From the category archives:


Holiday Survival Guide to Staying Spiritually Centered
Creative Commons License photo credit: seantoyer

To say holiday family gatherings can be challenging is a gross understatement.  Take attendant seasonal stress, combine with deeply-ingrained behavior patterns rearing their ugly heads, mix in a few triggering personalities, a smattering of cultural conditioning, and finally toss in forced togetherness with people you might see (and begrudgingly at that) just once a year, and we’ve plenty to deal with right there.

Add a desire to express your spirituality, or moreover, share your enthusiasm over a spiritual awakening into this mix and it can be like throwing gasoline on a burning yuletide flame.

I don’t want to paint too bleak a picture or lapse into dysfunctional family stereotyping (easy as it would be to go there). Of course, not all families are dysfunctional nor geographically and emotionally disconnected. Yet the fact remains that family members estranged by time or distance often come home to roost at the holidays, making for uncommon interactions between people who don’t see one another on a regular basis.  The holidays also involve more socializing than other times of the year do, and much of it happens in contexts that are ripe for confrontation, judgment, and argument.

If you’re newer to spiritual exploration, and especially if you’ve had a sudden and distinct spiritual awakening (as I did) religious holidays like Christmas and Chanukah and their ritual celebrations offer both challenge and opportunity, with more than [click to continue…]


Creative Commons License photo credit: jerseytourism

It’s the end of the journey through another year, December in the northern hemisphere where I live.  I love this month not for the holiday lights, shorter days and colder weather, but because things slow down for once.  Largely thanks to the cluster of December holidays, the pace lets up, and there is time, space, and breathing room to reflect. Mmmmm . . . just savor how good that feels.  Take a deep breath, let it out.  Exhale.  Doesn’t that feel wonderful?

Yet no sooner do we reflect on the past year, or our entire lives to date, than we fast forward to what we will do next, do differently, or both.  We can’t help but move from reflection to dreaming and intending for the future.

Intention has been a growing focus in my life this year and is a paramount theme for 2011.  And it’s not just me – the concept of living with intention seems to be popping up all around me, and I say it’s about time.  Especially with science catching up to spirituality, we’re learning more all the time about the power of intention – even before it leads to action – to really and truly move the physical universe.  (If you’re curious for more on that – especially the science piece – don’t miss what Lynne McTaggart is doing at The Intention Experiment.  This ain’t hocus, people).

One thing’s for sure on this journey:  you can set the course, or [click to continue…]


The nature of challenge

Creative Commons License photo credit: BruceTurner

After recently reading this post by Empowered Soul Andrea Hess, I’ve been reflecting on just how prevalent our sense of deservedness figures into getting what we want.  It’s as if we feel the need to qualify our desires almost before we can admit having them, and certainly before allowing ourselves to pursue them.

So let’s talk about desire, which often gets a bad rap and is confused with greed, gluttony, or other characteristics generally lumped into a category beginning with “The 7 Deadly . .”

The Nature of Desire

Desire is natural.  Many physical desires – like hunger, thirst, sleep and sex – are hard-wired into us instinctively to ensure both our individual and collective survival.  Take a look at just about any other living thing, plant or animal, and the desire for food, water, rest and reproduction is pretty obvious.

Human desire, however, goes beyond survival instinct. Many of our creative or intellectually-driven desires are what take us beyond subsistence into abundance.  When these desires are motivated by or result in material abundance – of money, possessions, or experiences – they are oft-criticized.

I prefer to think of desire in all its forms as positive vs. negative in the sense that it spurs the forward flow of energy.  I see its primary benefit being not what it yields for the individual having the desire, but what its residual effects are along the journey toward its expression.

As Charles Fillmore states in his book Prosperity, “desire is the onward impulse of the ever evolving soul.”  And as Edwene Gaines writes about that in The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity, “It stands to reason then that if we are evolving souls (and I believe that we are) then our desires – the longings of our hearts – are what propel us forward into the life experiences required for an evolution of consciousness”.

I happen to agree.

I also agree with what Andrea wrote, that our divine gifts and talents in life are what come naturally to us.  Yes, that which you naturally love and excel at is the “work” you are meant to do, the way you are meant to serve others and yourself in this lifetime.

So it seems both sad and paradoxical to me that so often we [click to continue…]


In any process of learning, growth or change, it’s terribly easy to get caught up in the illusion that you’re becoming “more”.

We send ourselves to school to get titles and degrees – to acquire knowledge and develop the intellect.  We comb the far corners of the world to explore, see or experience more.  We strive in our jobs and careers in order to become richer, promoted faster, or accredited and known in the process.  We save and scheme and plan for a bigger house or more luxurious car, to live in a better neighborhood, or to send our kids to superior schools.  Elite athletes train to break records, celebrities vie for more time in the spotlight and press than their peers, and politicians must outdo their opponents in fund-raising and face time to even get in the game.

Such is the metaphor for success in the modern world: climb, rise, move up, escalate, soar, transcend.  Most days it feels like if you’re not advancing, you might as well not even get out of bed.

This is a serious pitfall for any seeker, because [click to continue…]


Image: federico stevanin /

This week, the father of a dear friend died. It wasn’t a surprise – he’d been ill for a while and there was adequate time to prepare – still, the loss is palpable. In the same week my sister’s mother-in-law was seen for chest pains and promptly ushered into open heart surgery for a quadruple bypass. She came through it fine, but the loss of expected freedom, mobility and livelihood during what is sure to be an extensive recovery (she’s in her 70’s) hits hard.

There are losses like these which are significant and permanent. They undeniably affect the person experiencing them firsthand and impact all with strong emotional attachments to that person. In these types of losses, it’s difficult if not impossible to see a silver lining.

Then there are those losses which are really wins in disguise, like my daughter’s recent loss. She’s twelve and has lost her eyeglasses AGAIN.

Mothers of kids with glasses, retainers, and similar personal health implements can relate. You spend thousands of dollars on braces, they finally come off, you spend a few hundred more on the retainers, and you think you’re done. Wrong. Retainers and glasses and sports wraps and such inevitably fall out of backpacks, are left on restaurant tables, and vanish on school buses. In my daughter’s case, she has worn glasses from the Northern Optometry Group since the age of six and probably had at least ten pairs so far.

I’ve been at this motherhood-vision-care thing too long to freak out about another pair of lost glasses. I’ve been worn down. With calm resignation, I simply booked an appointment at the ophthalmologist. Her prescription had expired so she’d need to have an eye exam before new glasses could be ordered anyway.

Off we go to the doctor and while we’re waiting [click to continue…]


Making the leap

In any growth process, you’re going to encounter discomfort; it simply comes with the territory.  The spiritual growth process is no different.  It’s good to remind ourselves of this so we don’t get stalled once growth kicks into high gear.

What’s the secret to handling emotional discomfort so you can move forward and past it?  [click to continue…]