Caring: Without Clutching, Comparing or Competing

Like most of us I can be really good in some circumstances and with some people. But there are times when I know that I allow common hour thinking to initiate reactions that are not even close to my best choice. I find myself fretting or stressing over/about something/someone. And I am heading off course while steadfastly ignoring the fact that I am screwing up. This tends to muck up my own energy and obscure what would actually be best for me.

So, I’ve set a goal for myself to use this present time to clear out both physical and emotional clutter, and I’ve come to the following C’s.

Caring without Clutching, Comparing, or Competing. All of which sounds pretty cool and very Zen.

And very hard to do in this world that teaches us to value primarily how we compare to others; how well we amass and keep stuff forever; and how our behavior, work, car, practice is always better or worse than others and so on.

When, in fact, the only measurement of importance is the wholeness I find inside. Whether one calls it Spirit, self-fulfillment, heart or purpose, if I am not always looking to live from and as Peace within – my without is seriously compromised.

We are all individualized centers of God-consciousness and spiritual power, as complete as we know ourselves to be, and we know ourselves only as we comprehend our relationship to the whole.
— Ernest Holmes, How to Change Your Life 123.3

From Gay Hendricks’ THE BIG LEAP: …. When I was growing up my next-door neighbor shared a powerful bit of wisdom with me …. On Judgment Day, Mr. Lewin said, God will not ask ‘Why were you not Moses? ‘ He will ask ’Why were you not Sam Lewin?” I replace the ‘god judging day’ with a more immediate personal presence and practice. The questions I ask myself regularly:

To start a new day – How can I be my best self today?
Evening contemplation: When was I my best self today? When was I not?

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde

“Know Thyself.” — Dead Greek personage. Or Polonius. Or Hallmark.

“Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the self-reliance of every one of its members.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

And finally, a bit of advice I keep posted where I see it regularly. Because change is hard, and learning to live in a more present, aware state of being is quite the challenge.

Success is not final,
Failure is not fatal,
It is the courage to continue that counts.
— Winston S. Churchill

So taking this time when we have been plucked from our “old normal” into a strange and unsettling time, I’m working to find and release those old rules of comparison, competition, clutching and replace them with a sense of self that springs from Spiritual Peace and personal choice.

Staying awake to inner Truth as well as the best practices needed here and now, we will all emerge different and better when we come back together.

–Peace, Mariann

Star-Stuff R Us

The Milky Way over Monument Valley Image Credit & Copyright: Tom Masterson From Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)

In a 1973 publication, The Cosmic Connection, Carl Sagan wrote, Our Sun is a second- or third-generation star. All of the rocky and metallic material we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star-stuff.

He wasn’t the first to say it. That honor probably goes to a Greensboro, North Carolina newspaper columnist, Ellen Frizell Wyckoff in 1913, though she wasn’t quite brazen enough to claim that special status for humanity, only for the earth, when she wrote, The spectroscope analyzes the light if you please, and shows what it is made of. What was the surprise of the tireless searchers when they found common earth metals burning in the mighty sun!

There was once a little girl who cried out with joy when she realized for one little moment that the earth is truly a heavenly body, and that no matter what is happening to us we are really living right up among the stars. The sun is made of “star stuff, and the earth is made of the same material, put together with a difference.” Astronomer Albert Durrant Watson in 1918 said in his address to the Royal Astronomical Society, It is true that a first thoughtful glimpse of the immeasurable universe is liable rather to discourage us with a sense of our own insignificance. But astronomy is wholesome even in this, and helps to clear the way to a realization that as our bodies are an integral part of the great physical universe, so through them are manifested laws and forces that take rank with the highest manifestation of Cosmic Being.

Thus we come to see that if our bodies are made of star-stuff— and there is nothing else, says the spectroscope, to make them of — the loftier qualities of our being are just as necessarily constituents of that universal substance out of which are made

“Whatever gods there be.”

We are made of universal and divine ingredients, and the study of the stars will not let us escape a wholesome and final knowledge of the fact. (Thanks to Quote Investigator for compiling all these quotes in one place.)

And so what? This image from Brian Andreas at Flying Edna reads, You are made of the same stardust as all creation. Why would you believe that something so marvelous as that can’t be trusted to know how to live?

So much fear and doubt surrounds us and our world right now, the sudden shift in what can be known with certainty and depended on, and the lack of predictability in … well… life. Still, when we remember who and what we are, infinite expressions of life walking around in our physical bodies, there is something deep within us that cannot be damaged, hurt, or ruined, not matter what chaos seems to surround us.

We are stardust. How do you grab hold of that certainty and own it for yourself? How do you remind yourself when you forget? (Hint: daily spiritual practice helps.) Find your center. Get busy shining the stardust that you already are. The world needs your presence. Now…

–Rev Janis

Living as a Center of God Consciousness

No one can find God for us; each individual must do this for himself.
We cannot find God outside the self because we cannot go outside the self.
There is no place we begin and God leaves off.
We can only find God within ourselves. (Ernest Holmes, Living Science of Mind  111.1)

Once again, I refocus to reset myself as a center in the consciousness of God. It requires lots of work, stillness, and a willingness and desire to give up the idea that I live separate from God.

But wishing, hoping or longing will not bring about this self-discovery.
There must be a persistent and painstaking attempt to separate everything from us
that does not belong to The Spiritual Man.” (Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind  111.5)

I have just recently finished digging deeply into our home study book, Into the Magic Shop by James Doty, M.D. It has provided me with some very valuable reminders and practices for connecting with the God of my understanding.

Since I am facilitating one of the home study groups on this book, I have taken the opportunity these past few weeks to really delve into, and begin to embody more of Ruth’s magic tricks, such as being more still, meditating more regularly, concentrating on breathing relaxation, and creating a personal mantra. (All of the previous have been difficult for me.)

I am happy to say that I am already experiencing more peace, and feel more certain that I am part of the One. I noticed that even the simple practice of totally relaxing the body caused an identifiable drop in my blood pressure! As a result, I feel more love, compassion and understanding of myself, and others. We are not separate beings, and I am beginning to deeply get that!

Instead of beating myself up because I am slow to learn this, I continue to become more
accepting of my own process of knowing my own well being, joy, clarity and confidence — the jewel-like properties of clear consciousness. Every time I open beyond the contracted and fearful states of mind I can still get into on occasion, I can come back to wholeness more easily.

This level of spiritual practice is a revolutionary process of investigation and discovery for me that will remain ongoing for a very long time. Repeated challenges bring me opportunities for new openings to a better life, if I am willing to work toward the center of my being, which is love. And, as Rev. Janis says “It does take intentional work!”

I think I will “Let go and let God”, and let God live through, and as, me.
–Namaste, Janie Hooper

Distractions, Diversions & Detours

It’s all good: the morning is quiet – fountain pen in hand – journal notebook open to the next blank page — but wait — where am I? Or more accurately, where is my attention? Enter the THREE D’s that delay any form of personal meditation: Distractions, Diversions & Detours. We each have our preferred member of the dastardly trio.

Distraction – the woodpecker pounding his beak on the metal pole in the backyard

Diversion – remembering any of the 112 things one has to do today or sometime

Detour – I need to put ‘that’ up before I can sit/write/be at peace

“One of the recurring concerns among people I teach or counsel spiritually is their discomfort with being alone. Yet, it is my experience that when we can contentedly be alone without distraction, we can get a clear sense of our place in the scheme of things and we can expect confidence and self-esteem to increase. Dr. Edward Viljoen (CSL’s newly elected Spiritual Leader) in The Power of Meditation 154.2-155.1

Yes, one must practice until one begins to succeed, but how can I practice what I don’t seem able to do for even a really short time?

Truth in essaying. I’ve been journaling in the morning (as many of you already know) for almost three years. And still the Three D’s all too often take me away from focus and presence. The good part is that now I catch myself more frequently and actually try with the recommended gentleness to bring my self back. When gentleness doesn’t work, I have been known to think some of the language I learned outside of parochial school.

Whatever works.

And that is what counts, because getting myself back to the actual act of taking time to be present with my self brings a deepening understanding of who I am – why I am that way – and blessed pointers on what needs to change so I learn to choose to claim more of who I want to be.

So, time to remember the good stuff:

“The one Mind is working in and through us now, not as big or little, or hard or easy, but merely as spontaneous self-expression. Back of our smallest act is the strength of the universe. Behind all our thoughts is the Infinite Thinker. Diffused through every human activity is the Divine Presence.”  Ernest Holmes in 365 Science of Mind 218 .1

Every sit, thought or step we do helps to strengthen our ability to gain easier access to that Infinite Thinker and gives us a clearer path to understanding the Good of it All.

And, that is what I really want for my self and for each of you. To learn to recognize, choose and claim more of what is our best expression of self.

–Peace and happy journeying, Mariann

Welcoming a Change in Perspective

What I so appreciate about the Science of Mind is the surprising resolution to situations that occur in my life when I apply the principal that “All is happening for my good and the good of all involved.” When I stop looking at my life through the eyes of a victim, I find peace and love replacing fear and anxiety.

I write about this and it sounds easy to me but, recently, I have been clenching my teeth a lot and feeling the weight of the world as I have been dealing with a family member’s drinking plus familiar tax season stress.

I looked forward to writing this article as a means to reframe my recent experience. I regularly read 365 Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes. The daily meditations are lovely and bring me into a space of gratitude, regardless of any outside events. I often share them with my husband over the phone or across the table. My daily writing includes a listing of 5 things for which I am grateful. I also write a spiritual mind treatment daily. Often during the step of Unification, I sense the Divine expressing life through me, grokking It as living in me, as me and for me. The following Realization step states my daily intentions, often to complete pending tax returns and to return phone calls. So that I don’t lock myself into my controlling view of what needs to happen today, I often declare my intention as the more generic, “I joyfully accomplish today’s work with ease”. Putting it on a sticky-note by my computer reminds me to take a breath and reconnect.

Additional ways I stay connected:

  •  Exchange a daily intention with my prayer partner.
  •  Employ the services of Shelley Dunn, our licensed practitioner, to write a spiritual mind treatment for me. I have a lovely, handwritten treatment that I read regularly. $200 well spent on a discovery session resulting in a treatment tailored to my concerns.
  •  Mastermind group with Pat Masters and other Prosperity Plus III participants. Similar to the Power of 8 groups CSLT hosted, we meet to share and ask for fellow members to hold an intention for us until our next meeting. To hold an intention for another means, to me, that I read it daily, sending out my good thoughts, feelings and energy to the stated goals.

My regular practices help me feel good. It is important that I practice them with mindfulness. Otherwise, my practice can become just one more task in my busy day. I do this because I sometimes think my normal is about 15% below baseline. Dealing with the effects of my trauma-filled childhood is a daily process, and requires intention and attention.

The way I have re-framed the two opportunities is this –

Scheduled meetings with two people about expanding my business, bringing in more help. This would happen either as employees or perhaps a partnership.

An encounter with the police and my family member last week led to an eye-opening realization that this is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with now through Intensive Outpatient treatment and daily attendance at 12-step meetings. Both are happening.

With gratitude I realize that Science of Mind deals in actualities, not just simple, nebulous, affirmations chanted to myself in the mirror, although that sometimes works too. After writing this, I am more at peace, truly understanding, just for now, that all happens for my good.

— Marya Wheeler

… If You Knew You Could Not Fail

Like everybody else who takes a turn at writing for the newsletter, sometimes I find myself at a serious loss for ideas. After last week’s newsletter went ‘live’, I looked to see who would be writing the lead article, and was a bit dismayed that it was my turn. So I started looking for patterns in my life, seeking something that might form that thread of continuity that would be useful to explore and write about.

Mentally, I’ve been all over the map this week. This morning, I read a bbc.com article about a life hack ostensibly to help with divided attention aptly called GYLIO (get your life in order). What made this of potential use to me was not the implication that I was going to stop everything and reorganize my life completely before I attempted anything (like the name implies), but simply that I could start taking a few well-defined steps to get a handle on what needs doing, and then just start somewhere. Anywhere. I realized I generally, mostly, do this fairly well. That was a relief, and that relief made space for progress to occur.

My car got sideswiped last Monday while I was driving on 22nd Street. No one was hurt, and both of us drove away from the accident site. The damage to my car is impressive looking, crumpled metal usually is, and the damage appears to be primarily cosmetic. The dude who hit me was very apologetic and took total responsibility for the accident. His insurance covers the repairs, and the loaner car. It has been sorting itself out in the most amazing manner. When I got to the rental car place, I asked for a small car for the duration of the repair. What they had, and offered me, was a Nissan Frontier, which feels like it is the size of my townhouse, and drives like a big truck.

I noticed pretty quickly how readily I adapted to driving a relatively large truck. I haven’t driven a large vehicle in a very long time. It has a turn radius of a tank, and I feel like I can see the road construction all the way to Phoenix! Yet it didn’t take long before it felt familiar, almost like it had become second nature. That got me thinking about how we move in our consciousness in the direction of our dreams.

The Foundations class is entering the 5th week now, and the students are getting serious about writing affirmative prayers that work. Part of what makes prayers work is the writer has to get into the mindset that this idea represented by the affirmative prayer is conceivable and plausible, they can imagine it could actually happen and become manifest (technical term for ‘show up’ or ‘become experience-able’) in the physical world. When we act as though something has become true, the universe conspires to support us in that experience.

It doesn’t matter whether what we are claiming is positive or negative. We claim the event or experience and the Divine Mind (in which we live, move and have our being) says “Yes, my Beloved”. There are times we wish it said, “Really? Are you sure? Is that your final answer?” But that’s not Its nature. It says, “Yes”. We choose. It delivers. Again, and again, and again.

So I apply this to the question I began with today. “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” The Universe, with all its legions of helpers (seen and unseen), is standing by… awaiting your clear instruction. (And mine.)

— Rev Janis Farmer

Be Still My Amygdala

We all know the common response types: flight or fight – or the less mentioned one “freezing like a deer in headlights”.

We all respond these ways based on instructions from the oldest part of our brain i.e. the Amygdala*. It is so old, it is still living in caves with fear of mastodons or of anything unknown and therefore potentially deadly. For a while in the long, long ago there were good reasons for that response pattern.

But today the percentage of time we need that “shoot or run” decision is pretty small. Yet, there it sits at the back of the brain calling the shots way too often.

And the bossy, bully Amygdala is pretty much frightened of its own shadow. Does it look different? Does it smell different? Does it sound different, etc.? … then it doesn’t want any of it, which means you don’t want any of it.

So how does that happen, we are literate, experienced people with a decent storehouse of knowledge and mental capacity. Yet this ancient residual part of our brain can quickly and quite efficiently take over how we behave in new circumstances. Before we actually know it, we’ve made a decision, called our choice and behaved as if we still had to worry about mastodons.

There is, of course, a way to circumvent the Amygdala — one need only to stop and breathe, and consider what is actually meaningful to someone living in the year 2020 and not 0020.

This stopping and breathing takes – you saw this coming – consistent persistent practice in the art of being still.

Quieting the noise our various internal voices create, especially when they get all incited by Amygdala and are rushing around to save us from the threat of something new, goes by many names and takes many forms in practice. Meditation is the one we know best, primarily because the people we know and respect keep telling us we ought to try it until we find a form that works for us.

There are literally dozens of ways to quiet our chaos. True sitting in the lotus position and counting breaths – I rarely can stay with this. One can walk with awareness, one can (as I do) journal from within, thousands of guided meditations, music to center by, and on and on. Brene’ Brown, an author both Rev. Janis and I read a lot, has written that she meditates on the treadmill. For real.

The objective is not to meet any one else’s definition of proper practice but to find something that quiets your mind.

Because taming your own mind goes a long way toward controlling the Amygdala, which means being present in the here and now, and spending less time freaking out about mastodons.

Life is filled with all sorts of amazing things, none of us need the threat of long extinct creatures, or even old habits that are familiar, but not the way we want to be now. So be still my Amygdala, and hello to Presence.

–Peace and stillness to you and yours, Mariann

*a•myg•da•la /əˈmiɡdələ/ noun: a roughly almond-shaped mass of gray matter inside each cerebral hemisphere, involved with the experiencing of emotions.

Consider Yourself Invited!

Nearly every year since (at least) 2008, CSLT’ers have chosen to gather together for a Friday evening and part of a Saturday to decide what our collective focus will be for the next 12-36 months. The results of previous envisioning weekends can be viewed on our newly improved website under “About” and then under “Organizational Documents”, as well as Board minutes for the past three years and Annual Reports (since 2009).

Together we decide what we have done well, what we could do better, and what we want to let go of. We also decide what we have will and stamina to bring into our world, and how we want to polish our collective light in Tucson and beyond. Everyone is welcome to bring their vision for CSLT forward, and attend as much or as little of this idea-planting activity as they have time and interest. We’ll build on the community visioning that occurred on Sunday, January 12. The collected notes from that visioning are presented below this document in this newsletter.

Our focus has shifted over time from very grand ideas (from 2008) like operating a K-12 New Thought school in Tucson and a self-contained ministerial program into more modest, readily-attainable goals. Our “What We Would Love” list from last year’s envisioning included:

  • Increased visibility in Tucson (Our new education center is much more visible, accessible & available)
  • Well-funded, well-attended & well-known (Our Sunday attendance has begun to grow again, and we have had the most (economically) positive year in well over a decade, not to mention the sale of the raw land on 22nd St, the purchase of the new education center and the establishment of the Opportunity Fund (which is to be used for sustainable marketing, among other long-term goals).
  • Expanded number of groups (Multiple book study groups, Men’s group, P+III group, Sacred Cinema, Lunch Bunch, Music Appreciation Group…)
  • Prosperity Fair, community bulletin board (yep, and the Annual Meeting Raffle of beautiful donated art objects, proceeds used in purchasing our new sign)
  • Vibrant Youth Program (Teachers gathered, trained & vetted, and first youth program initiated)
  • Communal expression of talents & treasures (Multiple teachers with multiple educational offerings, awesome music, recreation of the Winter Solstice ritual to a social event, drum circle…)
  • Have a home space/kitchen (‘home’ space, yep; kitchen, not exactly)
  • Location where people can drop in and use the lending library (yep)
  • Sharing our Services (Binder available on Information Table, not well utilized)
  • Increased Visibility for Service Teams (Recognized in ‘Gratitudes’ and Invitations to join)

We continue to move forward in “Telling Our Story”, populating our YouTube channel, and creating a gallery of photographs on our newly optimized website. The blog, populated by articles written by our leadership, and others, continues to gain readership. Our newsletter readership continues to grow, as does our Facebook presence.

What wants to be done by each, and all, of us in the next year or so?

How do you wish to participate in sharing of our divine expression and our expansion throughout more of Tucson, and beyond? Come join the conversation Friday night 6-9pm and/or Saturday 10a-4pm.

–Your CSLT Board of Trustees

What Do You Want in the New Year?

We have all heard a lot about the law of attraction and manifesting our dreams. It’s almost a mainstream idea these days. The Science of Mind philosophy has a very definite interpretation of this practice.

You may have tried to put some of the common principles and techniques into practice, and might have experienced some frustration and confusion about how to manifest the things you want to experience in your life. One of the most common frustrations I experience, when it comes to manifesting my dreams, is not being clear about exactly what I really want. That question requires some deep searching, and looking again, when I don’t have the experience I expect.

You probably have heard how important it is to focus your attention and intention on what you desire. Many people have trouble staying with one idea and end up sending themselves, and the Universe, mixed messages. Often, people believe they are engaged in asking for what they want, but they are actually complaining instead. For instance, “I want more money, because I am tired of being broke” or “I am going to find the person of my dreams as soon as I shed a few pounds”. Focusing on feeling broke, feeling overweight or not feeling loved or appreciated will not help you achieve your desires. Each of these complaints sets up crossed signals, making it very challenging to manifest what you really want to experience.

Noticing consciously that you may be mixing your messages is the first step in achieving your true desires. The Wednesday night classes coming up in January that Rev Janis will facilitate on the four basic spiritual practices of the Science of Mind may help you understand, and improve your use of, these spiritual practices.

In the meantime, identify one decision you can make in relation to this awareness and take action. Then pay attention to how your decision shows up in your life. When the ‘answer’ appears, and doesn’t look like what you thought you meant, take another look and reconsider any adjustment you might need to make to get clearer in your signaling.

Remember, the shortest way to a happy life is found through conscious choice, which every one of us has access to each and every moment of our lives.

–May the New Year Bless Us All,
Janie Hooper

Crumbs or Cake?

I’m not sure what specifically ‘made me notice this particular hidden belief, but it resurfaces for me now and then. Every time I think I’ve made progress, then l discover another deeper layer wanting to be seen and addressed. In any case, it’s in my face again.

My mother was always settling for, making do with whatever life gave her, not imagining anything better or different, and it annoyed me immensely that this was the way things were. Some of the memories were challenging like hand-me-down clothes, wearing shoes that were a little bit too small, and sharing orders of toast when we would (rarely) eat breakfast out. Some memories are sweet, like the Christmas she sewed a pleated skirt and little blouse for my virtually hairless, much beloved doll, and made a boudoir chair (with cushion) to match the outfit out of a cylindrical oatmeal box. That’s just the way it was back then, when there was very little extra and you made what you had work for you, at least in our neighborhood.

There’s an old foreign film called Babette’s Feast‘. (In my mind, it is much older than 1987, but that’s what wikipedia says.) A French refugee spends her entire fortune to purchase ingredients, and prepares an amazing seven-course meal for some townspeople not used to ‘fancy food’. The elderly villagers who were recipients of the meal decided it was sinful to appreciate the food, and so they agree to eat it and say nothing. One guest, from out-of-town, raved about the meal. After the meal is done, they ask her when she is going back to Paris, and she says there’s no money left and she’s not leaving. Sigh.

My particular variation of this hidden belief is not particularly economic. I do always have what I need to do what is important to me. Partly because I recognize the law of circulation operates — when I generously give, I generously receive. It happens automatically. I don’t give to receive. I just give. Also, part of it is that I’m not particularly high-maintenance, except for books, and fabric. The spot where I get caught, and I feel like I’m operating from lack, is in collaboration/support. By way of explanation, my primary love language, as described in the Five Love Languages  is acts of service. I feel especially valued, seen, heard, and appreciated when people do things they say they will, or show up when they say they will. If I’m not managing my own internal resources, and not noticing when I have given control of my experience of well-being away to someone else’s action or inaction, I can feel unloved when people are not congruent. Most of the time, I’m pretty OK with the way life works because I generally pay attention to my own self-management.

[If you haven’t taken the free test at Five Love Languages, I highly recommend it.  If you are in relationship with someone, especially if you feel like you are sometimes not on the same wavelength, I suggest you ask them to take it too, and share your results with each other. It is eye opening to realize how you give and receive love and appreciation. If there is an absence of alignment in love languages in the partnership, there are suggestions of things you can do to strengthen the relationship.]

Almost as quickly as I recognize this old (irritating) story, name it, and release it, an email pops up from someone insisting they will take care of a necessary task. Then someone else chimes in too, to handle another choreIt almost doesn’t matter to me whether I accept the offers of help, simply that the offers have been made, and were genuine. Then a third person shows up. Now, I feel almost inundated by helpful people.

So, my awareness once again reminds me that I can see my life as crumbs, where I feel like I’m making do and settling for less than what I desire, or I can see my life as a beautiful slice of cake with a perfect cup of fragrant coffee, completely aligned with my needs and wants. As usual, it’s up to me, and how I choose to see my world. Is this a familiar story for you,too?  How do you handle it?

—Rev Janis Farmer

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