Tag Archives: Spiritual Journey

AWAKENING TO OUR AUTHENTICITY

“That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity.  So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.”  Meredith Monk

Merredith Monk's Dance

Photo by chncpa.org

I am sometimes shocked by the extent to which people will go in order to please others at the expense of destroying who they really are.  I watched an hour of the Academy Awards the other night and was absolutely shocked when I saw Kim Novak who was presenting an award.  I kept staring at her because I could not find one detail about her face that looked the way she used to look.  In addition, parts of her face looked frozen. 

kIM nOVAK The next day on Facebook, I saw a picture of Goldie Hawn and had the same reaction.  I stared for a long time and could see only hints of the face she used to have.  I’ve always thought of Goldie as being very genuine, more so than most Hollywood actresses, and I would never have dreamed she would do this to herself.

Aging Can Be Empowering

I understand the competition for roles in Hollywood is fierce, but the truth is that as I age I enjoy seeing actresses who have aged naturally.  I can relate to them more.  Judy Dench is a wonderful example.  She has wrinkles and gray hair, but this seems to work to her advantage because she is frequently cast in roles with depth that tap the wisdom of her years rather than focus on her appearance.  She has lived long enough to know how to go deeper, and I can always count on her performances to have substance.

Photo by wallpaperzoo.com

Photo by wallpaperzoo.com

Unfortunately, it isn’t just the entertainment industry that is obsessed with youth.  Most of the people who have plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes are women, but ten percent of the people in the United States who have plastic surgery are men.  We are so obsessed with appearance that many feel they need to look younger in order to succeed in their careers even when appearance has nothing to do with performance.

Changing Our Appearance to Gain Confidence Is Superficial

In researching this topic, I came across the story of a young woman who had plastic surgery to change her body shape to a sexier one and was delighted with the attention she received and how it enhanced her career opportunities.  All this positive attention from others made her more confident, but I wonder how long that confidence will last when she starts aging and drooping.  Will she simply turn to surgery again or will she realize it’s time to heal her insecurity.

Fear Is the Basis of All Insecurity

When we live authentically, we accept who we.  We accept our flat chests, large noses, big ears or gray hair.  We don’t let the external define us.  We want to change our appearance only if we feel we aren’t good enough or that we must please others in some way.  Hiding beneath those insecurities is the fear that we are inadequate or that we will be rejected, so the root of the problem is our fear, not our appearance.

When we allow these fears to persist, we may not say no when we need to, so we continue to live with dysfunctional relationships that only reinforce our fears.  We are more afraid of the unknown than we are of remaining miserable and hiding our true selves.  When we live in fear, we never know joy, for it comes from deep within and comes from a deep feeling of freedom, unfettered by concerns for what others think of us.  We never know peace because we are always looking around us to see if we have pleased another.

To Be Our True Selves, We Must Get In Touch With Our Core

Relying on anything external to define us is risky.  The core of our being lies deep within us, so that the only way to truly know ourselves is to “keep going down to the bone” where we will find the inner voice that will guide us through all life’s experiences.  We must be willing to let go of society’s expectations in order to discover what we want for our lives, and when it is different from what others want for us, we must have the courage to follow our inner guidance and let go of what will no longer serve us.

Authenticity Expresses What Is Unique About Us

One of the reasons I chose the quote by Meredith Monk is because I saw her perform in the 1970s.  It was clear from the moment her modern dance company began the performance that this would be unlike anything I had ever seen.  The dance was performed with the dancers singing, much like an opera.  She created a landscape of movement, sound, and lighting that was exceptional.  Clearly she expressed herself in an authentic way and she inspired me to do the same.

Meredith Monk

Photo by chncpa.org

What I produced wasn’t always so good; sometimes it was silly; sometimes it didn’t work.  But after seeing her work, I knew I had to experiment.  I had to have the courage to find out what I could do and that was a greater motivation than the fear of failing. It is difficult to have courage if our personas are not genuine.  In that case, our real selves are hidden beneath many layers that we must peel away.  As we let go of what is artificial about our lives, what is authentic will emerge.  As we face our fears and release them, knowing we are strong enough to survive whatever change occurs, what and who we no longer need will drop away, and our real selves will emerge.

Being Authentic Gives Us Freedom

This is why having a meditation or contemplative practice is so important.  These practices clear away the mental debris so that we can hear the inner voice that will guide us.  Until we become who we truly are, we may not even see the true gifts life has given us because they do not fit into the inauthentic life we created, but these may be gifts the world deeply needs.  Finding love and joy and the freedom to express ourselves is a gift, not only to ourselves, but to the other people as well, and we can only do that when we are authentic. © 2014 Georganne Spruce                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension (video), What Being Authentic Means…And What Gets in the Way, Becoming More Authentic: Accept Yourself and Stop Seeking Approval

AWAKENING TO COMPASSION

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them humanity can’t survive.” Dalai Lama 

Photo by superhua

Photo by superhua

Do you have compassion for those who are suffering in the world or only for the people you personally know?  Do you have compassion for yourself? 

Only Fear Separates Us From Others

We are living in a world deeply troubled by fear and separation, so how do we live with that day by day?  It is so easy to believe that our thoughts and actions have no consequence, but they do.

We are all energy—our actions, words, and thoughts are energy that we put out into the world.  If what we offer is loving and compassionate, that energy will help heal those who live in fear.  After all, fear is the only thing that separates us.

Differences Can Teach Us What We Need To Learn

I am very grateful that, in my life, I have lived in unique environments where I was always rather different from those who were born and raised there.  Because of this, I’ve learned to look beyond what is different in others to see what it is we have in common.  Even the differences have been valuable because they taught me new things about life and made me stretch and learn to adjust to a new environment.

I was fortunate to travel to West Africa on a Fulbright-Hays Travel Abroad Grant in the 1990s.  I was living in New Orleans, a place where the culture was deeply influenced by West African culture.  I saw the roots of its music, food, and the commonality of emphasis on family and community.

As for living in New Orleans itself, I learned to let go, have fun, and take life less seriously.  Those were lessons I needed to learn at that point in life.  The rest of my immediate family lived there, and it was a joy to be close to family after years of living far away.

During the time I lived in Nebraska, I learned that at a distance the landscape looked bare to a mountain-loving person like me, but in reality, there was a much more subtle beauty to that land.  You just had to pay more attention to see it.  The same was true of the people who tended to be not very emotionally expressive.

Photo by Wicker Paradise

Photo by Wicker Paradise

We Need To Look Beyond Political and Cultural Differences

I’ve also lived in New Mexico where the art and Native-American relationship to the land touched me deeply.  And I’ve lived in Washington, DC and its political climate.  But in each case, I learned something new that helped me understand that we are all different and yet all alike.  Our humanity binds us together despite the cultural or political differences, and it is our humanity that matters.

Compassion Heals Us

The Dalai Lama reminds us that we will not survive without love and compassion.  When we love our neighbor, we care about him or her.  We are concerned for his struggles.   The definition of compassion that I like the most is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”  So compassion is not just about our feelings, it is also about what we do.

When we express compassion, we help others to heal by sharing our love with them.  We can bridge gaps caused by religious or political differences by focusing on our human needs.  By expressing this aspect of our humanity, we are saying we are all One, and that is what matters the most.  Healing ourselves and our society can only happen when we put aside the fears that separate us.

Fear Separates Us

On the national and international level, it seems that all the focus is on what separates us, and at the source of that is one thing—fear.   A spiritual teacher of mine also mentioned in the 1980s that unless we learn to release our fears, we will destroy ourselves.  But she also said that 1986 was a turning point when 6% of the population reached an awareness level that would allow us to heal our lives and survive as a species.

As wars rage, especially in the Middle East, her words are haunting because the need to control others has taken over our ability to relate to those who are different.  We are only concerned with being the person or country that has power over others.  But in most of these wars, a group that has been oppressed is fighting for freedom, and in some instances what they are doing may be the only way a correction can be made at this time.

Loving elephants

We Must Release Our Fears

One of the reasons, I teach workshops on how to release your fear is that releasing our fears is the only way to free us from the confines of insecurity.  It is only when we feel insecure that we need to control others.  When we feel secure within ourselves, it is natural to love and feel compassion and we reach out to others who are in need.  When we express this positive energy, we begin to change our world, person by person.

We may not be able to stop the international wars, but we can stop the wars in our own lives by learning to let go of the fears that create problems.  Letting go of those fears helps free us to love ourselves and others, and when love is in our hearts, we do feel sympathy for others’ difficulties and will choose to reach out to help in any way we can.

By Practicing Compassion, We Become Peacemakers

In this world we have allowed power and fear to control life.  What if we chose love and compassion instead?  We could save not only our own lives, but the world as well.  We have to be the heroes in our own journeys.

Current Release Your Fear Workshops – click Here

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                    ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Small Acts of Compassion Can Save the World, Compassion Can Change the World, You can Change the World – ComPASSion Project (video) 

AWAKENING TO LOVE LIFE

“True, we love life, not because we are used to living, but because we are used to loving.  There is always some madness in love, but there is always some reason in madness.”  Petrarch

Valentine's flowers

Photo by Ralph Daily

 Do you love life?  Or do you find it a burden filled with negative experiences?  What do you do to create a life you can love?

There was a time in my life when nothing I planned seemed to work out.  Each project came to an end before it was completed.  Each relationship, which in the beginning held such promise, involved obstacles that we couldn’t surmount.  I often thought, “If I just had that one true love, life would be a joy.  It would be worth living.”

I think that this belief was connected to my mother’s unhappiness.  She and my father were opposites, and he was a rather emotionally withdraw person, but she was outgoing and easily showed her warmth and love.  But living with a man who couldn’t show his love in the way she needed him to wore her down.  She once commented that the reason my grandmother was so happy was because she had always had someone to love her.  My grandfather was always a very expressive, loving person.

Love Includes Respect

For years, I tried to find that perfect one.  Once I was married and at another time I was in a long distance relationship for eight years.  I really tried, but there was always some respect for me that was missing.  My ex-husband thought that my passion for modern dance was a childish interest that I would eventually grow tired of.  The other man wanted a relationship where he only had to spend ten percent of his time with me and could do whatever he wanted, regardless of how his choices affected me.

Trash Cans

Photo by Joel Bombardier

A Spiritual Journey Connects Us to the Divine

Fortunately, as various aspects of my physical life fell apart or refused to materialize, I gave some attention to my spiritual journey.  Some of the things I learned as I explored this divine connection helped me see that I did not need to stay attached to the negative feelings created when things didn’t work out the way I planned.  I began to sense that I could feel happy about life even when its events didn’t please me.

Positive Energy Helps Us Manifest What We Want

Perhaps pursuing a career in dance was sheer madness, but dancing fed my life with constant joy, just as writing or walking in the forest does now.  I began to understand that what I had planned didn’t work out because, sometimes, something better was around the corner.  When I decided to complete my memoir and publish it, I had reached the point in my journey where I knew how to use positive energy to manifest what I wanted.

To Be Loved, We Must Love Life

What I had learned over those years was that if I wanted love in my life, I had to love life.  I had to always find a moment, a thought, an experience, or a friendship that was uplifting and I had to embrace it with gratitude.  Even when things didn’t work out, I could at least feel good that I had the courage to try.  I learned how to turn the negative into a learning experience.  Instead of seeing myself as a failure, I chose to applaud myself for the attempt.

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Photo by coolal2111

Loving life is a decision we make.  It is easy when we have all we need, are well-loved, and are doing what we love to do.  My own life is so much easier now than it used to be.  With some retirement money, I can afford to write, and with a loving partner, it is so much easier to feel and express love in the world, but long before either of these things happened, I had awakened to loving life.  It was only after I truly learned to love life that my perfect partner appeared, drawn to me by what I wrote in my memoir and blog.

Loving Life Draws More Love to Us

When we learn to love life every day and be grateful for the good in it, we will draw more love to us.  So how do we do this?  Learning to meditate will teach us to be in the moment and to go deeper into our emotions to discover what lies at our core and the cause of any fears that are limiting us.  Learning to release our psychological fears will free our minds of the blocks the fear creates and allow truly helpful information to come true.

We Love More Easily When We Are Balanced

We also need to learn techniques that balance our energy, such as chakra balancing, Reiki, or Emotional Freedom Technique.  These techniques also help heal the body as well as the mind, for true balance includes both.  Balancing our energy brings us to a more centered place emotionally so that we can more easily see our wisest choices.

Knowing how to work with our bodies and minds empowers us, and feeling more empowered makes it easier for us to love ourselves.  In order to love our lives, we must love ourselves, and thinking positively about the chances we take.  Seeing value even in our failures reminds us we are basically worthwhile and good.  To love life, we must believe in ourselves.

We Must Love Ourselves In Order To Truly Love Others and Life

No matter how many people love us, if we don’t love ourselves, we are lost.  Loving ourselves is the most powerful aspect of life.  My mother didn’t love herself; she thought that was selfish.  She thought she had value only if she helped others.  I rebelled against that because I saw how unhappy she was.  At first, my rebellion was very selfish, but as time went by and I discovered that loving and taking care of myself made me a more confident person, I also began to understand how to give to others from a place of love, not obligation.

Loving the sheer wonder of life and reveling in our spiritual connection to it makes life truly worth living.  It connects us with All That Is.  Please comment.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                           ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Relationships-True Love and the Transcendence of Duality (Eckhart Tolle), Loving Awareness: Jack Kornfield and Eckhart Tolle, Accepting Who Your Are and Learning to Love Being Alone Are Essential to A Happy Life, Learning to Love When Life gets Hard

AWAKENING TO TRUST LIFE

“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.”  Paulo Coelho

Father Tossing Daughter

Photo by Mike Baird

 How patient are you when things don’t go your way?  Are you often disappointed about life or do you find some pleasure in each day?

Lately, it seems that dealing with the mundane in life has become unnecessarily difficult and somewhat bizarre.  I spent an hour or more trying to discover why my phone would do nothing but “search” when it had worked fine the day before and the battery was charged.  Finally I unplugged the battery to read the numbers on it, thinking that maybe I needed a new one, and when I reconnected it, it worked just fine.

Then there was a problem with the water filter.  In order to have filtered water like reverse osmosis, I stack one water filtration dispenser on top of another so that the water from the top dispenser will drip through the second filter.  In the last month, the top dispenser has toppled onto the floor twice when a friend of mine walked into the kitchen.  At 6 foot 3 inches, he’s a big guy and his steps create a vibration, but he’s been walking into my kitchen frequently for months.  Why is this happening now?  The second time it happened, the filter shattered.

Lessons May Come From Negative Experiences

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”  Each moment of each day offers us the opportunity to learn.  I’ve learned from experience that when a series of events, mundane or serious, occur I need to pay attention.  I need to calm down, go with the flow, and take time to trust that the Universe is trying to tell me something.

In addition to going inside for spiritual guidance, I also look at astrology or numerology to see if any messages resonate.  My number for this month is a 36/9 and part of the message is that any losses or endings will free me for the new cycle I am about to enter and that any losses I encounter are only those things I do not need.

Not Being Centered Creates Unnecessary Difficulty

When the phone incident occurred, I was already frustrated about a series of troublesome phone calls with my insurance company, and I wasn’t in a positive frame of mind.  I was so disappointed that another problem had arisen that I lacked the patience to solve the problem easily by doing the most obvious thing, checking the battery connection.  Instead, I assumed it was more complicated.

Remaining Positive Requires Courage

Paolo Coelho reminds us to have courage and not be disappointed when we encounter difficulties.  We have to trust that there is value in these life experiences.  When the negative experiences are more serious matters, the challenge to have courage is so much greater.  My challenges are nothing compared to the challenge my friend who has cancer faces.  She is nearing the end but insists on trying not to take drugs to “numb out.”  That’s real courage!

Years ago when I had chronic fatigue syndrome, I had to change my life style in order to heal naturally.  Having to go to bed early and be very strict about what I ate irritated friends and others close to me.  The medical profession had not yet accepted this diagnosis as a real one and many people just thought I was being dramatic about my needs.  Losing friends and not being respected made my life more difficult.  It took courage for me to remain devoted to what I knew was best for me.

Loss May Lead Us To Something Better

In the case of the cracked filter, I was surprised by what happened, but I wasn’t too upset.  Maybe the incident was telling me it was time to install a water filter in my water system.  As it turned out, the friend whose vibration caused the filter to crash had an extra filter that can be easily installed in my house.

Father on Beach

Photo by Lonny Paul

Learning “not to be disappointed by what we encounter” when we experience mundane disappointments prepares us to face the really difficult moments.  Staying calm and going with the flow gives us the patience “to wait for the right moment.”  We often see this in a relationship when we need to discuss a touchy subject with a partner or a manager at work.  If we take the time to consider when and what to say and release our anger or frustration first, we are more likely to communicate in a way so that the other person will hear us.

To Trust Life, We Must Trust Ourselves

We can trust life when we learn to trust ourselves.  We create our lives with our thoughts, emotions, and actions, and the more we learn about managing them in a spiritual and loving way, the more likely we are to create positive experiences.  In addition to the patience and courage, Coelho suggests, developing a practice of gratitude helps to shift us away from expecting the worst of a situation we don’t like.

Focusing on Gratitude Is A Positive Practice

Gratitude reminds us of all the good in our lives.  Even when it’s hard to see the good, it is important to hunt for it and look for a lesson in each experience.  My experience with the phone reminded me that I need to focus on the simplicity of life and assume the solution to a problem is simple unless it truly does become more complex.  I am thankful for that reminder.

The experience with the water filter offered a better alternative to my “slippery slope” solution and reminded me that when one thing stops working, it is often because there is something better in the future.  When we are grateful for the good we have and truly believe that basically life is good, despite the challenges, we are more likely to find our spiritual path filled with light.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:    Trust Yourself and How You Can Get Better at It, Trust Quiz – Do You Trust Yourself Enough?, Why You Do Not Trust Yourself, How to Develop a Deep Trust in Life

AWAKENING TO A PURE MIND

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.  When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”  Buddha

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How do you feel about the New Year?  Do you feel anxious or at peace?  What creates this feeling that you have?  If you don’t like it, what do you do to change it?

After two days of below freezing temperatures and some snow that intensified the light coming into my dining room to the point of almost blinding me, I’m reveling in the easy blend of light and shadow coming through the trees into the room where I work.  It is soft and balanced.

Begin the Year With Gratitude

I am beginning this year with much gratitude.  I do not live where the worst of the winter storms are occurring although our temperatures have been the lowest since the 1800s.  I have a warm house, plenty of food, and love.  I am blessed.

I am also grateful for the time I was able to spend with my brother and his family, especially the time with my grand nieces and grand nephew, three of who are two years old, and one who is four.  There were also three dogs in attendance on Christmas.  It was wild and lovely.  Just being with them was a joy.  Their excitement was contagious.

How we Think Changes Our Vibration

But after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, a profound quiet and a bit of depression enveloped me.  It was time to rebalance and contemplate my plans for the New Year.  During the holidays, the joy I felt was created primarily by external circumstances, but now, living hundreds of miles from the rest of my family, I have had to return to my own resources.  The joy I felt has slipped away.

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As I thought about what I needed to do in the New Year, especially with my writing, I first saw all the things I had hoped to accomplish last year and didn’t.  Well, what was done, was done.  I reminded myself that I could only change the future, not the past.  On the other hand, the new relationship in my life has been a great joy and given me the kind of companionship I haven’t had for years.  As I began to focus on the good things in my life, I began to feel my vibration rise.

As my vibration rose, a joy began to well up inside.  I was following my greatest passion by writing and just thinking about continuing to do that brought me joy.  When I began to clean up my lists of things to do and develop a plan for this year, I let go of the self-judgment that had depressed me and I began to feel more peaceful.

What We Think Affects How We Feel

And that is how it works.  What we think determines how we feel.  As the Buddha points out, joy comes from a pure heart.  So how do we create a pure heart?  I know that meditation has always helped or writing in my journal, exploring the meaning behind the events or ideas moving through my life.  Doing this regularly clears the emotional and mental clutter that distracts me from a natural peace and joy.

Still, life is full of challenges.  Before the holidays, I had signed up for a prescription drug plan. This week I talked to them about covering two custom compounded drugs I take.  After two and a half hours of talking with several people who were unable to grasp that one drug consists of a combination of two drugs, they sent a fax to my doctor for approval with the drugs inaccurately named and spelled.  I had spelled slowly the names of the drugs several times for two people, but they did not record them accurately.  This experience tested my patience to the limit.  It seemed ridiculous.  I kept taking a lot of deep breaths, reminding myself that getting upset would not help the situation.

At the end of the day, the problem with the insurance company was still not resolved, but at least I had been able to constantly adjust my mind and center myself throughout the experience.  I was able to move on to other things and relax that evening knowing that I did all I could do.

Return to Your Spiritual Center for Guidance

Many of our challenges appear because we are living in a time of great change.  The political and economic structures we have depended upon are changing.  Remaining flexible and centered is the most effective way of dealing with change.  Oneness tells us that when our lives seem to “veer off course” and we feel we are “without a compass,” “All that remains, are the clues that begin to emerge from within” (p. 110).

In order to recognize those clues, we must return to our spiritual center and listen to our inner guidance where all answers reside.  We must clear the mind of judgment and resistance and reside in peace.  As we continue this journey, the way will not always be clear or kind, but it can lead us to a better place.  How we experience each event is largely our choice, and when things happen that we don’t like, it is our choice how much we invest in positive or negative thinking about them.

Developing a pure heart by changing our thinking will always take us to a better place where joy becomes a part of who we are.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                        ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  The Pure Mind, How to Create Joy for Today: 7 Tips for a Happy Life, Eckhart Tolle: Embodying Stillness – A Guided Meditation

AWAKENING TO NEW BEGINNINGS

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

T. S. Eliot

Photo: Charles Davidson

Photo: Charles Davidson

Are you pleased with the direction your life took in 2013? Do you have any regrets about last year or any hopes for change for the New Year?  Will this year be a new beginning in some way?

A peace always falls over me at the beginning of a new year.  It’s like stepping through a portal that will provide me with new experiences and broaden my awareness.  I know that each year I grow—sometimes from positive experiences and sometimes from negative ones. If I haven’t been pleased with the year, I can choose to let go of my displeasure and reorganize and rethink my life so that in this New Year I will be more of the person I want to be.

Much of what I experienced in 2013 was good.  I did book signings, workshops, and sold books.  I made new friends.  I went on many wonderful hikes.  Most important of all, I began a deeply meaningful relationship that I never expected would happen at this time in my life.

But that was last year, and I wonder what voice will emerge from within me and through my writing for this year.  I’ve already started putting together a book of poetry, and within my own poems are many voices.  I have changed.

There is the voice of isolation that speaks through my poems about winter in Nebraska years ago.  There is voice of new found strength and recovery from a previously failed relationship.  There is the joy and exhilaration of connecting with nature and the flight of birds, and the mystical, spiritual experiences of deeply relating with others.

Although many voices may appear in my writing, they all emerge from my core, and the journey continues.  Last year was last year with its surprises and lessons.  It has ended, but now there is a new year and I have to reflect on what I want it to be.

I don’t make resolutions, but I do reflect on some of the things I hope will be a part of next year.  I begin to create some plans to make those desires manifest.  I envision what succeeding to get what I desire will feel like, and I begin to feel those goals will be reached even when I have no idea of the mechanics that will make them happen.

So I begin to create a year of new beginnings, always with joy at the center, and the ability to accept whatever the New Year brings.  I tingle with excitement over what may be possible as I continue to dance this dance of life.  And above all, I commit to choreographing a New Year filled with love, peace, and joy.

May this be a joyful year for you all!

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                             ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

AWAKENING TO AN ADVENTUROUS LIFE

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

English: A group of drummers in Accra, Ghana, ...

English: A group of drummers in Accra, Ghana, wearing dashiki shirts and knitted kufi caps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you often try out new activities or ideas?  Or do you feel the most content when things remain the same?  Have you ever learned anything important from doing something new?

Unlike many people who have one vocation, marriage, or passion in life, I’ve always been interested in many things.  During the time I was a dancer, I was also a teacher, receptionist, employment counselor, and lawyer’s assistant, doing whatever I needed to do to pay the rent.  Of course, teaching has been my primary profession, but I taught English, dance, drama, and exceptional children.

Curiosity Can Motivate Exploration

After being somewhat of a recluse as a child because of illnesses, as an adult I was always hungry for new experiences.  After I started to really explore life, I couldn’t stop.  Each experience created a curiosity that motivated me to try something else that was new.  At times, I was fearful, but I chose not to let that stop me.  As a result, I have had a full and rich life.

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When we open our minds, many new opportunities present themselves.  We can expand our lives simply by being present in these situations.  Do we take the time to listen when someone expresses an idea with which we disagree?  It’s possible that understanding that person’s beliefs may expand our thinking so that we are better able to understand people who don’t share our beliefs.

Release Fear of Differences

Many of us are afraid of people who are different from us.  This cultural disconnect creates many problems that don’t need to exist.  If we could put aside our fear of what is different and embrace what is similar among us, we could create bridges instead of wars.

Experiencing Other Cultures Expands Our Understanding

In 1994, I was privileged to travel and study in West Africa.  It was one of the richest experiences of my life because, for a time, I was immersed in a culture very different from the one where I grew up.  It touched me deeply because I saw that it was possible to live a life where art and spirituality were integrated into daily life and where family was of supreme importance.  I also saw the ways that stereotypes disregarded the depth and beauty of the people whose lives were rich in ways many westerners’ lives were not.

On the daily level, the trip also taught me to appreciate the regularity with which my phone worked, hot water always flowed from the faucet, and a prescription was filled from a pharmacy whenever I needed it.  These were not sure things in Africa.  But most of all, the trip taught me not to accept others’ concepts of people or ideas without doing my own research.

 New Experiences Can Deepen Our Spiritual Lives

New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian

New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because I lived in New Orleans when I traveled to Africa, learning about the historical origins of the city helped me value aspects of the culture I had not appreciated before, such as the origins of Voodoo as a religion, the call and response aspect of Mardi Gras Indian music, and the source of many New Orleans dishes.

My way of dealing with life changed after this trip.  I explored my spiritual beliefs more deeply and worked to integrate them into my daily life, believing that this would be a path to greater wholeness, and it was.

Adventures Broaden Our Understanding

When we see life as an adventure, we welcome what is unknown or unfamiliar.  Adventure is about going where we have never gone before.  (Yes, I was a “Star Trek” fan.)  I loved where I grew up in the hills of Arkansas, but when we moved to Tulsa, I learned about the Cherokee’s Trail of Tears and the plight of Native Americans elsewhere.  When we moved to Memphis in the early 1960s, I experienced the civil rights movement. In every place I lived, I learned and grew in significant ways because each place was different.

The Inner Journey Is As Important As the Outer Journey

When I hear people say they’re bored, I’m always puzzled.  There are so many things we can do to make life interesting if we are willing to make the effort.  Are we willing to take on this responsibility?  There are books to read, movies to see, and conversations to initiate.  And in this culture, we often think we have to do something all the time.  Perhaps we need to learn that just being may be the most interesting thing we can do.

It is not just the outer adventure that can excite us, but the inner one as well.  What led me to a point where I felt my life and spirituality were integrated and I felt whole was a spiritual journey where I explored several spiritual practices and stayed open to see whatever showed up as a possible teacher.  The journey inward has been as rich and expansive as the outer one.

Adventures Expand Our Human Awareness

Adventures are what we make them.  To one person, eating Indian food may be an adventure.  To another, living in India is an adventure.  But what they all have in common is our willingness to try something new, to open a door that wasn’t open before, and peek in or step into a new experience.  Even if it isn’t a particularly pleasant experience, we learn something we didn’t know before and that expands our lives because that’s why we’re here—to learn all we can about being human.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Re-awakening Joy, Trying New Things, 7 Benefits of Being Open-Minded

AWAKENING TO THE JOURNEY THAT IS

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be.”  Douglas Adams

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Is your life the life you envisioned ten or twenty years ago?  How have your dreams and ambitions changed?  Are you at peace with the life you have now?

I had a lovely evening of conversation with good friends the other night.  All three of them had academic careers in colleges and universities and could share stories of this time with each other.  There was a time when I had aspired to such a life and had taken a position in the middle of Nebraska thinking that would give me the experience I would need to move on.

Dealing With Life Can Be Challenging

Very quickly, the cold in Nebraska caused on-going joint pain that made it impossible for me to stay.  I moved to Denver where there were more opportunities and I found part-time work at several studios and colleges.  However, the full-time position I desired never developed.  For years, this was a source of disappointment and grief.  Why was I not good enough?

In talking later with one of my friends about that night’s conversation, he complimented me on how courageous I was to continue following my dream to teach dance even when I lacked the security of a stable position.  As I thought back on those years, I never thought I was courageous.  I just did what I had to do to keep teaching dance because I loved it so much.  I followed the journey where it took me, and I’ve never been sorry I did.

Life’s Surprises May Open New Opportunities

When life doesn’t take us where we want to go, we can see it as our failure or blame it on others, or we can assume that what we thought we should be doing isn’t what we should be doing if we look at the situation from another perspective.  Life’s unpleasant surprises may actually open us to opportunities that will benefit us more than the ones we chose.

A Spiritual Perspective Comes From the Heart

When we see our journey through life from a spiritual perspective, how we need to live may be quite different from what we imagined.  After a difficult time teaching in New Mexico high schools, unable to find the next job, I turned again to writing, and soon it became clear that was what I was supposed to be doing.  Eventually this path led to publishing my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness and fulfillment of my dream to be a writer and to inspire others to use the challenging experiences of their lives to learn and grow.

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Clearly, in this life, my heart has taken me in a direction different from the one my head wants me to follow.  Perhaps the lesson I most needed to learn was not how to have the security of a stable job, but to learn to have courage and follow my heart.  What if all the things that have happened that seemed negative were only lessons that had to be learned to arrive at a better place?

So often in this society, we have been taught that the things we have or the position we have defines our level of success.  We focus on the outer and feel we are failures if we don’t have those things, but our humanity is not measured by things.  It is measured by our ability to love, share, and find a deep and peaceful connection within that makes us aware that we are all One.

We Can Find Joy Being In The Moment

This morning, about ten turkeys nibbled across my lawn—some adults and some the youngsters that were born in the spring.  I was thrilled to see them again, and I realized how little it takes to make me happy now.  I am in the moment more, connected to the nature around me, and on most days I take the time to listen to the birds or notice a new flower blooming.  The simplest thing brings me joy.

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When I think about the past, I remember so many times when nothing made me happy, when I resisted changes I didn’t want and judged myself and others constantly with my perfectionist-programmed mind.  Although dancing taught me the beauty of being in the moment, it took me much longer to discover the value of being in the moment in my daily life and going with the flow of life.

If my life had been the perfect life I envisioned, would I have learned what I most needed to learn?  Who knows?  But what I know is that I’ve learned about courage and perseverance and this journey taught me to trust the flow of life.  Earlier, I could never have imagined feeling the peace and confidence I feel now.  I am grateful for whatever it took to bring me to this place, for I have found so much of what I need by following my journey’s circuitous route.

Follow The Journey Wherever It Leads

We are living in a time when we must be creative to survive.  As any artist, composer or choreographer knows, you may begin the art work with a specific idea of how it will look or sound, but when you begin creating it, it will have a mind of its own and may easily lead you down a different path.  Our lives are like that.  We may follow our intentions, but our entire universe is changing.  Holding on to the way things were will not serve us well.  We must trust that the journey will lead us where we need to go.

What are the surprises you have experienced in your journey lately?  Please comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                               ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Accepting Life’s Challenges with Gratitude, 5 Ways to Masterfully Navigate Life’s Challenges, Wayne Dyer/How God Tells You It’s Time for a Change

AWAKENING TO SHARE HAPPINESS

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared.”  Buddha

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How often are you happy?  Do you feel you have any control over your moods?  What do you do to lift your mood when you are down?”

We Are Drawn To Happy People

Yesterday was a happy day for me.  A close friend who was traveling all summer returned, and we took a walk through the botanical gardens where the Black-Eyed Susans were overly abundant and the Joe Pye Weed towered beautifully above us.  As we began our walk, a man who works there approached us and began sharing stories about the effect of the intense rain on nature, why the butterflies were late, and how happy he was that they finally appeared.

English: Joe Pye Weed

English: Joe Pye Weed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve talked with this man before and learned fascinating details about the plants, but what always strikes me about him is how happy and enthusiastic he is about his work.  His energy lifts me, and I feel happy to know that someone is taking such good care of this beautiful garden that I love so much.  Clearly he is following his passion.

Recently, I talked with another man, Charles Davidson, who is following his passion to create a website, Life Turnings, about spirituality and the healing arts. His excitement about the people he can reach, the conversations the blog will stimulate, and the opportunity to increase awareness on a variety of issues is contagious.  I was impressed with what he hopes to accomplish, so when he asked me to write for the site, I agreed.  My first piece, a blog I had written previously for this site, is featured on the home page under a beautiful picture of Fuchsias.  I hope you will visit Life Turnings.

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Photo: Charles Davidson

Our Positive Or Negative Energy Affects Others

When we encounter people who are happy, their energy is expansive and uplifts us if we are open to sharing their experience.  Although we think of being empathetic when someone is unhappy so that we can understand and offer them support, we are also empathetic when we share another person’s happiness and support their positive experiences too.  As we connect with their light, our light expands.

Have you ever rushed up to a friend or family member with what you considered wonderful news only to have them put you down with their negative response?  Their negative energy depletes your energy even if you don’t think their comment is valid.  When this pattern is repeated over and over in a family where approval is so important, it may over time teach a child that it is not acceptable to express happiness.  Sadly, I once knew a person who had been taught that no strong emotion, even happiness, should ever be expressed.

Positive Attitudes Create More Positive Energy

If another’s expression of negative energy can diminish our energetic vibration, then the expression of positive energy can increase it. But how can we create more positive energy?  Self-awareness is the key.  What makes us feel good?  What thoughts, friends, activities, or food bring us joy and are good for us?  We have to pay attention to our reactions to situations and ask, “How can I best respond to this situation or solve this problem so there is a positive outcome for all concerned?”  We must learn to be the light in the difficult situations that confront us.

We must be willing to learn and grow.  In our society, we are much too quick to choose what appears to be the easy way out of difficulties.  This often leads to addiction because we’d rather pop a pill than find the root of the problem which could cause us even more pain—except the pill won’t help us find a solution.  We must be willing to learn practices, read books, and take workshops that will help us become more aware of how to face life feeling confident that we can deal in a healthy way with our challenges and maintain a connection to happiness.

Release the Fear That Blocks Us

Negative feelings are always based on fear, and we can learn to direct our minds to release the fear we feel about a situation.  When we let go of the fear, it is easier to see real solutions to the problem and follow our inner guidance.  Fear often causes us to assume problems can’t be solved so we give up.  Assuming they can be solved usually motivates us to search more diligently for a solution.

Seeing the Positive Uplifts Us

We can also choose to focus on what is positive and consciously look for positive ideas and events that will lift the vibration of our energy.  For example, we have had excessive rain where I live, and the dark, dreary days can easily drag me down.  On rainy days, I look out at my deck where the flowers are blooming profusely, and I’m grateful I’ve hardly had to water them at all this summer.  I’ve enjoyed their beauty at no expense.  The grass in my yard, which was sparse for many years, is now lush and green.  When I hike in the mountains, I’m surrounded by abundant shade and more wild flowers than I’ve seen in years.  I can focus on enjoying the beauty created by the rain or I can make myself and others miserable over the weather, an element I cannot control.

By taking responsibility for creating happiness in our lives and sharing it with others, we contribute to the well-being of all those around.  Our positive energy can draw to us those with a similar energy and expand the happiness we experience.  It can also help heal those who are struggling with life.  How often has a smile brightened your day?  You can be the candle that lights the world.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                  ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

What makes you happy today?  Please comment.

Related Articles:  Higher Vibrations in 10 Minutes (Abraham/Hicks video), What is Energy: 8 ways to Find Your Happiness, Health and Happiness

AWAKENING TO THE JOURNEY OF ONENESS

“The process of awakening is not one in which a definitive threshold is crossed and one is then enlightened, transformed, or ascended.  Spiritual growth is not focused on a destination, but rather, on the journey itself.”  Oneness, Rasha

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Do you feel you are enlightened?  Do you believe that your spiritual journey is on-going or that there is a goal you hope to reach?  How do you stay connected to your spiritual self?

I’m the sort of person who keeps lists and enjoys checking items off when I complete them.  It reinforces my sense that I have accomplished something.  I often wish that my spiritual journey were that neat – that there were various levels at which I could clearly see what I’ve accomplished.  But it just isn’t like that.

Remain Open to New Experiences

Enjoying the on-going journey of life requires us to remain flexible and open to new ideas and new experiences.  The reality is that even driving across country following a plan and a map we may have to make adjustments and take detours.  A rock slide, sink hole or flooded river may force us to find another route – to try to drive through this disaster would be insane.  So why do we think that our lives and spiritual journeys must follow a neat, unchanging pattern?

Many Practices Can Awaken Us To Oneness

If the journey is on-going, and by virtue of being a journey, it requires movement, how do we manage that?  Oneness states, “Know that the truth you seek is within you.”  Some find that connection through meditation, prayer, chanting, experiencing nature, or any number of spiritual practices.  All these practices can lead us inward to our own center where we are One with Oneness or Spirit.

Separation Is An Illusion

Of course, we never are separate from Spirit.  That separation is an illusion created by our egos when fear intrudes, and for the moment or for months we may lose our sense of connection unless we have a daily practice that keeps us tuned to the inner frequency.  But when we do lose that connection, finding it again is part of the journey too, and it is especially challenging in our busy world.

Looking down from the Blue Ridge Parkway near ...

Looking down from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Craggy Gardens. Photo taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 in Yancey County, North Carolina, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway, near my home, requires travelers to be flexible, especially this year with the torrential rains we’ve had.  Areas are often closed due to rock slides or portions of the mountain sliding onto the roadway.  There are often detours – the straight path is just not always available.   So, we have to travel alternative routes and eventually we are able to get back on the Parkway.  In the meantime, we see towns and landscapes we’ve never seen before.  We may find that those routes will lead us to other places we would like to go that we were not aware of before we took the detour.

A Spiritual Journey Leads Us Deeper

Our journey is like that too.  We have to be willing to embrace change when it appears in our lives.  If I were to draw a diagram of my journey, it would resemble a series of spirals intertwined.  I explored the mind/body connection through dance, meditation, how to release my fear, Unity and Science of Mind principles, and I’ve always been close to nature.  After exploring one area, practicing it, and finding the value in it, I would reach a point where there was still a longing for more or a question that could not be answered.

There were also moments of depression.  I would think, “I’m practicing the principles.  Why aren’t they working?”  But with time those principles became a part of me, contributing to my wholeness, becoming another piece in the puzzle.  There were many experiences of losing jobs, loved ones, and security.  Each experience forced me explore my core and go inward once again to the places where I knew I needed to do my deepest healing.  And when it seemed nothing could alleviate the sadness or disappointment, I would once again have to let go of my expectations and be willing to let go of what was not serving me and face the unknown.

Oneness Is Always At Our Core

But at our cores, Oneness is always there whether we are aware of it or not.  Because of that, we can always return to it.  We have to let go of our busy routines, our anger, our hurt—any resistance that keeps us from just being, because it is only when we are just being that we can truly find Oneness and heal ourselves in that silence and love.  These moments are the rest stops on the journey that renew us.  They are the moments when we are finally still enough to hear the guidance that has been trying to get through to us so that we know what path would be most beneficial.

Life is a process just like Nature.  The seasons change; each brings a different experience, and each experience brings us a new opportunity to learn, to explore, and to journey where we have never been before.  Where we are now is merely one experience of the journey, and there are many more to come that will bring us a broader and deeper understanding of our spiritual lives.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                          ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  How We Can Grow Through Spirit, Edgar Cayce and Oneness, Oneness by Rasha