Caution – politics (sort of)

I’m an unabashed supporter of the left side of things in American politics. I believe that when we help the most vulnerable, we all do better.

I support strengthening Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and want to see accessible and affordable health care for all (citizens and others) – even if it means I pay higher taxes to support it.

I am appalled by the actions the US Government is taking pertaining to immigrants and I’m no fan of the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But what can I do that will change anything?

I think a lot of us have this same, helpless thought when the latest news story seems to up the ante as the party in charge continues to defy all manner of American values.

At the beach this week, with a lot of time to ponder what is “my work to do”, and to ponder it in the context of this political mess in the USA, I got a couple ideas in my morning, sea shore meditations.

Duck, NC 2019

The idea was sparked by something I read on Facebook that reminded me of a previous post I had written. In essence, spiritual people know the Truth about what happens when we put a lot of energy or attention on something. We need to use that in reverse of what we’ve been doing: we need to shift our focus to what we want to hear on the news, see on TV and know to be happening in our government.

To that end, I’ll be posting a series of focused topics as suggested daily meditations or visualizations. I recently read an article about the power of mass action that cited research indicating that all we need to initiate change in a culture is 3.5% of the population.

If only a quarter of “spiritual, not religious” individuals – which a recent Pew Forum estimated to be 27% of the U.S. population – began to focus on what most mainstream progressives would like to see, things would begin to change, and quickly. So what are we waiting for!?

There are few challenges with the current administration more heart wrenching than the issue of immigrants, and especially children, being housed in horrendous conditions at the border.

The first visualization exercise is to be focused on seeing those detention centers EMPTY; seeing feel-good reunion stories on the news; feeling relief and gratitude for reading headlines that announce that the family separation policy is now defunct.

Each and every time we hear a bad-news story, we can stop and SEE the reality we want in our mind – and know in our hearts that this is already true.

Some may say “this is as good as sending ‘thoughts & prayers’ for school shootings“.

While I get the general sentiment of that argument, most of us can’t physically do anything to stop what is happening at the border (except at the ballot box); but we can hold a new vision for these children and families; the immigrants that our country has welcomed since before its founding.

This can take the form of a brief visualization, or a longer and more intentional meditation focused on the positive outcomes. It can be long or short; on the fly or scheduled. The when, where and how don’t matter – what matters is that we commit to knowing the Truth and turn our attention away from the breaking news to hold a higher vision.

Remember – it only takes 3.5% of us to initiate change. This isn’t hard and costs nothing to undertake. And we can do it anywhere, at anytime.

Affirmative prayer for resolution of the crisis at the US Southern border:

Breathing into this present moment, I know that there is only one Power, and one Presence. This Power and Presence is the beginning and end – the alpha and omega. I know that this Power and Presence expresses in, as and through all of Life, and in, as and through me. And as I accept this for myself, I accept it for each and every person in custody at the US southern border.

I know that regardless of appearances, there is peace, there is hope, and there is resolution. In the midst of this circumstance, Divine Wisdom is at work; cells are opened, doors are unlocked, and detention centers are permanently closed. Families are reunited, and the wounds of separation begin to heal.

As the nation unites around a return to humane and ethical treatment of asylum seekers and immigrants, my heart swells with gratitude. From this perspective of thanksgiving, I release my word into the Law, knowing that it returns fulfilled. I speak it, I know it, I let it go – and so it is.

(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path

An Affirmation

(adapted from Ernest Holmes’ Science of Mind, IV: How to Use It)

I reside in the center of the Divine, a point of God-conscious life, truth and activity. I am always divinely guided in the direction of right action and optimal results.

My words have power; perfect flow and continuous right action is present in my life and my affairs; any/all negative beliefs are immediately neutralized.

Infinite Spirit animates everything that I do, say or think. Divine ideas come to me regularly; they direct and support me without effort. I am continuously guided and compelled to do the right thing at the right time, to say the right word at the right time, to follow the right course with the best motives at all times.

Any suggestion of age, poverty, limitation or unhappiness is eliminated from my thinking. I am happy, well and overflowing with Life. I live in the Spirit of Truth and know that the Spirit of Truth lives in me. My word manifests according to the Law, and there is no unbelief, no doubt, no uncertainty. Every thought of doubt vanishes from my mind – I know the Truth and I am free.

And so it is.

The Answers Lie Within

Neville Goddard
As above, so below
Moonlit night, South Beach, Miami

We all make mistakes – it’s part of being human. Those of us who make mistakes and are willing to accept our role in them and work to correct things not only grow as individuals, but become valuable assets to any organization.

I have worked in management positions for much of my career. When I encounter a problem with an employee, it most often involves an unwillingness in them to understand that while I can support them, recommend additional training or provide other assistance; the solution to their challenges begins and ends with them.

Perpetual “problem” employees tend to be those people who want to blame everyone and everything for their shortcomings instead of looking at what they need to do to impact positive change in their own lives and careers. Since most of us can think of at least 1 person who acts in this manner, their behaviors and attitudes can serve as a useful learning opportunity for those of us who desire personal growth.

In spiritual studies we learn that if we want more abundance in our lives, we must avoid a mindset that sees our experience through the eyes of lack. Emerson wrote that if we want to have a friend, we need to become a friend. In medicine, doctors encourage a positive outlook for battling the most aggressive diseases because they’ve seen the difference in patients with one, and patients without one.

In short, we cannot be (externally) what we are not on the inside: the truth of who we are will out-picture in our lives.

A couple years ago a neighbor shared with me that their young child didn’t seem to have any friends at school. This worried her – understandably – and she and her husband wanted to help without micromanaging the situation.

In addition to providing the requested spiritual support, I listened to the parents’ concerns and found that their child often neglected to share invitations to birthday parties from classmates with the parents. There seemed to be a reticence to participate in parties that involved activities that may be new for their child.

American Philosopher

I shared Emerson’s counsel on finding friends with them, and the parents worked with their child on expectations around the various activities. They wanted to encourage positive growth without mandating behaviors so strictly that it backfired. They told their child that they did not need to attend every birthday party, but needed to choose and attend at least 2 parties or similar events during each semester that year.

A few weeks ago I ran into the mother in the grocery store. She excitedly shared with me that not only was her child now participating in parties, as well as extracurricular school activities; but was regularly going back and forth (at friends homes and in their home) with a handful of friends from school.

I was thrilled for her, and for her child. In pondering the unfolding events for this family I thought of the hard work the child had to do (mentally) to change their trajectory. With the parents’ help and loving encouragement, the child was able to think differently about interactions with kids at school.

Early on, I recall the child expressing that sometimes the activities didn’t sound like they would be very much fun; hence part of the reticence to attend. To move from that position to where they are now, this child had to change on the inside; to decide that they could see an upside/potential good in the parties or activities. And they confessed later that even the most dull-sounding events turned out to be fun.

The ancients taught, and modern gurus, sages and wisdom teachers remind us that the answers we seek lie within. It is phrased in different ways, but in essence it comes down to this: if we can change how we think about things, our lives will change.

We can move from being the problem employee to a valued contributor; we can change from being someone who isn’t included in group activities to someone with a robust social calendar and a circle of friends; we can move from seeing how much we DON’T have in our lives to living a life that is an experience of abundance (recognizing that abundance is much more than money).

When we pivot our thinking and plant seeds for a more positive outlook; life opens up before us providing opportunities we never expected and blessings we couldn’t have seen coming before we shifted our mindset. And so it is.

(c) 2019 Practitioner's Path

Navigating Change

Many people were dedicated students of [Ernest Holmes] philosophy, actively supporting his teaching. They began urging him to set up an organization and incorporate.

Ernest Holmes resisted initially, feeling that an organization would be restrictive. He insisted on the necessity of individual spiritual freedom, saying that Infinite Truth was not the exclusive property of any special group of people, and that his teaching was not a “final revelation”.

SOM Archives
Ernest Holmes

I taught for many years in a professional health care program that culminated in new graduates sitting for a credentialing exam – medical records administration – which in the late 1990s changed its name to Health Information Management.

In decades prior, these credentials were required if one wanted to work in the field of medical records management.

I still hold these credentials and work in a traditional medical records environment, but I am the anomaly. I returned to this environment recently after spending most of my career in non-traditional roles and find my experience to be useful as the profession faces significant change. As someone who is not rooted in “the way it’s always been” I am able to lead the (many) changes that are occurring in my department and profession.

There is unrest in the HIM profession right now because the credentials that were once REQUIRED are no longer given the deference they had in the past. The world has shifted from the days when paper pages filled cardboard folders, creating the record of medical care. Today the Electronic Health Record (EHR) has emerged with the rest of the technology revolution and changed healthcare and my profession.

These changes have had a significant impact on the credentialing organization. I taught at the baccalaureate and graduate level. When I left academia, the department chair had implemented a requirement that students sit for the credentialing exam to graduate, because so many students were finding jobs – GOOD jobs – without the credential and so few students wanted to pay the money and sit for the exam. For me, this was the first clue that the onward march of technology and time was exerting an impact on “the way it’s always been done” in my profession. More evidence on this would follow.

The Joint Commission (TJC) is the gold standard accreditation body that helps to hold health care organizations to high standards of care by providing oversight and evaluation of their policies, practices and more. In previous years, when TJC site visitors showed up, a call was made was to the Director of Medical Records/HIM. One reason was that the number of unsigned charts was historically a significant review activity.

In recent years, HIM Directors are not only missing from the first-call list, but sometimes never make contact with the visitors. One reason is the Electronic Health Record which makes it next to impossible to “hide” unsigned medical documentation. Instead of needing to go through the HIM Director to see if a random sample of charts are signed, anyone with login credentials can generate a report of all the unsigned records at the click of a button.

Change can come in an instant

I believe another reason is that accreditation agencies have ranked patient safety as a more important metric to monitor than unsigned notes (and I agree). With limited resources and a need to focus on the biggest bang for the buck, a decision was made to remove the accreditation requirement for “delinquent records” (those that are missing or unsigned) from their checklist.

And just like that – the role of the HIM/Medical Records Director changed.

Seemingly overnight (it wasn’t), the selling points for earning and maintaining a credential in the HIM field have evaporated along with the traditional medical records department in many facilities. Rooms with multiple moving shelves of paper records have been replaced by servers and the cloud.

In Pittsburgh, one large health system which is comprised of more than 20 hospitals in the greater Pittsburgh region, closed all the HIM departments in their facilities and now manages their HIM operations from a single, central location filled with computers in the heart of their flagship location.

Why am I writing about this on a spiritually-themed blog?

Because it is an example of the impact of technology and shifting norms that are inevitable as time moves on. And because I see the same “camps” in my spiritual community that I have seen in my professional sphere:

  • those that are clinging tightly to “the way it’s always been” and hoping against all hope that this storm is going to pass and everything will return to the way things used to be;
  • those that feel the shifting winds and want to use what they have learned and apply it in the new paradigms that are emerging.

In the HIM field, there are MANY ways to apply the foundational education that is provided in the best programs. The graduates that I and others have taught are proof positive that this is the case, as they are a who’s who of successful, professional individuals working in the healthcare industry. They do not manage medical records departments; but the skills they learned in college opened doors into careers that will sustain them as long as they choose.

I recently heard someone in my larger spiritual sphere talk about the need for loyalty to the main organization that credentials religious science Practitioners, and I had a deja vu experience.

Ten years ago I was hearing this same verbiage from a department chair (and others in the credentialing organization). Did their mandatory requirement that all graduating students take their credentialing exam and remain loyal to the organization result in more credentialed HIM professionals?

Short term, yes. Students did what they had to do to graduate. But at the end of that 1st year when the renewal notices came in the mail, very few renewed their credentials.

Was it because they were angry at being forced to do it in the first place?

No – it was because the credential was irrelevant for them, and had nothing to do with what they were contributing in the workforce and the world. And this trend is continuing downward as new college programs that teach the foundational concepts are emerging without an affiliation with the credentialing organization (which means more people than me are seeing this trend and acting on it).

There’s a lesson here that echoes the cautions of Ernest Holmes in the last century. He insisted that “Infinite Truth was not the exclusive property of any special group of people”. He was also stern in his push back against those eager at the time to create a formal organization:

As the organization took form, however, Ernest made it clear that the founding of the Institute was not intended to promote Religious Science as a cure-all religion. He would not allow anyone to regard the Science of Mind message as infallible. “Religious Science is shorn of dogmatism, freed from superstition, and open at the top for greater illumination, unbound and free,” Ernest said.

SOM archives

Unbound and free.

Open at the top for greater illumination.

Ernest Holmes would have encouraged students of the Truth principles that he taught to explore the world; to engage with other philosophies and test the veracity of the SOM postulates. He would have encouraged collaboration, exploration and the integration of other streams of spirituality in the consideration of the principles he put to pen and paper.

There’s nothing unbound and free in “you must remain loyal to this organization“.

There’s no greater illumination possible if it’s “this is the company line that you adhere to, …or else” (especially in the “or else” – implied or explicit).

The definition of the dogma Holmes specifically warned against is evident when the hierarchy begins to marginalize and speak negatively about those who wander off the prescribed path and speak the Truth through their own, perhaps slightly different, lens.

Truth principles hold that “there is enough for everyone“. Insisting on loyalty to an organization “or else” is a lack mentality, and had no place in Ernest Holmes’ emerging philosophy and has no place in the New Thought of the 21st century.

We are better than this. And I look forward to seeing that better side expand beyond the fear and lack that I have heard too much of over the past few years. And so it is.

(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path

Rights and responsibilities

Ephraim's blessing
Practitioner's Path
Spiritual learning
metaphysical bible stories
Ephraim’s Blessing

In the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew scriptures, tucked in among the well-known stories of Noah’s Ark, the Garden of Eden and Abraham is a wonderful metaphysical lesson about rights and responsibilities.

The story of Jacob (renamed as Israel after wrestling with an angel) who after many years of believing that his son Joseph was dead (recall that Joseph had been Jacob’s youngest, and favorite son and was sold to slave traders by his jealous brothers years before), is reunited with his grown son and meets his 2 grandsons for the first time.

Being very old, Jacob desires to give the traditional blessing to Joseph and to his 2 sons. As was the custom, Joseph positioned his sons with the oldest (Manasseh) at Jacob’s right and Ephraim at Jacob’s left so that the oldest of his sons would receive the right hand and the blessing of the firstborn – the “better” blessing.

Jacob moves to place his hands on the young boys and crosses his arms, placing his right hand – to confer the primary blessing – on Ephraim, not Manasseh. Fearing his father was subject to his advanced years, Joseph reaches out to move Jacob’s hands, but Jacob resists.

17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a multitude of nations.

Genesis 48:17-19

Jacob foresaw that while Manasseh was talented, and would find success; Ephraim had a great deal more potential for good, and greater achievements for the Hebrew people. He then circumvented the traditional blessing process and laid his right hand, and bestowed the blessing on Ephraim – the grandson he knew would do great things.

There’s an important lesson in this somewhat obscure story for modern times. Modern as we are, we too are often bound by tradition. In organizations we get caught up in titles, length of service or affiliation and credentials. Mesmerized by these man-made measurements, we tend to defer to the people in these groups (the Manassehs) and ignore the Ephraims – those without the time in rank, the titles or credentials.

But at what cost?

If we choose our leaders based narrowly on time, rank and credentials; overlooking those with great energy, vision and the ability to create meaningful programming and lead strategic progress, but without the traditional position in the birth order, we deserve the results we get.

The wisdom in the story of the blessing of Ephraim is that traditions are meant to be challenged – especially when there is an obvious different choice. Too many times though, like Joseph, we try to micromanage the natural progression of things by insisting on blessing the firstborn, because – well, we always bless the first born!

Jacob saw the great benefit of giving his blessing to Ephraim – bucking the tradition, and making the decision based on the best interest of the movement, which for him was the people of Israel.

Jacob understood his rights and the rights of Manasseh. He also understood the heavy mantle of responsibility as the patriarch of the nation of Israel, and he chose carefully, intentionally and based on the best interest of the many – not on the feelings of, or fallout for, Manasseh.

Like much of the biblical canon and most ancient texts, this is another wisdom tale with no expiration date. And the lesson is that we get to choose: we can fall in line with those who’ve been here the longest, and doing things “the way we’ve always done them” or we can cross our arms and bestow our blessing on the ones whose contributions will seed “a multitude of nations“.

And so it is.

(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path

Peanut Butter, Jelly & the Benefits of Spiritual Living

Solana Beach, CA
Spiritual retreat
spiritual living
Psalm 121 as an affirmation

Few verses of biblical scripture bestow more comfort than the words in Psalms 121.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Psalms 121

In other translations/versions, such as the New International Version, verse 3 says “He will not let your foot slip“.

One of the most common questions I have heard over the years from those who question the benefits of walking a spiritual path, is if spirituality is such a good thing, why do spiritual people still have messy life issues like everyone else.

When we read verses like this one, which promises some robust protections, it’s understandable that some might question the veracity of spiritual teachings.

We all experience life in all its wonder – good stuff, and some not-so-good stuff. The assumption that a spiritual practice prevents all negative experiences is flawed and, well,…wrong.

Those walking the spiritual path absolutely experience all the ups and downs that come with living on this planet, but there is a difference in the way they respond to such events, so I’ve decided to create a Top Ten list to explain some basics.

10: People walking a spiritual path understand that there is a Power for Good in the Universe – greater than we are – and know that they can use it.

9: They understand that life is a mirror and will reflect back to them what they think into it and so are impeccable with their thinking and thoughts.

8: They know that some of the most challenging circumstances, situations and people are opportunities to learn. Instead of cursing a negative event or happening, they are very likely to turn inward to seek the Truth that lies at the core of the happening.

7: They know that the more grateful they are for what is right here, right now in their lives – the more they will have to be grateful for down the line. They can ALWAYS find something to be grateful for – no matter what is taking place around them.

6: They understand that spiritual laws are universal and impersonal. Gravity works equally on Nuns and Criminals. Similarly, spiritual law works in our lives whether we are conscious of It or not.

5: They know without a shadow of a doubt that the energy they put out into the world will come back to them. As a result of this knowing (that often comes after some hard lessons), they are quite careful in the way they show up in the world.

4: They comprehend that while many people are spiritual, the lessons are individual. Therefore, spiritual people are highly unlikely to proselytize – regardless of the opportunities that abound. They know that when the student (family, friend) is ready; the teacher will show up for them and they know not to push that timeline.

3: They understand that there need not be any sense of hurry or worry – just a calm, peaceful sense of reality. They allow the Law to work through and express Itself in, their experiences.

2: They believe wholeheartedly that giving opens the way for receiving, and so they give generously and regularly.

1: They accept that whatever it is that they seek, is seeking them. They understand the power of intention to attract into their lives that which they desire.

A spiritual friend of mine once described it as this:

Spiritual people drop their sandwiches on the ground like everyone else; theirs just tend to land jelly-side up more often.

spiritual living
positive living
PBJ & spiritual living

I haven’t done any research to validate the jelly sandwich statistic, but I do know that things in my own life did a 180 when I began to study spirituality in depth and walk a more spiritual path.

And I think that’s the essence of much of the teaching found in wisdom texts like the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Dao de Ching and others and taught by enlightened men and women across the centuries.

Spiritual people know that their help indeed comes from spiritual Law (e.g. the Lord in traditional texts); they know that these Laws are constant – that the Power for Good in the Universe does not slumber nor sleep; that they are covered by the grace of their alignment with spiritual Law. They know that the Law can and will preserve them from evil; that It is ever present in their coming and going – from this time forth, and for evermore.

And so it is.

(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path

Quotes derived from the writings of Ernest Holmes, Florence Scovel Shinn, Wayne Dyer, Mary Baker Eddy and others.

More on Job (prosperity)

Are we missing the point?

I’ve not been shy about sharing my opinions on the standard prosperity teachings found in many New Thought churches and centers. While I find them to be wonderfully inspirational when first encountered, I have also found that many places are not teaching the follow-up curriculum that is the magic pixie dust that makes prosperity truly work in our lives.

It is this lack of transparency in the initial learning that I believe a) fails new members who come into a center or church to learn prosperity and b) fails long-time adherents who never move beyond the surface teachings.

In my version of the ideal world of teaching metaphysics, prosperity would always and only be taught with a disclaimer and requirement that students understand/sign off on knowing that this is spiritual warrior work, and not a magical incantation that they can learn in less than a few weeks. AND it would come with something I’ve not seen in spiritual prosperity teaching (disclaimer: what I am about to reveal may already be part of what is taught in some New Thought corners that I haven’t encountered)

In my previous blog I wrote about the wisdom of the story of Job and how it applies to something debated quite hotly in the New Thought arena: the role of consciousness in life’s difficulties. Today I want to address the wisdom found in Job that just so happens to be echoed in some modern-day research.

10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Job 42:10

To recap Job’s experience: he had suffered the loss of family, wealth, stature and health. His friends, being steadfast in their care for him, began to offer advice to him that was out of alignment with the truth. As the story goes, the Almighty was angry with Job’s friends for their error-filled advice and Job – even in his own misery – prays for mercy to be shown on his friends. Job was able to look past his own very present problems to pray for goodness and mercy for his friends.

In doing so, Job’s fortunes were restored, and he ended up with twice as much as he had before. Metaphorically presented, as the biblical canon is, the language is not meant to be precise in terms of measurement but impact: our own needs are more than met when we stop begging for our own good and lift up the needs of others.

In Lynne McTaggart’s latest book, The Power of 8, she documents the healing power of group intention. Built on the findings from her book, The Intention Experiment, The Power of 8 is a handbook on how to bring real healing out of the realms of the miraculous and into everyday practice.

In her body of work on intention and healing, that included reviewing research from many other similar studies, McTaggart highlights the significance of “the rebound power of praying for other people“.

Referencing a study by Dr. Sean O’Laoire (Irish Catholic priest and psychologist), and another by Karl Pillemer of Cornell University , McTaggart peels back the layers on intention to reveal something that was shared – in just 2-sentences – in the Book of Job: when we take our intentions and focus off of ourselves and turn them to the care and support of others, we are restored.

McTaggart writes of one participant who, after closing a business in 2013, struggled to regain her footing and was working hard to shift her prosperity consciousness. This participant’s experience did not move, and she was struggling with how to remove her limited thinking and realize more prosperity for herself. Then she was invited to participate in a healing circle that was focused on a young man who had experienced a terrible injury and whose recovery was complex.

McTaggart reports that after only two days of shifting her intention away from her own prosperity needs and instead focusing on the healing for the young man, the participant got an unexpected offer for paid work in an area that she loved. It is important to note here that McTaggart acknowledges that these research findings have been documented in many studies – she is not claiming all of these from her own research.

The powerful message from McTaggart’s shared wisdom along with the counsel found in the Hebrew scriptures Book of Job are a wake-up call for prosperity seekers and teachers everywhere: if you want more for yourself, give of yourself.

This is not new content for New Thought as Karen Drucker’s song, “If You Want More,…Give” lays it out nicely.

I have always wondered why, if this is such old, established wisdom, we aren’t teaching more prosperity classes that start with the focus on GIVING the extra that comes in to an external community need – with no thought to how the teacher or church/center gets paid?

Some will say “But we have BILLS to pay, and EXPENSES to meet, …” but this misses the point entirely.

The lesson is clear from the ancient story of Job. The research is evident – in McTaggart’s writings and beyond. The rest is up to us.

(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path