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Weekly Column – Paso Robles Press

Do you want to be right or happy?

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
June 14, 2109

Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?  Asking yourself this one simple question can save you time and energy that can be used to create what you deeply desire for yourself and your life.

Some of us were raised with the need always to be right, or maybe you know someone who is always right, or, at least they think they are.  Getting caught up in the need to be right has one pay off, which is that you get to be right.  The cost is very high if your single goal is to be right — loss of affinity, isolation, disempowerment, inauthenticity, and so on.

The need to be right usually occurs on an unconscious level and tends to dictate how you move through the world.  Once you become aware of this habit, which you likely picked up from your family, community, or society, it will no longer run you or your life.

With this new awareness, you now know what you didn’t know, and you can make a conscious choice between being right or being happy — being right results in temporary happiness.  True happiness comes from the deepest place within you as the result of your being satisfied with the finished kingdom through which you walk.  Living your life from an authentic, empowering, connected, and loving context is a much stronger foundation to move through the world with.

It takes practice.  As you slowly begin to loosen your mental grip on the need to be right, transformation occurs.  You’ll start to notice the areas in your life where you’re putting too much of your precious time, energy, and effort into making yourself right.

Without the need to be right, you have created freedom.  This freedom is the fertile ground for your mental and creative energy to imagine and breed greater possibilities in your life, rather than the mediocre satisfaction that comes with being right.

No longer are you a hamster running on the wheel of, “I need to be right,” wasting your one precious life.  You are now free to talk about your dreams, your ideas, your vision.  What do you love about your life as it is today?  What would you like to experience in your life?  Where have you been, and where are you headed?

The artist, musician, speaker, writer, philanthropist, or you name it which is within you and has been waiting to come bursting forth into existence through and as you now has an opportunity to do so.  Doesn’t this idea spark joy, and uplift you?  I believe it’s time to “Marie Kondo” your need to be right.  Time to release this energetic, mental usurper which is no longer serving your highest and best good.

Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?  Choose happiness and be amazed at the transformation you experience for yourself and your life.

And so it is.

What do you really want?

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
June 7, 2019

Have you ever made a terrible choice or been afraid?  Did you ever think you were making significant spiritual progress and then backslid into old thought patterns or behaviors which no longer serve you?  Have you ever wanted something in your life, really badly, and then got something completely different?  Alternatively, maybe you got precisely what you wanted, and then you wondered why you even wanted that in the first place?  Me neither!

I’m just kidding, this happens to everyone, it’s just that nobody talks about it openly.  Sometimes you outgrow what you thought you wanted or needed before it even shows up in your life.  Especially when it’s a specific form like a house or a relationship that you are desiring.

The good news is that your greatest yet to be is still on the way.  Even if you’re currently in the most excellent place in your life, as happy as you’ve ever been.  You are always evolving, learning, and growing into your radiant spiritual magnificence.

The Science of Mind teaches you to identify what you really want by asking yourself a series of questions as follows: What do I really want?  What form do I see this taking?  What specific experience do I desire from what I want?

Asking yourself these questions develops your skill in listening to your internal guide or inner voice, your highest wisdom Godself.  There is always a form or picture of what you want and an experience you are seeking from that picture of what you want.  The key is to place your prayerful emphasis on what you are seeking to experience.

As you uncover what it is you’re seeking to experience, or feel, you develop your inner awareness and become more conscious and awake to the God qualities existing within and all around you, always available, waiting for you to notice them.

For example, you may genuinely desire to get married or be in a long-term relationship.  Ask yourself what the experience is that you’re seeking to bring into your life?  It might be security, partnership, or love.  Then, as you begin to focus your prayer work on security, partnership, and love, you allow everything in that vibration come to you.  If that includes marriage or a long-term relationship, so be it!

The opportunities that you begin to become aware of in your life seem like new opportunities, but in reality, they were there all along, you weren’t seeing them because your focus was elsewhere.

When individuals come to me feeling unhappy, I ask them what they want.  They often don’t know or are unable to articulate it.  They are always very clear about what they don’t want, and usually, have a great story about that.  If you don’t know what you want, ask yourself those three questions to gain the clarity of what you’re truly seeking to experience in your life.  Make it welcome and enjoy your blessings.

And so it is.

Poco a poco, se va lejos

Poco a poco, se va lejos
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
May 31, 2019

I attended a high school graduation last weekend for a family member where the school’s Spanish teacher gave the commencement address. There was one sentence he spoke in Spanish that captured my attention which was poco a poco, se va lejos. Translated this means little by little, you go far.

This resonated with me deeply as I genuinely believe that it’s in the tiny daily accomplishments where we build our strength to go far.  Just like the runner who trains little by little, adding ten percent to their mileage for each run to build their strength for an upcoming marathon, then the day of the marathon arrives, and it’s time to run far. The runner has built up the fortitude little by little over time for this great achievement.

There are small adjustments you can make in your daily life, which will cause you to live a freer, fuller, more expanded version of your highest and best self.  Whether it’s adding five minutes of meditation time in the morning and evening, writing a simple gratitude list first thing in the morning and before going to sleep at night, or smiling more, these tiny changes create significant results.

While these slight adjustments may seem too small or insignificant to produce results, poco a poco, or, little by little, a shift begins to occur.  The transformation can be so subtle as to go unnoticed by you alone.  However, the people around you notice new freedom and happiness about you that continues to expand. Suddenly there’s a joyful spring in your step which was but a dull stomp before.  People will want to know your secret, and you can tell them poco a poco, se va lejos.

In chaos theory, this concept is called the butterfly effect, which states that a small change in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in substantial differences in a later state.  Simple systems can also demonstrate the butterfly effect.

Begin to ponder which small change you can make in your life today that will alter the way you move through the world.  What is one thing you can start doing or stop doing that will lead to a life of more joyful expression or freedom?

Try alternating your daily routine by putting on your other sock and shoe first, or taking an alternate route to work.  When sitting down to pay bills, speak a blessing of gratitude for the gift you received from the service provided.  I’m so grateful for hot running water, a roof over my head, preservation of food, clean clothes, and the ability to connect with others using my smartphone.  Maybe you wake up a little early to go to the gym, to pray and meditate, or to journal.

Whatever you choose, make it a small adjustment that is workable for you in your life, commit to it, and follow through.  Enjoy the journey and have fun.

Also, remember to smile.

And so it is.

Transformation

Transformation
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
May 24, 2019

Dictionary.com defines transformation as a change in form, appearance, nature, or character.  A timeless example of transformation is the metamorphosis that the caterpillar undergoes to become a butterfly.

As soon as the egg hatches into a baby caterpillar it begins to feed on the nutrients it needs to grow, starting with eating the eggshell from which it hatched, then its host plant.  One day the caterpillar has eaten enough and hangs itself upside down from a twig or a leaf and spins a cocoon for protection as it goes through the next stage of its development.

Neatly wrapped in its cocoon, the caterpillar releases enzymes to dissolve its tissues, and all but a few groups of some highly organized cells remain.  It is now in a cosmic soup, neither a caterpillar nor a butterfly.  These groups of highly organized cells feed on the dissolved tissues to begin the formation of the butterfly.  Suddenly, one day, the butterfly is fully formed and emerges from the cocoon brand new, completely transformed.

In the same sense, your spiritual journey involves radical transformation as your consciousness of God expands.  It is written in the Bible that Jesus observed, “You have eyes but do not see; you have ears but do not hear.”  What he was saying was that the kingdom of heaven is within and all around you, but you do not see it because you are looking through the filter of your beliefs.  Those deeply held beliefs are preventing you from bearing witness to the mighty and magnificent kingdom of heaven in all its majesty and glory.  All of the love, joy, beauty, wisdom, harmony, bliss, abundance, and peace are already here now, and available to you, but you cannot see it.

Your spiritual transformation is the revelation of spirit beyond your history.  It’s not the best of your past coming into your future, rather an unprecedented revelation of wholeness, oneness, goodness, and love that you could not have imagined.  It emerges with beauty, grace, and radiant magnificence, just like the butterfly.  You begin to see and hear from a new understanding.  You no longer live your life with the filter of a default belief system, which was a product of your upbringing, based on societal and parental influences.

Be gentle and kind with yourself as you enter the cosmic soup of transformation.  Create a space for yourself that is nurturing and cozy.  Allow the thoughts and beliefs which no longer serve you or your highest good to be dissolved and disintegrated.  Something wonderful wants to emerge through, and as you, will you allow it?

Know that your wings are being prepared and soon you will take flight into your spiritual magnificence.  Your eyes are being made to see and your ears being made to hear all of the love, joy, beauty, wisdom, harmony, bliss, abundance, and peace that are available to you now.

May you be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

And so it is.

Perfectly Imperfect

Perfectly Imperfect
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
May 17, 2019

Ernest Holmes, American New Thought writer, teacher, leader and the founder of our Spiritual movement known as Religious Science wrote, “The whole purpose of the Science of Mind is to reconcile the apparent separation of the spiritual world, which must be Perfect, with the material world, which appears imperfect.” [Science of Mind, page 448.1]

I spent some time in India ten years ago with thirteen traveling companions and a tour guide who, thankfully, handled all of the travel arrangements.  As soon as you step out of the airplane, India greets you with her intensity and depth.  As a third world country, you see things you’ve never seen before or even imagined to be possible.  Love and compassion wash over and through you as you take it all in.

One of the locals in Rajasthan shared with me that American people have said to him that it was hard for them to be in India because it was difficult to bear witness to so much poverty.  He responded that they did not live in poverty according to their values.  They might have eight people living together in a small room and love the close, intimate time they get to spend together.  He said that they believe Americans live in poverty because we have 2,500 square feet homes with two to three people living there.  That seemed very sad and lonely to them, like poverty.

Being human can be messy at times and appear imperfect.  We are each perfectly imperfect, and we would all do well to be proud of our unique individual imperfections.  Thinking you are alone in your suffering creates separation from others and God.  If you are dealing with something troubling in your life right now, I invite you to remember that you are not alone.  Additionally, as you are made in the image and likeness of God, you are the living presence of love endowed with the wholeness of spiritual perfection within you.  Beyond any appearance is the spiritual prototype of your good, your highest and best self, waiting to be noticed.  Say yes to this good.

Amid your suffering, if you could imagine your spiritual perfection and know that there is that within you which has never been hurt, harmed, deceived, betrayed or ill, and focus on that, your suffering would decrease.

In difficult times we tend to focus on the difficulty which perpetuates it and the suffering around it.  Instead of focusing on the source of the pain, the group of thoughts you’re having that perpetuate it and make it worse, imagine what you would love to experience instead.  Keep focusing on that, and bring it into your prayer and meditation, create a vision board or journal about it and talk about it with your friends.  Share it as a possibility that you’re living into in the here and now.  Your spiritual magnificence awaits.

Know that the Universe is always conspiring for your highest and best good.

And so it is.

Contemplating Grace

Contemplating Grace
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
May 10, 2019

I find a deep connection in nature, and I get out there every chance I get. It’s so natural and unadorned, yet majestic and beautiful.

I have been a finder of heart-shaped things and other symbols in nature like arrows pointing the way for many years now. I’ve only recently started writing about it.  Today was different though.  Today I found grace, just beyond the shoreline carved into the sand where the elegant ocean waves meet the land.  Someone had carved the word into the sand, and I walked by in the right and perfect time to see it.  She is subtle and worthy of approbation, grace, as are we all.  When this type of experience occurs for me, it fills my heart with love. It’s as if everything conspired for that moment to happen.  It reminded me that I’m walking on holy ground.

Grace is not reserved only for the Saints or royalty.  Ordinary, everyday grace occurs when you realize that you are made of the very essence of God.  It may appear as a feeling of love washing over you or an unexpected insight that arises from the deepest place within you.  Grace may arise in an undesirable way and may appear painful and messy like the end of a relationship or an unexpected job loss.  Painful endings are magnificent beginnings in disguise.  One might call this fierce grace.  I believe that life is always conspiring for our highest and greatest good.

If you’ve ever fallen from grace, fear not, for she is generous and distinguished, and you are well blessed and highly favored.  Your presence will be home to the kindness of grace once again.

We can always take a backward step into the pure potentiality of the present moment.

The human dilemma of duality and the concept of a separate self creates thoughts of suffering surrounding it.   In a moment of grace those addictive thoughts that perpetuate suffering become uninteresting and less thrilling than the pure goodness of remembering who you truly are.

Instead of falling from grace we are called to fall into grace.  To fall into life wholly and completely as the great mystery, allowing it to reveal the multitude of gifts and magnificent blessings of it.  Surrendering to the Divine as the mystical truth and essence of who and what you are is the calling.  You can fall into grace in the same way you fall into the embrace of a loved one to be held and cared for, or the feeling of falling asleep at night when your head hits the pillow.

Just for a few minutes, move out of me, you, mine, his and her mentality, and into pure Consciousness.  Be undisturbed by the hoopla, or the delusions of the mind, and rest in the Absolute.  Let go of identifying with any personal stories that create an individual self, and abide in Unified Awareness.  Let the Presence shine through and as you.

And so it is.

Compassion In Action

Compassion In Action
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
May 3, 2019

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary the words pity, sympathy, empathy, and compassion are listed as synonyms for one another.  It’s vital for the spiritually awakened heart and mind to have a clear distinction of the definition of each word.

To feel pity is to feel sorrow for one’s suffering, distress, or unhappiness.  In the movie Rocky III, the character Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T was interviewed before the big fight and asked if he hated Rocky Balboa.  He said, “No I don’t hate Balboa, I pity the fool.”  This was because he felt bad for how much Rocky was about to suffer.

To feel sympathy is to understand the feelings of another with the ability to commiserate.  As in, “Oh yes, I understand you feeling that way.”  You might offer a friend a Hallmark card or a thoughtful gift to bring comfort in times of sorrow.

Empathy takes sympathy deeper in that you can now walk a mile in another person’s shoes. You acknowledge your shared humanity with another and can imagine what it must be like for the person to be experiencing what they are. You’re able to tune into another person’s emotional experience and feel what they are feeling.

Compassion is the next level. Compassion is selfless love.  It is the feeling that you will do something for someone even if it’s not in your self-interest.  Compassion is love in action. It’s walking a mile in another person’s shoes and then doing something about it. It’s not a syrupy, sweet way of interacting with others.  For the spiritually awakened heart, it is a selfless love that expresses as it needs to. Sometimes what’s called for is tough love and other times it’s a soothing balm of comforting love. Either way, the motive is always love.

We are all interconnected, and come from the same Source. If we can live, move, and have our being from this place of oneness, recognizing and remembering that we are all part of the human family, can you imagine what else is possible?  I believe we are called to take inspired, compassionate action wherever possible.

In Hindu mythology, there is a popular, well-adored deity known as Lord Hanuman, the monkey God.  Hanuman is adored for his embodiment of love, devotion, intelligence, duty, compassion, strength, courage, and loyalty. Hanuman was deeply devoted to Lord Rama whose brother was severely injured in a great battle and about to die.  Hanuman flew off to search high up in the Himalayas for a life-saving herb.  Not knowing which herb was needed, he brought the entire mountain of Dronagiri back to him in one hand.

How might you bring compassion in action to the world today?  You don’t have to carry an entire mountain to someone.  Maybe it’s a smile, a ride, a phone call, or a random act of kindness. Perhaps it’s self-compassion which motivates you to speak kind and loving words to yourself and others.

And so it is.

Tune into Spirit

Tune into Spirit
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
April 26, 2019

Guitar players adjust the strings of their guitar to a specific tuning.  They do this such that when they play, it will sound a certain way that is pleasing to the ear. They are adjusting the frequency (the vibration speed) so that the strings are in harmony with each other.  When they aren’t in harmony, the sound is wobbly.  When they are in harmony, the sound is smooth and steady.

Setting your intention for the day is quite similar. You get to choose the way you’d like your day to look like such that it is pleasing to you and in calibration with Spirit.  This is a great way to ensure your values and your actions are aligned for your highest good and the greatest good for all.  If you notice a wobble, embrace that wobble, consider your intention, adjust your frequency, and take new actions based on your intention.

For example, if you value being grateful and it is your intention to be tuned into gratitude, then you catch yourself complaining, you’ve got a wobble.   Time to retune yourself by stopping, sitting, and writing a gratitude list. Then continue contemplating that which you are grateful for throughout the day.  Now you’re back in harmony, and your experience is smooth, steady, and in alignment.

Setting your intention is like throwing your hat over the fence and then going to get the hat.  You are no longer a victim to the circumstances and conditions of the world that may arise because that’s not the tuning you’re in. The frequency you’re tuned in to is of the Spirit: love, beauty, perfection, wholeness, peace, compassion, joy, gratitude, and abundance!

Which frequency are you choosing to tune into today?

Many of us have grown accustomed to being at the whim of what happens throughout our day, accepting the tuning of others, reacting in a way that does not serve our highest good.  Isn’t it time to take your power back and use the power of your word to create something magnificent?  This empowers you to respond from your highest self with purpose and intention, rather than react from your conditioned past.

Recognizing the responsibility you have to create a life you genuinely love pulls you into the present moment.  When you have your intention set for the day and are committed to living from that intention, shift happens.

You deserve to be happy, joyous and free. It’s up to you to recognize those thoughts that lead to greater happiness and fulfillment and those that lead to the wobble, then choose wisely.  While you may not be able to change the situations and experiences you face each day, you do have the power to change your reaction to them.  You don’t have to like the situation you’re in, but it’s essential that you like yourself in it.

Try this today by naming the frequency you’re tuning into and expect it to be so.

And so it is.

Finding Your Good

Finding Your Good
By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
April 19, 2019

Remember when you were a young child and Easter was so thrilling because you knew there would be an Easter egg hunt? You also knew that without a doubt, there were some eggs hidden out there meant for you to find. Not to mention those eggs were filled with some great treasure especially for you. It just had to be something good. When given the green light to find the eggs, off you went, searching for your good with joyful anticipation.

As adults, we don’t participate in Easter egg hunts. As I contemplate them, I am filled with the same incredible energy as when I was a child. The thrill of knowing my good is here, and it’s already mine, it’s just a matter of me finding it. Just thinking about it creates a new vibration within me and I feel uplifted. Good and more good is mine.

I have adopted the habit of finding the good in my daily life. I always look for and expect to find it everywhere I go! In practicing this habit, I’ve discovered a multitude of ways that Spirit communicates with me. My life has been filled to overflowing with joy in finding messages from Spirit everywhere. It’s like a game of Divine hide-and-seek, and it’s the best game ever!

I might ask a question during my morning meditation practice then hear the answer in a song played on the radio on my way to the office. One time on a hike I came to a fork in the trail and I didn’t know which way to go as it was my first time hiking this trail. I paused and turned within asking Spirit to guide me. I was prompted to look down, and as I did so, I noticed some rocks on the ground shaped into an arrow which was pointing to the correct path to take.

I invite you to adopt finding the good in your daily life as a spiritual practice for the day, the week, the month, or however long you are called to do so. It is fun, and I believe that spiritual growth should be fun. There is good for you and you ought to have it.

It’s time to go out, or turn within, and find your good; it’s waiting for you. It’s here, and it’s there, it’s everywhere, just waiting for you to notice it.

American spiritual author and leader Emma Curtis Hopkins said, “There is good for me and I ought to have it.” As you move through your day, you might adopt a simple practice of repeating this mantra silently in your mind. While doing so, see if you can conjure up the same joyful anticipation you felt as when you were a child just before an Easter egg hunt. Thinking this mantra while feeling cheerfully expectant are sure to manifest the good you seek in your life.

Happy Easter dear friends!

And so it is.

You Are Beautiful

You Are Beautiful
By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
April 12, 2019

Returning from a weekend getaway down South recently, my traveling companions and I chose to take a slight detour inland to the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve in Lancaster, California. There were several hills blanketed with a beautiful orange super bloom of California Poppies. It was so stunningly beautiful that I could do nothing but stand in silence, observing and taking it all in for at least ten minutes. None of us had ever experienced anything quite like it before.

Nineteenth-Century American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “We are made immortal by the contemplation of beauty.”

There is something immediate in beholding beauty. It has a way of pulling us into the present moment with fierce vitality. It’s a time when the veil between human and Divine fades to a gentle mist. There’s a realization that something created this beauty which leads one to contemplate the mystical nature of life.

Irish poet, author, priest, and Hegelian Philosopher John O’Donohue wrote, “We can slip into the Beautiful with the same ease as we slip into the seamless embrace of water; something ancient within us already trusts that this embrace will hold us.”

When beauty is observed, it is akin to a Divine show-and-tell, and we’re ready for it at the very depths of our being. Everything else seems to fall away as we are pulled into its embrace. Trials and tribulations, thoughts and questions, to-do lists and homework, shopping lists and what to make for dinner are all placed on pause as the certainty and definiteness of beauty rearranges us. The soul hungers for beauty and knows it when it sees it. It may leave you speechless as its radiant magnificence washes over, exalting your spirit.

In contemplating beauty, I wondered, what would it be like if we allowed ourselves more time to enjoy the beauty all around us? Better yet, what would it be like to look for the beauty in everything? Perhaps rather than traveling for hours to see blooming flowers, we might notice the beauty in the ordinary everyday goodness of our lives. The smile of a loved one, the ecstatic joy of a child with an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, people being kind to each other, or when the sunlight shines through a window in just the right position that it refracts the light, creating a rainbow on the ground or wall.

Beauty can be found in every moment if you’re looking for it. Today I invite you to remember that you are beautiful. This beauty radiates out from within the deepest parts of you. It is a self-effulgent light glowing luminous and bright. It’s the beauty of Life itself contracted into the single point of being on this planet that is living as you. A kaleidoscope of experience with the beauty of a stained-glass window as the sunlight shines through it. Move through your day remembering this Truth.

And so it is.