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Weekly Column – Paso Robles Press

The Winds of Change

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
April 15, 2021

On the spiritual path of becoming more of who we are, which is becoming more ourselves, we experience many transformations. Even if you’re not on a spiritual path, you have transformed many times and will do so many more to come.

Some kick and scream along their path to transformation, deny the need for things to change, resist transformation when faced with it, and continue along the path of denial even as the shift occurs! Something new has already emerged, yet they cling to the old way and refuse to let go. In the letting go, infinite possibility and unlimited potentiality are revealed.

Human life is currently transient, meaning that our bodies are all passing by like clouds in the sky. I believe our souls go on for all eternity. The body, however, can only go on for a finite amount of time. When the body can no longer house the soul, the soul leaves it, returning to the light. When it’s time, the soul comes into form again, to wherever it’s uniquely called.

Since we humans are continually becoming more of ourselves, change is inevitable. Rather than resist change, let’s embrace it, welcome it with enthusiasm and curiosity.

Individuals often fear change because one must let go of what’s known and familiar or comfortable to leap into the unknown with faith. It’s not the change that is disturbing; it’s the fear of the unknown and the identification with that fear that keeps them stuck. We forget that the unknown is the Great Mystery, The Thing Itself, Spirit, Divine. Let’s lean into Spirit with calm assurance and allow It to lead the way. As you lean into it, you let go of your identification with fear and embrace unlimited possibility and infinite potentiality.

What comes with the fear of the unknown are mindsets like what if it doesn’t work out, what if it all goes wrong, I can’t see how it will work, and I can’t do it. Ultimately this is a lack of trust in the God of your understanding. I say get a bigger God, please. Then watch the good pour forth into your life with great magnitude, and blessings abound.

On Geneva lake in Switzerland, there are more than seventy different types of wind. When there is very little wind, the sailors scan the still water, searching for ripples. When located, the skipper changes direction and heads to the disturbance in the water. The sails fill up, and the boat receives the power needed to sail ahead. Those who are successful in locating the water movement reach their destination and complete the race. They have embraced the changing winds. Imagine if you were to approach changes in your life with this same desire and determination.

Let’s be like those sailors and embrace the changing winds upon us. Lean into the God of your understanding for the comfort, strength, and courage to proceed.  What if it’s easy?

And so it is.

What is Being Born in You?

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
April 1, 2021

By the time this article is published, it will be Maundy Thursday, a Christian holy day that falls on the Thursday evening before Easter Sunday.  It was the day Jesus celebrated the Passover with a meal known familiarly as the last supper.  Following that, Jesus washed the feet of his apostles and gave his first commandment, known as the great commandment, which was to “Love one another; as I have loved you.” Washing the feet of his apostles was an outrageous act of humility.

As we approach Easter Sunday, a time of resurrection, renewal, and bright beginnings, I invite you to consider what is being born in you?

For March, the Central Coast Center for Spiritual Living focused on how to remain open to Spirit’s highest idea of itself as our lives through the process of Visioning. When we receive the direct revelation of Spirit as an impress of It in our mind and heart, a way is made before us.  A path is laid, guiding our steps to the greater-yet-to-be version of ourselves.

Once the vision is activated in our lives, we can tune in and allow the following steps to unfold with ease and grace.

It becomes clear to us there are ways of being, false ideas, or belief systems that no longer serve us, which must dissolve to flourish and become more of ourselves. A seed planted beneath the soil transforms into a shoot with leaves and sprouts up above ground.  As the plant’s roots, stems, and leaves develop, the seed’s tissue is no longer needed.  It releases the seed tissue.  Similarly, in our becoming, we release that which no longer supports us where we are going.

We look to Spirit now for guidance on what it is we need to embrace or welcome with great enthusiasm into our lives. And what do we need to embody?  Asking this question prompts the Universe to answer, providing the means through which you will integrate those Divine qualities necessary for your unfoldment and development.

We also ask the question, “What must I become for Spirit’s highest idea of Itself as my life to manifest? How must I evolve such that it will be second nature for me?  An example for me is exercise.  I have an exercise routine that I’ve built in for over twenty years to such a degree that it’s as necessary as eating, hydration, and sleep.  It is a personal commitment.  Commitment is the final step.

Live in the question: “What is Spirit’s highest idea of Itself as my life?” Release that which no longer serves you and the unfoldment of this vision. Embrace, embody and become the qualities, mindsets, and ways of being that serve Spirit’s highest idea of itself as your life.  Commit to the vision.

As you commit to your vision, you guarantee a personal transformation. 

I leave you with the question: What is being born in you? 

And so it is.

The Infinite Realm of Possibility

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
March 18, 2021

Imagine a pie, any pie at all.  It could be a pizza, a cherry pie, a sweet potato pie, or whatever.

Take a thin slice of that pie and consider it to be what you know, and you know that you know.  For example, I know how to tie my shoes, swim, how to pray, and read. I know that I know these things.

Take another thin slice of that pie and consider that to represent all that you don’t know – it’s everything you know that you do not know.  For example, I don’t know much about rocket science, how to perform brain surgery, or speak Mandarin.  I know that I do not know these things.

The rest of the pie is everything you don’t know that you don’t know.  You can’t know what you don’t know, you know?  Consider this vast realm of possibility of what we don’t know that we don’t know as the realm of Divine Intelligence, where our potential resides. It’s the kingdom of limitless possibility and infinite potentiality.

Remember this when you feel the most stuck in your life.  Remember that something radically new and magnificent is available to you that you don’t know about yet.  It exists in the infinite and limitless realm of the Divine.  This is the place we’re invited to open to as we do the visioning process.

There’s a difference between the practice of visualization and visioning, both powerful tools.

Visualization is selecting from that which is already in and of the world.  You can visualize only that which you already know.  Visualization is what we do with vision boards, intentions, goals, and brainstorming. 

Visioning is opening to divine inspiration.  It allows us to catch something new from the realm of infinite potentiality, other than what we can currently see in and of the world and what’s unfolding in our lives. Visioning is a receptive state used to catch a vision for your life outside of your current awareness and understanding of yourself.  “Things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”  [Hebrews 11:3] 

Live in the question, “What is Spirit’s highest idea of itself as my life?”  Listen with your inner ear, which is the Divine within, forever seeking to express itself in, through, and as you.  Believe that you are being guided by Spirit now and that the Universe is working for you.  As you receive divine inspiration, thank the Universe for the revelation of its radiant magnificence as you.  Brand new and beyond what you could have possibly imagined with your current thinking.

Theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, observed: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  Similarly, suppose we are to be made new and experience lasting spiritual transformation in our lives. In that case, let us remain open to Spirit’s highest idea of itself as us – something new, beyond what we currently know.

And so it is.

Commune with the Divine

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
March 4, 2021

In the past, when faced with a choice, after making my selection, I spent time worrying about whether I made the right decision—second-guessing myself like this created great fear and angst in me. As I cultivated my relationship with the Divine, I began trusting It as a power for good in the universe greater than me. I learned that while my small self may not know the answer, there is that within me which does know, and that is my Higher Self, the Self within all selves.

As this relationship grew, so did my faith. The second-guessing and doubt fell away naturally as I spent more time making conscious contact with Spirit in prayer and meditation. Fueled by faith, I know that I am guided, directed, and sustained by my Source, and I allow it to lead this divine dance of life.

As Ernest Holmes put it, “When prayer removes distrust and doubt and enters the field of mental certainty, it becomes faith; and the universe is built on faith.”  We are in constant prayer with our thoughts.  What we think about we bring about.

When I allow myself to get quiet, centered, and grounded, I realize I am in the presence of something mighty and magnificent.   I am unified with the changeless, formless substance that has been and always will be – the Divine.  It is as eternal and vast as the space that spans beyond the myriad universes, and it lives within us all.  While there is a universal experience of it, there is also a very personal experience of its indwelling presence daily as I move through the world.

In this centered space, I am at home in the heart of God, in the place of love, where I remember that I am guided, directed, sustained, and inspired by my Source.

Spirit is communicating to each one of us on many levels all the time.  Our invitation is to pay close attention to the dynamic world occurring all around us.  It wants you to notice it, nudges you from the inside, encourages you to take that step, speak those words, create that art, write from the heart, or pick up the phone and call that person.

To commune with the Divine is to be in conscious contact with the presence of Love that is the place within you beyond thought, beyond egoic structures, beyond fear, doubt, worry, judgment, control, complaints, and second-guessing.

When we reach the edge of everything we know and are beckoned to the place of the unknown, our faith allows us to take that next step. In full faith, we jump into the unknown land of the heart, which is the land of love, the land of the mystic and mystical experiences; it is the land of the Divine.

In this space, we remember that everything is ok – more than ok, in Truth.  Dwelling here in Divine love, we thrive.

And so it is.

Love Heals

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
February 18, 2021

The month of February has long been associated with romance. In addition to being the month of love, there are also the Western Christian Carnival celebration events. There’s Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday, a day of celebration and indulgence preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, a time of sacrifice and fasting.

This month I celebrate the relationship we each have with the God of our understanding.  For it is from that relationship which all other relationships blossom and bloom.  When I love another person, I’m expressing God’s love that I feel within me.  When I feel loved by another person, I’m feeling God’s love activated within me. I can love others to the degree I love my God, as the Self within all selves.

You can connect with this part of yourself now by stating the following affirmative words aloud:  Today I stand in the luminous light of Love.  I shine brightly to all I encounter, and there’s plenty to go around.  I am loved, loving, and lovable.  I am adored. 

From this place of love is a beautiful opportunity to find something lovable in every person, place, thing, and situation in your experience today.  Pay attention to what occurs internally as you actively seek out the lovable.

As you contemplate the lovable qualities and characteristics of others, you vibrate at a higher frequency.  Your mind is set free from the shackles of judgment and condemnation. You begin to see more of what you love everywhere, including within you. It’s all around you.  Feel, sense, and know this love now.  It also feels good and positively affects our bodies and minds to come from love and seek the lovable actively.

Try speaking these compliments aloud to others beginning today:
You have a great smile, nice shirt; I love your shoes. That was awesome.  Your hair looks fantastic.  I love your glasses.  You are beautiful.  I love how you did your makeup. Excellent presentation. I love your style.  It is so fun to work with you. You’re such a bright light.  You have a strong presence.  You light up the room when you walk in.  Your nails are so beautiful. Where did you get that necklace – it’s gorgeous? Where do you shop because I love your style? You’ve got a great sense of humor! 

Now say to yourself:
I am strong, talented, gorgeous, intelligent, wise, charismatic, joyful, and fun.  I am happy, brilliant, loving, lovable, and loved. I’ve got style, grace, finesse, and panache.  I am grateful, forgiving, generous, whole, guided, gifted, adored, and cherished.  And it looks like I’ve lost a little weight!

Your call to action is to spend more time indulging in your belief in God’s love for you.  Let it rearrange your perspective on this thing called life.  Science of Mind founder Dr. Ernest Holmes wrote, “Love heals, forgives, and makes thee whole.”

Let that healing power of love begin now.

And so it is.

Looking Up

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
February 4, 2021

Studies by neuroscientists have shown that raising your gaze changes your patterns of thought. When we look up, we activate the brain area that is also activated during meditation, creativity, and dreaming. That part of the brain is called the pineal gland, a tiny pea-sized pine cone-shaped gland. Also known as the third eye or Ajnâ chakra in spiritual circles, it’s located in the middle of the forehead between your eyes.

As a society, we have grown accustomed to looking down at our devices or looking directly ahead at our computer screens. As such, the invitation is to make it a spiritual practice for yourself to look up throughout the day.

I love to be out in nature as I feel connected to all of life when I am outdoors. The sense of oneness is palpable for me. I believe that is attributed primarily to the amount of time I spend looking up when outside.

When we enter extraordinary buildings, our eyes naturally look upwards. Think of a visit to a massive cathedral, a large courthouse, or even a corporate headquarters. These large spaces cause us to crane our heads in awe and engage with the Infinite. Next time you’re out and about in the world, look up. 

I remember visiting the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican for the first time. Looking up, it took my breath away. I had to bend my neck to look directly above, and it filled me with awe and wonder. I could have spent hours studying the intricate details of each vignette.

I also recall visiting Michelangelo’s David. I walked into the museum, and it was dark and cold. When I turned the corner, a massive white marble statue seemingly nine feet tall, with light shining down upon it, stopped me in my tracks. I looked up at David’s face, amazed as if I were looking at an angel.

Let’s not forget St. Peter’s basilica and the immense splendor of it, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, walking the John Muir trail for hours looking up at the mighty Mt. Whitney, or the breathtaking view of Yosemite’s Half Dome and Yosemite Falls.   

Awe.

When things get hard or seem to stagnate in dullness, it’s time to look up. When I do, I recognize I am looking up to connect with my God. I rise above fear and enter into the ethers with my beloved God who adores me. It works every time. I disconnect from doubt and concern and remember that God has my back. It must. If I were to believe otherwise, then I would be deserting the Truth in my hour of need. But oh, my dearly beloved, heavenly God, you are with me now and always. My faith makes me whole. My belief keeps me company. God is on my side and whoever has God lacks nothing.

This week, let us all spend time looking up, connecting with nature and the Divine.

And so it is.

Living In The Now

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
January 21, 2021

Do you spend a lot of time in your head, either over-thinking, judging, analyzing, complaining, or re-hashing the self-righteousness of your frustrations with others?  In so doing, you are renting your prime mental real estate to others for free! You’re also blocking the creative flow of love that Spirit wants to pour forth into your life now. 

It is time to unkink your hose.  When judging, you are not loving.  When complaining, you cannot see the good.  When over-analyzing, you get stuck in the past.  When watching CNN report the same news repeatedly, you are growing your brain’s amygdala until you’re anxious, jumpy, and on edge.

What would it be like if you were to take a backward step into the eternal, timeless presence of this moment now? I invite you to step into the nowness of the moment with me and join me in the realm of your ever-expanding good.

New Thought minister, author, and founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center in Beverly Hills, California, Michael Beckwith shared a story with me when he spoke at a special forum at the United Nations. 

After the event, he left the assembly hall and got into the van when he noticed he didn’t have his cell phone.  He told his wife at the time and the van driver that he needed to get that phone.

He went back to the assembly hall, where another assembly was already in session.  He saw a woman speaking and knew his phone was right behind her.  She said something profound, and everybody started clapping. In that break of energy, he went up on the stage, got his phone, and headed back out to the van.  He told the driver,” Ok, on to JFK airport!” 

They got about a mile away from JFK when he looked at the itinerary and said, “Oh, we’re supposed to be at La Guardia airport.  Oh no!  We have to turn around.” The driver said, “You said JFK.” Michael said, “I know, but we’ve got to turn around, we might be able to make this flight.”

He turned around and was driving under the speed limit.  Michael said, “You’re going too slow” – that’s the present moment.  The driver said, “You said JFK” – that’s the past.  He and his wife said, “We’ve got to get to La Guardia” – that’s the future.

They bounced back and forth between the present, past, and future. You’re going too slow (present), you said JFK (past), we’ve got to get to La Guardia (future).  In between the bouncing back and forth, they’d stop to take a breath, step into the now, where there were no issues, and everything was fine.

This story is an excellent illustration of getting lost in the concept of time.  Take a backward step and enter the nowness of the moment.  Feel the power of Divine Love wash over you as you dwell in this realm of ever-expanding good.

And so it is.

Resolve to Evolve

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
January 7, 2021

By definition, a resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something, while an intention is an aim or a plan.  Intentions allow us to be wildly creative, more keenly aware, and mindful of the area of our lives in which we would like to experience a transformation.

I love the word sankalpa, which is a Sanskrit word meaning resolve or good intention.  It is a harmonization of heart and mind, resulting in the laser-focused aim on a specific area of transformation.  By setting your sankalpa, you make it clear to yourself, others, and the Universal Intelligence, which I call the Divine, not only what you plan to do, but who you plan to be while doing it.

Resolutions are precise goals focused on the outcome, whereas intentions are more focused on the journey.  A resolution sounds like this: “I’m going to lose ten pounds.”  A sankalpa sounds like this: “I make healthy eating choices for myself.”  By living your Sankalpa, you will experience the release of excess weight, which could be ten or more pounds, as well as increased self-esteem as the result of respecting your body and nourishing it with healthy eating choices.

Given that we are now in the first week of January, you may have already declared your resolutions.  You can fine-tune them now.  Please email me if you need help making the adjustment from resolution to sankalpa.

The collective consciousness of our planet endured much in 2020.  We were all reminded how things can change instantly and that it’s not so much what happens that matters but what we do with what happens that matters the most.  As I reflect upon my year,  I see the infinite ways I adapted in my own life.  The Central Coast Center for Spiritual Living began livestreaming all of our services and programs, and my husband and I adjusted our wedding guest list from 150 to 14.  When I accepted what was and acted as if I chose it myself, there was an ease and grace about it all; an effortlessness in the unfoldment of things which felt liberating and powerful.  Flexibility was my key to thriving in 2020.

I’ve heard many people say they are fearful of setting intentions for 2021, given what happened in 2020.  I’m reminded of Martina McBride’s song, of which the first verse follows: You can spend your whole life building; Something from nothin’. One storm can come and blow it all away.  Build it anyway.

Friends, the invitation for us all is to continue to build our dreams, transform our lives, and open our hearts to more love than we could have imagined possible.  Dream, open, build, pray, believe, love, and know that everything is always changing.

We live in a progressive universe.  Resolve to evolve with it.  Decide firmly to develop gradually to see the vision of a world that works for everyone, awakening humanity to its spiritual magnificence, come to fruition.

And so it is.

Return of the Light

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
December 24, 2020

Remember, as a child, how thrilling Christmas Eve was? I remember being so totally excited and filled with anticipation for my good in the form of presents that I could hardly sleep that night. What if we were all to carry that same childlike joy, wonder, and awe into each night before bed, knowing how loved and cared for we are by our creator?

The winter solstice just occurred on December 21st, and winter is here. This year, we’ve faced inconceivable darkness, from lives lost due to the pandemic to civil unrest in appeal to the heart of humanity, for justice and equality for all.

American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader Howard Thurman wrote, “Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve. Despite the dullness and barrenness of the days that pass, if I search with due diligence, I can always find a deposit left by some former radiance.  But I had forgotten.”

Remember the light, dear ones.  Whether you are Christian, Judaist, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucianist, Jainist, Zoroastrianist, Paganist, or otherwise, the light always returns.

We also received the blessed gift this year on the night of the winter solstice with the spectacular sight of the star of Bethlehem. Let’s not forget the spectacular show of the Ursid meteor shower. It occurred to me that even the cosmos are shining brightly for us, reminding us the light always returns, showing off their glimmering hope for brighter days.

Having plunged the depths of darkness collectively and in our personal lives, it’s time we welcome in and celebrate the return of the light.

Whatever darkness you may have experienced this year or you are currently experiencing, please know that the light always returns, and it will shine brightly again within and all around you. It must.

On Christmas Day, while many commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the light of the world, I invite you to consider what light is being born in you?  Or, what light have you been nurturing or fanning the flame of, so to speak, to shine brighter? Maybe you’ve allowed your light to dim from a loss, transition, diagnosis, suffering, or something else. Consider this your permission to shine your light again.  The world needs your light now more than ever.

Jesus of Nazareth was a mystic, a way-shower who showed us how to do for ourselves what he did for himself.  At this time of year, as we contemplate the birth of the most Divine person, let us rededicate our hearts to the service of humanity. Be kind and loving to one another, shine your light, forgive, and have the faith of God.

Contemplate and give thanks for the many blessings in your life. Joyfully anticipate the multitude of gifts pouring into your life from the kingdom of heaven within, such as love, wisdom, beauty, joy, peace, harmony, wholeness, bliss, forgiveness, prosperity, faith, and more.

What light is being born in you today?

And so it is.

Shadow and Light

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
December 10, 2020

From the day we are born, we begin to develop our bodies and our minds.  Personality begins to form as we discern our likes and dislikes, learn how to have our needs met, and discover how to exist on this planet.

We spend a lot of time learning what doesn’t work for us.  Consider the baby who is learning to walk. Many falls occur before that moment when balance, leg strength, and our parents’ determination and will come together to champion us forward with our first steps.  Oh, what a glorious day when the baby takes its first steps, a victory for the entire family.

In the early years, we learn how to avoid the things that hurt us physically.  As time progresses, we discover how to cope with the things that hurt us emotionally. The coping mechanisms create a shadow.

A shadow in the material world gets created when light travels past an opaque object.  Since the light cannot pass through the thing, it travels past its edges, creating an outline of the item, and an area of darkness appears behind it.  The object blocking the light generated the shadow.

We are called to accept all of who we are: shadow and light, human and Divine, to bring the light of our Highest Self to the darkness of our human impulses.  Carl Jung defined the shadow clearly as “that which a human being would not want to be.” It is the negative side of the personality, the sum of all unpleasant properties or traits a person wants to hide.

Every person has a shadow.  There is the collective shadow as well.  This shadow exists for every group, community, and organization to which you and have ever belonged.  If you think you do not have a shadow, you most certainly have a big and dark one.

We project our shadow onto others to disguise how we are feeling about ourselves. It’s a form of protection that worked well for you in the past to prevent you from getting hurt.  Thank that aspect for protecting you and release it back to the nothingness from whence it came. 

As you become aware, welcome, and embrace the shadow part of yourself, you become unified.

You have the power of the Divine behind you, the love of the Divine within you.  You have access to the same Divine Intelligence that created you.  You are radiant and sparkly, shining your light to all.

Embrace your shadow; accept yourself and others wholly.  When you see the shadow with the eyes of compassion and love, thanking it for the blessings and protection it gave you in the past, it no longer has power over you.  See it, bless it, and you’ll learn to respond rather than react with amazement and delight at how liberated, free, and blissful you’ve become.  With the spring back in your step, you are one indivisible united whole.  Pure love.  Human and Divine.  Shadow and light.

And so it is.