We have judge others, and even more damaging, we have judged ourselves.
it is time to practice self-awareness, acceptance, and forgiveness around the topic of money.
Some people think it is a sacrilege to talk about money in a spiritual context. You may have heard the phrase, “Money is the root of all evil.” Actually, this is the most misquoted passage in the Bible. What Paul actually wrote was, “The love of money is the root of all evils.” (1 Tim. 6:10).
Money in and of itself is neither good nor evil. It is simply a tool. We can use it to facilitate the flow of divine abundance, or use it to spread fear and lack.
When we make money the focus of our meditation practice, we create the opportunity to grow and expand our consciousness of both compassion and abundance.
Because money is a tool, we should use it intentionally, rather than unconsciously. This requires us to make conscious choices about where we send our money. To make conscious choices, we must know what is important, what our most deeply held values are. Only then can we use our money in support of those values.
Your life is your practice. Review where you have used your money in the last year. This is your current practice. Does your practice match your values? If not, what are some changes you could make to your practice?
What if we began to think of a talent for money as no different than a talent for singing or athletic ability. It is a gift to be developed and used for the highest good. And what if we celebrated the talent for money with our applause and admiration, just as we celebrate performers and athletes?
Does this thought make you uncomfortable? If so, let that discomfort be the focus of your meditation time.

Engaging the Other

As we put our spiritual tools to work on shifting toward a consciousness of inclusivity, our biggest challenge is shifting our own unexamined notions of who is ‘other’.
In his book Creating a World that Works for All, Shariff M. Abdullah suggests that the key to making this shift is to practice expanding our notion of ‘us’ to include everyone we see.
Take moment to consider who is part of your inclusive community – everyone who is…
  • driving on the same road
  • living on the same street
  • begging for change at the same bus stop
  • generating trash
  • regularly recycling
  • riding in the same car
  • riding a bicycle
  • watching television
  • refusing to watch television
  • smoking crack cocaine
  • smoking cigarettes
  • smoking spare ribs
  • self-employed
  • working for a corporation
  • working for a non-profit
  • unemployed
  • attending a church service
  • walking in the park
  • sleeping in the park
  • and on and on and on…

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Inner Inclusivity

Practicing Inclusivity is all about learning to create meaningful relationship with the ‘Other’. One often overlooked area of this practice involves developing the skills to meet the Other within ourselves.
In our Exclusivist society, built on the belief in separation, we not only separate from other beings. All too often, we disconnect from our inner selves as well. We forget the Spirit within us that is eternal, compassionate and wise. We make ourselves so busy trying to accomplish goals that we forget to take simple care of ourselves.
In his book, Creating a World That Works for All, Sharif Abdullah asks, “What do you believe would happen if you slowed down your life?” In other words, what stories are you carrying that say you would fail in some way if you did not achieve certain things within a specific time frame? Are these stories serving your highest good?

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The Philosophy of Inclusivity

The basic premise of Inclusivity is that we are One. We are not separate from each other any more than we are separate from God.
The implications are huge. Holding this worldview means that we advocate for the whole, rather than for any one part. The truth is, our fates are linked. We depend on each other in ways we cannot see or even imagine. Every action (and every non-action) reverberates throughout the whole. What happens to any one of us, in some way, happens to all of us.
When we practice Inclusivity we recognize that building relationships is more important than solving problems. Inclusivity means we can experience connection, interaction and community with everyone – even with potential adversaries.
So how do we create community and meaningful interactions with those we consider ‘Other’? The first step is to recognize that the underlying issue in any encounter with the Other is fear.

Continue reading The Philosophy of Inclusivity

Perfect

Have you ever done something that you regret? That you wish you could take back? I know I have, and it has been hard to learn to forgive myself. At other times, I have been on the receiving end of a hurt. People have said and done things that I have spent years coming to terms with, and it has been hard for me to forgive them.
I know I am not alone in these experiences. It seems to be part of being human. The sacred scriptures of the world are full of stories of people trying to figure out how to handle the pain we cause each other.
Unfortunately, in our humanness, we often turn to blame and shame. Sometimes, we are sure others are judging us, and we try to change to please them. Other times, we are the ones judging others. After all, if I focus on fixing you, I don’t have to work on my own stuff. Hmmm. Sometimes, we are blaming and shaming ourselves.
The truth is, all of this human experience arises from the fact that we have forgotten who and what we really are. We are expressions of God. At our core, we are whole, perfect and complete.
What does it mean to call each other and ourselves ‘perfect’?