Guest page from Kate’s coffee break
EXPANDING YOUR SPIRIT – By Winnie
As a culture and as a world, it seems as if we have an exceptional opportunity now to expand our spiritual life. Here are 7 ideas about how to do this:
1. LET GO OF YOUR PRESENT IDEAS ABOUT AND EXPERIENCE OF GOD/SOURCE/HIGHER POWER. If you feel attached to your present experience, there’s no room for expansion. A fixed idea cannot evolve. I’ve heard that most people’s concept of God reflects their relationship with their own father. Could that be true for you? You may have a lifelong concept of God/Source/Higher Power, so the idea of letting go of it may leave you feeling somewhat untethered. Or perhaps you haven’t developed a spiritual life and don’t know where to start. Read The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck or wander around in a bookstore in the religion and personal growth sections until something calls you. Or go see the movie What the Bleep. Perhaps you’ve followed the same religious rituals all your life. Or maybe you have changed and grown in this area and have been happily following a particular blend of practices for some time. Be open to experiencing something new and wonderful. In any case, simply feel the willingness for this area of your life to expand, and then watch what happens during the next few weeks.
2. BREATHE. The breath symbolizes the flow of life and is a prayer in itself. It guides us into meditation and in and out of the world. Learn deep belly breathing and how to fill the upper chest. Experience the value of fully exhaling. Consider a seminar about breathing or a weekly yoga class. When in doubt, breathe.
3. ACCEPT AND LOVE WHAT IS. One of the gateways to expansion and a sure formula for happiness is to willingly embrace everything that’s happening in your life, while surrendering to the mystery of it all. I highly recommend Loving What Is by Byron Katie www.thework.org. Her simple but powerful methodology can transform your biggest problem in minutes and add a level of flow you may not have experienced before.
4. MAINTAIN YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR. Laughter and lightness access the soul and the energy of life itself. Don’t take anything or anyone too seriously.
5. EXPAND BY GETTING SIMPLER. Over the course of my life, my experience of prayer has morphed from memorized stanzas I didn’t understand, to free-form entreaties, to silent meditation, to simply breathing. I agree with Neale Donald Walsch that every thought is a prayer and that’s led me to realize that every single thing I do is a form of prayer. So my spiritual practice has become living every day life—so much simpler than the routines and rituals I used to follow. Is there some way you might simplify your practice this month?
6. LET GO. If you were only allowed to use two words for your prayer, these would be the ones. Pray them often. I was once upset and in tears over some drama in my life, when I happened to see a friend on the street where I was driving. I stopped, he walked over, and without knowing any of the particulars of what was happening with me, he looked into my eyes and said, “Let go.” It was the answer I needed that day. It is always the answer. Let go of controlling others and outcomes. Let go of your agendas. Let go.
7. BE WILLING TO BECOME BIG ENOUGH TO ACCOMMODATE THIS EXPANSION. As my life has gotten bigger, my spiritual edge is now enlarging my capacity and becoming big enough personally to hold and sustain all the bigger and better things that are appearing. Some of the ways I do that are breathing deeply, creating quiet, contemplative time, and constantly appreciating and giving thanks for everything in my life—even seemingly unfortunate events. I also have to remind myself from time to time that it’s okay for life to feel this great. What’s your edge? What will it take to be bigger?
Fully expect to be surprised and delighted with your spiritual expansion this year. Ask for it. Take a deep breath and enjoy and notice what you do in the next moment, the next time you answer the phone, send an email, greet your child or enjoy a meal. It’s all spiritual practice. And it’s available in increasingly bigger forms for as long as you are willing to invite it in.