From "A Woman's Spirit Awakening" by Linda Chappo and Tom Marcoux
Women's Spirit Awakening; Nurture your soul, heal yourself and enjoy abundance!
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Living By Spirit (from "A Woman's Spirit Awakening") by Linda L. Chappo
How can we each live a more awakened, fulfilling spiritual life? Living by Spirit is like tuning into your favorite radio station, except that you are receiving information and guidance for your own joyful truth and inner harmony. It’s all about you and a personal frequency that will guide you to live your dreams and express your authentic Self.
Here are some of the benefits that I’ve discovered from my spiritual journey: find your life purpose, have more personal power (power over yourself), know yourself better, have a better understanding of the human condition, enjoy a more fulfilling life, experience more harmonious relationships, live in the present moment rather than the past or the future, feel a sense of the sacred within yourself, establish more inner peace and self-assuredness, and develop intuition and unique insights.
The only thing required of you is an open mind, which may lead to your spiritual awakening. This is what Living by Spirit can do for you, but how about what you can do for Spirit, God or the Divine? (I’ll use those terms interchangeably) We’ll explore that question in this chapter. These suggestions for awakening your Spirit and living a life of purpose come from my own insights. You’ll get plenty of ideas for either beginning or resuming your own satisfying spiritual journey to enlightenment. You’ll learn the key to your spiritual awakening lies in your understanding of the truth that “God lives through you.”
Awaken Your Spiritual Nature Awakening your spiritual nature means remembering your eternal connection with God, and remembering to include Spirit in all you do; in all your activities, within your relationships and when making important decisions.
God is always present, not in physical form, but in your mind and heart. God expresses Herself/Himself through you; your thoughts and actions. Think of your body as a communication device which physically expresses your innermost feelings and impulses. You bring God to life by expressing spiritual values such as trust, honesty, tolerance, gentleness, joy, defenselessness, generosity, patience, faithfulness, and open-mindedness (ACIM). When you are being kind, complimentary or loving to someone, you are expressing the God/Spirit in you. Whenever you are laughing or having a good time with friends, you are expressing the light (God) in you. Helping someone in need is also a gesture of Divine expression. By the same token, when someone smiles at you, says something nice to you or offers you a gift, you are receiving the expression of God's love for you through that person. This is an important point to remember; by giving and receiving kindness you are allowing the Divine to manifest in the world as a powerful positive energy.
When you accept the notion that God lives through you, your relationship with Spirit becomes as intimate as your own heart and as personal as your own breath. Remembering that you are expressing God's will, and love can feel like a mighty responsibility. You are responsible for either blocking the flow by being fearful, angry or negative or you are freeing the flow by being loving and positive.
My goal in writing Living by Spirit is for you to more clearly understand the implications of what it means when “God lives through you,” and how it affects your life journey. Your understanding of it will affect your quality of life, your confidence, your relationships and your peace of mind.
Open Your Spiritual Channel
Many of us learned that we each have a separate mind that exists inside our head, and belongs to only us. In actuality, the Mind is universal and exists everywhere. An example of the universal mind is the story of the “Hundredth Monkey.” Researchers discovered that one monkey on a remote island thought to wash his sweet potato before he ate it. A short time later, on other distant islands, those monkeys started washing their sweet potatoes too. The idea was in the ethers, so to speak. You’ll sometimes hear about creative endeavors where similar inventions, songs or stories are created at the same time. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of thinking about someone, and a few minutes later you received a phone call from them. These are a few examples of One Mind experiences.
For all practical purposes, you have access to and use a small part of the One Mind. It’s flexible like a rubber band. As you use it through education, meditation or personal experience, it expands. Think of your mind as a conduit; a direct channel through which there are mental electrical charges flowing in both directions, to and from God. (I like to put a positive charge on that term, and think of a conduit as a can-do-it.) You use the conduit in two ways. Through prayer you speak to God and through meditation or quiet mental time, you listen to God. The mind never sleeps, and there is always communication going on. Through your conscious mental efforts; your thoughts and decisions become a conduit for all that is good, positive and healing in the world.
As you live your life on a day-to-day basis, it’s up to you to be a filter for your thoughts and actions. Filtering is an aspect of free will. You are free to choose to filter out your ego or negative thoughts in order to be a clear expression (channel) of God’s will, and let God’s love come through. In other words, if a fearful or angry thought pops into your head, you would immediately stop that thought as it occurs and replace it with a positive one. Here's an example. You might be thinking “It’s a miserable day, the weather is often nasty and makes me depressed.” You could replace that thought with, “The weather doesn’t affect me, because nothing outside of me has power over me. I'm happy regardless of the weather.” When you choose the better thought to think, you’re choosing happiness over depression, and that ultimately affects your mental and physical health. And people want to be around other happy people.
I have always known this filtering effort to be rewarded. When I practice changing my thoughts, I soon feel a real shift in my quality of life. I am happier, people respond better, and life flows easier.
You can send loving thoughts (energy) to people through prayer or meditations. The good energy is returned to you through the ethers in the form of radiant light. As you practice this, you become more receptive. When you actually act on your loving thoughts another level of “goodness” develops. For example, you’re thinking of sending flowers to a good friend on her birthday. When you take action and send those flowers, then two levels of love have been expressed. Your loving thought (light) is one level and your loving action (flowers) is another. By acting on your thought, you open the door to many possibilities: a grateful phone call or note, a happier relationship, a kind gesture in return or other surprises. The universe always returns kindness for kindness.
Heal Your Misperceptions
All of our problems stem from the idea and belief that we are separate from God. Our minds are split between two factions, 1) an ego mind that identifies with who we are as a limited, struggling body in an uncertain physical world, and 2) a free, joyful Spirit mind that is unlimited and eternally connected to God and the Oneness of all creation.
The Spirit mind constantly whispers the truth to us as we experience change and conflict in our lives. It gently reminds us of who we really are; holy children of God, always loved by and in touch with our Creator. In God’s eyes, love is the only expression that is real. Anything else is an illusion. We heal the separation by remembering God whenever we experience fear. We let go of how we think things should be and let them be as they are. Our small part is to remember that everything works together for our highest good.
As we each wake up to Spirit, we’ll remember that we are so much more than what we appear to be. We are spirit’s having a human experience. We are powerful beings of light, created in Her/His own image by a God that is much more loving than we can imagine. Our Source is a Divine power that will laugh with us at our mistakes and gently embrace us into eternity. We'll discover that the answers we are searching for are not here in the material values of this world, but in our relationship with Spirit. God is always working through us to free us of our self-inflicted turmoil.
It’s up to us to have an open mind, and the willingness to let go of the thoughts that limit us.
It’s our responsibility to practice patience and non-judgment.
It’s our purpose to influence others to remember their holiness, and live a life of freedom and peace. If you aren’t certain what freedom means for you, ask during your next meditation time
Whenever you perceive in a way that is hurtful to yourself or others, remember that it is fear that is driving you. Step back and think about what you are thinking, doing, and saying. How can you switch your behavior from fearfulness to lovingness? Think less about being right, and more about being happy.
Develop a Healthy Curiosity
I've always been curious about God, spiritual matters and the mysteries of life. As a child and teenager I went from church to church seeking a personal relationship with God. I believe that on some level we are all seekers. We seek the truth about the world and we seek the best life possible. We know deep inside ourselves that this earth is not our true home. We know that these bodies are not who we are. Motivational teachers and human potential experts can teach us a lot about these truths, and we'll only know for ourselves when we actually satisfy our curiosity by tuning into our inner spiritual frequency.
Utilize Spiritual Tools
Use the tools available, and a healthy dose of patience to get the most joy out of your spiritual journey. We talked about your thoughts and the effects they have on your world. Filtering is one of your most important tools, and there are others that will help you become spiritually awake.
Prayer, or speaking to God, is a powerful tool. The highest prayer is always to ask for peace in any situation. My prayers are often for blessings, healing, new perceptions, clear guidance or that God's will be done. Whatever you ask for should always be for the highest good for everyone involved. In my experience, I pay attention to whatever strong thoughts keep occurring in my mind. If it feels like something that warrants clarity, then that's what I focus on during my prayer time.
Meditation, or listening to God, is an essential tool. I've been meditating for over 25 years. If you want your life to change in powerful ways, then I suggest learning meditation techniques. Basically you sit in a quiet place for as long as you can; five to thirty minutes or more.
The goal is to quiet your thoughts so that your mind will become open to new possibilities. You just notice your thoughts, what they are, and let them go. You can focus on your breathing or on a mantra, which is a favorite word that brings you peace. Some people use the word “God”, “Om”, “aum” or the word “One.” You can focus on a particular goal or remain open to however God will work through you. Inner strength is the greatest benefit of meditation, not your strength, but the powerful strength of God. At some point, you will notice a shift in your awareness. The more continuously you meditate, the more you become aware of a two-way communication.
Visualization: Break your contract. If you have a problem that continues like a plague throughout your life, you may have to take an appropriate action; break your contract with it. Women, in particular, tend to take on too much responsibility. Instead of asking for help or letting others carry their weight, we take on all the tasks ourselves. Then we become stressed out and unhappy. You may attract destructive relationships to you. Or you may have a problem with addictive substances. Determine in advance the problem you want to heal.
Here is a suggestion for healing, and a solution that worked for me. Go into a brief meditation and then visualize yourself in a relaxed state, sitting in a beautiful garden. Imagine Jesus/Angel bringing you a paper contract that you signed while you were in a Spirit state, just prior to birth on this planet. Discuss with Jesus/Angel that this situation doesn't serve you or anyone else. Somewhere, somehow you must have agreed to the problem, because you continue to find yourself absorbed in it. In your imaginings, provide an acceptable solution (a new thought or behavior that you could easily implement) to replace the problem. Then, tear up the contract. Thank Jesus/Angel for their support and bring yourself back to present state. Anytime the problem resurfaces, remember the contract is broken and you no longer have to abide by it. You have a new solution and the support of Heaven behind you.
Affirmations or positive self-talk replace negative thoughts and are used whenever needed. Here are a few examples: “I am peaceful and considerate with my co-workers.” “I am confident and capable at my job.” “I act with love.”
Discover Your Life Purpose
I’ve talked to many people about discovering their life purpose. Some people know at a very young age what they are meant to do, so they pursue that particular path. One of the authors of Women’s Spirit Awakening, Tom Marcoux, discovered his purpose at nine years of age. Other people, like myself, didn’t discover it until midlife. Perhaps your previous occupation was a stepping stone or a training ground to something more suitable. For some women, giving birth and raising a family is their life purpose. That’s their contribution to the world. Each life is a valuable, worthy and unique contribution.
Living a spiritual life means finding your particular way of serving the world, a way that only you can do. Think about what you are passionate about. What makes your heart sing? That's what God would have you do. One thing I discovered about having dreams and goals is when we go to Spirit first with our request and retain an open mind, the dream or goal is revealed and sometimes redefined for us. We are often redirected in ways that benefit us more. Spend time in meditation. Make it a goal to discover your life purpose.
Here's an example of my experience. When I lived in Chicago many years ago, I thought I wanted to pursue a life as a writer and artist. I wanted to make a difference in the world. Guidance counselors encouraged me to choose only one goal. I chose to become a writer. My inner guidance encouraged me to do something else, which was to live my dream. I had a spiritual epiphany six months prior, during a writer’s conference. So I quit college in Chicago, moved to California (where I always wanted to live) and enrolled in a college for graphic arts. I was able to achieve both goals by taking writing classes. But it doesn’t stop there. Those goals are merely stepping stones to something greater: for me it is a life as a spiritual teacher. And that too is a stepping stone to something much larger. That's my purpose and most everything I’ve done contributes in some way to that purpose.
If you’re like many people, you have your limiting beliefs or thoughts of unworthiness. With Spirit guiding the way, limiting thoughts are surpassed by thoughts of new and wonderful possibilities. We've each heard the phrase “With God all things are possible.” This is true, although not always in the time frame or in the form we may imagine. That, for me, is often the best part: the surprise of new experiences. It’s understandable that we may have to work on ourselves or do some preparation for the dream or goal.
There was a time when I knew I would soon be unemployed. I wanted my next job to be different. After some exploration I came up with two prerequisites for my future career; being with lots of people and traveling. Then a friend told me about job openings with an airline company. At first I was concerned, “they won¹t hire me because of my age, my appearance or lack of pertinent skills, etc.” I became my own judge and jury. My inner guidance encouraged me to just show up for the interview. I prepared myself with a new suit and a new attitude. At the end of the day I passed the tests and made all the ‘cuts.’ I had an airline ticket to Chicago, a chance at a second interview, and a renewed enthusiasm. In the end, I wasn't hired by the company, but it was an exhilarating experience. I had faith that something better would occur. If we remain open-minded, happy surprises do occur.
Be All You Can Be
I believe a spiritual journey is the path to perfection. This is what we can do for God. His/Her desire is that we remember our holiness, heal our wounds, and forgive ourselves and others who we feel have wronged us. It can be difficult for us to see our faults. That’s where our relationships come in. They’ll show us exactly what we need to work on. It’s often been said that the world is a reflection of what’s in our own minds. When we see goodness out there, it’s a reflection. When we see anger or negativity in someone, it’s still a reflection. Basically, it’s all in us. It’s like looking in a mirror. Once we recognize that and accept it, it changes everything. It brings all the responsibility home to us personally. That’s why the spiritual path is a mature path. It’s not for sissy’s. It can be rather confrontational.
Through our relationships we are shown our shortcomings and what we need to work on to be a better person. If you think your mate is bossy and demanding, then you need to look at where you are bossy and demanding. Your mate is revealing that to you. If you think your relative is an unhappy complainer, she is showing you your unhappiness and your tendency to complain. If you think your employer is selfish and inept, it’s in you. Many of us don’t want to hear these words. Well, denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. This is a real strong clue if your relationships are a mystery to you. I encourage you to be open to this mirroring concept.
We tend to be uncomfortable with people who have displeasing characteristics, but in reality they are not the enemy, they are our savior. We need each other to learn valuable life lessons, without which there would be no personal growth. Remember one thing: the spiritual journey is about you, it’s not about fixing anyone else. Other people are learning their life lessons too. This is the way we improve ourselves and become a clear channel for God’s light and glory. It’s easy to be all you can be when you know who you are, and you understand how to correct or heal any adversities in your personality or character.
Develop a Resource for a Fulfilling Life
God wants to be first in your life. You accept Her/Him in your life by turning first to God for answers to your problems, rather than your ego. When you let go of the idea that you have all the answers, you become open to finding a better way. Empty your mind of all your opinions and perceptions. Leading a spiritual life means experiencing your journey differently than before. When you include the Divine, you're including all the power of Heaven. When you make a decision for God, your life becomes more harmonious, because you’ve let Her/His expression of wisdom and intelligence flow through. God becomes a more powerful presence in your life when you continue to turn within in all matters and ask for guidance. The answers you seek may come in the form of intuition, hearing an inner voice, images in a dream, or a verbal message from someone. I find that God’s will usually means you don’t force anything. You just go with the flow of things and do your part.
The universe is an abundant place, and God’s gifts flow to us freely, but not always in the time span in which we expect. When we are prepared to have it, then it comes our way.
I mentioned this earlier. Several years after moving to San Francisco, I was clearly guided to go to college and take graphics classes. I wasn’t certain what it would lead to and tried not to pre-judge the guidance. I took part-time classes and graduated six years later with an Associates degree. I soon discovered that new skills opens doors and presents opportunities that were previously unavailable.
Here’s how it all evolved. For many years I wanted to work at the spiritual center where I studied. I didn’t send them an application because I knew they didn’t have the finances to hire an employee. After my small business failed to provide me with a sufficient income, I went through the process of applying and interviewing with several companies. When one of the co-owners of the spiritual center heard I was looking for a job, he asked me to talk to him before I made any decisions. During our interview, I discovered the center was in need of an employee, and they now had enough money, through donors, to invite me to work for them. My graphic skills, our previous relationship and my commitment to A Course in Miracles got me the job I wanted. I was gratefully able to serve the ACIM community for two years, from August 1998 to September 2000. Even though my own small business wasn’t prosperous, I was eventually able to see the blessing in that situation. There is a spiritual law that says “when one door closes, another one opens.”
See the Light in Everyone
As I study spiritual principles, I find that they bring me and those I meet more peace, because I am willing to see the light in everyone. One ongoing problem for many women is with unwanted suitors. As we attract various types of men/women to us, we find that some do not, for whatever reasons, fit into our life scheme. Both men and women are sensitive to rejection. There is an art to treating the other person with the same sensitivity and respect that we would like allotted to us. I want to share an example of how I was first going to handle an unpleasant situation. By speaking my truth and sharing from my heart, I was able to diffuse my angry feelings and gain a sense of peace and safety for both of us.
I had been dating a particular man for a couple of months until it became clear to me that this relationship was not working for me. Obviously it was fine with him, because he continued to pursue the relationship. I eventually developed a very negative charge around this man, and wanted the form of our relationship to change. One evening I lifted up the phone, paused a moment to gather my thoughts and felt like unloading on this person with words like “quit calling me, you useless creep.” In the next moment, I experienced a very real shift in my mind. I set the receiver back down on the hook (pre-cell phone), then sat down for a couple of minutes to reflect on what I was about to do.
I immediately questioned my intentions. Did I really want or need to say those harsh words? I asked myself, “What do I want to come of this situation? How could I say what I need to say in a loving way - a way that would demonstrate to myself that spirituality was having a profound effect in my personal relationships? How could I bring peace to both of us, and find a responsible, mature way in which we could both walk away with our dignity? I might see this person again around the city, and did I want that negative energy to be between us?”
I know enough about spiritual law to realize that sending out negative energy or breaking off a relationship with animosity doesn’t free us from that other person like we think it will. In fact, it has the opposite effect. Anger actually binds you to that person tighter than you could ever imagine. Hateful energy between people is like a terminal disease, no matter how far they are away from each other. It’s when we interact with love and kindness that we free ourselves and the other person involved. We are no longer bound to that person or situation by the chains of hatred or fear, but we are each released to peacefully go our own way.
I sat down again to reflect on what I had just done. This was a real breakthrough for me, and I was happy with myself for being responsible and following through with spiritual values of kindness and compassion. I saw the light in someone where there otherwise appeared to be darkness. This accomplishment inspired me to reflect on the many ways in which Living by Spirit works for everyone's good.
How to Measure Your Spiritual Growth
One of the ways in which I measure my spiritual growth is by how my personal relationships are evolving. Are they harmonious or in constant conflict? Are they authentically caring, loving and serving all concerned? If there isn’t a positive charge of light between us, then I’m not doing something right.
The spiritual journey is all about me, and how I’m responding and how I’m acting or reacting. There’s a powerful quote in A Course in Miracles that says, “The only thing lacking in any situation is what you’re not giving.” So if you're not giving love, then you’re not giving at all.
The lessons we learn through others are often challenging, yet always valuable and rewarding. We don’t know the whole picture, we only know our part, which is to show up in the most loving way we can. As a consequence our situations and our lives improve. There’s a domino effect whereby people you don’t even know will benefit from your light. People are receptive to what goes on around them. When they watch you handle a situation with grace, it teaches them how to get the results they want by acting in a loving way rather than an insensitive or fearful way. I’ve seen the proof of that in my own relationships when a friend hears my wise words and uses them to heal her own relationships.
Internalizing spiritual teachings and remembering to implement them when appropriate situations occur are what bring about a spiritual awakening or a successful “Love Life”. Act with love and you are bringing God to life for yourself and for those with whom you interact.
Women as Bearers of Light
It is mostly women who are known for their intuitive and sensitive natures, although I believe women and men with these characteristics will lead the way to a real spiritual awakening in our time. Through their patience, understanding and insight these spiritual teachers will help us to reveal the sacred light within us all.
Here is the story of a great discovery. Around the year 1910, astronomers on Mt. Wilson viewed the cosmos with an incredible 100 inch telescope. However, they were clueless as how to measure the distances between the stars and earth. (Our closest star is the sun.) At that time, women were not allowed in the conservatory, being considered distractions. Women were relegated to menial tasks and analyzing data. It was a woman, Harrietta Levitt, who discovered the Celestial Yardstick. Her job was to examine photographic plates at various times and look for stars that vary in brightness. She made the first great discovery: the time it takes to reach maximum brightness can be used to determine how far away the stars are from each other and the earth. Her discovery was the most fundamental yardstick in the universe. Now it is the measure by which all distances are determined.
I believe the celestial yardstick dwells within each of us. We may measure our own proverbial closeness or distance from each other (and God) by how much light (love) we emit and how brightly it shines outward. Within each of us is an “inner ruler” whereby we intuitively sense the measure of light we emanate. If you could determine the amount of light (love) you radiate outward, where would it measure on a 12 inch ruler?
To answer this question honestly, answer these questions first. How are you feeling about yourself? Are you happy? Are you living the life you desire? How are your relationships progressing in a positive way? Are they peaceful and loving?
If you could choose how much light to radiate at any given time, what would it be... 7 inches rather than 4, or 12 inches rather than 9? What if our light is always set at 12, but we don’t know it? Perhaps our inner light is always at maximum brightness, but we allow our mental state (fear, negativity – ego thoughts) to interfere and cast a shadow over it. What could you do to increase your light?
I have a theory about the “inner ruler.” The inner ruler plays a double role in our lives; the first as a measure of our brightness, and secondly as a sense of being influenced, guided or possibly even governed from within. Perhaps it’s an all-knowing, wise and comforting Guide/Angel/Holy Spirit directing our every thought and movement toward our highest good. On a scale of 1 to 12, where would you measure your relationship with God? What could make it better?
As bearers of light we carry the torch for humanity. It is my prayer that we are able to run with it and champion a new world, a world where only the highest values exist. I pray that each man, woman and child awaken to their own beauty, magnitude and holiness. I pray that you personally will choose a better way of life by Living by Spirit. Thank you!