Tag Archives: Peace

AWAKENING TO ACCEPTANCE

“Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world.  That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness.”  Eckhart Tolle

Photo:  Charles Davidson

Photo: Charles Davidson

Are you able to accept circumstances that displease you and move on, or do you stay stuck wishing the thing had never happened?  Do you resist accepting and letting go because you believe that validates what happened?  Are you able to accept what you can’t change?

Forgiveness Releases Negative Emotions

One of the most profound shifts in my thinking came years ago when I was taking a class in the fundamentals of Religious Science philosophy.  We were discussing forgiveness, and the minister pointed out that forgiveness releases you from your attachment to a hurtful situation and frees you to move on.  It doesn’t mean that you think what was done to you was acceptable; it means you aren’t going to hang on to your anger or hurt anymore.

Explore the Themes in Each Conflict

Often, we feel hurt in situations because we don’t understand why the other person has done the thing that hurts us.  At the time I heard these wise words, a friend of mine had dropped out of my life and just wasn’t available after she started living with a man.  I understood her life had changed, but I felt she had handled some things related to me in a very insensitive way. In our interactions with others, there are themes that run throughout our lives, often based on childhood experiences.  An abandoned child or one whose parent was not emotionally there much of the time may feel abandoned when a friend moves away.  Because this is a major theme, this event may be experienced in an intense way.  What is merely a sad event to one may be devastating to another.

Understanding Emotional Themes Helps Us Release the Drama

The intensity of what we feel may also motivate us to create drama around the situation or we may simply shut down emotionally, refusing to deal with it at all.  But unless we are willing to look closely at the underlying theme in these situations, we will repeat them again.  When we look at them closely and are able to understand what the situation is about at a deeper level, we release some of our attachment to the drama.  Then, we can more easily detach from it and accept the situation for what it is. According to Oneness, “Acceptance, unconditionally, of whatever has been presented, without the need to try to change, and without the need to fit it into the context of one’s own system of values, constitutes the recipe for release from whatever contractual arrangement may have been in place with certain beings.” (pp. 166-167) As Oneness points out, the intensity of our feelings may also be related to karmic connections with other people or karmic themes.  When we are able to release ourselves from these and even lesser drama, we are able to accept what is and release the other person with love.  As long as we hang on to the anger or hurt, the drama thickens within us even if we have no physical contact with the other person.

Frederick Leighton - Solitude

Frederick Leighton – Solitude

Release Fears and Allow Solitude to Heal

But how can we let go of those negative feelings?  Choosing solitude offers us the opportunity to go within.  Meditation may be very helpful in detaching from emotional turmoil, and along with that, I use the releasing fear practice that I teach because at the root of all negative emotions is fear.  I explore the fear beneath the anger and hurt.  What am I afraid of?  In the case of my friend, was I afraid I wouldn’t find another friend?  Was I afraid I’d never find a man who would love me? Then I direct my mind to release the fear, naming it specifically if I can identify it.  I breathe deeply and as I exhale, I feel the fear leave my body.   If negative emotions keep coming up, I continue the practice for each one, allowing quiet space to settle over me between each release. Another helpful technique based on acupressure points is the Emotional Freedom Technique of tapping.  I find it particularly helpful for the deeper issues that are more difficult to release with the release the fear technique.  After all, our emotions are energy, and this healing requires that we learn to release what is not healthy for us.

EFT

Tapping Points for Emotional Freedom Technique

Acceptance Includes Loving Detachment

When we have released our fears, we will be able to accept what is and move on even when acceptance may mean leaving those we love.  Oneness says, “Walking away with loving detachment is the lesson here to be mastered.”  Eventually, I was able to see my friend with more objectivity, understanding that the man with whom she lived gave her so much she had never had.  I could also see that I had always invested more in our relationship than she had—an indication that it had never meant as much to her as it did to me. Being able to see the themes in our relationship eventually allowed me to accept its end.  I was also moving into a new phase of my life that eventually would have separated us when I moved to North Carolina.  The end had just come sooner than I expected.  Accepting that as Divine Order was the key and I was grateful for the peace that followed. © 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                       ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5 Related Articles:  Basic Steps to Your Emotional Freedom, Acceptance is Vital – Eckhart Tolle (video), Acceptance and Surrender – Eckhart Tolle (video)

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

AWAKENING TO OUR RESPONSES

“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict – alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.”  Dorothy Thompson

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How do you respond to situations that don’t please you?  Do you usually become angry or walk away when conflict arises?  What response to conflict works best for you?

We Can Choose Our Responses To Conflict

Most of our lives are full of challenges that require or stimulate some kind of response.  How we respond to the situations that upset us often determines the outcome of these situations.  When we can respond peacefully or do not react without thinking first, we tend to have a more successful outcome without creating more conflict.  But when we immediately react to what we don’t like with anger, we are almost sure to receive the same response.

When I taught in high school, managing conflict among students or their responses to me was a daily occurrence.  If a conflict was serious enough, I could send the students to a counselor, but if the conflict was with me, I needed to solve the problem.  There were always students who refused to get quiet and go to work.  Some were disturbed about something that had happened in their lives; others were testing their boundaries with authority.  Just asking them to settle down didn’t work.

What proved to be successful in most situations was for me to ask the student to step outside the classroom door where he could not see the other students and they could not see him, but where I could see both.  Quietly, I would ask the student if he were upset about something and needed to talk about it.  The answer was usually “no.”  Then I would explain why his behavior was a problem and give him a choice.  He could return to the room, not bother other students, and do his work or I would send him to an administrator.   Ninety percent of the time, the student chose to return to the classroom and do his work.

We Can Create Peace By Listening

We always have a choice when conflict arises.  If we take the time to think creatively, we can resolve our differences peacefully.  Sometimes the person who is upset simply needs someone to listen to her and by expressing what she is feeling to a witness, she is able to release the anxiety or anger.  We can connect in a loving way by saying, “I can see you are upset.  What is really bothering you?  Do you want to talk about it?”

Letting Go May Be the Best Solution

But there are also times when we cannot resolve a conflict.  When we have tried and the other person refuses to participate in solving the problem, we may need to simply let it go.  We can only take care of ourselves; we cannot force another person to do anything.  The inability to work together to solve personal problems is a common reason for divorce.  It takes both partners to solve the conflict.

There are also times when the anger that arises in a conflict becomes abusive verbally or physically.  At this point, the best alternative is to walk away.  People who habitually respond to conflict in an abusive way need professional help.  We cannot change them – only they can choose to change.

Art Is A Peaceful Response To Conflict

In today’s world, we are all surrounded by violence, and while we can work with organizations that attempt to prevent it or become politically involved and protest what we are against, there is still another way to respond that touches me deeply.  That is the response of the artist who in his/her work reveals deep truths through non-verbal media.  Nick Cave’s exhibit at the Denver Art Museum last month was an excellent example.

English: Nick Cave

English: Nick Cave (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nick Cave, an African-American artist responded to the violent beating of Rodney King in 1992 by creating art that explored the issues faced by an African-American man.  He began to create “Soundsuits,” suits made from found objects that made sounds and could be worn by people as they moved or danced.  (Cave was an Alvin Ailey-trained dancer)(see video below)

After he created the first one, he was surprised.  “Once I stepped into it I thought about building this sort of second skin, you know, a suit of armor, something for protection purposes.  Then I started thinking about protest.  In order to be heard you’ve got to be aggressive, you’ve got to speak louder.  He then decided to call it the “Soundsuit.”

Camouflaging Our Real Identity Causes Conflict

Looking at Cave’s “Soundsuits”, I experienced a range of emotion from awe to fear. I thought of all the ways we camouflage who we are behind masks of clothing, speech, and mannerisms.  As a woman growing up in the South, I was taught not to say negative things or create conflict.  For many years, as I learned to express my true feelings in situations, I felt guilty when I did find the courage to express ideas that others might not want to hear, particularly men.  I knew what it was like to live behind a protective identity.

Processing Our Intense Emotions

Processing our thoughts through any artistic expression or journaling, as I often do, may help us to alleviate the intensity of the negative emotions we want to express but which will create conflict.  Having some way to process them allows us to take the time to understand what we do need to express and how we can do it so that it will be heard.

You don’t have to be an artist to find creative responses to conflict.  Just stopping long enough to take a deep breath does wonders. You do have to be aware that it is your ego that is so attached to the fight and always wants to be right.  When we let go of our ego attachment to the situation, we are more able to see the spiritual elements in the conflict and hopefully find spiritual solutions that will serve everyone well. As Wayne Dyer says, “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                                ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Nick Cave Brings ‘Bigger Than Life’ Soundsuits to Salem (Video), Nick Cave “Sojourn” Exhibit at Denver Art Museum Explores the Sensory with Flea Market Items, Nick Cave Soundsuits ( video PBS)Conflict Resolution Skills, 14 Ways to Resolve Conflicts and Solve Relationship Problems

AWAKENING TO LOVE THE SILENCE

“Keep silent, because the world of silence is a vast fullness.”  Rumi

Denver 015

Do you enjoy the silence or does it make you uncomfortable?  Do you avoid silence or embrace it?  What have you learned from the silence in your life?

What Is Silence?

We often think of silence as the absence of something: the absence of noise or conversation or the space between actions, but Rumi suggests it is much more than that.  When I think of the silence in my childhood, I remember the many days when I lay in bed ill.  I did listen to the radio sometimes, but often I read or drew paper doll dresses, or watched the birds or our pregnant cat trying to balance on the thin branches of the chinaberry tree.  For me, silence was creative or thoughtful time.  I had a lot of time to think about life at a young age.

At that time in my life, I rarely felt lonely in the silence because my mother or grandmother was always in the next room.  It was only later as an adult after a divorce or losing a friend that the silence became a lonely place.  Of course, as an introvert, I always needed some silence for rejuvenation, but for years, I experienced had mixed feelings about silence.

Silence Can Stimulate Creativity

At times, when silence appeared, I welcomed it, especially when I was a high school teacher.  It was such a relief, for a little while, to be away from the noise of a classroom full of spirited teenagers, and have the space and time to do my own thinking.  Silence was creative time too, and out of that silence arose poems, essays, and dances.  When I needed to think or plan, I welcomed the silence and lack of distractions so I could focus on the task at hand.

Silence May Create Discomfort

However, when I had nothing to do, I often felt uncomfortable with the silence, like something was missing.  I was uncomfortable doing nothing.  Only when I was near Nature did the silence feel comfortable.  But living in a city for years surrounded by noise, rarely walking through the forest as I did as a child, I lost touch with what I had valued so much in childhood.

It wasn’t until I started to meditate that I began to love the silence again.  At first my monkey mind seemed impossible to still, but with time, the practice worked and led me to other spiritual practices that improved my life, like learning to release my fear and envisioning what I wanted to manifest.  They all had one thing in common – I had to sit in the silence and find the silence within in order for a change to occur.

Silence Is A Way To Go Deeper and Love Oneself

In the silence, I found a deep peace simply by being there.  I let go of my need to always be doing.  I began to experience just being, and let go of any judgments my ego tried to create to distract me.  In the silence, I became more connected to Spirit and the spiritual guidance we can all hear only when we are willing to be an open channel.

In the silence, where I did not need to prove anything or do anything, I learned to love myself, for I could feel Spirit’s love for me and knew I was lovable.  Feeling this peaceful love allowed me to let go of all the ways I felt I was inadequate and understand I needed to learn to love others more and release my  judgments of them.

In Silence We Become One With All

Now, I am able to experience all the richness of silence without any discomfort.  Sitting in the silence gives me the same pleasure as soaking in a warm bath. When my life becomes too busy, I long for the silence, especially the silence of not thinking.  In the silence, the interruption of bird songs, breezes, sweet thoughts, physical relaxation, and the release of whatever I do not need at that moment all heal the rough edges of my soul, and they remind me that what is out there in the world pressuring me is not what is important.

What is important is that I remember I am One with All, and from this place of peace, in the silence, what I need to know will come to me, and what I need to know to heal, will be revealed when it is time to heal.   As Ram Dass says, “The quieter you become, the more you hear.”

What is your experience with silence?  Please comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                    ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

RELATED ARTICLES:  Eckhart Tolle – Silence and Stillness (video), Dive Into the Silence Between Your Thoughts, Awakening to Our Wildness, Being Authentic, Part 1,  Quiet Spirituality

AWAKENING TO COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATION

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”  Arthur Schopenhauer

best of most of group

What do you do when you are offended by what someone says to you?  How often do you stop and think about your response before speaking?  How can you create peace in a conflicted situation?

We can only see what we can see.  When I was four, my world consisted of the house where my parents and I lived, my great aunt’s and great grandmother’s house next door, my grandparents’ garage apartment and my grandfather’s carpentry shop below, and the yard in between.  It was a rich, loving world filled with cats, birds, a boxer dog, and a bureau full of books.

Life Experience Can Broaden Our Vision

Many years later, my world is quite different.  I have lived in urban environments in all four parts of the United States and spent several weeks studying in West Africa.  All those loving people who surrounded me at four have passed.  I am now surrounded by the mountains I love, but the world I know stretches far beyond this hollow.

The more I have been exposed to people who are different from me, the more I have grown in my understanding of human nature.  Part of this is related to my own curious mind.  I love learning about almost anything.  I have always been curious about views that are different from mine and I don’t feel threatened at all by being exposed to new ideas.  I read, explore, and if I feel the idea or practice may be useful, I work with it for a while to determine if it has value for me.

Communication Is The Key To Understanding

Because of my exposure to different cultures, I have become more aware that the way we communicate is the key to understanding each other.  There are many practices that relate to compassionate communication, but I want to look at one specific aspect of communication today.  What is our intention when we speak?

Having tended a number of discussion groups over the last few years, I have observed that there are some people who just want to let off steam.  Others want to prove they are right and turn any discussion into a debate.  Many people want to connect with others in a way that builds community and deep connections.  These are all very different ways of communicating.

Personally, I want to connect in a way that allows me to understand others and that they understand me, for understanding helps me respect the views with which I disagree.  I don’t have to agree with what another believes, but I need to respect it and be compassionate because this can create peace where otherwise there may be conflict.  I want peace in the world and this is one way I can help create it.

Check Within Before We Speak

We can’t control how another person acts, but we can choose to take responsibility for ourselves.  Self-monitoring helps us become more conscious.  For example, a discussion becomes heated and we feel ourselves becoming offended by what is being said.  Before we speak, it is wise to check within.  Are we feeling defensive or angry?  Are we feeling disrespected?  Can we offer our perspective in a way that may calm tempers and shift the tone of the discussion?  When we speak, what is our intention?

Our Choices Reflect Our Intention

 Our intention is reflected in our choice of words.  It is amazing how powerful this choice is.  For example, consider the difference between chatter and rant used as words to describe a comment you’ve made.  Chatter is defined as trivial or idle talk.  Rant is defined as pompous or overblown speech.  Neither word is a compliment.  So, it is important to be mindful enough to choose words that will not insult the other person if what we want is a meaningful dialogue.

The Outer Reflects the Inner

Our choice of words is a reflection of our intention.  The outer expresses the inner and that is why we need to be willing to examine our intention and we need to be willing to listen carefully to the other person and observe their body language and tone of voice.  What they are expressing reflects their inner selves as well.  If we are compassionate, we will try to put aside our ego needs and listen with love.

If what the other person is expressing is negative, we need to remember that behind all negative attitudes, there is fear.  Where there is fear, there is pain.  Perhaps they cling to certain beliefs because their whole world would fall apart if they even considered an alternative. We all experience this, so the question is:  When we are listening to someone who is expressing a view we find irritating or offensive, can we remember that we are hearing their pain and can we also consider that our negative response may be coming from our pain.

Be Open To Learning

Schopenhauer portrait1

Schopenhauer portrait1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Schopenhauer said, “Truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”  There was a time when mankind laughed at anyone who suggested the earth was round.  We all evolve and our understanding of life hopefully evolves too. When we find ourselves quickly dismissing another’s ideas, it may be a good idea to explore the possibility that a truth lies hidden beneath what we consider the chatter or the rant.

Setting the intention to listen and speak compassionately primes us to be more mindful and respectful.  Who knows—maybe the next outrageous idea we hear, in six month’s time, will be the answer to a major dilemma in our lives.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Compassion Is Not Optional, Make Love Your Habit (Wayne Dyer), Compassion Is the Key (audio – Wayne Dyer), Living Peacefully

AWAKENING TO NEW WAYS

 “The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.”  William Bragg, Sr.

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 How open are you to new ways of thinking?  When you discuss differences with another, are you sharing what you believe or debating to prove you are right?

There was a time when all thinking that was valued was rational.  Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” and the western world came to value rationality over all other ways of thinking.  Information became the basis for all decisions and anything not rational was considered rubbish.

Living By the Rational Or the Intuitive

As a woman with a few years of experience in life, I experienced many years when my “womanly opinions” were ridiculed and ignored.  In other words, if I responded to a situation with emotion or made a choice based on intuition, my idea wasn’t considered valid because it wasn’t arrived at through reason.  Even if my response proved to be accurate, it was discounted.

Dangers of Ignoring Intuition

In the last few years, I’ve had some pretty dramatic experiences that have led me to place great value on my intuition.  In one instance, all the evidence, the weather report and television reports and what I could see outside, indicated to me that it was safe to travel in the city after a snow storm.  I was looking for a new apartment, and I’d lost several good ones by not acting quickly enough. But my intuition told me very clearly not to go out.

At this point in time, the attention I paid to my intuition was inconsistent.  I usually listened to it, but in this case, I decided it must be my fear talking although it didn’t feel like fear.  I just decided to do what I wanted regardless of the warning.

Sure enough, the roads had been cleared and I arrived safely at the apartment.  The sidewalk in front had also been cleared so I stepped across it and peered in the window.  It looked good.  A neighbor came out of his apartment to warm up his truck and asked me if I’d like to look at his apartment.  I stepped back onto the sidewalk that appeared to be cleared.  For a moment I was in shock, suspended in the air, then I crashed onto the concrete.  I broke my left elbow, had two pelvic fractures, spent a month in the hospital and rehab, and nine months becoming fully mobile again.  There was a small sliver of ice on the sidewalk that I didn’t see—or I think there was.

Learning to Live More Deeply

After the accident I had a lot of time to think.  Why had I ignored my intuition when it had felt so strong?  I discovered that a part of me still didn’t trust that inner knowing so much.  So, I decided to test it out.  Part of the test was to practice becoming more mindful so that I could really hear that inner voice all the time.  I also made a commitment to follow my intuition unless I had concrete evidence that it was leading me astray.

With time, I discovered that my intuition didn’t mislead me and that, by following it, life went well.  Over the last four years, I have lived more in harmony with my inner self, and knowing I have that guidance to draw on has been very empowering.  I now not only have my rational mind to process concrete information, I have the inner resources of intuition which I consider part of spiritual guidance.  I have learned a whole new way of being.

Being Open to New Ideas

There are many experiences in life that offer us an opportunity to embrace a new way of thinking or acting.  Most are not as dramatic as my accident, but when we are set in our ways and stubbornly refuse to consider an alternative to what we think is right, we may be missing out on the opportunity to open our minds and change our lives in positive ways.

If we want to create peace in our lives and in the world, we have to be open to new ways of thinking.  We have to listen to others respectfully and not make every encounter with a different point of view a debate, for in a debate, there is a winner and a loser.  When we choose to share our thoughts and beliefs and listen respectfully to another, we create a bridge that may allow us to find some commonality.  But bridging these differences requires us to suspend our need to be right.

Learning to Respect Others Ideas

Last night I attended a very interesting discussion group where we discussed the aspects of quantifiable facts and intuition in making decisions and guiding our lives.  Some members of the group seemed to need to be right more than to understand.  It was, at times, very uncomfortable because some individuals began debating and discounting any ideas that were presented with what they considered insufficient data.  They presented their facts, insisting that only quantifiable information was useful and legitimate.

Not surprisingly, most of the women were pretty quiet.  Someone commented on this, and when they were called on to speak, most indicated that intuition was the main thing that guided their lives.  They all experienced an inner knowing.  They did not need data to support that guidance.  And I suspect the reason many were quiet was because they had had experiences similar to mine where their decisions were discounted.

In fact, during the discussion I commented that all things change, even facts.  Many of the ideas that quantum physics is proving to be true were once thought to be crazy.  A woman who is a biologist made a comment that supported my statement and added to it.  During the break, a man came up to me and pointed out that he’d read an article by a scientist that said there were no physicists who believe in quantum physics.  I’m sure he thought he was helping to correct my erroneous thinking, but the attitude that he needed to correct my thinking and that my beliefs couldn’t possibly be based on science was disrespectful.  He never bothered to even ask on what information I based that belief.

Unfortunately, that experience wasn’t the only time during the discussion that words were used in a disrespectful manner.  One person’s comment referred to people turning to spiritual guidance as a regression.  Language is a powerful tool.  I was shocked by this, but then had to laugh inside.  My spiritual development has only led me to rich and expansive thinking.

Creating a Bridge of Peace

If we can’t compassionately bridge our differences in small groups with people of a similar culture, how can we possibly create that bridge of peace with people who are ethnically very different?  Yet, that’s what we have to do.  Debating won’t work.  We have to learn a new way to communicate and be and release our fear of change.  Next week I will write about how we can communicate more compassionately.

May you all listen gently to one another.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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AWAKENING TO UNUSUAL DELIGHTS

“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take delight in the essential differences between men and cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, a part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.”  Gene Roddenberry

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A village pushing our truck out of a sand dune in Senegal

Are you generally open to new experiences or do you avoid people and situations that are different from what you are comfortable with?  How do you react to people with a different point of view?

The Delight of A Sacred Toast

When I traveled to Africa on a Fulbright-Hays Travel Abroad Grant in 1994 with 12 other teachers from Louisiana, one of the events that stood out in my mind was drinking a toast with palm wine.  Because it spoils easily, it is rarely exported, but it was a drink that frequently appeared in the African novels we read in a Teaching the African Novel course we had taken the year before. It seemed exotic and rare, and I was very excited to know how it actually tasted. The experience was quite special because we drank it as a good-bye toast as we left a sacred space where we had witnessed a sacred ceremony performed by a water goddess.  It was a toast to the connection and friendship we had experienced that day with the Africans.

The wine tasted like fermented pineapple juice and I never tasted it again, not even at the West African restaurant I frequented in New Orleans where the fried plantains were perfect and the greens hot and spicy compared to the mild ham and greens of my southern childhood. But the wine was merely a symbol for the extraordinary experience of living in a different culture for five weeks.  And yet it wasn’t so different, for much of the New Orleans food had its roots in West African, just as other New Orleans traditions were translations of West African ritual.  The whole experience made the world seem smaller and more connected for me.

Appreciating Nature’s Surprises

When I lived in the middle of Nebraska among the flatlands where trees were scarce, I remembered all the stories I had read about those who settled the west. Actually, living there amid the blizzards of winter and the high winds taught me to appreciate the stoic nature of those who ventured into the unknown.  Seeing the Sandhill Cranes landing by the hundreds on their yearly migration reminded me that nature presents us with unusual delights even where its beauty is usually so subtle we may easily overlook it.

The Beauty of Humility

There was nothing subtle about the beauty I saw in New Mexico where color and art enliven the beige expanses of desert.  I have always been drawn to the Native American culture’s connection with nature, but it was an act of humility that touched me most deeply.  When a Native American child is spoken to by an adult, they gaze downward and do not make eye contact.  After dealing with many “in your face” teenagers over the years, I was deeply touched by this expression of respect and humility.  I was most grateful for this unusual delight.

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Dancing in New Mexico

New Experiences Teach Us Spiritual Lessons

When we avoid anything that is unfamiliar, we miss many of life’s delights.  Each point of view that we encounter is an opportunity to learn about another and to find a place where our beliefs and experiences connect.  We will change our world one person and one encounter at a time.  The time of separation is ending, and to resist it only creates difficulties.  Our greatest lesson is to be who we truly are and to accept others as they truly are.

I’ve learned that when I really resist something, it’s usually a sign I really need to look at it more closely.  There’s a lesson hidden in the issue or in the person I avoid.  Recently, I experimented  by deliberately sitting next to a person who usually irritates me.  My intention was to be at peace no matter what the other person said or did.  Several times I had to remind myself of that intention, but I was able to release my attachment to resistance, and as a result, my experience was pleasant.

Choose Peace Rather Than Judgment

When we cling so desperately to our religious or political dogma that we are unable to see any value in other points of view, we usually do that out of insecurity.  We are afraid of what is different, but the irony is that our only real security in this world is to understand each other and respect different points of view.  This doesn’t mean we have to choose another’s lifestyle as our own; it simply means we respect their right to make different choices, and when our lives intersect, we choose peace rather than judgment.

What is something different that you have learned to respect in another person?  Please comment.

© 2012 Georganne Spruce

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