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.".