Tag Archives: personal development

Love from the Center of Who You are…

“Love from the Center of Who You are.”   That’s Eugene Peterson’s marvelous paraphrase of Romans 12:9a in The Message. 

How do you hear this invitation in your season of life?

I hear it as a beacon of wisdom for conversations about “self” care.

My clients and I often reflect on natural connections between this great invitation and the wisdom of Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements. Indirectly, these great themes from TFA often show up on this Biblical “self” care series:

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

In my own life, I have discovered that if my current load of commitments, or my mindframe or approach to them, are hindrances to the above agreements, then I am in danger of damaging my “self”, relationships or commitments.

None of us are –or are called to be — PERFECT.  Yet we are invited to a quality of peace and integrity and abundance in our living and serving that I so often find sadly lacking in the realm of those of us called to serve.   Perhaps you have seen this too… there is so much suffering of anxiety, frustration, resentments and fear that accumulate if we are compulsively accruing the responsibilities we carry.  One way to relieve this suffering is to explore whether we have discerned well, or chosen freely, that which is on our plate.

My clients and students at Living Well Ministries, where I offer spiritual life coaching, are signing on to make shifts out of current unsustainable lives for the sake of “living well.”If you would like support for your reflections and actions for “self” care, we invite you to join this November teleclass. You will take away fresh insights and tools for making choices of sustainability (“a living sacrifice.”)
Registration cost of $85 includes one 30-minute coaching session. Order tickets via Eventbrite:
http://alivingsacrifice1112-efbevent.eventbrite.com/. Deadline: November 2.

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Let Us Give Thanks (A Poem for Thanksgiving)

The Fall puts me in the mood, always, to both rejoice in abundance and also vulnerably declare the deaths and failures of my and our collective Life.  This poem made smile in wonder at the glorious diversity of friends along the way, and remember our humanity as we stumble along the journey together.  

 

For children who are our second planting, and, though they grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away, may they forgive us our cultivation and fondly remember where their roots are.

Let us give thanks:

For generous friends…with hearts as big as hubbards and smiles as bright as their blossoms;

For feisty friends as tart as apples;

For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us we had them;

For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn — and the others — as plain as potatoes, and so good for you.

For funny friends, who are as silly as brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, and serious friends as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions;

For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who — like parsnips — can be counted on to see you through the long winter;

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;

For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils, and hold us despite our blights, wilts, and witherings;

And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past, that have been harvested — but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter;

For all these we give thanks.

Source: the late Rev. Max Coots, who was Minister Emeritus of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Canton, New York. His passion for gardening yielded this beloved and much used meditation.

I AM SO GRATEFUL for friend Margaret Shaklee’s reading of the poem at last night’s interfaith Harvest Fest event here in Chicago.   I found it today at this blog: http://www.shockinglydelicious.com/let-us-give-thanks-a-poem-for-thanksgiving/.  This poem reminded me of the delicious diversity of people in my life. As I serve my clients through spiritual life coaching, spiritual practices like gratitude exercises are extremely important, as is the carving out of TIME to spend with our friends and time to forge new friendships.  When we place our attention on possibility, we never lack for what we need.

 

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You Can Cultivate Freedom

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist.

 

 PRACTICING THIS FREEDOM IS TRULY LIVING WELL!

 

My life as a disciple, partner, coach and minister has been changed by the principles of Energy Leadership.  At the heart of it is the reality that how we think about ourselves and the world (our consciousness) can be fueled by relatively more catabolic or anabolic thoughts.  These seven levels of energy lead to varying understandable emotional response, and can thus create a smaller or larger range of experiences in this world.  By exploring and removing our energy blocks, we make room for the natural inflow of MORE energy (spirit, I would say).  Thus, we experience and shape more peace, joy, productivity, objectivity, and compassionate connection.

As a minister and life coach I am dedicated to supporting the most grounding PRACTICES for my clients and students.  Helping with the daily practice of cultivating freedom in relationship to their thoughts and emotions is a wonderful, wonderful privilege.   I think that this is related to what some evangelical churches do well, and many mainline churches do poorly.  The mainline social gospel tradition has a much wiser grasp on the societal obstacles to justice and opportunity that we have created (“systemic ills”).  And, my heart is sometimes heavy that we lack a compelling vision of the intersection of individual freedom and responsibility with the social transformation we seek.  This model is a very promising tool for holding these two truths together for the sake of lasting change.

Created by Dr. Bruce D. Schneider, this is undergirding of the coaching philosophy of The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC).  After my previous pastorate at Grace Baptist Church, I completed this coaching program when  I launched Living Well Ministries in 2008.  I count it as one of the most nourishing and challenging blessings of my life, and am proud to serve with thousands of peers across the world who share this “toolbox” for the good of others and fulfill their own callings.

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Work and Meditation… Not Opposite?

I have been challenged and nourished by Osho’s teaching for nearly a decade.  I have especially appreciated his books Intelligence and Creativity.  I find this excerpt below about a false dichotomy between work and rest challenging to my life experience and the kinds of support I offer clients and students.  So many laborers of love long for a restoration of rhythm in their life.  And, yes, I do find it helpful to encourage distinctions between work and rest in our efforts to craft sustainable lives.  That said, I do find this teaching of Osho’s below compelling.  I will be meditating on it further this Fall as I prepare for the next Biblical “self” care class called “A Living Sacrifice” (Tuesdays in October).

What are your thoughts?

Click the pictures below to visit Osho’s website.

Pune, India     Osho Meditation Resort


 

“People need to change the attitude that exists about work, particularly in the Western mind. Meditation should be part of the work, not separate from it.

“Work and relaxation are not contradictory. In fact, the more you put yourself into work the deeper you can go into relaxation. So both are important. The harder you work the deeper you can relax. Work is valuable. It will bring humbleness and silence. People should feel that their work is something very special, and that whatever work they do is respectable.”

“The emphasis should be on full-time work. 6 hours a day is perfectly okay. Work is part of the whole program – when you work, work as if it were a group therapy. Call it “work meditation”. If you really want to meditate and get into yourself, at least 6 hours work is a necessity – is part of the whole change in your energy. It is scientific. For 6 hours you should forget everything else – forget the whole world, forget your problems – whatever work it is, be total in it. Then something is possible.”

On another occasion Osho explains his radical approach:

“It is a very western idea of having a separation between the work and enjoyment; it is a very Christian idea – that God worked for 6 days and on the seventh he rested. But my vision is totally against this whole idea from the past. I am giving you a totally new vision, a totally new man who is not split into work and rest. For me relaxation and work are not opposite. I am not at all in favor of people feeling they work too hard and they need a rest or a break to relax and that they have to go somewhere away, away from the work. My vision is that you enjoy totally whatever you are doing, I am not against swimming or against fresh air, or against lakes. It is the split that I am against, the separation that this is work and this is enjoyment, the idea that I need to go to the lake for a break, to relax, to get away from the work.”

Source:  http://www.osho.com

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To Love Our Neighbors as Ourselves

Here’s a real golden nugget, I think, from Emanuel Swedenborg’True Christianity:

We read that we are to love the Lord God above all things, and our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27).  To love our neighbor as ourselves means not despising our neighbors in comparison with ourselves.  It means treating them justly and not judging them wrongfully.  The law of goodwill pronounced and given by the Lord himself is this:  

“Whatever you want people to do for you, do likewise for them.  This is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31,32)

This is how people who love heaven love their neighbor.  People who love the world, however, love their neighbor on a worldly basis for a worldly benefit.  People who love themselves love their neighbor in a selfish way for a selfish benefit.

Wow!  Think about the entrenched ugliness of our unresolved pain and violence in this world.  Is it not much about comparing and competing, treating folks unjustly or allowing injustice, and judging wrongfully?

I am really savoring this collection of Emanuel Swedenborg’s writings, including the parts of it that are a bit strange metaphysically.  I love to learn about innovative ideas and experiences others have had (or thought they had), and to ponder what it might reveal about God’s reality.  One does not have to be hopelessly relativist to be committed to appreciating at face value the potential gift that others are bringing.  To listen and to understand does not mean to give over all discriminating faculties!  (Unfortunately, the sort of fundamentalism and evangelicalism that formed my early life would indeed have us fearfully separate ourselves from such encounters, rather than seek in them the practice of neighborly love and intellectual humility).

I especially love to read things outside the mainstream of acceptance (or, shall I say invisible histories/herstories and even “heresy”).  It is a spiritual practice — studying the breadth and spirit of experience, testimony and communal ethics that have been born amid human grappling with the presence and expectations of God.  And, striving to encounter these things with the heart, not just the endlessly dissecting intellectual impulse.  Swedenborg called these  “sense-oriented” and I associate them with negative Ego grasping which other traditions name as our snare.

My coaching clients and students see this loving neighbors and self thing is the heart of the matter.  So, in fact did Jesus.  Swedenborg has some truly innovative ways of picturing and teaching this.  Tomorrow’s post will be especially interesting for those working on the spiritual projects of forgiveness and biblical self-care.

Maybe a Lenten practice that would be good Christian contribution to public discourse this election season:

To not despise our neighbor in comparison with ourselves.

To treat others justly.

To not judge wrongfully.

To do unto others as we’d like done unto us…

“The Law of Goodwill.”

 

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Maybe the Greatest Struggle is Giving Up Struggle

For Lent today…

I am meditating  on Jesus’ baptism and soul-struggles in the wilderness temptation he faced.

At every turn, his Accuser challenged him to doubt his Divine blessing (“This is my Beloved Child, in whom I am well-pleased” is the message proclaimed at his baptism.)  This was the Gift given as he turned to his wilderness.

Trusting this — throughout his work and under increasingly escalated disappointment and attack  —  ultimately allowed Jesus to face his destiny, and it will allow us to face ours.  Along the way, we will be challenged to doubt and to test, to rely solely on material life, and to secure ourselves through Ego’s accomplishment.  That can mean falling prey to the ideas of Kingdom-building that rely on coercion and empire.  It can mean confusing others’ approval, ever limited by social prejudices, with God’s.  It can also mean falling prey to a belief that we are somehow more or differently blessed than any other child of God (and to the sins that such manifest destiny has often led us).

Lent is often cast as being about struggle.  Divinely ordained struggle.   We can endlessly struggle with ourselves, with others, with God.  Perhaps the greatest struggle-opportunity  of all is giving up struggle.

This might be a fresh way of seeing Jesus’ accomplishments in the wilderness.  Yes, it looks like victory born of struggle, but it might bear more fruit in us if we lift up a different vision.   He gives us the first larger-than-life signal that his victory would be nonviolent, and “gained” not by a win but by a surrender.  Not a surrender to temptation, but a surrender to the consequences of an Emptying proclaimed in a Philippians 2 hymn.  Jesus surrendered to the truth of his Divine oneness, and to the world’s ideas of loss and failure, even as he knew them to be false.

One of the great spiritual needs of our day is for LGBT Christians to give up the struggle for others’ approval, and to surrender into the delight of our Divine blessing.  We are part of the amazing diversity of style and love and family and  life which has always existed and has been ever-evolving.   In many past eras, same-sex love and intimacy have been accepted by some and rejected by others.

The tiny number of Christian scriptures which have become Accusers’ weapons do not speak for the God of the universe who continues to speak timeless truths of blessing.  They represent the struggles of the past, as our ancestors gave voice to their fear and ideals, their best attempts to protect themselves by condemning others and blaming others for the challenges of their day.  They need not sow enmity for today. Overturning their hold on today’s people of faith is a task which a table-turning Jesus relishes… but not for the sake of endless enmity and divisiveness about sexual diversity.  No.  For the sake, maybe, of forming a new people who know that abiding as the Temple of Spirit is God’s will for all of us.

I do not mean to advocate a political passivity in our wilderness, but to suggest that living in increased conditions of peace and prosperity will only come when are able to “love from the center of who we are.”  To work hard and witness – and even cause some trouble now and again — from that deep and unconditioned place.  And to join Jesus in disbelieving the Accuser’s lies and pictures of success that would verify or validate our Divine blessing.

May the testing of this life lead us always to reject the struggles which are false, alienating and divisive. May we, with Spirit’s blessing, recognize and live into our Divine birthright to know blessing and to bless, to know our royalty and servanthood all at the same time.

That could be the greatest “struggle” of all.

— Lent 2012

Rev. Jacki Belile, CEC, is a spiritual life coach and ordained Baptist minister.  She has supported LGBT people of faith and their allies on the journey of living out Christ’s radical welcome since 1996.

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Why Weren’t You… You?

Once, the great Hassidic leader, Zusia, came to his followers. His eyes were red with tears, and his face was pale with fear.  “Zusia, what’s the matter? You look frightened!”

“The other day, I had a vision. In it, I learned the question that the angels will one day ask me about my life.”

The followers were puzzled. “Zusia, you are pious. You are scholarly and humble. You have helped so many of us. What question about your life could be so terrifying that you would be frightened to answer it?”

Zusia turned his gaze to heaven. “I have learned that the angels will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you a Moses, leading your people out of slavery?'”

His followers persisted. “So, what will they ask you?”

“And I have learned,” Zusia sighed, “that the angels will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you a Joshua, leading your people into the promised land?'”

One of his followers approached Zusia and placed his hands on Zusia’s shoulders. Looking him in the eyes, the follower demanded, “But what will they ask you?”

“They will say to me, ‘Zusia, there was only one thing that no power of heaven or earth could have prevented you from becoming.’ They will say, ‘Zusia, why weren’t you Zusia?'”

–adapted by Doug Lipman

Reprinted from The Storytelling Coach: How to Listen, Praise, and Bring Out People’s Best. Copyright © 1995. It can be heard on the audiotape, The Forgotten Story: Tales of Wise Jewish Men.

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