Hello my Dear Friends and Family,
I want to remind you that the Usui Retreat will start on the 21st of December…just a few days away. I am doing something a bit different in the retreat space this year. I will be giving you a little spiritual gardening to do.
With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays also comes searching for that perfect gift. The following article is meaningful and will give you some great suggestions. Why not take some time to just chill out and read the newsletter and give yourself permission to recharge your batteries and touch back into your spiritual wellspring.
Expressions of the Heart
Creating Meaningful Homemade Gifts
The gifts we craft with our own hands are often the most significant because the love that drove us to create is infused in the products of our creation. And the recipients of these homemade offerings receive a token of our willingness to invest ourselves in their joy. Allow these ideas to inspire you:
1. When you craft a beautifully decorated prayer box (or jar) for loved ones, you give them the gift of spiritual awareness. As you share this gift, explain that it should serve as a receptacle for their hopes, dreams, and loves—as well as worries—and thus a reminder of who they were, are, and will someday be.
2. If you love journaling, share your writing joy with family and friends by giving each a unique, handmade personal journal. A simple spiral notebook dressed up with paper, fabric, photographs, or other embellishments will give your loved ones a special place to record their private thoughts.
3. Erase the distance between yourself and your far away loved ones by presenting each with a photo journal documenting how your life has changed in the past year. Or introduce them to your locale with a homemade guidebook that highlights everything you love about your town or city.
4. When you sew medicine bags for the people you care about, you can rest assured your gift will always be close to their hearts. A small pouch can be filled with many meditative or symbolic items, such as quartz crystals, sage, or magical objects.
5. A progressive photo album, wherein pictures tell the story of your relationships from the past up to the present, can be a simple yet poignant reminder of the many wonderful experiences you and your loved ones have shared over the years.
6. Give the gift of serenity with a guided meditation you create and record to CD or tape. Your loved ones will take pleasure in being led through tranquil landscapes by the soothing sound of your voice.
7. Hand-crafted ornaments that can be hung on trees, in windows, and on walls afford you an opportunity to surround the important people in your life with beauty. Whether you prefer to work with clay, crystals, fabric, baked dough, or natural objects, your gift can serve as a calming focal point in your loved ones’ homes. Whether you choose to give a gift or simply share your friendship and love, remember that it is the intention behind the thought that is most important.
Experiences We Don’t Understand
Sometimes we have an experience that we don’t understand, but if we look deeply, or wait long enough, a reason for that experience will usually reveal itself. All the events in our lives lead to other events, and all that we have manifested in this present moment is the result of past events and experiences. We cannot easily tease apart the many threads that have been woven together to create our current reality. Experiences that don’t make sense, as well as any that we regret, are just as responsible for the good things in our lives as the experiences we do understand or label as “good.”
This is especially important to remember at times when we feel directionless or unsure of what to do. It is often at times like these that we take a job or move to a place without really knowing if it’s the right thing to do. We may ultimately end up leaving the job or the place, but often during that time we will have met someone who becomes an important friend, or we may have an experience that changes us in a profound way. When all the pieces of our life don’t quite make sense, we can remember that there may be some hidden gem of a reason that we are where we are having the experiences we are having.
It’s fun to look back on past experiences with an eye to uncovering those gems—the dreadful temporary job in a bland office building that introduced you to the love of your life; the roommate you couldn’t tolerate who gave you a book that changed your life; the time spent living in a city you didn’t like that led you into a deeper relationship with yourself. Remembering these past experiences can restore our faith in the present. Life is full of buried treasures. Chances are, you’re sitting on some right now.
Let Go And Let Flow
Taking A Leap Of Faith
Many people, in heeding the guidance of their souls, find themselves contemplating goals that seem outrageous or unattainable. In the mind's eye, these individuals stand at the edge of a precipice and look out over the abyss at the fruit of their ambition. Some resist the urge to jump, paralyzed by the gap between their current circumstances and the life of their dreams. Others make a leap of faith into the unknown, unsure of what they will encounter but certain that they will gain more in their attempts than they would bowing to self-protective instincts. This leap can be exceedingly difficult for individuals with control issues because the act of embracing uncertainty requires them to trust that surrender will net them the rewards they seek. Yet when you make a leap of faith, believing without a doubt that you will land safely on the other side, you can accomplish almost anything you set out to do.
There have no doubt been times in your life when you chose to go where the universal flow took you. Yet you may encounter instances in which your objectives require you to step outside of the boundaries of your established comfort zone so that you may freely and actively jettison yourself into a new phase of your life. While you may fear what seems to be the inevitable fall, consider that in all likelihood you will find yourself flying. A successful leap of faith requires your attention, as it is the quiet and often indistinct voice of your inner self that will point you toward your ultimate destination. Understand that the leap across the chasm of ambiguity may challenge you in unforeseen ways but you will make it across if you trust yourself.
If your mind and heart resist, you can dampen this resistance by building a bridge of knowledge. The more you know about the leap you are poised to take, the smaller the gap between "here" and "there" will appear to be. Your courageous leap of faith can lead you into uncharted territory, enabling you to build a new, more adventurous life. Though you may anticipate that fear will be your guide on your journey across the abyss, you will likely discover that exhilaration is your constant companion.
Working From Center
In The Thick Of It
When we are "in the thick of it," overwhelmed by too many things that need our attention, it's important to remember that we are never given more than we can handle. When life's challenges make us question this, our best coping mechanism is to follow the reliable and well-known course to our calm center and anchor ourselves there. It is for these times that we have been practicing regularly, so that our mind, body, and spirit will know how to find the peace within. Even in the midst of seeming chaos, a deep breath can help us turn within to find the space to work from, the calm at the center of the storm.
Tapping into our inner resources we begin again, bringing our focus to the needs of the present moment. Asking "why?" shifts our energy away from the task at hand. We can seek answers to those questions once we get to the other side of the present challenge. For now, we accept what is. Once we have collected scattered energy and created space, inspiration will strike, help will arrive, and what seemed impossible will either become possible or we will find it has become unnecessary. The flow of the universe and its perfect order has room to move in our lives when we get ourselves and our extraneous thoughts out of the way.
After the thick has become thin again, we have the opportunity to learn from the situation with a better idea of our true capabilities. We can now ask ourselves the "why" questions with the goal of fine-tuning our lives. Perhaps we have taken on more than is ours to do or made commitments out of obligation rather than insight. It could just be the ebb and flow and life, or we may be receiving life lessons on a fast track in preparation for something wonderful to come. But when we have a chance to make new choices, we know the best ones are made when we work from center.
Your Perfect Teacher
Many of us long to find a spiritual teacher or guru. We may feel unsure of how to practice our spirituality without one, or we may long for someone who has attained a higher level of insight to lead the way for us. Some of us have been looking for years to no avail and feel frustrated and even lost. The good news is that the greatest teacher you could ever want is always with you-that is your life.
The people and situations we encounter every day have much to teach us when we are open to receiving their wisdom. Often we don't recognize our teachers because they may not look or act like our idea of a guru, yet they may embody great wisdom. In addition, some people teach us by showing us what we don't want to do. All the situations in our lives, from the insignificant to the major, conspire to teach us exactly what we need to be learning at any given time. Patience, compassion, perseverance, honesty, letting go-all these are covered in the classroom of the teacher that is your life.
We can help ourselves to remember this perfect teacher each day with a few simple words. Each morning we might find a moment to say, "I acknowledge and honor the teacher that is my life. May I be wise enough to recognize the teachers and lessons that I encounter today, and may I be open to receiving their wisdom." We might also take some time each day to consider what our lives are trying to teach us at this time. A difficult phase in your relationship with your child may be teaching you to let go. The homeless person you see every day may be showing you the boundaries of your compassion and generosity. A spate of lost items may be asking you to be more present to physical reality. Trust your intuition on the nature of the lesson at hand, work at your own pace, and ask as many questions as you want. Your life has all the answers.
A beautiful site that explains a spiritual experience, take the time to be inspired.
Serving The Higher Self
In most spiritual circles, the ego gets a pretty bad rap. The reason for this is that the ego, to some extent, is the principle in our psyches that separates us from one another, while spirit is the principle that shows us that no such separation exists. Sometimes the ego is depicted as an almost demonic figure that keeps us from realizing our true nature. But at its most basic, the ego is simply a tool that helps us organize the various aspects of our personality so that we can function in the world. In this sense, the ego is simply a way for us to understand and attend to ourselves at the same time as we understand and attend to the world around us. The ego is a tool that we use to navigate the world.
Perhaps the problem is that the ego sometimes gets out of control. This happens when the higher-self loses control of the psyche. The psyche then falls under the leadership of the ego, an entity that was never meant to lead. The ego is meant to be definitively in the service of the higher self. When this relationship is functioning, the ego is a useful intermediary representing the whole self but not thinking that it is the whole self. Then, it is almost as if the ego is the self playfully pretending to be the separate entity called “I.” Like an actor, the ego plays the roles that the world asks us to play in order to be part of the program. In this way, the ego can be a tool enabling us to be in the world but not of it.
As long as we are in touch with our higher selves, our egos are not a threat. They are simply useful tools in the service of spirit. We keep our egos in check when we continually nurture our awareness of who we really are. Then our egos are free to serve without trying ineffectually to rule. It is healthy to have ego, but like all things in life, ego functions best when it is in balance and harmony with your whole self. "Go back to those times in your life when you came to a crossroad. Your life changed abruptly. You lost someone you loved. You found and committed to a new partner. You had a new baby. You moved geographically. You ran into someone that completely changed your belief system with the fullness and richness and total unconditional-ness of their love for you.
Revisit each of those times in your past to uncover 'godwinks' that were sent to you even if you weren't paying attention; make a list of these 'coincidences' and answered (even if to unexpressed) prayers. This is what you'll discover: when there were multiple paths that your life could've followed, there were always signposts of reassurance - godwinks of personal communication - to you and to no one else on Earth.Here's more good news! The map of winks from God will continue to unfold long into your future if you just look for them. They are experienced to the extent you're open to and seeking them. And acknowledge, finally, that He is communicating directly with you."
-- Squire Rushnell, in When God Winks at You
Have a beautiful and meaningful Holiday Season,