Friggin’ Spiritual Journey

Yesterday morning, during my gratitude ritual, I drew the card bearing the Goddess Dana, who insists that I “have Divine Knowledge that can help others through [my] spiritual journey.”

And the card suggests that I write about it and/or teach about it. Wow, this feels like a major responsibility. I was not happy about this as I prefer to simply write about crappy dates.

Sure, sometimes I dig deep in my stories to highlight what I have learned or to explore a different path that my experience launched me upon, but mostly I enjoy purging the yucky details of these experiences, decorating them with humor, and getting them out to eliminate the toxins.

But could my writing about bad dates be manifesting more bad dates? Hmmm…that is the latest and most pressing question that my spiritual has raised for me. Is there a more effective, less damaging way to purge?

I drew that damn Dana card in the morning and it lingered in my mind all day. I went to check my mail later that evening and ironically, found a letter that I had written to myself back in November. About my spiritual journey. A reminder of how and why I should stay on it. Coincidence? I think not.

Perhaps you are asking: Why am I drawing hoaxy cards to guide my day? Why am I writing letters to myself that I later find in my mailbox? Great questions. Allow me to back track.

Although I was raised Catholic, I do not consider myself a religious person. I have tried many different churches and have not found whatever it was that I was looking for.

I do however consider myself a spiritual person. I believe that there is a higher power and that we call that power different names: God, Yahweh, Karma…but whatever you call it, this higher power presents to us the same basic tenants. Be kind, respect you family and your neighbors, do not steal or cheat.  The author of the Kite Runner claims that all sin falls under the umbrella of theft. Do not steal from another–not their right to the truth, not their right to peace, not their right to respect or equality or choice. I agree. We are all flawed and we all make mistakes and steal people’s rights to the above too often. We need to stop. But how often do we also steal from ourselves?  Am I stealing my own right to a rewarding connection: relationship by paying homage to the bad ones? We manifest that which we give energy, no?

How can I learn to forgive those that have wronged me, even if they haven’t asked for it? How can I come to terms with my own mistakes?  How can I find peace in a world filled with flawed people, including myself, with whom I have to spend the most time?

Lately, I have been getting divine messages leading me to practice yoga, to practice meditation, to write of gratitude, to share stories, and now to somehow share my spiritual journey.  I feel honored and in awe of the amazing gifts appearing in my life lately.  I think this is happening to me because I am truly asking the questions above. I am truly hoping for answers. And I have been getting them. Not in the way that I expect, but life is never that simple. But answers are coming and I am listening. I am trying anyway.

Nor was the fact that I drew the Dana card AGAIN the next morning a coincidence. There are 44 cards in this deck. I drew the same two cards two days in a row. This is some powerfully cosmic shit. I better follow it. I had better write. But can I write well when it is not making fun at another’s expense?  Fear and self doubt are powerful nemeses…I am choosing to fight and overcome…let’s see how I do.

The Dana card is only one of many recent events that taught me to follow my instincts and my cards because I am on a powerful spiritual journey that absolutely is guiding me to great people, great experiences, great work, and a great life.  Let me share some of the components of my journey. My cards say that I must share this with you, so share I will.

When my children were young, I taught them to pray. They don’t really remember this now, but I taught them to ask God for forgiveness for one thing, thank God for one thing, and to ask God to help you with one thing. We did this together every night until they outgrew it. I am not sure how or when that happened, but it just did. I still like that prayer pattern. A few years ago, a graduate school friend on mine, Brenda, posted her plan for lent. She said that for lent, instead of giving something up, she would be starting something new: spending about 15 minutes each morning in prayer. I liked this Lenten plan quite a bit so decided to try it for out for 40 days myself. (some Catholic habits die hard or never).  Many years later, I still do it. I hear you can create new habits by doing something for 21 days consecutively. Obviously, I had to expand my prayer pattern outside of what I describe above to make the ritual last 15 minutes, but since I really like the pattern, I stuck with it but do not limit myself to just one thing.  And I added the “Prayer of St. Francis” and “The Serenity Prayer” in there as well. I like how this one takes me outside of myself and offers a path to connect to and to help others:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

Wow. Give to others your love, your forgiveness, your hope, your light. Just wow. Why didn’t I think of that?

I enjoy this praying pattern quite a bit as I practice it in the mornings and find my days are much more lovely. Stress rolls off of my shoulders easier and I think of other’s needs more often. I notice that the words I say each morning create a blue print for my day. I am learning to better deal with setbacks and zoom in closer on my successes, no matter how small. But I still disappoint myself with outbursts, tantrums, and obsessions. I often ask for ways to calm myself in these times. I also continue to struggle with judging others and gossiping. Some might even say my blogs are a form of gossip. I temper and even justify those accusations by keeping my subjects anonymous and by making fun of myself at the same time. But still…

Then I hurt my shoulder. There was no event, just a pain appeared that limited my mobility and had me in pain all day. I had to limit exercise and my physical activities. Another outlet for me is exercise. It is a hobby and a form of self care that is a positive force in my life. This injury was not good for me at all. I was asking for answers and assistance, not more problems. So I went to the damn doctor. Where I received an ineffective cortisone shot, weeks of ineffectual PT, with a final suggestion for a surgery that may help. So I tried yoga. Gradually, my shoulder began to heal. And hidden on this path to physical healing, I found a gem. I found myself on a path to peace in this unexpected way. While I was focusing on healing my physical body, I began to notice that I was learning to control my thoughts through breath. I noticed an even more peaceful easy feeling. Just like the Eagles. This positive experience with yoga left me wanting more yoga. Progress not perfection.

So when my 50th loomed, a huge milestone, my sister and I decided to attend a yoga retreat to celebrate. The leader (Jess Apo, look her up, she is the GOAT of yoga retreats) plans yoga in the morning, workshops and wine tours during the day, yoga in the evening, then a gourmet dinner to follow. My kind of yoga retreat. Well, I didn’t know what a powerful punch her workshops would serve. She had one especially intoxicating workshop about creating a daily routine that sets us up for peace and gratitude and all of that good stuff. She taught us about her 30 -40 minute routine, which includes a gratitude journal, oracle cards, a period of meditation, and a podcast. She invited us to experiment with all of these things. We wrote in our journals, we drew cards from her sets, and we wrote down suggested podcast and meditation apps. I drew a card from a deck called “Angels of Abundance.” Jess recommended that we ask the deck a question, something specific such as “What should I do about the issue with my daughter” or something vague such as “What advice should I keep in mind as I navigate my day?” The card that I drew was spot on for what I was currently experiencing. “Release Jealousy.”

I had asked the deck for advice on how to deal with some negative feelings I was experiencing for a friend. I was jealous of something that my friend had that I didn’t. Coincidence? I think not. So I began searching for ways to release this jealousy.  I began writing in my gratitude journal about all of the amazing things that this person has brought into my life. The list was long and as I wrote, the gratitude for and magnitude of the positive attributes of this person soon eclipsed any feelings of jealousy. Magic. So you know I had to get myself some. I got the “Angels of Abundance” deck and the “Goddess Guidance” deck. And they have become a part of my morning routine.

I had a cosmic experience even more recently. I mean crazy cosmic. I had been hoping for a solution to another friend conflict that I had been experiencing. My intuitions were strongly alerting me to some manipulations happening, but I was having trouble confirming and trusting my instincts. Whenever I asked the cards about this situation, I got the Prayer card. So I kept praying for guidance and answers. Very soon after, I actually caught my friend in the act of manipulation in the most unexpected yet beautiful way ever. A way that left no doubt and no questions. You want the details, don’t you? I don’t blame you. But I can’t tell. You will understand why shortly. Back to me: What to do with the pain and disappointment of this betrayal?

About two hours later, I was included in a group text asking, “Who wants to go to meditation tomorrow?” Some of the other people in the group chat had been attending regularly. I had heard some of them talk about it peripherally but didn’t know much about it yet at all. I thought, Wow, this is some more timely cosmic shit. Divine intervention. I better go. Without any further questions, I committed to go. I truly had no idea what I had committed to. I awoke the next day, ready to begin my healing.

As I made my way down the windy road to the Buddhist Temple (I had no idea that is where I was headed), I was awestruck by the gorgeous tributes to Buddha that were cleverly arranged all throughout the gorgeous property. I was even more amazed at the temple once I entered.  I felt peace and intrigue all at the same time. When I saw my friend who had sent out the group text, he said, “I knew that you would love it here.” I wonder how he knew. He has a gift for identifying people ready to seek peace and offer love in a non-traditional space.  Some of the people that he includes on the group text are my close friends; some are husbands of my friends. Some are long time friends; some are new. Many of us are recent empty nesters; some of us are right on the cusp. But together we are on a path to peace and a higher enlightenment.

Once the meditation leader entered, I knew that I was in for a treat. She exudes peace and strength and knowledge. That first meditation was all about releasing negativity to make room for greatness. It was about manifesting the life that you want by giving your positive thoughts focus and energy to grow. It was about teaching your mind how to let go of the negative. I was working so hard to let it go, she could feel it. The leader looked right at me and said, “Don’t write about it. Stop chronically and journaling and dwelling about it, this negative thing. Let it go.” See why I can’t tell you about the betrayal above? I had never met her before. How did she know that I was planning to write about the betrayal later as a form of release? Since that first meditation session, I have been included in the group texts to attend and I have. I have learned how to quiet my mind in turbulent times more often that not, I have learned to better accept setbacks and my flaws, and I have laughed and bonded with this group each time I attend. This invitation to meditate is another cosmic gift for which I am grateful.

Check it out:

http://www.chuaxaloi.com/home/

The home page of the website says, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek outside.”

Just like the “Prayer of St. Francis” says, take the beauty and grace inside of us and offer it to others. I have offered you my funny stories (and I do have one or two more itching to be released) and I hope you have enjoyed them. I lace the date stories with humor, but the truth is that I am left feeling hurt and disappointed after each and every one. When I most recently asked the cards and prayed for answers and healing, the answer was loud and clear: Share how your spirituality helps you heal from each and every disappointment. So I did. The various aspects of my spiritually are as motley as my meditation group. I hope you feel how much love, admiration, and appreciation I have for them and for my new forms of finding peace.

Sometimes I feel like Piscine Patel from Life of Pi, picking and choosing different aspects from different religions and creating my own blend: a small sprinkle of Western hope, an eclectic blend of Eastern hope, a heaping spoonful of family and friendship hope, and a overflowing cup of self hope. If ‘self doubt’ is a legitimate expression, then why can’t ‘self hope’ be one too? I know the opposite is self confidence, but self hope serves my purpose better and I want to coin a new phrase.

How do you heal from pain and disappointment?

We can learn from each other. We can heal with each other. Open up your mind and your heart. Trust and follow your instincts. On my spiritual journey, I am learning to do just that.

2 thoughts on “Friggin’ Spiritual Journey

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