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Monthly Archive February 2019

Peace Begins Within You

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
February 15, 2019

Last week we had a group of Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery visit our Center on the Central Coast.  In just under three days they created a live sand mandala which was a beautiful, detailed expression of sacred art.  The mandala chosen was the World Peace mandala which displayed rings of intricate detail related to world peace.  On the third day, there was a dissolution ceremony, demonstrating the Buddhist concept of impermanence as an undeniable and inescapable fact of our human existence.

The creation and dissolution of the mandala was also a great representation of our teaching symbol which defines the creative process.  The symbol demonstrates the involution of pure Spirit into form, and the evolution out of form and back to pure Spirit.

We all use the creative process in our lives every day.  You wake up daily and begin again.    You choose what you’ll have for breakfast and which clothes you will wear.  You choose what you will do for the day, whom you will talk to, and how your day will unfold.

You are always creating either consciously or unconsciously.  There is a power for good within you that is greater than the conditions in your life.  It’s up to you to choose your mindsets, your responses, and how you will move through the world.  Will you be peaceful, joyful, compassionate and kind?

When you truly understand that yes, you are responsible for your way of being, you are no longer a victim of any circumstances or conditions.  We are each blessed with unique gifts and talents which we are called to share with the world.  Some bring the gift of joy; some bring the gift of peace.  One person may be a musician and another a gifted speaker.

Whatever it is you’re called to be, the task at hand is to let go of the misinterpretations of yourself that have accumulated over the years. Eradicate fear, doubt, worry, anxiety, frustration, anger, and irritation by turning to the Truth to set yourself free.

The question was raised over the three days the monks were visiting whether I believed that world peace was possible.  Yes, world peace is a real possibility.  When we have found peace within our hearts and minds, are expressing it in as many moments as we can, and have let go of the idea that it’s something that needs to happen out there, somewhere else in the world as someone else’s responsibility, we’ll begin to see more of it.  That’s my affirmation.

A critical mass will occur, and we’ll return to our natural state of being peaceful.  We are born peaceful and remain so for several years until the layers of conditioning are painted on, and peace becomes a distant reality.  It becomes something we long to return to, and we search for ways to expand the revelation of it in our busy lives.

World peace begins within you.

And so it is.

Embodying Oneness

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
February 8, 2018

Consider the simple Hindu greeting and salutation upon meeting or the valediction upon parting ways of “Namaste.” Namaste translates as “I bow to you.” It also has the deeper spiritual meaning that the life force, the divinity, the Self or the God in me is the same in all. Namaste – the God in me honors the God in you.

This salutation also points to the fact that while we are made from the same spiritual substance, we are not identical expressions of that substance. Wouldn’t it be boring if we were? A bunch of me’s, or a bunch of you’s, walking the planet and nobody else?

I had an experience of embodying oneness at a 5-night silent retreat with one of my favorite enlightened guys, Adyashanti. There were 400+ attendees on this retreat, and we were four days deep into the container of silence. In the second silent sitting that day I opened my eyes suddenly, looked around the room and noticed that everyone was together in the same silent container, observing the same things: passing thoughts, coughing, inner peace, still body, still mind – through different eyes, in different physical bodies. Suddenly I was hovering above the crowd as if I had merged into the Whole and became one with all of life, looking through the eyes of the person next to me, then before me,
then the person across the room to the right, and then across the room to the left. There were no substances of any kind nor alcohol involved.

This profound mystical experience was transforming and has gradually integrated in my life over time. Oneness points to the truth that we are all born of the same stuff, yet we are not all identical.  Consider a stained-glass window. All are pieces of the window, but each glass is a different color, a different shape, as a unique individualized expression within the whole.

I’m a 5′ 3″, 40-something, female, Hispanic, with brown hair, hazel eyes, and athletic. You may be a 5′ 9″, 22-year old male, a person of color, with brown hair, brown eyes, and not athletic. Each of us with our unique life experiences, conditioning, and ancestry. Either privileged or burdened by circumstances that we were born into, which were beyond our control. The two of us are part of the whole.

God is all there is, and you are God in form, in your own uniquely fabulous way. Divine and human. Just like the quarter has a heads side and a tails side. Both are the quarter, yet each side is uniquely different. Yes, we are one, but we are not the same.

As we honor the Divinity within one another, let us simultaneously honor the uniqueness of each other, as the individualized expressions of the Divine that we all are.

I honor the Divinity within you that is you, and simultaneously honor the unique individual, expression of the Divine as you!

And so it is.

Keep one hand free

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
February 1, 2019

Pulling into the driveway of my condo after a long day at the office, I felt happiness wash over me. It was raining when I left for work that morning, so I had my umbrella and an extra jacket with me. I also had my usual daily items with me, including my purse, coffee thermos, water bottle, and lunch bag. Oh, and I stopped to pick up the mail too. With a slight struggle in gathering up my items, I opened my car door in a fluster.

Feeling like the Tasmanian Devil of Looney Tunes, I stumbled out of the car with both hands full. I stood for a moment contemplating a strategy to lock my car door as I had already placed the keys in my purse. Just then, I heard a lovely voice practically singing to me from across the way, “Hello, hello, hello, here you go, here you go.”

I looked across the driveway, and there was my sweet neighbor, Karen, holding flowers in her hand and smiling as she approached me saying, “Hi, these are for you. I’m your neighbor, Karen, and I was trimming up my flowers…here you go!”

This little act of kindness lit me up from the inside, and a huge smile brightened my face. I thanked Karen with great joy as she stood there looking at me with her arms stretched out to hand me the flowers.

Oh, wait, my hands are full. I quickly emptied my hands to receive the pretty flowers she was giving to me. I smiled once again and thanked her, locked my car door, and headed into the condo. It was a holy moment which had me contemplate my level of receptivity.

Do you ever have so many things in your literal or proverbial hands, that you are unable to accept the sweet gifts the Divine is offering you? It may be a physical item like flowers, or an eternal gift, as the kingdom of heaven within. Are you holding on to resentment, anger, upset, or the past, to such a degree that you cannot accept the boundless love, prosperity, and joy being presented to you at this moment? Your Creator wants to give all of these things to you, and so much more. Are your hands free? Are you available to receive?

We would all do well to remember to keep one hand free, so to speak, such that we’re open and available to receive these gifts of the Divine. This will have a different meaning for everyone. For some of you, it might mean to free up your calendar or to add some space between your appointments throughout the day. For others, it may mean doing your forgiveness work, or finally letting go of _________ (fill in the blank.) Whatever that thing is that’s been holding you back, keeping you from your spiritual magnificence.

Keep one hand free and be ready to receive.

And so it is.

Be Here Now!

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
January 25, 2019

Three magic words, made popular by the Western-born yogi and spiritual teacher, Ram Dass. I heard these great words in a Bikram yoga class I recently attended. Yes, that’s the type of yoga where they heat the room to one hundred degrees!

In Bikram yoga, the instructor talks consistently for the entire class, guiding and directing students into, and out of, a series of twenty-six yoga postures. They refer to this type of instruction as dialogue.

When you have the same instructor time, and again, you grow accustomed to their cadence and can guess when the posture will conclude.

When you attend a class with a different instructor, it’s not uncommon to be held in a pose for one or two seconds longer than accustomed to. In a room heated up to one hundred degrees, one or two seconds longer can feel like an eternity.

Last Monday a new instructor was leading my class, and she made a request. She requested we stop thinking and allow the dialogue to dictate our next move. This request came after several students randomly popped up, and out of their postures before receiving the guidance. She went further to suggest that when you hesitate before getting into a pose, you are in the past; and when you get out of a pose before hearing the instruction to do so, you are in the future.

Isn’t this a brilliant lesson for yoga and life?

Where are you hesitant? In yoga, career, health, relationships, finances, or other? Where are you reluctant to move forward in relationships, in choosing your next right action, in finding the perfect job, or in caring for your body?

Where do you get ahead of yourself, inaccurately predicting the future, ready to give it all up and forget about it?

When I’m entirely present in Bikram yoga, I find myself intensely focused on the posture, undistracted. I can adjust my body according to the dialogue of the instructor and hit the perfect spot. I am stretching forward, bending backward, in the zone, beyond rapid heart rate, beyond one hundred degrees of heat. I get beyond the sweat dripping down from my eyelashes, beyond mental activity.

In the Science of Mind teaching, we practice yoga of the mind. For example, consider an affirmation you’ve been using in your life. Imagine the affirmation is the yoga pose and you’re in a hot yoga room. In the yoga class, regardless of the heat, the increased heart rate, and your desire for water, you remain in the pose; concentrating, meditating.

With your affirmation as the mental pose, regardless of any thoughts of fear, doubt, worry, or your story about your past, you stick with it, you remain in the posture. You begin to believe the affirmation is true, and see the results of your word in your life. You’re happier and healthier because you stayed with it, in the present.

Be here now.

And so it is.

I am a finder of things

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
January 18, 2018

I find my misplaced things and the misplaced things of others. It’s not by ransacking drawers or frantically searching for the missing items that this is accomplished. I sit down, I get quiet, and I surrender to the Divine. I let go of thoughts that arise, and the nagging desire to ransack and frantically search.

For years I’ve observed loved ones looking for things misplaced. In my observations, I discovered that they almost always practice a couple of the same behaviors. One is to look in the same place they looked before, multiple times. The other is the state of mind during the search, which leans toward the desperate and hopeless side. The mind begins to race and frustration sets in, as the thought that they may never find what they’re looking for crosses their minds. Can you relate? I picked up the same habits along the way, which I had to unlearn to become a finder of things.

In the quiet stillness, I remind myself that there is nothing lost in the Universe. I may even speak aloud the incantation of, “Tony, Tony come around. What once was lost, must now be found.” Who is Tony? The Tony of which I speak is Saint Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost and stolen articles. He was a powerful Franciscan preacher and teacher and is one of the most popular saints of the Catholic Church. He found things. Now, I’m no Saint, but I can tell you that there is a spiritual lesson here.

In the quiet stillness of the moment, I allow my body to lead, and I go where it wants to go. There isn’t any thought process, logic, or questioning involved, I go. When I arrive at my destination, I look and feel around energetically, and suddenly, voila! What once was lost is now found! It’s as if I’m pulled to it like a magnet.

I’ve learned to pay close attention to this. Here is the spiritual lesson: there is something within me (Source Energy) that knows. It’s not about the Saint. It is my innate wisdom. It knows what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and it does not involve thinking or analyzing. I am connected to an Infinite Intelligence, a Divine Knower, which holds the blueprint for everything, and has the answer to every question. My task is to tune into this Divine Intelligence, to become mentally receptive and available to it, and the gifts being offered.

As I practice tuning into that frequency, I deepen my belief that I am guided, directed, and sustained by my Source. I find comfort in that knowledge, and it soothes my soul.
If you find yourself frantic or stressed, sit down, get quiet, surrender to the Divine, and listen to your innate wisdom.

May you always find what you are looking for, with ease and grace.

And so it is.

Joyful, Giddy Bliss

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
January 22, 2019

When I first learned the pattern of my thoughts were creating my reality, it occurred to me that I had
some changes to make. It was a wake-up call for me and a very empowering one.  No longer a
victim, I became responsible for the molding and shaping of myself and my life.  All beginning with my thoughts.

What you’re thinking about right now is creating your experience. What you dwell upon when you awaken guides and directs your day.

The mind can only hold one thought at a time, and that thought displaces all others from the mind.  That being the case, my task was to become conscious of my thoughts. In doing this, I discovered the recurring thoughts which were not conducive to my highest good. The repetition of said thoughts generated a snowball effect gaining momentum and size with each iteration.

We perceive life through filters which are primarily formed as survival tactics we’ve implemented based on experience. They have their roots in the past and prevent us from being present to the eternal, unborn reality of this moment now. To truly live in the present moment, free from attachment and free from the static of fear, doubt and worry, we’ve got to let the entire world be created for us, brand new, every day. This includes in our relationships, jobs, children, and ourselves.

I knew that I needed to change my thoughts, but at this stage of my awakening, I didn’t know what to change them to. Having learned this concept at a Center for Spiritual Living, I chose to keep coming back. I listened deeply. I began to take classes where I learned to pray and meditate. Right around that time I discovered chanting mantra as a form of meditation. I started with chanting Sanskrit mantras which were slightly difficult to learn. I noticed that after chanting, I always felt lighter, more relaxed, joyful, and serene.

I fell in love with it. When chanting, I am focused on the chant I am speaking, and my mind gets the well-needed rest it deserves. The chant becomes the vibration emanating from me, and I experience joy bubbling up from my toes, filling me with giddy bliss! The law of attraction draws in more of the same.

It is said that in India the yogis go off into the mountains to meditate and spend a lot of time chanting.  When they come back to civilization, they emanate the vibration of the chant they’ve been speaking. So much so, that one yogi can approach another yogi and identify the chant they’ve been working with: Gayatri mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, or Aham Prema, and so forth.

A mantra could be as simple as this: “I am love.” Try repeating this mantra as often as possible and you’ll begin to experience an opening, a lightness, and pretty soon: joyful, giddy bliss.

And so it is.

The Gift of Silence

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
December 28, 2018

Studies have shown that meditation eases chronic pain, anxiety, and stress, improves heart health, boosts mood and immunity, and balances the body’s systems. If you find yourself feeling frazzled from the flurry of holiday activities now coming to a close, give yourself the gift of meditation before the New Year. When you reach the silence in meditation, which is just beyond the flurry of all the mental activity, you will discover an inner realm of peace, beauty, creativity, and unconditional love.

When I first discovered silence in meditation, I felt like I had discovered a secret, and this filled me with great joy. It was the discovery of a mystical presence, invisible to all, in and through all things, and its nature was love. My newly found secret caused me to radiate and glow.

At first, I was not inclined to meditate for very long as it was challenging to sit still. I struggled with the many thoughts swimming around in my mind: to do lists being formed, thoughts about my day, and whatever else caught my attention. I soon realized this was the natural response to the busyness of a life well lived.

When we sit down to still the mind, we are like those little snow globes which are seen more prominently during the holiday season. When shaken, the snow particles float around, occupying the space within the globe. When you set the globe down and let it be, the snow particles gently settle, and the globe returns to its natural state.

This is what happens when you sit down to meditate in silence. Thoughts, feelings, to do lists, and everything else running through your mind floats around, taking up space like those little snow particles in the snow globe. Given a short time, the mind will settle, and return to its natural state.

You’ll know when it begins to settle as your thoughts become fewer and farther between. As the space expands between thoughts, your mind will begin to rest, and your body will become still. Next, you will enter what is called hypnagogia, which is the state between wakefulness and sleep. This is where creative brilliance, new ideas, and inventions are born.

Thomas Edison was known to sit down for several “naps” each day to enter the hypnagogic state. I believe he was sitting down to meditate. He always had a notepad
within reach, to write down ideas that came to him as he entered this state.

I started my meditation practice with 5 minutes every morning. I fell in love with the sweet peacefulness of silence and increased the time I spent in it. Soon I began to yearn deeply for my time in the quiet stillness with my God. Being in the silence gave me a new filter from which to view life: the filter of vibrant beauty. Give yourself the gift of silence and begin the year with peace.

And so it is.