In 1976 I lived in an upscale condominium, had a visible position with a Fortune 500 company, dated high profile men, drove a BMW, and traveled to Europe and the Caribbean. I felt as if I had accomplished the American Dream. But why was I feeling so sad and depressed, accumulating clothes and other “stuff,” finding ways to draw attention to myself, and seeking self worth through affiliation with others? At that time, I could not make sense out of my feelings, so I went searching for answers through self-help books—many of them. I learned a lot, but my feelings of sadness and depression continued. My anger and rage were just beneath the surface and came out in razor-like, terse responses—designed to shut up or cut down the other person.
In 1987 I got the sense that there might be something missing in my life and that it was something internal—like a pearl concealed in an oyster shell—that had settled and was nestled deep within, just waiting to be discovered. The shell started to open slightly as I attended a workshop that asked probing questions like, Who are you? Why are you dragging your past behind you? I started to feel shut off, as if I were in Plexiglas—shut off from my feelings, going through the motions, and feeling like I was flat lining, not living.
Over time I realized that I was so far removed from my feelings and wondered if I would ever get in touch with who I was. As I look back now on the process of connecting with my feelings, I am reminded of pulling the thread that unravels the hem of a skirt. Once you start to pull, it continues to unravel and finally the hem falls down. Well, the hem fell down for me when I got in touch with how much rage and resentment I was holding on to. Wow! Feelings showed up—all at once. It was like a storming rain, and I was trying to capture all of it with lots of small cups. I felt overwhelmed and inadequate. It was too late, the hem was down, and I would have to learn to deal with it.
During this most painful time, I was introduced to universal principles of cause and effect, wholeness, unity, consciousness, abundance, divine inheritance, peace, joy, unconditional love, and spiritual practices as well as the concept of spiritual living.
What is spiritual living? Spiritual living is living a fulfilled life following the universal principles of wholeness, abundance, attraction, cause and effect, and correspondence. Basically, these principles remind us that, like the lilies of the field, we are supplied with everything we need to live abundantly. We attract what we think about—and for every action there is a reaction. Spiritual living is an inside job; it’s the work we do to create inner peace. Daily practices such as meditation, yoga, communing with nature, prayer, reading, spending time in silence and other spiritual activities that create a sense of inner peace are all components of spiritual living.
In some cases, these practices allow you to de-clutter internally and create an orderly flow and sense of peace. These practices also allow us to break through the collective experience of lack and limitation. They support us in feeling peaceful in spite of the external circumstances. The key is to incorporate a disciplined practice into our daily lives to create inner peace.
We are in a time of transformation—creating something different, releasing what no longer serves us, and embracing new ways of living, new attitudes, new practices. Whether you identify with cooking or gardening metaphors, there is a recipe for transformation and new seeds to plant to transform your life. And yes, it’s a process. What does that mean? It means if we plant the seed tonight, digging it up tomorrow to see if it has taken root does not support growth. Watering the seed with our spiritual practices supports growth.
The ingredients for spiritual living include intentions, gratitude, affirmations, forgiveness, spiritual practices, moving your feet (action), and observations. While finding inner peace is something we do for ourselves, based on the law of attraction, we attract others who are experiencing inner peace like a magnet. We are transforming to create a peace-filled global community. Who are you being? Who are you attracting?
Here’s a favorite meditation:
I want to be better than I am in the responsibilities that are mine.
I am conscious of many petty resentments.
I am conscious of increasing hostility toward certain people.
I am conscious of the effort to be pleasing for effect, not because it is a genuine feeling on my part.
I am conscious of a tendency to shift to other shoulders burdens that are clearly my own.
Meditations of the Heart, Howard Thurman, Beacon Press. 1981.
Rev. Ruth Littlejohn is founding spiritual leader of Hampton Roads Center for Spiritual Living, a Science of Mind® Community. She offers principles, practices and tools for “changing your thinking to change your life.” For information, visit www.hamptonroads.csl.org or call 757-271-1552 or 410 715-6751.