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Weekly Column – Paso Robles Press

Be Here Now!

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
January 25, 2019

Three magic words, made popular by the Western-born yogi and spiritual teacher, Ram Dass. I heard these great words in a Bikram yoga class I recently attended. Yes, that’s the type of yoga where they heat the room to one hundred degrees!

In Bikram yoga, the instructor talks consistently for the entire class, guiding and directing students into, and out of, a series of twenty-six yoga postures. They refer to this type of instruction as dialogue.

When you have the same instructor time, and again, you grow accustomed to their cadence and can guess when the posture will conclude.

When you attend a class with a different instructor, it’s not uncommon to be held in a pose for one or two seconds longer than accustomed to. In a room heated up to one hundred degrees, one or two seconds longer can feel like an eternity.

Last Monday a new instructor was leading my class, and she made a request. She requested we stop thinking and allow the dialogue to dictate our next move. This request came after several students randomly popped up, and out of their postures before receiving the guidance. She went further to suggest that when you hesitate before getting into a pose, you are in the past; and when you get out of a pose before hearing the instruction to do so, you are in the future.

Isn’t this a brilliant lesson for yoga and life?

Where are you hesitant? In yoga, career, health, relationships, finances, or other? Where are you reluctant to move forward in relationships, in choosing your next right action, in finding the perfect job, or in caring for your body?

Where do you get ahead of yourself, inaccurately predicting the future, ready to give it all up and forget about it?

When I’m entirely present in Bikram yoga, I find myself intensely focused on the posture, undistracted. I can adjust my body according to the dialogue of the instructor and hit the perfect spot. I am stretching forward, bending backward, in the zone, beyond rapid heart rate, beyond one hundred degrees of heat. I get beyond the sweat dripping down from my eyelashes, beyond mental activity.

In the Science of Mind teaching, we practice yoga of the mind. For example, consider an affirmation you’ve been using in your life. Imagine the affirmation is the yoga pose and you’re in a hot yoga room. In the yoga class, regardless of the heat, the increased heart rate, and your desire for water, you remain in the pose; concentrating, meditating.

With your affirmation as the mental pose, regardless of any thoughts of fear, doubt, worry, or your story about your past, you stick with it, you remain in the posture. You begin to believe the affirmation is true, and see the results of your word in your life. You’re happier and healthier because you stayed with it, in the present.

Be here now.

And so it is.

I am a finder of things

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
January 18, 2018

I find my misplaced things and the misplaced things of others. It’s not by ransacking drawers or frantically searching for the missing items that this is accomplished. I sit down, I get quiet, and I surrender to the Divine. I let go of thoughts that arise, and the nagging desire to ransack and frantically search.

For years I’ve observed loved ones looking for things misplaced. In my observations, I discovered that they almost always practice a couple of the same behaviors. One is to look in the same place they looked before, multiple times. The other is the state of mind during the search, which leans toward the desperate and hopeless side. The mind begins to race and frustration sets in, as the thought that they may never find what they’re looking for crosses their minds. Can you relate? I picked up the same habits along the way, which I had to unlearn to become a finder of things.

In the quiet stillness, I remind myself that there is nothing lost in the Universe. I may even speak aloud the incantation of, “Tony, Tony come around. What once was lost, must now be found.” Who is Tony? The Tony of which I speak is Saint Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost and stolen articles. He was a powerful Franciscan preacher and teacher and is one of the most popular saints of the Catholic Church. He found things. Now, I’m no Saint, but I can tell you that there is a spiritual lesson here.

In the quiet stillness of the moment, I allow my body to lead, and I go where it wants to go. There isn’t any thought process, logic, or questioning involved, I go. When I arrive at my destination, I look and feel around energetically, and suddenly, voila! What once was lost is now found! It’s as if I’m pulled to it like a magnet.

I’ve learned to pay close attention to this. Here is the spiritual lesson: there is something within me (Source Energy) that knows. It’s not about the Saint. It is my innate wisdom. It knows what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and it does not involve thinking or analyzing. I am connected to an Infinite Intelligence, a Divine Knower, which holds the blueprint for everything, and has the answer to every question. My task is to tune into this Divine Intelligence, to become mentally receptive and available to it, and the gifts being offered.

As I practice tuning into that frequency, I deepen my belief that I am guided, directed, and sustained by my Source. I find comfort in that knowledge, and it soothes my soul.
If you find yourself frantic or stressed, sit down, get quiet, surrender to the Divine, and listen to your innate wisdom.

May you always find what you are looking for, with ease and grace.

And so it is.

Joyful, Giddy Bliss

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
January 22, 2019

When I first learned the pattern of my thoughts were creating my reality, it occurred to me that I had
some changes to make. It was a wake-up call for me and a very empowering one.  No longer a
victim, I became responsible for the molding and shaping of myself and my life.  All beginning with my thoughts.

What you’re thinking about right now is creating your experience. What you dwell upon when you awaken guides and directs your day.

The mind can only hold one thought at a time, and that thought displaces all others from the mind.  That being the case, my task was to become conscious of my thoughts. In doing this, I discovered the recurring thoughts which were not conducive to my highest good. The repetition of said thoughts generated a snowball effect gaining momentum and size with each iteration.

We perceive life through filters which are primarily formed as survival tactics we’ve implemented based on experience. They have their roots in the past and prevent us from being present to the eternal, unborn reality of this moment now. To truly live in the present moment, free from attachment and free from the static of fear, doubt and worry, we’ve got to let the entire world be created for us, brand new, every day. This includes in our relationships, jobs, children, and ourselves.

I knew that I needed to change my thoughts, but at this stage of my awakening, I didn’t know what to change them to. Having learned this concept at a Center for Spiritual Living, I chose to keep coming back. I listened deeply. I began to take classes where I learned to pray and meditate. Right around that time I discovered chanting mantra as a form of meditation. I started with chanting Sanskrit mantras which were slightly difficult to learn. I noticed that after chanting, I always felt lighter, more relaxed, joyful, and serene.

I fell in love with it. When chanting, I am focused on the chant I am speaking, and my mind gets the well-needed rest it deserves. The chant becomes the vibration emanating from me, and I experience joy bubbling up from my toes, filling me with giddy bliss! The law of attraction draws in more of the same.

It is said that in India the yogis go off into the mountains to meditate and spend a lot of time chanting.  When they come back to civilization, they emanate the vibration of the chant they’ve been speaking. So much so, that one yogi can approach another yogi and identify the chant they’ve been working with: Gayatri mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, or Aham Prema, and so forth.

A mantra could be as simple as this: “I am love.” Try repeating this mantra as often as possible and you’ll begin to experience an opening, a lightness, and pretty soon: joyful, giddy bliss.

And so it is.

The Gift of Silence

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
December 28, 2018

Studies have shown that meditation eases chronic pain, anxiety, and stress, improves heart health, boosts mood and immunity, and balances the body’s systems. If you find yourself feeling frazzled from the flurry of holiday activities now coming to a close, give yourself the gift of meditation before the New Year. When you reach the silence in meditation, which is just beyond the flurry of all the mental activity, you will discover an inner realm of peace, beauty, creativity, and unconditional love.

When I first discovered silence in meditation, I felt like I had discovered a secret, and this filled me with great joy. It was the discovery of a mystical presence, invisible to all, in and through all things, and its nature was love. My newly found secret caused me to radiate and glow.

At first, I was not inclined to meditate for very long as it was challenging to sit still. I struggled with the many thoughts swimming around in my mind: to do lists being formed, thoughts about my day, and whatever else caught my attention. I soon realized this was the natural response to the busyness of a life well lived.

When we sit down to still the mind, we are like those little snow globes which are seen more prominently during the holiday season. When shaken, the snow particles float around, occupying the space within the globe. When you set the globe down and let it be, the snow particles gently settle, and the globe returns to its natural state.

This is what happens when you sit down to meditate in silence. Thoughts, feelings, to do lists, and everything else running through your mind floats around, taking up space like those little snow particles in the snow globe. Given a short time, the mind will settle, and return to its natural state.

You’ll know when it begins to settle as your thoughts become fewer and farther between. As the space expands between thoughts, your mind will begin to rest, and your body will become still. Next, you will enter what is called hypnagogia, which is the state between wakefulness and sleep. This is where creative brilliance, new ideas, and inventions are born.

Thomas Edison was known to sit down for several “naps” each day to enter the hypnagogic state. I believe he was sitting down to meditate. He always had a notepad
within reach, to write down ideas that came to him as he entered this state.

I started my meditation practice with 5 minutes every morning. I fell in love with the sweet peacefulness of silence and increased the time I spent in it. Soon I began to yearn deeply for my time in the quiet stillness with my God. Being in the silence gave me a new filter from which to view life: the filter of vibrant beauty. Give yourself the gift of silence and begin the year with peace.

And so it is.

Your Spiritual Magnificence

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
December 28, 2018

It’s a brand new, baby year and a great time to set your intentions.  I enjoy setting intentions more so than resolutions, especially this year.  I’m very blessed to find myself quite satisfied with my life and look forward to a year of deepening, up-leveling, and shining in every area, including in my relationships, health, finances, spiritual practice, vocation, and personal growth.  At the beginning of every year I choose a word or two as my theme, and this year the words that kept arising for me were spiritual magnificence.

Your spiritual magnificence is your very essence.  It is the place within you that has never been hurt or harmed. It is that which knows, and it knows that it knows. It’s your highest and best self; your greatness, brilliance, and opulent splendor.  It’s the kind and generous, trusting, believing, prosperous, grateful, wise, beneficial presence on this planet that is you.  It knows what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and it does it.

In everything you do you’re either operating from your spiritual magnificence, or your unhealed past.  Step back and observe the areas in your life where you have prevented yourself from going for the gusto due to limited thinking or feelings of inadequacy.  Those are examples of operating from your unhealed past.  At the radiant core of your being, you are more than enough, stronger than you think, and more magnificent than you can imagine. It’s time to shine.

Your spiritual magnificence is not something you need to get, rather, it is something you awaken to.  It is the inherent nature of who you are.  It sometimes appears to get covered up or tarnished for a variety of reasons as we move through life experiences.

I’m reminded of a silver angel ornament which I misplaced and found stored in a box of flat garden rocks, set aside to be painted and used as gratitude stones.  I was quite dismayed when I discovered my once brilliant and shiny angel in this box, now tarnished around the edges and across the entire span of one of its beautiful wings.   It only took about five minutes with some aluminum foil, baking soda, hot water, and a soft cloth to reveal its brilliant magnificence once again.

Similar to the angel, you and I sometimes allow our spiritual magnificence to become tarnished or hidden by life experiences.  We’re called to remember that our spiritual magnificence is always right here, ready and waiting to be revealed once again; ready to shine.  Don’t allow the tarnishes of life to cause you to believe you will not shine again.  You are destined for greatness.

Having a full realization of Spirit within you connects you to your spiritual magnificence.  Turn to Spirit, even when you don’t feel like it.
You are as God created you: in the light, in the love, in the glory.  Your spiritual magnificence awaits you.  Now shine!

And so it is.

The Light Is Within You

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
December 21, 2018

Today at approximately 2:23 PM PST, the Winter Solstice will occur. This is the precise moment when the North Pole is the farthest away from the Sun. It’s the first day of Winter which brings the least amount of daylight, and the greatest amount of darkness. The seasons change as our planetary placement in relation to our guiding star, the Sun, alters.

I love when the seasons change, as it’s a beautiful reminder of something greater happening.  It’s an opportunity to think beyond the regular day-to-day routines and contemplate the vastness of this extraordinary thing called life.

One of the greater things happening is that we live on a planet within a Solar System within a galaxy which is travelling at 1.3 million miles per hour through the Universe; all while gravity holds us in place. The maximum speed limit on most California highways is 65 miles per hour. I can’t wrap my mind around how fast 1.3 million miles per hour is, can you?

The gravitational pull of the Sun holds the Earth and the other seven planets of our Solar System in its orbit, as it orbits the Milky Way Galaxy. Now that you’ve expanded your mind in contemplation of the cosmos, consider what you’re orbiting in your life.

We orbit our most deeply held beliefs and live out our lives as the result of what we believe about ourselves, our relationship to God and others, and life itself. Your beliefs, whether inherited or consciously installed by you, dictate the context in which you live. You have the power within you to change your beliefs at any time. You can start right now by choosing to consciously believe that you are the radiant light of love. That this light illumines every cell of your body and shines out from you. Shining your light brings loving joy to you, everyone around you, and ripples out into the world.

Every mystic has experienced illumination as a flood of light in moments of deep realization of Spiritual Truth. You experience a flash of illumination when inspiration hits and suddenly
the path before you is seen clearly. You also experience a flash of light when you have an aha moment or a spiritual awareness which expands your mind. It is an experience of ultimate Truth. All that you are is God and God is all of us and more. Yes, God is all that and a bag of chips. Remembering this illumines my mind and brightens my heart.

As you enter the Winter Season, remember, you can return to this truth: the light is within you. It always has been and always will be. No matter how long a room was dark, when the light enters, the room is illuminated. Allow yourself to experience this luminous light of Truth.  Let it brighten your heart with love and beam out radiantly to others with a smile or a kind
gesture.

And so it is.

With conviction

Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
December 14, 2018

Do you begin your day with conviction?  Are you convinced that you were made in the image and likeness of God, and that it resides at the very center of your being?  The Kingdom of God is within you.  It is your essence, your life. It’s up to you to convince yourself that there is an eternal wellspring of good pouring forth into your life experience, and there’s plenty to go around.

The dictionary defines the word conviction as a firmly held belief or opinion.  To have spiritual conviction is to have a firm belief in the God of your understanding.  I personally believe in a loving, inclusive, beneficent God, permeating everything.

Having a strong spiritual conviction fills my heart with joy and confidence.  Moving through my day, knowing that the Universe is conspiring for my highest and best good reminds me of how I felt on Christmas eve as a child.  I couldn’t wait to open presents the next day and to witness others opening theirs.  I was anticipating my good, wrapped up with a nice big bow, waiting for me patiently, under a mighty and magnificent tree.

What would it be like to move through your day anticipating your good?  The gifts of God don’t always come wrapped in pretty paper with an extraordinary bow on top.  The eternal gifts of love, connection, generosity, joy, forgiveness, prosperity, and more, are always available.  You don’t have to order them in advance to be sure they arrive on time, as they are always right here within you.

Conviction is also defined as the state of being convinced.  If you find yourself being more convinced by thoughts of fear than those of goodness, you’re not alone.  Practice consciously seeking the good news, the good word, the uplifting, heartwarming stories of love and the goodness of humankind and you'll find more of the same.  You always get what you’re looking for; what you’re paying attention to or focusing upon.  I’m convinced this is true, as I have proven it in my own life.

You strengthen your spiritual conviction every time you choose the Kingdom of Heaven.  When you shift your focus from fear to love, choose conviction over doubt, focus on joy over
anger, place your attention on forgiveness instead of resentment, you become stronger in your faith and conviction.

Now you’re moving through the world with spiritual conviction and you’re unstoppable.  You know. And you know that you know.  If you have experienced even a small glimpse of the
Kingdom of Heaven, contemplate that experience and what it was like as often as possible.  This will expand its presence in your life and you’ll begin to see a whole new world open for
you.

You can practice using conviction to manifest something in your life which you would absolutely love. Know that it is so; and know that you know. Be convinced that it will be revealed to you, and it must!

And so it is.

How big is your faith?

by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
December 7, 2018

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 little 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 and that works for me.  It is the Invisible Presence, the Thing Itself, common to all, in and through all things, and It’s 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 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 vehicle 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 instead. 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.

I Raise You and I Praise You in the Name of Love

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
November 30, 2018

Emma Curtis Hopkins, American spiritual author and leader involved in organizing the New Thought Movement, observed that “The quickest way to get one’s healing power going is to praise everything and everyone in your mind, and as far as your mental convictions will demonstrate promptly, speak these praises aloud.”

When you harbor resentment, anger or other negative feelings toward others, they are not affected by those feelings, but you are.  This negativity blocks you from experiencing your spiritual magnificence; the radiant sunlight of the Spirit within and all around you.

A simple practice that I use is to repeat the following mantra aloud, “I raise you and I praise you in the name of love.”  You might insert the name of a person after the word “you.” I raise you (insert name here), and I praise you (insert name here), in the name of love. In doing so you are mentally lifting those names up to the light, opening your heart, and freeing yourself from the bondage of negativity.

This practice is not condoning the behavior of others or giving them a free pass.  What you are doing is freeing yourself from the bondage of negativity, granting yourself the liberty to experience your life to the fullest.

Speaking these words aloud amplifies them and creates a vibration of love that you are sending out to the Universe.  Love creates healing within you and in the world.  Consider this practice as an opportunity to tune in to the vibration of love.

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

Now you can do this for anyone who gets your goat to free yourself from the bondage of such negativity.  Rather than reacting with anger or upset, you now respond by raising and praising in the name of love.  Being tuned into love allows you to experience harmony as the smooth and steady impulse of your soul, leading to the prompt demonstration of what you truly and deeply desire for yourself and your life: the calling of your heart which is gently nudging you internally.

Always remember that everyone is doing the best they can with what they’ve got.  December is a good time of year to uncover and release any old resentments such that you may enter the new year revealing your spiritual magnificence to a greater degree than ever before. You can do this by raising and praising everything and everyone in the name of love.

I raise you and I praise you in the name of love.

And so it is.

What Is Your Intention?

By Rev. Elizabeth Rowley, Spiritual Director
November 23, 2018

Setting your intention is like throwing your hat over the fence, and then going to get the hat. Your word has power and you can use this power to create a life that you are not only satisfied with, but a life that you love.

I’ve heard some say that talk is cheap, however, I invite you to consider that a more accurate statement might be that we cheapen talk.  How do we cheapen talk?  By not keeping our word.  Have you ever said you would do something and then forgotten about it and didn’t do it?  That’s one way that we cheapen talk.  Back in the day contracts or agreements were often made with a handshake and the simple statement, “You have my word.”  It would do us all well to remember the power of our word.

Intention setting is different than wishing in that there is a confident assurance, a powerful definiteness behind it.  When you wish for something, what’s behind the wishing is the awareness that it’s a pie in the sky idea, or an impossible goal; that maybe somehow, if the stars and planets aligned in the perfect way, just maybe it could be.  Maybe.  If you’re lucky.  Do you feel lucky?

Intention setting is not about luck, rather it’s a declaration of the desired outcome.  Once your declaration of this desired outcome has gone out before you, it begins to amplify and cultivate in your life.  Then you’ll begin to take inspired action based on your intention, which you may not have taken before.

If there is something you’d really like to do, be, or have in your life, rather than allowing the circumstances and conditions in your current reality dictate whether or not it will come to fruition, own your power. Set your intention as a declaration, and speak it aloud.  You can set an intention for your day and how you’d like to see it unfold, for a meeting, an event, a date, for the New Year, or any project you’d like to start working on.

This is a great time of year to utilize this practice. The holiday season can be challenging and stressful for some. If you’re driving to see family or friends, you might begin by stating your intention about how the trip will go before you leave. For example, you might say, “I declare this a fun and easy travel journey, filled with joy, connection, singing, and grace.”

If you’re having people over, you might declare yourself a joyful experience filled with great food, great company, easy conversations, and lots of love.  Don’t forget the awesome cleanup crew.

Write your intention down and keep it where you have quick access to it, such that you may pick it up to read if you begin to feel tense.

Harness the power of your word and create the best holiday season ever, by setting your intention before you begin.

And so it is.