Doing for ourselves vs. Teaching it to others

I have been a college educator for more than 2 decades. Although I moved out of academia full-time and went back to my primary profession in healthcare, I still enjoy teaching as an adjunct with a number of institutions.

One of my favorite teaching gigs is in the Community Education division of the local community college. I have been teaching adults how to use technology in adult Ed classes for almost 5 years.

Often I am teaching people my age or even a little younger how to navigate basic technology. I have been immersed in the application and use of technology tools for many years. I have deep knowledge and experience in technology tools (expertise in using software including MS Office, Adobe Creative Suite; building elaborate databases with drop down menus, linked tables and auto-generating reports and can code in several programming languages), but my adult education students often come to me unsure of how to turn on their computers. The “internet” is a great mystery to them and forget about using a word processing or spreadsheet package. Technology, to these students, may as well be ancient Chinese script: they are tech-stymied and are coming to me to learn how to be more literate in the use of technology.

I’ve been teaching these specific classes for 5 years because I get great reviews from my students, who leave my classes with knowledge and skills they can apply in their lives and build on to improve their technology skills.

While I happen to believe that most things in the world can be improved with a better database, or a more detailed app (cell phone app, e.g.); if I blew into these classes and began to lecture about building a database with integrity, and insuring that the code in the background was debugged appropriately before running any new routines,… none of my students would learn anything useful. I’d get terrible reviews, there would be demands for refunds abound and I would not get any more asks to teach classes.

The students I see in the basic classes cannot understand the linking of tables with a primary key and indexing field in a database if they cannot turn on the computer and aren’t sure where to click when I say “open your browser“.

As a seasoned educator, I understand this, and so I teach about the computer as a digital filing cabinet, and demonstrate folders on the computer and relate these to the old school files, folders and drawers. Believe it or not, this sheds a LOT of light on the computer for many people.

I then move on to explaining the Windows operating system in user-friendly terms, and the use of a mouse as well as menus, and touch screen options.

Eventually, we put our toes into the water and begin to explore the basics of the software programs such as MS Office. By the end of most sessions, my students are able to navigate their computers, open software, explore the Internet, download photos they receive in email (and find them again later!) and function on a basic level in ways they were unable to before we met.

Some will continue to explore, learn and grow – often coming back to take more advanced classes that I am teaching – while others will be content to simply understand where their photos go when they download them from their email.

NOTE: in the 20th century, being illiterate (not being able to read and write) was a deterrent to a decent job. In the 21st century, being technologically illiterate is almost as big of a barrier to a decent job (decent = family sustaining wages).

My opinion

My students come to me from all walks of life, and all manner of experience. Some of them are professionals who have worked in industries that are only now coming online in terms of technology and they need to upskill or they may face an earlier retirement than they planned to take. Some are stay-at-home Moms who are trying to reenter the workforce, and others are folks who need better skills to leave food service or retail jobs and make a living wage – sometimes they are ex-cons who are struggling to reenter the workforce and rebuild their lives.

My success, if I may be so forward, is that I understand that while *I* may think about the world through a complex technical lens, and while I can give an impromptu lecture on how a database is better than a paper file and why a spreadsheet is better than a paper ledger, and why online options are the way to go for banking; I would lose each and every student if I stayed on my perch and did not acknowledge that there are steps and levels that people must achieve before they can embrace that level of technology.

Why am I going on and on about teaching basic computer skills on a spiritual blog?

Because I have observed a tendency among some spiritual teachers to teach from the perspective of an expert and dismiss the basic building blocks. Yes, we are all one. Yes, we attract things to us. Yes, our persistent thinking creates the circumstances in our lives.

But if we stand up and say to someone, “That crisis in your life is something you attracted to yourself” or “We are all one, so the bad behavior in someone is really just your mirror reflection of your own issues” – we’re going to have the same luck in teaching spiritual principles as I would have if I went into a Basic Computer Class and began to blabber about writing SQL queries.

It will not compute (pun intentional).

If our goal is to teach spiritual principles, we must know more than the spiritual principles: we must posses a basic understanding of the teaching and learning process.

Whether we are talking computer skills or spiritual principles – we must learn to crawl before we walk, and walk before we run. We would all likely agree that lecturing a 6-month old baby on how to run a marathon seems like a ridiculous exercise. Standing in front of a class of senior citizens who don’t know what a browser is and telling them to “Google” something is just as ridiculous and insisting on teaching spiritual principles to those new to spiritual metaphysics from the level of someone who has been studying and applying them for many years is a zero-sum-game.

If we want to grow our communities, we must understand the teaching/learning continuum. My students would leave a 3-class series (and demand a refund) if I lost them on the first night. I’ve also had students come into my classes and report that the “other class” they took was a waste of time because the instructor took off right away making assumptions that they knew things that they had hoped to learn in the class and they were lost from the get-go.

In some ways, this is the opposite end of the continuum I have written about previously, and perhaps this is a good sign as it signals movement. We cannot continue to teach only introductory/how to classes for people who already know and are applying the principles in their lives. On the other hand, we also must not get so wrapped up in our own evolution that we forget from whence we have come.

Organizations that are hoping to serve the world by teaching spiritual principles must recognize the need for higher level “salons” for people who are more advanced where they can banter back and forth; and also “Intro to Spiritual Living” (generic term) classes that teach the basics for folks just coming into the teachings.

Colleges reserve 400-level courses for upper-class students (Juniors, Seniors) for a reason: you can’t do advanced calculus before you have mastered college algebra.

Growing up, I once heard this pejorative comment about teachers:

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

After several decades on both sides of this, I will revise this comment:

“Those who do are (sometimes) role models. Those who (can effectively) teach, hold the keys to the world”

Me

And that’s all I have to say about that (for now) đŸ™‚

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Blessings in disguise

I’ve written a number of blog posts on the challenges inherent to the commercialization of spirituality. One of these includes the expectations of miraculous happenings, on par with the movie The Secret where a new bike shows up for a child and a gold necklace appears on a woman’s neck with seemingly no effort.

Those who are decidedly not interested in traditional church but curious about this end of the spiritual spectrum were intrigued by these suggestions. The CHALLENGE that I have addressed previously is that blessings so very often show up looking like anything BUT.

Yesterday I was scheduled to work onsite at my job. We are rotating on telework and coming onsite only every few days due to the pandemic and Friday was to be my day onsite. Early that morning one of my colleagues texted me to say that he was already onsite, and that I did not need to come in if I did not want to.

It had been a hectic week so I took him up on it, thankful for the reprieve.

Around 11am, I walked out to my kitchen to grab something for lunch. I was standing there thinking about what was in the refrigerator when I began to hear a loud HISSING sound. Soon there was water coming out from under the kitchen sink.

A connector had rusted and a line had popped, pouring water out in a rush. I ran to the basement and turned off the water line to stop the gushing.

Now, the rest of the day was frustrating to say the least. My father came over to fix the issue and we ended up running to the hardware store, standing on our heads and using tools, and by 9:30pm last night we had made some significant progress. We’ll finish it today.

Some might wonder why the blessing wasn’t the pipe not breaking in the first place. In an earlier blog I wrote about us living in Caesar’s world. We live in a world where metal rusts, pipes break and water flows. The miracles we most often* experience work within the confines of the physical reality of this world – by the movement of people, circumstances and events to help us out.

The blessing I experienced was the last minute change of plans that had me at home, and standing in the kitchen at the moment the pipe burst. I would be facing an entirely different issue than late night plumbing “yoga” if that water had poured out all over my house for 5 or 6 hours while I was at work.

I have learned to accept, even embrace, these blessings in disguise. I know they are evidence that I am provided – always and in ALL ways. Each one reinforces my faith and trust in the Infinite Spirit – in that Power for Good in the Universe that Ernest Holmes spoke of and wrote about in the last century; that Nona Brooks documented and taught even before that.

The real “secret” to metaphysical spirituality lies in learning how to “be still and know” – and to stand still and consider the wondrous works of the Infinite Spirit in our lives.

A guru whose teachings I appreciate reminds his students that we are never alone or helpless; and that the force that guides the stars, guides us too.

This is comforting knowledge; but to have it at the ready and meaningful for the really scary times in our lives, we must PRACTICE knowing and seeing it show up in the everyday occurrences (like near misses with broken pipes). As we celebrate these blessings in disguise, we are practicing the presence, and deepening our connection to our help in time of need.

And so it is.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

* I do not mean to suggest that other-worldly miracles never occur. They DO! But,…we will experience MORE miracles when we are open to those that are common as well as uncommon.

Related blog posts:

No time for the Sith

I’ve been COVID-binge-watching some interesting TV of late, and stumbled across several documentaries about cults. I’ve had a long-running fascination with them over the years, and have yet to understand how people can get sucked into something that is so obviously – from the outside – far fetched. But the older I get, and the more I observe; the better I understand at least some of it.

Since early childhood, when family legend has it that I picked up a pinching bug after being warned that it would pinch; I’ve been one of those people whose eyebrow goes up when an outlandish claim comes out. It doesn’t matter if I am in a meeting for work where they’re trying to push the latest teambuilding rah-rah program or in an organized religious group where the leader is trying to push a claim that simply doesn’t pass the sniff test. I’m usually the buzz kill who Googles the facts on the company selling the feel-good management trick or the truth about the claims of the 100th monkey.

In my recent TV binge about cults I was struck (again) by the willingness of otherwise-reasonable people to believe some pretty crazy things, and to allow themselves and their children to be mistreated (& worse) due to their affiliation with an organization. Often the beliefs are codified in writings penned by the guru or founder, which are at some point taught as “gospel” and eventually normalized within the group as the inerrant truth.

In addition to my interest in the human behavior that allows otherwise-reasonable people to wander off of the sanity track, I’m also interested in the cult traits that I’ve sometimes seen demonstrated in otherwise-reasonable organizations. This blog will examine a couple of these.

Elevating the founder’s writing(s)
While we revere ancient texts for the wisdom they share with the world, it can get sticky when we take the writings of someone in recent history and begin to quote them like Moses, Jesus, Lao Tzu or Confucius.

Modern writers can certainly have inspired insights, as did prophets of old, but we must take care not to elevate inspired insights into inerrant “facts” and the writers into gods whose perspectives cannot be questioned.

It’s also healthy to practice critical review, which means we should push back on things that don’t make sense, or ask hard questions about things that seem too far fetched. Done appropriately, this practice can serve to strengthen a teaching. Avoided and punished, it opens the door for cultish behavior and the eventual demise of the organization.

Truth can stand up to even the harshest scrutiny and questions.

The remedy? Encourage the study of writings from outside the canon, from authors with a slightly different viewpoint, from differing perspectives.

Squashing dissent
The scariest stories from the cults that have made national and international news for their bad behaviors always begin with rules against speaking out against the leader or the movement and prescribing punishments for those that dare to question either.

This is a BIG RED FLAG. If your organization cannot stand up to the disinfectant of SUNSHINE, it’s a clear sign that more transparency is needed, and now.

Members, officers, laity and the ecclesiastical ranks of any organization should be able to ask hard questions (openly) and criticize behaviors that are questionable without fearing retribution of any kind – including ostracization or credential loss.

Like truth, honorable practices can stand up to even the most intense review.

The remedy? Encourage feedback. Listen to those who pushback. Stay open and receptive to criticism; remain willing to be wrong (and to correct your course).

Using punitive measure to force adherence to group rules
One of the most upsetting reports on behavior like this (in a non-cult) came in 2 blogs about spiritual practitioners who were handled roughly due to falling on financial hard times. You can read the first article here (& the 2nd one here).

From the 2nd article (by Harv Bishop)

“…three practitioners, deeply spiritual idealists with a strong desire to serve… trained for four-plus years to serve a New Thought church and its congregants through prayer. All faced personal crisis and financial difficulties. They could not keep up required tithing to their church.  Instead of compassion, understanding, and support they were given three stark choices: 1) up their giving, 2) attend a prosperity reeducation group (which they would have to pay to attend*), or 3) surrender their license to practice prayer.

Harv Bishop, “Don’t Look Behind the Curtain”

As we look at the danger and destruction that cults have perpetrated in the name of (initially, anyway) some higher ideal; it’s important to look hard at our own practices and principles to ensure that we are not borrowing tactics from despots in the name of keeping everyone in line.

The remedy? A hard look in the mirror at your purpose as an organization and a recognition that the LOVE of money (greed) is at the root of all evil.

If we build groups and organizations that are serving others, and meeting the needs of our constituents; we will not have to coerce, control or corral our members. People will willingly show up, generously give, and lovingly support our work. If/when we find ourselves moving toward authoritarian tactics, or speaking like the young Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith (“If you’re not with me, then you are my enemy,…“) – it’s a sign we need to step back, reconsider our goals, objectives and values and listen to those outside of our innermost group (the non-sycophants).

In this time of global pandemic, economic instability and political unrest, we do not need more Sith-like behavior and organizations.

This country, indeed the world, needs more organizations that teach peace, cooperation, harmony, collaboration, love and other similar values. We can only step up to fill that position from a place of openness, transparency, willingness to change, and non-fear (the need to control others is rooted in fear).

Our nation had a close call this past week. Thankfully, for now, we’ve pulled back from the brink, but we must recognize that it was the accumulation of small deviations from our norms that pushed us to this scary cliff. The march toward authoritarianism did not begin with a major, targeted campaign. We slid toward it in small steps, a little at a time.

It’s a lesson we’d do well to remember.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

If you’re not familiar with cults and their dangers, and want to refresh your learning, check out this website with information on 10 of the most dangerous cults in recent American history.

* comment added by Practitioner’s Path

Blessings (expertly) delayed

Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States – the day when the country pauses (national holiday) to recognize every person across history who has served in the US military. Memorial Day – in May – celebrates those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Occurring each year on November 11, Veteran’s Day has become a day to get a free breakfast, or cool discounts. It is more soberly, however, a time to reflect on our youth – since it is almost exclusively the young who leave home and raise their right hands to solemnly swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic“.

At age 18, I too raised my right hand and joined the US Navy. My enlistment photo from Boot Camp sits at the top of this post. I look at the face of that young woman and today ponder her life path through the lens of a spiritual journey. At one time I considered that portion of my life to be a big misstep, an error. Today I recognize that it was expertly woven into so many demonstrations that would not come to light until much later in my life.

I enlisted to get the US government to pay for my college education. Unfortunately, the Vietnam-era GI Bill was closed and the Montgomery GI Bill that followed would come too late for me unless I wanted to reenlist (which I did not want to do). Long story short, I was honorably discharged after 6 years of active service with a husband, 2 small children and no college credits.

I ended up going back to college a few years later as a single mother. I had to borrow all the money I did not get in grants as I was making less than $6/hour and paying the bills of our household. I got out of college and went immediately to graduate school so I could “catch up” with my peer group and compete for jobs that were commensurate with my knowledge, skills, abilities and mostly – life experience. I graduated with my master’s degree and student loan debt that was as expensive each month as my mortgage.

For a number of reasons, including the significant student loan debt, I spent a lot of time wondering what I had done “wrong” and asking “why me?“.

As anyone on the spiritual path knows, those are futile questions. Thankfully, the seeds of deeper spiritual exploration had been planted along my undergraduate journey by a wise woman I ended up spending time with as an intern, and would be boosted throughout graduate school by others I would meet, and tempered by some difficult life experiences. Still, it would take a few years to fully bloom.

Once out of graduate school I enjoyed jobs that were in alignment with my expectations. I moved into academia – eventually becoming the dean of allied health at a community college. For some time I thought I would stay there until retirement, but life seemed to have other ideas. Looking back, I can see that I had more to learn.

When I was given, randomly by someone I met in passing, the audiobook version of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, things began to line up in my life.

Although for some time I considered this point to be the START of my spiritual journey; I realize now that this spiritual unfoldment had been taking place all along (aaaaah, hindsight).

While in the US Navy, I remember looking out of my 2nd story apartment window to see a parade like I had never seen growing up in rural Ohio. I saw my first drag queen (many of them, actually!) and a lot of signs in support of the gay community.

I lived in the middle of Hillcrest, in San Diego. I don’t know for sure, but given the timeframe, it is very possible that I experienced a synchronistic event that day. I believe that parade was a famed Hay Ride, organized and led by Louise Hay, who lived in San Diego and founded Hay House a few years later based on the growth of her movement in support of gay men during the AIDS epidemic.

Fast forward to the 21st century. My receipt of a copy of The Secret, and the emergence of Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer’s work into the mainstream, with the help of technology advancements like the internet, kicked my spiritual journey into high gear.

For many years I looked at my time in the US Navy as a mistake, a misstep, an unfortunate detour in my life. While I have always been grateful for my children, whom I would not have in this form had I not been in the USN; I saw my enlistment as the reason for my delayed entrance into college and a full-time career. Today I see that it was a perfect unfoldment of learning, blessings and more.

That 6-year delay in my career meant that I went to college at a time when technology was booming. Unlike peers my age, technology comes to me as a second nature and that has opened MANY doors to abundance and prosperity for me. It has also made many things in my life much easier.

While I did not have the advantage of a GI Bill, I ended up getting a benefit through a job that my time in the service helped me to secure (I wrote about that here). That life lesson taught me MUCH about spiritual abundance and relying on Source as the substance of all my Good. And as I quickly approach the year in which I have the option to retire, a pension is in line for me – built on a foundation of that same, 6-year “delay” (I wrote about that demonstration here).

Much greater than any of the financial demonstrations, however; my time in the United States Navy opened my world in a way that would have been less likely had I not been there. I have had the great blessing of friends, acquaintances and guardian angels from every race, religion and perspective thanks to the USN, and that has been life-changing on many levels. It has also added a depth of understanding and knowledge to my spiritual learning that cannot be gained in a workshop, seminar or textbook.

In my previous blog I wrote about the lessons we can learn from Joe Biden’s life: a lesson of patience, of knowing that our Good is always unfolding – no matter WHAT it looks like, and no matter how unlikely and far off it seems to be. I know too, as a teacher of spiritual Truths, I can do much more than quote from a book or a guru’s writing when I encourage students and other seekers to hold on to the knowing that all is well – and much of that is due to my time on active duty with the United States Navy.

I know that all is well because I have walked this long path, and seen, in hindsight, the unfoldment of more Good than I could have ever imagined.

Now I look back with deep gratitude and appreciation, each year on Veteran’s Day, for those years that I once thought were in vain, but that I now know were foundational to the Good I experience today.

Those years served an important, and even critical, role in my life experience; my spiritual growth and wisdom. I recognize the many blessings now, and am humbled by them all.

And so it is.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Demonstrations – a national example

This week the world watched and held its breath as the most prominent democracy tested the tenets of that very premise, which is – in simplest terms: rule by the people.

The story of Joseph R. Biden‘s road to the Presidency is a lesson in faith, the power of prayer, perseverance, decency and more; but this is not a blog on the life and times of Joe Biden. Instead, it is a reminder that demonstrations – answered prayers – often come along a difficult and heart-wrenching path, that can stretch on and on, and even appear to be out of reach; perhaps not meant for us in this lifetime.

Imagine how, after a couple attempts to run for president, and well into his 60’s, then-Senator Biden must have felt as he was chosen for the Vice Presidential ticket for rising star Barack Obama. I’m sure he had many times where he questioned whether his dreams of being president were over – that perhaps, his destiny was aligned a little differently than what he had hoped and prayed it to be.

The importance of this lesson – of remembering to stay open, receptive and committed to serving our fellow human beings along our path toward our deepest desires – cannot be overstated.

While the movie “The Secret“, and the many Law of Attraction teachers that came out of the woodwork after its release, opened the doors to spiritual metaphysics in a way that had previously been unimagined; it also helped to perpetuate an unrealistic narrative about the way that spiritual principles work. This has resulted in many disgruntled and unfulfilled “customers” and has not helped organized metaphysics, which struggles with the same demographics and societal trends that is decimating other organized religious groups.

Prayer works and faith is always rewarded,… BUT

  1. It’s often on a different timeline than what we’ve planned.
  2. What we desire/pray for/believe often shows up looking VERY different from what we wanted or imagined.
  3. The path to our Good often winds along a challenging and difficult road.
  4. We will often look around and see things that APPEAR to indicate that our dreams are not ever going to come to fruition (refer to #1, #2).
  5. OUR dreams are not siloed and separate from others. Sometimes our dreams have to wait so they can align and support the dreams and prayers of others.
  6. There is always (ALWAYS) the highest and best good for all “baked in” to our demonstrations. It’s NOT all about us.

True spiritual warriors – of ANY tradition – know that God is Good, and that all is well, no matter WHAT it looks like or HOW LONG it takes.

As the world celebrates America’s return to decency, democracy and common sense; those of us on a spiritual path can look to the life and example of Joe Biden as an exemplar of the Truths we teach, and the principles we practice.

And so it is.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Radical Gratitude (a deep dive)

Aaaah, November. The month where stores try to get a jump on December profits by selling all manner of THANKFUL items.

Also out in force are multiple opportunities to journal gratitude (not a bad idea), post a gratitude thought every day of the month, and book groups on the role gratitude plays in a joyous life.

Generally-speaking, I’m a big fan of GRATITUDE as a spiritual practice. I’m also wary of it being popularized as a meme and so watered down that its true meaning and application become lost in the commercialization of it.

This post will address what I have come to learn as DEEP gratitude – and it’s not easily stenciled on a home decor item, embroidered onto an afghan throw or posted in a social media meme. It’s the kind of gratitude that can move us to tears, make us face hard truths and in doing so, move some mountains. It is the difference between superficial gratitude and a much deeper practice.

It is easy to look around in our lives and be thankful for the nice stuff: our jobs, our families, our homes, our pets, our friends,… etc. But how often do we look at the things we’re not that thrilled about, and dig deep into being grateful?

I’m referring to things that we have, but that we might hold some resentment around because others seem to have the same things but diamond-studded and in abundance while we struggle with the brown paper bag and twine variety.

This can show up as the relationship we don’t have – whether it is non-existent or we are just bored/over the one we have and wish our partner was “something different“.

It can show up as self-doubt or even loathing when we are doing our level best but can only afford an apartment, or a house that will never be on the neighborhood tour when others seem to be line for the next airing of “middle class lifestyles like the rich and famous“.

This can appear when we see friends or others taking lavish vacations and we’re trying to figure out how we’ll get to the lake next Summer without putting it all on our credit card and suffering under that debt load for the next year or more.

One of the most valuable things from my study with Edwene Gaines was learning that RESENTMENT of any kind blocks our Good. And while I suspect that most folks on the spiritual path practice aggressive anti-resentment and consider themselves to be deliriously happy for others – regardless of the circumstance; I suspect that there are deep-rooted areas that need some attention to more thoroughly dislodge some blocks.

The quickest way to bypass any inventory exercises and get right to the hard work is to understand this concept, and then to shift our gratitude practices to one where we look at those areas in our lives where we feel “less than” or that we are doing something wrong as compared to others. Yes, I know that comparing ourselves to others is a zero sum game, but most of us engage in this at some level. Pretending it doesn’t happen is avoidance behavior, but recognizing that we do at some level enables us to address it head on, and begin the healing process.

Here are some examples.

If you’re still single and feeling resentful when you see/interact with others who have (seemingly) wonderful relationships,

  • Make a list of all the LOVE you have in your life
    • parents
    • children
    • siblings
    • aunts/uncles/cousins
    • friends
    • pets
    • others (make your list!)

Make it a point to acknowledge all this love in your life, and feel deep gratitude for all of this – even as you are aware of the love that appears to be present in others’ relationships and missing from your experience. Once you get some practice tapping into all the love that is in your life, feel gratitude for it while acknowledging others who have relationships that seem* to be what you desire.

If you’re still working in a job/career that makes you feel “less than” when you come home from visiting family and friends with jobs that seem much more glamorous, fulfilling or lucrative,

  • Make a list of the reasons you chose the job/career initially
    • location
    • pay/benefits
    • people
    • opportunity for promotion
    • interest
    • proximity to family/work
    • other options
      • you can also draft a plan to move on, and list the reasons why you CAN and WOULD, or why it makes more sense to stay put

Make it a point to acknowledge all the positive reasons you are working at that employer, and in that role – even as you are aware of how wonderful others’ jobs seem* to be.

You can do this basic process with ANY area in your life that needs a “gratitude adjustment“.

You may have noticed that I placed an asterisk (*) next to the word SEEM above. Sometimes, the jobs/career paths we see others in look absolutely breathtakingly awesome. At times, the relationships others have seem to be textbook Prince Charming and Cinderella. The REALITY of these circumstances is rarely how it seems from the external perspective. And remember – even if these circumstances are a PERFECT FIT for them, it does not mean that it would be a PERFECT FIT for you. This is a critically important concept to understand.

As soon as you begin to feel any envy around someone’s situation, remind yourself that what you SEE on the external is not the whole truth. And regardless of how close you are to someone, you are not seeing the whole, unadulterated truth of the situation.

When we understand ourselves enough to recognize our very human reactions to perceptions that others have it better than we do; we can train ourselves and learn to pivot to a perspective of deep gratitude and understanding.

I believe that when we acknowledge our own feelings, accept that the appearance of things is never the whole story, focus on the Good in our own lives, honor the choices/decisions/actions we have made and accept the responsibility that is ours for where we are as well as where we desire to be – we make a quantum leap forward toward true happiness, joy and peace.

This is the process I have come to know as radical gratitude. It is a deep dive on the old, superficial process, and one I believe is necessary for significant spiritual growth and forward movement in our lives.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Other blog posts on gratitude:

Nonresistance – a useful tool

In my recent video post, I read from Florence Scovel Shinn’s classic, “The Game of Life and How to Play It” and spoke of the PEACE in not fighting to keep things or chasing things that are not ours by Divine Right. The concept of what is ours by Divine Right is the foundation of the Golden Thread, which I have written about before when I used it to help a wayward family cat return to us.

Today I want to further explore the application of nonresistance in other practical terms: for dealing with people who are what my mother has described as a “vexation to the spirit“. These are people we want to have moved out of our immediate experience due to the difficulty they are creating in our lives.

Some background

Before learning this tool, I suffered needlessly and often in the context of my career. Since learning about this tool, my life is much easier. Whenever a problem emerges, I don’t panic or get fussed up: I turn to my toolbox.

I work as the Director of a mid-sized department in a large, integrated healthcare delivery system. I have ~55 people whose work I am responsible for, and 5 supervisors who manage the day to day tasks and report to me. This workplace is a collective bargaining workplace, which means that the non-managerial employees are part of a union. While I am an advocate for worker rights, and generally pro-Labor; the unions I have dealt with (several over the course of my career) have seemed always to confuse and conflate mistreatment of employees with asking employees to simply come to work and do their assigned tasks.

This means that when I have an employee who is not coming to work, or not performing their job, or engaging in activities at work that cannot continue: I get accused of harassing people, being a monster and creating a hostile work environment. When I have to address an employee deficiency, history tells me that I’m in for a rough ride.

I don’t mind hard work, but it can be tough when you are accused of being a horrible person over and over such as can happen (and has happened!) when I am dealing with an employee who is persistently not performing their assigned tasks.

It was this context from which I re-discovered Florence Scovel Shinn’s treatise on nonresistance, and it inspired me to develop a process for dealing with problems that have the potential to involve the union in a way that is peaceful and effective.

While performing the necessary tasks in dealing with the person who is creating all the turmoil in our lives, we must stay on track and do what is required. In my work example, this means I have to communicate with and engage the employee and their union representatives. It means I have to gather the necessary documentation to support my disciplinary action and address other H.R. requirements along the way.

At the same time, I deploy my tool of nonresistance, which takes on a specific format. I call on my inner Neville (Goddard) to assist as I perform the following actions:

Immediately, when I realize I am dealing with a person or situation that will not respond to reason, and that has a high likelihood of devolving into a mess; I take some time to go into a brief meditation where I center myself in peace and calm, and get myself to a place where I can truly wish only Good for the person who is causing me so much trouble.

Once I feel this in a genuine way (meaning I have moved past any anger), I begin to visualize myself standing in front of the person – not too close, but near enough that we recognize each other and could exchange brief niceties (e.g. about 6 feet, or in today’s vernacular – socially distanced!).

I smile at the person, and say nothing, as a large, thick, steel door comes down in between us – separating us from each other. Now, this is a dream-like visualization so the door comes out of nowhere; don’t get hung up on the specifics. I hear the heavy, creaking metal door as it lumbers down into place along its track and I feel the deep THUD when it hits the ground, finally closed.

Then, I see myself turning and walking away. I let go of the short visualization and go back about my business.

I repeat this each morning before I go into work (or right after I get into my office and before opening email, taking calls or seeing visitors) and prior to any meetings with the person, and at the end of the day before I leave my office to go home.

The MEANING baked into this visualization is that the heavy, steel door is permanently separating me from this person, and/or any harm they could do to me. The desire for them to go on their way in peace (in other words, not wishing them any ill) is a CRITICAL piece of this as it helps to keep MY energy field free and clear of other troubles.

Florence Scovel Shinn’s simple writing about nonresistance may seem quaint by 21st century standards, but the concept and this application that I have described has worked for me every time.

The people whom I have had to apply this technique to have all removed themselves from my experience. Some took extended leave and never came back to work in the same department; others decided to retire. Some left the organization entirely while others took jobs outside of my area within the same organization. I’ve even seen people do a 180-degree pivot, and turn into the wonderful, caring and decent people I knew they were under all their outward hostility.

It can be tempting when someone has treated us poorly to hope they stumble and fall in their next act, but we must be careful not to go there as that will only blow back on us, and not in a good way. We must get ourselves into a posture of positivity toward them, or at the very least – complete neutrality. This is serious spiritual warrior work.

This general perspective (nonresistance) is taught by all the spiritual greats, because it works. Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, wrote of nonresistance as follows:

“Remember, just as you cannot fight the darkness, so you cannot fight unconsciousness. If you try to do so, the polar opposites will become strengthened and more deeply entrenched. You will become identified with one of the polarities, you will create an “enemy,” and so be drawn into unconsciousness yourself. Raise awareness by disseminating information, or at the most, practice passive resistance. But make sure that you carry no resistance within, no hatred, no negativity. “Love your enemies,” said Jesus, which, of course, means “have no enemies.”

Eckhart Tolle

When a difficult person comes into my life, at work or otherwise, I first do my inner work: asking myself “what part am I playing in this drama?” and then, “what can I learn from this?“.

Once I’m clear on these aspects, I turn to the tools I have borrowed from Florence Scovel Shinn and others. I’ve shared the application of this in a work context, but it’s just as powerful on other situations. The key here, as Eckhart Tolle reminds us, is to carry no resistance within us; to love our enemies enough to see them in a place where they are happy, productive, engaged and content.

As an early teacher of mine often said (usually about manifesting money!): this stuff works!

Indeed it does. And so it is.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Make a difference

I’ve spent the past 6+ years writing this blog and highlighting the many benefits of spiritual metaphysics but also calling out behaviors with which I disagree from within the larger, organized metaphysical community.

In pondering this of late, I began to think about the issue of the children being detained at the southern border of the United States and an idea began to form.

I believe that if we work together, we can change the world. Join me in putting attention on the issue at the southern border of the United States, and knowing that the doors of the detention centers are open, the children are reunited with their families, and the detention center programs are closed, permanently.

I don’t know if organized metaphysical spirituality will survive, but I know that the principles will – and that stripped from the dogma of power plays and hierarchies, they can be used to move mountains.

I invite you to join me – I explain in my video (above).

Together, we can do BIG things. Together we can make a difference.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

A prayer for safety

In previous posts I have shared affirmative prayers for protection and for times of turmoil. Today I am sharing a prayer for SAFETY as we hear the news and watch the public health data that reports increasing cases of COVID-19 across the nation, and in fact, the world.

While some of us have the luxury of working remotely and being able to self-isolate and order what we need from Amazon and other retailers; many others are going straight into the mouth of the beast, every day.

Whether working in education, healthcare, retail or some other area that requires us to show up and be around other people, there is some sense of worry – no matter HOW strong we are, or how positive we think.

Utilizing the same format as the recent Prayer for Health, I share the following prayer for safety.

Each day, in each place where I stand, I lift my head and square my shoulders, knowing that Spirit and I are one, and that I am never alone. I recognize the Power and the Presence everywhere – across time and space. From within this omnipresence, I accept my oneness with the Infinite, and I affirm that the Universal Spirit of Good expresses in, as and through all of Life as It expresses in, as and through me [and in, as and through the person for whom I am speaking this].

This means that, regardless of how it seems, my/[their] steps are divinely guided, safely along my/[their] journey. I/[They] walk in the protective Light of the Divine and I/[they] find the information, people and supports that are needed at every turn in the road. I am/[S/he is] always in the right place, at the right time, and am so confident in this Truth that even when things APPEAR to be going wrong, I relax/[s/he relaxes] into the sacred assurance that the Infinite Spirit is opening some doors and closing others. I/[They] walk forward in faith, blessed with Divine protection and safe passage through this storm.

Like a sailor in a storm-tossed sea who finds relief in the powerful beam of the lighthouse, I am GRATEFUL for the guiding beacon that is Spirit’s gentle nudge; I give THANKS for Divine intuition and for the appearance in my life/[their life] of angels who come, always in perfect time and at the perfect place to point the way to safety.

Rooted in this gratitude, I release my word into the Infinite Law, knowing that its return is assured. I speak it, I know it, and I let it go. And so it is.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

A prayer for health

In this time of global pandemic, when the health and wellness of ALL is a daily, if not hourly, topic of conversation; it is helpful to reconnect with the ancient practice of prayer.

In spiritual metaphysics, prayer is affirmative – speaking the desired outcome, and not giving voice to what is wrong. Instead of asking (begging) the Infinite for help, affirmative prayer is an acknowledgement that God is already in the middle of our issue. We are simply turning our attention away from the PANIC and onto the Truth.

A favorite Florence Scovel Shinn quote of mine, that I have incorporated into the affirmative prayer below, summarizes this perspective so clearly:

I walk in the Light, and my fears dwindle into nothingness.”

Florence Scovel Shinn

Joseph Murphy called it “Prayer Therapy“, Ernest Holmes called it “Spiritual Mind Treatment“, Mary Baker Eddy, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Malinda Cramer and Nona Brooks called it simply “Treatment“. The process – regardless of what we call it – is powerful. As I mention in my BIO, I have seen time and space altered in remarkable (miraculous) ways by the application of affirmative, scientific prayer.

If you or someone you care for is in need of healing, I offer this affirmative prayer. It is written to be spoken for yourself – or for someone else (hopefully this makes sense as you read it through).

Keep in mind that if you are speaking this for someone else, there are statements that you know (e.g. “I know that,…“) as well as statements about the other person. I have added [brackets] around the places where you will add different language if this is being spoken for someone other than yourself.

Lastly, in keeping with the tradition of Spiritual Mind Treatment, the 1st paragraph contains all “I” statements until the last sentence.


I recognize that the Infinite Spirit is the essence of Good, I lean into this Truth and allow it to fully surround and enfold me, as I affirm my oneness with Spirit. Aware that Divine expression moves in, as and through all of Life, I acknowledge Its expression in me [and in other person)], and I embrace this Truth.

Right here and now, I affirm the perfection of Spirit and know that It is ever-present, and expressing as health, wholeness, wellness and strength in me/[other person]. My/[their] body and mind are open and receptive to the Infinite Power that is expressed in me/[them] and in the many healers and helpers that surround me/[them].

I welcome the advice, medications, and other interventions that doctors and other experts share with me/[them] because I know that they are not random words, but divinely-guided messengers – healing angels sent specifically to me/[them] for my/their highest Good.

I/[They] walk each moment surrounded by the brilliant, warm and restorative light of Spirit, and any fear I/[they] feel dwindles into nothingness. I know that all is well and I am reminded of this as my/[their] experiences on this journey are anchored in ease and grace – even in the most unexpected places and at the most unlikely times.

I am grateful for the ability to connect with this ancient wisdom, and to remember that Spirit is omnipresent; everywhere, with me/[them] always and in all ways. I ground myself in this deep well of gratitude, and release my word into the Infinite Law – knowing that it returns complete.

I speak it. I know it. I let it go.

And so it is.


(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

(p.s. don’t miss listening to this song by Michael Gott – it’s the perfect closing for any prayer)