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Weekly Column – Paso Robles Press

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.

Mine the Blessings

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
November 26, 2020

American New Thought writer, teacher, leader, and Science of Mind founder Ernest Holmes observed, “An attitude of gratitude is most salutary, and bespeaks the realization that we are now in heaven.” (The Science of Mind, page 497.2)

To be salutary means to produce a beneficial effect or promote greater health. To have an attitude of gratitude is to have a mindset of appreciation and thankfulness. Thus, having said mindset is beneficial to your health. I posit that to include mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

I’ve heard it said there are three stages of gratitude. The first stage is to be grateful for all that you have, the second stage is to be thankful for the less than pleasant experiences you’ve had, and the third stage is to be grateful for your existence.

You can enter the first stage now by stopping right here to ponder all the many things for which you are grateful. Grab a pen and a piece of paper and begin writing them down. Just like that, you are in the flow of gratitude. Notice the shift in your energy as you move into the high-frequency state of appreciation. As you practice writing a gratitude list regularly, you will adopt the mindset of thankfulness.

As you move into the second stage, you become grateful for the less than pleasant experiences you’ve had.  I’ll admit this one is a challenge! As with all challenges, once you take that initial ostensibly gigantic first step, your intention is set in motion, and an opening occurs. In this stage of gratitude, when something seemingly bad (because good or bad are subjective mental constructs) happens, now you say, thank you, I’m so glad this is taking place.

Why? Because we live in a progressive universe. Earth revolves around the Sun, while the Sun revolves around the Milky Way galaxy center, and the Milky Way rotates throughout the cosmos at an estimated pace of 1.34 million miles per hour.

When you can find something to be grateful for in seemingly negative experiences, you align yourself with the progressive universe. Aligning with the cosmos leads to a quickening for us all. You learn your lessons faster, move through your challenges more quickly, and open yourself to the infinite possibilities within you. You now understand that it came into your life to help you grow, develop, and unfold, to elevate the potential within you that otherwise could not have happened.

Now you move into the third level of gratitude, which is gratitude for existing. At this moment, all of nature is giving thanks for existing, period. You’re grateful that you get to participate in this realm of the Divine as the unfolding good everywhere. The static of worry, doubt, and fear have diminished, and you hear the guidance of your soul, your intuition, the voice of wisdom within beckoning you to become more.

On this day of giving thanks, let’s mine the blessings from every experience.

And so it is.

Unstoppable


by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
November 12, 2020

Every now and then, you hear or read something that transforms how you move through the world.

I remember sitting in a Landmark Education leadership program, listening attentively, eager to absorb all that was being said about learning to live and lead a powerful life.

At one point, the facilitator mentioned how restoring integrity to your word makes you unstoppable. The seventy other attendees in the room shouted back the word powerfully, “UNSTOPPABLE!” I felt a chill up my neck and the tingling of my arm hairs standing up. It’s moments like these that are unforgettable. I knew the visceral feeling this created in me would be a reference point in my future.

A few months later, I was teaching a class as an internship for Ministerial School. On the night of the first class, I taught the students to say UNSTOPPABLE in unison whenever they heard me say it. We practiced a few times, and it was easy and powerful.

It was unplanned, and when it happened, I had the same experience of a chill up my neck and the tingling of my arm hairs standing up. Everyone in the room felt it, and we all sat for a moment together, feeling the awe and power of being unstoppable.

A few ways to cultivate an unstoppable mindset in your life:

  • Be unwavering in your faith amid any undesirable conditions and circumstances you may face. 
  • Allow everyone, including yourself, to be transformed in your presence. Meaning that regardless of the person you met yesterday, allow that very same person to be created fresh and new before you today. Treat people as if you are meeting them for the first time, every day.
  • Take the mental energy spent on the story you have written about yourself and others and use it to create a world in which you would love to live. For example, the commentator, the judger, the complainer – who would you be without those voices? You would be free to create anything you want for yourself and your life powerfully.
  • Remember that whatever people say about you is not about you – it never is. It is about them. That includes the seeming good comments and the seeming bad comments. When you get this, you will be unmoved by either of them because you believe in yourself and are now unstoppable.

You are so in touch with your soul’s purpose on this planet that nothing can stop you from becoming who you came here to be. You allow your radiant light to shine brightly to all. You do not listen to the naysayers or negative nellies anymore.

Standing in harmony with Spirit, you are tuned in, tapped in, and connected. The path is laid out before you; you listen to your intuition and take action on the guidance received from your Highest Self, which is your Innermost Self, your God-Self – the Self within all selves.

You are unstoppable. UNSTOPPABLE!

And so it is.


Let God Do the Work

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
October 15, 2020

When I was a little girl, my parents owned a speed boat that my dad named Yellow Fever. It was sparkly yellow with pearl white and silver paint. My mom, dad, and brother took turns water skiing behind Yellow Fever, and they were great, even single skiing at times.

They tried to teach me how to water ski when I was seven years old, but I didn’t get it. They explained the process to me and would take off with me holding the rope, but I couldn’t stand up. I would go straight underwater while holding the rope! Their concern grew with each attempt, and after a few times, they decided not to pursue it.

Fast forward thirty years later, and I’m out on a boat with some good friends who were great water skiers. They asked me if I wanted to try it, and I told them I never learned how to ski and what happened to me the last time I tried. 

They seemed convinced they could teach me how to ski now, so I gave it a go. I got into the water and in position, holding the rope out in front of me, skis pointed up, knees slightly bent. I was ready and said, “ok, hit it!”

As the boat sped up, my excitement grew. I felt myself about to pop up and gave it some effort, then fell. The good news: I did let go of the rope. After a couple more eager attempts and failures, it was time to rest.

My turn came around again, and my friends paused to offer some guidance on the back of the boat. They explained that as I’m in the seated position, the boat will speed up, and I will feel it. At that time, I should remain in place and wait. They said my job was to stay in position, be ready, and the boat would pull me up. I was to let the boat do the work.

I jumped in the water with this new knowledge, ready to give it a try. I got into position, stayed in place, remembering to let the boat do the work, and I popped right up. I was so happy that it worked. I even teared up a little bit. The lesson was to get into position and let the boat do the work. 

Spiritually speaking, we are co-creating with the Divine, and our job is to get into position, stay in place, and let GOD do the work. You don’t have to make it happen; you do need to make it welcome. You make it welcome by getting into position. You get into position with your thought patterns by choosing the thoughts you will dwell upon to create the life you desire for yourself. Get your thinking right, and your actions will follow. Right thought naturally leads to right action.

Then, let God do the work.

And so it is.

Just Do It!

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
October 1, 2020

Remember attending sporting events before the pandemic? I loved going to games with my parents when I was younger, as I knew there would be sodas, garlic fries, peanuts, and pink popcorn to consume. Whether it was football, baseball, basketball, hockey, or a soccer game did not matter to me. I could grin and be happy knowing I would have some, if not all, of these snacks.

As I matured, it became less about the snacks and more about quality family time, not to mention the day’s sport. I always got a kick out of my fellow spectators shouting to the players as if they knew them personally. They offered opinions and advice about playing a better game or commented on why their game was off or how they should alter their behavior to be better.

I giggle today as I recall this and contemplate how easy it is to offer opinions and judgments about playing the game when one is not actually in the game itself. On my left, Jim shouts at the referee about the unfair penalty. Sally, on my right, hollers at the batter for swinging when it was a terrible pitch. Jim and Sally are in the bleachers, not in the game.

Many people sit in the bleachers of their lives, complaining, upset, talking about how it should or should not be, but not actually in the game of their life. Isn’t it time to get out of the bleachers and into the game of your life? Sometimes you’ve got to get out there and go for it. Flex your faith muscle and get out on the court into the game. 

Your days of being a spectator in the bleachers shouting out opinions are numbered. When you are in the bleachers of your life, you are experiencing your thoughts, opinions, and judgments about it, rather than life itself. 

Dr. Ernest Holmes, New Thought writer, teacher, and founder of the Science of Mind philosophy, observed that “faith is a mental attitude which is so convinced of its own idea – which so completely accepts it – that any contradiction is unthinkable and impossible.” If that is true, then the time is now to accept your magnificence, believe that you cannot fail, and feel the faith flowing through you. Let this faith inspire you into action. Take action.

When you flex your faith muscle, you are unstoppable. It is the faith of God that gives you an advantage in life that not everyone has. I call it your God-vantage. Use it. Practice it. Try this at home.

Now is the time to go out and live your life fully. Begin today – right where you are – just do it! Go for the gusto. Make that phone call, ask that person out, start something or stop something, go to the gym, do not eat that cupcake, or whatever it is for you, just do it! Your life is waiting!

And so it is.

The Faith of a Mustard Seed

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley-Hogue,
Spiritual Director
September 17, 2020

A mustard seed is a teeny, tiny seed, about 2 millimeters in diameter. Those little seeds turn into waist-high mustard plants and cover a lot of land. Even if your faith is as tiny as the small mustard seed, it is more than enough. Look at the great expanse of beauty produced by these tiny little seeds. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a field of these incredibly beautiful mustard flowers. They seemed to go on forever and gave me a sense of the infinite presence of love, which permeates all of life.

Whatever you choose to have faith in is perfect and right for you, whether you call it Allah, Atman, Brahman, Buddha, Divine, Eternity, the Force, God, Jesus, Mohammed, the Presence, Source Energy, Spirit, or otherwise. I choose to call it God, which works for me; It is the Invisible Presence, the Thing Itself, common to all, in and through all things, and Its nature is love.

The dictionary defines faith as complete trust or confidence in something or someone. Ernest Holmes wrote, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I believe faith is a mental attitude embodied to such a degree that the mind can no longer deny it. We all have this mental attitude of faith about many things without even realizing it.

You have faith that the invisible law of gravity will work when you get out of bed. You don’t have to pray about it or will it to be. You just get out of bed and stand right up.

You get in the shower and turn on the water, expecting to control the temperature, adjust the flow to your liking, and keep a steady stream going until you’re complete.

When you go out to your vehicle in the morning to drive to work, school, or wherever you’re going, you have faith that your car will start right up and allow you to get to your destination on time. I’ve never walked out to my vehicle and thought, gosh, I sure hope my car starts today. It just starts, like it always does. I’m so grateful!

You have faith that the sun will rise and set daily, that your coffee maker and toaster will work as expected. The list goes on and on.

Even if you have the tiniest suspicion that something is working for your highest good, that the Universe just might possibly be conspiring for your magnificence, that is enough to have it be revealed to you.

As you move through your day, you’re given many opportunities to choose between fear or faith. I invite you to choose faith. Have faith that everything is unfolding exactly as it should. Remember, you live, move, and have your being in a Universe that is working for you.

It doesn’t matter how big your faith is; it matters that you have it.

And so it is.

Nature is a Great Healer

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley-Hogue,
Spiritual Director
September 3, 2020

I’ve just returned from marrying my best friend, and it was a glorious event!   For our honeymoon, we were planning a staycation, given the world’s state at this time.  We spontaneously decided to take a road trip to Sedona, Arizona, and we are so glad we went.

It was hot and dry and inconvenient to wear a mask, yet we made it work.  We had a magnificent experience together on our first trip as a married couple.

I had heard great things about Sedona for many years, and it did not disappoint.  The majesty of the colossal red rock formations blows your hair back and takes your breath away.

At the top of our list of things to do was visit the vortex sites. Sedona’s vortices are different from the vortex you may have read about in the Esther and Jerry Hicks books.  The books describe the vortex as a field of energy that is your highest and best state, and when in it, you are powerful and can use the law of attraction to easily co-create whatever you desire to experience in your life.

A vortex is a funnel shape created by a whirling fluid or by the motion of spiraling energy.  Familiar examples are a whirlwind, tornado, or water going down a drain.  Vortices can be made of anything that flows, such as wind, water, or electricity.

In Sedona, the vortices are swirling centers of subtle energy coming out from Earth’s surface, similar to the swirling energy centers, or chakras in our bodies.  We visited three of the four sites.  On our last day in Sedona, we did a sunrise hike up to the Airport Mesa Vortex.

We took turns meditating on a peaceful perch facing the sun, feeling the powerful swirling energy of Mother Earth and the canyon’s wind blowing up.  The convergence of these three elements of nature created a dynamic sense of oneness.  As I sat at the center of this trinity of Earth, wind, and fire, captivated by the raw beauty all around me, with my hair blowing back, I felt a rush of gratitude, joy, and delight at the opportunity to experience life on this planet.

At this moment, I truly arrived in Sedona, experiencing its magnificent, mystical splendor in all of its glory.  We headed back down the trail to our hotel and left for home shortly after that.

I’ll be revisiting this exact place in my daily meditation practice. 

Nature is a great healer.  Now that the smoke has cleared and the temperature has dropped, I encourage you to take time to get outside.  Find a special place in a forest, on a hiking trail, or at a park to dwell and be one with the trees, rocks, water, wind, birds, Mother Earth, and all of life.  As you sit, give thanks for this precious time you have on the planet and let the joy wash over you.

And so it is.

No-one Gets Left Behind

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
August 20, 2020

This week I received a download from Spirit for an acronym that’s quite fitting as we celebrate the diverse nature of all of God’s children.  The word is ohana. 

Ohana is a Hawaiian term meaning family.  To quote the Disney movie, Lilo and Stitch of 2002: “Ohana means family.  Family means no one gets left behind.”  In Hawaiian culture, ohana represents the idea that families — blood-related, adopted, or intentional — are bound together, and that family members are responsible for one another.  The human race is one big family, and we are responsible for one another.  No one gets left behind.

The acronym O.H.A.N.A. is defined as observe, honor, admire, notice, appreciate.  I’ve invited our community to use this acronym as we move through the world to help us see all of humanity as our ohana, our family, and leave no one behind.

Observe – to perceive and see the diverse nature of yourself and others.

Honor – to hold in high regard or esteem the qualities of yourself and others that are unique.

Admire – to recognize the worthiness of yourself and the worthiness of others as you regard and respect all of the unique qualities you are seeing. For this word, an image pops into my mind of a tiny little church in Kauai with towering, beautiful stained glass windows.  I remember I was on a family trip one year, and everyone was trying to get me to leave for the next fun adventure. So moved by the beauty of the stained glass that I asked for more time and if they might come back for me later.  I remember looking at the stained glass for quite some time, reveling in the intricate details, different colors, and the glorious magnificence of it.  Shifting my gaze to the room and floor around me, I noticed how the light came through the glass, creating patterns of light in other places.  It was stunning.  I felt deep admiration and respect.  This is the way to admire the diversity you see all around you.

Notice – to pay attention and become aware of what arises in you as you observe, honor, and admire the diversity surrounding you.

Appreciate – to recognize the full worth of yourself and others, the big picture, and the Source of all of life – our Creator – The Thing Itself, which birthed us into existence.

That’s o.h.a.n.a.  As you move through the world, I invite you to observe, honor, admire, notice, and appreciate the diversity of all things.

People, trees, flowers, clothes, music, dishes, cars, etc.  Take it all in and join me in giving thanks for the magnificent heterogeneity of all of life.

I’m so grateful for every individualized expression of the Divine. I appreciate all of the unique qualities and characteristics of myself and others.  We are one human family, equal, imperfect, and magnificent.  You are worthy of respect and love.

Ohana means family.  Family means no one gets left behind.

And so it is.