Rev. Virginia Walsh: December 6, 2015
Rev. Dieter Randolph: Nov. 29, 2015
Rev. Virginia: Nov. 22, 2015
Awakening to Abundant Life
Week 6 – The Power of Gratitude
Gratitude is much more than a polite or appropriate response; it’s a causative force! Research shows that gratitude strengthens relationships, improves health, reduces stress; and, in general, makes us happier. “Praise and thanksgiving call into activity greater expressions of spiritual substance, and open larger avenues through which we may receive spiritual life.” (“Let There Be Light”, p. 112)
What we give thanks for increases. This spiritual principle can be used to awaken us from illness to wholeness, conflict to harmony, fear to love, and lack to abundance. Gratitude transforms our consciousness, and allows new expressions of Spirit through us. It awakens us to knowing ourselves as an extension and expression of the Divine.
The desires of our hearts already exist in Spirit, and are being drawn into manifestation into the physical realm by our intentions, faith and gratitude. Giving thanks in advance of the demonstration activates our faith and speeds up the realization of the manifestation. Our Unity cofounder, Charles Fillmore, taught that it’s easy to give thanks for what we have already received. It’s more of a challenge to give thanks for what we hope to receive. But giving thanks before the manifestation is a powerful spiritual practice that is very effective although it doesn’t make sense on the worldly level.
Let gratitude awaken you to more abundant Life!
(1) Commit to practicing gratitude at a certain time each day. Even if you have to make yourself do it, it still has magnetizing power.
(2) Write down – on paper or with computer keyboard: “I am Grateful for..” Make a list of blessings small and great.
(3) Embrace it. Let the feelings of gratitude fill every cell in your body. Place your hands on your heart, breathe it in. Sing about it. Do a happy dance.
(4) Partner with someone. Share what you’re grateful for once a week, or more often. Encourage each other. And don’t stop when results begin to show up. Some benefits of gratitude come immediately, and others develop over time. Keep it up and blessings will continue, and increase!
Suggestions for practicing gratitude – Start your day by giving thanks for what you are grateful for, even before you get out of bed. At bedtime, forgive anyone you have negative feelings about. Give thanks for all the blessings of the day. It can be even more effective to write in a journal at least 5 things that you are grateful for every day.
All day during the day look for things to be grateful for in every situation. Give thanks for loved ones. Give thanks for every meal. Give thanks for safe arrival to a destination. Give thanks that you have all you need for this day. Give thanks for the Divine Presence within you, active in every situation.
Once every hour pause to say “Thank You, God!” or “I am grateful!” Pausing every hour for recognition of the Divine, and our own divine nature, builds an abiding awareness of our oneness with the Creator and an awareness of the presence and power of Spirit. It reminds us of what is truly real and enduring.
In meditation use the words “Thank you”, or “Thank you God” as a mantra. Repeat the phrase silently and slowly, allowing yourself to feel the peace, joy and spiritual confidence in the and uplifting energy of the words. Try smiling while you meditate on what you’re grateful for. Just lifting the corners of your mouth stimulates the hormones in the body that create positive feelings of pleasure and well being.
Tell others what you appreciate about them. Give at least one compliment a day. Compliments strengthen connections and initiate conversation. Thank others for their kindness. Write Thank You notes, send emails, give them a small gift. ‘Redstamp.com’ lets you send cards as texts, by mail and online. Use ‘Treater’ is an app for iOS and Android devices that helps you give real gifts to your Facebook friends.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rev. Virginia Walsh: Nov. 15, 2015
Awakening to Abundant Life
Week 5 – Rethink, Release, for Peace and Freedom
Resentment, blame, guilt and fear keep us from peace and joy, and prolong a negative vibration that affects all areas of our lives. Resentment and anger are not only toxic, but often intoxicating. Anger can make us feel energized and powerful when we’re feeling powerless. But, like many drugs, the feeling is artificial and fleeting. Whatever we focus on expands. Do we want more reasons to be angry? Or are we ready to choose a more abundant life of peace and joy?
Begin by recognizing that forgiveness does not mean that what happened is okay. It does not mean that there are no consequences. Remember that whoever hurt us was in emotional pain and fear themselves, only trying to get their needs met, with the awareness they had at that time. Because they didn’t really ‘do it to us’ we can say “I forgive you for what you did not do to me.” As Don Miguel Ruiz reminds us: “Don’t take it personally!” They were trying to get their needs met, even if it was not a healthy, loving way to do that.
If we continue to blame others, we’re giving them power over our life. And they may not even know that you are upset with them! It has been said that : “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” We may not know how to forgive or even want to forgive, but being willing to forgive begins the process, and Spirit completes it.
Releasing Exercise: Sometimes our wounded inner child wants revenge before forgiveness can happen. If that’s true for you, think about what would you really want to do to them. What do they need to do to earn your forgiveness? Imagine that happening. When you feel complete, let it go once and for all. You can also write an ‘angry letter’ to express every nasty thing you would like to say – to release your emotions – and then tear it up, bury it or burn it.
Now make a decision to forgive and release yourself from the chains of resentment and bitterness that still bind you to that person.
“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return you receive untold peace and happiness.” – Robert Muller
Start now to awaken to freedom and peace! Decide to practice letting go of anger and resentment. Choose someone or something to forgive. Start with a situation that’s not deeply traumatic. To make it more effective, write down your thoughts about the following:
- Admit your true feelings. No matter how spiritual we are, we still experience human emotions, including the negative ones. Write down what you’re feeling. Usually there’s more than one feeling about the situation.
- Acknowledge the cost. Ask yourself how this resentment is hurting you, and how much energy you’re giving to it. Maybe you’ve noticed you’re irritated or sad, but don’t know why. What we’re unaware of can and does affect us.
- Admit the payoff. Anger can make us feel a false sense of power, like feeling in control, protecting and defending ourselves. The fear may be that we’re defenseless. Actually holding on to anger and fear makes it more difficult to feel safe and peaceful.
- Acknowledge the benefits of forgiveness. When we forgive, we are free of anger, bitterness, and attachment to what happened. We experience peace, and we reclaim our power.
- Pray. Affirm that Holy Spirit or your Christ Within is empowering you to forgive. Remember those who hurt others are in pain and fear. Pray for that person’s peace and well being.
Don’t be discouraged if release doesn’t happen immediately. We’re all unique and the process takes the times it takes, for each of us. You know the forgiveness has happened when you think of the person, or see the person, and you don’t have a negative reaction. Eventually you can even feel unconditional love for that person!
“There is no love without forgiveness and there is no forgiveness without love.“ – Bryan H. McGill
Practice forgiving yourself as well. Every day for a week say to yourself: “I forgive myself for holding onto resentment and feeling like a victim. I forgive myself for being angry and saying things I now regret.” Try saying this to yourself out loud; try looking at yourself in the mirror as you say it. Continue until you feel peaceful.
Rev. Virginia Walsh: Nov. 8, 2015
Awakening to Abundant Life
Week 4– Compassionate Communication
Letting go of complaining, criticizing, judging and blaming is a very healing, transformative spiritual practice. We’ve all been programmed and trained in these behaviors. And it’s so common that many of us, much of the time, don’t even notice that we’re doing it. However, as Jack Canfield says: “Life gives us whatever we say and focus on; so if we’re complaining about how bad it is, we’re creating more of how bad it is.”
In the life changing book “A Complaint Free World”, Unity minister Will Bowen describes 5 reasons we complain: (1) To get attention (2) To avoid taking action; pointing out what’s wrong, but not doing anything about it. (3) To pre-excuse poor performance; ‘I’m not good at this so don’t expect too much.’ (4) To brag, to seem superior. (5) To control and manipulate others.
These behaviors come from a fear-based ego that is afraid that we’re not good enough, that we won’t get what we want, or that we’re not safe. Our spiritual work is to love ourselves and others enough to consciously choose unconditional acceptance and appreciation, so that we awaken to new levels of peace and joy.
Notice how you feel when you’re complaining. Our critical thoughts and words send waves of negative energy throughout our bodies and trigger negative mental, emotional and even physical effects.
When we stop complaining, we shift into a more peaceful, loving consciousness. We feel less and less anger and fear, and we attract fewer angry, fearful people and experiences into our lives. We also naturally become more compassionate and grateful, and our attitudes, relationships and health improve!
“Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.” – Ian MacLaren
If you’re ready to let go of the negativity and negative effects of complaining and criticizing, begin by noticing how often you complain, or criticize situations, yourself and others. You might be surprised how often it happens. Remember not to judge yourself!
Noticing our complaining is a shift from Level 1: Unconscious Complaining, to Level 2: Conscious Complaining. We’re still complaining, but now at least we’re aware that we’re doing it!
Level 3: Deciding Not to Complain. So, what do we talk about when we stop complaining? Talk about what you like, what you want, what you’re grateful for. Give compliments instead of criticism. Instead of ‘problem’ say ‘opportunity’; instead of ‘have to’ say ‘get to’; instead of complaining ask for what you need. Talk only about what you want, and talk directly to those who can do something about it.
When a critical thought comes to mind, we stop ourselves before we say it. As we do this, fewer critical thoughts come up. At this stage we may think we’re not complaining when we actually are. The way we feel will tell us if we are or not. Sometimes it’s not what we say, but the attitude with which say it that makes it negative. “It’s just another day in paradise!” can be gratitude or sarcasm, depending on the energy with which we say it.
Reinforce your intention with affirmations such as “I choose to be kind.” Find a Complaint Free Buddy, and support each other in becoming Complaint free.
If we stay with it, eventually we achieve Level 4: Conscious Competence. Our new normal has become positive, compassionate communication, peace, gratitude and a healthier mind and body! We’re awakening to a more abundant life!
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord…” Psalm 19:14