A Day in the Spiritual Life

April 23, 2014

praying-man-silouhetter
Staying centered, balanced and attuned to divine will is an ongoing quest that demands daily discipline. Enlightenment is not a cumulative goal; it is as fragile as a snowflake because one careless act can melt it away.


As far as the Buddha Nature is concerned, there is no difference between sinner and sage . . . One enlightened thought and one is a Buddha, one foolish thought and one is again an ordinary person.
Hui Neng

With the hope that it may inspire you and give you some ideas on how you can better practice the presence of God, here is what my daily spiritual practice looks like:


FIRST THING IN THE MORNING

HERE’S WHAT I DO: I start each morning by practicing the presence as soon as I wake up. Lying in bed, I recite:

I encase Divine Mother in my bosom.
I am radiant health, I em eternal youth, I am inexhaustible energy.

autobiography-of-a-yogi-book-cover

HERE’S WHY I DO IT: The first affirmation, which helps me instantly connect to Divine Source, is from the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi.

Please note that I use the word “God” throughout for the sake of consistency and convenience, fully recognizing that there are probably as many interpretations of God as there are people reading this post. Many people view God as the source of all existence, many others as existence itself. Whether you view God as a being, a universal intelligence, a force, or any other type of form or formless entity, I trust that you will substitute the name, term, or reference for “God” that you are most comfortable with each time you come across the word.

I phrase the next affirmations as I do because a powerful way to begin an affirmation is with the words, “I Read the rest of this entry »

Astrologer Laurie Baum’s Chakra Meditation

April 20, 2014


Laurie Baum

Laurie Baum

The hour-long Chakra Meditation above is courtesy of Laurie Baum, a psychological astrologer and psychotherapist in practice in Encinitas, California.

Laurie writes a free astrological newsletter about how planetary alignments affect our lives on earth. Click here to e-mail Laurie to subscribe at no cost, or visit Laurie’s website and click on “Free Email Newsletter.”

Laurie also offers counseling appointments via landline phone or Skype (audio or video), which she will digitally record for you. To make an appointment, click here to e-mail Laurie or call her at (760) 753-7676.



grand-cross-painting

NOTE: Click here to read Laurie’s recent Spring Equinox update, which includes a detailed overview of the Grand Cross and an accompanying nineteen-minute video about this phenomenon. She shares more thoughts about the Grand Cross below.

THE GRAND CROSS OF 2014

A powerful Grand Cross has been forming in the sky during Holy Week and the Passover holiday. The powerfully symbolic Cross will gain in intensity on Easter Sunday, April 20, and continue to influence us throughout next week, capped by a Solar Eclipse on April 28-29.

Like a cross, the Grand Cross has four arms that will pull you in four different directions. It is important to maintain a strong center so you are not pulled off track. You may also feel as if something old that you no longer need is leaving your life and that you soon will have an opportunity to resurrect Read the rest of this entry »

The Perfect Joy of Surrender

April 19, 2014

black-and-white-surrender-to-godThis well-known story from The Little Flowers of St. Francis often elicits the reaction, “Whoa. Harsh!” Indeed, at first blush this narrative may seem counterintuitive and even nonsensical. But after some thought, profound insights often emerge.

St. Francis may be focused on Christ in this story, but I take a broader view that transcends any particular religious path or figure. I see it as an extreme but powerful lesson in the value of surrender. In the peace and beauty of unconditional surrender, suffering ceases to be suffering and instead becomes a gateway to transcendence.

Surrender is like an onion; you can keep peeling away layer after layer even when you think you have reached your goal. It is only when everything has been taken from you—materially, physically, mentally, emotionally—that you truly find out the depth of your surrender to God. If, as in St. Francis’ story, when there is nothing left for you to surrender except your final breath, yet you are able to hold on to the ever-new joy of Divine communion and genuinely express gratitude for whatever God is giving you (or taking away), then will you truly know the ultimate power and purity of surrender.


THE PERFECT JOY OF ST. FRANCIS

"The Stigmata of St. Francis." a painting by Italian artist Giotto di Bondone, painted around 1295-1300 and housed in the Musée du Louvre in Paris

“The Stigmata of St. Francis.” a painting by Italian artist Giotto di Bondone, painted around 1295-1300 and housed in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.


One winter day St. Francis was coming to St. Mary of the Angels from Perugia with Brother Leo, and the bitter cold made them suffer keenly. St. Francis called to Brother Leo, who was walking a bit ahead of him, and he said: “Brother Leo, even if the Friars Minor in every country give a great example of holiness and integrity and good edification, nevertheless write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.”

And when he had walked on a bit, St. Francis called him again, saying: “Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor gives sight to the blind, heals the paralyzed, drives out devils, gives hearing back to Read the rest of this entry »

You Can Choose a Better Reality

April 18, 2014

two-men-having-lunch-talkingAt lunch today, a friend asserted some opinions about parenting and romantic relationships that, based upon his experiences and observations, he regarded as absolutes.

I disagreed, informing him that my experiences were the direct opposite of his. I essentially told him, “Your reality is not my reality. Therefore, it is not the only reality. Therefore, you can choose to live in a different, better reality.”

He didn’t budge. His beliefs had caused him great stress throughout his life and were responsible for many unnecessary roadblocks, but he remained convinced that the way he saw the world was the way it was, period.

The only reason the same thing keeps happening is that Read the rest of this entry »

This Is What Beauty and Courage Look Like

April 14, 2014
Cancer patients Rylie, Rheann and Ainsley (photo by Lora Scantling)

Cancer patients Rylie, Rheann and Ainsley (photo by Lora Scantling)


This stunning photograph shows three-year-old Rylie, six-year-old Rheann and four-year-old Ainsley sharing a special moment. Incredibly, the three girls hadn’t met each other before the photo shoot.

Photographer Lora Scantling conceived the photo shoot to raise awareness about the struggle faced by children who are diagnosed with cancer. “I just wanted something that showed the strength and the bond and that they weren’t alone,” she told Oklahoma City’s KOCO News. Watch KOCO’s video report here.

As for the girls, Rheann is stricken with brain cancer, Rylie is Read the rest of this entry »

The Secret to a Happy Kidhood

April 12, 2014


It’s funny how a seven-minute commercial made in Thaliand for Wacoal, a lingerie maker, can bring a tear to my eye and send me on a trip down Memory Lane. The young mother and her daughter (who is the second-cutest girl cub in the history of the world) remind me of my own childhood. I had a mom and dad who loved me unconditionally and always did special things for me.


My mom and me at Christmas

My mom and me at Christmas

When I was seven, my mom bought me some packs of baseball cards to while away the time on a train ride to my grandparents’ home. I still remember my happiness in opening a pack and finding Read the rest of this entry »

A Hero On and Off the Field

April 11, 2014

Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera




Given the way I worshiped baseball players as a kid, it warms my heart to learn of players who accept the responsibility of being a role model and express it gracefully and with compassion. Mariano Rivera plays that role beautifully.

This article, Exit Sandman: Baseball bids adieu to Mariano Rivera, by Tom Verducci in the September 23, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated.






EXIT SANDMAN: BASEBALL BIDS ADIEU TO MARIANO RIVERA
by Tom Verducci

Rivera thought about retiring last season, but when he blew out his knee shagging batting practice fly balls in Kansas City on May 3, 2012, he vowed he would not leave baseball on the back of a cart. Knowing this would be his final season, he approached Zillo with an idea: In each road city he wanted to personally meet “behind-the-scenes” people who had dedicated their lives to baseball or had known illness or tragedy. While baseball wanted to say goodbye to Rivera, with the attendant going-away gifts and photo ops, Rivera wanted to say goodbye to baseball, which for him meant all the people who toil in anonymity.

Mariano Rivera meeting the Bresette family in Kansas City on May 11, 2013. (Photo courtesy of John Sleezer/Landov)

Mariano Rivera meeting the Bresette family in Kansas City on May 11, 2013.
(Photo courtesy of John Sleezer/Landov)

On May 11, Rivera met Ryan Bresette, his wife, Heather, and their three sons, Joe, 13, Sam, 9, and Tyler, 6, in the media room at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium. (The Bresettes’ daughter, Anna, 14, was unable to attend the pregame gathering because of a soccer game.) Bresette worked as a clubhouse attendant for the Royals from 1982 to ’94 and had never met Rivera.

On March 22 the Bresettes, while returning home from a vacation in Florida, had been standing next to a mammoth flight-status display board in the -Birmingham, Ala., airport when the board, estimated to weigh more than 300 pounds, fell Read the rest of this entry »

The Grandmother of All Reunions!

April 10, 2014


Jose Fernandez

Jose Fernandez


You’re a teenager, trying to escape from a communist country for the fourth time. You’re in a small boat with a bunch of other defectors on the ocean in the middle of the night. You hear a splash so you dive in to save whoever fell, only to discover that it’s Read the rest of this entry »

It Makes No Difference to the Sun

April 9, 2014

This is a nice analogy that speaks to the existence and the ubiquity of God. You’ll find it on page 56 of the book, I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

i-am-that-nisargadatta-maharajIt is like entering a dark room. You see nothing—you may touch, but you do not see—no colors, no outlines. The window opens and the room is flooded with light. Colors and shapes come into being. The window is the giver of light, but not the Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Not About the Nail

April 7, 2014


jason-headley

Jason Headley




This brilliant, 101-second video is the creation of Jason Headley, who also stars in it. Living with a wife and daughter, I certainly learned this lesson the hard way. Guys, do yourself a favor. Watch this video and save yourselves years of beating your head against the wall.





Jason’s short films have been featured on NBC’s TODAY Show, the front page of Reddit, the front page of Read the rest of this entry »

Maysoon Zayid Rocks the House!

April 6, 2014


Maysoon Zayid

Maysoon Zayid


This Ted Talk by Maysoon Zayid, a Palestinian stand-up comedian and actress from New Jersey, unexpectedly moved me to tears. Why unexpectedly? Because Maysoon, a cofounder of the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival, stated right up front that her talk wasn’t going to be inspiring.

Yeah, right. Not only is her indomitable spirit in dealing with her Read the rest of this entry »

The Gift of Addiction

April 5, 2014
Sherry Burditt, Clinical Director of the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat in Hemet, California

Sherry Burditt, Clinical Director of the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat in Hemet, California



This phenomenal piece of work was written by my friend, Sherry Burditt, Clinical Director of the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat in Hemet, California.

If you are struggling with addiction, if you cannot overcome your inner demons, if you are in a dark place and see no way out . . . know that where there is life, there is hope. You are not a bad person, you just need help . . . and a new way of looking at the world.







I wrote my book, Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, with the hope that people—especially those who are struggling—would find comfort and inspiration in its pages. Sherry told me that the book was helping her addiction patients look at life in a new and better way. She was kind enough to write this testimonial:

through-gods-eyes-book-cover



I use this book every day in my staff meetings by just randomly opening to a page. Somehow like magic, the message seems to address the day’s challenges. Similarly, our therapists have begun using it in group therapy sessions with our patients. They LOVE it! Thank you for compiling so much wisdom in such a compact space!








send-an-email-illustration-finger
If you wish to contact Sherry directly, click here to send her an e-mail. Sherry has dedicated her life and career to helping those who are valiantly striving to overcome addiction.







THE GIFT OF ADDICTION:
THE UNRELENTING PATH TO THE DIVINE
by Sherry Burditt

ADDICTION SAYS:
I will make you lie, cheat and steal
I will take your self-respect
I will take your confidence
I will take your family
I will take your children
I will take your livelihood
I will ruin your body
I will take your sleep
I will derange your mind
I will Read the rest of this entry »

One Good Denny Deserves Another . . . And Another . . .

April 3, 2014
Chuck Denny

Chuck Denny

A couple of nights ago, I was eating dinner at the Lotus Cafe in Encinitas when I heard a man two tables away tell a server, “I’m a Minnesota boy who lives in Del Mar [just a few miles away from Encinitas].” As he and his son were preparing to leave, I walked over and introduced myself as a fellow Minnesotan. When he said his name was Kevin Denny. I asked, “Are you related to Chuck Denny”? “Yes, that’s my father,” he said. Quite the synchronicity!

In 2012, I was editing a book called Leadership and the Art of Struggle, in which Chuck Denny was praised by the author, Steven Snyder thusly:

Of all the leaders I met during my interviews, no one exudes the type of gratitude and appreciation for life’s precious moments more than Chuck Denny. Denny has endured more than his share of struggles and heartache. His wife suffered through tuberculosis and breast cancer before ultimately losing her battle with Alzheimer’s. They lost three children at very young ages. Yet Denny continues to persist in seeing the bright Read the rest of this entry »

A Very Good Day in Chelseaville

April 2, 2014

We all know people (or are people) who have struggled mightily just to keep their head and hopes above water until something breaks their way. It’s always heartwarming to see someone who is deserving of a break to get one.

Well, in the above video, a waitress named Chelsea had a very good start to her shift . . . and it kept getting better and better! The best part about stories like this is that Read the rest of this entry »

A Thank You Letter to a Grocery Store Angel

April 1, 2014

This blog post from Andrea’s blog, True Stories of a Midwest Yankee, powerfully illustrates the impact that a simple act of kindness can have on the lives of strangers. Let it serve as a reminder to stay alert for opportunities to help others. You are quite literally surrounded by opportunities to be somebody’s angel for the day; all you have to do it is hold the intention that you wish to help and stay aware for the right time to step forward.


 TO THE WOMAN BEHIND ME IN LINE AT THE GROCERY STORE

Dear woman behind me in line at the grocery store,

grocery-store-receipt-stranger-paidYou don’t know me. You have no clue what my life has been like since October 1, 2013. You have no clue that my family has gone through the wringer. You have no clue that we have faced unbelievable hardship. You have no clue we have been humiliated, humbled, destitute.

You have no clue I have cried more days than not; that I fight against bitterness taking control of my heart. You have no clue that my husband’s pride was shattered. You have no clue my kids have had the worries of an adult on their shoulders. You have no clue their innocence was snatched from them for no good reason. You know none of this.

What you do know is I tried to buy my kids some food and that the EBT machine was down so I couldn’t buy that food. I didn’t have any cash or my debit card with me. I only had my SNAP card. All you heard was me saying “No, don’t hold it for me. My kids are hungry now and I have no other way of paying for this.” You didn’t judge me. You didn’t snarl “Maybe you should have less kids.” You didn’t say “Well, get a job and learn to support yourself.” You didn’t look away in embarrassment or shame for me. You didn’t make any assumptions at all.

What you did was you Read the rest of this entry »

Praise Brings Peace

March 22, 2014

silhouette-woman-rejoicing-on-beach-hlding-butterflies


Calmly and joyously welcoming whatever life brings to you requires a major shift in understanding, perception, and attitude.

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
Lao Tzu




Try this exercise: Think of the most difficult situation you have ever had to contend with. From the depths of your being, thank God for Read the rest of this entry »


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