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Weekly Column – Paso Robles Press

Like Attracts Like

Like Attracts Like
By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
April 5, 2019

Our thoughts and words carry a vibration. That vibration attracts more of the same to itself. Whatever you’re thinking about right now is creating your next moment of experience for you.

I remember hearing David Hawkins, author of Power vs. Force, speak at a conference I attended in Los Angeles. He shared some experiments he conducted on muscle testing with different thought vibrations. His first experiment was to pick up a stack of those giant encyclopedias while thinking negative thoughts and then walk around carrying them. Remember those encyclopedias you needed to use two hands to hold?

As he focused on thinking negative thoughts, the encyclopedias were nearly impossible to pick up. Eventually, he lifted them using all of his might, still holding onto the negative thoughts, yet unable to take one step before he dropped them.

His next experiment was to silently repeat in his mind the words I am love, lift the books and walk around repeating those words. He raised the same stack with ease and carried them all around his home, up and down the stairs, laughing with joy.

When I visited India, I practiced chanting 3-5 times daily with my traveling companions. A story was shared with me about the yogis in India who chant a specific chant for themselves for extended periods. The chant carries a vibration with it so powerful that when one yogi runs into another yogi on the street, he can identify the chant that yogi has been practicing based on the vibration emanating from him.

The same is true for the thoughts we think and the words we speak. The repetitive thoughts we think, and the words we speak are sent out into the world as vibrational frequencies and then out-pictured in our reality. Both attract like a magnet anything with the same vibrational frequency back to us. Individuals, plants, and animals pick up on vibrational frequencies and are either repelled by or attracted to them based on their vibrational frequency. Like attracts like.

Did you ever notice that when you sit down to write a list of that which you are grateful for, it may be slow to start? Then, once you get two or three listed out, it’s like the flood gates have opened or the spigot turned to on. Things to be grateful for come so quickly that you can’t write them down fast enough before the next one emerges.

Friends, what are you choosing to think about today? What do you want to attract more of into your life?

If you find yourself stuck in negative thought patterns, it’s good to have a book around that lights you up internally. The mind can only think one thought at a time. If you can create a shift in the pattern of your thinking you’ll immediately start to go down the other route and those flood gates will open.

You can and ought to try this at home.

And so it is.

Developing Your Inner World

Developing Your Inner World
By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
March 29, 2019

In this modern world of access to information and being constantly plugged in, it’s important to make time to develop your inner world. You can do this easily by beginning in the morning with five minutes of silence.

It’s easy to become consumed by social media and all the beautiful pictures on Pinterest, keeping up with your friends and family on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, maintaining business connections on LinkedIn, writing Yelp reviews and so forth. I love this as much as everyone else! I make time for myself to go inward and to be in the silence daily to cultivate my relationship with the Divine, to hear the still, small voice within. It is a place where I become receptive to the Divine Intelligence that is always here.

Taking the time to develop your inner world leads to greater self-awareness, expanded peace, increased ability to respond rather than react, increased focus, clarity, and happiness.

One of my favorite quotes from the Bible is, “Things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” [Hebrews 11:3] This quote reminds me that things in the external world, the things I see around me, are made from an invisible something. That intangible something is the invisible presence of Spirit. This invisible presence is part of my and everyone’s inner world. Taking the time to connect to that inner world is healthy and necessary.

Jalaluddin al-Rumi, the 13th-century mystic poet, wrote that “Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” This field is your inner world. It’s the place within you that is beyond polarities, such as right and wrong, good and bad, dark and light. It is the eternal, unborn presence of reality residing right within you.

There is a place within you which has never been hurt or harmed, lied to or deceived, betrayed or disappointed, made the wrong decision or was embarrassed. I call it my inner spa. It’s the most relaxing and comfortable place there is.

When you can return to that place within you daily for just five minutes you will discover the answers to your questions, your next steps will be revealed, and you will deeply understand that your life is happening for you.

If it’s challenging at first to sit still and be quiet, see if you can become the observer, allowing yourself to observe what’s happening in your mind and body, noticing the thoughts and whatever is occurring for you as you continue sitting in the silence until those five minutes are up. The next day, go back and do it again, and keep doing it daily. Pretty soon the thoughts will become farther between, the need to move or get up will dissipate, and the vast expanse of your inner world will continue to be revealed to you. You will feel a sense of certainty and happiness which cannot be shaken.

And so it is.

Thy Will Be Done

Thy Will Be Done
By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
March 22, 2019

A common question asked of me by my students is how do I know if it’s my will or God’s will?

When you make choices based on your past experiences from the small self, it leads to bondage, and you are operating from the conditioned or unpolished will. Often unbeknownst to you, yet you find yourself wondering why you behaved the way you did or wished you could rewind your life and try the scenario again in complete alignment with your highest self.

When you make choices based on the present moment, in the now, and from the essence of your highest self or God Self, you are in alignment with, and operating from God’s will. There is a calm and cheerful knowing within you, rather than a mischievous or flippant uncertainty with its roots in shame or guilt.

God’s will and God’s nature are identical, and God's will and my truest will are the same. Therefore there is only one will. Getting stuck in the idea of one will vs. the other will keeps you in bondage with a belief in duality. This concept of duality goes way back to the beginning of time. We are all born into it and continue to learn more about it as our identities are formed. Separating and isolating ourselves from others anchors it further in consciousness. You separate yourself from others by building walls or barriers in your heart where the light of Truth cannot enter.

Thinking that the ego must be annihilated also locks you into separation because the ego is your personality and a healthy sense of self is essential. This dream of ego annihilation is created by the ego which strengthens its walls of separation from the Truth of who you are.

Fear not though, as the ego can be tamed through a greater revelation of Truth or Spirit. This Truth must become more interesting to you than the drama of the day. Step away from the drama buffet.  You must be more interested in Spirit than the conditions and circumstances that you find less than pleasing. Why wouldn’t you be? The Truth is as eternal and vast as the space that spans beyond the myriad universes. It is infinite potentiality and pure possibility. The drama is the same ole, same ole. Isn’t it time to release the mundane and welcome your spiritual magnificence?

God’s will is always for the freer, fuller, more expressed, expanded, higher version of self. It leads us to a happy, whole, prosperous, joyful, loving, compassionate, and free life. Its ideas and vision are for the greater good of you and the world around you. God’s will does not harm anyone in any way and wants to shine through and as you. Will you let it?

Thy will be done. May the deepest, most authentic will, which rests in the heart of me, and is the very nature of God, be done.

And so it is.

Moments Of My High Resolve

Moments of My High Resolve
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
March 15, 2019

Do you ever get caught up in the minutiae of day to day tasks, getting wrapped up and concerned with unimportant issues or distractions, forgetting the truth of who you are and whom you came here to be?

African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader Howard Thurman wrote, “Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve.”

I believe Howard Thurman was speaking of the mystical moments we experience in life: any moment where you felt the presence of Spirit so wholly, so entirely that you knew It was real.  Those moments when you were reminded of, remembered and recognized the Truth of your life when you understood on the deepest level, your inherent power, wisdom, and unconditional love.

In the moments of your high resolve, you experience a fullness of Spirit and life as you catch a glimpse of your mighty purpose on the planet.  You realize that there is something greater happening.  You cannot unknow what you know, and there’s no turning back.  Maybe you were lost once, but your moments of high resolve pull you back to the Truth as you are found again.  It’s like an alarm clock which you have set to wake yourself up from a dream of mediocrity.  Your moments of high resolve snap you back into the present moment, obliterating disbelief, doubt or fear.

These moments expand out and seem to defy time and space, appearing fuller than other moments in your life.  At the time of these moments, your entire being is lit up by the radiance of Truth.  You think you’ll never lose sight of a moment like this.

Then the moment slowly fades and retreats to the recesses of your mind as the repetitive tasks of your daily routine consume you.  We are called to remember these moments and keep them at the forefront of our minds.  The moments of your high resolve are like beacons of light guiding you back home to the Truth when the dark days come.

What are some of your moments of high resolve?  Maybe there was a time when you were on a retreat, and something opened or clicked into place causing you to remember.  Perhaps it was when your first prayer was answered, and you thought with great and firm recognition, that yes, there is a God.  It may have been the first sight of your newborn baby, or that time you traveled to a distant land and the beauty overcame you. Perhaps it was the first time you visited a spiritual center, a yoga or meditation class, a drum circle, or a health and fitness center.

Whatever it was for you, it was a moment of high resolve when you saw the light, and you knew the Truth, with unshakable faith and firmness.

Next time you find yourself caught up in the mundane, return to the moments of your high resolve.  Remember who you are.

And so it is.

Intuition

Intuition
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
March 8, 2019

There is a voice that does not use words – are you listening?

There is that within us that always knows the answer.  We know this from our own experience.  We can test it out.  If you have some problem or decision for which you are seeking an answer, you can go out and ask people what they think. When they give you their response, you’ll know internally whether that’s the right answer or not.

You might ask, what’s the answer, oh please tell me the answer?  One person may answer one way, and you think to yourself, no, that isn’t the answer.  Another person will respond another way, and no, that’s not it either.  The feedback doesn’t resonate with what you already know within you to be true.  Then you ask a third person who gives you an answer, and you feel it with every fiber of your being and say, aha that’s it!

There is a Divine Intelligence within you that holds the answer to your every question. You have direct access to this Divine Intelligence as you commune with your innermost self which is your highest Self.

Intuition is not an ability you need to create, develop or build.  Your task is to pay attention, to listen to your internal guidance, and then to act upon it.

Three years ago before I moved to the Central Coast, I visited my parents in Pismo Beach.  I discovered a hiking trail along the freeway after driving past it several times. I wanted to do this hike for a long time, and this was the trip I would do it.  I embarked out on the Ontario Ridge Trail from the Shell Beach Road trailhead which takes you directly up a very steep hill which I’ve named the quad buster.  It’s a tough one.

After a ninety-minute hike with stunning ocean views and beautiful weather, I started back down the trail. Having never hiked this path before, when I came to a fork, it wasn’t clear which way to go.  I stood there for a moment contemplating, looking around, thinking maybe there’s someone around who knows the way.  The path directly in front of me seemed to be the most obvious choice.  The other options were obscure with overgrowth of vegetation. I looked around a little more, then I looked down in contemplation, asking Spirit to guide me.

Suddenly I knew which way to go.  About two feet in front of me someone had created an arrow on the ground with rocks pointing to the correct path.  I would not have noticed the arrow had I not looked down.  I giggled in gratitude at the way the Divine showed up for me, as it always does.

Something compelled me to look down.  It was my intuition – my direct connection to the Divine Intelligence with me, which is Spirit.

There is a voice that does not use words – are you listening?

And so it is.

Integrity Matters

Integrity Matters
By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
March 1, 2019

I heard it said once that without integrity nothing works.

The dictionary defines integrity in a couple of ways.  The first is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. The second is the state of being whole or undivided. The definition most relevant to this article is the latter.

Shaping your life into one of integrity develops your character.  When what you say and what you do are in perfect alignment, you have congruence.  The rewards of living a life of integrity, to name but a few, include increased confidence, trust, clarity, and affinity for yourself, those around you, and the world.

When you tell the truth about something, you form your words to match your experience. When you have integrity, you create your experience to match your words. You do what you said you would do when you said you would do it, and when you don’t, you clean it up and make new promises.

A person can’t be a little out of integrity. You’re either in integrity or out of integrity. Consider a boat with a hole in it in the ocean. The boat is filling up with water and slowly sinking. Whether that hole is small or large doesn’t matter. It is out of integrity.

Imagine a bicycle wheel with a missing spoke. The missing spoke creates a wobble which could lead to loss of balance and cause an accident. The bicycle wheel is out of true or out of integrity.

You can repair the hole in the boat, and correct the bicycle wheel, bringing them back into a state of wholeness or integrity. In the same manner, you can restore integrity to your life, returning to your natural state of wholeness.

If you’re someone who tends always to be late to your appointments, lunch dates, and meetings and then pretend as if nothing happened, there’s a hole in your boat.

To clean it up is to acknowledge your tardiness and create a new promise.  No excuses are necessary.  You can acknowledge your lateness and apologize for undervaluing the other person’s time. Let them know it won’t happen again. Then come up with a plan for yourself to stay in integrity in the future.  Stick with that plan.  Integrity restored.

If you pay your bills late, owe the IRS money with no plan to pay them back, or your bank account is overdrawn, you’ve got a broken spoke and are wobbling your way through life.  Clean it up by acknowledging your tardiness in payments and make a new promise that works for both parties.  Plan to fulfill on that promise and stick with your plan.  Integrity restored.

Make a list of all areas that you are out of integrity and begin to restore it today by working your way down the list.

This is taking back the power of your word which allows you to create a life that you truly love.

And so it is.

Shift Your Gaze

Shift Your Gaze 
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
February 22, 2019

You can change your life by shifting your gaze.  Perspective is everything.

When I was a young girl, the bedroom set in my room had a vanity set with three mirrors, and a large dresser with a mirror set facing each other, from across the room. One day I was standing in front of one of the mirrors combing my hair when I shifted my gaze to what was beyond my image looking back at me. I was amazed at what I saw. I saw the reflection of me looking into the mirror and then the reflection of the reflection of me, on and on forever to infinity.

For the next few days, I loved returning here to look beyond, to see if I could find the end, but it was unending. The reflections became smaller and smaller, of course, yet they seemed to go on forever and ever. I never found the end. That was one of my first experiences of the Infinite.

We are infinite beings of love and light. There is that within us which goes on and on forever, to infinity.

How often do we get caught up in the trials and tribulations that this human experience brings to us all?  Fretting and suffering about this or that?  Too short, too tall, overqualified, under-qualified, not enough, too much, why that person said what they did when they did, and so forth.

If you were to shift your gaze to the Infinite Presence which goes on and on for eternity, a whole new world would open up to you.  Your awareness will expand to all that is possible for yourself and your life, your heart will open, and inspiration will come.  Doesn’t that seem much more compelling and fascinating than focusing on the thoughts of yesterday?

You can start where you are right now.  It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, this morning or even five minutes ago.  Every moment you are given an opportunity to begin again.  Why not start right now by shifting your gaze from whatever your focus is currently on?  Shift your gaze from whatever is immediately in front of you, to the Infinite Presence of light and love.  Dwell in that space.

Consider this Infinite Presence that is here right now, and in and through all of creation.  It has breathed Itself into existence as you, for such a time as this.  It wants to live through you, love through you, and do mighty and magnificent work through and as you.  Are you available?  Knowing that this Infinite Presence is a powerful force for good that is greater than you are and you have access to it, will you use it?

Today I shift my gaze to the Infinite Presence of Spirit. I take rest in the comfort of knowing that It does go on and on forever to infinity, and It resides here now, at the very center of my being.

And so it is.

Peace Begins Within You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World peace begins within you.

And so it is.

Embodying Oneness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so it is.

Keep one hand free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep one hand free and be ready to receive.

And so it is.