Friday, June 22, 2018

Putting Common Sense on the Shelf

Experience is a great teacher. How quickly one learns life's lessons is up to us.

Last Sunday afternoon, immediately after the service,  I joined friends for brunch at a local golf course. We had an umbrella but I chose the side of the table that had a mixture of sun and shade. I was really enjoying our conversation and the warmth of the sun on my back. Several times my friends asked if I was okay in that location. I did notice my left arm was getting a little warm, but I felt perfectly fine. So I stayed where I was.

Sunday night, I noticed that I was a little flushed, but determined that all was well. I didn't even look at my back. Monday morning my step-aerobic friends asked about the sunburn that I had on my back. By then, I was starting to feel it.

For the rest of the week I felt it.

The funny thing is that I did a similar thing last year. It was a much cooler day and earlier in the season, but a friend and I sat outside in the bright spring sunshine and I got burned.

I have been here in southern California for 25 years and have had very little over-exposure to the sun. If I know I am going to the beach, or even out for a walk, I put on sunscreen and a sunhat.

So why didn't i learn from my last experience?

I believe that both instances had a similar reason: I was enjoying the conversation and company so much, I put my common sense on the shelf.

I think that spiritually there is a similar reason when I misuse the law of mind. I get so involved in the situation I fail to remember that all thought is creative. And thought plus feeling equals faster results.  An example that comes to mind is when I am first made aware of a healing that is calling to be revealed. For instance, someone I love is abandoned, or loses their job, or is diagnosed with a catastrophic illness, like many empathetic people, I feel for them. I relate to them. I can literally feel their pain in my body and emotions. (This is spiritually incorrect, but in relationships it is understandable.)

We want our friends and family to be empathetic, because empathy usually results in kindness and deep listening. Empathy helps us bond with each other. But on the other hand, it is absolutely imperative that as a practitioner I see any issues as an effect and remember that effects can be changed. I have been trained to see all disease and unhappiness and loss as effects. When I see life with God's perfect vision, I am helping. When I worry, gossip or fret, I have added my emotion to the situation in a negative way.

The good news is that it is never too late to learn from our mistakes. It doesn't matter if you slipped once or twice and it doesn't make you a "bad" practitioner. It simply means that you had temporary amnesia about the spiritual truth. Next time when you hear discouraging news, hold the high ground, see the situation in God's pure light.

Let's practice together. I will wear sunscreen when I am going to be outside for the rest of the summer, and next spring I will remember that my skin is fair and tends to burn when exposed to direct sunlight. I will take appropriate action. Even more importantly, I will remember to see Good everywhere, in every situation. I will first do the work in consciousness then we are certain to see and experience a world that works for everyone.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Frustrations With Technology

I am exceedingly glad that I arrived on the planet when I did. I love all the toys! My cell phone contains a computer more powerful than the ones in the computer labs when I went to college. (I will admit that was around the time of the dinosaurs.) It is so easy to access information. I have immediate access to all the music I want. I have immediate information about everything, thanks to Google. Many of us have become conditioned to type in a word and Google will find out everything about it in a fraction of a second.

So unlike my heading, it appears that technology makes my life much easier and manageable in addition to happier and more enjoyable.  I should be blessing, not cursing, my equipment.

But when something used to work, and now it has stopped working, it does frustrate me.

I know. It is likely "operator error." I have  a sneaking suspicion that it might be related to those annoying upgrade demands I keep seeing come across my screen, interrupting whatever task was at hand. I readily admit that I often put them off.

I may be suffering the consequences.

My issue is with the camera on my PC. It worked fine until a few months ago.

Two weeks ago, I tried to connect with a new colleague at Headquarters and could not get my camera to work, but I haven't thought about it since. Instead of paying attention to what wasn't working in that moment and making a conscious effort to take a closer look, I chose to ignore it. In two weeks, I am scheduled for another meeting involving colleagues from all over the world and my camera needs to work.

It does remind me about life though.

I have a tendency to minimize issues when they first occur. Honestly, if it doesn't feel like that big a deal, I may just ignore it. I am not recommending this strategy, unless you want a strategy for frustration and failure.

As far as technology goes, it is not going to magically correct itself. That is true of life as well. It is one of the many reasons to do all our spiritual practices. Often during a silent mediation, an answer will just appear. Sometimes, when journaling about my day, I will stumble across the idea that I needed to help me see things clearly. Then one could follow-up and use our most powerful tool, affirmative prayer to create what one does want.

But if I am "too busy" to journal or meditate, life will have to go the extra mile to get my attention. My health may be challenged, or my bank account may be compromised or my relationship may fall apart. It is likely that none of these things happened in a vacuum. It is quite likely that life left clues about my false beliefs long before anyone could see a measurable result.

The good news is that it is never too late. I can pay attention to the clues and the messages to up-date my computer and  myself.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Dealing With Disappointment

I am disappointed. Our Roots of the Science of Mind tour has been cancelled by the organizer, Spirit Tours. I was really looking forward to the trip for many reasons. Those of us who would have traveled together would have made lasting friendships and memories. We would have visited the place where Ernest Holmes lived as a child.  We would have experienced the home in which Emerson had held discussion groups of the greatest thinkers of the time, men and women who later became known as the transcendentalists. We would have visited Walden Pond, where Thoreau wrote his amazing essay. But only one person signed up and Spirit Tours needed more commitment than that.
Dr. Heather in New Zealand

In 2009, our Center hosted  a group trip to New Zealand and Australia. There were over 25 of us traveling together. It was organized by the amazing Bunty Peterson, RScP. Sadly, Bunty made her transition the following year. She did us proud for the travel.  It was an amazing adventure. She booked all the tour buses and the hotels. She knew what excursions were a "must see" and what we could do without. While on our trip, we prayed and meditated together every morning and had most of our meals together. Bunty kept our costs manageable. Some "wise owls" upgraded their flights and arrived in Auckland in much better shape than the rest of us. We had so much fun together. It was much colder in New Zealand than we were anticipating so the sheep farmer in Dunedin benefited from our situation -- most of us bought a lot of warm woolen clothes from the wool boutique. I know I still wear my black sheepskin vest when it is cold here.

We saw Kiwi signs (the bird not the fruit.) We sang together. We laughed. Some of us drank martinis in the deep freeze of the bar "Twenty Below Zero." We applauded the show of the Maori and the only man, a friend from Baltimore, who volunteered to "play" with them. We sang. We laughed. We
giggled. We were awe-struck in the Sydney Opera House and the beautiful bridge. Then during the Parliament of the World's Religions, we watched the Buddhists patiently creating the most amazing and intricate design that took the entire 7 days of the conference to create, and we joined them as they scooped up all the colored sand to take to the river, signifying the impermanence of everything (on the physical plane.) We proudly performed with and listened to the Agape choir singing gloriously up-beat, positive songs and got the whole auditorium clapping along.

It was a life-changing time.

I was disappointed about our trip being cancelled but I will get over it.  I am still feeling nostalgic about our past experience. I do realize that going on a Roots Tour is a completely different experience than going to New Zealand and Australia.

There were many people who expressed interest in this trip but they didn't sign up. I want to know why. Was there not enough value? Was it too expensive?  Was it too short? Was it the wrong time of year? Are you uninterested in our spiritual roots?

But I will get over this cancellation. We will make new plans and new trips together.
Always there is more life to live and more community to get to know. I am optimistic about our future. I believe in us. We will create new memories and experiences. I need to remind myself that we are creating memories right now, right here.

You could help, especially if you were one of the people who expressed interest in this trip. Let me know. Give us feedback. Where in the world would you like to visit with your spiritual family?

Friday, June 1, 2018

To Tell the Truth

I love teaching the Science of Mind classes. I have been studying the Science of Mind since 1985. I must say that when I first read the textbook, I did not "get" it. The writing seemed redundant and even nonsensical. I probably wasn't ready to understand it. Since that time, I have become a much better student of the Science of Mind and I am still learning. I have come to treasure Dr. Holmes' words and appreciate the wisdom behind them.

I also learn from my students. I learn from the brand new students..from their honesty, their persistence and their passion to fully learn to use this science. I learn from their frustration and remember my own frustration when I was a beginning student. I also learn from the more-experienced students, who bring wisdom and love for the teaching to the classes.

In my current class, there are twice as many students who have taken this course before than there are beginners. It is a wonderful opportunity for everyone. The beginners benefit form the insights of the experienced students. The experienced students benefit from the joy and enthusiasm of the beginners.

One of the things I was surprised to find was the hesitancy of some of our mature students to tell the truth about the process of accessing their wisdom. Last night we were looking at our difficulties in relationships, and how we could make different choices about how to think, feel and act. My observation is that some of the experienced students didn't want to tell the beginners about their natural tendencies to react in anger, blame and gossip. They wanted to show that they knew they had choices of wisdom, kindness and compassion.

I am grateful for the wisdom in everyone. And I have a bias toward telling the truth even if it makes one appear petty, small-minded or weak. There is so much to be said for the willingness to be vulnerable and authentic.

Most of us have had an ethical upbringing. We KNOW what is the right thing to do, but we don't always choose it. If we were not free to choose all kinds of reactions including unskillful behaviors, we wouldn't be free at all.

I will agree that it is uncomfortable to confess to small-mindedness, to becoming emotional, to reacting to a situation.  But even the Master Teacher Jesus, lost his temper, and kicked over the money-changers tables in the temple!

I love Google! I love the quick access that the internet brings. A moment ago one line of a lyric came to my mind. Within seconds, I had found the whole song and the musical from which it came. The line was, "...much too high a cost." From the song, "Defying Gravity" in the musical Wicked, the whole line is:
"Too long I've been afraid of
Losing love I guess I've lost
Well if that's love 
It comes at much too high a cost." 
I believe that when we do not tell the truth, we have paid much too high a cost. The cost is to our own integrity and self-esteem.

For me, telling the truth is NOT about making someone else wrong. It is not about blaming anyone for my situation or circumstances. It is about taking complete responsibility for  my life and the freedom that brings does let me "try defying gravity.".

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Spiritual Wisdom: See the Truth in Yourself Too

When I asked Dr. Heather for some insight into this month's 100 Years of Science of Mind theme, Spiritual Wisdom and How to Follow It, she shared with me this beautiful story of enlightenment during her spiritual journey. It reminds us to give ourselves the same grace we give others and offers a simple question Dr. Heather asks herself when she needs a little more clarity.

From Dr. Heather:

The greatest piece of spiritual wisdom I can offer is that every person is a valued and a valuable expression of the Divine, starting with myself. 

It has always been easy for me to see the Divine potential in other people. I can easily forgive others who have made mistakes and still see their spiritual magnificence. It has not always been so easy to remember for myself.

The first time I became aware of the fact that I often leave myself out of the equation was in the 80’s at a spiritual class called “On Course” given by Michael and Paulette Sun. There were about fifty people in the course. We had been expressing our goals and the beliefs that were getting in the way of achieving those goals. 

I remember being deeply moved by each person’s sharing. I saw the light in each one of them. When it came to my turn to share, I could not see any of the beliefs I had about myself that had gotten in my way. I had lots of guilt about my mistakes and lots of blame about it too. 

Michael Sun said he had noticed how engaged I was in every person’s sharing. He said, “You really see the spiritual truth in all these people don’t you, Heather?” I readily agreed. Then he said, “But you don’t see it in yourself, do you?” Again I agreed. The next thing he said shocked me. 

He said, ”Do you have any idea how arrogant it is?” 

I was puzzled. He went on to say, “You believe that God is everywhere present except in you! That means that you believe that you are more powerful than God!” 

I wanted to hide, to run away or at least to protest, but after thinking about it, I realized it is exactly what I had been doing. I was awash with tears, good tears, the tears of awakening.

The technique I use to remind myself is simply to ask myself, “Could this belief  or behavior be true about God?” Almost always the answer is, “Of course not.”  So I adjust my thinking which puts me in alignment with spiritual wisdom

Spiritual Wisdom: My Answer Is Not Your Answer

When asked for some insight into spiritual wisdom for this month's 100 Years of Science of Mind theme, Rev. Pattie Mercado, the youth and family minister for our Center, responded with some wisdom that she received when her children were small. The wisdom works in all situations because we live our authentic life when guidance comes from within.

From Rev. Pattie:

The Spiritual Wisdom I want to share with everyone I received close to 25 years ago and I still use it today. I was married with two children and we really wanted to do a good job raising our kids. I took classes, read books and talked to other moms and teachers. The wisdom I got came during a parenting class from one of my amazing mentors.  The wisdom is, “I don’t have your answer, but I know you do.” 

The answer was completely dissatisfying at the time. I really wanted someone to tell me how and what, but this wise woman reminded me repeatedly: “my answer is not your answer and your answer is not my answer”. The faith to look within for my answer, no matter what the question has been a powerful tool for my growth. Over the years, I have relied upon this truth, dug in to find and know my answer, and stood witness to children and adults reminding them that their answer is within them.

Spiritual Wisdom: Everyone Is Playing Their Part Perfectly

This month's 100 Years of Science of Mind theme is Spiritual Wisdom and How to Follow It. I took this opportunity to check in with our ministers and get a little insight into Spiritual Wisdom. 

Rev. Karyn Allen is our creative arts minister. She shares her beautiful musical gifts with us often and finds herself not only on our platform, but also travels to other Center's sharing her wisdom in song. It's not surprising then that she found spiritual wisdom in Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage" dialogue.  

From Rev. Karyn:

One of the greatest pieces of spiritual wisdom I have received lately was from a ministerial colleague who recently made his transition.  His words forever resonate with me... "everyone is playing their part perfectly!"  To me, it brings up, and is so reminiscent of, Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage" dialogue from As You Like It

 All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
To remind myself and others of this wisdom is freeing.  It allows me to recognize that I need not judge the action of others.  I am to love them for their part in this world.

Spiritual Wisdom: Kindness Can Change the World

For this month's 100 Years of Science of Mind theme, Spiritual Wisdom, Rev. Carla shares how acts of kindness and caring in some of life's most uncertain moments gave her courage. It was in the kindness of others that she found Spirits universal wisdom showing up for her in moments of need.

From Rev. Carla:

What has been the greatest piece of spiritual wisdom given to me was by the people that have touched my life through the power of Kindness.  All these people still stand out in my mind today because of their beautiful acts of kind-heartedness.  

I recall traveling in Italy and trying to purchase a train ticket with a teller that spoke no English or attempting to figure out where to get off the train because the names of the cities were different than the ones in my travel book. In those moments, some lovely person stopped what they were doing just to help me out and gave me encouragement, making me feel safe. Then, there was the nurse in the operating room that took my hand while delivering my first born, and she said “you’re doing great, you got this” as she gently stroked my head.  I also recall that there were a special handful of people that stood by me after a serious operation showing me their care, their hearts and their love. Kind acts have taught me to be more present to how I show up in this world. 

What I know for sure is that Kindness can change this world and that kind people can be our greatest teachers.  

Spiritual Wisdom: Practice What We Preach

Rev. Judee Chapman, an assistant minister at our Center, is one of the most centered, confidant practitioners of the Science of Mind that I know. When I asked her about our 100 Years of Science of Mind theme for this month, Spiritual Wisdom, she went right back to the foundation of it all and reminds us that daily spiritual practices fill us up and then causes a ripple effect in the world.

From Rev. Judee:

Spiritual Wisdom is when we 'practice what we preach' and it shows up in our lives on a daily basis.

When we squeeze an orange, what comes out? Orange juice!

When WE are squeezed, what show's up? Understanding? Forgiveness? Compassion? Peace? Kindness?

Just like the old saying "You are what you eat," the same rule applies to your beingness. You are what you think about and what you allow into your consciousness.

Our world is one of incredible beauty and energy. As we increase our connection with this energy, the more beauty we see and the more we evolve as spiritual beings.

I receive "wisdom" from many places: Dr. Heather's Sunday talks, classes, music, reading inspiring books, gatherings with like-minded people, the Science of Mind textbook, etc.

Dr. Ernest Holmes captures in this quote what Spiritual Wisdom truly is...
"Come, Thou Great and Infinite Mind and inspire me to do great deeds. Acquaint me with Thy knowledge and in Thy wisdom make me wise. I would be taught of Thee, Inner Light, and inspired by Thy presence. I will listen for Thy Voice and it will tell me of great things to be done. I will be inspired from On High. O Wonderful Presence, flooding me, filling me with Thy Light, Thou dost inspired me! I feel the inspiration of Spirit."

Insight into Our Roots with Rev. Carla

This October, our Center is offering a field study into the Science of Mind roots. It's a five-day excursion to the New England coast, led by Dr. Heather and organized by Spirit Tours, to explore the place where Science of Mind all began. It's the place where Ernest Holmes grew up; where Emerson discovered his truths; and Thoreau found inspiration on Walden Pond.

I asked our own Rev. Carla, a frequent traveler with Spirit Tours and our Center's trip coordinator, a few questions to get some insight into this adventure. 

Q: The Roots tour is really an historic look at our Science of Mind history. As a SOM student and minister, what do you think or hope people who take the tour will come away with? How might it benefit them spiritually?

Rev. Carla:Traveling is a sensory experience that you can't get from a class, a book, or a teacher.  It is an opportunity to explore one's own soul on deeper and more reflective levels. As a serious student of Religious Science, the idea of steeping myself deeply into the time and life of Ernest Holmes is a treasured prospect and my hope is that it will bring yet another layer of understanding and insightfulness to my awareness of this philosophy. In my experience, I’ve witnessed that making discoveries in a group can be so impactful; it’s like setting an intention with the power of multiplication. Something special was unfolding in the consciousness of Holmes, Emerson, Thoreau, and Hopkins and I want to ride on the wings of that realization.  (special note: Dr. Heather will offer CSL Roots class credit to anyone who takes the tour.)

 Q: The transcendentalists movement and Emerson really inspired Ernest Holmes. What do you think travelers will discover by walking the same streets or visiting the same Walden Pond?

Rev. Carla: Thoreau built his cabin in 1845, on Walden Pond, as a place to write and reflect. He wrote in a continuing stream of consciousness there for 17 years.  I believe that energy is still there for all of us to experience, explore and practice by walking and breathing in the same places as our powerful teachers/mystics of New Thought did.  

Q: You have been a frequent traveler with Spirit Tours; what makes it different than another tour company?

Rev. Carla on a Spirit Tours trip to Bali
Rev. Carla: Yes, I have travel twice to Bali and once to Ireland with Spirit Tours.  Before Spirit Tours I had never traveled with a group.  The experience was truly a pleasant surprise as I did not travel the first time with my own CSL to Bali; it was with the Santa Rosa CSL and Dr. Edward Vijion.  We traveled with a large group of 32 persons, all uniquely individual, all interested in their spiritual growth and all eager to have a new experience together with other like-minded people.  What made the trip so satisfying was that we were in spiritual practice and mindfulness throughout our time there. Waking up every morning to a spiritual practice of chanting meditation, yoga, and then an informative meeting of what the day entail and what it may hold for us.  

Also, I think it's important to note that Spirit Tours offers a unique experience for those seeking a different kind of travel. They are founded on SOM Principles and practice the teachings of Religious Science, bringing a rich and diverse background with the ability to touch a traveler’s life in a profound and lasting manner.     

Friday, May 25, 2018

Coming Home to Yourself

Today I noticed that I was really happy. I was not happy for a reason. I was simply grateful to be who I am, where I am and doing what I do. I found myself singing under my breath... in the back of my mind. It wasn't a profound song, but it was a joyful one. "Zippity-do-dah"  I always like to sing happy songs when I am happy. Being happy and singing are natural, normal expressions of joy! It occurred to me that I had finally come home to myself.

That may sound weird to you because it even sounded weird to me. But  when Spirit whispers Truth to you, you know it. I knew it. I was experiencing a Divine moment.

Nothing has happened or come about to cause me to feel so joyful. It was simply a natural experience of life. It is what life is supposed to feel like. It is what I have felt for the majority of  time since my spiritual awakening, forty years ago.

To tell the truth, I did not know I had not been feeling like my true self until I felt the authentic moment of being Heather Dawn Clark. I felt grateful, blessed and happy.

So now I look back and start gathering up all the clues along my path that I had been "out of my mind." I see that I have been judgmental, distrustful and fearful, mostly about myself. I realize also that I have been creating drama and playing the victim.

I apologize. It was unconscious of me.

For any of you who have been praying for me to awaken to the powerful truth within me -- thank you.

I want to live with a smile on my face and one in my heart. I have so much to be grateful for!

I want to live in gratitude and generosity... to see the world through God's eyes.

I want to stay connected to Source, remembering that it is only in my faulty thinking when I feel separated form It. I am bigger than that. You are bigger than that, too.

It also helps me to be physically active. It helps me to connect with people, ones I know and ones I don't know. For instance, today I went to the grocery store to pick up eggs. I parked and started to get out of my car. A woman was coming to get in to her car which was parked to my right. She glanced at me and I asked her if I had parked too close to her car, if she had enough room to get in. She declared that she had lots of room, that I had parked perfectly! It felt good to have a moment of connection. Earlier in the day, I had arrived at my step aerobics class to find that my step had already been set up in the spot I prefer. My friend who had done it, had then disappeared to work on some strength training. In my right place in my aerobics class, in my right place in the parking lot, and in my right place in life, God is great all the time!.

My question to you is are you at home in yourself?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Write a New Story About Your Name

My sister was named for her grandmothers: Kathryn Anne came from grandma Kate Clark and grandma Anna Burrell.  My brothers each had a string of names, Gerald Roy, Neal and John Douglas Lorne. They were named for my parents' brothers and best friends. My name was chosen romantically.

This is the story that I would ask to have retold again and again. I was born in a small hospital, sixty miles away from our village. My dad couldn't be present for my birth due to Saskatchewan snow storms and a case of the mumps (both he and my sister had the mumps.) Because dad couldn't be present, he sent special flowers. The story I was told and retold was that in the flowers dad sent there was a sprig of heather and the flowers came at dawn. Hence I was named Heather Dawn. I loved that story. I loved my name.

I had never seen heather but I had seen pictures. It was really unimpressive.  In those days Heather was an unusual name and felt quite exotic to a child growing up in the prairies.

Now the name Heather is much more common, but any Heathers I know, like their names! I still like mine but gradually did not treasure its origin as I had once.  Later I traveled to Scotland and found out that heather was actually a weed, growing wild all over the heavenly place. It was usually quite scruffy. I felt I had an okay name but it wasn't special.

Today I had a shift in perspective. Our administrator had a new plant on her desk, given to her by her daughter for Mother's Day. It is unusual. It is exquisite. It is exotic. It is heather.
Me and My Namesake

As soon as I heard that it was heather, I turned to it and affirmed :
"How beautiful you are! How lovely! You are unique and exquisite. The individual blossoms look like tiny fairy trumpets!You are complex and forever unfolding. Your colors are bold and pleasing and yet the shape is quite soft.  You are not at all what I thought you were. Please forgive me for judging you so harshly."

Wow! Then it hit me. The inner me needed to hear those words about myself. I needed to be reminded to forgive myself for judging and not measuring up to my self-imposed expectations. I needed to go back to the wisdom of my inner child, the one who loved romance and felt quite special.

Now, whatever name you go by and whatever you feel about it, this is a great time to recognize your beauty, your loveliness and your uniqueness. This is the day to write a new story about your name which is your nature.

See through the eyes of love.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dean Sluyter Fear Less Workshop This Sunday!

The Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley is proud to welcome back Dean Sluyter for another amazing meditation workshop right here at our center after service! Love Offerings Welcome! 


Dean Sluyter (pronounced "slighter") has taught natural methods of meditation and awakening since 1970. His five highly acclaimed books include Natural Meditation (Amazon #1 stress management bestseller, and Nautilus Gold Medal winner for best mind-body-spirit book) and Fear Less: Living Beyond Fear, Anxiety, Anger, and Addiction. Dean gives talks, workshops, and retreats throughout the United States and beyond, from Ivy League colleges to maximum-security prisons. His media appearances have included National Public Radio, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Coast to Coast AM, The Dr. Oz Show, and O, The Oprah Magazine.

A grateful student of Eastern and Western sages in several traditions, Dean has completed numerous pilgrimages and retreats in India, Tibet, Nepal, and the West. He is known for conveying authentic teachings in forms that are relaxed, accessible, and down-to-earth. When not writing or teaching, he narrates audiobooks, makes music, and happily tools around town on his Vespa.

Born into a family of musicians and political activists, Dean grew up in New York and Los Angeles. He dropped out of college to hitchhike around the country and embark on a path of spiritual investigation, eventually returning to earn a B.A. in English and an M.A. in interdisciplinary education.
Dean lived in New Jersey for 33 years, where he was married to the late artist and teacher Maggy Sluyter, with whom he raised two children. There he taught English and developed classroom meditation programs at The Pingry School and worked with inmates at Northern State Prison. He now lives in Santa Monica, California, where he leads meditation sessions regularly and is on the faculty of the West Coast Writers Conferences. He is married to documentary filmmaker Yaffa Lerea.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Card Not Sent

As Mother's Day approaches, I am experiencing many different feelings and memories. This will be the second Mother's Day since my Mom's passing in June of 2016.

I recently stumbled across a Mother's Day card that I had not sent. I do not remember buying this for Mom but obviously I did. And evidently I was buying it on behalf of at least some of my sisters and brothers because the message inside was:
"We'd like you to have all those bright moments... all those family feelings
You know --everything it takes to make Mother's Day just what it should be. 
You deserve it." 
I wonder why I didn't send it. The probable reason was that I put it off too long, and she would not have received it until many days or weeks after Mother's Day. However, since it was from two or more, one of my sisters could have sent a card on my behalf. Or I may have misplaced it. I do not believe I changed my mind.

My mom was always a huge cheerleader for me and for the rest of her children. She did deserve to have this card, and many other words of praise.

In the years before 2015, I know that it was my habit to Skype with Mom at least once a week. So, if the card had been purchased before she had a stroke, I would have told her how much she meant to me. But I have the uncomfortable feeling that I bought this card while she was in a nursing home; it is  a brightly colored card that was meant to bring cheer to the receiver. The home was adequate, but neither bright nor pretty. While she was there, she could no longer see her television or computer monitor or even her children when we came to visit; but she could identify our voices. So I would not have been trying to Skype. One of the hardest  consequences of the stroke was that it effectively cutting off communication with Mom and three of her five children. She couldn't see or hear when we tried to call on my sister's iPad. There were many other issues: and she could not sit upright without support, she couldn't eat food unless it was pureed, she couldn't feed herself or look after her personal needs.  In other words, the quality of her life was minimal. She was now in the state of helplessness that each one of us experienced as babies.

Now I wish that I had sent the card anyway. It might have brightened her day. I know she looked forward to my sister's daily or twice-daily visits. I wish I had sent it anyway... even though she might have gotten it in June or July, at least she would have known that her most geographically distant daughter was thinking about her with gratitude and love.

There is never a better time than the present moment to send that card or make that phone call. 

I want all readers to remember that spiritually we are all doing the best we can, every moment of every day. If we had known better we would have done better. 

It does make me think about what matters to me most. If it really is family, then I could ask myself am I making connections with the other people I love? Am I sending the cards? Am I making the phone calls or am I making excuses?

Right now is the point of power and really the only time there is. Tomorrow is still a fantasy and yesterday is just a memory. As the Salutation to the Dawn continues,
"But today, well-lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore to this day."
The back of the unsent card reads:
To those who comfort with a mother's hand, we thank you.
To those who encourage with a mother's praise, we applaud you.
To those who love with and mother's heart, we honor you--
Not just on Mother's day...always!
The inside of the unsent card

Further in

Thinking of  my mom, Lela Eugenia Burrell Clark 

Lela Clark
December 19, 1919 to June 23, 2016

Friday, May 4, 2018

Through God's Eyes

W. H. Murray was a Scottish mountaineer whose love of mount climbing is evident in his life.  One of my favorite quotes comes from his book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. In it he writes:
 " ... but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money -- booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but it is of great consequence.
Until one is committed, there is always hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
 Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation),
 there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help the one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance,
which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: 'Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.'" 
This quote contains a little more of the original quote than I had read before. Up until researching this, I thought Murray had scaled Mount Everest, but I came to find out that he could not get acclimated to the altitude. However, I also found out that he had been a prisoner of war during World War II, and that he had demonstrated the power of commitment there. While he was imprisoned, he wrote his first book, Mountaineering in Scotland. He wrote it on the only paper he could get -- toilet paper. The Gestapo found it and destroyed it and much to the disbelief of his fellow prisoners, he wrote it all over again! For Murray commitment wasn't just a great idea; it was a way of life.

I am so glad to have more details of this remarkable man's life. It has been helpful and instructive to me.

I must admit that I have become indecisive about my life. I have been feeling discouraged about the diminishing attendance in our Center. I have been wondering if it was time to retire. (Although I did not know how to do that!)

So I got clear! I reminded myself of what I am and why I am here.

I am committed to growing my own consciousness, to elevate it so that I am worthy of what one of my practitioners calls, "the best job in the world."  Indeed, it is an honor and a privilege to be in service as the senior minster here at the Center for Spiritual Living.

From that elevated consciousness, I am committed to growing our community to a place in which we  care for each other's well-being, we celebrate each other's successes and we are a place of safety and love, encouraging all who choose a path of oneness and compassion and forgiveness. My commitment is to live from possibilities, no matter what! Our community is about the people in it. It is not about where we are physically located.

We have not been working together toward a shared vision. Nor have I been clear about casting that vision. Of course, I cannot do this by myself. I will need the support and help of our members and friends.

 Just as the finale in the musical Les Miserables states:
"Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Beyond the barricade Is there a world you long to see? 
The world I long to see, is one in which we love the life we are living and live the life we love. In it we see each other through God's Eyes, with compassion, tenderness and conviction. Each one of us can live the life he or she came here to live.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Idea of Baseball

One of my colleagues recently wrote that she loved to play baseball. She wrote that when she was a batter, she would scan the field to see where there were weaknesses and then would move her body into the correct angle to hit the ball to that location. I questioned whether women or men who were playing for fun would be so calculated. So I checked it out with both Rev Pattie who has played in the past. She said. of course, that is what she would do. Rev. Karyn, who is a great baseball fan and a superior player said that she would adjust her swing according to the way the ball was pitched to her!

All three of these women amazed me! Of course, they are using pure Principle! See it in your mind'e eye, plan it and then do it! What I remember from having to play softball in elementary or high school, had nothing to do with a strategy of where to hit the ball. I would pry hat I would not have to go to bat. (Just like I prayed that none of the balls would ever come as deep in Center field as I would be standing.) First I would be very relieved when I didn't get up to bat. Second I would pray that I would make contact with the ball so I wouldn't be swinging and missing. My greatest hope was to make it through the game without being humiliated! To PLAN where the ball would go was out of my frame of reference! To carry out that PLAN, would be complete fantasy! I had never contemplated that one could have a strategic plan when playing a ball game. (Of course, I had strategies from a very young age for winning at cards or monopoly.)

But there I was, planning to fail... and succeeding at it!

What a great example of building a "great" tomorrow today.  I usually got exactly what I feared because that is the nature of the Law of Mind. I didn't have one minute of joy while I was on a ball team... and I dare say that none of my fellow players had a great time with me there either. Talk about Debbie Downer! No wonder I was chosen last to be on a team.

Obviously I lacked skill, but the real damage was done by my lousy attitude; I had a  mental equivalent of failure, always looming over my head. But since that is how I perceived ball games,  how could it have been any different?

I wonder if I had developed some interest in the game itself, I might have evolved into a better player.  The greater question is do I have  a strategic plan for my life? Am I planning to fail? Am I failing to plan?

Today, I don't think it is necessary for me to be  a great player of softball, baseball or slow pitch. In fact, I think I can lead a very happy life and fulfilled life, without picking up a ball, without hearing the words, "Batter up!" again,  without ever being on another team for the rest of my life. But what can lead to a happier, healthier life, is  having  a greater appreciation of myself and others from these conversations.

There are a couple of ways to explore this. First, to notice what I am afraid to do, what I am afraid will happen and what I am avoiding because I do not want to face the fear. I could go a step further and ask the people who are doing the things that  terrify me,  how have they overcome their fears.  ( I know that some people have not conquered their fears, they have simply decided to walk right through those fears.)

The second way to look at this is to develop a beginner's mind; to explore with curiosity and kindness how other people achieve their dreams. Have the successful ones simply been lucky to be in the right place at the right time? Or have the happy, healthy, successful ones done something different? Have they befriended themselves, set some goals and  set clear intentions for their lives? What do they do when they fail? Do they quit? Do they learn from their failures? Do they laugh at themselves? Do they take themselves lightly? Are they fiercely determined to understand themselves? Do they know their strengths? Do they embrace their weaknesses?

I can use this information  to have a greater appreciation for our own skills and talents. When it comes so the game of life, get in the game. Life is calling you.  "Batter up! Play ball!"

Friday, April 20, 2018

Honoring Mother Earth

This coming Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day!

National Geographic WILD wants you and me to see what a wonderful world we live in.

Maybe if we have more appreciation for our Mother Earth we will take better care of her.
We, as a species, have not been doing a very good job so far.

Did you know that plastics were invented in 1907? It seems that they have been around forever.

So here we are celebrating 100 years of the Science of Mind and 101 years of living with plastics.

When I was a kid, plastics bags were regularly re-used. My mom and grandmother could see how useful they were for storing food and taking lunches to school. We would wash and dry them, then turn the bags inside out and with a clothes pin hang them on the line. Later when I was a young, newly-married woman I took for granted all the time-saving conveniences. I was a typical consumer. When the lids no longer fit my plastic containers, I would throw them in the trash. (That was before we learned about recycling.) I believed that there would always be enough room in the dump and besides which we regularly burned our household trash. Throwing a "good" plastic bag was unthinkable unless it was unusable.

Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

However, plastics is a huge issue. The story of three plastic bottles below:

After watching a few videos about plastics, I am committed to start refusing when I am offered any kind of plastic from bags and bottles to cups and clothing. I may need to recycle my tennis shoes. I already take reusable bags with me when I am shopping.

I also intend to watch the National Geographic Special on Sunday night so I can be reminded of the beautiful world in which we live.

I intend to be better at the commandment to honor my mother.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Taking Things Personally

Last Saturday afternoon, in preparation for my Sunday message, I re-watched some of Brene Brown's work. I love her vulnerability, her authenticity. The title of Brown's Daring Greatly book came from an inspirational Theodore Roosevelt's Man in the Arena speech:
 "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..." 
Brown went on to say that she used to pray that the critics would not be present when she spoke, but realized that that is a coward's action. So she plans for them to be there. She mentally gives them a seat in her arena. She says she always includes her biggest critic, herself.

I thought it was a great idea. But an idea that would take courage and confidence.

Last Sunday, in my preparation, I invited the critics, including myself into the sanctuary. (Sanctuaries, unlike arena, are supposed to be places of safety.)

It was very freeing. I felt more spontaneous than ever.

I felt as if I were sharing important spiritual principles.

I got a lot of positive feedback.

And then, Monday morning I received an anonymous note that said, "I didn't understand a word that was spoken."

I was crushed! Even though, I had consciously invited the critics to be present for my message, I really didn't expect them to show up.

What could I do? What I did was try to ignore it. (I do believe that anonymous notes are poison darts that the writer knows are poisonous!)

I attempted to become aware of who would have written it. (And I justified my choices by making the listener wrong!) Neither of these "solutions" would have moved me forward in consciousness.

Then finally, I received the gift. Of all the feedback I could have received, this was a very gentle one.
(Thank you, Divine Mind, for bringing my demonstration in a gentle way.)

So I needed to ask myself, what can I learn about myself regarding the feedback?

I am still discovering things. First, the universe always responds when I plant a seed in Divine Mind. Second, instead of feeling resistant and defensive, I could choose to watch the talk and see for myself how I could have communicated more clearly. (The truth is, I rarely watch myself because I am so self-critical. And I usually don't stop with the content of the message but also include anything else I feel self-conscious about --- my hair, my clothing, my waistline, my facial appearance, my movements, etc. So I finally made a decision to pray first and then to re-watch the video.

Again, I encountered resistance. (Maybe I didn't really want to watch it!)

I was waiting at home for a delivery and decided that watching the service would be the best use of my time. First, I tried to get the service to play on my computer. It took a little time to find it. Then I could see it, but there wasn't any sound. Next I tried my iPad. With it, I couldn't even find our website. Finally, after I charged my phone for awhile, I played the whole service on the phone.

I saw a woman (me) who was having fun with her message. I did understand most words that I used but I could see how someone might not have been able to understand them. Yes, it could have been clearer. I could have told the listeners what I intended to say, then said it, then told them what I said. I did not do that. But it wasn't terrible. Louise Hay gave the best advice about becoming a better speaker. She would gently say to herself, "Louise, that was pretty good for your first talk, and your next one will be even better!"

The ultimate learning comes from realizing that there will always be critics and that all I can do is the best I can do.

That is all any of us can do.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Glimpsing Heaven on Earth

Last Sunday night, I watched the television live concert performance of  Jesus Christ Superstar featuring Brandon Victor Dixon, John Legend, Sara Bareilles and many other very talented musicians. I was touched and inspired by the music and hearing the entire musical. Like all of you, I knew the story. I was moved to tears by a song sung by Mary Magdalene (Sara Bareilles) and the Disciple Peter (Jason Tam) called "Could We Start Again Please." It is sung first by Mary and then by Peter, after Jesus has been arrested but before his crucifixion. It is a song about wanting a second chance, a common theme for us human beings. The lyrics are:
Mary:"I've been living to see you
Dying to see you but it shouldn't be like this
This was unexpected
What do I do now
Could we start again please?
I've been hopeful so far
Now for the first time I think we're going wrong
Hurry up and tell me this is just a dream
Oh, could we start again please?"

Peter: "I think you've made your point now
You've even gone a bit too far to get the message home
Before it gets too frightening
We ought to call a halt
So could we start again please?"
 Evidently this number was in the original Broadway play. I must not have been ready to hear its beauty because I don't remember it at all. (And we used the music from Superstar every year for many years as our Palm Sunday message and experience.) On Sunday evening, this performance was definitely a place where I experienced the divine. I heard God. I saw God. The relative and the Absolute were dancing through each other.

When I contemplate how Jesus' disciples must have felt when he was arrested, beaten, tortured and crucified, my heart breaks. Moreover, I think there is a universal sense of wanting a "do-over," when we realize that our relationships, or our circumstances, are heading toward an ending that we didn't anticipate or desire. (I believe this is the genius of lyricists like Tim Rice, who was able transform our opinion about Judas, the synonym for betrayal as well as elicit feelings of empathy for Jesus,  Mary Magdalene and the rest of the disciples.) We know the power of words to transform. The right and perfect music helps deliver the message.

I recently read an interesting article by  Eric Weiner, who introduced me to "Thin Places." He says, "Thin places are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we are able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think about it, the Infinite Whatever." He went on to explain that thin places are places in which one would have an experience of non-sequential time. Some people describe it as an intensity, not necessarily tranquil, where the power and the beauty of the Divine are experienced. He writes that in thin places we "are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world."

In his article in the New York Times, Weiner mentions places  like Iona, a small island off  the western coast of Scotland. He also mentions sacred sites like St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. But he stated that thin places may be something as conventional as an airport. He states that not everybody will feel the sacred in his "thin places." In fact the same place may seem thick to another person. He concludes his article with the idea that perhaps the whole world is thin and that we are too thick to recognize it. He concludes: "Maybe thin places offer glimpses of heaven on earth as it really is, unencumbered. Unmasked."

Last Sunday I glimpsed heaven on earth watching Jesus Christ Superstar. If you saw it, let me know how you felt about it.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Holy Week

For my blog this week, I am sharing the Easter message of Paul Martin Brunet, a writer I stumbled upon in old Science of Mind magazines. I have found his writing to consistently inspire and challenge me. I am especially thrilled when he has written the daily guides. This guide is from April 5, 1953. I trust someone will love it, too.


" ...I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." John 11:25 
"This glad Easter Morn I rise in conscious Oneness with the Christ of the Universe. Infinite Life, Infinite Love, exalts my whole being in peace and harmony. Every trial and tribulation melts away. I find myself alive in a sea of Living Love. The Power and the Glory hath made me free.
The Mind of Christ fills my soul with the light of Divine Intelligence. I am completely liberated from fear, worry, darkness, doubt. The Spirit of Eternal Life breathes through every atom of my being. Today, old things are passed away and I am born anew. 
The same spiritual Power that raised the Master from the tomb, is the Power in me that rolls away all stones and stumbling blocks. Divine Presence goes before me and makes my way perfect. My whole subconscious is illumined with new Light and Christ-energy.
Immortal Life changes, transforms and transfigures me completely, in this Holy Hour. My mind, my life, my consciousness, are spiritually revitalized. I am released in intelligent, purposeful action forevermore. Under the leadership of Love I am free from all self-made prisons. The grace of Immortal Spirit is the dynamic substance of my being. I am alive in Christ, Truth, now and always, and It is alive in me. I realize the Christ of Ascension lives within me, and in every living soul of the universe. I am filled with God's Radiant Bliss. 
Thanks be to God, His Love, the Christ is risen in me this day! 
Textbook -- Page 630, Resurrection" 
Rev. Brunet was the Minister - Director of the Second Church of Religious Science in New York City. in 1953. If anyone has more information about this minister, I would be very thankful for the information.

May your Easter be absolutely splendid!