The ‘Art’ of Taking Classes

The Foundations class I’m taking is coming to an end. Four more classes and the last two are the exam and project presentations. This is the third time I’ve taken Foundations. Each time I’ve taken it my peace of mind increases, as does the feeling of Oneness and Unity I find through embodying the principles of the Science of Mind.

My first time, in 2015, was taught by Reverend Donald & Rev Janis. In it, I learned to write Spiritual Mind Treatments. This fantastic tool is something I use daily now and, along with my meditation, consider it part of the structure, foundation, of my spiritual practice. For much of the course, I was working in Phoenix and would leave work and drive to the Center, arriving, hopefully, by 6:30. I would spend the night at my house, awakening early to drive back to Phoenix and arrive at work by 8am. At times, I had to stop at a rest stop and snooze for an hour or two.

The class involves reading the Science of Mind and Living the Science of Mind books. Especially, the first time through, the readings are confusing and circuitous. Now, on my 3rd go-round, I appreciate the clear descriptions and wonderful prose. The first time I read the books, almost all the ideas were new and revolutionary, albeit, confusing. Now I understand and welcome the ideas.

My second time through, in 2018, was taught by Rev Janis. The class was smaller, all women, and even more enlightening. My goal for this course was to change my relationship with money. (I don’t remember the goal for my first course.) The homework for each class is reading the curriculum that we receive on a CD, usually about 10 pages of easy to read loose-leaf documents, readings from the two books, a meditation exercise, treatment on our goal and, often, a supplementary exercise involving self-reflection and activating the observer self. My presentation at the end was sharing two of my favorite poems and a set of glitter gel pens for each of the participants and Rev Janis.

This third time through, the one that I’m in now, made up of 50% my family – Yay! My actual legal family – me, Chris, my husband, and Nicole, my older daughter. Three other participants, one of whom is canine, and Rev Janis comprise our Tuesday evening group. It is especially gratifying to share these wonderful lessons with my daughter who is being introduced to Science of Mind. (She said that it is okay to talk about her.) Learning to access the One Mind and working as a group to support each other in this discovery is so much fun. As my fellow board member, Pat Masters, says – “I usually do better when I’m taking a class.” (Pat said that it was okay that I quote her.) This is so true for me. The weekly connection with fellow students refreshes and invigorates me.

My goal for this course was to approach every activity in my day with enthusiasm. This goal is aimed primarily at my job because, in the past, I felt pressured by my workload. Now I have more breathing space and use practices that help me manage my workload more effectively. I have also accomplished my goal of changing my relationship with money and know more peace and abundance as a result.

The next time Foundations is offered, I encourage everyone to seriously look at attending. The results are worthwhile, effective and you’ll make friends in the class. Maybe even with me if I do a 4th go-round!

— Marya Wheeler

Killing the Kudzu – Metaphorically Speaking

Part of the pea family kudzu is also called Japanese arrowroot: Pueraria-Fabaceae-Faboideae.

If you’ve lived in the Southeast, you’re aware of Kudzu: an Asian species invited to US lawns as a quick-growing land cover and erosion deterrent. So pretty, so green, such beautiful flowers and so quick to grow. It can be used for Oriental teas and tinctures, it fixes nitrogen in the soil, it transfers minerals from deep soil to topsoil. It also can be used to make clothes, baskets or for animal feed.

What could possibly go wrong? It spreads by runner and by seed. [It] climbs over trees or shrubs and grows so rapidly that it kills them by heavy shading. Which is to say it replaces native plants as well as expensive landscaping, and pretty much anything else in its way. (Thank you, Wikipedia)

And, you might reasonably ask: that has what to do with what?

I’ve been spending this summer identifying the “Kudzu” I’ve invited into my mind and mental space. Those thoughts that are so pretty, so very easy to let take over. So, I am looking under the kudzu flowers for their roots and working to replace the “kudzu in my head” with productive, long-term healthy, helpful thoughts. Which has meant reading, journaling, meditating and talking with people smarter than me about this.

You plant only those seeds that will grow into what you want in your garden.
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 51. 1

What’s that mean in living well every day? If all we had to do was plant the right ideas, there would be no kudzu in our lives. Unfortunately, more is required of us if we are to create the garden we want. Because;

In the spiritual realm, Universal Subjective Mind as Law is the soil. [It] functions just as naturally as the soil in the garden. It takes whatever you chose to plant in It, and It produces accordingly.
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 51. 4 (emphasis added by Mariann)

…, the subjective-mind soil must be in the right condition all the time. You are always planting and you cannot afford to have the good seeds dropped into soil which contains a mass of weeds. …. thoughts of negations, worries, fears, angers, hates, resentments. [These] will grow just as rapidly as the good seeds and bring forth a crop just as sure and abundant. —Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 53.1

Here’s the tricky part:

…. the soil of the garden has no power nor inclination to reject bad seeds while accepting good ones…. the creative medium of Law, also is entirely impersonal and will just as readily take your negations and produce a crop of illness, poverty, hardship, difficulty or inharmony.”
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 53.1

You must learn to rule your own life!
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 56 4

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Proverbs 16:32 (KJV)

“Remember, you are always planting!”
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 56.6

Wishing you peace and plenty in your garden-

–Mariann

Getting Excited about Our Upcoming Youth Program!

FREE TO BE ME – Expressing the Love Within and Make Today Great. Keep reading to see the themes for weeks 1 & 2 of the curriculum for our Youth program that will roll out this fall.

The Spiritual Truth for Expressing the Love Within is “Love”. Love is one way to prove the Law of Circulation. It is in the giving of it, that it is returned abundantly. The easiest love to circulate is the kind of love that God is – the unconditional kind.

The Spiritual Truth for Make Today Great is “Enthusiasm”. Enthusiasm means “Filled with The Divine”. It is being filled with Spirit. And isn’t that the truth of what and who we are, Spirit incarnate? Enthusiasm is contagious. It is God’s way of encouraging us to put our attention on the good all around us.

“All people are individual expressions of the one God. Our consciousness creates our own reality. The goal of life is freedom from all discord of any kind and this goal is sure to be attained by all” is the Science of Mind Declaration of Principles that is the overarching theme for the month.

What a blessing – to be guided by these loving words, and to be allowed to share them with children from preschool – grade 5. The activities include reading, singing, charades, Duck-Duck-Goose and arts and crafts.

Don’t we all wish we’d learned the Science of Mind when we were children? What a gift for us to be able to share the Science of Mind philosophy with kids. And what a gift to be able to welcome families with children.

The requirements be a teacher are:
• You must have completed the Foundations class
• You must pass a background check
• You must pass a fingerprint check
• Be available to teach 2 Sundays per month and to attend a once monthly Team meeting.

To provide continuity for the children (and their parents), each person will volunteer 2 weeks in a row, serving one week as the helper and a second week as the teacher. For 4 teachers, the rotation will be 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-1. For 5 Sunday months, we’ll ask for a trained volunteer to serve that extra Sunday.

Curricula are available for Preschool through grade 5. We will start our Youth Program with 4 teachers and 2 subs. Our goal is to have 6 children attending by Christmas and to be conducting 2 sessions – preschool – Grade 1 and Grades 2-5. The teachers will be supplied with the curricula for the classes, the supplies for the arts and crafts projects as well as the books to read aloud and music to play. There will be monthly team meetings to receive curriculum, supplies and to review how the classes are progressing.

Banners at the top of the curriculums illustrate the expanding change in focus as the children attend the classes.

Preschool – One Life, As Me
Kinder-Gr 1 – One Life, As Me, Creates
Grades 2&3 – One Life, As Me, Creates, Celebrates
Grades 4&5 – One Life, As Me, Creates, Celebrates, One Life

As our Center grows, I am excited to be involved in offering resources to families with children and I am also pleased for the opportunity to teach these loving words. Reading the curriculum is soothing and I believe helping to support and teaching these lessons will address each teacher’s inner child, allowing us to receive as much, or even more, support from the classes as the students.

If you are interested in participating in our Youth Program, please call me at (520) 270-1279.

— Marya Wheeler

C-C-C-C-h-a-n-g-e….

Nobody likes to have change forced on them. Nobody I know, anyway. Most of us don’t mind a little change, especially if it’s our idea. I think it was metaphysical teacher Stuart Wilde who once said, “If you are being run out of town, get in front of the mob and act like it’s a parade.” I got to see him in Las Vegas, shortly before he transitioned. He was masterful at making use of whatever life threw at him. Because he presented such a larger-than-life target, people were always throwing stuff. It didn’t matter to him at all. He’d use every bit of the notoriety, transmute it into fame, and use it for his benefit.

The world is in a period of great change, as is CSL Tucson, as are (likely) each of us. It isn’t as though we can actually say ‘Stop the world, I want to get off’, although there are ways we can sometimes lessen the effect of changes we experience. Not all of these techniques are useful in the long run. We can resist change, be in denial by pretending change isn’t happening, we can numb ourselves with any of our familiar, faithful and friendly addictions, or we can work with the change and turn it to our use, if not our benefit.

A few weeks ago, I listened to an audiobook by Thomas Friedman entitled Thank You For Being Late. In it, he described how the rate and intensity of technological change continues to increase ever more rapidly, and that changes that used to take decades or generations were now occurring within a few years. I know for me, I’m actively embracing some aspects of this technology change, and others I’m doing my best to drag my feet. Some changes, choices and options seem really cool, and some I really do struggle to see the merit or point.

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature,
to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”
—Henri Bergson

In the case of moving the Office and Education Center, this wasn’t a change that we actively solicited. On one (status quo) level, we were hoping that the heirs of our previous landlord would never find a buyer for the East River Rd property and we could be left in peace to do our thing. It wasn’t the greatest workspace or classroom space ever, but it was familiar, and acceptably comfortable. Some people didn’t like the driveway or thought the old homestead was ugly. We really wouldn’t have been inspired to change anything on our own. Change is work! Change requires movement, action and decisions! And yet, once our office building had been sold, and we petitioned for extra time to get ourselves moved (we did get an extra week), we suddenly found ourselves motivated to discover & create beneficial change for ourselves. The unhappy rattlesnake under the trashcans was simply an encouragement. (No humans, snakes or trashcans were harmed in that encounter.) The outcome that is unfolding before our eyes is more magnificent that any one of us on your Board could ever have imagined, and I feel excited and enthused by our ‘greatest yet next to be.’

So if change happens whether we want it to or not, how can we make use of it? It sounds so noble to say ’embrace change’, and yet, that really is the best option when change seems mandated. Without this change that was ‘forced upon us’, we never would have even considered the possibility of purchasing and actually owning our Office and Education Center, and would have continued to pay rent to a landlord and be at their whim about raising the rent or selling the property out from under us. At the same time, I have this glimmer of awareness that we had shifted our collective consciousness enough that we were ready, as an organization, to become owners of our own Office and Educational Center, and start building equity for ourselves instead of for another. To me, that’s exciting growth for us as a spiritual community.

–Rev Janis Farmer

Enneagram

When I look back on my life, over the passing years and decades, I sometimes reflect on the things I’ve encountered that have helped transform me, to greater or lesser degrees. Movies. Plays. Books. Pieces of music. Art and poetry. Oh, I could certainly name a number of favorites (we all have them), but for me, the greatest tool I’ve ever encountered, when it comes to personal growth and transformation, is the Enneagram.

I was first introduced to the Enneagram a number of years ago one summer, courtesy of my mother. At the time, she was 71 years old, and in the mail one day came a copy of “The Big Blue Book” (as it is known and lovingly referred to): The Wisdom of the Enneagram, by Don Riso and Russ Hudson.

I still have her note tucked inside my copy, and it starts off with these observations:

“This is an unusual book to give to someone (books like a textbook), but it is a book I wished I had had access to in my younger years. Although the theories presented here were developed a few thousand years ago, they are making a startling comeback. The seminar I attended a few months ago has made a profound difference in my life, from the inside — a place where few people see and where I (as well as others) attempt to hide and cover up.”

She goes on to describe herself (a Type 2 “Helper”) and my dad (a Type 5 “Investigator”), and talks about how the Enneagram opened her eyes to her “false self” — i.e., the persona that we all create as a survival mechanism growing up. She goes on to say, “Up to this point this shell or false self does not just melt away,” adding, “I have work to do, so I can become mature for myself and for others. I am excited about the possibilities for my future, but saddened for some of my behavior in the past.”

She then goes on to apologize for her own personal shortcomings while she was raising me, and my two older brothers, saying, “I am fully aware that this ‘doesn’t make everything alright.’ It’s just that I want to own up and work at what I need to become.”

And… at this point, I wished I could say that I dove right into the Big Blue Book that mom gave me, absorbed all of its content for the betterment of myself, and moved boldly forward into my newly discovered “authentic self.” But I didn’t. I thumbed through its pages, found some of the information fascinating and compelling, but over the passing months and years, it sat by my chair where I had morning coffee, gathering dust.

As we shall see in an upcoming series of video lectures delivered by renowned author Richard Rohr, as it turns out, the Enneagram is an ancient oral tradition, and in that regard, it’s typically best learned by hearing about it first — from someone else — just as my mother had done by attending a seminar.

It wasn’t until a decade later, visiting mom one summer on Bainbridge Island, that she had the idea to borrow Richard Rohr’s series of lectures from her church library. An entertaining and engaging speaker, I was quickly engrossed, taking extensive notes, which are tucked into the book next to my mom’s letter.

Not long after, my own personal copy of Richard Rohr’s lectures arrived one Christmas — again, courtesy of my mother. Since I know that she (as a ‘Helper’) would want me to share them with others, they’ve been on loan to one friend or another, pretty much continually (with occasional breaks for me to go over the material again as a refresher course).

As my mom discovered, learning about the Enneagram can be an eye-opening experience (“This book is wonderful but hard!” she exclaims halfway through her letter), and as I’ve often joked to others, the Enneagram can also be a short-cut to years and years of therapy. Simply because it has the power to cut through layers and layers of bullcrap that the false self has used to hide itself, expose our ego for what it is, and lay bare our inner motivations that have become our methods of coping and adapting as full-grown adults.

There is more to the Enneagram than just finding out what makes us tick, however. For those who attend the upcoming series of classes at CSL this summer, you’ll also find that the Enneagram is about growth and transformation — and how, by a nifty trick of grace — our greatest weakness flipped on its head, and rotated 180 degrees, becomes our greatest strength.

One of the most profound gifts my mom ever gave me was the power of the Enneagram, and the inherent wisdom it contains. By the time she died, in the fall of 2014, my mom had become that wise soul she wrote about in her letter — overcoming the core issue of her “false self” (pride), and fully integrating into her greatest gift — humility. And if she were here today, I think she would say that the Enneagram played a huge role in that.

So, come be transformed this summer, every Wednesday night in June and July, as we explore the wisdom and the power of the Enneagram. Together.

–Steve Franz, a Type 9 “Peacemaker”

Making The World A Better Place

No matter what our emotional storm, or what our objective situation, may be, there is always a something hidden in the inner being that has never been violated.  We may stumble, but always there is that Eternal Voice, forever whispering within our ear, that thing which causes the eternal quest, that thing which forever sings and sings.
— Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind, 33.3

I recently had the joy of reconnecting with my stepson, Mitch, who is the Prosecuting District Attorney of the big island of Hawaii.  We had not seen one another for many years, and I was curious if the nature of his job had changed him into a more negative-thinking man.  I was relieved to find him the same Mitch Roth, smart, funny, and optimistic.  He shared with me some of the policies and procedures he has put in place to help the people of his county.  His philosophy is, “If there is a problem, look behind it to see what is causing it. Create the solution there; do not rely on punishment to fix every situation.”

Several years ago there was a serious crime problem in the parking lots of popular tourist attractions in Hawaii.  Young people found opportunities to break into cars and steal valuables when they spotted tourists heading for hiking trails to view waterfalls, lava tubes, or rain forests. Mitch met with a group of older Hawaiian women who were weavers, creating beautiful birds, animals, baskets, and other items to sell to the eager tourists.  Mitch asked them to do their weaving in the parking lots where they could also they could monitor the tourists’ cars.  When the tourists returned, the women would warmly greet them and display their work. The grateful tourists thanked them, purchasing many of the items they had for sell.  Understandably, crime in those parking lots plummeted.

Noting an increase in juvenile delinquency in school-age students, Mitch visited a school that seemed to be a risk epicenter.  He asked the school’s administration to hang a picture of each student in the school.  He then asked the entire staff, teachers, janitors, support staff, and administrators, to put a star on the picture of any student with whom they had a positive connection, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.  Many of the students had many stars on their pictures; some had a few; and some had no stars at all.  Not surprisingly, the children without positive connections were the ones who had been most challenging.The staff made a huge effort to connect with the seemingly troubled students, and to no one’s surprise, the incidents of crime went down dramatically. Mitch told me, ”Those kids got no positive feedback anywhere in their lives.  When they started getting positive attention, they behaved in a more positive way.”

In May 2018, Kilauea Volcano erupted, burying villages, towns, farms, and roads with lava.  Mitch formed an interfaith group to aid the over 1700 evacuees on the island.  The group consists of a Jewish Rabbi, an Episcopalian Priest, a conservative Protestant minister, a Buddhist monk, a Muslim Imam, and Mitch.  They provided over 60,000 hot meals following the earliest days of the eruption, created a daycare for the displaced children, and helped create carpools to get people back and forth to work.  They provided necessities, including laundry facilities, for the people who had lost everything.  After the eruption crisis was over, the group decided to stay connected.  They meet monthly and to their surprise and delight, they have come to realize how similar their worldviews, and belief systems, are.  Instead of spreading discord from their differences, they have created cohesiveness through their discovery of how much they desire the same good.  What an example for the rest of us.

–Pat Masters

The Value of Contemplation in Modern Life

In 2000, I had the privilege of taking a two-week trip through the ancient sacred sites of Ireland as part of a tour group.  We had a tremendous guide named Mark who was well versed in the lore, fact and fiction of pre-historic religious sites as well as the early Christian sites.  One of the sites that caught my imagination was Skellig Michael, a medieval (6th and 8th centuries C.E.) monastery and hermitage. Legend has it that the sacred and secular literature of Europe was saved during the Dark Ages by the monks who collected, preserved and protected those writings which had been brought to them for preservation while Europe was in turmoil.  Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization expresses that point of view.  While some critics doubt the accuracy of his proposition, there probably is some merit in the idea that those individuals did indeed protect knowledge that could have been lost during the time when Europe was not valuing education and learning as much as they might have previously.

Typical functions of a monastic community include prayer, worship, service and contemplation.  So what is this thing called contemplation?  Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness meditation practice (in box to right) is a gentle and generous example of a contemplative practice that is centered in the body.  Father Richard Rohr makes it a larger practice when he says, “Everything you do is connected in loving union with the moment, with whatever is in front of you.  That’s contemplation.”   So, how can this translate in modern life?

In his poem “If” Rudyard Kipling wrote, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too.  If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…”  His concluding couplet, “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”, has more to do with recognizing how much we each are responsible for our point of view in our world than it has to do with any specific gender reference.

One of the best ways we have to maintain our mental, emotional and spiritual autonomy “when all about you are losing their (heads)” is by remembering that we get to decide what to focus on, and how we choose to pay attention to our lives.  This is far from a simple challenge, simply because of the extremes present in the external world today.  Marcus Aurelius wrote, “You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”  When we repeatedly remember that we have control over our focus, we have an opportunity to see our world, not as a made-up, imaginary fantasyland, but from the point of view of the wholeness that it actually expresses.

Holmes, in The Science of Mind 200.4-201.1, wrote, “… is an experience operating through people, which does not belong to them at all.  Recognize that it is neither person, place, nor thing, that there is no spiritual law to support it, that it is discord fleeing before harmony, that there is nothing but the Truth.”  With Thich Nhat Hanh’s gentle encouragement we can breathe, “deep, slow, calm, ease, smile, release”, and, regardless of external conditions, have the opportunity to continuously practice the contemplative prayer of “present moment, wonderful moment.”  Breathing, smiling, and remembering the Truth, I move forward in my life.

–Rev Janis Farmer

On Grieving

I lost both my brother in law and my only sister within 60 days of each other. I was present for both of their deaths. It has pretty much devastated me, so I have been thinking a lot about death and the grieving that follows. These are two subjects that are generally avoided in western culture.

One of the things about grieving is that it is exhausting. At first I seem to have had too much energy, so much so that I am unable to sleep all night, followed by oscillating waves of high energy and weariness. I find my balance of rest and activity isn’t working very well.

One of the reasons the death of someone close so profoundly shaking for me is that it holds up a mirror to me that says “This happens to you, too”. Sometimes it seems a welcome prospect to join my loved ones, especially when my aversion to life without them is great.

What I realize is that my whole system has sustained this major loss, and it will take some time for my psyche and body to adjust to the new alignments that await me. Perhaps only when I can rest in knowing that their passing was in perfect order in the Universe, that healing will eventually take place. The best memorial I can give to them is to live my own life fully, one day at a time.

Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity; it is the price we pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve. And live life to the fullest we are capable at each moment.

Ernest Holmes on grief and loss (The Science of Mind 387.3 – 388.1)

It is human to grieve the loss of dear ones. We love them and cannot help missing them, but a true realization of the immortality and continuity of the individual soul, will rob our grief of hopelessness. We shall realize that they are in God’s keeping, and they are safe. We shall know that loving friends have met them, and that their life flows on with the currents of eternity. We shall (eventually) feel that we have not lost them, they have only gone before. So we shall view eternity from the highest standpoint, as a continuity of time, forever and ever expanding, until time as we now experience it, shall be no more. …. Time heals all wound, adjusts conditions, explains facts; and time alone satisfies the expanding soul, reconciling the visible with the invisible. We are born of eternal day, and the Spiritual Sun shall never set upon the glory of the soul, for it is the coming forth of God into self-expression.

–Janie Hooper

Helping Ourselves by Helping Others

…let us begin to accept today more good than we experienced yesterday, and to know that we shall reap a harvest of fulfilled desires.
      Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 39.5)

A recent article in Psychology Today listed the many benefits of altruism. According to the article, acting with altruism can do more than make us feel good about ourselves mentally; it can actually release endorphins which give us a “helpers’ high.” These endorphins also enhance our immune systems, making
us physically healthier.

Also discussed were the emotional or psychological benefits of helping others. These included feelings of gratitude for what one has compared to those being helped, distraction from one’s own problems, and reduction in feelings of stress about one’s own life.

Mariann Moery and I were in PineTop last weekend. I made arrangements to meet Karen, a friend whom I had not seen for a year. When I first saw her, I noticed that she had lost a great deal of weight (60 pounds), was sporting a new haircut, and appeared to be happier than I had ever seen her. As we were waiting for our dinner, she began telling us about the new love in her life.

A year ago, she began volunteering at an organization called Walking Down Ranch that provides housing for homeless veterans in the White Mountain communities of PineTop, Lakeside, and ShowLow. Although it is difficult to say exactly how many homeless veterans are trying to eke out an existence there, the best guess is 200-plus.

Seeing a old lodge with 18 empty cabins in the community of Lakeside, the founding members of Walking Down Ranch made an agreement with the East Mesa Fire Fighters to rent the empty lodge for $1.00 a year. Volunteers went in and repaired each of the cabins, making each of them habitable for the individual veterans, and in some cases, for veterans and their families.

In addition to the 18 cabins, there are two additional buildings that are used as offices for the organization, and a thrift store, which provides income to help defray the cost of the repairs and utilities. They have a computer lab, a food pantry, a laundry room, and an exercise facility. While these facilities are not state of the art, they are functional and being put to good use.

While Mariann and I toured the facility Saturday morning, we saw a hair stylist providing free haircuts to the veterans. We saw veterans who were helping by washing windows, accepting and organizing donations, and providing information to visitors.

Because Karen believes in the organization to which she gives so much of her time and talent, her life is richly enhanced. She is passionate about the work they are doing, because she sees a need, a solution in which “everyone wins” and happy, healthy results.

If you are looking for a way to enrich your own life, think of an organization about which you have interest, gratitude, or passion. Is there a place where you can get engaged there? If nothing immediately catches your imagination, CSLT is primarily a volunteer run organization too. In our own community, we seek lively and enthusiastic individuals to help with Hospitality, Compassionate Hearts, Altared States, Hosts, and Ushers and Greeters. The time commitment to participate on one of our service teams is about once a month. Serving our community is a fabulous way to meet new friends, to serve in a very real way, and to enhance our community and you individually. As Rev. Janis would say, “We invite you to come play with us.” Each of us receives benefit individually from the shared experience and our community prospers.

–Pat Masters

This Stuff WORKS!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been looking for something that I couldn’t even name.  I thought it was love, then maybe happiness, then self-forgiveness or acceptance or something I didn’t have.   Then one day last week, I actually found it and it changed my whole world.  Here’s what happened.

I’ve taken most of the classes CSLT offers at least once, many of them twice, and am currently in Meditation class for the second time.  Right teacher, right classmates, right me – it’s been so very good.  At the end of every class we hold hands in a circle and declare what we are willing to have more of in our lives.  I’ve usually stated the ‘usual suspects’ – you know, love, joy, prosperity, peace.  But two weeks ago, the words, ‘self-love’ popped out of my mouth from who-knows-where.  I felt a little weird and even selfish about it at the time but I let it be because it kinda hadn’t been my idea, you know?  (Right… remember God through me/as me?)

A couple days later during meditation I had an image that felt so good and was so beautiful – I was in front of a roaring fireplace in a huge, stony room of a castle – it was dark except for the fire and I was alone except for a couple of cats lounging on the hearth rug.  It felt as though everything would be perfect as soon as…. as soon as what?  When I came out of the meditation, I realized I’ve been waiting for something my whole life, pushing away love, joy, peace of mind until… when?  I realized I’ve been waiting for my foot to get better so I can walk again and enjoy the outdoors, waiting for my favorite aunt to transition so I can grieve and get on with life, waiting to meet my perfect someone so I don’t feel alone anymore, waiting for my body to get in better shape so I feel healthier, etc. etc. ad nauseum.  Life suspended.  MY CHOICE.  Wow.  This was a pretty big AHA, but God through me/as me wasn’t done yet…

Later that same day I was surfing through Facebook posts and a wonderful woman who had been my practitioner at Center for Spiritual Living Seattle shared something that felt like the answer to every prayer I’d ever had, which it was, really… and a manifestation of my declaration after Meditation class of being willing to accept more self-love.  After much therapy, AA, self-help books and classes, I had been unable to stop punishing myself for my past, but I hadn’t given up on the possibility that maybe one day, somehow, I could step into my life in the Big Way that I intuited was possible.  And then I read this, and crumpled into a soft, sweet, tear-soaked puddle of self-forgiveness, self-love, gratitude and relief.

I don’t know who wrote it, but it was posted by Empaths, Old Souls & Introverts.  Here it is, my Big Magic:

‘Forgive yourself for not knowing better at the time.  Forgive yourself for giving away your power.  Forgive yourself for past behaviors.  Forgive yourself for the survival patterns and traits you picked up while enduring trauma.  Forgive yourself for being who you needed to be.’

And the walls came-a-tumbling-down and I was free.  I mean it, FREE.   I re-wrote it using ‘I’ language and put it on my refrigerator.  Finding myself filled with love for pretty much everything, things began to shift as I now feel worthy of living my life, because it really is okay to be here.  And right away it became clear that regardless of the paperwork hassle, I have some more old skin to shed; my last name which was an ex’s name and it no longer serves me in a positive way.  I’m quite excited!

One last thing from Jen Sincero’s book, You Are a Badass:

‘To shy away from who you truly are would leave the world you-less.
You are the only you there is and ever will be.
Do not deny the world its one and only chance to bask in your brilliance.’ 

Now let’s do this life!

–Renee’

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