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Weekly Column – Paso Robles Press

Wouldn’t it be nice if _____ ?

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director  August 23, 2019

Wouldn’t it be nice if _____ (fill in the blank)? Beginning with these five simple words is a great way to start imagining a world wherein you embody perfect love, peace, wholeness, and Divine perfection that is inherently yours; simply by right of your being born into this earth suit on this planet, for such a time as this.

I had a delightfully memorable experience of wouldn’t it be nice if, at one of many five-night silent retreats I attended with Adyashanti. After four nights immersed in silence, I thought it would be nice to wake up early to get a seat up in front of the meditation hall for the morning session. I was in line with my pillows, blankets, and other necessities for the day by 7 AM to wait for this opportunity.

One of the lead volunteers began the morning ritual of walking around the meditation hall, ringing the Tibetan bell with Dorje in hand. A wellspring of joy bubbled up from my toes when I saw her emerge from the other side of the building, completing her ritual.

Just then, the following thought came to mind: Wouldn’t it be nice if I sat next to my roommate today? We’d been immersed in the silence together for four nights and not spoken at all. It would be delightful to sit next to her, at least for one session today.

The doors flung open, and the retreat attendees poured into the meditation hall in a river of silence. I didn’t know where to sit, but something in me did. I made my way up to the front rows, zig-zagging through rows and aisles until I found a spot just up ahead in the second row, toward the middle. I walked over to the end of the row on the right and made my way into the center. It felt purposeful, with intention, this mission to sit in the front section, next to my roommate.

I looked around the room; my roommate nowhere to be found. I proceeded with laying down my blankets and pillows, getting adjusted and cozy for a day of deep meditation with Spirit. I bowed to my chair, turned around and bowed to the stage (a ritual we were asked to engage in before being seated), then sat down with joy.

Feeling joyful for having accomplished my mission in finding a seat in the front section for the day, I turned my head to the left and looked at the person sitting next to me. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, my roommate, of course, smiling with cheer.

Once again, joyful giddiness and bliss bubbled up from my toes up through the top of my head. It was a gift from the Universe.

I invite you to think and speak, “Wouldn’t it be nice if ____________ (fill in the blank)?” for something you’d love to experience in your life.

And so it is.

Be a candle in the darkness

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
August 9, 2019

See if you can carve out at least five minutes of silence for yourself each day this week. Pure silence, which is to relax into the quiet stillness of the moment. Observe thoughts passing through your mind like clouds in the sky. Don’t be taken away by them; notice them and let them pass by. The thoughts will become fewer and farther between until a moment comes when there is no thought. It feels eternal.

Relax into the vast expanse of the silence as if it were a giant fluffy cloud holding you securely in place. Feel the loving presence of the Divine wrap Its arms around you and hold you in Its gentle embrace. More thoughts may arise, allow them to pass by; they will return. Right now, it’s your time to relax and feel the calmness that lives within you. You are light and weightless, and nothing can harm you.

As you notice your thoughts are beginning to settle like snowflakes in a snow globe, you feel all tension leave your body. Look around and see the beauty surrounding you. Notice the majestic trees and bushes, animals and insects, the sky and clouds. Realize your connection to everything.

You understand there is an entire world within you which wants your attention; just as there is a whole world outside of you, with many things competing for your attention at any given moment.

Give your inner world your attention. The kingdom within you is calling.

We are all feeling the effects of the recent horrific events in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton. Some of our members have asked me where to find God in the situation. I’ve spent some time in quiet contemplation searching for It, and I found It right here where I am, within me. It’s here at the very core of my being. It is there where you are too. I believe we are called to quit searching for someone or something out there to bring peace to us and instead to be the peace we seek.

We don’t have control of others, and we can’t afford to be seduced by the fear and anger being fed to us, allowing it to consume us. We do have control of ourselves, and how we choose to respond to the circumstances and conditions in our lives.

Feel your feelings and spend time in the silence.

Search your heart for what you’re called to do and who you’re called to be in the world, then do and be that. Be a beacon of light and love, shining brightly within your consciousness first, and then out to all. Be a place of peace and calm amid turmoil and chaos. Be a candle in the darkness. Rather than merging with and succumbing to the darkness of the recent horrific events, shine brighter than ever before. What the world needs right now is your light and love.

And so it is.

Grateful, thankful, and blessed

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
August 2, 2019

Did you know that gratitude is excellent for your health?  Studies have shown that the practice of gratitude leads to greater happiness, increased energy, improved kidney function, reduced blood pressure, and a stronger heart!  Every night before bed, I list at least five things I’m grateful for that day before drifting off to sleep.  When I wake up in the morning, I list at least five things I’m thankful for in my day ahead, appreciating the blessings in advance, setting my intention for the great unfoldment of the day.  Then I go out and experience my best day ever.

When paying bills, I like to say a little prayer of gratitude as I send off the money.  Thank you PG&E for the gift of light and heat; Spectrum, for the gift of internet access; garbage man, for picking up the waste; water company, for the steady flow all month; AT&T for phone calls, text messages, and more!  Most importantly, thank you, sweet Spirit, for expressing as all of these companies and services provided.

Hot showers and baths, washing dishes, doing laundry, staying warm, cooking, storing delicious healthy food; streaming Netflix, Amazon, HBO, and music; surfing the internet, working from home, checking email and posting to Facebook are all made possible to us because of you!  What a gift!

I am overflowing with appreciation as I bless this exchange of money for the excellent utilities and services provided and joyfully send it forth to heal, bless, and prosper! It’s God in action, and I’m grateful.

You can activate the law of attraction when you sit down and write that for which you are grateful.  The gratitude may come slowly first: one here, one there, then, suddenly the spigot is turned wide open, and everything you’re thankful for comes flooding out, faster than you can write them down.  The grateful hose is unkinked, and you begin to understand how blessed you are.

One beautiful day my beloved and I were hiking a hill behind our condo.  We were talking, laughing, and starting to feel the ache from the hike in our bodies.  We began to share back and forth things for which we were grateful.  We stopped for a moment to drink some coffee.  I looked down on the ground and saw rocks in the formation of a heart.

Before sharing our gratitude, we were just walking on a rocky, dirt hill and feeling the ache from it.  After the gratitude sharing, it was as if we had received a kiss from the universe.  At that moment, we felt connected to all of life. There was a lightness about us, and we practically skipped to the top of that hill.

Try this affirmation on for size:  I’m grateful, thankful, and blessed.  My heart overflows in appreciation for all that is. I am gifted, shifted, and lifted. I’m on the high side of awesome at the top of my game.  Thank you.

And so it is.

You are God in form

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
July 26, 2019

Once upon a time at an Ashram in India, a yogi grabbed my hands together and shook them solidly, saying, “You are God in form. You are God in form.”

A burst of energy from the bottom of my feet shot up through the top of my head. I felt giddy joy and vibrant aliveness from these five words born spontaneously out of the silence. I will never forget that moment, that yogi, that ashram, nor how I felt as the visceral recognition of Absolute Truth rearranged me.

You are God in form. Let that rearrange you.

Let it rearrange you in the sense of reprioritizing the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that have found a place to stay somewhere within your consciousness.  Energy congestion gathered over time dimming the Divine light of Truth which is ever available to you, and becomes more palpable when you notice it.

In your hour of need, in the moments when fear begins to consume your thoughts, if you can remember that you are God in form, it will rearrange you.

American New Thought writer, teacher, leader, and founder of the Centers for Spiritual Living movement, Ernest Holmes, observed, “There is a power for good in the universe that is greater than you are, and you can use it.” Yes, there is a power for good in the universe that is greater than your fear, and you can use it.  There is a power for good in the universe that is greater than your doubt, and you can use it.  Connect to this power, allow yourself to be guided by your Source.

In the process of spiritual awakening, there are times when the veil between human and Divine becomes so thin that you can feel and sense a merging with the whole of it. A mystical union where the line of individuality is dissipated by the everlasting light of your Divinity, your true essence. Oneness prevails, while you see others with your human eye, you recognize with your inner eye, or your spiritual eye, what the great Indian sage, Ramana Maharshi observed, “There are no others.”

You can experience more of those moments when the veil between human and Divine is thin as you loosen your mental grip on thought patterns and beliefs which do not serve your highest and greatest good. Thoughts of lack and limitation, which include feeling less than or not enough, lose their power. Feelings of doubt and worry are uninteresting and dimmed by the light of Truth.

A new understanding emerges amid your rearrangement by the recognition of the non-invertible Truth that you are God in form.  While you are not all that God is, all that you are is God.  You were made in the image and likeness of the Holy Spirit.  You are of God in the same sense that you are a product of your parents.

You are God in form.  Let that rearrange you.

And so it is.

Living In Choice 

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
July 19, 2019

We are always making choices.  From the moment we wake up in the morning until the moment we drift off to sleep at night.  When you open your eyes after a good night’s slumber and gather your senses, thoughts begin to arise.  You choose which of them to follow and off you go, choosing your way through the day.

Thoughts are like taxi cabs on the freeway of your mind.  Some of them are lovely while some are not.  It’s up to you to choose which of those taxi cabs you’ll get into as you’ll surely be taken for a ride.  What a blessing it is to have the freedom to choose your thoughts.  If there are many thoughts and none are appealing to you, you can add new thoughts by opening an inspiring book or listening to a song that makes you smile and fills you with joy.

In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article showing that the average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day.  80% of those thoughts are negative, and 95% are the same as yesterday.  Your thoughts generate every action, emotion, feeling, belief.

The thought choices you make will either lead to your healing or contribute to your suffering.  Why not choose healing thoughts?  You could select thoughts of self-love and acceptance over judgment and condemnation, thoughts of forgiveness and surrender over resentment and control.

The beautiful thing about choosing healing thoughts is that every cell in your body is affected by them.  Thoughts are units of mental energy; thus, healing thoughts heal the mind and body and healed people heal others.  As you learn to make healing choices in your thoughts, which leads to the healing of your mind and body, you become a healing presence in the world.  Your healing heals others.  Imagine a world of healed people?  It would be a world of wholeness and joy.  One of forgiveness, kindness and caring, with generous sharing of resources where everyone sees the good in each other and love always prevails.

You have the power to transform your entire life by changing your mind.  The only requirement is to become an observer or witness of your thoughts, which requires taking a backward step.  As you step back from the constant flow of thoughts and thinking you merge with the eternal, unborn nature of your being, Pure Essence, which is the Thing Itself, or the Universe, Divine Intelligence, Spirit.

With so much in life we have little control over, harnessing that which we do have control over, not only for our healing but the healing of the world is a mighty and magnificent gift; practically a superpower.

One good choice leads to the next.  As you find yourself on the path of choosing healing thoughts, the not so healthy thoughts lose their seductive power.  Now you are in a beautiful dance with the Divine and allowing it to lead.

And So It Is.

Moving beyond our story

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
July 12, 2019

When something happens in life that we are not happy about or might even be embarrassed about, we create a story. We are wired for stories. Our brains want and need them to protect us from pain and from being hurt again in the future. The mind wants a hero, a victim, and a villain. Have you ever been text messaging with someone, and the three dots pop up and then disappear, and no text message comes through? Then you made up a story?

Mistakes will occur in life; there will be uncomfortable moments; changes will happen either chosen by you or not chosen by you. You will discover things about yourself, which may have previously been hidden or unbeknownst to you. These are the blind spots that your close friends notice about you and mirror back to you which you may not have seen. Protective barriers which while serving the purpose in providing the payoff of keeping you protected, also have a cost associated with them such as loss of love, affinity, and deep connection.

Maybe you dropped the ball on a project or didn’t train enough for that century ride and couldn’t finish as expected. Then you created a story about it and collapsed that story with what happened when they are two separate things. Your story about it didn’t happen; what happened is what happened. When you own your story, you can see, wow this is a story I am telling myself or have been telling myself for years, and it’s not my Truth.

Imagine two circles with one circle representing what happened, and the other circle representing your story about what happened. Now bring those two circles together until they are side by side. Bring the circles closer together until they are slightly overlapping, and you have an almond shape right in the middle of the two joined circles.

This little almond shape represents the suffering created by the collapsing of what happened with your story about what happened. As insignificant as it seems, this suffering stops you in your tracks, prevents you from experiencing the love, joy, affinity, bliss, and deep connection with others, which is inherently yours.

The invitation is to separate the two, own the story you have created, realize that it is a story which got you to where you are today but will not get you to where you are going. Bless it and be thankful for it reminding you of whom you used to be. Be gentle with yourself as you own the story and begin to release it, as it was you who created this story in the first place. It served a great purpose to your health and well-being, and now it is no longer needed.

As you own the story you’ve been telling yourself about that experience, the story becomes like a house of cards in a windstorm and disintegrates as it no longer owns you.

And so it is.

Self-evident Truths

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
July 5, 2019

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….” [The Declaration of Independence]

What I love about this statement from the Declaration of Independence is that they were laying the foundation for the future. It’s an intention in which others enrolled in and signed their name. The unfoldment of which continues in civil liberties even today.

The truths of which they spoke were far from evident at the time it was written. All thirteen colonies legally practiced Slavery, women, and people of color were not allowed to vote. The only people who could vote in 1776 were those who owned land. When George Washington was elected president in 1789, only 6% of the entire population was legally allowed to vote.  150,000 voters determined elections out of 2,500,000 people.

The founding fathers of our United States held those Truths to be self-evident, meaning that they believed the Truths that followed did not need demonstration or explanation. They were obvious to them, and the declaration of their apparent clarity would be the foundation of the words to follow.

Many of us hold on to our stories from the past, illusions, false ideas, and disempowering beliefs with such ownership that we cannot see the light shining upon us, through us, and as us. We hold on to them tightly enough that they become self-evident for us.

I invite you to try these self-evident Truths on for size: You are made in the image and likeness of the Divine. You are where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing, right where you are. Everything that exists now is what it is, and it is already in your past. If you want things to be different, it's time to do things differently. You are not your past. You are a child of the Divine with glowing qualities of love, bliss, joy, harmony, peace, wisdom, abundance, and freedom.

You can always create something brand new at this moment, regardless of what happened last year, last month, last week, yesterday, or even this morning. English author whose works influenced the New Thought Movement and mystic Christianity, Thomas Troward, observed, “Principle is not bound by precedent.” Rather than limit our expectations of the future, we would do well to plant our universal stake firmly in the ground, declaring that all the good our heart’s desire is made manifest now, and allow it to unfold.

Name your good. Claim that you are prosperous, the right and perfect job is already yours, you have found your twin flame, you are healthy, whole and complete, you are loved, lovable and loving, all of your needs are met, and so much more.

As we celebrate our independence this week, I invite you to consider which Truths you hold as self-evident?

And so it is.

Divine Discontent

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
June 28, 2019

Divine discontent is a dissatisfaction with the way things are.  Accompanied by a feeling of restlessness where something’s amiss, something’s askew, and you can’t quite put your finger on it.  Divine discontent occurs when you compare what you are to what you know you have the power to become. We all yearn for greater personal capacity.  Deep down, we know who we are.

In twelve step-programs, individuals are told they will only have to change one thing – everything.  These individuals are going to need a whole new set of friends.  The friends the twelve-stepper had before getting into the twelve-step program are those they formerly drank, used, overspent or overate with.  The twelve-stepper is going to need a whole new set of friends instead of those they partied with all the time.  It’s no longer a good fit, nor is it healthy for the twelve-stepper to be around.

Divine discontent doesn’t feel good, but it’s an essential aspect of your growth and evolution on this planet.  You are being called into your next greatest yet to be.  The new higher, freer, fuller, more expanded, and more fully self-expressed version of yourself is beckoning you.  You’re going to need to shed the old patterns and life strategies of the past.

This inner urging you have toward something new may be something which is defined, and it might not be.  The insistence will continue to grow, and unless you listen to it, the discontent will get worse.  When you feel Divine discontent, lean into God and the message you’re receiving as you pray for clarity and ask, what is my next step?  Ask God to guide you.  When you receive clarity and guidance, it’s time to take action.

When we don’t pay attention to the Divine discontent, pray for clarity, and then act, we are acted on.  Someone might describe it as being hit by a spiritual 2×4, or having the rug pulled out from under them.

I experienced Divine Discontent four years ago – I didn’t know what I would do next, but I knew I could no longer do what I was doing.  The inner urging continued until one small experience ignited the shift and realization within me that would propel me forward.   To be who I was called to be, I could no longer be who I currently was.  I surrendered everything.

I moved to Grover Beach, where I lived in my parent’s guest bedroom one mile from the beach for almost one year.  After five months of rest, prayer, healing, and connecting with the God of my understanding, I found a temp job and began to work again at the best job I’ve ever had.  Shortly after that, I was engaged to be married and became the Spiritual Director for the Central Coast Center for Spiritual Living in Templeton.

Lean into Divine discontent and ask for God’s guidance, then take action.  You’ll be amazed and delighted by what’s next.

And so it is.

Celebrate the wins of others

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
June 21, 2019

A friend recently shared with me that she used to pray to make more money as she seemed to be at a plateau in her career. She looked deeply at what might be blocking her from increasing her income. It didn’t take long to uncover a hidden belief, which was a negative opinion she had of others who made a lot more money than she did.

Specifically, the belief was a deeply held judgment she had about her father. He made a lot of money, but from her perspective, he was unhappy, bitter, unkind, and unbearable to be around; and she did not want to be like that.  When she realized that the two were not mutually exclusive, that belief lost its power and dissolved, her career took off, and the money poured in abundantly.

As her happiness expanded, she realized that she was still the kind, friendly, and generous person she knew herself to be.   This reinforced her faith and trust in God, herself and what she thought might be true, which is that we live in an abundant universe and it is God’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. There’s plenty to give and plenty to receive.

Sometimes we get caught up in our limited thoughts and beliefs from the past which have been placed there by society or family, or which we have formed for ourselves on our journey as we move through the world.

Perhaps you simply have a propensity for jealousy which unbeknownst to you until now, blocks your good.  Rather than feeling bummed about how magnificent others have it, or wishing it was you instead of them, celebrate the blessings they’re receiving.

Notice where you are judging others and what it is you’re judging about them.  These judgments are keys to the kingdom of heaven within.

The reality is that there is plenty to go around.  When others are experiencing a happy, abundant, and joyful life, it is proof that it is possible.  When you begin to think and believe that you live in a universe of abundance which includes a wealth of love, joy, peace, harmony, wisdom, bliss, and money too, you begin to experience this finished kingdom through which you walk.

If we are judging the financial success or any other success of others, we are putting out a vibrational frequency to the Universe that we do not want that. The same occurs with feelings of jealousy and envy. By celebrating the wins of others, we are feeling great and totally in our joy. Our vibration is leveled up, which creates an opening for the Universe to pour in our good.  We are saying to the Universe, wow, look at all that good he or she is experiencing, that is so cool, there is much good that is possible for everyone in this magnificent life.

Today I celebrate the wins of others. Wow, you rock! Congratulations! You’re amazing!

And so it is.

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.