Guard The Gate

All thought is creative and how I choose to think creates my own personal experience.

With all that is happening around us, it is especially important to be in charge of our thoughts. We are thinking all the time and we are creating all the time. So knowing this, we need to be vigilant about what we are allowing into our minds.

There are times when balancing being informed about what we need to know vs. how it is being presented can be challenging. We need to be watchful and not allow anything that has “hateful” or “negative conclusions” into our minds. This can be difficult when we find ourselves agreeing with a point of view or thinking someone or some group deserves it. In order to filter these thoughts, I created my “guard at the gate” of my mind, not letting these thoughts and judgments in.

Sometimes the thoughts can be presented in a seemingly innocuous way. How many love songs are about heartbreak vs. happy endings? Right? Think of the plethora of television shows based on dysfunctional lives or movies with conniving and despicable characters. What messages are we letting in?

It helps to remind ourselves that there is a better way to think when we are being bombarded with difficult news. We can tell ourselves that, more often than not, positive outcomes happen, even if we can’t see it right then. Think of a time in your life when you thought that something was the worst thing that could happen. Looking back on it, what was the longer-term result?

We know that if we take charge of our minds, we take charge of our lives. No one else can do this for us. Recently I spoke with two friends. One records every Sunday morning news program with multiple opinions about the current events. As we know, these tend to be contentious and not positive. Every program is then watched. Same stuff over and over again. The second person just finished watching the entire Dick Van Dyke series. Who do you think is happier today?

We know that it can be challenging when you are in a conversation and someone says something negative, judgmental or even cruel. What do you do? Arguing, as a rule, does not help. Instead, we reply can be “Interesting” or “You don’t say” or some other innocuous comment that is essentially meaningless. And then if possible, stepping away from the conversation and returning to thoughts that have more value.

The guard at the gate of our minds has a full time job. It is constant awareness of what is being allowed into our minds. We can find ourselves exhausted and wondering why, if we are not vigilant about it.

The greatest power available to us as individuals is the power of our own minds, the power of our own thoughts. In the creation of a personal life worth living, the action— the essential action — must be mental. Remember, all thought is creative, even goofy thought. — J. Kennedy Shultz in You Are the Power


–Susan Seid

The Long Haul

There’s so much I want to say, so I’ll see if I can get the words to come out in any sensible order. Perhaps I should have entitled this post, The Heavy Lift. Both titles would apply equally. I’ll start with Dr Ernest Holmes, from The Science of Mind 51.1. “One of the great difficulties in this new order of thought is that we are likely to indulge in too much theory and too little practice. As a matter of fact, we only know as much as we can prove by actual demonstration.”

It is too easy to look at the abundance of upset and disarray that surround us in the world of form right now and look for someone to be at fault, or at least someone we can blame, or for us to feel guilty, ashamed or embarrassed by something we, or people like us, have done in the past. Pointing fingers, damning, discrediting or demeaning someone, and looking for some statue to tear down, or somebody to fire or send to jail, doesn’t get to the root of the apparent issue, or lead to any sort of solution with lasting effect. Those actions do create a brief feeling of satisfaction; we did something and made some noise. Yay, us. These are not short-term blips that we can put a splint on (like a broken finger) so they can heal ‘enough’ and we can get back to business as usual. At least I hope they’re not.

The Stage Is Set
The Bighorn Fire (18+ days, started by lightning, 65,500+ acres burned (as of June 23 @ 3:51am), remarkably only 4 minor heat-related injuries). The Incident Management Teams (and the 900+ firefighters that have been involved in the response so far) have masterfully handled the Bighorn fire. The smoke that hangs over much of southeast Arizona like a shroud, and the fires that light up the night (in a bad way), leave us all a little on edge and more than a little uneasy. This just adds to the general malaise and discomfort.

Covid-19. Our experience of the physical world has changed drastically in the last 3 months. Who would have guessed, besides some dystopian science (fiction) writers, that a novel virus would send all of us to our rooms for an indeterminate period of time? And that the very human desire to gather together, for companionship and comfort is the most dangerous thing we can do for the protection of our most vulnerable members of our society. And the feebleness of our food supply, and our health care system. And, and, and (I could go on)…

Political divisiveness, extremism (on all sides) and groundless ‘haterade’. I’m just going to leave this right here.

The Main Event
I’ve been listening to E.O. Wilson’s audiobook, The Meaning of Human Existence. He writes about the strong tribal need for belonging, and the primitive/primal need to have an other, so that we have some made-up reason to band together, separate ourselves and protect our group. He goes on to say that we create enemies to make ourselves feel stronger, and safer, as long as we are in the ‘in crowd’. The idea of us-versus-them is embedded in human consciousness, and of primary importance in default thinking, or the collective unconscious, or race tendency. A bias toward or against any particular ethnicity is not implied by that unfortunate word choice. These phrases represent a way to describe thoughts and beliefs that are commonly held by many/most people. They do not include only ‘bad’ thoughts or beliefs; they include all shared thoughts and beliefs. If we don’t intentionally choose a thought or belief, we choose default thinking, by default.

Remember Jane Elliott’s blue eyes-brown eyes exercise with her third grade class in 1968? (read more @ janeelliott.com) She wanted her students to see the embedded irrationality of people with one eye color being superior to people of another eye color. The kids bought into it hook, line and sinker. When they were the favored ones, they treated the other children badly. When they fell out of favor (for no apparent reason), the felt crushed by what seemed like the entire weight of the world on their backs, and the opposite group repeated the pattern of assumed superiority. There’s something very primitive about being favored and on top. It wasn’t until later, when they were discussing the exercise that they could begin to see that they had done anything irrational. On one level, it seems that tribalism is an innate human condition.

In Cynthia James’ ‘Conversations of the Heart’ call last Friday night that I spoke about last Sunday, one of the participants rather dejectedly asked, “Why would the people in power give up their superior position?” None of us had a good answer to her question. Why would they?

E.O. Wilson also wrote about the differences that had been observed by scientists in studying animal behavior between success of individuals within groups and the success of groups as wholes. Within a group, selfish individuals tend to do better than the remainder of the group, but between groups the groups with more altruistic individuals tend to do better than groups with lots of selfish individuals. This doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who thinks about human dynamics either.

In game theory, there is a strategy called tit-for-tat. Essentially, if a player is provoked, they retaliate. If they are not provoked, they cooperate. In long-term games, those who cooperate have greater success. Earlier this month, I read a report (theconversation.com/nondiscrimination-against-lgbt-individuals-isnt-just-the-law-it- helps-organizations-succeed-140810) that gives me hope that altruistic (nondiscriminatory) behaviors can be seen as benefitting individuals as well as the whole.

The Goal, and One Possible Route
Futurist Buckminster Fuller wrote, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Some of us are just becoming aware of how biased existing systems have been, and are looking for new models that value everyone’s contribution, while dismantling the old systems one interaction at a time. It’s a slow process, an uncovering of old stories that are so old, and so buried, we don’t even know they are there.

We are starting down a path that could lead to a new world, one that works for everyone. We won’t succeed using the same rules and playing the same game. We won’t get there by discarding what presently exists, and disenfranchising participants in the process. We need a new model that makes the old model obsolete.

In the next three months, CSLT will be exploring this new territory. We start with a guest speaker on Sunday July 5th, Dr Karmen Smith speaking about how “Love Changes America”. I hope you’ll plan to attend our zoom service that Sunday. She is a powerful speaker.

Then we’ll move through a series of three quick book studies in July (David Richo’s Triggers (How We Can Stop Reacting and Start Healing)), August (Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility, which is about the importance of relationship and connection, and how our small separate, calculating, selves inhibit our progress and get in our way) and September (Barbara Marx Hubbard’s Emergence, The Shift from Ego to Essence (10 steps to the Universal Human)). [The book links will lead you to Amazon. However, if you log in to smile.amazon.com and choose “Center for Spiritual Living Location: Tucson, AZ”, our Center will receive donations, which will be greatly appreciated]

The path of the Universal Human may be a new model that moves us in the direction we long for and desire.

Ernest Holmes wrote in 365 Science of Mind 186.1, “We are made perfect when we enter into the communion of love with one another and with the invisible essence of Life. Love is the fulfillment of the Law, that is, we do not make the highest use of the Law unless that use is motivated by Love, by a sincere desire to express unity, harmony, and peace.”

Join me in envisioning and embodying this new world, the world that works for everyone.

–Rev Janis

C-O-V-I-D

For me, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an urgent message to every human. I believe this virus’ message is that “We are ALL in this together” — in life, in how we get sick, how we heal, and in how we live together and look after ourselves, and one another. No one has been totally excluded from impact by this virus, either from one of the many ways the virus expresses, or not being able to get medical care for other ailments, or an increased sense of isolation, fear and separation, or an elevated sense of general or specific worry and anxiousness, or simply disturbed sleep interrupted by difficult dreams, or any number of other manifestations.

This virus became very, very real to me when the doctors thought my beloved daughter, who is recovering from Valley Fever and therefore immuno-compromised, might have gotten it. She exhibited many worrisome symptoms. Thankfully, her test came back negative.

While I was walking in a very lush, beautiful neighborhood last week by myself, I couldn’t help but notice the sounds of all the different birds, look at the Palo Verde trees in bloom, cactus flowering, hummingbirds, rabbits, quail and even a red bird I didn’t recognize! The connection of all of this hit me right between the eyes; ALL of it, every single bit of it, is interconnected.

Couldn’t this same principle include every sentient being? Food for thought for me, for sure. I am reminded of the 12 steps in Karen Armstrong’s book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life and am looking forward to taking the class with Keith again when it starts in early June.

1. Learn about compassion for all
2. Look at your own world
3. Compassion for yourself
4. Empathy
5. Mindfulness
6. Action
7. Know how little we know
8. How should we speak to one another?
9. Concern for everybody
10. Knowledge
11. Recognition
12. Love your enemies

If I only manage to apply some of these principles into most of my interactions, I become part of a positive solution and balm to myself, and others. I reduce the fear and panic my small self wants to focus on. Yes, I know we are looking at a very different ‘new normal’. This refocusing of my thought and attention helps me so much to look for the positive that has come about in my own life, and the lives of those I love and people I know.

While I was walking outside in nature, and observing its orderly beauty, the word COVID became redefined to me:
C- Compassionate
O – Opening
V – Vector
I – Into
D – Divine Order
assuring me that ALL is in divine order.


–Namaste, Janie

What Do I Do Today?

Greetings from social isolation and socially distanced San Manuel!

I have found this “down time” to be far less troubling and disconcerting than a lot of people. One of the blessings of being an introvert and apparently able to entertain myself with a variety of activities not found on my “to do” list. That list is still way too long and uninviting. I’m also retired and not facing any of the myriad problems many people are. Truly, a blessing too large to measure.

What I have been doing is continuing to write every morning and expanding my daily reading of CSL teachings. The time to sit and be still — as still as is possible for me — is a gift of amazing grace and joy.

“All the ideas of infinite Mind are being offered to me now. These nourish and sustain me; I accept and assimilate them. They are inspiration to my mind. They are wisdom in handling my emotions. They are beauty and peace to my soul. Joyously, I accept the good which God is distributing in my life.”
— Ernest Holmes and Raymond Charles Barker, 365 Days of Richer Living 103.2


One of the ideas I’ve been thinking about is the question of enough. Not all the hoarding memes that have blasted through social media, but the basic enough of contentment and ease. When does all my activity and needing to juggle a calendar reflect not the good times of retirement, but more my inability to simply be and to listen.


“The Intelligence within me is constantly guiding me. Clearly I see the right thing for me to do; I know the right thing for me to say in every circumstance. This Intelligence within me deals with every situation harmoniously. I find life thrilling, stimulating.”
— Ernest Holmes, 365 Science of Mind 138.3


Except that, of course, being well-practiced in and habituated to doing and distraction, I don’t find practicing this beautiful listening in stillness all that easy. When I do allow it, it is an experience of beauty and joy and such an inner peace that one could crave it. Yet that is as aspect of wanting more. That really isn’t the way either. Working hard for it, striving toward it essentially hides it elsewhere.


“Without effort or strain, and in a relaxed receptivity, let us know that the Law of Mind acts upon our word. Not asking how or why, but with simple acceptance and complete belief, let us permit this good to be established in our experience.”
— Ernest Holmes, 365 Science of Mind 76.2

“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, 365 Science of Mind 218.1

And that is my goal during this time — “Be Still and Know” – Psalm 46.10.

Wishing you and yours a safe and peaceful journey through this time.


–Peace, Mariann

To Mask, or Not to Mask

I went to town to do some scanning and returning of final exams from the Foundations Class that finished this week. (Yes, the class ‘Foundations of the Science of Mind’ still has a final exam, and everybody who took it passed with flying colors.) We’ve been meeting online, on Zoom, for about a month; it’s worked fairly well. Those of you who have taken Foundations remember that sweet feeling of camaraderie and community that arises when you spend weeks and weeks sharing with other people, and you discover we’re all pretty much the same. We have similar sorts of worries, struggles, doubts and fears, so we can relate to each other, and feel strong family-like connections with this unique and special subset of humanity. The students were sad the class was ending because they’ve gotten so close with each other over these many weeks.

While I was in town, I figured I’d stop at the Trader Joe’s closest to the office to pick up some supplies I’d run out of, and some fresh daffodils. Trader Joe’s instituted the wait-outside-the-store-line earlier than most of the other retail spaces in town, and so I wasn’t surprised to see a line. I was a little surprised to see such a long line. The TJ’s crewmember who had been tasked with managing the line was in conversation with an older fellow who was belligerently not wanting to stand exactly on the blue line which demarcated the 6-ft distance between prospective customers. Eventually the older man complied, because (I’m guessing here) he decided he wanted access to the store more than he wanted to argue with ‘the kid’. So we stood there a while, not too terribly long. Being my mother’s daughter (We used to tease her, saying that she could have a delightful conversation with a fencepost), I attempted to strike up a conversation with the fellow behind me in line. His face, what I could see of it behind his mask, was dour. I said something innocuous and bright, like how nice it was to be standing in the shade on this warm, sunny day. His reply, ‘Why are we doing this?’, left me nearly speechless and I responded with, ‘There are so many answers to that question running through my mind.’

Last week, I was again standing in a line, waiting to go into JoAnn’s. I needed thread to finish some projects. Many of the people who were in line were buying supplies to make masks for friends, family members or to give away to medical or care facilities. The camaraderie of this line was quite different from the one at TJ’s. Even though we were primarily standing in the sun, the mostly older crowd was quite chatty, sharing bits and pieces of their lives. The workers who came out of the store to talk with line-standers-like-me were answering questions about the availability of elastic, bias tape, Velcro and interfacing. Eventually, after about 80 minutes, I got my turn in the store, picked up my half dozen spools of thread and was out again double-quick, freeing up the space for the mask-makers in line/behind me to gain access. While this was a much longer and slower moving line, it was much more enjoyable.

During one of the daily spiritual practices last week, I read a paragraph from Ernest Holmes’ 365 Science of Mind (p.116) that was impactful to several individuals on the video-call. It read, ‘Our lives and experiences may well be likened to a river. If we stand on the bank of a river and watch it flow by, we become aware that the river never changes, but that its content is always new. By analogy, we might say the purposeful dynamic quality of life within us never changes, but the content of our experience of living never remains the same.’

‘The purposeful dynamic quality of life’, our point of view in how we see ourselves, the Divine, and others, is completely under our control. Our Essence, as the Foundations students learned, is Divine. We are made of, and for, Life, Love, Light, Peace, Poise, Power, Joy…. Whether we choose to remember that, and act from that place of wholeness, and holiness, is entirely up to us. The content of our experiences, how we engage with individuals, big ideas, situations or circumstances will vary moment-to-moment. Each one of us is always at choice how we see ourselves, our situations and others, and how we respond to, and engage with, life.

–Rev Janis

Living in “Interesting Times”

There’s an old Chinese curse about living in interesting times. It’s pretty clear that we are. Fear bubbles just below the surface for a lot of people. Those who have lost loved ones, who no longer have a stable source of income, or who are afraid and cut off from the comfort of being with other human beings are suffering. May each of us remember to use this opportunity as a wake up call to our shared humanity, our shared vulnerability, and to nourish our compassion and strengthen our communities.

Personally, it has presented me with the opportunity to go inward more deeply every day (thanks to the tricks I learned in Into the Magic Shop), which fold in so beautifully with our Science of Mind principles and techniques, allowing me to access a deeper awareness of Oneness. Life and Wholeness. I also have been watching Deepak Chopra’s morning talks on Instagram, which help me remember how to stay sane in an out of balance world. These have helped me stay grounded and centered.

So, what can we do?

Turn off the television newsfeed, and just ‘be’. News doesn’t change that fast. Listen to the birds sing. Enjoy the sun and the fresh air. Go for walks and appreciate the beauty of nature. Find things to be grateful for and really enjoy them. Do affirmative prayer and meditate. Read our Center’s (and other Centers’) materials. Attend our Zoom services, or services of other Centers and churches that feed and uplift us spiritually. Expand our spiritual practices. Know that, as they say in AA, “ This too shall pass”.

Arizona DES (directorblog.azdhs.gov) recognizes that individuals with chronic illnesses are more susceptible to this virus and that it is even more important, if we are experiencing that condition, that we, and those who live with us, take preventative measures: stay home, take extra care with handwashing and prevent spread of potential contamination, keep up with our medications, keep good records of daily health monitoring and keep any scheduled doctor’s appointments. In addition, AZ DES recommends social distancing, engaging in an enjoyable hobby (scanning Facebook feeds is not an enjoyable hobby), being moderately physically active, practicing mindfulness and meditation, connecting with friends and family over the phone and video-chats. Reach out if you are experiencing persistent sadness, fear or feeling of hopelessness. If you feel like you have no one to comfortably call, please reach out to the AZ DES Mental Health Line 800 -985-5990.

AZ DES has also shown a drop in the number of new cases of the virus this past week for the first time since our awareness of the virus in Pima County was noticed (March 1) from 209 new cases to 94. Also that numbers of infected persons are higher in the 20-44 year age range (181) than they are in the 65- and-older age range (165). Us ‘seniors’ are doing a better job of keeping ourselves safe!

It’s time to re-imagine a new world, to envision sharing our common humanity, to vision how we can live in the deepest, most beautiful way possible. Coming through this difficult time, what we intend and nurture, we can certainly do.

“This is a time of mystery and uncertainty. Take a breath. The veils of separation are parting and the reality of interconnection is apparent to everyone on earth. We have needed this pause, perhaps even needed our isolation to see how much we need one another”

— Quote from Lion’s Roar

–Namaste, Janie Hooper

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

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