Musings On The Path: Daily Spiritual Reading; February 15-21
February 15: Improv Is Not Just a Joke
“What all my years in improvisation taught is that – if you’re going to grow as a performer-you have to try some new things. You’ve got to be willing to take a few risks.” Jack McBrayer
Sometimes in life you have to improvise. You create your life spontaneously, from whatever materials are available. Planning is good and essential for success, but sometimes plans fall through. When things go wrong, it’s time to improvise.
You may have head the phrase, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” This phrase indicates that your best laid plans, even when carefully and thoughtfully prepared, may go wrong. It’s nobody’s fault when things go wrong. Sometimes it happens.
When plans go wrong, it is time to improvise. Once during my radio show, the electronic equipment failed and my scheduled guest did not arrive. Rather than panic and fall apart, I improvised. With a technician working on the equipment, I stepped around him in the studio. Fortunately, I always prepare more material than I need, just in case. Taking a deep breath, I improvised for an entire hour, with no commercial breaks to catch my breath. Instead of panicking, I practiced deep breathing and focused on doing a great job. And I survived the hour. In fact, many listeners to the radio station had no idea of the problems we encountered along the way to bringing our show!
Improv is not an easy gig. When life throws you a curve ball, the best course of action is to breathe deeply, try to remain calm, and think. Take a moment to regain your balance. When you feel centered and calm, even though you may be panicking on the inside, move forward with a new plan of action. While it might not be what you expected, you might discover that it was exactly what you needed.
Today, expect the unexpected. Be prepared for plans to go awry, and be ready to move through the unexpected with grace and equanimity. You don’t have to panic. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to move gently into the next moment.
February 16: Facing Life’s Storms
“Never cut a tree down in the winter time. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decision when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” Robert H. Schuller
Life is fraught with storms. Both literal and figurative, storms sweep through our lives, wrecking havoc, stirring up energy and leaving life changed as they pass through. Whether you experience an environmental storm or an emotional storm, the results can be life altering.
I witnessed a tornado and it’s shocking aftermath in Windsor, Colorado during a spring storm in 2008. The wind blew, increasing in speed and intensity, until the roar of the heavens roared, deafening. Objects which had never flown before, hurled through the air, smashing into the sides of buildings. After colliding and crashing back to earth, the fragments of our lives were torn asunder. And then it was quiet. All around lay the dismembered remains of suburbia, the air hung heavy and silent, and not even a bird dared utter a sound.
Emotional storms can have the same effect. Whether the storm rages from the drunken mouth of an angry alcoholic or from a disenchanted teen with a broken heart, often the results are as dramatic and devastating as a hurricane or tornado. In a few brief moments words are spoken, actions are taken, deeds are done that change the course of lives forever.
When overcome by storms in your life, try to remember that this too shall pass. Nothing lasts forever, neither good or bad. As you pick up the pieces following any storm remember that you can do all things with the help of your Higher Power. You are not alone.
If you are in a storm today, first don’t fight. It is useless to rage against a storm, whatever form it takes. Allow the storm to pass, seek protection from harm, and keep yourself and your family safe. Once the winds have raged, assess the damage, and decide how best to move forward. Whether you are dealing with the damage left from a flood, or the hurt caused by an angry outburst, the steps are similar. Assess the damage, determine a course of action, and remain calm. This too shall pass.
February 17: Come What May
“Be willing to have it so. Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” William James
Acceptance can be a challenge. Often, we are willing to accept others long before we ever accept ourselves. God created you with specific gifts, talents, strengths and weaknesses. You are exactly what God wanted. You are exactly right, just the way you are.
You were created with a purpose. All of your traits can help you achieve your greatest potential. Don’t wish away what you are. Rather, delight in the beauty that is you. Now is the time to call forth the grand vision for your life, through your thoughts, words, and actions.
By accepting yourself first, you become open to accepting circumstances as they come your way. Remember, there are no accidents or coincidences; everything you experience is exactly as it should be. Right now, you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
If things aren’t what you’d like, you can change your circumstances by simply changing your mind. It sounds simple, and it is. Kind of. Changing your mind is the easiest and the hardest thing you have to do in order to change your circumstances. The first step is acceptance. Accept the fact that you are where you are. Next, accept the truth that you have created these circumstances. Regardless of whether you like them, this is what you have created. Acceptance with gratitude; acknowledge and appreciate where you are and what you have chosen to bring you to this place.
Once you have accepted your life as it is, the process of change begins by thinking and speaking differently about your circumstances. Instead of thinking and saying things like, “I hate my life. This sucks. I wish things were different,” you can reframe your thoughts.
Try thinking and saying things like, “I realize I am here because of choices I have made. I am thankful for the lessons I am learning from this experience. I can choose a different path. I want my life to reflect a healthier and more vibrant choice.”
When you accept your circumstances with gratitude, then you are able to learn what needs to be done, and move forward. As you accept yourself and your circumstances with gratitude, you will find the path of healing and wholeness easier to walk.
Today, rather than blame, try to accept. Accept where you are. Accept what is happening. Accept who you are. If any of these situations are unacceptable to you, then begin changing your mind about what you want in your life.
February 18: Right and Wrong
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” Mother Teresa
Would you rather be right or happy? While choosing happiness may seem logical, many times you want to be right. In fact, many times you are actually right, whether it’s an argument with a teenager, a disagreement with a spouse, a boss or a co-worker, there are a lot of times when you are right and they are wrong. But being right doesn’t always lead to happiness. Choosing happiness is a full time endeavor, and sometimes it means giving up being right.
It is easy to get caught up in “right or wrong” thinking. I spent too much time in my life believing that if I was right, then the other person was clearly wrong. Countless arguments and irritations arose from my need to always be right. I was afraid that being wrong made be a lesser person.
There is a lot of gray between right and wrong. In recent years, I have learned an even more peaceful path; the path of kindness. The need to always be right is a lonely path. People get tired of being made wrong, of being corrected and of being spoken down to. The path of happiness and kindness is much more peaceful and “right and wrong” blend into the gray.
You can choose. Do you want to live in the clear-cut, black and white world of right and wrong? Would you rather seek peace, kindness and happiness? Choosing happiness begins with a decision. You decide to fight to be right, or you choose kindness and happiness. Replace judgement and anger with love and forgiveness. Choose happiness grants instant release from blame, resentment and victimization.
When you find yourself defending your position today, take a moment to choose kindness. This doesn’t mean you are wrong. It means that you are choosing to be peaceful rather than arguing. It means allowing another person the right to their own opinion, without judgement. Today you get to decide if you’d rather be right or kind.
February 19: Your Own Path
“The spiritual path is simply the journey of living our lives. Everyone is on a spiritual path; most people just don’t know it.” Marianne Williamson
We are all spiritual beings in human bodies. We are all on a spiritual path to God.
Your spiritual journey is between you and your Higher Power. It is not dependent on any formal religion, denomination or sect. Your path and your relationship with God are private, personal and holy.
Organized religion and church are man’s attempts to control others. Rules are constructed to control behavior. People often lose sight of God under the constraints of religion.
There is no such thing as an incorrect path. Many paths, one destination; all paths lead us to the same place. We are all heading toward God. The path you are on is your path today. The point of life, according to the book “Conversations With God,” is to create who and what you are and have a full experience of that. Anyone who earnestly seeks God will find him.
God can be found in church. God can be found in nature. God can be found in music. God can be found in art. God can be found anywhere you look. God is all around you, speaking through the breeze, through your friends, through your thoughts. Finding God on your own path requires only that you seek. Seek and ye shall find.
Be aware of God all around you today. Listen for his small, still voice. Try to remember that you are on a spiritual path, and left your life unfold in that manner today.
February 20: Great Expectations
“The secret self knows the anguish of our attachments and assures us that letting go of wht we think we must have to be happy is the same as letting go of our unhappiness.” Guy Finley
The world is full of expectation. People have expectations of us; how we dress, how we behave, what we say and do. And we expect things of others, of situations and circumstances. We hold in our mind how we think things should end up.
In the end expectations lead to unhappiness. Getting caught up in what others require can lead you to feel victimized, unappreciated and guilty. You have no control over what others want or expect from you. You do have control over your life. You have the power to set your own course.
My oldest daughter received a full scholarship to attend college and study chemistry. After one semester, she decided that she didn’t like the school at all. My expectation was that she would stay in school and learn to like it. During a heated argument, she told me, “Mom, you can’t live your dreams through me.” I realized through her wisdom that I could not force her to live my expectations. She was free to choose her own path, as we all are. I had to let go of my need to control, in order to maintain my happiness.
Besides other’s expectations of your behavior, your own expectations are another way you cause your own suffering. By approaching life with certain outcomes in mind, you set yourself up for disappointment. If you expect certain things to happen in a certain way or at a specific time, then you will likely experience disappointment.
It’s okay to want things to turn out a certain way, or to hope things happen. Don’t attach your happiness to the outcome of anything. You have no control over anything but yourself. You control your own happiness. Passion is the fire that drives your creative being. Allow that creative fire to burn brightly, but be ready to release the outcome. Nothing is more freeing than enjoying the process while remaining unattached to the end result.
Today, allow yourself to enjoy the process and the journey of your life, without expectation of how things will work out. Release your need to control outcomes and enjoy the journey. Life unfolds in the process of life. Don’t mar the process with unrealistic expectations. Allow it to flow all around you.
February 21: No Time Like The Present
“The art of life is to live in the present moment, and to make that moment as perfect as we can by the realization that we are the instruments and expression of God Himself.” Emmet Fox
Life is found in this moment. What happened yesterday doesn’t matter. It is gone. All of your worrying, fretting and wishing can’t change what has past. Tomorrow is only a promise. You cannot know what tomorrow will bring. Today is a gift.
Peace tranquility and happiness can be found in this moment. You have a choice and in this moment you can choose peace. Breathe deeply. Let happiness settle into you as you smile in this present moment.
Recently, I fell out of peace. Having just quit my job, our family was feeling financially strained. Quitting the job was a positive step, but on this particular day, I was consumed with regret for my decision. I was full of fear for our financial future. Forgetting to breathe, panic rose in my chest, making me dizzy and more afraid.
And then I read a blog about simplifying your life. I expected to read tips on cutting costs. Instead the article challenged readers to say no to one thing every day for a month. It gave several suggestions: say no to an unnecessary social engagement; say no to watching television in the evening; say no to an obligation that you might normally commit to. I pondered what I could say no to. I decided to say no to worrying about money. I realized that in that moment, I had everything I needed. I realized that I didn’t need to fret about next week’s bills. Everything will come to pass at the necessary time. Immediately I felt peaceful. When I decided to say no to worrying about money, I released myself from guilt and fear.
Living in the moment is not always easy. Breathe deeply and trust that right now, everything is exactly as it should be. If something else comes along, you can deal with it in its proper time. You can’t change the past or the future. Worrying about either one will only drain you. Instead, focus on this moment and be grateful for the blessings in your life right now.
Today is all you have. This moment is all you have. Live today. Appreciate this moment. The next moment will take care of itself when it gets here. Breathe deeply and smile. You are alive!