Musings On The Path: Daily Spiritual Reading; January 8-14
January 8: A Season for Everything
“Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again.” Sarah Ban Breathnach
There is a season for everything under the sun. As winter settles its cold grip firmly over the landscape, remember that there is a purpose.
When difficult circumstances arise in your life, try to hold on to the hope that nothing lasts forever. Just as a gentle warmth will eventually thaw the ice, you too will find peace again. Let your heart rest, knowing that this too shall pass. Even when things appear stagnant and unmoving, unseen forces are moving. The winds of change will bring about something new.
Try to maintain some perspective in the face of adversity. Rather than focus on the trial at hand, ask God to give you a moment of peace. Take a few minutes for yourself and reflect on the blessings in your life right now. See if you can look objectively at your circumstances. Step outside of your feelings and ask yourself honestly what things you might learn as you work through the situation. Sometimes lessons aren’t clear. Sometimes we don’t want to face the lessons. That is okay.
The important thing to remember is that life seeks balance. The Universe is an ebb and flow of energy. Seasons move from one to another and your daily life travels from one event to another. Try not to invest too much energy or worry into one single event or circumstance. Realize that this is part of the fabric that weaves the tapestry of your life.
Today search for the golden threads that will glimmer in the final colorful textile that defines your life. Even within the most difficult circumstances, see if you can find a golden nugget of beauty. There is a season for everything. Remember that whatever trials you face, they too will pass by.
January 9: What Do You Want?
“There are two ways of being happy: We must either diminish our wants or augment our means-either may do-the result is the same and it is for each man to decide for himself and to do that which happens to e easier.” Benjamin Franklin
Have you ever taken children into a candy store, or even into the candy aisle at the grocery store? Have you seen their eyes light up with delight as they hop from foot to foot, unable to contain their excitement and unable to decide upon a purchase?
The expression “like a kid in a candy store” means several things. It is to be elated or excited, the result of having many options. It is also feeling as though all your wishes are coming true, that you have everything in life that you could ever hope for.
When you look at your life, do you feel like a kid in a candy store or are you weighed down by lack? Part of being happy and living a fulfilled life is feeling as though all your needs are met. Unfortunately, we are surrounded by options and by the idea that more is better. It is easy to look past the multitude of blessings in your life and be blinded by desire for what you don’t have. The refrain starts softly and builds to a fevered pitch. “I want. I want. I need. I need.” It becomes easy to convince yourself that you don’t just want something but that you really, really need it.
There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting. Change comes about as the result of desire. It is when your desires become consuming and leave you unhappy and unsatisfied, that wanting becomes a problem.
The next time you hear yourself chanting the familiar refrain, “I want. I want. I need. I need,” take a quick inventory of your life. What do you really need right now? Acknowledge that yes, it would be nice to have your want fulfilled, then put your desire on a mental shelf.
If you are willing to work toward that “want” in a way that makes sense, if it doesn’t disrupt your well-being, then work toward that goal. If instead, your “want” sits on that mental shelf, taking up valuable mental energy, but you aren’t willing or able to realistically work toward it, then perhaps it’s time to release that desire.
Today, notice what you have. If you have a roof over your head, food to eat and clothes to wear, then you have exactly what you need to live and be healthy. Express your gratitude for those fundamental blessings, then choose to be happy. Everything else you have is icing on the cake.
January 10: Fear Not
“This is all you have. This is not a dry run. This is your life. If you want to fritter it away with your fears, then you will fritter it away, but you won’t get it back later.” Dr. Laura Schlessinger
What is your greatest fear? Can you imagine what you would do if your greatest fear came to pass? People fear many things: the unknown; failure; loss; pain; disappointment; loneliness; ridicule; rejection and death. These are but a few of the most common fears that plague mankind.
Fear lives in the future, where it lurks and hides with enough strength to destroy your life today. To break the cycle of worry and fear you must focus your attention and energy in this present moment. Even as you are facing your fears head on, you can only tackle pain, rejection, loneliness or any other disaster right now, in this moment.
This present moment is the only time you really have. It is all you really need. Choose to spend your time living today, appreciating the moments of happiness available to you right now. Nothing else matters, but this moment. The past is gone and unchangeable. The future has yet to develop.
Gently focus your mind on today. Focus on what is happening right now. Let the “what-if’s” and the “if-only’s” go, and appreciate the gift of this present moment.
Today try to focus on the moment at hand. Don’t let your mind run away with regrets of past mistakes, or fears of future worries. In this moment, you can find peace. Whatever is happening around you, find a peaceful place inside and dwell calmly in that place. Whatever unexpectedly meets you today, greet it with a peaceful smile.
January 11: Ebb and Flow
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them-that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Lao Tzu
Everything always changes. Nothing ever stays the same and for that we can be grateful. Forest fires rage and eventually burn out. Turbulent storms eventually run aground. Floods rise and the waters fall. Fortunes are made and lost. Natural events always balance themselves and systems eventually return to their natural state of chaos.
Through all the changes and turning tides, the wise person stays patient, knowing that things will change. Good flows into your life followed by adversity. Friends walk along your path for a time before the paths unwind and diverge. Regardless of the circumstances, healing will always follow calamity.
It is wise to patiently endure the continual pattern of destruction and healing. All of the Universe is constantly shifting and changing, expanding and contracting. Even when your life feels as though it is falling apart, realize that this is only a piece of a Universal puzzle. Your life is part of an ever-flowing cycle. By recognizing the transient nature of all of life, you can face difficult (and even pleasant) circumstances with grace and equanimity.
Today, remember that whatever you are going through is part of a Universal flow. Allow yourself to feel and experience what is happening in your life, whether it is good or bad, without getting attached to suffering or fear. Allow things and people to come and go today, and realize that you play a role in their life cycle, just as much as they are a part of yours.
January 12: Standing Apart
“He who would be serene and pure needs but one thing, detachment.” Meister Eckhart
The word detachment seems so harsh; setting oneself apart. Detachment is one tool that can help you travel safely through the world without getting caught up in dangerous situations.
Detachment allows you to recognize circumstances that can be harmful to your physical, emotional or spiritual well-being. Detachment allows you to observe without needing to solve or save.
If you have spent a lot of time taking care of others’ needs while neglecting your own best interest, detachment may seem like a harsh step. If you feel guilty when you don’t rescue a loved one, then detachment may feel unkind and unloving.
When you choose to detach from a situation that could harm you emotionally or financially or physically, it does not mean that you are unloving. It is an acknowledgement that you want to take care of yourself.
I spent some years married to an alcoholic. At first, I tried to save him and change him. After a few years, I realized that his behavior was destructive not only to himself, but to me and my children. I had to detach from the situation. It was difficult, and felt very unkind. I cared about him, but I could not let his drinking destroy myself and my children. I asked him to move out, but did not try to control his drinking or his behavior. I had to let him own and confront his own problems. This difficult step eventually helped all of us find healing, but I could not allow his behavior to determine my outcome. I had to choose to step away.
Don’t be buried by guilt. People who are used to being rescued will resent your unwillingness to save the day. They will call you selfish, greedy, mean, and many other unkind names to make you change your mind. Let go of guilt. It’s okay to say no, and it’s healthy to let people discover how to resolve their own disasters.
Rushing in to save the day doesn’t help anyone. Your health will suffer from anxiety, resentment, fear and frustration. The other person will never learn to depend on their own strengths. Learning detachment is a gift you can give to yourself and those around you.
Today, allow yourself to stand apart. Detach from unhealthy situations and relationships. Allow yourself the freedom to say no to unreasonable requests. Give yourself the space to make healthy choices for yourself and your loved ones. Just for today, allow yourself to detach from all the problems of others, and take time to heal yourself.
January 13: Feeling Good
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi
It is a mistake to think that life must be a struggle. Many people believe that only feelings of anger, fear and pain are valid. They believe that pleasurable feelings such as happiness, joy, peace, contentment, excitement and eagerness are not useful for healing, recovery and growth.
On the contrary, not only are positive emotions good, but they are an excellent indicator that you are on the right path. Your outward emotions act as a barometer indicating whether you are in harmony with your inner guiding voice.
When what you say, what you think and what you do are aligned with what you believe, then you will find your life flowing easily and smoothly. Positive and pleasurable emotions are a natural outpouring of that balanced state.
When you feel resistance, it is likely because you have become unbalanced. Upsetting your spiritual equilibrium will cause a rush of negative emotions: fear, anger, resentment, frustration. Rather than flowing smoothly, you may feel you are paddling upstream against a raging river. You become exhausted and find that you are making no progress
The solution is simple. Return to balance. Seek out people and relationships that respect your values. Do things honestly and with kindness and humility. Treat others with respect. As you begin to change, the flow will return. Take care of this present moment by seeking peace and you will find the future will take care when it arrives.
Today, check in with your emotional body. How are you feeling? Where in your body are you feeling things? Pay attention to how you feel physically and emotionally. Allow yourself the space to feel what it is that you feel. Move into the positive flow; first recognize how you feel, second allow yourself to feel, third breathe through your feelings and begin focusing on positive emotions. In this manner, you can feel good and move into a genuine positive flow.
January 14: Serenity Now
“In struggling against anguish one never produces serenity; the struggle against anguish only produces new forms of anguish.” Simone Weil
Serenity is a place of calm, peace and tranquility. Some groups, such as AA, have adopted the “Serenity Prayer,” by Reinhold Niebuhr. In part it states, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Every breath you take, every step you make can be filled with peace, joy and serenity. The key to finding serenity in any given moment is to be awake and alive in the present moment.
All of nature exists in a state of calm and serenity. Predator and prey alike do not fret about yesterday or next week. Rather they do what they need in the moment of their need. A heron stands still in the water. It moves when it must. It does not move when stillness is appropriate. The heron moves without disturbing those around it, serenity in the right moment.
You can learn this type of serenity: stillness in the appropriate moment, movement when the timing is right. You will find advantage if your action is in accord with the need of the present moment. Peace comes in stillness and awareness.
Today try to bring happiness and serenity to every encounter in your life. Every one of us has a calling to be inspired. Seek to find what inspires you today. Do not seek through striving, but through peaceful observing. Trust in the harmony of all things and know that serenity is available now.