Everything is God Given

I write a blog about money a few times a year because I think there is a lot of guilt, shame and confusion around money in the spiritual community.

There’s this idea that you can’t be spiritual and rich, or if you are – you have screwed people over to get there.

There’s this idea that you shouldn’t charge for God given talents like intuition or insights.

But – last time I checked, all talents are God given. The talent to play basketball, the talent to write, the talent to sing, the talent to act, or be a doctor – are all God given.

For the talents to be fully realized, we must practice and learn and apply a ton of hard work, but nonetheless the raw talent came pre-installed.

And yet, we seem to have some block around certain types of God given talent.

The idea that a rich person can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven is widely used to take vows of poverty, but what Jesus meant when He said that was if you WORSHIP money and make it your God, then you’ll never be happy.

But you can have a lot of money and still be focused on The Divine.

You can also not have a lot of money and be so focused on money that you forget your connection to the Divine.

Money, like everything else, is a symbol for energy. That is it.

And the more of it we have, the more we can help ourselves, those that we love and others.

There is nothing spiritual about playing a small money game.

I also don’t believe that when you are a healer or life coach you are charging for the teachings.

All the wisdom teachings are readily available for free on the internet. Anyone who has access to the internet has access to the wisdom of the ages.

When you charge for your services, what you are charging for is your time and the facilitation of the teachings.

Your time and your wisdom are very valuable.

I know people who went to college for years and years and have six figure debts that never learned the things spiritually.

What is that worth?

I believe it’s important to give away scholarships, free content and help those who need it so that personal growth isn’t just something for “the rich.” But I also believe that healers who don’t charge what they are worth are doing themselves a major disservice and as a result, a disservice to their clients.

The guilt and shame around charging money for healing services is a way for many practitioners to play small.

The greater your cup is full, the more you have to give away.

Are you playing small by hiding behind prices you know are too cheap?

Are you scared to step up and play a bigger game?

Are you running yourself ragged and capped at a certain income because you are afraid to raise your rates?

Are you triggered by the rates of other healers?

Don’t you think you are worth investing in? And also being paid well for the value that you add to the world?

What would your life look like if you cast those fears aside and actually did what you knew you had to?

I’m curious.

LOJF-reflection-3dd8df

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To Be Both Human & Spirit

Triggers happen.

They do.

There’s nothing we can do to stop them – because it is through our triggers that we learn about ourselves.

I still get triggered. Someone says something. Someone does something. Something happens.

BOOM – nice ME is GONE and triggered ME is there.

It’s inevitable.

I’ve come to believe that the journey is really about seeking the peace within the chaos – the Truth within the trigger.

Life is not about NOT being triggered. Life is about bringing LOVE and AWARENESS to our triggers and moments when our emotions come up.

You see, a lot of people I know make the mistake of shooting for a “spiritual bypass” – where they try to deny their humanness – they try to deny their emotions, they try to put their negativity and triggers in a box – and then pretend they don’t exist.

And then – over time – they stack up – and BOOM – you have a breakdown, an emotional explosion or other expression.

Having these doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. It means you are human.

Here we advocate a full acceptance and expression of your human nature. This lets us be fully alive. From there, we also believe in tapping into the higher awareness that is your Soul, that is the observer of the human mind and emotions.

We are part spirit, part human. To deny either is to deny who you are.

We can’t sit around and just justify our negativity as “being human”. And we also can’t not express ourselves because we are “spiritual”. We need both.

This is the beautiful balance that we get to walk as spiritual beings having a human experience.

I have found that when I let myself express, when I allow myself to be who I am – without any judgment – amazing things happen.

And once I express myself – without judgment, I do my best to bring my awareness, my Soul perspective into the moment.

My aim is to have my Soul awareness be there as I am being triggered, so that I catch myself faster.

We all have triggers. We all have intense emotions, both dark and light. These are not good or bad – they are just information.

We must allow ourselves to express ourselves, we must allow ourselves to be FULLY human and FULLY spirit.

This dance is the dance that allows the greatest version of life to be lived.

So the underlying question remains How can you allow yourself to be both human and spirit?

Have Faith You Always Get What you Ask For

Plain and simple, we get what we ask for.

Not just with our words, but also with our actions. In fact, our actions will show us what we are asking for far more than our words. We only take action on what we truly believe, so if we want to see what we are really asking for, let us look towards our actions.

If you say you want to lose weight, but your actions are to eat high calorie food and stay inactive, you aren’t really asking for health.

If you say you have faith but your actions are faithless, then you don’t really have faith.

If you say you love someone and your actions are unloving, then you don’t really love that person.

Let us be mindful of our actions.

The precursor to action is thought. Sometimes it can be VERY hard to be aware of what we are actually thinking, especially because many of our actions come from unconscious thoughts. If we want to tap into what’s really running us, but are having a hard time, let us see what actions we are taking.

We want love, but we run away when it shows up. There is a misalignment there of desire and thought.

We want weight loss and a healthy body, but we don’t get off our ass and exercise. There is a misalignment there, too.

In this literal Uni-verse, we can LITERALLY create (from the inside out) any type of experience we wish to choose. It is when our desires, our thoughts and our actions are in alignment that this kind of life begins to emerge.

The seed of a desire for something greater lives within all of us, but our lack of action prevents that kind of life from unfolding.

Imagine if a farmer had seeds and land to plant his seeds, but doubted that the seeds would grow if he planted them. So if this doubt were strong enough, the seeds would never get planted. Or, they get planted, but then the farmer can be too impatient and dig up the seeds the next day or the next week because the crop hasn’t come yet.

The farmer still has no harvest. Then a second farmer comes by at harvest time with a full crop of harvest, and the first farmer gets jealous and angry at the second farmer for having abundance. The first farmer may blame The Uni-verse or say, “People like me aren’t supposed to have this harvest,” but in reality, it is the farmer’s own doubt and impatience that prevents him from reaping his harvest.

We are many times like the first farmer. Our seeds are our desires. Our fields are our daily actions. We must plant our desires in actions and then be patient. If weeds of doubt creep in, we must clear them out. And in perfect time we will be able to harvest the fruit of our faith.

This is how life is. We need to nurture the fertile soil of our actions with faith and patience.

So, today, are you not getting what you want? Look at your desires. Look at your actions. Where is there a disconnect? How can you adjust your actions to sync up with your desires? And, if that feels weird, how can you change your MENTAL habits to allow yourself to take the proper action that is in alignment with your desires?

The answers to the lack you may be temporarily experiencing is all within you. Show up, let go and trust The Uni-verse one day at a time. Get your desires, thoughts and actions in alignment and then let your patience and faith shower down on the fertile soil of your actions.

Your harvest WILL come.

How Critical Thinkers Lose Their Faith in God

Why are some people more religious than others? Answers to this question often focus on the role of culture or upbringing.  While these influences are important, new research suggests that whether we believe may also have to do with how much we rely on intuition versus analytical thinking. In 2011 Amitai Shenhav, David Rand and Joshua Greene of Harvard University published a paper showing that people who have a tendency to rely on their intuition are more likely to believe in God.  They also showed that encouraging people to think intuitively increased people’s belief in God. Building on these findings, in a recent paper published in Science, Will Gervais and Ara Norenzayan of the University of British Columbia found that encouraging people to think analytically reduced their tendency to believe in God. Together these findings suggest that belief may at least partly stem from our thinking styles.

Gervais and Norenzayan’s research is based on the idea that we possess two different ways of thinking that are distinct yet related. Understanding these two ways, which are often referred to as System 1 and System 2, may be important for understanding our tendency towards having religious faith. System 1 thinking relies on shortcuts and other rules-of-thumb while System 2 relies on analytic thinking and tends to be slower and require more effort. Solving logical and analytical problems may require that we override our System 1 thinking processes in order to engage System 2. Psychologists have developed a number of clever techniques that encourage us to do this. Using some of these techniques, Gervais and Norenzayan examined whether engaging System 2 leads people away from believing in God and religion.

For example, they had participants view images of artwork that are associated with reflective thinking (Rodin’s The Thinker) or more neutral images (Discobulus of Myron). Participants who viewed The Thinker reported weaker religious beliefs on a subsequent survey. However, Gervais and Norenzayan wondered if showing people artwork might have made the connection between thinking and religion too obvious. In their next two studies, they created a task that more subtly primed analytic thinking. Participants received sets of five randomly arranged words (e.g. “high winds the flies plane”) and were asked to drop one word and rearrange the others in order to create a more meaningful sentence (e.g. “the plane flies high”). Some of their participants were given scrambled sentences containing words associated with analytic thinking (e.g. “analyze,” “reason”) and other participants were given sentences that featured neutral words (e.g. “hammer,” “shoes”). After unscrambling the sentences, participants filled out a survey about their religious beliefs. In both studies, this subtle reminder of analytic thinking caused participants to express less belief in God and religion. The researchers found no relationship between participants’ prior religious beliefs and their performance in the study. Analytic thinking reduced religious belief regardless of how religious people were to begin with.

In a final study, Gervais and Norenzayan used an even more subtle way of activating analytic thinking: by having participants fill out a survey measuring their religious beliefs that was printed in either clear font or font that was difficult to read. Prior research has shown that difficult-to-read font promotes analytic thinking by forcing participants to slow down and think more carefully about the meaning of what they are reading. The researchers found that participants who filled out a survey that was printed in unclear font expressed less belief as compared to those who filled out the same survey in the clear font.

These studies demonstrate yet another way in which our thinking tendencies, many of which may be innate, have contributed to religious faith. It may also help explain why the vast majority of Americans tend to believe in God. Since System 2 thinking requires a lot of effort, the majority of us tend to rely on our System 1 thinking processes when possible. Evidence suggests that the majority of us are more prone to believing than being skeptical. According to a 2005 poll by Gallup, 3 out of every 4 Americans hold at least one belief in the paranormal. The most popular of these beliefs are extrasensory perception (ESP), haunted houses, and ghosts. In addition, the results help explain why some of us are more prone to believe that others. Previous research has found that people differ in their tendency to see intentionsand causes in the world. These differences in thinking styles could help explain why some of us are more likely to become believers.

Why and how might analytic thinking reduce religious belief? Although more research is needed to answer this question, Gervais and Norenzayan speculate on a few possibilities. For example, analytic thinking may inhibit our natural intuition to believe in supernatural agents that influence the world. Alternatively, analytic thinking may simply cause us to override our intuition to believe and pay less attention to it. It’s important to note that across studies, participants ranged widely in their religious affiliation, gender, and race. None of these variables were found to significantly relate to people’s behavior in the studies.

Gervais and Norenzayan point out that analytic thinking is just one reason out of many why people may or may not hold religious beliefs. In addition, these findings do not say anything about the inherent value or truth of religious beliefs—they simply speak to the psychology of when and why we are prone to believe. Most importantly, they provide evidence that rather than being static, our beliefs can change drastically from situation to situation, without us knowing exactly why.

Is Happiness Around The Corner?

For lots of people, happiness is just around the corner. They just need to get their degree, a particular job, a promotion, or a raise. Maybe they’re waiting to get married or have a child. Perhaps they will be happy when they retire.

Alfred D’ Souza said, “For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” John Lennon put it another way, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.”

The point is our lives are happening now. If we are to get the satisfaction and fulfillment we want, we have to learn to draw pleasure and joy from everything that happens to us and around us because these experiences are the very essence of our life. The more conscious we are that life consists of the journey, not the destination, the more likely we are to get the most out of it.

So, if there are things you want to do, begin to fit them in now or accept the fact that you can be happy whether or not you do them.

Happiness isn’t just around the corner. It’s now or it’s never.

The good news is you have everything you need to be happy. Philosophers, poets, and scientists all agree it can’t be attained through money, prestige, or power. Happiness is not a fact, it’s a mindset. All you need is optimism and gratitude.

Michael Josephson
www.charactercounts.org

Have faith and Move Forward

I remember about a year or so ago I decided to reread Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking. I was going through a hard time. I had just been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and I was very scared!

I didn’t really know what stage the cancer was. I was in the middle of having surgery to have the tumor removed and had not yet found out how far the cancer had progressed and if it was in an early “curable stage”. The good news is it was, and my treatment was nothing compared with what some woman go through. I was still so scared and the emotional toll it placed on my mind and feelings was probably the hardest thing for me to deal within my life.

Anyway, just before I was diagnosed with cancer, I had decided to expand my business. I own an art gallery in a very wealthy area of California, but found that the downtown area had become less busy in the last few years. I wanted to have a “satellite” store” in another part of town that was heavily populated with shoppers.

I had found the “perfect” spot. It was positioned between two “perfect” stores and was in a small shopping center in town that had just been renovated and was bustling with shoppers! The space had been rented and remodeled, but then the tenants backed out of the lease and it was ready for me to rent it! The rent was inexpensive and it was “MY” spot!

I had made an appointment to meet the landlord and sign the contract the next day….then I received a call from my Doctor saying that I had in fact, had Breast Cancer and we needed to operate as soon as possible. I was not able at that point to sign the contract and had to let my “perfect spot” go. It was rented shortly after that.

Within the last two years every time I had gone by that shopping center I would grunt to myself, “that space should have been mine”. “If I hadn’t gotten cancer, I would be in that space and all would be well”. I started feeling sorry for myself.

That’s when I decided to reread The Power of Positive Thinking. I remember reading in the book about a man that had lost his promotion to another man that the company had brought to fill the position. He was so angry and felt that it was so unjust for the company and God to not let him have this promotion. He had worked harder and longer than the other man in the company and felt he was the “perfect” man for the job. He was devastated.

He and his wife struggled to let go of that promotion and focus on moving forward and accept that this was not the time or the job for him at this point in his career.Two years later the President of this company stepped down from his position and this man became the President of that company! What an inspirational story I thought to myself. Yes, they tell me all the time “sometimes when things pass you by it’s because there is something better waiting for you in the wings”, ” You need to have faith and move forward”, so that’s what I did. I had faith and I moved forward.

It’s been a little over two years since my cancer diagnosis and I feel like I’m back to normal again. I have moved forward and a couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, a friend of mine called me to tell me that there was a space opening up beside him in a very good building that has only art galleries in it. It is a building known for having very good high end galleries and collectors from all over the country and the world come to visit this building and the galleries that are in it. Well, I’m sure you know that this was my “Perfect” spot! Yes in deed….I got a bigger space, in a better place, for less money!!!! I can’t tell you how the story of the man in the Norman Vincent Peale Book came rushing back to my mind. Yes, it is true! It is! Faith and the ability to let go and move on is what was needed. I did that, I trusted and I gave myself and God time to work things out.

Next month the gallery opens and though it is a small gallery space, it is a “perfect” space, it is the space that was given to me by God.

Karen Imperial

Feel free to email your thoughts to Karen on her story to: ktheimp@gmail.com and take the time to view her gallery website at: www.bryantstreet.com

The Power of Perception

“While it is important to attempt to rise above individual perspectives at times, we may also use our power of perception for creative playfulness.”

 

Our greatest power as humans is our ability to perceive. To perceive something is to understand, notice, or interpret something in a particular way. In that, our ability to choose how we perceive something is our innate power of creation. Reality is to each individual what is perceived by each individual. Reality cannot ever be truly solid when it fluctuates according to each person’s understanding of it. Simply speaking, it is what one thinks it is to them. And although two people may have differing ideas of what it may be, no one person can be right or wrong. To each individual, the world is expressed through the processes of their mind and each mind is different.

Because so many humans understand this truth, the race has begun to find a way to rise above individual perception and arrive at ultimate truth. The various avenues that we take are endless. Science, religion, mysticism, philosophy, and intellectual disconnect all seek out definitive truth that is free from the interference of self. There is glory in this pursuit and it serves its purpose well enough. Yet this pursuit can sometimes inflict an unbalance in one’s ability to serve their purpose. Although we must be cautious to not solely believe in a self-created singular reality, we must also not forget that the ability to choose how we perceive is a blessing. Understanding the power of our perceptions allows us to rise above self created illusions. Using the power of our perceptions allows us to playfully create as beings in God’s image.

Seeing Beyond the Self

To avoid getting trapped within the confines of the ego, we each must learn to first identify and then consciously control our perception. There are countless tricks to identifying our ‘perceptional niche’, or the singular way that we choose to perceive and thus experience our reality. Beginning as early as childhood, one can simply explore the world around them with pure curiosity, unhindered by personal judgment. As simple as this task sounds, it can be more and more difficult as a person ages and has already begun to create the template for their world. As children, this comes simply. The ego is still fresh and new, it is yet without form seeking the role it will take in self identity and eventually the world’s identity. But as a person develops, the ego also develops, bringing with it a structure that determines how that person will see, feel, and believe what is around them. To continue on in such a way without taking the next step in identifying one’s personal perspective is to continuously limit the world to smaller and smaller restraints until, eventually, all beauty and mystery has been stripped from its capacity. Although common, such a devastating transition is not compulsory. As adults, we must take steps to avoid falling into this trap and teach ourselves how to keep our perception liquid and pliable, thus constantly renewing the awe we had for life as children.

 

The first technique that keeps our perceptions liquid is to attempt to maintain the mindset of a child. Taken out of context, this statement is outrageous. But it is the wonder and curiosity of childhood that we should seek to retain into adulthood. Curiosity is the building block for outward thinking. It gives us the reason to see things through the understandings of another. Curiosity lacks judgment and does not jump to conclusions. Rather, it is a simple interest, a question that one admits they cannot yet answer. As adults, curiosity can fade as people begin to feel as if they have the answers and begin to believe that there is only one good answer to most questions. This only helps to shrink the size of their box bit by bit.

Empathizing with others is another trick to keeping an open and changeable perspective of experience. When we concern ourselves with the experience of others, we invite that experience to become our own. Miraculous changes can occur both mentally and spiritually as a result of understanding the workings of another’s mind or emotions. Suddenly, we can perceive the world through their eyes. Many times, just a moment of doing this can lead to transformational realizations, a moment of awakening when one realizes that they are not the center of the world. Rather, they learn that they are but a mere piece to an enormous puzzle where each piece has a different angle of view.

Integrity is a direct path to unfixed perceptions and thus to unending knowledge. When a person is truly honest with their self, they unavoidably acknowledge that they are not perfect. Integrity leads a person to embrace mistakes, failures, and being wrong; welcoming these things as invitations to growth. The more that we acknowledge our own imperfections, the more open we are to experimenting with new ways of seeing and understanding things. If I admit that I do not know it all, for example, I am willing myself to seek out the places where there may be more to learn. This then inevitably leads to experimentation with new perspectives and fresh outlooks.

The Power of Understanding Perception

There is great personal power in understanding what perception can do in one’s life. When a person understands the level influence that their outlook has on events, they can learn how to control and even extinguish the damaging ones. This allows a person to fully experience the world around them without the interruption of a limited viewpoint. In the 1950s, the perspective of many U.S. citizens was played with and used as a pawn in a game of wars. Because of this entrapment of perceptional limitations, many things were completely misunderstood and led to actions that would have otherwise been unthinkable.

Because of history such as this, some people focus intently on singling out personal perceptions, questioning them, and re-aligning them as much as possible. This of course is the only way to learn. If any one person continues to look at things the same way day in and day out, then they will never learn anything new about what they are seeing. But, if a person chooses to question themselves and what they think they know, suddenly a whole new world of understanding can open up before them.

The Power of Using Perception

Although there are clear dangers in the ability to choose how we perceive things, there is also great wonders and excitement. Perceiving the world in the way that we choose is a gift that literally gives us the ability to choose our experience. How I see the world today should not be the way that I see the world tomorrow. If it is, then I have learned nothing today. However, how I choose to see the world today also dictates how I will experience it tomorrow. What each of us perceives is what we will react to and thus what we will create. Knowing this, we can choose to perceive it however we like in order to create what we like. The key is in remembering to never stick to one limited scope. If a person wishes to experience happiness, for example, then all they have to do is perceive the world as encouraging and embracing it. This does not have to be hard. On the contrary, the possibilities are endless. Every single event in a day is a provocation of our minds to choose how we experience it.