I had the wonderful opportunity this week to travel to Aruba for a vacation with my fiancée and future stepchildren. One evening, while sitting alone on the balcony of our room, gazing out in awe at the beautiful landscape and feeling warmed the balmy breezes, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I’m blessed with so many things – family and friends who love me, opportunities to meet and work with amazing people and the daily opportunity to express how grateful I am to God for giving this recovering addict a second chance at life. I’ve been in very dark places and know that my story could have ended differently. But this night in Aruba, like all of the days since I made the commitment to be clean and sober, offered another moment to reflect on the reality that if you do the right things, hang in there and choose to live God’s way, all of those blessings are possible.
Since I renewed my commitment to God and a life of meaning and purpose dedicated to helping others both professionally and personally, I’ve developed daily prayer, meditation and journaling rituals that help me get into the right spiritual mindset. I’ve been doing this ever since I got sober. I wake up by 6 a.m. at the latest and spend 30 minutes on a combination of praying (sometimes on my knees on a clean floor, but sometimes even at my kitchen counter having my morning coffee) and doing affirmation readings from books of positive quotes and writings that inspire me to live that day and be present. I spend a lot of time on gratitude. Whether it’s dark or light, I always light a candle. It’s just my way of bringing spirituality into the moment and connecting with God. My morning journaling is simple, just writing thank you to God for another day He has granted me. Continue reading →
Most cultures in our world embrace some form of what we have come to call “music”. Some much more than others. Some cultures use music only in religious moments. Some extremely primitive cultures (by Western standards) haven’t even defined music yet. That is, they don’t call it music, but they still create and use some sounds as music nonetheless.
It could be easily argued that music in all its forms is the true universal language that ties the spirit of all living creatures together. Man, of course is God’s primary creature that consciously uses music to communicate his feelings, emotions and needs often without a single word being uttered or sung. But we’re not the only ones… (think about birds singing).
How can it be then, that music, used by billions of people every moment of every day, is not recognized as essential in its purpose?Ahhhh… the failings of mankind are pervasive. Still, it’s notable that our scientific community has recently discovered what most of us in the music community already knew:
Music affects ALL living creatures (a multitude of studies, anecdotal and scientific, suggest plant-life may also be positively and negatively impacted) such that it influences moods, sensations, emotions, physical growth, physical healings and emotional healings that can be quantified in bonafide studies. I like to say that music does all this and more by ‘speaking’ to us in a way that ALL people of ALL tribes innately grasp…. in a way that our ‘inner spirits’ always understand:the “language of music”.
The “language of music” is so powerful that it can move our spirits in ways we never really thought about:Continue reading →
Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” As a recovering addict given a second chance at life, I have been given the opportunity to pay forward my reversal of fortune to help others struggling with the disease of addiction. Every day I ask God how I can be of service to others using the talents He’s given me, and I have learned that the true measure of success is found in how many people you bless. It may sound ironic to be grateful to have gone through something so horrific, but I thank God now that I can help people experiencing the same nightmare. Continue reading →
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
A few weeks ago, we shared some amazing podcasts you should be listening to.
One of those podcasts was the Liturgists which is a collective of creators who speak on everything from God to art to the world, theories, beliefs, everything in between.
One of our favorite parts of the podcast is their meditations.
Around this time of year, when our country takes a day to offer thanks, the word gratitude gets tossed around quite a bit. But did you know that gratitude is one of your most precious super powers, that if practiced daily, will assist you in creating an incredibly abundant and deeply fulfilling life?
The thing that we must first understand is that like everything else in the universe, we each have a vibrational resonance that serves as a magnet drawing people, experiences, and inspirations of matching frequency directly to us. With gratitude being the root of all abundance, by practicing gratitude, we raise our vibrational frequency, resulting in increased energy, creativity, optimism, patience, connectivity, and even increased immune function. Continue reading →
Once again the world is infused with a sense of horror and shock by the heinous attacks on innocent Parisians enjoying a Friday night in the City of Lights. And our collective response sensationalized by the media leads us where? The facts leading up to this attack should in no way be received as a surprise, for the endless stream of human barbarism and war has not receded in millennia. Our contemporary world order looks strikingly similar to many civilizations of the past.
What is an alternative response to terrorism? Merriam Webster defines terrorism as, “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.” The heart of terrorism is to get under your skin, churning a sense of dis-ease and fear.
Any response powered by fear demonstrates low frequency, low vibration and has an internal destructive nature that ripples across the collective unconscious. Let us find a better solution than more killing, more savagery and attending to the lowest human frequency.
“Enlightenment” is a word that has gotten so entangled with vague confusion that many people have given up on it. I don’t mean the classic seeker who hungers for God, Nirvana, or higher states of consciousness. There isn’t an accepted definition of enlightenment that allows for a general discussion where everyone knows what the topic is. Behind this apparent fuzziness, however, the concept of enlightenment has evolved tremendously over the past few decades, and in that time the possibility of being enlightened has come closer and closer to everyday experience.
Forty years ago enlightenment was inevitably associated with “Eastern mysticism,” a phrase that appears in the subtitle of Fritjof Capra’s famous book, The Tao of Physics. Meditation was associated with religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. Enlightenment was a spiritual attainment for Indian gurus or monks sitting in Himalayan caves. The fact that meditation is now a common practice in the West, with many research studies proving its benefits in terms of mind and body, shows how much the landscape has changed.
The next major change, which could bring a seismic shift in our worldview, would bring enlightenment into daily life the way that meditation is comfortably established in daily life. I’ll devote the next few posts to exploring how enlightenment affects everyone, not just a select few living under exotic circumstances. We can begin with the most obvious question you can ask yourself. Are you enlightened already?” This may seem at first like an almost absurd question. If there are ancient traditions for reaching enlightenment, a project that can take a lifetime’s effort and discipline, it must be impossible that a normal person going about his everyday life could already be enlightened.
But there’s a reason why the question isn’t absurd. Enlightenment is a state of consciousness–everyone seems to agree upon that, at least. Each of us already experiences three distinct states of consciousness every day: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. These states come naturally. We didn’t seek them out or do anything special to be in them. So why would so-called higher states of consciousness be set apart as privileged or difficult or far distant from daily experience? In fact, all the ingredients of enlightenment are already in place. These consist of: Continue reading →
Author David Foster Wallace spoke at the 2005 graduation ceremony for Kenyon College. His message was directed at students who were about to venture into the world as independent, functional humans but his message on thinking is important for everyone to hear even ten years later. In our current global state, perhaps it’s time to relearn how to think.
“Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe. The realest, most vivid and important person in existence.
We rarely talk about this sort of natural basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive but it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you were not at the absolute center of.
The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU. Or behind YOU. To the left or right of YOU on YOUR tv or YOUR monitor and so on. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.Continue reading →
I believe that spiritual growth under the right conditions is as natural as breathing…and the conditions of our world are the perfect conditions for spiritual growth. The person you are right now, with all of your challenges and strengths, pain and joys, failures and victories, is exactly the perfect person for the journey ahead. And your life, exactly as it is, is offering you the exact conditions to stimulate growth.
My intention for this essay is to share with you why I believe that existence is an unending emergence of pure love, a perfect and continuous homecoming, in spite of and in a sense because of, all the tragedy, pain and the unnecessary suffering that is endured by so many of us. I would start by asserting that the degree to which we recognize that suffering is unnecessary is evidence that somewhere we already know that love is the ground of existence.
This universe was born out of love and our desire for spiritual fulfillment is an expression of that love, an extension of that love, and the fulfillment of that love. Human life is challenging. We find ourselves caught in the middle between the Reality of Love and the actuality of suffering. I feel certain that suffering is actual, but not real. Only Love is Real.
What is Love? Love is what we feel when we recognize something that is worth devoting our life to. The things we love are the things that make life worth living. They allow us to feel at home in the world and relax deeply and completely into the experience of being.Continue reading →
When they become parents, many people wonder how to impart spiritual values to their children. The traditional model of sending them to Sunday school is one alternative; another is to draw the entire family into the personal spirituality of the parents, as more people turn away from organized religion to carve their own path. Children grow up to reflect how they are raised, which makes this an important issue.
To begin with, a child’s spiritual life should be age appropriate. A very young child’s brain hasn’t matured enough to absorb adult beliefs, and the overall development of every child is unique. Before age ten or so, I feel that spiritual parenting will have the most lasting effect if it builds a foundation in the self rather than focusing on principles. As a practical matter, every young child should feel that Continue reading →