Welcome to the Spirituality Simplified Blog

Spirituality SimplifiedIn the final chapter of Spirituality Simplified entitled “The Path of Spiritual Growth,” I make the point that once a person makes a decision to walk down the path of self-discovery it’s impossible to turn back. It actually becomes a life-long process of finding additional pieces to the puzzle of life. Interestingly, though, I also eventually came to the conclusion  that the objective isn’t really to reach some place of final enlightenment, because the reality is there is always something new to discover.

Since writing that chapter 14 years ago I’ve continued to read books in the spiritual growth category, and have done a lot of research into alternative healing methods. To say that I’ve learned a lot over these years would be a major understatement. It is for this reason I started writing this blog since it will allow me to share a lot of cool stuff I’ve discovered since Spirituality Simplified was originally published.

Bye for now.

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The Start of Direct to Consumer Ads by Big Pharma – One of the Darkest Days in History

There’s a term I’ve heard in my life, “darkest day in history.” Well, given all of the horrible things that our species has done on and to this planet I think it would be challenging to identify a single day. One could identify such a list by category and even then it would be hard to pick one day as well within each category. With that said, in the category of “advertising” in all forms of media, particularly television, I nominate the day that the U.S. Congress voted to allow direct to consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies. I can only imagine how much the pharma industry lobbyists paid to make that happen back in the 1990s. While I’m not a big TV watcher, I do turn it on late in the evening and each night the sheer number of pharma ads is staggering.

What is very sad in my view is that the constant repetition of information about illnesses or the potential for contracting them serves to “program” people to expect that illness is inevitable. But that’s simply not true, as that is just a “belief” that is shared by people, not some absolute truth. The mind is a very powerful thing, and whatever it accepts as “true” IS true. For this reason it is critical for people to discipline their minds to ignore negative information, especially when disguised behind some warm fuzzy ad. In my case whenever I see these pharma ads appear I immediately mute the TV and pay no mind to the man behind the curtain pushing the buttons of fear. Just because the marketplace is always trying to sell something doesn’t oblige us to listen to the pitch, and this is particularly true for ads that actually are designed to dis-empower us.

Bye for now.

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Being Grateful and Remembering that Life Goes by in a Flash of Light

As 2017 begins we all hear the usual talk of New Year’s Resolutions, the desire to make improvements in one’s life, all of which is perfectly fine of course. If you are genuinely unhappy with a certain aspect (or aspects) of your life, then by all means it’s appropriate to take steps to make changes that would lead to more satisfying results. With that said, there is a hazard to being so focused on achieving something down the road that we fail to live our lives as fully we can within the context of the only time that really matters – NOW. And, the more we remain centered on getting someplace the greater the likelihood that we fail to truly appreciate all the good things we already have in our lives.

Yes, we’ve all heard it, “be grateful,” but how many of us actually take the time to acknowledge all of our blessings on a daily basis? The answer is probably not very many. What makes it even more challenging is a media (news & advertising both) that constantly focuses on “what’s missing” in life, selling the future all the time to keep the wheels of economic growth rolling forward. From my own life experience I can attest to spending way too much time thinking that getting someplace else was the key to happiness as opposed to finding the happiness within any given moment.

Alas, I literally spent decades in that mindset and missed out on so much of life. Now at the ripe old age of 60 I can relate even more directly to what Pink Floyd meant when they wrote this line in their hit song “Time”:

“And then one day you’ll find 10 years have got behind you.”

Yes, indeed, if one lives life always looking forward I can speak from personal experience that an entire decade (or more) can just fly by without you even being aware of it, and in the process much of day to day life winds up being squandered.

For anyone reading this post who may be in their 20s, 30s and even 40s, it’s possible that you might consider that the age of 60 is “old,” and it’s likely that you may not even be able to relate to being such a lofty age. I certainly felt that way when living in those age groups, but I can assure you of this, if you are fortunate enough to make it to that age you will realize firsthand that while your body has aged the same basic essence that was “you” at 20, 30, and 40 remains the same. Sure, you would have evolved as a person and hopefully changed for the better, but all those versions of you still exist within the context of your mind. And you will likely find yourself wondering someday, “Where in the heck did all that time go?”

For this reason, it’s so important each day to have a healthy respect for life itself and not sleepwalk through it, looking forward to some future event or circumstances to finally bring the happiness that always seems to be just around the corner. Life is NOW, period. So live it fully, graciously accept the good and the bad each day and make your best effort to remind yourself to remain conscious moment-to-moment of what you are doing and thinking throughout the day. In everything you do give all of your focus to what is happening in that moment, like savoring every sip of your favorite beverage and every bite of the foods you love. Do your very best not to get distracted by things that “in the great design of life are so pitifully small” as the musical artist Todd Rundgren once wrote.

In closing, consider this thought-provoking passage from the late Fr. Anthony DeMello’s book Awareness:

“Visit a graveyard. It’s an enormously purifying and beautiful experience. You look at this name and you say, “Gee, he lived so many years ago, two centuries ago; he must have had all the problems that I have, must have had lots of sleepless nights.” How crazy, we live for such a short time. An Italian poet said, “We live in a flash of light; evening comes, and it’s night forever.” It’s only a flash and we waste it. We waste it with our anxiety, our worries, our concerns, our burdens.”

Bye for now.

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So Why Does God “Need” to be Worshiped Anyway?

In the second chapter of Spirituality Simplified I made an attempt to weigh in with a potential answer to a question that has captivated mankind since the beginning of time, namely, just “Who or What is God?” Reflecting on that content it occurred to me that if I was writing that chapter today I also would address the subject of the so-called religious requirement to “worship” God. In this regard, consider this passage from Neale Donald Walsch’s book “The New Revelations” [emphasis mine]:

“Most of you spend much of your adult lives searching for the “right way” to worship God, to obey God, to serve God. The irony of all this is that I do not want your worship, I do not need your obedience, and it is not necessary to serve me.  These behaviors are the behaviors historically demanded of their subjects by monarchs – egomaniacal, insecure, tyrannical monarchs at that. They are not Godly demands in any sense, and it seems remarkable that the world hasn’t by now concluded that the demands are counterfeit, having nothing to do with the needs of Deity. Deity has no needs. All That Is is exactly that: all that is. It therefore wants, or lacks, nothing – by definition. If you choose to believe in a God who somehow needs something – and has such hurt feelings if He doesn’t get it that He punishes those from whom He expected to receive it – then you choose to believe in a God much smaller than I. You truly are Children of a Lesser God.”

Walsch clearly makes great sense here, for why indeed would the force that literally created everything in the Universe need to be worshiped by humans, or any other of its creations for that matter? Think about it, this pervasive, expansive force, whatever it may indeed be, cannot by definition have any requirement for such veneration. For centuries people have based this entire need to be worshiped on texts that were written during a time when mankind was in a very primitive stage, when natural phenomena weren’t understood, and when the authors of those texts projected manlike qualities on to Deity.

So, what if instead of worshiping God each of us just “loved” this amazing force that created us with all of our heart, and remembered each day to express our gratitude for the exceptional gift of life itself? How about that?

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Ask yourself, “How will I or anyone else benefit from my sharing this?”

Ever since the late 1980s when I initially began to walk a path of spiritual growth, I’ve made best efforts to spend at least a few minutes in “quiet time” each week. It’s not something I always accomplish, as like virtually everyone else in our busy western world there are many things that pull me in other directions. With that said, over the years I’ve received some very interesting insights at times, and occasionally something particularly insightful pops into my head.

In this regard, recently I was sitting outside in the yard and asked this question out loud, “So, what is it you want me to know today Spirit?” Quite quickly the following information came flowing into my mind:

“From this point forward in your life, before you speak a word to anyone, either in person, on the telephone, or through any form of written communication, train yourself to ask this question internally: “How will I or anyone else involved actually benefit from what I am about to say or put into writing?” And, if you cannot immediately identify such a benefit, then do NOT say it or write it. By implementing this practice you will bit by bit increase your vibration and over time begin to attract more positive things into your life.”

In some sense this may not appear to be a “profound” insight, as it’s almost something commonsensical, if you will. And yet, when I began to be more conscious in this manner, I found that on numerous occasions throughout any given day an idea would pop into my mind to say (or write) something that clearly wouldn’t in any way benefit me or anyone else! While this does take some self-discipline to put into practice, my experience in working with this insight has taught me that it’s well worth the effort. In just a few weeks I’ve gotten a bit regimented in applying this practice, and I must say that it has stopped me from saying and writing many things that in the past I would have just shared without even thinking about it (including posts on social media!).

So, if you’re up for advancing your spiritual growth and increasing your vibration, try asking yourself this question before you say or write anything: “How will I or anyone else benefit from my sharing this information?”

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An Easy Way to Become Happier & Healthier – Unplug from the Mainstream Media

It’s likely that the majority of people in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world continue to use the mainstream media as their primary source of information and entertainment. Unfortunately, just a bit of “conscious” television watching or listening to AM/FM radio makes it patently obvious that these mediums are filled with advertisements and other content that is either rooted in fear, or designed to incite anger and to increase feelings of separation from others with differing perspectives.

You may not be surprised at all to hear this, and yet, have you ever taken the time to actually track the number of negative messages aired during just an hour of tuning into a mainstream media outlet? Although I won’t go into the minutia here, suffice to say that in my recent experience of carefully observing both broadcast and satellite TV channels while practicing guitar late in the evening, I can say without reservation that negative appeals dominate the viewing landscape these days. It’s gotten to the point now where I mute all commercials and also avoid any news shows or talk shows, including those related to news. The fear spread throughout those shows is pervasive, and anger is stoked by content related to politics since so many people “identify” with a political position. Also included in the negative shows are the so-called reality TV programs, as most of them feature a whole lot of darkness (e.g., harsh judgment of anyone different, demonstrations of anger, etc.)

As the author of a spiritual growth book, and as a person who has read numerous books in that category, I’ve learned that there are really only two core emotions – love and fear (with anger actually being a derivative of fear). Love related thoughts and feelings lead to higher vibrations associated with “the Light,” while those grounded in fear operate at low vibrational levels associated with the so-called “dark side.”

With that background in mind, everyone (and particularly those on a spiritual path) should be concerned about vibrating at higher frequency levels because such levels translate directly into healthier, more vibrant physical bodies. The challenge each moment of our lives is to become more conscious of what we are choosing to give our energy to, for it obviously has a direct effect on our vibration, and in turn, on our health and well-being.

Given the obviously negative orientation of the mainstream media, one very simple thing we all can do is to literally “unplug” from it (as well as from any other media that promotes fear and anger) by simply choosing not to give it any energy at all. As the old Nike slogan goes, “Just Do It,” and you’ll find that your life will steadily improve. Now some might say, “Well, I need to be informed of current events,” or “I don’t want to stop watching the television shows I love because they help to distract me from the stresses of my life.” My response to these retorts is:

With respect to staying on top of the news, in general the truth is much of what you hear in terms of current events is nothing that will have a direct impact on your life one way or another. Other than the weather forecast in your area, what local or national news story is something you simply must hear about? When you consider that the vast majority of news stories and talk shows are negative in nature, what possible purpose is there in lowering your vibration (and resultant well-being) just to learn about information that doesn’t actually affect you anyway? I’m not suggesting you put your head in the sand, or not be concerned about others. No, what I’m saying is that you need to become really selfish about what you allow to impact your energy field/body, and that means consciously choosing where to place your attention in any given moment. If you feel you must watch at least some of this programming, then at minimum do yourself a favor and learn to stay emotionally unaffected by the negativity. This is not callousness; rather, it’s learning to view the information from a detached perspective so that you’re not lowering your vibration and harming your body.

As for the difficulty in leaving behind regular television shows, whether they are network serials or reality TV series, I understand the difficulty in doing that because it’s easy to get caught up in the story lines. However, losing yourself in the stories of others, and particularly the very sad or dark ones, only serves to temporarily distract you from the challenges of your own life. In the case of network dramas, it’s fine to follow along with the story lines that interest you, but as indicated above, do your best to leave any emotional response out of the equation. As for the reality TV shows, some might appear to be innocuous, but usually they have either overt or hidden aspects that can readily trigger negative emotions within you. If you feel compelled to watch shows of this nature, once again it’s important to stay as detached as possible while watching them; in effect, to become an observer of them as opposed to being an active emotional participant.

To close this article there’s a very appropriate analogy I once heard that ties into this discussion quite well. Consider the dark side in our world as being like the Monster World in the kid’s movie “Monsters, Inc.” That world was only able to keep operating by collecting the energy from fearful screams uttered by little kids terribly frightened by a monster that emerged from their bedroom closets at night. Similarly, the dark side that operates behind the scenes in our world literally thrives whenever we are either afraid or angry. So, why keep feeding it when it only serves to lower your personal vibration as well as that of the entire world? Instead, make an effort starting today to at least begin to disconnect from the negativity in the mainstream media (including the Internet), and in due course you’ll begin to find yourself feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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Asking for Permission Before Praying for a Person

The following passage is from a book called “Awaken to the Healer Within” by the late Rich Work, a very spiritual man who touched a lot of lives in a very positive way. Since there is a lot of information on this blog about alternative healing, I felt it important to include this passage on this site as well.

“Too often I witness a situation in which a person who has a physical problem is approached by another who says, “Give me a minute, I can fix that.” That person has not given permission. In fact, they may not even desire to be fixed. At least not just yet. We live in a society that suggests we pray for those who are not well. I know of many well-intentioned people who belong to prayer groups and healing circles that offer prayers (healing energy) in an effort to see others become well. To do so without the permission of the person for which it is directed is to interfere. No, I am not going to suggest that you stop praying, but I would suggest that you consider offering it in the following manner:

From the Divine Love that flows within my Being,
I now call forth [name] to stand before me
As I stand before you – in Love
On your behalf I offer you this prayer to accept or reject
According to your Free-Will Choice.
[Add your Prayer]

Rich Work with Ann Marie Groth, in “Awaken to the Healer Within”

For more information about this book visit Amazon.

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What Does a Thought Have in Common With a Lion?

The myriad of different personal/spiritual growth books and self-help programs available today all concur on at least one primary tenet – that our thoughts are far more powerful than we realize. Thoughts do indeed have the ability to create form, and if one doubts this to be true, they simply need to look around them and acknowledge that literally any man-made thing in existence had to first begin with a thought. And thought, coupled with strong emotion, leads to even faster manifestations.

The power of thought to create form also applies to our bodies. Through our thoughts and the emotions that emerge from them, we can either create healthy bodies, or we can develop illnesses and diseases. Anyone who has read the alternative healing information I’ve shared on this blog is aware that I am totally convinced that negative thinking/emotions are at the foundation of all physical problems.

The fact is our amazing bodies were expertly designed to protect us from legitimate, physical threats. As you probably know, whenever we are presented with one, such an impending attack from a lion or other wild animal, the hypothalamus area of our brain initiates a sequence of nerve cell firing and chemical release that prepares our body for running or fighting (i.e., the infamous fight or flight reaction with its accompanying rush of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol, as well as other physical reactions, such as the temporary suppression of the immune system).

This hard-wired reaction has obviously been a key to the survival of our species, however, these days the vast majority of us rarely have to face such life-threatening situations. And yet, our bodies continue to generate such aggressive responses to far less alarming circumstances, including traffic jams, disagreements with others, financial stresses, work pressures, etc. In the end, the events themselves don’t actually cause our body to generate stress hormones; it is our thoughts about them that do so. As such, just a thought held in our consciousness for more than a passing moment is enough to cause physical reactions within our bodies. And, these reactions, if repeated frequently, often lead to the manifestation of illnesses and diseases due to the immune system suppression referenced earlier.

The reality is we unconsciously create our physical dysfunctions by thinking thoughts that automatically trigger fight or flight reactions. It’s therefore clearly in our best interests to develop the ability to remain truly “conscious” in all circumstances by swiftly assuming the perspective a “witness” to our life, rather than solely being the participant. In my book Spirituality Simplified, I quote Fr. Anthony DeMello, who described this as the ability to “step outside of yourself and literally observe whatever is going on in you, and around you as if it were happening to someone else.” In essence, this means the higher part of you (i.e., the “I” in DeMello’s teachings) observes “me” (i.e., the ego).

Over a period of years, and with a lot of practice, I’ve developed the ability to shift into that witness perspective, however, there are times when negative (e.g., fearful) thoughts manifest the fight or flight response almost instantaneously in me. Under such circumstances, it almost feels as if I am “being thought” by an outside force rather than it being any type of conscious decision on my part. In such instances, it can be extremely challenging to shut down the fight or flight response once it’s initiated, and that nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach takes hold followed by even more negative thoughts additional stress hormones. To address these types of situations, I’ve found that applying the following steps have been of great value to me:

Begin taking slow, deliberate, and very deep breaths down into the abdomen (as opposed to breathing into the chest).

Next, start asking questions of yourself either silently or out loud (e.g., Am I safe right now? Is what I am afraid of actually affecting me now? Are my basic needs being met at this moment? Do I have a money problem right this minute? These are just examples, as you obviously need to determine the questions that best suit what you are experiencing.) The answers will usually serve to bring some peace to you, as in most instances the only threat you’re actually facing is the lion in your own mind! If necessary, repeat the questions and keep answering them until you feel your body calm down.

If after completing steps one and two the stress response continues to trouble you, then try repeating a mantra such as, “no thought, no thought, no thought, no thought” for at least one and half minutes, or until the calm comes. You also can close your eyes and picture a large movie screen with in front of you with nothing displayed on it and repeat “blank screen, blank screen, blank screen” for a comparable amount of time.

It may take a couple of minutes, but eventually the physical symptoms of stress do taper off for me when I apply this technique. It is important to note, however, that although this process can be very helpful, it does not solve the source of the problem; rather, it’s more of a “coping” mechanism. In the end, to get to the heart of the matter and release whatever lies at the foundation of the stress response requires some type of energy healing modality. In this regard, I recommend you consider the following two tools, each of which I have used and found value in:

Emotional Freedom Technique [EFT]
ZPoint Process

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Saying No to Worries

A while back I read a book by John Selby called “Expand This Moment,” which I found to be a wonderful spiritual growth resource. Here’s a passage from it that I felt was really insightful:

“My experience is that, with a little bit of training, most people most of the time do have the power to just say no to their worries. Ultimately it’s a matter of choice – and action. But please note that I’m not suggesting you try to turn off your primitive fear center altogether. There are times every day when it’s vital to respond to the wake-up signal of fear. And a certain amount of time spent imagining potentially dangerous situations can keep you from getting hurt. But almost always, habitual worrying about the future is dangerous to your health, for four reasons:

Every moment spent focusing your power of attention on an imagined future event is a moment when you’re not here in the present to deal with dangers that might appear right now.

When you’re caught up in worry, your body reacts with a host of fear-based neurological and hormonal secretions that, if not released in immediate physical action, generate stress conditions that make you weak and dizzy, cloud your brain, and leave you unable to successfully deal with danger in the present moment.

When you’re stuck in worry mode, your overall performance at work drops, your ability to relate successfully is reduced, and your capacity to feel compassion is lost. Both your company and your family suffer as a result – and so do you.

At deeper levels, anxiety prevents you from receiving insight, love, power, and guidance from your spiritual core. Your consciousness contracts, and you’re all alone – which in turn makes you feel anxious and depressed.

To see these facts clearly is to evoke positive change in yourself.”

John Selby, in “Expand This Moment”

For more information regarding “Expand This Moment” visit Amazon.

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How to Physically Heal your Body Today

A friend forwarded me a very interesting article about physical healing that was excellent. Below I’ve posted a portion of that article along with a link to the website it appeared on. From a cursory look at the site it looks like a great information resource for anyone on the spiritual path.

How to Physically Heal your Body Today
Written by Jafree Ozwald and Margot Zaher
www.EnlightenedBeings.com

“Your body is an amazing healing machine that has automatic processes built into it to ensure that it maintains a state of perfect health.  Science has found that your body’s cells naturally regenerate themselves at different speeds, depending upon where they are located in the body.  For instance, the cells of the eye take only 48 hours to regenerate themselves, whereas the cells of the liver take about 6 weeks to completely replicate themselves.  In one year from today, your entire body will contain 100% brand new cells where you will physically not be the same person that you are today!

Now you may be wondering how can a person create or maintain any illness past one year if every cell in the body will be completely regenerated and brand new?  Doctor Deepak Chopra asked the same question and through extensive research found an amazing discovery.  The reason unhealthy cells continue to replicate themselves is because negative emotions from life experiences become chemically trapped in the cell causing it to “remember” itself to be unhealthy.  The negative feelings in these cellular memories cause a healthy cell to replicate as “unhealthy” which leads to the perpetuation of an illness or disease.

“When negative emotion is dissipated our physical vehicles will vibrate in much greater harmony with nature and much disease will no longer consume man.”  ~ J.J.  Dewey

Other scientists such as Candace Pert, Joseph Ledoux, and Elliot Drucker have also found that the chemicals caused from your emotions are stored within the walls of the cells.  They’ve found that when you express positive healthy emotions (such as love, peace and gentleness) the cell walls respond to these positive emotions and their communication receptors remain open, receptive and healthy.  On the other hand, when a traumatic event occurs, chemicals called peptides flood into your blood stream and attach themselves to your cell receptors, hindering chemical communication from taking place. As long as the traumatic memory from these chemically blocked cells is not healed, they end up protecting themselves and cutting off healthy necessary communication with other cells in the body.  Blocked communication of cells in the body eventually over time leads to the development of physical illness showing up in the body.”

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