Our sacred duty

In the canons of early spiritual metaphysics (now known as New Thought), it was taught that “The physical evidence of any teaching lies not in the authority or history of an organization, but in the ability of an individual to prove the teaching.” (Nona Brooks)

This week I experienced another “proof of the teaching” and wanted to share it here.

An article I wrote on Kindness as a Leadership Practice was published in a national professional journal as a feature. It was an honor on many levels, and the culmination of a journey that began around the same time as this blog, and it is indeed a “demonstration” of the application of these principles.

The important aspects of this should not be overlooked, and include the following:

  • it did not manifest overnight (it’s been about a 6-year journey!)
  • it required that I “treat & move my feet
  • it required that I walk through disappointments and still keep moving forward
  • it showed up in a way that I was not expecting, but is still wonderful
  • it came after many smaller “wins” that I acknowledged and was grateful for
  • it was never assured or certain – I had to keep pressing on in faith

The principles of spiritual metaphysics are simple, but as Louise Hay taught, not always easy. One major reason they are not easy is that in our modern, cinematic world we have been anesthetized to the reality of miracles. We assume that they should be immediate, and must include a handsome prince/beautiful princess, a storybook castle and a happily ever after (you know what I mean). The “go big or go home” mindset has been terrible for our collective spiritual enlightenment.

The storybook expectations mask the mini-miracles that come along and that are essential to our spiritual growth and development; and this is FATAL to our long-term ability to rely on these principles. We must learn to crawl before we can walk, and walk before we can run. Too often, in the kingdom of the miraculous, we want to go from Misery Lane to Easy Street without doing our work: we want to run a marathon before we have learned how to walk.

The biggest problem with this is that when the BIG WIN doesn’t show up, we are tempted to “go home“, or return to a state of disappointment and non-belief – wondering why we allowed ourselves to be duped. This is unfortunate and wholly unnecessary.

Spiritual teachers must take care to pay attention to, and highlight the miracles of every size, shape and hue for in these stories lie the depth, breadth and strength of these ancient teachings.

Spiritual seekers have a part to play as well. Don’t lock in on the BIG, QUICK wins (e.g. winning the lottery). Look for the everyday miracles: the “green lights and parking spaces” that Louise Hay taught about. Feel grateful for the little ways of ease and grace, and know that your Good is always in motion, on its way to you.

Mary Baker Eddy taught:

“The place you seek is seeking you, the place you need is needing you. Divine Principle brings need and supply together for mutual good. God wisely, intelligently, and lovingly controls, guides, protects, prospers, and blesses this union of [God’s] idea and this joyous activity, work.”  

Mary Baker Eddy

All of us – teachers and students, guides and seekers – need to remember this Truth: Divine Principle brings need and supply together for mutual good.

And when we see it show up, we can be assured that more will follow if we acknowledge it, feel gratitude for its arrival, and keep moving forward. As such we are demonstrating the “physical evidence of [the] teaching” through the proof that showed up in our lives and we owe it to others who are seeking to share our experiences of Good.

We don’t do this to attract members, build empires or win “converts“. We share our demonstrations because we remember when we showed up in a class, at a Center or at a meeting and wanted, even needed, to know that there was a Power for Good in the Universe and that we in our desperate states, could somehow and in some way, use it to help get ourselves out of our messes and back on track.

We never know when someone who is hanging on to hope by a thread will hear our story, relate to our journey and hold on to their faith long enough to take another step forward. In this, our sharing becomes a sacred duty – part of our contract with our fellow travelers and seekers; a down-payment on the “debt” we owe to those who shined a Light for us when we showed up tired, weary and desperate.

As one of my early teachers always said, “This stuff works!

Indeed it does – for me, and for you.

And so it is.

(C) 2021 Practitioner’s Path

Self-Forgiveness Class

We kicked off our first session of Radical Self-Forgiveness this morning, and the recorded lecture (separate from the class session for reasons of privacy) can now be viewed!

Our 2nd class session will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2021 beginning at 10:30am EST. For more information, click here.

(C) 2021 Practitioner's Path

A higher purpose

I’ve been thinking about a number of things lately – on personal and global levels. It’s hard NOT to ponder the recent national events, and how they may or may not impact each of us. I tend to look at them initially in their raw state and then look for the spiritual lessons that are there, waiting to be discovered and I can see at least 3 in this mess right now (more are likely to bubble to the top later).

In this blog post I want to talk about the story of Stacey Abrams. For apolitical readers, here’s a brief history.

Stacey Abrams was the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia in the 2018 election, and she lost to Brian Kemp, the Republican. It was a painful loss, as it was close and there were allegations (and some evidence) that election shenanigans may have played a role in the final outcome.

Ms. Abrams is highly-educated, with a master’s degree in public affairs and a Law degree (from Yale). She had a lot of options after her defeat, including using the legal system to fight the election results. Instead she chose to channel her intellect, wisdom, contacts and political lessons-learned into something else: she chose to work for a higher purpose.

Ms. Abrams discovered that voter disenfranchisement in Georgia was rampant, and she knew that it would continue to impact everyday Georgians. Instead of going home and licking her wounds, Stacey Abrams got to work.

Today her tireless efforts and uncanny political savvy are credited with the success of 2 run-off elections for both U.S. Senate seats from Georgia. The first African American Senator – Rev. Raphael Warnock and the first Jewish Senator – Jon Ossoff – were elected due in large part to Ms. Abrams’ efforts.

The election of 2 additional Democrats to the Senate means that newly-elected President Joe Biden’s policies and appointments actually stand a chance to be brought to the floor of the Senate and debated. It means that policies like raising the minimum wage, affordable healthcare, student loan forgiveness, clean air/water and more for all Americans will be prioritized over big business profits.

Ms. Abrams understood that her loss in the Georgia governor’s race was still an opportunity to serve – just in a different way. Had she won that race, it’s hard to see how Georgia would have flipped even 1 Senate seat blue – let alone 2. She was able to transcend her own personal loss and turn it into an advantage for her state, and indeed, the nation. She applied the ethical framework she was raised with, as shared by her father in a May 2020 Washington Post article into action: “… in our family, anything you do, you do it to benefit others.

Ms. Abrams understands, as did her parents, that we’re not here to simply enrich ourselves. We are here with a responsibility to a higher calling. Each of us has a greater purpose to serve in our short time on this earth.

Yes, her political star is rising, and she will benefit personally from the work she has done for Georgia and the national democratic party. But we should not miss the spiritual lesson in the story of her life. Wayne Dyer taught (after studying the Dao te Ching) that if we wanted to manifest abundance* in our lives, we should approach each day, each moment asking, “How may I serve?

Stacey Abrams asked that question in the throes of a very public defeat, and as she worked hard to serve her fellow Georgians, and democrats; she saw her own political star and prominence rise. She is, perhaps unintentionally, the embodiment of this lesson of the Dao.

And let’s not miss the other critical aspect of this lesson: she took these actions even in the face of a deeply personal loss. She did not spend time whining about her loss, asking “why me?” and complaining. She accepted that this was what life was handing her, readjusted her expectations and kept moving forward.

Whether we want abundance in our personal lives, for our businesses or even in our churches and centers; there is a model for achieving it. We must let go of what we want personally, take a step back and ask, “how may I serve?” When we do, the Universe will open up a banquet in front of us in ways we could have never imagined. We just have to remember that sometimes, though it looks like our dreams are shot and our goals out of reach – it’s Spirit giving us a nudge and saying “your time is coming, but some other folks need your help over here right now“.

I remain deeply grateful for the learning I have achieved in spiritual metaphysics, but I think at times it has stopped short of this critically important piece when it comes to abundance, prosperity and manifesting: it’s not about us – it’s about ALL of us.

Thank you, Stacey – for your hard work, those 2 Senate seats, and for this beautiful, spiritual lesson out front in the news cycle, reminding me of its Truth, every day.

(C) 2021 Practitioner's Path 

*abundance refers to a full and bountiful life – not just money

A spiritual alchemist

In a discussion this morning I used the term “spiritual alchemy” to describe the seemingly-magical changes that take place in our lives when we begin to work with and apply metaphysical spiritual principles. In other blog posts I have described this as the way that people, circumstances and events around us shift to facilitate an opening for our Good to show up.

I have written about how this alchemy has worked to my benefit such as the time that a Summer storm landed a tree on my roof which led to an insurance intervention that helped to replace my old roof, or the months-long discomfort I felt at a well-paying job which led me to leave and land in a more stable job with a pension.

Other times this alchemical process was influencing me, but for the benefits of others. There was the time I was inspired to take an alternate route on a morning walk at the perfect place and time and intercepted a loose dog (pet) who had bolted from his home and was dashing about wildly as heavy traffic moved up and down the street; and the time I was called at the last minute to teach a class just to find that a student in that class needed information I had just stumbled across.

I cannot explain the science of these demonstrations, but believe that the online definition of alchemy comes close:

“a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation or combination”.

While some have sought to specifically define “spiritual alchemy“, I can think of no better explanation than to point to the incredible stories of unexpected happenings and events that show up in our lives – or the lives of others – and that are answers to prayer or deep needs.

Ancient alchemists were sought out to purify, mature, and perfect certain materials. Their history is best known for their attempts to transform base metals (common, low-cost metals like lead) into noble metals such as gold and silver.

The spiritual alchemist seeks to transform common and unwanted circumstances into more noble ones. We work to facilitate shifts from lack to abundance; from poor health to wholeness; from weakness to strength; from sadness to joy and more.

Our supplies do not come as powders folded into paper envelopes, or liquids added to glass decanters and heated over a flame. Instead we apply right thinking, spiritually- aligned ideas and Spiritual Mind Treatment and prescribe the use of affirmations, journaling and more to induce the alchemical reactions and produce the desired results.

In some corners of society we may be as misunderstood as the alchemists of old, but we are committed to our work and have attained something that the lead-to-gold crowd never achieved: we have example after example of successful, alchemical transformation.

We are officially referred to as Practitioners; but the more appropriate term for the work that we do, I believe, is Spiritual Alchemist. The demonstrations we experience and witness are nothing less than “seemingly magical” processes. And after the year we all just came through,…I think the world could use a bit more magic,…don’t you?

(C) 2021 Practitioner's Path

Principle in action

In several previous blog posts I have called to task many metaphysical churches and centers on the issue of prosperity as a main focus. It flies way too close to the “prosperity gospel” for my tastes and also runs the risk of turning more people away from metaphysical spirituality than it will keep connected to it. This happens when people focus on the acquisition of wealth – sometimes to the extreme – and when life-changing money doesn’t show up in a few weeks or couple months, people assume “this stuff doesn’t work” and they walk away from it all.

The reason abundance and prosperity is so often taught as an opening into spirituality is that it takes abstract spiritual principles and connects them to concrete things: real changes that people can see, touch and believe. In addition, these positive changes are often able to be seen in short order, and if expectations are managed appropriately– by the teacher and the student – this can absolutely build a foundation for relying on spiritual principles for all areas of life. Problems come when these principles are pitched (or perceived) as a get-rich-quick scheme, because they most definitely do NOT work like that.

Still, the deep lessons that we can learn from practicing spiritual metaphysics with our finances are worth holding on to – as long as we understand the big picture.

The concept of being provided, which is taught widely across the metaphysical spiritual spectrum, is fundamental to the understanding of unity, and it is this unity that is foundational to the realization that we are always provided – that we are not separate from our Good.

Now, if we are sitting and looking at mounds of unpaid bills, and not enough money coming in – it can be difficult, if not impossible, to feel as though we are one with our Good and always provided. How can we move from this overwhelming sense of financial disaster to a place of abundance, or at the very least, some peace about our circumstances?

One step at a time.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is quoted as saying that we don’t have to see the whole staircase; we need only to have enough faith to take the first step.

(C) 2020 R. Harmon

First Steps

The “first step” in applying spiritual principles to solving financial challenges is to believe that it is possible. I’ve shared a number of stories (demonstrations) on how this has worked in my life, so I’m not just repeating tired old memes. I’m teaching from experience that this does indeed work. I have a new car, a new roof, a retirement pension, student loan support and MORE from the application of these principles to the financial areas in my life that needed some help.

Once we accept that there is a way out of our financial “mess“, we then have to accept that it is not going to be a knock on the door from the prize patrol, a long-lost relative with a huge inheritance or a brand new job with a corner office and triple our current salary. Money is not going to fall from the sky and we must accept that we are going to wake up tomorrow in our same lives, same homes and same circumstances – BUT, if we change the way we are THINKING about our situation, we can and will begin to experience positive shifts. We live in Caesar’s world – a world governed by laws of physics that prevent us from turning scrap metal into gold. This means that we need to calibrate our vision to seeing small changes that indicate the tide in our lives is turning toward the better.

Examples of this may be as subtle and simple as someone buying our lunch one day, a forgiven bank fee for a bounced check, or someone giving us a $5 coupon at the store because they don’t need it. To be sure, none of these are going to move us from misery lane to easy street and it is easy to dismiss these as insignificant, but that is a mistake. These are messages from the Universe: nudges from Spirit that we are turning toward a new and better day. Our job is to be able to RECOGNIZE these when they start showing up, to embrace them, and be grateful for them.

As we accept these small demonstrations of Good, we are working on finetuning our vision and we are communicating to the Universe that we are ready to see more. More significant good breaks will come our way, and little by little, our financial circumstances will begin to turn around.

Some of the tools we can use to help us along the way include keeping a gratitude journal (I wrote about that here), or undertaking a more significant commitment to change by embarking on John Randolph Price’s 40-day Abundance Journey. I wrote about that last year at this time and have posted 40-days of video clips to support the journey on my YouTube channel (the intro video for this journey can be found here – be sure you LIKE & subscribe!).

Lastly there is tremendous power in giving to others. Sometimes when we are short on money, we feel that we have nothing to contribute to anyone. But that is an error in thinking. We ALWAYS have something to give. And when we give, it is important that we pay attention to the energy of our giving. We must-must-must give out of generosity, kindness, love and a desire to share what we have.

We can give of our time, talents, and other non-monetary things, but if we want to send out the energy that we know we are provided, we must also be willing to give of our treasure (money). This does NOT mean that we need to sign up and tithe to any specific place (it doesn’t matter where we give – we should give where our hearts direct us to give). We must also understand that there is no magic amount that will turn around our financial circumstances. The “magic” that is activated by our giving lies in the energy with which we give.

When we send out the “message” that we give to others because we know we are provided, it is a powerful beacon that calls in support from the Universe for us.

The principles of metaphysical spirituality as taught by many teachers and traditions are reliable, powerful, and life-changing when they are applied with wisdom and understanding. The path to a better tomorrow begins when we are willing to take that first step, grounded in faith and willing to do the work that is ours to do.

I close this blog post with the knowing that those who put their faith in Spirit and apply the principles of spiritual metaphysics will experience 2021 as a year of financial restoration, expansion and grace.

And so it is.

(C) 2021 Practitioner's Path

Already ours

As we approach another New Year, let us not look timidly to the future with HOPE, but stand tall and embrace the full knowing that we have already received our Good, and walk boldly forward in gratitude and peace – knowing that regardless of how things may appear, all is well.

Happy New Year!

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Saturdays are for Self-Forgiveness

The Workshop

Beginning in January, I will be facilitating a series of 6 workshop sessions dedicated to working through Self-Forgiveness. I’ve built the 6-session workshop around the book and life work of Colin Tipping, who wrote several books on his process, known as Radical Forgiveness (and Radical Self-Forgiveness).

This workshop will not only explore the practice of forgiving ourselves, but will provide concrete tools students can use to achieve this state of acceptance and peace outside of the class/workshop sessions.

I’ve been a successful and well-regarded (by students and colleagues) college faculty member for more than 2 decades. I bring my knowledge, skills and ability around introducing content, keeping students engaged and most importantly – facilitating real learning – to my spiritual classes and workshops in the same way I have done for many years in the technology and healthcare space.

Over the years, my college/university students have landed well-paying jobs utilizing the skills they learned in my classes, and grown their careers into fulfilling endeavors that help to support them and their families. I am blessed beyond measure to continue to hear from, and have contact with many of my former students and I feel that the Universe/Spirit is nudging me about one of the “gifts” I have to share with the world (applying my teaching skills beyond the university setting).

If I can achieve even a portion of the success I have had in the college/university setting with these workshops, I know that it will have a positive impact on my students, their families and communities – perhaps even the world. Real change begins with one person making a new choice; taking a step in a different direction. I believe that my role or life work is not to attempt change at the level of the entire world, but to discover ways that I can “light one candle“; and to ask, as Wayne Dyer encouraged, “how may I serve?“.

My service in the New Year ahead begins with this workshop series.

The sessions begin on Saturday, January 23rd at 10:30am EST (via Zoom). Each session will last until 12:30pm EST (2 hours each week). If you live in a different time zone, you can calculate your time here: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

Supplies needed include access to the book (available for purchase as a used book on Amazon, and for borrowing in many libraries), some paper and pen or pencil for the classes as we do some exercises during the session. A journal is recommended for your own benefit as an adjunct to this workshop but it is not required as part of the class.

Zoom sessions require a broadband connection to the Internet and audio/video capability. To learn how to use Zoom, here is a free tutorial.

Slides and session content will be distributed to students in PDF format for continued learning and use.

Although not required, it would be HELPFUL for me to know who is interested, so I can plan the logistics (e.g. whether I will need a Teaching Assistant [TA] to help me in managing the class). If you are interested, please fill out the form below and hit SEND so I can add your name to my preliminary roster (no obligation).

I look forward to working with you in the New Year!!

Class materials/information

Textbook: Radical Self-Forgiveness, by Colin Tipping
Cost: Love offering (this means you can pay what you choose to pay – for each workshop session or for the series as a whole)

Zoom link
Meeting ID: 825 8589 3490
– Passcode: 236858
– Audio only: (646) 558 8656

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

The Prince of Peace model

The holiday season at the end of the calendar year and the New Year celebrations that cap off the festivities inspire much reflection. This year is no exception, but has been punctuated with some harsh additional realities that include political upheaval and a global pandemic.

In my own reflections and deep thinking, I have wondered about many of the institutions that we have held dear, but mostly I have thought long and deeply about what we have told the world about ourselves as Americans in this pandemic.

I have never liked the term “American Exceptionalism” as it seems to suggest that we are different from other people. I disliked this perspective as a small child when I saw presentations by missionaries who went into native areas and tried to “save” the “savages” but that’s a blog for another day. I am most unsettled by the “exceptionalism” that is waved around as individual rights, at the expense of everyone else.

Most years, the holidays represent the very best in humanity. People are more generous with their tithes and talents, and giving is the theme of the day. While the twinkling lights still shine in neighborhoods across the nation, there is a darker force hiding behind many decorations: the energy of selfishness.

Early on, scientists told us that wearing a MASK when out in public helped us keep our germs to ourselves. It was not meant as a way to necessarily protect US from others (although it does help), but to make sure that we did not, inadvertently and unknowingly, pass our germs on to someone else – perhaps someone who would be at high risk for a difficult time if infected with the Coronavirus.

The loud, angry backlash at wearing a simple piece of cloth on our faces has left me sadder than I’ve been in many years. If this is the hallmark of American Exceptionalism, I don’t want any part of it.

Even more sad, some of the same people who will bark “It’s Merry CHRISTMAS” when I say “Happy Holidays” are leading the charge against mandatory mask requirements.

And so I ask: how/why does a group that wants us ALL to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace – regardless and above all other religious traditions – also behave in such a way that this same Prince of Peace would abhor, eschew and call out as wrong (based on the teachings I’ve read codified in the Christian Bible)?

I don’t understand it and I don’t think it can be explained as anything other than selfishness and hatred.

It is this same behavior that I began to see in traditional churches as far back as an adult Sunday School class in a Lutheran Church in Maumee, Ohio in the early 1990s. That behavior drove me to deeply question the faith I was raised in, steeped in, grounded and rooted in. If these were the pillars of this religion, and were openly speaking their opinions in a church – sitting right next to the up and coming young minister – I wanted nothing to do with them.

As a US Navy Veteran, I had served next to people of all races, creeds and sexual preferences/orientations. They were good people who were kind to me and good to their friends and families. I saw no difference in their worth as compared to my own. This kind of exposure to things outside of a small town childhood are the antidote for prejudice and hate. I am forever blessed to have had these opportunities that helped to build on the good foundations my family laid out for us early on (in contrast to and in spite of the rural, White, evangelical area we came from).

Decades later, I see this angry behavior and worse coming out from the corners of the world I was taught to believe had the right hearts, the right answers and the right path. While there are some (hopefully many?) in this corner of the world who are truer to the message of that Prince of Peace; their message and example are being drowned out by the ugliness that has been fed, encouraged, uplifted and profiled for the past couple decades.

It is interesting that the Christmas season is bringing me to understand that the spiritual-not-religious tradition I landed in a little more than a decade ago (after many more incidents of Christians-behaving-badly) has some of the BEST messages for the holidays.

Here are a few of the more simple ones (easy to remember) 🙂

  • We’re all One in Spirit (God/Spirit/Universe/the Infinite)
  • Our actions (thoughts, feelings, etc.) have consequences – mostly for us!
    • if we want a better experience, we can start by BEING better in all we do to ourselves and to others
  • Spirit is Universal – and does not “belong” to any one tradition, story or people

Imagine if everyone – regardless of the stories they want to celebrate at various times of the year – decided to treat everyone else as if they were as precious and important as themselves!?

We wouldn’t need mask “mandates“. Food banks would have so much food that they gave double portions to all in need. There would be less honking of horns in traffic and in parking lots (I saw an angry confrontation in the grocery store just last week) and less homelessness, helplessness, and violence all around.

In honor of the MANY traditions celebrated this time of the year, let’s all take a step back and channel our inner spiritual-not-religious tendencies, and ask: what would the Prince of Peace expect of us?

It’s really not that hard.

Knowing holiday peace, blessings and more for you all this season and into the New Year.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Mercy – a spiritual practice

Early in my foray onto the spiritual (not-religious) path, it seemed that all the FABULOUSLY spiritual people had perfect yoga pants; plump, designer floor cushions; and all the appropriate accoutrements, expertly displayed in a special room. They seemed to have all the accessories associated with “being spiritual“. Today I know that those things are nice, but they have absolutely nothing to do with walking a spiritual path. The most important accessories are those we carry with us, every day.

I came home from work yesterday to find that the 2 cans filled with garbage that morning were still standing. That was a bad sign, since usually I have to park on the street to pick up the discarded, upended and empty cans from the middle of my driveway before I can pull in. In addition, one of the cans still had its lid on, tight.

I parked, got out of my car and walked over to confirm that indeed, the can with the lid on had not been emptied into the garbage truck – while the open-topped one was now empty.

My initial response was to be aggravated – maybe even a little angry – that I had a full can of garbage that would need to sit for another week; then I remembered that I could call the township and complain, and they would report it to the waste management company who would dispatch a truck to pick it up the next morning.

As I thought more about the issue, I felt that I had an opportunity: I could be (rightfully) indignant, irritated and annoyed and insist that they circle back around to this street and empty this can; or I could practice mercy.

I have been in management for many years, and as soon as I thought of calling to complain, I wondered about the team that would be marked as deficient. Some may say “they deserved it – they dropped the ball” and in terms of the facts, that is true. What I also know from my years in supervision and management is that my call may be the “last straw” for someone who is experiencing a tough time. It may be the thing that causes someone to be moved to the “do not retain” list or to be let go during their probationary period.

I thought about that as I pulled the cans back to the side of my house. It’s cold out now and I have a well-fitting lid. Will it really hurt anything to pull it out again next Monday to be picked up? Is my aggravation with the principle of the circumstances truly worth the possibility that someone could experience difficulty with their boss, or even the loss of their job – especially in the middle of a pandemic?

The answer to all of these questions is NO. But this goes beyond me simply being merciful because I have an opportunity. How many times has someone granted me mercy when I missed a deadline, dropped the ball on a project or made a mistake? Many times. And while I am aware of a number of these instances, how many MORE have come into my life as unknown blessings that protected me and gave me the opportunity to get up the next day and keep moving forward?

Spiritual teachers tell us that what we put out, returns to us. It’s a teaching as old as humanity, but it seems at times that it is one of the hardest ones to grasp. In traffic yesterday on my way home from work (before I encountered the garbage cans), I merged in front of someone who didn’t like it. I was not even close to them, and had plenty of room for the merge but for a reason that remains unknown to me, the driver laid on their horn and sped up to ride my bumper for a while in traffic.

I remained calm, and ignored them, but I wondered at the (sadly) common need for humans to correct others who don’t follow the rules as we see them.

I’ve written before about the possibilities for World Peace that may be achievable if each of us would get into the habit of practicing peace on the road during our morning and afternoon commutes. Yesterday, I considered also the great possibilities that lie in cultivating a practice of mercy.

Now, some will say “we shouldn’t reward bad behavior“. I don’t entirely disagree, but I also believe that we do more Good when we act in an energy of peace instead of an energy of retribution. Last year I had an extremely frustrating experience with a cashier at a local drugstore. She had a name tag on and later, when I received the email asking me to rate my experience at the store, I was tempted to tell my story.

Instead, I decided to speak affirmatively about her, calling into form the behaviors I knew she could exhibit; behaviors that I would much prefer to experience. I wrote that she (mentioning her name) was knowledgeable, helpful and kind and that I appreciated her assistance and positive attitude. In biblical language, I chose to “…call into existence the things that do not (yet) exist“.

The HUMAN response would have been to let her have it, and rant and rave about what poor customer service she provided to me. The more Divine response was to call into existence the behavior that did not seem to be present at the time. I chose the latter, and have had multiple interactions with this woman since then which have been GREATLY improved.

Some may believe that while I did not call her out, others surely did; hence the reason for the change, but I’m not so sure. A few weeks ago I ran into her in another store in a neighboring borough. I asked if she left the other store, and she said “No – I was recently promoted to a Lead Cashier, which means I get sent to other stores sometimes to help“.

I smiled as I left the store that day, grateful that I had quelled my initial urge to call her out and thankful for the reinforcement that these ancient, spiritual Truths are as applicable today as ever.

My garbage will sit out another week, and I won’t want to open that lid. Thankfully, I have other cans, and will not be inconvenienced by this minor issue. I will be reminded, each time I walk past those cans, of the times I have been granted mercy by someone else, and will say a quiet “Thank You” for the people and circumstances in which I received mercy. And I will remember that developing a spiritual practice is less about the cushion we sit on and the decorations in the room (the where) and more – perhaps ALL – about the what. Standing there between my garbage cans, I honored the mercy I have received, and vowed to continue to practice mercy toward others.

I know myself well enough to understand that I will not move forward from this incident like some saintly monk. I will again find myself cursing in traffic, getting angry with subpar behavior and maybe even starting to write a 1-star review for bad service. I am human and fallible, which is why these things are known as spiritual PRACTICES. Still, I will not forget it and like time spent in meditation that builds that skill, time spent in spiritual practices like being merciful build those skills, and make them easier to choose as we walk through our lives.

Lastly, we never know what mercy we may need from someone down the road. The Law of Circulation is about more than money: it is the Law that describes the natural flow of life that brings into our experience the things we align with (or as Abraham would saymatch our vibration”).

It’s good for OTHERS when we practice mercy; it’s also good for us. And so it is.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

A different take on “forced isolation” this Thanksgiving

Today in the United States we are celebrating Thanksgiving – a holiday dedicated to a heavily edited version of historical events in the early years of the Western incursion into the lands inhabited by native peoples on this continent. I’ll leave that aspect alone for now, but it’s worth remembering at least on the superficial level that Thanksgiving (the national holiday) was not a divine decree.

I have read many posts on social media, overheard a number of conversations (appropriately socially-distanced on Zoom) and had people share with me that it’s just not fair that families can’t gather on the holiday.

I don’t disagree that this is difficult. My own elderly parents are isolated in their home with no kids, grandkids or great-grandkids. I’m home alone with my 2 cats – no kids or grandkids; and many others are alone or almost alone this year in the context of the “usual activities“.

But instead of mourning what cannot be, I have been thinking about the many people for whom this kind of Thanksgiving is the norm.

Seniors living in long-term care homes who have few visitors, regardless of the season; isolated individuals of all ages living alone with families scattered to the winds due to family dysfunction, drug use/abuse, family trauma and more; newly-widowed spouses whose relatives are distant; homeless Veterans; those who are intellectually-disabled or mentally ill and who experience a collective social “avoidance” all year long,… and there are many more.

As I move forward from this day of no turkey & dressing with my loved ones, I will be more mindful of those for whom this is the norm. I will be more open to seeing those around me who are isolated ALL the time – not just in a time of pandemic. I will rededicate some of my giving to provide support in these areas, and pay attention to the opportunities to be kind in words, deeds and more.

I cannot singlehandedly fix all the social problems in the world, or even make a significant dent in one of the issues I have mentioned. I can be more aware of my own blessings and be willing to use the power of my grounding in the midst of all my good fortune to do as much Good as I can.

This quote from former U.S. President John F. Kennedy reminds us, as we gather in an altered version of our various traditions to celebrate Thanksgiving, to ask: “How can I be a living example of this gratitude I feel?

To become the living examples, we must move from simply feeling grateful for what we have, to showing up in the world; super-charged with the gratitude we feel for our own Good, and willing to be an agent (facilitator) for blessings in others’ lives.

In other words, we must ask “how may I serve?

Last night I was revisiting some of Florence Scovel Shinn’s writing in her book, The Secret Door to Success. Specifically, I was studying the chapter titled “The Fork in the Road“.

Throughout her writings, and especially in her most well-known work, The Game of Life and How to Play It, she writes about the importance of INTUITION. She describes our prayers as telephoning God and INTUITION as God telephoning us (I love the analogy!).

This is useful here because I think that sometimes when we look at issues in front of us that are immense, complex and hard to wrap our heads around – we can feel overwhelmed to the point of avoidance. The challenges of others that I have listed above can seem this way.

Mrs. Shinn wrote and taught that when we face a problem or dilemma (a “fork in the road”) that we should ask for “a definite, unmistakable lead” and that we will receive one.

Today, as we contemplate our sadness around the disruption we are experiencing in our lives; I encourage each of us to find a way to use this time to ask ourselves, as Wayne Dyer encouraged: “How may I serve?” – and then to open ourselves to receiving a “a definite, unmistakable lead” that points us in a direction how/where we can serve to the best of our individual capacity.

Imagine the amount of GOOD that can come forth if each of us, in our own ways and in our own communities, uses this time of “forced isolation” to ask how we can serve? I think we’d take a giant leap forward in creating a world that truly does work for everyone.

Happy Thanksgiving, good health, peace & blessings to all.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path