I was a new minister and I had no idea how to answer her so I said I was sorry she was worrying. Sadie’s been gone a long time but if she called again tomorrow, I’d have a better answer. I’d tell her not to worry about worrying, that it was just a one step in the process of attaining wisdom. I’d say she was doing fine because she was becoming aware of how powerful our thoughts really are.
Unfortunately, Sadie left the church soon after that phone call and we didn’t get a chance to grow up together. I wish she could have been a partner of the Center and I trust she did continue to grow. I know I certainly have. I hope she continued her Religious Science studies because I believe that is the most effective path to wisdom’s door although the Founder, Dr. Ernest Holmes says we will all eventually achieve enlightenment.
Over the years, I have seen many people come and go from the Center of Spiritual Living. They enter the teaching, for one reason or another and choose to leave for one reason or another. The details change and patterns of movement remain. Some stay for a long, long time. Others move from the area and go to a new Center. Some die. Some are disappointed. Others get what they want and move on without dreaming new dreams.
Wisdom has many pathways. Everyone must travel his own road and no person, place or thing outside himself has all his answers. The answers have to be unique because we are unique individuals. So I learned to bless them as they came and love them if they stayed. I also learned to bless them if they went. I learned to trust the process. Whatever piece of this wisdom teaching they got, that taste that will eventually prod them to find a way for more. Light is powerfully attractive.
My own pattern taught me to trust. I started attending Science of Mind Centers when I was in college and I was in and out of the teaching three times with lengthy gaps. When I finally settled down to become a minister, I was in my fifties. It wasn’t so much that I disagreed with what I’d heard thirty years earlier, it was just that my life seemed to get in the way.
In the beginning, I wasn’t ready to seize the power for myself so I was busy giving it to outside events and people. At this point, I might wish it had been a quicker journey except I’ve learned that the past is gone forever. Why try to rewrite the past when it is impossible? Especially when there are so many opportunities to deepen our understanding today? Today is all that is important.
When I first got sober, I had a Hindu poem that I read daily. It began, “Look to this day, for it is life.” I have no idea what the rest of the poem said, I only know that I did learn to “Look to this day,” somewhere along the line. That is a deep piece of the wisdom of the ages that I kept for my own. Thank you, God.
That day long ago, when Sadie called me it was because she “got it” that her thoughts were powerful. That is a part of the wisdom of the ages. Thank you, God. It is Light and it attracts us because it is part of the wisdom we seek.
We all learn as we move along. Sometimes we learn as the result of our mistakes. Sometimes we learn because we observe, sometimes as the result of trauma, sometimes because we encounter the right teacher at the right time.
Dr. Ernest Holmes, Founder of Religious Science, and author of the Science of Mind Textbook, assures us that eventually all humans will attain enlightenment. Clearly, it won’t be in this lifetime for everyone but since we are all spiritual beings having a human experience, I believe it can happen. We are all on Wisdom’s pathway, moving toward the Light. We are discovering our spiritual magnificence.
I don’t know about Sadie, but I do know I am farther along wisdom’s path than I was when I started the church 24 years ago. Spiritual progress can only be measured by comparing yourself to your own past. The fair questions are, “What have I learned?” and “What do I know today?”
Today, I know my thoughts are powerful. I also know I have choices. I can choose to think about the potential in the power of thought or I can choose to worry that I will make a mistake. The choice is mine.
Today, I know the past is gone forever. I can choose to regret missed opportunities or I can choose to release the errors of my past joyfully. The choice is mine.
I also know that there is a deeper wisdom that I can use to direct my thoughts and actions in this moment. The past doesn’t have control over me if I stay in the NOW. I can make new choices that are based on conscious, wide-awake decisions, not just habits.
I know that part of becoming more conscious is establishing the direction of my thoughts every morning. I use a gratitude list to start my morning on a cheerful note. Expressing gratitude also quick-starts the spiritual law of cause and effect in my life.
We say, “What I think about comes about”. Making a definite gratitude list early in the day is a way to control the direction of your life. For example, when I state that I am grateful for my money I have, I quick-start spiritual law to bring me more money. When I list my good friends, I quick-start the ease of making more friends.
Most thoughts are based on old habits even though they are so powerful they are actually creating our life. Why let habit create without taking charge? Why not use wisdom and make a conscious decision what to think and believe? Why not dream big?
Sadie was onto something when she learned her thoughts were powerful but her fearful response was only half baked. When she starts rejoicing because her thoughts are a powerful tool she can use, she’s putting the frosting on her cake.
What wisdom have I learned?
Do I believe my thoughts have power?
How do I feel about that?
What do I do to control my thoughts?
What more could I do?
I felt a bit down when I wrote my previous post, so I named it Moody Blues. In response, several readers sent me cheery notes. Some told me how much they appreciated me. Others told me about themselves and their lives.
I was pleased so many people found the time to send me a personal message. My “downtime” was only a momentary glitch and by the time I’d finished writing, I was all right again. Your notes and calls erased any residual thoughts.
So I thank you. I am truly grateful for all of you readers and for many, many other things in my life. I like to say thank you several times during the day because it keeps me on track. I try to start my day saying thank you and end it the same way. It does keep the blues away.
Expressing gratitude is always a good idea, especially when we are down and want to be up. Certainly, some days are better than others but we really can learn to be happy most of the time.
I learned about expressing gratitude quite a while ago and ever since, even my bad days are much better than my “good” days of the past . I can now laugh out loud about some of the things I used to believe.
For example, I used to believe that life happened at me. I thought my moods arrived because of events in my life. I now know that I am, to a very great extent, creating my life and my moods are within my control.
New Thought teaches us to look at life in new ways. We learn to release our negativity and turn toward the Light. We know that we can change our thinking and immediately lift our moods. We learn we can be happy when we pay attention to our thoughts and beliefs.
As we learn to be happy, we also learn to view our emotions in new ways. We discover we can control our thinking and lift our emotional state and that it feels exactly like moving from the gloom to the sunshine. Why shiver in darkness?
We also discover that moods don’t just happen, they are caused by triggers and we can usually avoid them. Last week I was happy when I left church but then I was hungry in the supermarket. I was also a bit tired and knew I would be alone at home. All triggers.
Many years ago in my 12 Step Program, I learned the word HALT. I was told that if I wanted to stay sober and be happy, I should not allow myself to get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. I have found that particular way of taking care of myself very useful.
These days, I can honestly say I love myself the way I am and I am willing to change. So on Moody Blues Sunday, I took care of myself quickly and quietly. I ate something and took a nap. Then I wrote a blog for my readers who are all friends in my mind. Life was immediately good again. Nothing but blue skies in sight.
Moods are not dark invaders swooping down on us out of nowhere. They are simply old habits of thought that can be changed. They are the result of choices we make when we are not paying attention.
Before we can switch a mood, we have to love ourselves enough to take care of ourselves. This is a lifelong lesson for some of us but it is possible. I remember the first time I tried looking in the mirror and saying, out loud, “I love you Jane.” I burst into tears – but after trying for a while, I got very good at that it. Practice makes perfect.
In the beginning, loving ourselves and taking care of ourselves can be a bit of a struggle. It is easy to work too hard. Easy to put other people’s needs ahead of our own. Easy to attempt to please others and ignore our own desires. None of these patterns is self-loving.
As you deepen your understanding of New Thought and learn that you are created in the image and likeness of God, taking care of yourself because you love yourself gets much easier.
You discover you were created as perfect, whole and complete. You can love yourself now, and you do not have to wait for improvement. How could you possibly improve on God’s handiwork? Just see yourself as God created you and it is a snap to love yourself.
Learning to love yourself as God loves you is a wonderful adventure. You can start by reading and taking classes. Use your center’s practitioner or minister for counseling if loving yourself and taking care of yourself seems to be an impossible or very difficult goal. Make your first step asking for help. These ways of thinking will truly change your life.
Do I love myself?Do I take good care of myself?
Do I want to release any old behavior?
It was a lovely church service. The music was grand. I love the people and many are my friends. The talk was about Love. Rev. Matti was brilliant, as usual. After that, I talked with someone who requested treatment and then attended Rev. Matti’s workshop on Love Skills. Oh what a beautiful morning!
I was really happy when I left the church. Later, I went to the grocery store and I felt a little sorry for myself as I passed up all the cookies and pies. I’ve still got some weight to lose and I know how to do it after dropping over a hundred pounds, but I wasn’t cheerful about it. Also, I’d forgotten that one should never go grocery shopping hungry.
My week goes better when I go to church but Sunday afternoons often feel empty to me. It’s been that way since school days. I don’t want to work and if I don’t have anything planned, I get bored. Usually, I read and watch a movie and that takes care of the “Sunday blues”.
My afternoon went pretty well considering my Slimfast lunch but at times, my mood slipped into thinking about chores I needed to do or feelings of “not enough”. It reminded me that we all need reinforcement to keep our spirits up.
Have you ever started out feeling great and then found yourself in the dumps by the time evening comes around? Did you ever wonder what happened? More to the point, did you ever wonder how to keep up your joyful mood?
Most of us do have moods. One time we are up and another time we are down. It is a short trip from knowing that everything is going to be wonderful to worrying about the future or regretting the past. But if we remain vigilant we can avoid the “blues” on Sunday or any other day.
Sometimes moods are associated with special hours, days, months or seasons and we need to be mindful of those times. If Christmas is challenging, you can simplify and prepare in advance. Since Sundays can be a problem for me, I can plan ahead. Next week, I will do something special and organize an Oscar event. Sometimes the anniversary of the death of a loved one is tough. We need to make sure our stress level keeps low and get some extra support for that time of year.
Sometimes mood swings seem random. There are many ways to lift our spirits. One way is to take a short break and make a conscious decision to change our thinking. Maybe a cup of tea and fifteen minutes with your favorite inspirational magazine or book is the answer. Or maybe a body stretch or a nap will help us switch gears. Being mindful is key. Then there are many tricks we can use to modify our outlook once we are aware of what we are thinking and feeling.
Sometimes our emotional state and our moods are based on outside events. Bad news will garner a reaction from even the strongest of minds.We should never fall into blaming ourselves but just take whatever steps seem intelligent and useful to move on with our lives as quickly as possible.
However, our moods are very often just habits. I know, for instance, that Sunday is my darkest day because I am usually alone and I choose not to work hard. I believe everyone needs a day of rest. There was a time in my life when I was really struggling just to cope with life and Sundays were the worst. I watched the clock and waited desperately for the 12 Step meeting at 6PM.
Those were very different times. I am not like that woman and when remnants of those dark times show up on Sundays, I remind myself that my moody blues are just a habit and I can control my thinking and feelings. I can usually avoid the blues but the ghosts of the past can still drift through my mind. It takes a while to completely change but believe me, it is worth the effort.
When we come to Centers For Spiritual Living, we hear, “Change your thinking and change your life” over and over. That simple instruction is the path to happiness and control of our lives. That is the way it works.
So when our moods drop, we must do something to lift up our thinking quickly, without fuss. Once we recognize that we are “borrowing trouble” by worrying about the future or regretting the past, we simply need to distract ourselves and turn our attention up to more positive things.
Short reading breaks, short body stretches, and a tea break are all good ways to distract ourselves and displace the pattern of negative thinking. It always helps me to sit down and write a short gratitude list. A phone call to a cheerful friend to talk about something light and bright works wonders. You can also stop what you are doing and watch a comedy on TV. A good laugh goes a long way in the dark.
Anything you can find to laugh about and anyone you can find to laugh with, is an excellent treatment for a simple habit of depressed thinking. I make it a point to watch comedies and read books with happy endings just to stay cheery. I certainly stay away from the news on TV if I am feeling down in the dumps. I also try to only talk with my cheerful friends. Although I know that helping others can be good for people, you have to have something to give before you give.
Yesterday, I did a color meditation as I listened to classical music and then drifted off to sleep for about thirty minutes. When I woke up, I was back in the heavenly mood I’d established by attending church in the morning. Of course, it isn’t always that easy, but it gets easier and easier the longer you practice changing your thinking.
Habits are good. They help us maneuver through our days. However, some habits need to be changed. Once we ‘get it” that we are in control of our emotions rather than allowing our emotions to control us, life really is wonderful. I hope that everyone of my readers is aware of how easy it is to manage moods today.
How do I lift my moods?
What new techniques would I like to try?
What are my favorite inspirational books? Meditations?
Do I make cheerful media choices?
Do I make gratitude lists?
One afternoon, in Stuffy Old England, more than a century ago, the poet & artist, William Blake, had a visitor. “Come in,” he called. “We’re in the garden.” And there were Blake and his wife, stark naked, reading Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost to each other.
The visitor left the garden quickly and went into the house where the Blakes soon followed him. Blake said to his shamefaced friend, “What’s wrong? It’s only Adam and Eve, you know!”
Many of us learned to be ashamed of our bodies, and for that matter, of our sexual feelings very early. Perhaps we were taught that sexual love was suitable only for married couples and should take only place in the dark. Perhaps we were taught that too much interest in such things was a sign of immaturity or evil.
We hold remnants of a lot of goofy old ideas. Some people really believed that there were “good” and “bad” women and only the bad ones enjoyed sex. We seem to have a love/hate relationship with our bodies and sexual desires. Our movies and TV stories are stuffed with our yearning for romantic love at the same time we deny it is possible.
It was during the days of chivalry that the idea of “romantic” love as separate from sexual union was invented in the Western World. The idea was that romance had a deeper spiritual component and from that we got the whole virgin and whore syndrome.
As a young woman, we girls argued often about whether or not one could possibly enjoy sex without being “in love”. Despite the stuff in the media, most of us still hold remnants of these ideas. It is fun to be romantic on Valentine’s Day and we should never be ashamed of our bodies and our natural drives. (Although we certainly want to be loving and responsible about our behavior.)
More than a hundred years after the Victorian Age, some of us are still living in that repressed belief system. During the rule of rule of England’s Queen Victoria, she is supposed to have counseled young wives to, “lie still and think of England” during sexual intercourse.
Some of our repressed ideas are from an even earlier age. They come from the early years of the Christian religion when Saint Augustine decided that men should love God, and not be tempted by women. He thought men were better off celibate and we see how that works for priests. Those were ignorant times. There were serious debates about whether or not women had souls in those days. They had souls, all right but they had very few rights or power.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, I offer some thoughts on romantic and sexual love. We are created in the image and likeness of God and that is the Creative Principle of Life. God is Love, working in our lives through spiritual Law. God is a Power For Good in our lives and we can express it in all our relationships.
God created us in love and we are born to express love. That is a basic truth that we hear in New Thought churches but there is little said about romantic love or sexual activity beyond praying to meet the perfect right partner.
Some people actually come to church to meet that perfect right partner. Perhaps we are lonely, and want someone to complete us. If we stick around, we will discover that we must love ourselves first.
“You complete me” was a great line in a good movie but the Truth is… No one can complete you. You must discover your own completeness in order to understand your own worth and spiritual magnificence.
One thing I hope we all know is there is nothing wrong with wanting a partner to love. Our bodies are made to express love. It is normal and natural and in obeys life’s purpose to love. If we choose to truly express love and not just create a power play or manipulation, it is good. How could it be anything else?
There are many ways to love. One way is to marry a person of the opposite sex and have some kids. I heard of a couple recently that was celebrating over 80 years together. Yes, it can be nice to find true love young and stay with it but that is not the only good or acceptable way. If a relationship is not loving, divorce is not failure, it is an intelligent response.
Some people stay single and if they are happy, that’s fine. It is also possible to find love and stay away from marriage. It is possible to be celibate and be happy and sexually active and be happy. The main thing is to make choices that work for you as an individual, not for your parents or parent’s parents.
Some people choose to remarry and, statistically, second marriages work better than the first one. I knew a man who was happy in his fifth try. He must have done a lot of growing and changing along the way and I salute his optimism. Optimism helps and so does spiritual growth. I know several people who are happy in their third marriages.
Every couple should have the marriage choice if they want it. I know same-sex couples who have been together for many years and they would like an official marriage. There is no question in my mind that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry just like the rest of us. Why in the world should anyone care?
As you enjoy your day, take a moment to enjoy the vision of William Blake and his wife reading poetry to each other in their little English Eden. I hope it makes you smile. Blake was a deeply spiritual man and his work has helped set this culture free from some of our nonsensical beliefs. I think of him as being a person who knew who and what he was. It is not surprising that he was happy reading classical poetry to his wife, while naked in his garden.
Blake lived in Joy. Without pretense, without waiting for perfect conditions, without shame. He welcomed his friend into the Garden of Eden, without embarrassment, because he knew the Truth that sets us free – that we are all spiritual beings, created in the image and likeness of God. And knowing that creates joy just to think about, doesn’t it?
This Valentine’s Day, and every day, won’t you take a moment to see yourself in Joy? And feel the Joy? Feel the freedom, the love and the internal permission to enjoy life that is yours by right of Divine Inheritance.
Do I love my body?
Am I willing to use this affirmation?
I love my body, as it is, right now.
Am I in Joy now?
Am I willing to use this affirmation?
I am Joy in action.