Monday, September 29, 2014

The Many Forms of Prayer

Rumi said, "There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the earth."  When we spend time doing sacred art, writing or reading spiritual poetry, or  joining with others in ecstatic dance, we are expressing just a few of those hundreds of ways.  Every moment of every day, every breath we take, every step we make can be a prayer.  Pilgrimages are prayers.  Mantras and chanting are prayers. Doing the rosary, taking a walk out in nature, our whole life is a prayer.  We come into this life with a breath, we go out with another.  Our words, our thoughts -- all of these are prayers.

To me, prayer is a celebration of the soul.  Whether we realize it or not, just being alive takes us there. We can pray in groups.  As we meet, as we dance and move together, we are in prayer.    We pray with our agreements.  Whenever we come together and join our thoughts as one, that is also a prayer.  It's good to pay heed to what we agree on. 

Sometimes on retreat we are blessed with the experience of silent meals.  These are just another opportunity to move into the depth of our experience and celebrate the many joys of life.  Sand paintings, mandalas, aboriginal forms of art -- these are also celebrations of life, and of soul, and of the nature of being.  They are prayers too. 

When we bring ourselves consciously to prayer, we open to a heightened sense of self.  Our heart opens, our mind aligns, and we stand in our truth and in our power.  From this place it's not just our mouth or our intellect, it's our whole being.  This is how we change our world, one of us at a time, changing what's inside of us changes what's outside of us and thus all around us.

Join me now in this little mantra as a group prayer.  This comes from the Buddhist tradition of Vipassanā and it is a Metta or Loving Kindness Meditation.  "May all beings be peaceful, may all beings be free from suffering, may all beings be happy, may all beings be free." 

© Josephine Laing, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

All Is Well, Happiness, and Joy

Peace Pilgrim once said, "Who could know God and not be joyous?"  When we overcome the illusion of our separation from the divine we find ourselves in joyous contact with the Ultimate Reality from which we spring. This connection frees us from any misunderstanding we might have about ourselves and the nature of life. It allows us to experience joy.  

I first discovered a sense of the divine during my early teenage years when I was with my horse Duchess.  I reveled in the beauty of the natural world, admiring the energy of the trees, the soil, and the air surrounding us.  We can experience this feeling of reverence whenever we are in contact with nature.  

For me the divine is free from association with religion.  It is the ultimate source of the universe and of consciousness.  I like to think of the ultimate mystery as God and that God is the mystery of pure love.  It is the totality of everything.  The illusion of our separation from the divine is the cause of all of our suffering. This is what robs us of our joy. 

Though happiness and joy may seem pretty similar, they are actually quite distinct.  Happiness is an externally based form of pleasure.  We become happy when someone gives us a present or a compliment, or when we find ourselves in a lovely environment.  We take a ride at an amusement park and we laugh. 

On the other hand, joy percolates up from deep within ourselves.  Joy is linked to our sense of "All is Well."  No matter what, we know the rightness of everything.  We feel this way when we are doing what we truly want to do, when we follow our inspirations, when we open our hearts in love.

Everything is a part of the totality and when we know that we are learning and growing, a sense of well-being pervades our every experience.  Years ago a friend of mine shared with me a saying that really knocked my socks off when I first heard it.  "Gratitude is my only reaction."  I see now how very profound this idea is. 

One beautiful way to reconnect with our joy is to take a moment to stop and think, how many times have you brought to your awareness that great mystery, that deep love, that ultimate source of creation?  Have you seen it in the eyes of another?  Have you felt it in the breeze in your hair?  Did you feel it in the sun from the window as it warmed your hand? 

I invite you this week to see how many times a day we can reach for that joy.  Find that connection with something larger than ourselves and just surrender ourselves to it.  Allowing it to cause that deep joy of connectedness, percolating up from the very roots of our being.  

© Josephine Laing, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Learning Self Love

Hello everyone.

I've just created this little video with my dear friend Einar Berg.  It's called Learning Self Love.

We can not give what we do not have.  Learning Self love is one of the most important things we do in our sanctuary.  This let's us have more love in our lives and in our relationships.  Join me for this brief video on how we can learn to love ourselves.

© Josephine Laing, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Grumble, Grumble, Grumble vs. Wow! That Was Great!

We do have free will.  One of the things that we can absolutely choose is where we place our thoughts and our mind.  This can be like simply picking up the reigns on a runaway horse.  It is easier than you would think. We all experience hardships.  Life is rife with them.  But our difficulties are here to help us grow.  They are the obstacles that cause us to leap even higher.

There are common obstacles that we encounter, these blocks seem like they prevent us from spending every moment rejoicing in gratitude.  Grief of course, is huge.  So is lack of forgiveness, along with a lack of compassion and understanding. 

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identifies the five stages of grief.  They are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  After having experienced 18 deaths in 24 months and crying buckets full of tears, I became aware that the time we spend in grief can vary greatly, depending on the loss.  It also depends on, dare I say, our choice to stay there, or move through it and move on.  Some loss really knocks us for a loop.  And it's just going to take its sweet time.  Grief never fully leaves us, but there are instances where we can actually get in there, do some inner work, and bring our thoughts, minds, and hearts to some resolve. 

In the advanced course I find that when I have really moved through my inner work, with lots of understanding and self-love, I can even come to a sixth stage, which is gratitude.  This is the point where I have come to see the blessings that the loss has brought to me.  Sometimes we learn how to better care for ourselves.  Sometimes we move on to a relationship that is even more compatible.  It's not so much what happens to us in life, it's what we do with what happens that matters. 

Another major block to gratitude is lack of forgiveness.  Sometimes we're holding on so tight to something we think is terrible that we just can't move forward.  Louise Hay helped me with this obstacle in my own life with her affirmation, "I forgive you for not being the way that I wanted you to be.  I forgive you and I set you free, and thereby free myself."  There is a lot of personal reflection in this thought.  And it often helps us to see the deeper view.  My spiritual teacher Jana Massey taught us that forgiveness is the law of erasure.  It erases the hurt so the truth can be made known.  When we forgive we release that tight grasp and over time, often we see further. 

There is one more set of forgiveness affirmations I'd like to share with you today.  Sadly, I don't remember where I got them.  But never mind, they go like this, "I forgive you for any pain that you may have caused me.  I ask that you forgive me for any pain that I may have caused you.  And I forgive myself for allowing you to cause me any pain."  With these we see the situation from three unique perspectives.  They also help us understand that pain is a two way street.

With deeper introspection we can even move beyond the need for forgiveness because we come to see that everyone is always doing what feels right given their set of circumstances.  Often in a worst case scenario, the perpetrator is so tortured themselves, so lost within, that they are looking for any way to have someone else know their experience.  Those who are this unsettled truly need our compassion.  We wouldn't punish a baby for pulling a cat's tail.  We would understand that's the stage of growth the child is in.  Similarly, someone who has done us wrong is experiencing their own version of the world.   As hard to swallow as this may be, understanding is the key.

So, grumble, grumble, grumble is a choice we sometimes make.  And it's fully understandable. But how much nicer it is to turn our focus to what is beautiful in every given situation, to see how we are growing our souls and the souls of others.  Appreciation always shifts the energy.  We can take the time to look for it and say instead, "Wow! That was great." 

© Josephine Laing, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Answers to All of Our Prayers

I've heard it said that there are only three answers to prayer.  The first is, "Yes, of course."  The second is, "Yes, but later."  And the third is, "No, I have something better for you. 

The Country Western singer, Garth Brooks, titled one of his most famous songs, "Thank God for Unanswered Prayers."  In it he describes his younger self's passionate plea to be able to marry a woman whom he thought would satisfy his life's desires.  But years later, he sees her and realizes how grateful he is that his prayer went unanswered and how happy he is with his own wife and the life they lead together.  I think his story was not about an unanswered prayer, but rather was about the third answer to prayer, "No, I have something better for you."

For my own part, in my early adult years, I settled into the life that other people had in mind for me.  I achieved the required level of education, got the degree and began an acceptable career.  But spirit had other ideas in mind and arranged for a course correction in the form of a major back injury that would not only change my life's direction, but would also give me the necessary tools to prepare me for what lay ahead. 

Having to spend a year in bed mending my back opened the door that allowed me to fully develop my psychic ability.  Knowing how important positive thoughts are in healing, I began with self-love.  I also spent time meditating and interpreting my dreams in the sanctuary of my home. 

I was nearly healed from the first injury when another big injury landed me in bed again.  This one was so serious that I got down on my knees and prayed, to a God that I really didn't know, asking to be spared.  I said that in exchange for granting me my life, I would do anything, whatever the Divine had in mind for me. 

This is a very powerful experience.  When we give ourselves over to Divine Will, we surrender our lives and subsequently find our true purpose.  As Gandhi poetically said, "God demands nothing less than complete self surrender as the price for the only real freedom that is worth having.  And when a person thus loses their self, that person immediately finds their self in the service of all that lives.  Such service becomes their delight and recreation.  They are now a new person, never weary of spending themselves in the service of God's creation."

Committing myself to God's will not only gave me a new and different life which was much more true to who I am, but it also taught me about the transformational power of prayer.  This was the final ingredient that allowed me to truly step into the magic of my own life.  It created for me my life's work as a Clairvoyant Healer.  It has allowed me to thrive with joy.  And it taught me the answers to all of our prayers: "Yes," "No," and, Surrender.

© Josephine Laing, 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

We Are All One

Throughout spiritual literature we find the phrase, "We are all one." I am sometimes asked, how do we find oneness when we all feel so separate? I love what Aldous Huxley said about the brain. He said the brain is like a reducer valve, mitigating all of the information from the universe. A reducer valve is something that makes the flow of information or material smaller. For instance, the water out at the street flows through a four inch pipe. We've all seen a fire hydrant blow, it's a tremendous geyser. If that amount of water pressure came out of our kitchen sink it would blow the sink right off the wall. So instead, there are reducer valves to manage the amount of water that flows from the street into our homes. Our brains are the same way. If we had access to all the information of the universe, all the time, it would short our circuits, much like that exploding kitchen faucet.

However, we can access our little part of that entire creation by simply stepping into the right side of our brains. Here, in our right brains, we find the present moment, the eternal now, the quiet mind, psychic perception, limitless possibilities, and new insightful solutions. Here we are the observer, where everything is perfect, whole, and complete. This is the place where we are connected to everything. There is an innocent openness, a rich sense of abundance, and euphoria. 

One of my favorite analogies is that of the drop of water and the ocean. A drop of water is a part of all water, however it is differentiated into a single drop. It is no more separate from the rest of water than my baby finger is separate from me. My finger is not separate, but it is different from the rest of me. Similarly, our consciousness is a unique part of divinity. Not separate, but different, with access to all being a part of the whole. When we look at the world and ourselves this way we see the illusion of separation for what it is: merely an illusion.
This idea of separation can be very dangerous. It is the source, after all, of war. It causes the them vs. us mentality. When instead we see everyone and everything as a part of the same whole, but delightfully and interestingly different, then the whole world becomes our family. And we are in love with everyone and everything.

In closing, I'll leave you with a little guidance for how to step into the right brain. My favorite is to spend some time out in nature. Nature opens us to an expansiveness and a clarity that allows us to receive inspiration, which always comes right out of the right brain. Another great way is to spend time with a dog. Dogs are loving, in the present moment, accepting of everything. They are perfect expressions of God, which is dog spelled backwards. Perhaps my favorite way of accessing the right brain is to take a moment to listen for just a second to that birdsong that just sounded right outside the window. Try it right now, see if you can catch it ... did you notice, that for right then you didn't have any thoughts? You were open and receptive. Enter there. 

© Josephine Laing, 2014