In Part I of this post, you were invited to choose a Virtue of the Spirit that you'd like to cultivate within you forg 2014. Did you pick one? Is it one that your heart chose for you?
If by some chance you had a difficult time selecting one, you might consider one of these to see if your soul has something to say about it. Courage, Serenity, Openheartedness, Generosity, Oneness, Creativity, Humility, Forgiveness, Connection, Service, Equanimity, Receive, Gratitude, Strength, Wisdom, Trust, Energy. Do any of these ring true? Do you "need" a specific one more than another?
Once you have chosen your Virtue, develop an action plan. What will you actually commit to to make this Virtue take flight within you? Here are some suggestions of things you can do on a daily basis--for practice does not make perfect, practice makes progress. And by pointing ourself toward the Virtue throughout our day, every day, in a variety of ways, we will reinforce its importance. We will not waver from the path of our spiritual growth. The mind (and ego) will do its best to take us off course. And as the old adage says, "If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up somewhere else."
Here are some potent ways to keep yourself pointed in the direction of your chosen Virtue:
1. "Study" the Virtue. Read about it. Read about people ("spiritual heroes") who embodied it, past or present.
2. Surround yourself with reminders of the Virtue. Inspire yourself daily. Post things around your home and office—photos, clippings, momentos, pictures, magnets, quotes—anything that reminds you to practice and stay faithful to the Virtue.
3. Do a daily meditation or affirmation process for growing the Virtue. Write your own or find one someone else has used.
4. Create a book around your virtue. In my case, it will be a "Spacious Love Book," rather like an illustrated journal. Purchase a blank book and throughout the year, fill it with your personal thoughts about the Virtue and your experiences growing it. Cut out and paste in quotes, pictures from magazines, photos, etc. If you are artistic, doodle or draw in it. This book will become a keepsake for your year.
5. Give yourself experiences that grow the Virtue. Watch movies about it. Attend activities or workshops on it.
6. Dedicate your day to the Virtue. Begin your morning by stating your intention to embody the Virtue. Envision yourself doing this. Hold yourself prayerfully throughout the day to make this your reality.
7. At night, reflect on how well you journeyed with the Virtue that day. How were you open and receptive to it?
8. Share your spiritual journey with a friend. Get support from a kindred spirit so you have someone to celebrate your victories with and to give you that much needed nudge when you get stuck. Spiritual Direction/Mentoring is a powerful method for this. (And I would be most happy to serve you in this way).
The wise ones who have walked before us—by their very example—invite us not to live solely on the surface of our lives, but to dive deep into our experience as a divinely sourced human. We are only here for a short visit. Best to make the most of our time and use it wisely. What a powerful invitation to be a Wisdom Bearer, one who portrays and lives out the Virtues of the Spirit to make the world a better place for all beings.
Blessings upon you in 2014. May your chosen Virtue of the Spirit serve as a beacon of light and hope to you!
What Are You Pointing Yourself Towards? Choosing a Virtue of the Spirit to Guide You in 2014 - Part I
There's great benefit in going with the flow.
There's also something to be said about pointing yourself in a certain direction, especially when it comes to the spiritual life.
The mind is fickle and untrained. It goes wherever it wants to go and takes us right along with it. It requires discipline to stay attuned to the path of the soul.
Each January, I take a time of reflection to ponder this. And to ask myself what my soul is really calling me to. What "Virtue of the Spirit" would I like to cultivate within me this year?
This year the answer came fairly easily and quickly: Love. Though I have to admit there was a bit of unsettled energy around it. Just Love? Was that enough?
Love is one of the most misunderstood of Virtues because its essence is often forgotten—left in the dust of our efforts to find romantic love, the perfect partner, the one—our soul mate.
It became clear, however, that the Love to be claimed as a focal point for me for 2014 was not this kind of human-to-human love, but an all-encompassing Love (Love with a capital "L"). It is the Love I associate with the Divine One Itself—the All of Our Existence, the Sacred, the Holy—the "God" of our understanding.
In my view, this Love is the ultimate, because it lives within us and can be made manifest in all our relationships, as well as surrounding us and enfolding us. Sometimes I even think of it as the "glue" that holds us all together.
As I sat and pondered this in the early wintry days of January, a word came to me. And when it came I knew that it was to be the guiding force of this year—and perhaps, for the rest of my life on earth: Spacious Love.
Spacious Love, when accessed, feels to me like a great inner ocean of affection and connection; a sacred cavern within me that is so large and open that it can hold everything and everyone. It welcomes every experience we have and everyone who enters in; received with with tender regard, wholesomeness, and appreciation.
This is the mind and heart state to which I aspire. In 2014, I will be pointing myself in this direction again and again until there are no more closed doors or windows to my heart.
Take some time right now to reflect on and discern what your Virtue of the Spirit will be for 2014.
What does your heart know and what are you willing to point yourself toward to make your life an embodiment of the Sacred?
Stay tuned for Part II to learn HOW to point yourself toward and stay faithful to this Virtue all year long.
Let Go and Receive
We get caught up in the little details of life.
Surrender them to Spirit
and see what few morsels of worry remain,
insignificant crumbs that they are.*
Today, I invite you to let go and receive more.
It seems as if our lives are a constant tug and pull between "I must try harder," and "I need to let go." Our conscious mind encourages us to push through. Our awakened self knows there is great value in relinquishing the effort ... relief, peace, comfort, rest.
But letting go is difficult if you are a human being. It means that you are not really in control of everything. It means embracing the fact that there are some things you are simply powerless over.
Sometimes we have to "act out" letting go before we really can.
Today, as you engage in an act of letting go, position your body to convey that. Body ritual may be key to convincing our hardwired, controlling self that it is alright to "give it up."
There are many ways to do this. One is demonstrated in the photo above. Open your hands. Or ...
... reach out with your arms, palms up, in a gesture of release.
... raise your arms to the sky.
... bow down to the earth.
... prostrate yourself on the floor.
... kneel and bow your head.
Allow your body to express release in the way that is most comfortable to you. Or, stretch yourself a bit and try something new. Body prayer is a powerful way to connect with the Divine.
And then be ready to receive.
Open your arms, open your heart, and feel the goodness of the Universe enter you, pulsate through you, granting you peace of mind, body, and soul. Grace is yours.
Surrender the details of your life to Spirit and let It take care of the rest ...
(*Excerpted from my book, Awakening the Spirit Within.)
Hello Lovely Friends,
Happy New Year!
I've just had another essay published by Shambhala Sun magazine [on their SunSpace blog] — an invitation to live into Love in a most profound way.
"Why I Do Metta" is here for your enjoyment and consideration.
You can read it here.
This is a very personal take on how and why I feel compelled to offer Metta- expressions of goodwill and Loving-kindness—to the people I love and even to strangers. The practice is truly transformative.
If you have an interest in learning how to do this form of mindfulness meditation yourself, I've created a page on this website to guide you through. Here are the complete instructions and guided mp3s.
May the new year bring abundant blessings your way!
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we are meant to live.
Continue the conversation with me and others on my Facebook page.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.