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

My (Current) New Normal

It’s 9:25am and I sit at my home office. I have much work to do even though the tax filing and tax payment deadlines have been extended to 7/15. I haven’t meditated or written in my journal yet. I feel the anxiety in my stomach. Somewhere in my psyche is a message that I am a naughty, little girl for not working enough. It’s funny how the words “naughty, little girl” strike a hurtful chord. Writing this down reduces my stress and I leave to meditate for my regular 20 minutes.

It’s 10:37 and I feel relaxed and calm. I accept that it is necessary for me to meditate and to journal and to exercise most days to maintain a sense of peace. While it’s more difficult to maintain my daily routines right now in the time of great disruption, I have been able to do so fairly well. The Prosperity Plus 3 group, of which I am a member, has been holding that for me this last week. The Spiritual Mind Treatment I included in my journaling today was that I remain calm and peaceful today and that I experience the God concepts of joy and beauty (including order) throughout my day. It could be because I am writing this article that it is working very well today! Yay!!!

I was also reminded this morning of my ability to experience sensations of change and not label them as fear. When I label a feeling as fear, I attach gloom and despair to it. I see myself in the fetal position under my desk or in the corner of my closet. When I simply allow the sensation to pass through me without a label or by labeling it as energy or anticipation, my outlook remains bright. This is the choice I make today. This is an example of the Law working in me, through me and for me that makes Science of Mind such an important component of my daily experience.

In the 12-step fellowship, the 1st step of the program of which I am a member is that “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable”. I smile when I say that because, it’s not really true. I’m not really powerless, I can always make things worse.

–And I’m not doing that today! Take care! Love, Marya

Update

Obviously, with the schools closed (by the order of the Governor of AZ) at least until the end of March and the restrictions on gathering (10 people or less, for now), we won’t be meeting in person on Sunday.

Watch for a Special Newsletter later this week with suggested online connection options with us and other CSLs around the country with online only services. Think of it as a virtually endless buffet of options!

If you wish to read what I thought I was going to write about this week, here it is.

These are crazy, and amazing times, and these may be the times that we have been have been called here for, or have chosen to incarnate on earth for, or however you wish to phrase it… These profound and special times may be why we are each, and all, are here, right now. I realize that statement could be perceived as totally egocentric and presumptuous on my part. Let me assure you, it is not. We are all represented by the ‘small man’ in the Hafiz-esque poem (right) when we forget our true nature; the ‘sage’ when we remember; we are always the beautiful rowdy prisoners. We hold the keys to our own prison, and we are the only ones who can free ourselves.

I made space and time to listen and watch Dr Edward and Dr Sharon host a CSL group spiritual practice last Friday morning. I felt deeply touched by the reminder that we all have the capacity to emanate the light of the divine presence, radiate the love of the One Heart, and flow like the river of peace that passes all understanding, because that peace is the peace that is unaffected by whatever happens to be happening around us, and in our minds when we just let them be taken over by the noise, fuss and bother of people who have forgotten who and what they are, divine beings walking around in human form.

This past Sunday, as we closed the service, we didn’t touch or hold hands like we usually do. A number of people attending were practicing social distancing, and we wanted to include them in our closing ritual without making them feel uncomfortable or left out.

Instead, I encouraged everyone to allow our individual radiant heart energies to expand, emanating from the core of our individuated beings and touching the other beings in the room, filling our 350-seat auditorium with love energy, and spilling out to the surrounding area. (This image from chapter 6 of The Science of the Heart by the Institute of HeartMath illustrates one possible representation of this experience and practice.) The heart is recognized as considerably more powerful than the mind; some say it is 1000 times more powerful. The good (scientifically-minded) folks at HeartMath have shown the heart’s electromagnetic torus capable of expanding considerable distances and positively impacting other beings. I believe this is what we do when we emanate and radiate Divine Love, caring and compassion.

In his address at the dedication of the Whittier Church in 1959, Dr Holmes said, We are a teaching order, not a preaching order. We are a practicing order, not a proselytizing order. The world has waited long for something to happen. Now the healing power of the unseen magic of the Spirit can be made evident. And so, as we move forward in these tumultuous times, knowing what we know, teaching what we teach, and practicing what we practice, we get to remember that we are the sage, the knower, and the doer who operates from love, wisdom and heart-power, remembering to honor, care for, and bless ourselves and everyone we meet.

–Best Blessings, Rev Janis

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

Put Your Own Mask On First

Ram Dass is reported to have said, “If you (mistakenly) think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family”. Those of us fortunate enough to still have family around, and visit them occasionally, get to be reminded of this great truth. Family dynamics are among the most soul challenging experiences any of us can have. This is especially true if we don’t see our family frequently. All of us change constantly; they still remember us as they knew us, or as they wish to remember us. Neuroscience tells us that what people experience of us is 10-20% what they perceive from the actual interaction, and 80-90% what they remember, or what they imagine. This is also true for each of us.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about expectations and disappointment and the scenarios we build in our minds about how things ‘should’ be. Especially around major holidays. And that thing Buddhists call attachment. Typically, we think of attachment to ‘stuff’, but it applies more to stories that people will behave a certain way, or respond to us like we want them to, or that things will be as they have always been, or that we can stop time, or that we can precisely control exact outcomes, or ….

All this backstory brings me to the statement made by flight attendants before every flight, and by self care gurus everywhere, reminding us that if we don’t “put our own (oxygen) masks on first…”, and take conscious note of our own needs, desires, intentions, stories, expectations, beliefs, boundaries, etc., we have stripped ourselves of our ability to respond to our life experiences, whatever they may be, in a supportive, affirming way. Any time we link our sense of wellbeing to our expectation that any other person will act a certain way, we have limited our ability to be present with what is actually happening and reduced our ability to decide how we choose to perceive and remember the events of our lives.

Then there are the predictably unexpected monkey wrenches. My sister had a serious medical emergency the weekend before I traveled to see family. During those last few pre-holiday days, she had planned to finish her last minute Christmas shopping and tie up loose ends. Instead she spent five days in a very good hospital, ultimately receiving three stents providing blood to her unhappy heart. The surgery was successful; she was home the afternoon of Christmas Eve. She was saddened that she wasn’t able to participate in the pre-holiday prep, buy presents for about half the family, or get any of her gifts wrapped. After she had handed out the few presents that she had acquired, she apologized to the rest of the family and said, “Well, I’m still here.” We all applauded and celebrated her presence.

Then there are the blended (and blended and blended) family issues, and the (control) games people do play. Without making anyone wrong, a challenge all by itself, there were opportunities to create some new and completely different rituals and practices over the holidaze. We decided not to let the grandstanding of a few individuals during the week spoil the quality of our appreciation of each other during the few days we had to spend together. That is not to say it was easy, but it was possible, since we kept our wits about us, mostly.

The practice of remembering that only we are in charge of our own experience, while unsettling or annoying at times, may be among our most powerful methods of sharpening our mental and spiritual tools in our toolkit of awakening. Putting our own oxygen masks on first, remembering what has actual importance for us and is in our control, remembering that everyone is doing the best they can all the time, given what they know and believe, including us, we can more easily remember that “We are just walking each other home.”

Blessings in this New Year.

–Rev Janis Farmer

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

Family Thanksgiving

I feel connected and complete. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I spent time with my aunt and two cousins whom I have not seen in over 40 years. And I saw my brother and sister. The occasion was attending the memorial for my uncle who transitioned in September. Uncle Proctor and Aunt Patsy lived in Wilmington, Ohio. This is roughly one hour north of Cincinnati which is on the border of Kentucky. The Cincinnati, CVG, airport is in Hebron, Kentucky.

Awakening at 1:30am on Thanksgiving morning to catch the 2:15am shuttle to Phoenix for the 6am flight was the start of my weekend adventure. When I made the reservations in October, I puzzled over the expensive airfare into CVG. I found cheaper flights on the Thursday before December 1, not realizing until two weeks later that it was Thanksgiving Day. The airports were not busy, and I had no problems with the flight, the car rental or the drive to the nursing home where I joined my cousins Sue and Nan, Aunt Patsy and Susan’s son, Matt, for a takeout Thanksgiving dinner. We ate in a small apartment that the nursing home provided for visiting family members. No microwave so the food was not hot, but it was yummy. I shared how my diet had changed after being vegan for 4½ years.

Sue, Nan and I shared primarily about our current life situations and what concerns we have regarding our adult children and aging mothers. Our mothers are both 88 and have dementia. Susan has been a widow for 17 years and is currently dealing with breast cancer which has metastasized to her bones although it is still breast cancer. She is on chemotherapy for two weeks and then off for one week. On the Wednesday before I traveled, I got my hair cut and my hairdresser gave me Shirley Temple ringlets. I was wearing my glasses on Thanksgiving and explained to everyone that this was not what I looked like. The next day when I wore my contacts and had fixed my hair and Susan spent time with me without her wig, we agreed that we were now our real selves.

Our mothers were best friends in high school. That is how my mom met my dad. Susan is 3 months older than me so they were pregnant at the same time with us. Aunt Patsy was especially close to my father, Jack. Their birth mother died when my dad was 6 and Aunt Patsy was 3. Sue and Nan gave us a set of old pictures which included pictures of our parents and Uncle Bill’s birth mother, Gertrude. She bares a striking resemblance to my older daughter, Nicole.

My brother, John flew in from Vermont on Saturday and within a short time we picked up our sister Maggie who flew in from Wisconsin. They both have children who are 12 and/or 13 and were relishing traveling solo. At dinner on Saturday night the cousins and Matt (sans Aunt Patsy) all shared about the relationships we had with our parents and about the times we remembered spending time together. My siblings and I shared about the pain we experienced as a result of our mother’s mental illness and her brutality. In the early 80’s our father came out to us as gay. His absence during our childhood had contributed to the sense of abandonment the three of us shared and dealt with us as adults. It was a bonding experience and I am grateful for it.

The next day was Sunday and the memorial. It was at Wilmington College, the Quaker college where my uncle taught Mathematics and MIS for many years. Music played and Sue, Matt and Nan shared about my uncle. He was one of five professors that were very good friends and whose families grew up together. Three children of these professors shared about growing up being a part of group and how welcome they had always felt at the Deans. People had come from out of town to attend the memorial including the adult children that shared. It was a lovely event. Aunt Patsy told Nan that she understood that the memorial was for Proctor and that she misses him. She told me that too and I agreed that I miss him and miss my father, Jack.

Spending time with Maggie and John was great fun. We shared a hotel room and lay in bed Saturday night laughing and talking about our children. We each have three and relate that to being one of three. Monday morning the adventure continued as I arose at 3:30am to travel back home to become immediately engulfed in my work life.

The surreal experience of re-establishing family ties comforted me at a basic level. I have texted with Matt and know that our connection will include more phone calls and visits. This feels especially important considering our aging parents and Susan’s illness. I appreciate the opportunity to process this through writing this newsletter article. Thank you, for allowing me to share this with you.

— Marya Wheeler

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

Things I Learned

“Everyone has been made for some particular work,and the desire for that work has been put in every heart”             — Rumi

I was thinking today about some of the things I am so grateful for.

My introduction to Science of Mind in 2008 was right up at the top of my list. I was lost and confused about the state of my life at that time, having been divorced and living alone and feeling that something else was lacking. I began to take any and all classes available to me at CSLT, and slowly things began to shift.

So, here are some of the things I learned that literally turned me around & up.

I learned that a loving God put me exactly where I belonged, with exactly the teachers I needed to have.

I learned that I was capable of bonding deeply with like-minded people that I barely knew.

I learned to trust, at a much deeper level, both with my God self and others.

I learned that life is ALWAYS what I choose to make it, and that I am always at choice.

I learned that it’s OK to make mistakes, and that if I do, I am still loved.

I really got it, that I am an eternal being and death holds no threat for me.

I learned and saw that Spiritual Mind Treatment really works.

I’m learned that supply and prosperity come to me in many forms, when I allow it to be.

I found out that I am not a separate being but one with the One.

I came to understand the complex workings of the Law and how to use it constructively.

I found out that I spent more time worrying and praying how to put these thoughts on paper than it actually took.  🙂

Thank you Science of Mind for the blessed life I now have.

— Janie Hooper

 

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