Tag Archives: New Age

JOIN ME AT THE ASHEVILLE BOOKFEST

This Saturday I will be participating with other area authors in the Sixth Annual Asheville Bookfest at the Haywood Park Hotel in the Atrium from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.   For the schedule see http://www.ashevillebookfest.com/bookfest-events.html.

Four other authors and I will be reading at 4:30 followed by Thomas Rain Crowe, the featured speaker.

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INTERFAITH DIALOGUE EVENT

Grateful Steps Book Signing

Grateful Steps Book Signing

For several years, I was a member of a spiritual group that met once a month to share our spiritual journeys and to participate in programs that would teach us new spiritual techniques and expose us to a wide variety of spiritual beliefs.  It was one of the most enriching and inspiring experiences I’ve ever had, and I learned so much from what others shared.

I’m very excited about participating in the Interfaith Dialogue series on Thursday, June 19 at Grateful Steps Bookshop in Asheville, NC at 159 So. Lexington Ave.  I will present short readings from my memoir Awakening to the Dance:  A Journey to Wholeness.   As I read excerpts related to my spiritual journey, we will discuss the concepts presented and share experiences.  The event is free.

 My memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness is the story of a my search to find an authentic identity, creative expression, and a spirituality apart from traditional religion.  Although this spiritual journey began with attending a traditional church, I soon found that it was my love of dance and drama that really touched my spirit.  Through modern dance, I discovered the oneness of the mind body connection, and later began to explore other spiritual practices.  One by one, I enthusiastically explored techniques to release my fear, Buddhist teachings and meditation, Jungian dream interpretation, and Science of Mind manifestation techniques.  Each led me more closely to an authentic identity and a wholeness that transformed my life.

This is an opportunity to share and explore our beliefs, so please join us. 

AWAKENING TO THE NEXT GOOD THING

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.”  Alexander Graham Bell

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Have you ever been offered the opportunity to do something new but turned it down because you had your mind set on something else?  Do you ever find it difficult to let go when it’s time to move on?  How open are you to new experiences?

Often Difficult To Let Go of Grief

When a door closes in our lives, the death of a friend or loved one, the end of a job, or bad knees end our tennis games, our tendency may be to hang onto this lost reality.  We can’t see that the end of one thing may be the beginning of something else that is equally or more meaningful because we are so submerged in the feelings of loss.

Recently, I lost a friend, a photographer, whose pictures of nature blended beautifully with my nature poetry.  Because of that, we created slide and reading presentations for our spiritual community’s weekly celebration.  I feel the loss of her as a friend, but I also am grieving the loss of our creative collaboration.  It is hard to accept the idea that she and those experiences are gone.

Photo by Elliott Brown

Photo by Elliott Brown

When I first stopped teaching full-time, I started writing more seriously, but I still spent years looking for another teaching job, even when it became apparent that no one was hiring someone with as many years experience as I had.  I was afraid not to have a full-time regular job, so I still didn’t commit myself totally to the writing or look for a writing job.  The door stood open for years before I was willing to walk through it.

New Opportunities May Lay Behind Open Doors

When I finally committed myself to finishing my memoir, everything I needed magically fell into place.  Once it was completed, other amazing things started happening.  Years earlier, a medium had told me that when I finished my book, I would meet the man of my dreams.  At the time, I thought that didn’t sound very realistic—what did those two things have in common?

I missed the point—following my passion allowed me to be who I truly was and attracted to me someone who could appreciate who I was because he was also a writer.  By completing the book and developing a blog, I opened a door.  I gained confidence in my abilities and felt I was finally doing what I was called to do.  But my love’s side of the story is also about closed and open doors.

His wife died after a long illness and his grief was so deep, he wasn’t sure he could go on.  Finally, he came to a point where he decided he could go on, knowing that was what she wanted for him.  Eventually, he stepped away from his former life and walked through the open door, not knowing what he would find.   Because he was willing to risk stepping into the unknown, we met each other and have created a lovely life together.

Love Birds

Photo by Skadi

There Is Always A Time To Move On

When we cling to the door that has closed, we stunt our own growth.  Our lives, like the life of the earth, must move through many seasons just as spring always follows after winter.  It is good that we spend time grieving when it is appropriate, but the time also must come when we are willing to look at that open door and walk through it to see what treasures lay on the other side.

We never know when the next good thing will come along, so it is wise to remain open to new experiences.  When we choose not to, it is usually because we are afraid of the unknown or feel inadequate.  If we learn to let go of those fears, we can better see if the opportunity truly has value for us.

Fear Blocks Us From Choosing New Experiences

Fear is the source of every block in our lives.  If we make it a habit to avoid open doors, we strengthen the resistance caused by fear.  When we feel fearful, we are reluctant to move forward because our minds focus on our former negative experiences instead of focusing on solving the current problem.  Releasing this fear will free us to move through that open door.

Releasing Our Fears Gives Us Courage and Joy

Without fear, we can more easily discern if the new option being presented to us is, in fact, a wise choice.  Without fear, we can discern what elements of the situation we need to explore more completely.  Without fear, we will be more in touch with our intuition and inner guidance and be open to experience more joy in life.

Open doors are always an opportunity to look at something we may never have considered or that is available because our life or thinking have shifted in some way.  It is the open door that lets the light through.   But we’ll never be able to experience its healing unless we step through it.

If you would like to know more about how to release your fears and you live in the Asheville/Flat Rock, NC area, consider taking my “Release Your Fears” class at Blue Ridge Community College, Center for Life Long Learning. Mondays March 3 & 10, 1-3 pm, $30.  Register ahead at the college or call 828-694-1740.  For more information and my video, see Workshops.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: How to Become Open to Life, Seven Secrets of a Joyful Life, 50 Ways to Open Your World to New Possibilities

AWAKENING TO BE THE ARTIST OF YOUR LIFE

“What do we do with chaos?

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“Creativity has an answer.  We are told by those who have studied the processes of nature that creativity happens at the border between chaos and order.  Chaos is a prelude to creativity.  We need to learn, as every artist needs to learn, to live with chaos and indeed to dance with it and attempt some ordering.  Artists wrestle with chaos, take it apart, deconstruct and reconstruct from it.  Accept the challenge to convert chaos into some kind of order, respecting the timing of it all, not pushing beyond what is possible—combining holy patience with holy impatience—that is the role of the artist.  It is each of our roles as we launch the twenty-first century because we are all called to be artists in our own way.  We are all artists as children.  We need to study the chaos around us in order to turn it into something beautiful.  Something sustainable.  Something that remains.”  Matthew Fox, Creativity

Creation Spirituality

Last week, I was privileged to hear Matthew Fox speak at a spiritual gathering.  He is a powerful speaker and leader, and his philosophy of Creation Spirituality is the basis for the spiritual community to which I belong.  Creation Spirituality is the belief that all creation is Original Blessing, and it integrates the wisdom of Eastern and Western spirituality with current scientific understanding and the passion of creativity.

Cover of "Creativity"

Cover of Creativity

We Must Be Creative To Solve Problems

To those who do not see themselves as creative, Fox’s quote may seem abstract, but as one who has participated in all the fine arts and for a time was a professional modern dancer, I know exactly what he means.  In fact, as surprising as it may seem, my studies of dance, theater, voice, and art have all taught me how to create a better life for myself because they taught me how to keep my mind open and how to create order from chaos.

In life as in art, we are continually faced with making decisions.  Using our rational mind to make these decisions is one approach, but we also have a right brain, as well as a left brain, that can lead us down many paths to solve each problem.  We are most likely to find a good, workable solution to the problems that confront us when we are willing to consider more than one possibility.

We Must Experiment to Create Order Out of Chaos

As a choreographer, I learned to experiment—try this movement and that.  I would develop a theme and then create variations to make the dance more interesting while allowing the basic theme to give it unity.  When this approach didn’t work, I threw out the movement that didn’t look good and explored how I could use another movement to express my idea.  Once in a while, I would choreograph a large portion of a dance and have to face the fact that it just didn’t work.  It didn’t communicate what I wanted, or it wasn’t interesting enough, or it just didn’t flow and I would have to throw out the whole thing.

And at times, I would just have to wait.  I could feel the solution to the problem simmering in the back of my mind.  Then, in a dream or while I was vacuuming or reading a book, suddenly the image would appear—a rhythmic pattern, a series of movements, a costume or concept—and  reveal to me the missing piece I needed to complete the dance.

Life often feels like this to me.  A problem arises and I don’t know how to solve it.  I research, talk to people I know and hopefully what I need to do becomes clear.  But at times, my daily life feels like chaos and no answers appear.  When it begins to feel out of control, I have to stop.  I remember that the answers to my questions cannot appear if I’m not listening with the “holy patience” that Fox refers to.

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Answers May Be Found When We Are Quiet

So, I go within to meditate or step into the natural world and let the playful squirrels or singing birds remind me I am a part of something more than the chaos that wears me down.  When I’m calm, I am better able to discern what I need to do.  It may be nothing or I may need to deal with the chaos by setting up a schedule and prioritizing what I need to do.  Using my creativity, I dance on that edge between chaos and order.

We are the artists of our own lives, and we have many choices about how to create order out of our chaos.  But the most important thing is for us to believe that we can.  We can only change the world if we believe we can change our own lives, and if we believe that, we will find the way to do it.  Because each time we succeed in creating order out of chaos, we inspire ourselves and those who observe our actions, who perhaps will be inspired to change their lives.

Our Lives are Sacred

Perhaps this is what Fox meant in his talk when he said, “If we have a sense of the sacred, we can change things.”  We do not have to do it alone.  In those quiet moments, even in the midst of chaos, we are in touch with Spirit.  We are reminded that we are sacred, our lives are sacred, and the earth is sacred.  We live in a creative Universe, and as we create our lives, let us remember we are each artists who can create order out of the chaos of our world.  No one else can do this for us.

How are you the artist of your life?  Please comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles: Matthew Fox – Creation Spirituality (video), How to Create a Balanced Life:  How to Feel Calm and Grounded, Everyone Is Invited to This Dance, Creativity

AWAKENING TO TEACH OURSELVES

“Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”  George Bernard Shaw

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Do you ever teach yourself a new skill?  Are you satisfied with your life and resist exploring new ideas?  Or are you always open to new perspectives on your life?

For many years, I taught in high schools and universities, and what I liked most about teaching were those moments when a student suddenly “got it.”  A new idea or perspective suddenly entered their life and shifted their attention to that moment when it all came together.  That’s what I saw as my purpose as a teacher—to awaken the students to think and explore their view of life and expand their thinking.

Learning Awakens Us

Hopefully, we’ve all had at least one teacher who helped us untangle the confusion of our lives or urged us to step into the unknown and discover talents we never realized we had.  Those moments when something shifted were significant because we had to make a decision.  Were we willing to explore this new idea or did its newness frighten us into retreating?  When we chose to explore the unknown, we chose to let life and our participation in it become our teacher.

Our Choices Determine Who We Are

Every teacher must first learn the material that is to be taught, assimilate it, and decide on what is important to present to others.  These steps are also useful in living life.  They help us decide who we want to be, and the choices we make determine how we develop spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually.

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Reflection Connects Us With Our Spiritual Core

If we want to truly understand ourselves, others, and our world, we must be willing to reflect.  At our core is a spiritual essence that is unique.  When we talk about finding ourselves, we usually are referring to being in touch with that depth in ourselves, but how we connect this to our external selves is how we create the whole of who we are.

So, how much are we willing to expand?  Becoming our own most important teacher means that we accept full responsibility for our lives.  We choose a set of values to guide us, and we see each challenge as an opportunity for learning.  We make the best decisions we can, and then we reflect on our behavior.  Did we accomplish what we hoped?  Did we do it without harming anyone?  Are we comfortable with the consequences of our choices?

Spiritual Solutions to Problems Are More Lasting

When things don’t work out the way we wish, it is often difficult to admit our mistakes and get help solving our problems.  Our egos don’t like to admit our choices weren’t good, so we may choose to resist any suggestion we made poor choices.  The more we resist, the greater the problem becomes, and the more we block valuable intuitive and inner guidance.

When we’re willing to reflect honestly and look at the situation from our hearts, we then open ourselves to the spiritual guidance that is always there for us, through prayer or meditation, from Spirit.  Developing our relationship to Spirit will offer a new dimension to our decision-making abilities.  Solving problems at this level can give us more substantial and lasting solutions to problems.

Being Our Own Best Teacher Requires Self-discipline

Teaching ourselves is a life-long process, and like the classroom teacher, hopefully we share what we learn on this journey.  Over the years, dealing with fears of inadequacy and rejections was a major challenge for me.  I explored many techniques for releasing it.  In each case, I had to teach myself to use the technique.  I had to choose to work with it every day, month after month, until I could see if it was beneficial or not.

Others can teach us about a technique we can use, but we have to teach ourselves to use it, and that requires self-discipline.  While I often heard that it was natural to experience fear, I saw too many examples of the way psychological fears controlled people’s lives in negative ways.  I decided to teach myself how to live without those fears.  From my modern dance career, I had learned that I had to practice if I wanted to achieve a skill level that would allow me to perform.  So, I applied that same persistence to learn the technique to release my fear.  As a result, those old fears no longer dominate my life.  I decided to become who I wanted to be.

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Because learning to release my fear has been so valuable to me, I teach workshops on this technique several times a year and share with others what I have learned.  Since I live in a community of conscious people, I am grateful for the things they have learned and share with me.  I am particularly grateful for the way people have shared their technical knowledge with me, many of whom, like me have chosen to be their own teachers.

Teaching Ourselves Expands Us

Today, especially with the internet, there is an endless opportunity to learn.  As our minds expand, our lives expand, our spirit expands and we become so much more than we ever dreamed we could be.  What will you teach yourself tomorrow?

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                              ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5             Related Articles:  10 Tips for Becoming Your Own Teacher, You Are Your Own Spiritual Teacher, Teaching as A Spiritual Practice 

AWAKENING TO A PEACEFUL HEART

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent.  It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”  E. F. SchumacheR

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A few months ago, my life was so full I felt I was in constant motion.  I was promoting my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholenesswith book signings, and I met a wonderful man and began a relationship with him.  Combined with the usual things one has to take care of in life, I was fairly overwhelmed.  As a result, I stopped going to the spiritual celebration I often attend on Sundays because I needed time for myself.

When We Feel Anger, We Need To Take A Breath

Then one day, I did attend the Sunday celebration, and as I entered the building, I ran into a young man I hardly knew who greeted me.  “Good to see you.  We haven’t seen you in a long time.  You did your presentation and sold your books; then you disappeared.”

Wow! I’m sure my face was red with the anger I felt.  How dare he suggest I just used my community in this way!  I’d been there nearly every Sunday for eight years!  I hardly knew this person and he knew nothing about my personal life.  A dozen angry responses flashed through my mind—but I took a deep breath, decided to be direct, and said, “Well, I was really exhausted after I finished the book.  Then I had to do all the promotional stuff, and I’m now in a relationship.   I just needed time to take care of myself.”

Another person walked up to us and I was able to slip away, thankful that I’d been able to respond with an explanation that would perhaps make him realize his assumption had been wrong.  I was also pleased with the restraint I’d shown.  When I calmed down and thought about what he had said, I realized it reflected some issue he was struggling with.

Two people in a heated argument about religion...

Two people in a heated argument about religion when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. Click the audio button found above and to the left to listen to them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our Issues Are About The Ego

We all have our issues and when those buttons get punched, it is so easy to act in a way we will regret later.  Inevitably, if we just react emotionally, without taking a deep breath first, we create more of a problem, making the problem “bigger, more complex, and more violent” as Schumacher suggests.  Pausing to take that breath before responding reminds us we are in the moment and need to respond in the moment from the heart, not in response to our injured ego that wants revenge, attention or is responding to our past negative experiences.

In taking that breath, we are also affirming we want peace, and it may allow us to see the source of the discomfort for the other person.  Taking a breath allows us to notice the tone of his voice or the expression on his face and that may guide us to respond in a positive way.  I realized instantly that the young man who spoke to me knew nothing about my personal life, and that being open to him might create a bridge of understanding.

It Takes Courage To Be Peaceful When Others Are Not

I don’t agree with Schumacher that choosing the more peaceful path requires genius.  I think it’s just common sense, but in a world where we’re still fighting wars and most television shows are about violence, it does sometimes take courage to take a different path.  It takes courage in order to go against what those around us believe, especially if they are friends or family.

I taught high school English for years and was often appalled by the hateful things teens said to each other, even to their friends.  When students chose not to engage in that disrespectful behavior, they were often ostracized, so the penalty for nonconformity was huge.

I once had a student ask me if I thought most people were good.  I answered that, yes, I thought most people were basically good.  She responded that she didn’t agree—she thought most people were mean.  With that as the basis of her thinking, it is not surprising that she often responded hatefully to others.  She wanted to hurt them before they hurt her.

Our Responses Reflect Who We Are

In the end, though, it doesn’t matter whether others are good or hateful.  How we respond in every situation is our choice and we have to live with it.  We have to decide who we want to be.  Do we want to be the one who comes back with a more hateful remark or do we want to be the one who creates a bridge or lets the emotional charge from our opponent die because we choose not to feed their negativity with ours?

Courage Comes From The Heart

When we are in doubt about how to respond to a negative situation, it is always wise to take a breath and consult the heart.  Responding out of love and peace is never a bad choice, and it doesn’t mean that we are weak by not confronting the anger or hatefulness in another.  We can still hold to our point of view, but when we do that from a peaceful base, it is more likely to be heard by others.  It may then be possible to turn an argument into a conversation or a misunderstanding into friendship.  Courage is most powerful when it comes from the heart.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                  ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Don’t Run From Anger – Use It to Heal and Evolve, Video: S.T.O.P. – A Conversation with Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra, What’s Your Reaction to Conflict

AWAKENING TO KINDNESS

“This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”  Dalai Lama

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dala...

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama, is the leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you consider yourself a kind person?  Are you surrounded by kind people?  What has created your ideas about what kindness is?

Qualities of Kind People

I am always deeply touched by kind people, and there are several things that I notice about them.  They are people who are at peace with themselves.  They look for what is positive in others and in situations.  They are empathetic and compassionate.

These are the kind of people I want in my life, the people I can trust who, when there is conflict, will talk respectfully about our differences and work things out.  I can look back on my life and see the many times when I tolerated behavior in relationships and friendships that was less than respectful of who I was and my needs.  Now I find that I am less willing to ignore such disrespect and that more of the people I draw into my life are kind.

What has changed and why is kindness so important to me now?  Peace, love, and joy are now my priorities.

Kindness Is Based On Loving Ourselves

I recently read an article “The Magic of Unconditional Love:  An Interview with Don Miguel Ruiz” by Diane Marie Bishop in Science of Mind Magazine.  In the article, Ruiz talks about how we cannot love others unconditionally unless we unconditionally love ourselves.  Over the years, my ability to love myself has grown.  I have let go of my need to be perfect or to fit someone else’s standard.  This acceptance has given me more peace, and I have learned to be kinder to myself and others.

It is all connected.  When we love ourselves, peace and joy automatically become part of our lives and the expression of kindness becomes a natural thing.  We are less reactive and more aware of how our words and actions affect others.  We are also more flexible and able to adapt to the needs of others when it is appropriate.  But we also are at peace with who we are and can say “no” when we must and do it in a way that is kind.

Negative Thinking Blocks Kindness

It was a challenging week last week with many every day difficulties arising.  It was a week of important teachings, a reminder that, instead of getting caught up in another’s negativity, I need to tap into my inner peace and stay there.  I wasn’t always able to do that, but I will continue to pursue that path.  Experiencing peace and love is my priority and what I want to share with others.

When we love ourselves, we are more likely to see life as positive.  When we are feeling positive, we are more likely to respond to life in a positive manner and act kindly.  But seeing the same situation from a negative point of view may completely change how we experience an event.  Negative thinking can be a powerful block that supports our egos’ worst choices and keeps us from acting kindly from the heart.

Recently, I offered to loan a friend a library book I’d finished so she could also read it before it was due.  With a long waiting list, it was hard to get.  She emailed me to leave it in her mailbox, but I wasn’t comfortable with that due to the torrential rains we were having, and it belonged to the library so I didn’t want to risk its getting damaged.  Since we lived close to each other, I asked her to give me a call when she was home, and I would bring it to her or she could pick it up.  She thought my concern was foolish, and she became angry that I wouldn’t do this the way she wanted, rejected my offer, and refused to return my phone call so we could work it out.

I was rather shocked by the whole situation.  Her response to the situation seemed harsh and out of proportion to the reality although, in the past, she had been disturbed about situations she viewed as negative when I didn’t see them that way.  Still, what created this problem?  Had I been unkind without realizing it?  Was she stressed about something or angry at me for another reason?  I didn’t know.  By focusing on the negative rather than the positive aspect of the situation and refusing to communicate, my friend created a problem that didn’t need to exist and eroded the trust I felt for her.

Kindness

Kindness (Photo credit: -RejiK)

Positive Thinking Supports Kindness

An experience with a sales person last week when I had a problem with a new cell phone also illustrated the consequences of positive and negative approaches to situations.  This man made it clear that he only had time for people who were there to buy something although I had been required to trade out my phone for a new one due to network changes.

Because of his lack of customer service, I decided not to do business there again.  Instead I went to another store where a kind young man showed concern for my problems and took the time to show me how to use the new phone.  Perhaps he was just a kind person or perhaps he understood making a customer happy might mean more sales in the long run.  Either way he took the higher road.

Kindness May Be Expressed With Empathy and Compassion

Two other ways we can express kindness are through empathy and compassion.  They are beautiful expressions of our love and peace.  With empathy we are able to put ourselves in the other person’s place and feel what he is feeling.  We may make this connection because we’ve experience a similar situation or because we use our imagination to envision what he is feeling.  Compassion takes us one step further emotionally to a place where we want to help.

To share our feelings of concern through either of these expressions is an act of kindness.  We care if another person is in pain or difficulty and want life to be better for him/her.  I have another friend who frequently expresses these qualities.  The trust I feel toward him because of this is huge.  Whether he thinks my feelings are foolish or not is irrelevant.  What he offers me is concern and empathy first.  If we argue, it becomes a respectful conversation that allows us to understand each other and helps our relationship grow deeper.  As a result, I feel loved and at peace with him.   I can always trust that he cares about what is best for me.

Allowing kindness to become an important part of our lives can truly change them for the better, for kindness is part of the holy within us.  It’s just another aspect of treating others as we wish to be treated.  Perhaps it is also another way of changing our own little worlds and contributing positively to the larger one.

What kindness have you expressed or experienced lately?

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Appropriate Compassion, Soul to Soul with Don Miguel Ruiz (video interview with Oprah), Are You Empathetic – 3 Types of Empathy and What they Mean, How to Fix the Broken Record in Your Head