Blessings in Passing

When I first began to study what I refer to as “larger spirituality” – spirituality not confined within a single dogma or worldview – I got a mental picture in my head when someone would use the phrase, “daily practice“.

I envisioned a room or at least a corner dedicated to their “practice” and often I immediately moved to the many barriers I had in my life that would prevent me from being able to sit in an incensed room in yoga pants for an hour every morning.

That’s not what they were saying – that was my filter. I learned down the road that while some people may have something like that going on, many others do not. A daily practice is as unique as each person, and requires no specific accessories.

In studying the works of Joseph Murphy and Neville Goddard, contemporaries in the early part of the 20th century (Goddard passed on in 1972 and Murphy in 1981); I am always struck with the sheer simplicity of their approach to prayer, or “knowing the Truth” about someone/something. It was from this perspective that I began, unintentionally, an extension of my own daily practice.

I live in a suburban neighborhood, and as I drive to work, I pass many people walking along the streest: school children, with and without parents; dog walkers; commuters walking to public transit and others. One morning I noticed a teenaged boy walking along the street. He was alone, and did not look happy. He was on the heavier side, and walked as if he dreaded arriving at his destination.

I immediately felt compassion for him – middle school and high school can be challenging places to exist – and so I held the thought for him that today was a much better day than usual. Driving past people, even on a neighborhood street, doesn’t leave much time for a long, complicated blessing. Plus, I have no way of knowing what each person would need: so my thought that day was a knowing that the blessings of the Infinite were upon him.

I am particularly moved when I see school kids walking alone and appearing to be sad; dreading the day ahead or trying to recover from whatever they experienced at home before walking out the door.

I think of the following from one of Joseph Murphy’s prayers:

I know that (individual’s name) is surrounded by the sacred circle of God’s eternal love, and the whole armor of God surrounds her/him and s/he is watched over by the overshadowing Presence of God.

Joseph Murphy
(Archangel Michael)

Since I don’t know the names of the people I drive past each morning, an easy technique is to simply accept that they are accompanied by the holy Presence and watched over in all they do.

If I am stopped in traffic I may add a visualization of a grandmotherly angel or two if the child/children are small, or a warrior-like archangel if they are teens.

Skeptics will roll their eyes (& aren’t likely to be reading this blog), but readers across the New Thought canon know that many of the teachers whose work form the foundation of the movement taught and lived this Truth: a thought held in the human mind is connected to the Infinite Mind and will demonstrate or manifest.

Over time this simple teaching has evolved into an organized religion (at least 3 versions at last count), each of which has added dogma, regulatory guidelines and complications that are unnecessary for the process to work, but that are understandable in the world of Caesar. And yet, the truth remains that the Good that is possible requires no prescribed order of words or official interventions.

In one of his most beloved talks, “Live in the End“, Neville shared the following:

“Do you know a friend who is unemployed? Well, then, see him as gainfully employed, and don’t tell him, that you may brag tomorrow. Don’t boast. Just see him gainfully employed.”

Nevill Goddard, “Live in the End”

Neville’s life work was a testament to this process. Many have studied and applied this process – some within, but I suspect most outside of formal religious or spiritual organizational structures.

There will be those who say, “How do you know it works? What if you’re just deluding yourself and wasting your time?

I know that this works when I use it for myself, and for the people around me who seek out my knowledge on such things. For the people I pass on the street, I may never know if my simple blessing thought was helpful or not.

But let’s consider this: at one point, a VERY long time ago, everything that we see (and much more that we don’t/can’t see) was part of an infinitessimally small, dense and hot singularity…and then BOOM!

An explosion and rapid expansion, heating and cooling of matter…13.7 billion years later, here we are. The fact remains that the preponderance scientific inquiry to date suggests that we all come from the same stuff. We are indeed, all connected.

I can’t single-handedly fix all the problems carried around by the people I meet or encounter each day. There are days when I’m not sure how I’ll manage my own issues, and those within my inner circle. But I can apply the principles I’ve studied and learned and used with success in my own experience.

If nothing else, my own knowing of peace and Good for the random people I pass on my commute helps to put me into a better space, which means I show up at work in a positive and beneficial (to me and to others) state of mind. I also believe that there is Good to be planted and blessings to be harvested when we know peace, joy, healing, love and more for those we meet along our way.

And so it is.

(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path 

Kindness as Cure

Super Hero w heartI’m writing this from the Manchester/Boston Regional Airport as I wrap up another visit to New Hampshire where I spoke at an annual professional meeting.

My talk, Rock Your Super Power at Work (no cape necessary), highlighted the research that exists on the link between choosing to be kind, and our well-being mentally, emotionally and physically.

I was further suggesting in my talk that anyone – regardless of title, position or salary – can impact change for the better in any organization by simply being kind.

The data in numerous research studies strongly suggests that there is a “positive feedback loop” between being kind to others and feeling content and happy in our own lives.

Performing random acts of kindness helps boost our sense of well-being in part because they activate the release of dopamine in our brains. When we are kind to others, our brains produce endorphins. These in turn induce a physical feeling similar to an opiate “high”.

In other words, if we’re feeling down, a little depressed or otherwise “meh“,…we should do something nice for someone – and science says we’ll turn our misery around. According to research summarized in a fact sheet published by Dartmouth Wellness, active kindness (being kind in word and deed) decreases pain, anxiety, depression, cortisol levels (which raise under stressful conditions), and blood pressure.

But there’s even more reason to up our Vitamin K(indness): it seems we really can change the world – no matter who we are or where we live.

“The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to pay it forward.” [Dartmouth Wellness Fact Sheet]

Kindness is Catching

image from kindness.org

As I shared with the group today, this means that we don’t have to be a CEO to make positive change at work; a mayor or council person to make positive changes in our community.

We can begin where we are right now, and plant seeds of kindness that will impact the people around us and ultimately, the world.

I’ve always liked Wayne Dyer’s counsel on kindness: “When you have the choice to be right, or to be kind – choose kindness.

And so it is.

(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path

Kindness research/references:

False Teeth, Stray Cats and Spiritual Guidance

Making a friend late one night

 

In his seminal work, The Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes wrote about the omnipresent nature of the Divine Intelligence that is ever and always guiding our steps and actions. While he was not the first scholar to suggest that God, Spirit or the Divine was fully present within each one of us, his work is perhaps one of the most accessible to the casual American religious seeker.

For those walking a spiritual path, these Divine “nudges” come in a variety of guises. One former employee told me about a dream he had where then-President Ronald Reagan was attending a picnic at his grandmother’s house (he was living several states away from his grandmother) and in casual conversation,   President Reagan mentioned to the man that there were federal jobs available to Veterans here in this city, and that he should apply. The next morning he got up and made some calls (this was pre-Internet) and landed an interview within 2 weeks. He ended up being offered, and taking that job in his home town and he retired just recently after 30+ years of service.

For others the Divine whispers come in different forms. Last weekend a message came for me in the form of a lost upper plate (dentures) and a neighborhood stray.

I was preparing to leave town for business and would be traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I had planned to leave by 2pm, but had to run to the local super store to pick up some oil to top of my engine.

I parked at the end of the lot and headed into the store, and as I passed the cart return area I noticed something odd. A set of teeth were laying there on the ground under a shopping cart. 

I was in a hurry so I kept walking, purchased my motor oil and hoped that by the time I walked back to my car, the teeth would have been retrieved. Unfortunately, no such luck. Several more carts had been shoved into the corral and the teeth were still there.

I knew I needed to retrieve these teeth and turn them in. Dentures are expensive and someone – probably someone who can’t easily afford a new set – is missing their choppers. I found a paper towel in my Jeep, gingerly extracted the teeth from the cart return and took them to the lost and found.

Satisfied that I could now head out on my trek, I headed home for what should have been a quick stop, but someone had another idea.

As I emptied some trash from my car into the garbage can and went to drag it to the curb, a local stray cat whom I hadn’t seen in a couple months appeared at the side of the house. 

“Meow!”, she said and looked at me with hungry eyes.

She knows that I’m one of those ladies who keeps cat food on hand for strays (I also have 2 cat roommates). I sighed and went inside to prepare a dish of food and some clean, fresh water putting it inside my fenced yard which she easily accesses when she’s in the neighborhood.

I finally left on my trek a good 2 hours after my initial plan, and at least 30-minutes later than I would have left prior to spying the teeth and the stray kitty.

(and yes I’ve tried to capture her, take her to the Vet and get her off the street, but unsuccessfully so far, and so I feed her when she comes around)

An hour into my drive I came around a large bend to stopped traffic – stretching out in front of me on the turnpike for several miles.

A multi car accident had created a pile up and I would be spending an additional hour on my trip, but I wasn’t complaining or upset. First off I always travel with snacks. I had grapes, cold tea and some Sun Chips so no chance of getting hungry. Also, I realized that the appearance of a set of false teeth and the neighborhood stray kitty delayed me for just about the right amount of time to be delayed by that accident and not in the middle of it.

I tell my kids and others that Spirit is always providing guidance, but that it most often comes in quiet, gentle ways. Last weekend this guidance came in the form of some lost teeth and a wayward but hungry, neighborhood stray kitty.

(C) 2016 Practitioner’s Path

Practice World Peace

TrafficLately I’ve dialed back my consumption of news broadcasts. I found that the volumes of bad news followed by worse news made poor fodder for a good night’s sleep. I still catch news now and then, and am almost always sorry. One morning before work a few weeks back, I did it again.

The report fragments that followed me out the door that morning were pretty upsetting. They included details on grisly terror activities, the scare here in the States, and what seems to me to be continual attempts to justify maintaining the enormous military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower so presciently warned us about in 1961.

I left the house that morning wondering if we’ll ever live in a peaceful world. In this age of globalization where we mix with other cultures, learn about each others’ histories, successes, failures, hopes and dreams it feels counter-intuitive that we would be backsliding away from achieving harmony across the globe, but there’s a lot of evidence – a lot of it on the news – that we are moving in the wrong direction.

In other blogs I write regularly using traffic – rush-hour, aggravating traffic – as a metaphor for learning how “to be” in a world where there are lots of others trying “to be” in the same space. Traffic is a fairly universal experience for Americans and most of us have experienced bad traffic at one time or another, while a good number of us experience it on a regular basis before and after work.

I was in rush hour traffic the morning after I caught the distressing news and wondering about our survival on this self-contained planet. Let’s face it – this is like an airplane on the tarmac that is delayed: we’re all in this together, there’s no where to get out, and we need to learn how to get along or it’s going to get real ugly, real fast. As I sat in traffic and watched people jockeying for position, trying to merge and just as often trying to prevent others from merging in front of them, my mind drifted back to the news and the increasingly-elusive concept of world peace.

Achieving world peace would require that no one country or culture place their own objectives above any other country or culture. It would require an acceptance that sometimes you spend years working toward a goal, but that others can show up, and participate right away – because it contributes to the greater good. It means that countries and leaders have to be willing to be wrong: and admit it, and it means that sometimes countries (and leaders) let others pull ahead and know that their gesture will be returned in kind when they need it. A world peace perspective views the earth’s natural resources as belonging to no one country or corporation, but rather makes them available to advance the circumstances of all people and communities.

Now, some will read this and jump to the conclusion that I am advocating communism. I am not. I think we’ve seen that it doesn’t work, but I’m not sure that capitalism works so well either and it’s not because either system is inherently flawed: it’s because we, as human beings, can’t even share a strip of asphalt in the morning without getting offended, indignant, insulted and enraged and wanting to CRUSH the blue Toyota who had the nerve to sneak in ahead of us while we were texting.

A few years ago I began to practice a kind of unity consciousness in traffic. I stopped seeing my position on any one patch of road as “belonging” to me and viewed my fellow drivers as cohabitants on differing journeys – journeys that were as valid and important to them as mine was to me. I stopped getting irritated at people who cut in front of me and began to encourage people to merge in front of me instead of speeding up to discourage their attempts. I stopped when I saw the yellow light more than 4 car lengths ahead of me instead of hitting the gas and I forgave people who drove like I once did – aggressively with finger salutes and insults flying.

Not only has this practice helped me attain a more peaceful arrival at work or at home at the end of the commute, I have culled numerous blogs from the experiences I have had along the way. In addition, I have had the opportunity to view varying aspects of human nature on display, and all of that leads back to my point about world peace.

If we’re weary of wars, and terror and global skirmishes and conflict, we can vote – certainly, but we can also model the behavior we want to see in our leaders and governments. We can model behavior that can inspire world peace, every day,… in traffic.

We can stop placing our own objectives (getting someplace on time) above any other driver’s objectives. We can accept that sometimes we sit in traffic for what seems like a long time, while others drive up along side of us and want to merge without waiting in line; we can let them merge and send them on ahead with a wave and a smile and share some goodwill instead of seeding discontent. We can be willing to be wrong and say “I’m sorry” with our hands in the air when we cut someone off, and we can forgive others who may act badly in traffic because returning aggressive behavior for more aggressive behavior definitely counteracts the greater good in traffic, while forgiveness can smooth over a lot of tensions.

I wonder what the collective mindset of this country could be if all we did was change the way we behaved in traffic… I have watched as one good deed (letting someone merge when traffic is terrible) encourages at least 4 or 5 more drivers to do the same (4 or 5 cars is as far back as I can see in the rear-view mirror). I’ve seen peaceful behavior calm nervous drivers and I’ve watched smiles ease tension in the worst bottlenecks.

Can you or I change the world enough to stop all wars and conflict? Maybe not, but we can change the experiences around us every day by making different choices; and once we learn to navigate rush-hour without aggression, anger and dominance, who knows? World peace may not be that far away.

 

originally posted on the author’s LinkedIn page

Teaching people to fish: timing is everything

I often hear tMaslows-Hierarchy-of-Needshat giving to charity keeps people in charity and that instead of giving (food, clothing, or $$ assistance), you need to TEACH them how to fish; but never hand out fishes.

I’m pretty sure the people who say this have never seen true hunger in the eyes of a child, or the fear in the face of a mother who doesn’t know where she’s going to find food or money to care for her children. I realize that there are cases where fraud is perpetrated by some who collect government assistance or charitable donations, but overwhelmingly, the people accepting food stamps, food bank groceries and other support are clinging desperately to the edge of survival.

As a health care practitioner I am familiar with Abraham Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ and I’ve often quoted it to explain why people are not able to learn how to fish if they are hungry, homeless and desperate. As a quick review, Maslow’s hierarcy posits that individuals must satisfy basic physiological, safety/security and love/belonging needs before they can focus on, or even consider, concepts like skill-development which can lead to recognition, advancement and eventually self-actualization.

As you can see from the graphic, Self-Actualization is that stage where one is motivated to reach his or her full potential and the stage right before (Esteem) is where Skill-Development occurs; in other words, they’re ready to learn how to fish by this 4th level! But these levels sit at the top of 3 other stages that must be fulfilled before skills can be developed and self-actualization can be realized.

Notice that the most basic and foundational level is that of physiological needs: the need for food, water, oxygen/breathing, homeostasis, etc. The next level up is the need for safety and security. People living in poverty are mired in challenges to meet these 2 levels of need. It’s highly unlikely that they could even process our best intentions to teach them how to fish, even if they could somehow find us, and trust me: when you’re facing dire circumstances like hunger, joblessness, and homelessness – you’re not looking around for a teacher; you’re looking for food, safety (home) and security (job).

I was pleased to see my perspective echoed by a writer I follow on LinkedIn, Bruce Kasanoff. In his article, “Do NOT Teach a Starving Man to Fish” he addresses the advice people often rush to give people in business who are failing, but his points ring true outside of the business world.

He emphasizes, “… few of us understand the anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty that comes with overwhelming need. People in the midst of personal disasters are reeling. They can’t think straight.”

We know from research that hungry kids cannot learn in school; why would we assume that hungry adults can suddenly adopt spiritual principles that will enable them to manifest food and prosperity? We shouldn’t because in a preponderance of the cases, they can’t – at least not as long as they remain hungry, homeless or desperate.

Learning to rely on God as the Source of all our supply is a pretty significant skill; it takes practice, commitment and some serious spiritual “chops”. It’s a fairly robust skill to develop for those of us who have the luxury of time to ponder in safe and comfortable surroundings with full tummies. As Maslow’s hierarchy illustrates, skill-development is not attainable in the absence of need fulfillment at the most basic levels.

Intentional and thinking people know that teaching people to fish is always the goal, but that they are not ready to learn if they are drowning in the desperation of hunger, poor health, joblessness, homelessness or the lack of other basic needs.

So the next time someone tells you that they don’t hand out fish, but prefer to teach people to fish; be kind. They simply don’t know what they are talking about. Pity them and move on, redirecting your energy into the many opportunities to do good work that are out there, and remember that the best life lessons are lessons of love. Pass on these lessons as a fish, a loaf of bread, some canned vegetables, or a donation to a local charitable agency.  And so it is.

 

* Related post

 

Jesus: the great example

unto_the_least_of_these_colorpgIn New Thought Jesus is seen as the Great Example – not the Great Exception, and this term is often used to distinguish New Thought from Christianity. In fact, affirmative scientific prayer (spiritual mind treatment) is based largely on Jesus’ life and healing miracles. He spoke his word, and it was so. Other variances from Christianity (and other people of the Book) include the definition of Heaven.

For Christians, some Jews and Muslims, heaven is that place “somewhere else” of infinite rewards for tasks completed on earth. In New Thought context, the Kingdom of heaven is within; it is what we create right here and right now as expressions of God on this physical plane. Today I would like to highlight this “kingdom of heaven” statement from New Thought perspective as it applies to giving, which in some New Thought circles, is seen as a “no-no”.

If you’re not familiar with New Thought spirituality, you may be surprised that the Bible can be heard quoted on Sunday mornings just as it is in other churches. With the belief that Jesus was the great example, it makes sense to read and study what his life modeled. On giving, I like to start with the portion in Matthew where Jesus is explaining how humankind is divided into “Sheep & Goats” (I particularly love this term because when my daughter was a toddler, whenever she saw any farm animals in the fields (we lived a rural life when my kids were young), she would gleefully proclaim, SHEEP & GOATS!, which in toddler-speak, sounded more like “sheepungoats”. Back to my point: here’s what Jesus has to say about how we treat each other and the impact it has on “the Kingdom of heaven” (which again, New Thought adherents believe is the here and now):

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The lesson here is clear; giving to those who are in need is a staple of a spiritual life, and NOT giving is a sure way to live in poverty – of mind, body and Spirit. Remember, Jesus spoke in parable, or metaphor form. If you are living on what you believe to be a spiritual path and you are continually living in “not enough”, look at your giving track record, and look in your heart. This is one of the more clear guidance points Jesus lays out in his short years of teaching.

Another New Thought principle is that we are all One, in Spirit. One. This means that the hungry person is One with us, as is the thirsty, naked, sick and imprisoned one. You might say that as long as there are people who are hungry (or sick, thirsty etc.) and I am not reaching out, part of me will remain hungry, sick, and imprisoned, but when we give back, we are not only feeding the hungry family – we are feeding ourselves, spiritually.

I’ve often been told “I don’t give to need; I pray for people so they can help themselves.

I’m always glad to hear that people are willing to take time to do spiritual work for others. As I have written in a previous blog, spiritual work is hard work and takes time! However, I would also like to point out that most of us aren’t demonstrating like Jesus did (immediately). So when you are asked to donate food stuffs to feed the hungry and your answer  is that you don’t give to need, but teach people how to take care of themselves, I have to ask how long you would like small children to be hungry while you’re “teaching them to take care of themselves”? How many of your own treatments (prayers) remain unrealized, or un-demonstrated, and as you sit there in a warm (or cool) home, with a cupboard of groceries, plenty of clothing, clean water and access to health care, isn’t it convenient to decide that your prayers and treatment are more important to those without, than that which will feed them right here, and right now.

If your treatment (prayer) work is consistently demonstrating in the immediate term, so that as you pray for more opportunities, more abundance, a new house, a new car, a better job or whatever it is; then by all means, get out into the poor communities and teach people how to demonstrate food on their tables and in their cupboards at the time their children are cold and hungry. If you’re not, however, a modern demonstration of speaking your word and seeing it materialize before you, then you might want to re-read verses 41 – 46, especially this portion: “as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

If your life isn’t working, you own that malfunction – we all do! But if your life isn’t working and your heart is loving but your hands and feet are selfish, you are living the eternal punishment because the kingdom of heaven is here, right now.

I’m always humbled by the Centers for Spiritual Living that I see on the internet who are thriving, active, vibrant and energized. They all share something pretty basic: they give back to their communities. They “get it” and they are demonstrating the Truth that Jesus taught in Matthew 25: 31 – 46.

Hungry people (and especially children) can’t wait to find you, take classes and learn how to do treatment before they eat. If we believe we are One, we feed, clothe, house,…and then teach and in doing, we “ are blessed by [the] Father, [and] inherit the kingdom prepared for [us]…” And so it is.

(C) 2015 Practitioner's Path

The Bible on Giving

A little light reading for anyone wishing to quote the Bible on giving…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. (Matthew 10:8)

And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.  But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (Luke 12: 47 – 48)

Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor. (Proverbs 28:8)

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8)

For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give — large or small — will be used to measure what is given back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor. (Proverbs 14:21)

“Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (Isaiah 58:10-11)

And the crowds asked [John the Baptist], “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” (Luke 3:10-11)

But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:17)

He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. (Proverbs 28:27)