The attitudes and behaviors we scorn in others
will be the ones that offer us
the greatest personal and spiritual growth.
When we witness things like rudeness,
selfishness, arrogance, insensitivity, or callousness,
we can remind ourselves to exhibit its opposite.
When you see someone act in this fashion,
consciously choose not to walk that path.
Choose the higher road,
the one characterized by compassion and forgiveness.
You may be surprised how your choice of
"the road less traveled"
may be the one they choose to walk in the future.
Be your own best example.
Gratitude Can Be Your Spiritual Practice
Just in time for holiday gift giving: my new collection of original prayers, blessings, affirmations and reflective essays on how to keep gratitude in your heart, even in difficult times. Gratitude is a potent spiritual practice that can transform your life from the inside out.
Learn more and read excerpts here.
Can you look at another with Jesus' or Buddha's eyes?
Can we see the Divine Spirit in each person who comes into our life?
Can we offer them unconditional love and understanding
as our Higher Power does for us?
This may be one of the most difficult lessons on the spiritual path because
it requires us to cast off our human vestiges of
judgment and expectations of perfection.
Spirit entreats us instead to cloak ourselves with celestial garments
of acceptance and love,
to strive to see the world and our fellow travelers with sacred vision.**
This is a beautiful sentiment, isn't it? To see one another as the Divine sees us? To witness someone's innate perfection, as well as the unique way each person is beautifully made? And, to view them this way, rather than focusing on all their flaws and the things you don't like about them, including the poor life choices they may make.
To view others through "lenses of love" is a "non-negotiable" on the spiritual path, but how do you actually do that? Some people are not easy to like, much less love, so how do you get around that real fact?
First, it requires a mental shift about who we are and who we are to one another.
Second, it requires engaging in regular practices that teach you how to do this; to retrain your brain (in terms of perception) and to open your heart (in terms of spiritual principles). Make sense?
You can't think your way to non-judgmental, compassionate boundless love. You can only get there by practicing it and over-riding the way you've been taught to think and feel about it.
I'm all about spiritual practices, as you must know by now, and "Being Love" begins as a spiritual practice. In time--with intention, attention, and even MORE practice--Love Itself will take over the transformational process and lead the way.
Give yourself wholeheartedly over to walking the Path of Love and be amazed at how the Divine will step in and show you how. But willingness is key, and we must be willing to let go of everything we've been taught about love to embrace a completely new model of how we can be with with one another.
** From Awakening the Spirit Within by Jan Lundy. © 2000, Heart to Heart Press.
"Being Love," a 14-day period of intentional spiritual practice on how to put on "lenses of love", will begin Wednesday, Feb. 10.
Learn how to change the way you experience love with others--through your spiritual identity rather than through your personality (ego-identity)—and transform your relationships with others, even hard-to-like people. Connect with and gain unconditional support for your "Being Love" journey in our private conversation community.
Learn more and register.
When I began to teach about Metta (Lovingkindness Practice) in 2010, a dear friend and mentor reminded me to include "A Buddhist's Forgiveness Prayer" in the teachings. I was not familiar with it so she provided me with a copy.
Literally, it blew me away with its power, its compassion.
No one knows who wrote it really. Does it matter, especially if it works? If it heals?
This prayer is often my "go-to" prayer because forgiveness comes in varied shapes and forms. Forgiveness for others when they've erred. Forgiveness of yourself when you've made mistakes and hurt others, knowingly or unknowingly. Forgiveness when you need to forgive someone and feel stubbornly resistant and are just not ready.
I love this prayer so much, I've put it in my new book that comes out in November on "Portable Peace." But I'd love you to have a copy of it now.
I just used this prayer again today, in fact, because I had an unfortunate thing happen in terms of my business life. I made a big red-faced, faux pas, that disturbed several people. I didn't mean it to happen. I just didn't think it through. I was rushing and trying to be productive. (I wrote about it here.)
Rather than beat myself up for hours (ok, I did so for an hour or two; regret whooshed in after that), I went to the prayer.
A Buddhist Forgiveness Prayer
I love the last few lines because it emphasizes how important it is that we be self-compassionate. Think of all the ways we harm ourselves, talk badly to ourselves, demean and bash ourselves when we've been less than perfect. Sigh ...
Let's say the prayer together whenever we need it. Forgive yourself if you need forgiving, please? It's the most self-compassionate thing to do.
This morning I awoke to the awareness that five of my dear ones are in the midst of great suffering. Five!
I also realized that I'd been carrying their suffering the last few days in a burdensome way. It was weighing me down, tiring me on many levels.
Four of the dear ones (two couples) are in the midst of their relationships ending, or, at the very least, transforming via separation. Such a difficult reality when you have been with someone for a long time!
Another of my dear ones is experiencing degenerative health issues and intense bodily pain. Nothing is bringing her relief.
When our dear ones are troubled, of course, we want to be as present as possible to them, but how can we do this in a helpful way? Instead of taking on their pain ourselves and becoming physically exhausted, mentally overwrought, or emotionally paralyzed, what can we do?
As I sipped my morning coffee, listening to the birds sing greetings to the early morning light, a song rose up in my heart for the well-being of my dear ones. Metta phrases, blessings of goodwill, filled my heart. This morning, the phrases were a bit different. Not the traditional phrases taught to me by my own good teachers. But those that felt more appropriate for the relief of great suffering.
They come from Mary Brantley and Tesilya Hanauer and their lovely book, The Gift of Loving-kindness: 100 Mindful Practices for Compassion, Generosity, and Forgiveness. This book is a favorite of mine.
I've been using these three phrases from their chapter, "Befriending the Monsters," for a while now (and have been sharing them with those whom I offer spiritual companionship).
May you be held in compassion.
May you be free from pain and sorrow.
May you be at peace.
To make the offering of loving-kindness feel more genuine, I often bring each person to my mind's eye, as if they were standing right in front of me as I offer the phrases. Sometimes I will imagine that I move closer to them and cradle their faces with my two hands. Tenderness infuses me when I do this. I am hopeful that somehow they will feel my tenderness too—and take comfort from it.
This morning, after practice, I felt more open-hearted and supportive to my dear ones. But I noticed the sense of "refreshment" I usually feel when doing this practice wasn't complete. I realized I hadn't offer Metta to myself because I, too, was suffering, feeling the pain of their travail.
I proceeded to offer the phrases of goodwill toward myself.
May I be held in compassion.
May I be free from pain and sorrow.
May I be at peace.
Indeed, relief flooded in. A few tears fell, opening and cleansing the tight places within me.
When life feels difficult for loved ones, it is good and wise to include ourselves in the compassion equation. In the spirit of inter-being, we never suffer alone. Your suffering is my suffering. Addressing one we tend to the other.
I am so very glad this is how life works.
p.s. Using the phrases above, sometimes I substitute the word "suffering" for the word "sorrow." "Sorrow" often implies loss or sadness to me, rather than physical or emotional pain. Feel your way through this and choose the word that best describes what you are feeling in the moment. Or what you sense another might be feeling.
It is easy to love those who love us,
more difficult to love those who don't.
The challenge (and invitation) is to evolve ourselves to the point
where we see and experience Spirit in all its forms.
We never know where God's messengers will be found.
Rumi, the Persian poet and sage, counseled us:
"Be grateful for whomever comes,
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond."
The Divine is found in every form,
whether it be a fellow soul traveler with whom
we have instantaneous connection,
the irksome stranger who tests our patience,
or the loved one who is the perpetual thorn in our side.
All are of the One.
Excerpted from Awakening the Spirit Within
Photo Credit: "We Are Family"
2012, Janice Lynne Lundy
What We Need to Learn
It is through our personal relationships
that we learn the most about ourselves --
who we are, what we value, what we hold dear.
Our relationships also teach us about our own frailties
our insecurities, and the wounds of our past.
The partnerships that are the most challenging
are indeed the most precious,
because they will teach us more about ourselves
than we ever dreamed possible.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are: beings of unshakeable peace, boundless compassion, and deep joy.
A one-of-a-kind collection of original blessings, poems, affirmations and reflective essays to help you hold onto your grateful heart—even when times are difficult.