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A Contemplative Practice is a Stairway of ReunificationMost spiritual traditions aim for the same ultimate goal: reaching a place of Oneness where we become one with nature, with each other, and with the Divine. But we also recognize ourselves as fallible human beings who live in a world of dualities. One way to transcend this and reach that place of Oneness, our Divine Essence, is by working with our dualities, our inner light, and our shadows. Spiritual development inevitably flows in the direction of love and spiritual maturity. When people turn away from their true nature they thwart their own spiritual development; they no longer move forward.

It can be difficult living a spiritual life in this world that typically rejects all absolutes. Absolutes like the understanding that all things, including humans, are sacred. Many people live life without realizing that deep within the core of our being is a place where our personality and human nature touches the absolute love of Oneness. This place is sometimes called our Divine Essence. Our Divine Essence draws its energy and power from the universal Oneness, and when our essence feels cut off from the Oneness, it withers. When it reconnects, our essence comes alive and we grow spiritually.

It is critical that we acknowledge the importance of inner development in the process of our spiritual growth. Inner development is finding out who we truly are as we connect to our True Nature and requires engaging in contemplation and meditation.

Let’s define the meaning of “reflection and contemplation” before we move on. Reflections are thoughts, ideas, or remarks that occur as a result of meditation, which then become your center of focus in subsequent meditations or a subject for serious thought or consideration for a period of time in your daily life. These contemplations provide a path into your divine nature.  Unlike other meditation techniques designed to empty the mind, reflections intensely focus on an idea while in a state of stillness or mindfulness.

Many times after posting my reflections online, I find that the contemplations and my life crisscrossed in unexpected ways.  For example, after working with a reflection, I then find it is the perfect message for someone who crosses my path in some spontaneous way. Many who follow my daily reflections online report similar experiences. Working with reflections helps you make empowered choices that imbue your life and relationships with substance and depth.

Reflections are meant to stimulate your intellect and intuition and thus open a connection to your authentic self. They may confound, or they may provide “Aha!” moments. You may find you want to work with a reflection for a day, a week, or a month, letting all its nuances and facets bring moments of light into your life. I suggest looking for synchronistic events that complement the energy of the contemplation you are working on. How you engage with your contemplation is personal, and everyone’s experience is unique. Savor each reflection, as if a piece of hard candy were slowly dissolving in your mouth, with many sweet and bittersweet shades. Sometimes wisdom hits square in the face. As when we walk from darkness into brilliant sunshine and it takes time to adjust. Other times it slowly works its way into our hearts and minds by repeated exposure or over long periods of incubation. In the long run, spiritual growth helps unite oneness into all parts of our lives. This is what spiritual transformation is all about.

Since birth, humanity has had one shared purpose, which is reuniting with the spiritual Source from which we came. We all tread this path in our own way to reach the common goal of reconnection with the Light that shines within us. It is this Light that silently summons us and connects our being to the Source of all things. Through daily spiritual practice we experience growth and climb the stairway of reunification. No matter where you are on your ascent, you will find reflections supportive in locating the next step toward nourishing your being. Reflection practice can be considered a wake-up call that challenges you to look at yourself and the many possibilities before you, so you can change the way you live for the better.

I look forward to sharing some reflections in the coming months. They are created through love and come to you in love.

This is my article reprinted from Om Times Magazine, © [2015], and is available at http://OMTimes.com.

David Bennett enjoys the retired life of a public speaker, author, teacher, energetic healer, and transformational life coach. He’s appeared on radio and television, including on Dr Oz,  Angels Among Us, NBC national news, and PBS. A Findhorn Press author, of Voyage of Purpose and A Voice as Old as Time scheduled August 2015.
http://DharmaTalks.com
http://SpiritualSimplicityBooks.com

Purpose seems to present itself at all times in all places, we only need to be aware and stay present. Even when the world around us seems to be going a little wacky if we keep stillness and calm in our hearts a path will present itself.

delayedI was delayed for my first flight from Syracuse to St. Louis and it meant I would not make my connecting flight. Apparently there was fire in the tower in Chicago the day before and it shut the airport down, so there were no seats available for a new flight out of Chicago today even thought it was a day later. A couple chose to sit beside me while I was waiting. Spirit gave me a nudge, so I struck up a neutral conversation to pass the time. We were all delayed for a couple of hours. They asked why I was traveling to St. Louis and I quietly told them to help facilitate a retreat for people that have died and came back, “near-death experiencers.” They replied with curiosity that they were interested in the subject, and followed up with “what is a retreat for NDErs like.” I spoke of the challenges experiencers go through and how it is helpful to be with other experiencers to find ways of overcoming the challenges. They had many questions about how to live with a NDE and my feelings about the afterlife. Then purpose revealed itself. The man notified me he was going through lung cancer, and was thinking a lot about his mortality. We then had a quiet and lengthy conversation about how I overcame stage IV lung & bone cancer and about listening to our guidance. I could see hope returning to the man’s eyes as the conversation went on. We took up all of the delay time speaking then they called our flight and we went our ways wishing each other safe and present journeys.

Above the cloudsI love to fly once we gained altitude I closed my eyes and expanded my awareness to feel the thrust of the engines, and be aware of the out stretched wings cutting through the rushing air that fold under the wing that press it upward. I lost myself to the sense of speeding over the planet, leaving wisps of turbulence in my wake that eventually subside into settled air. My awareness sometimes went further to the outstretched land or water beneath and examined with great detail our earth speeding past.

I arrive at Chicago in a good mood and prepared myself for a long night in the airport. Then Spirit nudged me again to go to customer service even though I was already booked on a flight leaving the next morning. When it was my turn I asked what was available and I got the same answer as the representative bowed his shaking head, he then looked again at the screen in front of him and said “wait a minute a standby just opened up on a flight this evening.” chicagoI was so relieved to have listened and stayed in the flow of Being with all the chaos that was swirling around.

Another couple chose to sit next to me just as they announced our flight would be delayed an additional hour. They groaned turned to me and asked the same question, “So why are you traveling to St. Louis?” Again like magic we started a conversation about NDEs and this time they had someone in their family that had an experience. We spoke of the common factors in the experiences like the unconditional love and they gain new understanding of what their family member went through and why it had changed her life. Then the announcement system notified us that our flight would be boarding sooner than anticipated.

It goes to show we can always be of service even in unexpected circumstances. I boarded my flight thinking when I listen and I am present with authentic being, the universe aligns work and rewards.

When we transform our consciousness, we participate in the transformation of the world we know. Let us look through the fog to see what a transformation in consciousness is and promote its development, also let’s examine catalysts and doorways we know of that produce a life long lasting transformation.

hammerBecause you have a hammer in your hand, doesn’t mean you know how to build a house. What is it that makes an extraordinary experience transform into lasting change? In a garden you must prepare the soil and plant seeds to have something to harvest later. Not all the seeds will grow unless you give them what they need to thrive.

Transformation can be a gradual life long process, or it can be precipitated by a sudden shift sometimes painful, or possibly an exceptional experience. When we experience a shift in our worldview, we often feel nothing will ever be the same. Like water wearing away stone, integrating transformative experiences into our core way of being often requires time, patience and inner work. Reconditioning and reshuffling priorities may be required to catch up with our new expanded worldview.

Consciousness itself doesn’t change, instead it is our perception of consciousness that changes. Who we are authentically doesn’t change, rather our false selves are shed and elements of our higher consciousness are recalled, integrated and aligned with who we really are. Being able to step back and look at our beliefs gives an opportunity to see the outdated ones and make room for the new ones calling out for transformation. Intellect can only get us so far, letting go, we can open to new states of awareness.

Become a soul in wonder - childlike

Become a soul in wonder – childlike

Transformation is aided by a strong sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness rather than being suspicious of new information. Become a soul in wonder – childlike, reaching a point where we look for what’s next. What is going to happen today? Yes we have things to accomplish, yet leave an opening for the new to present itself into the present.

Making time in life for creativity allows us to inspire new ideas. We are wired for seeking (since our hunter gatherer ancestors) and creativity allows us to open to our authentic selves. No matter what our outlet is: dance, music, art, writing and journaling, they are all full of surprise and wonder.

A necessity in the transformative process is to find time for silence, introspection and inner authority. Entering the realm of stillness requires that you pay attention to your daily rhythms and natural cycles. I enjoy taking a moment of silence before meetings and events, allowing my inner knowing to open. In silence we open to the inner realm of knowing and broaden previous understandings and experience. Intentionally stopping and being in silence is a simple practice that may feel uncomfortable, but over time can become a refuge.

When allowing these seeds of curiosity, creativity and stillness to mature, many times they will grow into direct knowing of authentic knowledge within our awareness. New realizations can be fragile just like the new sprouts in our garden. To have them blossom we need to reinforce them with practices like contemplative prayer or mindfulness meditation.

Because we’ve had an exceptional experience doesn’t mean we have a pass for a free ride. Instead we have tasted our potential and understand the imperative to evolve. It is a call from our authentic self to participate in the transformative process. Holding the intention of being open to transformation always helps us recognize the opportunities for transformation that present themselves in our daily life. This way we become “coconspirators” in the evolution.

There is a need to bring attention and awareness to our “Witness” or “Observer Self,” in everything we do. That way we become aware of any behaviors like addictions and jealousies that drive our wants and needs. Like pulling weeds, only by seeing them clearly can we overcome these self limiting habits. Cultivating mindful attention and awareness is an act of liberation. A range of techniques are available for learning to discipline the mind. Use the tools of mindful attention to substantially increase the transformative potential of our practice.

Guidance can come from external or internal wisdom. A teacher or mentor is a solid path to take with many known benefits. A good teacher should be balanced by our own internal wisdom. We are the best in discerning if a practice is working in our transformation. Practice on its own isn’t enough, always balance practice with life experiences. If practice becomes an end to, rather than a means, it can become an obstacle to the transformative process. Practice is a sort of flashlight we shine on our inner world to illuminate insight. Once you’ve gained the sight, there is no need for the flashlight.

The ego, the sense of a self as separate from the world, can become overactive and keep us out of our hearts and in our minds. Ego pulls us out of the present and into the past or future, out of our deeper wisdom and living shallowly. Yet, it is a mistake to try to destroy the ego, instead one of our primary functions in the transformative process is to reestablish an internal balance between ego and soul, or self and other, doing and being. Remove ego from the driver seat and let your creative, intuitive self have a turn at the wheel.

yay-611217Keep the transformative process moving toward increased insight by shaking things up. Try something different. Use a purification ritual to shed the old baggage or beliefs both spiritually and emotionally. Try living in the moment, developing a deep sense of gratitude, joy and love for your present environment. It takes courage and commitment but try surrendering to the mystery and allow life to unfold and worry less about the past or future. Stop resisting and get out of the way, so you can find your sense of aliveness and engage in life with the fullest loving intention. The transformative process opens us to the fundamental human core of love and divine truth. Once we learn how to open that door it’s like a well oiled hinge, it opens easily.

Understand that transformation is a form of spirituality integrated into all aspects of life, not a hat you put on and take off. It affects all arenas of the daily experience, goings and comings, work, play, in the car or at home; not just when we are in a sacred place, meditating or on a ten day retreat. Many times we spend our time attending workshop after workshop, group after group and we feel exhilarated at the time, only to return home and have difficulty integrating what we learned or experienced. We are attempting to be part-time yogis. The purpose of a transformative path is to change our way of being full time.

Finding a like-minded community with whom we can share our transformative process is essential. Our dominant culture does not always support a consciousness transformation that emphasizes meaning over materialism. Having people in our life who support our metamorphosis helps fortify our young blossoming plant. Transformative development happens in the context of shared experience and with connections, guides and peers. Being part of a community also helps us with learning how to behave with other people. New on the horizon are Internet and teleconferencing based meetings that have the potential of reaching even the most isolated individuals.

Use simple reminders on a daily basis to remember the transformation in our lifes. These can act as a trigger to keep us working in the present. Also develop ways to take action bringing our new perspective into the world. It can be creative expression or a form of service to others. When we take our ideals and put them into practice through action, we create powerful experiences. We can use conscious intention to propel ourselves forward with positive meaning and choose the life we want.

What’s interesting is the reversal that takes place. At first our transformative activities fed our life, now our life feeds our transformation, by living the art of transformation. It takes courage to live life with an authentic awakening and realized truth. It means facing everything and no longer pushing things we do not want to deal with in the corner. It requires bravery, commitment and love to be who you really are or risk the awakened state diminishing.

Take what you have learned, the insights and direct experiences and give them form. Become the embodiment of your transformative process. Becoming the Spirit of each life interaction, we become the practice of our truths and love, making it a seamless and graceful partnership with our higher consciousness. Be a convergence of life and practice where you bring the fruits of your life journey back home.

Large group of multi-ethnic people cheering with arms raisedThe most common element of consciousness transformation is when self awareness extends beyond the boundaries of the individual personality and we find the interconnectedness of all beings. There is a gradual realization that there isn’t any separation, with a knowing of unity and yet our soul is intact. Tentatively at first we step from center stage into the flow of shared identity. Transcendence from “I” onto “We”, is a natural progression people are finding globally; the shift is aways here and available to everyone. There is a growing intensity worldwide of shifting our consciousness and awakening.

As the transformative process progresses we experience an expanded view of reality and our place in it. Often we are led to a greater intimacy and interrelatedness with the people in our lives. A different kind of love plants a seed of openness and authenticity with everyone we interact with throughout the day. Many express how this process has opened their hearts, making them believe the transformative process is not a series of steps, but the path to love.

Compassion and a need to relieve suffering grows from this universal love. A love that calls us to act in ways to remedy suffering. The more we walk our paths with an open heart the more we realize that everything is sacred and divine.

Aha! Transformation isn’t really a change at all, but an unveiling and reorganizing of who we are and finding the divine that’s already within. Then we see the spiritual light shines brightly through every living being. With that comes a responsibility to be in balance with all life by staying awake and aware. With this noetic understanding our concern for a sustainable life is intertwined with all lives.

So tmay 2005 027end the garden with a practice that is comfortable for you. Fertilize the soil, pull the weeds, stake the seedlings and provide the environment for the natural, never ending transformation process and rest ever more into your authentic self. The potential for awakening to enlightenment is within us because we are all interconnected beings of light and part of the greater all.

Not all transformative paths start with an exceptional experience, but most begin with some kind of deeply felt, unshakable realization. This shift can be triggered by something as subtle as reading a blog.

a thanksgiving message0cfffcee7fef19a867246635fb3bf5aaThe holiday season is a time of year when more people share their hearts with others in appreciation, care, compassion, and celebration. I want to share my deepest appreciation for you. Each time you use a DharmaTalks / Spiritual Simplicity reflection to help shift an attitude or reaction, or to connect with your heart’s intuitive guidance, you are contributing to the well-being of not only yourself but others who interact with you. It’s how the world can change – one loving heart at a time.

Show the colors of your true nature no matter how close the thorns may be, and one way to do that is through gratitude. We understand that gratitude is transformative! When coming from a place of gratitude in all aspects of life and in every moment, it changes the spiritual nature of life. The more you live with gratitude the more life opens up and expands so you have even more to be grateful for.

One who lives in desire has trouble being grateful they are unsatisfied, possibly due to not finding meaning in their existence. Meaning is the greatest hunger for mankind. Look toward your True Nature for meaning, so you may live in gratitude.

Let us not imagine something lacking, when we do we create an imaginary hole with needs. Move forward knowing the entire universe moves forward with you fulfilled. Let us find satisfaction and gratitude in this moment, this day, this life…

204267f5802addda46dedd74423b8092My thoughts often turn to gratitude for all the abundance we’ve been given. It is so important that we take the time to appreciate the small and large things in life and give thanks to those who fill our days with Love and Compassion. Thank you for being a part of my life and a community of peace loving friends and collaborators on the path to wholeness in our lives and communities.

I am reminded to look at what is really important in our lives. We are all a part of the oneness. Not an accumulation of stuff we own or of personas we developed to be popular. Living simply with less distraction is the direction of gratitude. We are always going to get what we need, not what we think we need. Eventually we begin to see we only need what we have in this moment. If we live in gratitude then we are satisfied and succeed in every moment of our path toward purpose.

01b2388982ea1a83f59eaaff93672816As we progress on our spiritual path we are grateful for the stages of progress, we recognize and appreciate the mark of authentic spiritual experiences in events, and in others. We value deep friendship among kindred souls who aspire to the same destination. Today, I am grateful for my connection to unity and oneness. I find fellowship in the oneness like a bird flying in a flock of interconnection, where our consciousness guides us to turn this way and that for the greater good, without competition, instead being the bond of unity.

Let us honor our connection with Spirit with gratitude and Love. Our connection is like a self-perpetuating sphere of conciseness. When we act together we awaken the unlimited capability of divine expansion toward harmony and oneness. An awakened state of life is an experience of being present with clarity and gratitude that expresses itself as a flow of love. We feel this is how life should be lived, free of the negative ego and emotional drama. I am grateful for the opportunity to make empowering choices that point me toward being present and showing my true colors.

 

Harmony

“With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.” -William Wordsworth“With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.” -William Wordsworth

You will never find harmony if the only way you can be happy is to have everyone else happy. First transform yourself. Your life in harmony, joy and health can then be a great source of nourishment for others starving for spiritual food. Find your true nature, your divine essence. Flow with your inner knowing in this exceptional moment sowing positive seeds of empowerment and awakening. Change in yourself is changing the world, for you are the most beautiful being living a purpose filled life. Keep moving forward without fear, and then the outcomes are brimming with courage.

When we allow our heart to connect to our higher consciousness it breaths a sense of harmony and peace into the world and us. We have an awareness of the calming nature that heart rhythm brings. Creating meaningful currents pulsing to the depths and ripples on the surface of any situation. Enthusiastically share the harmony. Experiencing the harmony within allows us to experience the harmony of the world around us. We are on the threshold of a momentous time when more and more people are embracing the path to awakening and living with purpose. This has the potential to help many relieve suffering and have more fulfilling lives.

harmony3Let us unroll our beliefs down to our core being, and examine them; there we find the root of our being is Love. Harmonize with the love at our core allowing it to cultivate our thoughts and actions in loving focus, so we may once again become our wholeness. Speak positively, hopefully, thankfully, and above all with that core of love. Allow your words of love to heal and create seeds of positive action. We release any disorders by refusing to give them any thought or energy, in that way we speak in harmony. We also recognize that our speech resonates in every word with our Being, leaving a lasting impression.

Happiness is simple after all; we need only keep harmony within our being. Within our divine nature there is a purity of spirit that is part of the greater oneness. Instead of looking outward for happiness look within to know your divine nature, there harmony and happiness resides.

harmony

183732859767680507_IkwDPUam_cDon’t be distracted by the feelings of isolation. We are all in this ocean of consciousness, plunged into isolation by our own mental trappings. Once we change our perception to knowing our true nature, we begin to see we are the vast oceans, we are the void, we are the light of consciousness. Just like the bubbling spring is connected to inlets and tributaries on the surface and to the ever-flowing streams underground.

Don’t allow yourself to drift aside oar-less and separate on the surface of life. Wholeness requires we flow from beneath the surface and add our essence to the oneness on the surface.

Our heartbeat, our life cycle, and our day to day sometimes distract us by keeping our focus on time and push us toward separateness. Love, Unity, and our True Nature exists outside of time. When we accept this realization, it becomes the key in the lock that releases us. Life can take on new meaning of everyone and everything in this universe interconnected into a beautiful tapestry.  We need to nourish our “Being” with a retreat from the illusion of separateness by returning to stillness. In stillness we can touch the love in us that touches the love in others. Do this until you weave together in unity, becoming unconditional Love. Just as the water droplet joins another and leaves behind its sense of being a single drop to becoming flowing fluid.

Reach Out with your energy and see the reality of the world.Bring this new sense of being out of the stillness and back into daily life by looking at all the life around and using this non-discriminative ability to understand the true nature of what you see. When we do this, we free ourselves from separateness and see the inter-being of nature. We should be more observant of Mother Earth; Gaia replenishes and renews herself through the cycle of life. So why do we shut ourselves off from this amazing source of birth, death, and rebirth. It’s necessary for us to reach out with our energetic roots and branches and connect with our source.

You and I know there is no such thing as death, so is there such a thing as life? Quantum mechanics proves that there is a non-local part of our existence just as real as thoughts, feelings, and ideas that cannot be measured on an instrument. That leads us to understand that our consciousness resides outside the physical body in our higher consciousness. Our feeling of separateness is a result of our mind grasping and wanting. Our ancestors knew the importance of living in oneness with all living beings and finding unity. So are we truly living this life or just the dreamer with nowhere in particular to go?

Separation from our true nature only occurs in the mind. It is an illusion that becomes our reality if we allow it. We can get lost in our imagined wanderings. Separation can lead us into being more self-deprecating than we ever need to be.  We need to focus within on our innermost self until the unseen becomes known and our mind can be without those distracting thoughts. We have been introduced to this life as separate and a spectator of ourselves. Also, we have intrinsic skills as interpreters of our deeds and our nature with understanding and contemplation. As we awaken to our true nature we may use these skills to live in a manner that is in harmony with our higher self. Life is precious to experience and separateness is invaluable as a challenge to overcome.

There are two types of Separation.There are two types of separation within us, the first is the illusion of being separate from everyone and everything else in the universe, then there is the feeling of duality between our Self and Spirit. Eliminating the separation is a key element in our awakening. When we learn to work from within in order to effect change we have taken a small healthy step. Focus on Self Love and watch the duality meld away, as we become comfortable we extend that pure Love outward to encompass the world and radiate into the universe. It is perfectly fine to celebrate your self, honor the self, and delight in delivering your gifts. But always be true to your Self so you may be true to others.

We seek our purpose one and all. Yet purpose is not a legacy, unless it is building upon loving intent for all.

We have been on a path of separation and now we are in a state of initiation. We are beginning to experience new ways of living in a changing world. Let us recreate our lives; the choices we make now will reverberate for a millennium. The best choices will lead us toward shifting our consciousness into an awakened society. The choice is ours.

The Bell Meditation
An Excerpt from Soul Soothers: Mini Meditations for Busy Lives

A guest blog by Cindy Griffith-Bennett

294a88ef52bb6fde0a41f2964280252bThe Bell Meditation

1. Choose a sound or action that you hear or experience at least five times a day. An action could be using your debit card, and a sound might be your cell phone ringing.
2. Every time your sound or action occurs, take a deep breath. The phone will still be there if you wait one extra ring.
3. Pay attention to where your mind is. Are you thinking about what you are doing now, or is your mind in the past or future? Are your thoughts calm or agitated? Don’t judge yourself, simply note your thoughts, take a deep breath, and shift them if they need it
4. Pay attention to your body. Is your breathing shallow or deep? Are your shoulders tensed or relaxed? Are you sitting or standing correctly? Are you slumped over?
5. Fix anything that might be adversely affecting your body.
6. Pay attention to your surroundings. Are you being affected by outside influences?
7. Note how you are being affected and if possible, fix it.
8. Go back to what you are doing. Bring your newfound mindfulness into your activity.

Where and When42c76b440396bcfac34a391a1ede50a0
Use this mini-meditation to practice mindfulness throughout your day. The Bell Meditation is a reminder to come back to the state of mindfulness. When you hear your “bell,” check in to see where your mind is. Each time it “rings,” take a deep breath and connect with your mind, body, and environment. Bring yourself back to the present moment and mindfulness. Don’t judge what you find when you check in; simply note it.

The Bell Meditation is great for work. You can make any sound or activity into a bell as long as it isn’t happening constantly. A receptionist might not want to make a phone ringing into a bell, yet for someone who only gets calls a few times a day, it is perfect. The receptionist could use the mail delivery along with a trip to the copier as bells. If you are a busy mom, you could use walking through the doorway to the kitchen as your bell, or every time you get in or out of the car. Eventually your bell will get stale and loose its effectiveness and so you may need to change it a bit. If you are a person who gets caught up in the moment, loses track of time, obsesses, or whose physical disabilities are aggravated when you don’t pay attention to your body, this is a perfect meditation to keep you in touch with your thoughts, body, and environment. The Bell Meditation will assist any time you need to bring mindfulness into your daily life.

Example
f942b6e5c543f9c042351c84bda0533cDave is an author who travels, and between writing, websites, and social networking, spends a lot of time on his computer. He doesn’t get phone calls often; most people contact him via email. So a ringing phone does not work well as a bell. He also has a rebuilt spine and working at the computer can be quite painful. He wants to develop a bell so that he is reminded to get up and stretch as well as be mindful about how he is sitting. Since he travels, he needs a bell he can carry with him. He found an app for his iPhone that actually has a bell that he can set to go off a number of times a day. Dave is working at home today. When the iPhone bell goes off, he takes a deep breath, and puts his attention to where his thoughts are. His thoughts are positive and in the present moment, so he moves his attention to his body. He discerns that he is sitting in his chair cockeyed and his neck hurts. He stands up to stretch his muscles. Realizing that his neck pain is from the angle he was holding his head, he takes a few minutes to raise the computer monitor a couple of inches. Dave returns to working on the website, noting how much better his neck feels with the monitor adjusted.

Why – Discernment vs. Judgment
As discussed in the chapter on the Walking Meditation, adding mindfulness to your life offers you the ability to get off autopilot and back in your mind’s driver seat. Mindfulness helps you to be proactive instead of reactive, while compelling you to take responsibility for your actions. Yet, practicing mindfulness can also set you up to start judging yourself. You have enough people judging you without doing it yourself. This doesn’t mean that everything you do is fine, and that you are perfect, it only means that judging is not a productive way to institute change.
The human tendency is to judge what is experienced as either good or bad. This person is not nice, so he or she must be bad. This ice cream tastes rich and creamy, so it must be good. Many spiritual teachings emphasize the importance of being able to separate what you experience from how you feel about it. You can then decide if it is in your best interest, without judging it as good or bad. For example, decadent ice cream with all the sugar and calories may make the taste buds happy, and you say, “This is really good.”

ice_cream_coneYet if you eat too much of it, you may find the first rush of pleasure turning into a sugar crash. That sugar rush may feel good or bad depending on how your body processes sugar. Yet to deal with all that sugar, your pancreas pumps out a lot of insulin, challenging your immune system. Sleep will be difficult tonight and your immune system will take 24 hours to get back to normal, so you think the ice cream is bad. But when you look at this situation more closely, it isn’t the ice cream that is good or bad. The ice cream is simply ice cream. It is how your body feels after eating it that makes you decide if it is good or bad. Spiritual teachings suggest that you don’t label the ice cream at all. It is ice cream, not good or bad — it just is.
Looking at things as they are, without judging them, is called discernment. Your mind tends to judge; your intuition uses discernment. Your intuition looks at your situation, along with the most likely outcome of your options, to see which choice leads you closer to your soul’s path. In the case of ice cream, your intuition would not say it is good or bad, yet it might discern that if you have a little of it, maybe a kiddie-sized cone, the sugar in the ice cream cone won’t send you on quite the same sugar high and inevitable crash as the double cone you contemplate getting.
That discerning choice will allow you to have the kiddie cone and still get to the tasks you need to later on, without falling asleep because of a sugar crash. A wonderful story of discernment is about a monk looking out a window. He sees the sun shining, a slight breeze, and puffy white clouds. He exclaims, “This is going to be a great day: the flowers will benefit from the sun!” He grabs a light sweater and begins his walk to the garden for fresh vegetables. The next day he looks out the window and it is raining, a little cold, and a stiff breeze is coming from the north.

f85dd682a2e3ac312cd91eaca8e59450He exclaims, “This is going to be a great day: the flowers will benefit from the rain!” The monk grabs his boots, coat, and umbrella for his walk to the garden. This monk’s story teaches three things: 1) weather is neither good nor bad; 2) don’t let the rain determine if you are going to have a great day; and 3) be prepared and don’t forget your umbrella.
All of life offers lessons and opportunities for growth. Allowing yourself the freedom to live without judgment, yet with a strong ability to discern what is best for your highest and most loving good, allows you to make choices throughout your day to create the best environment for growth. Using the Bell Meditation gives you the opportunity to stop living in autopilot mode, and allows you to take control of how you choose to participate in your environment.
After a while of practicing discernment, you will stop making limiting choices based on short-term thinking and begin to make choices that bring you into balance and are best for your long-term goals. Discernment doesn’t tell you that you can never have a double- scoop ice-cream cone. It simply helps you choose a time when the sugar crash won’t get in your way of accomplishing your soul’s goals — and it reminds you to bring the umbrella in case it rains!

Soul Soother
6c91c8881f5c1ee0fff1ebcc730293fb Your soul knows that judgment is a waste of time, yet with discernment you can change what is not working in your life to create an environment around you that promotes the most soul growth. Judgment often creates an adverse vibrational state while discernment is neutral. Living a discerning life allows a more optimistic outlook. You are not living in fear of “bad” things happening as you realize that it is natural for life to present challenges. You stay open to whatever solutions are available rather than shutting down out of pessimism; you’ll feel optimistic, yet realistic, about what needs to be done.

Discernment creates an opportunity for you to think about what you want in your life, how you want to act, what type of energy and vibrations you want around you, see situations and people as they truly are, and make choices that lead you closer to fulfilling your potential.
Your soul wants you to be able to discern the energy and vibrations that are not for your highest and loving good. One way to do that is by using the Blessing Meditation to send loving energy to anyone or any situation you encounter that might need a little extra vibratory boost.

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New Book Release!

Soul Soothers: Mini Meditations for Busy Lives is designed for those of us that only slow down when stuck in the grocery line! Soul Soothers is written so you can read the one page meditation and be out the door practicing your meditation all day! Now you can meditate when doing the dishes, walking from work to your car, listening to a dog barking, waiting at your doctor, sitting at your computer, and even taking your shower!

When you do have more time, each chapter also contains the “Why” aspect of meditation, including spiritual topics such as energy, breath, mindfulness, intuitive listening, Karma, and more. Whether your goal is stress reduction or spiritual development, “Soul Soothers” will bring peace to your frenzied life and you will achieve the benefits of meditation without the guilt and stress of taking time out of your already overloaded schedule.

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New Release Special!
Signed Copy – $14.95
with Free Shipping!

Offer expires 5/31/13

Visit Spiritual Simplicity Books for your Signed Copy!

Soul Soothers is also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Findhorn Press.

 

 

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