Archive for the ‘resentments’ Category

Spiritual practices can “brain wash” us.

I was once warned to be careful, that religion or spiritual people could “brain wash” me.  This proved to be true but in a surprising way. My mind desperately needed cleaning. The filth of misery—resentment, anger, worry, fear, jealousy, envy, low-self-worth, and a myriad of others—stained and soiled most of my thoughts; this mental muck and mire prevented any chance for peace or happiness. My mind had to be cleansed before I had any hope of a better life.

An act of surrender starts this spiritual cleaning cycle: we must fully accept that we have problems that keep us from being the best version of our self and that we cannot solve these without help. Action follows this giving up: We start the day with prayer and meditation as we sit in silence and feel the presence of divinity; we seek guidance, strength, and wisdom and ask to be made aware of any opportunity to serve and help a fellow traveler. Then, we pause for a few minutes throughout the day to stay consciously aware of our divine birthright; we strive to be loving, tolerant, and gentle. We spend a few minutes in quiet review each night to see what we could have done better, to identify areas for improvement and acknowledge the growth and blessing of this day. Since new dirt and muck can stain our lives each day, we must make this a daily practice; we need a continuous cycle of “brain washing.”

Prayer:  My loving spirit, I have allowed my self-driven will to pollute this blessing I call my mind. Please cleanse it; wash away my pride, prejudice, anger, fear, and all misery; purify my thoughts and sanctify my motives.

We can only see what is in front of our eyes; we cannot see the history.

We see anger but not the earlier years of abuse or fear

  • We see selfishness but not the previous poverty of love
  • We see self-centeredness and self-righteousness but not the low self-esteem or the despair of self-loathing.
  • We see the inability to engage in healthy relationships but not the absence of spiritual core with lack of healthy self-love.

Yes, each person is accountable for their current actions; each person is responsible to recognize their mistakes and shortcomings that interfere with their lives; each will be offered multiple opportunities to choose change. However, the unfortunate may lack the necessary humility to admit their deficiencies, the desire or the courage to change, or not have a guide and viable process for change; they may reject a spiritual solution for living problems; or they may just be having a bad moment or terrible day.

Whenever we encounter such objectionable conduct, it is our choice how we allow it to affect us. Do we share the light to provide illumination or contribute to the darkness? Let us show:

  • tolerance, not anger
  • patience, not a quick response
  • love of the hard-to-love, not retaliation
  • the willingness to walk away, not to engage in pointless conflict
  • the power and beauty of a sprit-led life, not the desperate charade of self-driven will

If we are among the fortunate; we must be an expression of truth.

Prayer:  Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

The mind is the gateway to the soul; It can ignite spiritual growth or breed self-driven will that causes incessant misery.

Do you ever consider the true power of your mind? This is where we make the choices that determine the quality of each moment and each day. These decisions influence our education, relationships, career and future. Everything centers on how we use our mind. Do we use this marvelous thinking machine to access a gateway to the soul—to open the door that leads us to the excellent life or do we choose to let it be self-directed to propagate misery and discontent?

This day, train your mind to act for your best benefit; elevate the processing of your mind. Upon awakening, nurture thoughts of gratitude before getting out of bed; then, read something uplifting and positive to start the day and reflect on the reading. Become aware of your thoughts throughout the day. Try to remove yourself from being the center of all your thoughts, to not be constantly judging how things and people impact you.  Ask your inner spirit to direct your thinking; seek to see with spiritual vision instead of the eyes of self-centeredness; act with love and compassion instead of reacting with anger, self-pity, or selfishness. Contribute to the peace of another person; search for that small act of kindness and love that may bring a smile; greet the “god within” each person you meet instead of reacting to the exterior appearances. Raise your thoughts to a higher level.

Prayer: My loving inner spirit, I ask for your help and give you permission to guide my thoughts this day.  Balance my judgment with compassion; replace anger with a desire for peace, loneliness with the ability for friendship, and sadness with the desire to help. Let me walk with righteousness and be a living demonstration of your love, grace, and wisdom.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; pause for a few minutes in silence.

Measure progress by how far you’ve come—not how far you’ve got to go

We are human; our daily performance sometimes falls short of our expectations. We may revert back to our old ways, making choices and taking actions based self-driven will. When this occurs, we may compare our performance to where we believe we should be and become disappointed, thinking that we know better and should do better. Instead, let us measure progress by how far we’ve come from where we started and not how far we’ve got to go

 Consistently living up to our ideals is impossible in this life. Striving to live a spiritual life inherently means that our ideals will always advance faster than our performance. As we manage to improve in one area, we see a different perspective; our understanding expands; higher and more refined ideals appear. For example, wanting to be honest does not make us honest immediately but highlights episodes of dishonesty; as we continue to practice, our concept of honesty deepens; we see more areas of needed improvement. Living up to our higher standards always takes time, practice, and maintenance. This gap between ideals and performance is natural and absolutely essential; it is the space required for growth.

Prayer: Dear God, my loving spirit, you have helped me come so far from my past errors and provided the strength to overcome adversity. I make mistakes and sometimes fall short of the life I try to lead, but I know that your love, patience and grace are given because I am trying, not because I am already perfect. Ease my troubled mind and my soul; give me the power and guidance to move forward.  

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; pause for a few minutes in silence

The “Big I” causes most of our misery.

Infection from the “Big I” disease occurs when my thoughts, words, and actions focus on my desires and needs. My only concern for other people is how they affect what I want. It’s all about I, I, I, me, me, me. Media, marketing, and entertainment spearhead this self-deification, continually shouting “Do this” or “Buy this” to feel good or to influence what other people think of us. How well has it worked? Marriages are failing and families disintegrating; we turn to chemicals to feel good and still suffer extremely high rates of anxiety, stress, loneliness, and misery.

We cannot enjoy great relationships, happiness, and peace of mind when we’re infected with the Big “I”. We must move beyond this self-importance to something that actually works—an awareness of the importance of other people and of God. When you feel tense, irritated or angry, pause a moment and see if this is related to the “Big I.” Ask yourself, “Are my thoughts focused on how something or someone affects ME? Is this causing my discontent?”  Upon retiring tonight, review your day for the frequency and impact of these self-directed words, thoughts, and actions. In prayer, ask God to relieve you of the “Big I.”

Prayer: My inner spirit guide and strength, help me move beyond selfishness, self-centeredness and self-righteousness; make me aware when I succumb to these harmful traits and of their influence on my life; give me the vision to see the needs, desires, and lives of others. Grant me the divine wisdom to feel, act, and be a part of this great family of humanity; to be one of your many spiritual children.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; pause for a few minutes in silence

Our mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy.

Our mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy.

The power and influence of our mind has been long recognized. Over 2500 years ago, The Dhammapada noted: Hard it is to train the mind which goes where it likes and does as it wants; but a trained mind brings health and happiness.

Our mind generates thoughts that yield happiness, mediocrity or misery. The choice depends on how we use our mind—the way we think. Something happens; we react with an instantaneous thought or feeling. The thought-feeling generates more thoughts that focus on the problem; the feelings gain strength and become entrenched. We are in the cycle of misery. Our mind seems to have a mind of its own.  The self-directed mind cannot solve problems started and exacerbated by that very same mind.

Breaking this addictive mental cycle requires that we control our mind.  If all else fails, we can pause, access our inner spiritual power and ask for help to direct our mind; this practice start training this mental machine. This transforming influence, an actual additional energy, provides the power to break the shackles binding us to certain thoughts and to re-direct our thinking. The spirit-directed mind sees a different view, a more balanced and truer perspective and becomes our best friend.

Prayer: My loving divine source and indwelling spirit please quiet my mind and ease my emotions; elevate my thoughts to be conscious of and to reflect your will in my life; grant me a new perspective that I may see the truth; guide my mind to awareness of my blessings; make me aware of simple actions I may take that will shift my thoughts. Help my mind be a benefit instead of a liability, to bring me happiness instead of misery.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; pause for a few minutes in silence

There is no companionship with the immature.

If you find no one to support you on a spiritual path, walk alone. There is no companionship with the immature. The Dhammapada (5:61)

We may find times on this spiritual journey in which other people test our path. They may try to lessen or demean our value, ridicule our choices, tempt us to believe that the material life is all that matters, or offer conditional acceptance only if we align with their ideas, beliefs, or perceptions.  We might feel the loneliness of standing for our beliefs, but we cannot allow the immature to distract us or shake our commitment. We need not participate in the immaturity.

We are never really alone. We are children of the Divine Source and share this journey with many of our brothers and sisters. We may just need time and circumstances to find them. At these challenging times, we increase our quiet mediation, prayer, and reflection; we access our inner source of divine love, strength, and direction; we strive to live with love, wisdom, and power, a living demonstration to the less fortunate.

Prayer: My loving inner spirit, my guide, and my source of strength, help me to feel your presence, to stay aware of your love and compassion. Help me to see each person as a child of the divine and realize that as children, each of us may be immature at times. Grant me the grace to not participate in the immaturity and give me strength courage to persevere in face of loneliness.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

The good is often the enemy of the best; we can settle for mediocrity or strive for excellence

Settling for the good, or even the mediocre, has a definite ingrained appeal; indolence and procrastination are a part of the animalistic side of our human nature.  Choosing to do as little as possible gives us an easier life. But settling leads us to accepting mediocrity in relationships, careers, and all areas of our life. Fredrick Douglas said “As a general rule, where circumstances do most for men, there man ill do least for himself; and where man does least, he is least. His doing or not doing makes or unmakes him.”

Choosing to excel gives us a chance to enjoy the best life on the planet but also introduces potential pitfalls. We must exert a continuous effort, but not become a slave to struggle; we strive for the best, but try not to waste effort solving unimportant problems; we have to act, but avoid becoming a control fanatic—trying to make things happen our way, in our time and with the results we want. We grow to accept the inevitable mistakes, overcome adversity, and see disappointment as opportunity. We do not settle for mediocrity or complacency

Prayer: My supreme creator, parent and friend, guide me to realize that I only have this one life and have been given the power to choose how I will spend each day. Help me accept strenuous effort, challenges, and even adversity as opportunities to excel, as chances to become stronger, and as the opening to a better life. It is my will that your will be done.

 Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

Make a “to be” list in addition to a “to do” list.

We get so caught up in living the rat race that we forget to actually live. We develop patterns—the mental-emotional response habits—that continually produce stress, anxiety, worry, and fear. We rush about, cramming as much activity as possible into each day; then, we crash, take a mood-altering chemical to help us relax and feel better or to sleep; and then get up the next day and do the same thing. Day after day after day. Yes we must earn a living and take care of certain necessities. But the art of living—the method of achieving the highest quality life—includes being the best version of our self and not just simply filling the day with actions.

A “to be” list might help.  Perhaps today, make a commitment to be more tolerant, compassionate, loving, patient, cheerful, kind or gentle; perhaps just pick one or two values that are important to you. The “to be” list can also include specific actions that move us to fulfill the desired value. For example if we want to be more loving, we commit to a definite act that will demonstrate love this day—we can show one person how much we value him or her, that we are grateful they share our life; we can extend an act of kindness without expecting anything in return; we can offer a hug, a massage, or prepare a special meal.

Prayer:  My dear loving spiritual guide, companion, and inner power, melt the hurry in my mind and soul this day. Help me be aware of values in addition to things; help me look for opportunities to practice the principles that are important to me; strengthen my resolve to take an action that reflects my true values. It is my will that your will be done.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

There is no law that I must allow people to “push my buttons”

After all, they are MY buttons.

Do I give other people the power to make me angry? To make me feel guilty? To make me ashamed?  Do I react to what others say, how they look at me, or what I think they think about me? Do I silently accept what “they” say I should do; how I should live my life; what my goals, dreams, and aspirations should be? And then withdraw to complain or inwardly simmer because of whatthey” say, do, or think?

Every feeling, every beautiful or painful emotion I have is inside of me and no one else. No person has ever held my head and forced me to swallow a spoonful of anger or guilt or any misery. They simply offer each of them. I am responsible to accept or reject the offering; I am responsible for all my feelings and reactions. I can allow anyone to “push my buttons” or I can accept the truth that these are my buttons and no law or ethical code that requires I allow other people to control them.

Prayer: Dear God—the source of that infinite inner power that can transform my habits, patterns, actions, and thoughts—grant me control of my inner being; help me to not automatically accept the feelings offered to me by other people; guide me to be compassionate and loving but not allow anyone to dictate the way I feel or respond this day.

 Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

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