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- Non-denominational Beliefs & Practices
“A magic wand...this is what Harry had been really looking forward to.”
Spiritual Significance in Harry Potter: Part II
With an incantation and the flick of a wrist a witch or wizard can repair glasses, summon broomsticks or conjure a pig's tail on an annoying person. The intention to bless or to curse activated through words and actions, creates powerful results for good or for evil. Now, imagine for a moment that a gifted young witch was given a magic wand, but never told what it was or how it was to be used. When she was happy and optimistic, flowers sprouted, people got their wish and everything flourished. When she was angry or afraid, crows appeared, projects were ruined and destruction reigned. She might feel at the mercy of such a perplexing and changeable world, never dreaming that it was her emotions, words and actions that manifested the good and evil around her.
The mind is like a very powerful magic wand that we have all been given. The beliefs we hold in our minds become the magic that flows through our thoughts, words and actions, casting powerful spells all around us. Our beliefs are creating our world, just like magic. What we place our focus on is what manifests in our life. Our beliefs dictate how we respond in each moment, how we treat others and what we expect to happen or find. Our beliefs will decide if we live in the castle where happiness reigns supreme or at the edge of the swamp, muttering darkly over our cauldrons.
Unfortunately, many of our beliefs aren't chosen deliberately, they are given to us growing up. We allow them to be without examining them. Perhaps you've heard the story of the young woman, newly set-up in her first apartment, who is making a roast for the first time. She looks through her notebook of family recipes and begins preparing a roast according to the instructions. She cuts off the front and the back of the roast and bends down to throw the ends away and as she straightens, she feels a flash of anger. Roast is expensive. She wonders why trimming the roast makes it taste better. She calls her mother to ask, but to her surprise her mother doesn't have the slightest idea--that's the way her mother always did it. So the young woman calls her grandmother to ask why she trims the ends off her roast and the grandmother tells her when she first started cooking she only had a wee little roasting pan and she had to trim the ends off the roast to make it fit!
Many of our beliefs are given to us by our family, our friends, our community, our culture and our country. Well-intentioned advice, given to keep us happy and safe, may have been very practical once upon a time, but completely useless in the present moment, completely useless to our current needs. Only we can know what serves us and it is our responsibility to examine our beliefs and choose for ourselves. Recently, I heard an interview given by Oprah Winfrey where she shared that as a small girl she had a memory of watching her grandmother, who was a maid, hanging up laundry to dry. The grandmother, intending to be helpful, told Oprah to make sure she watched and learned so that one day when Oprah became a maid she could do it right. Having a good job as a maid was the best vision her grandmother was capable of holding for Oprah. However, Oprah, at the age of four years old, knew in her heart that her future would be better. Oprah didn't know how it would be better, but she had full faith that it would be and so it was.
If our thoughts, words and actions up till now have created our present existence, then different thoughts, words and actions are necessary in order to create a different future. Our first mission is to become aware of habitual thoughts, words and beliefs and examine them in order to decide if they still serve who we are and where we are headed. When we first begin paying attention, we may be surprised that our thoughts are so negative. Thoughts like, “that was stupid,” or “this will never work,” or “I'm so fat!” These thoughts become part of our identity, who we believe ourselves to be and what we believe we may accomplish.
The subconscious mind is the place where we store our memories, access our emotions and hold our beliefs. The subconscious mind believes whatever we program into it and then it works to bring about everything we believe about ourselves and others. When we sabotage ourselves, it is the subconscious mind ensuring that our beliefs are reinforced. Then we get the satisfaction of saying, “I knew it!” The ego needs to be right and will choose right over happy every time. When people act negatively towards us, it is probable that we are unknowingly provoking them so that they will mirror our beliefs. The truth is we are never victims, we are participants. That can be very hard to hear and even harder to believe, when people have done terrible things to us, but just as different chemicals react differently when mixed together, so too do different people react differently when mixed together.
Each situation develops according to each person's expectations of what is probable. We are part of the combination of people in each situation and as such influence the progression of events. Knowing that we are active participants in our life is actually empowering. We take back our power when we realize that our thoughts and beliefs are creating our life. Imagine how believing that all people are our friends and that the Universe is a safe place would not only change what occurs for us, but how it would help elevate other people's lives as well.
I stayed a few days with a friend who had a vicious cat that attacked people. I kept a wide berth. At the end of the stay, my family came to pick me up and take me home and my nephew, who came to the door to let us know it was time to go, asked if he could use my friend's bathroom. On his way through the living room, my nephew nonchalantly stroked this cat from top to tail. My friend and I and the cat all stood frozen in disbelief. My nephew got away with it because he had no fear of cats and certainly no knowledge that this cat could be vicious. Believing he was safe—he was. That's how life works: our beliefs influence our actions, which influences our relationships.
Change is only possible if we can first catch and then confront our opinions, thoughts and beliefs. This may prove difficult for the ego, which enjoys defending our identity. Our identity may be constructed around our race, religion, political affiliation, birth order, gender, sexual expression, nationality, age and a host of other considerations, but truly our identity is merely a role we choose to play. Don't we all have an entire collection of different roles we play as they suit us? We are quite different with our children, than we are with our spouse, than we are with our work colleagues, then we are with our friends, then we are with the waiters and clerks who wait on us, then we are with our parents, than we are in the silence, alone. Which role is the real us? Can any of the roles we play truly define our vast limitlessness? Making it more difficult, other people may respond negatively when we expand our identities and claim more of who we are. However, we must, not just for our own well being, but to also encourage others to realize more of their own potential. We honor people when we share our truth, hold our ground, express ourselves, and remain open because we are communicating our belief in their strength to handle the truth.
If you walked into a dark room, expecting to find a specific item and you shut the door behind you, you would blindly continue to search for the expected item, dismissing everything that wasn't that item, until you eventually found what you were searching for. Some people expect betrayal, others disappointment, still others vindication. I say, expect God, expect the good, expect love – you will find it if you stay focused on finding it!
Recently, some people close to me had invited friends to stay with them. However, they were ashamed of the state of their home, specifically, the carpets. "Our house is a disaster area," was their cry. Although they can be very organized (and it would have been better to put off the renovation until after the friends visit) they ripped out all their carpeting and purchased new carpeting. Unfortunately, they never bothered to check if that was convenient for the carpeting company, who couldn't come and lay new carpeting for a few weeks because they were currently out of the selected carpet. Their friends arrived and ended up staying in a home with dusty concrete sub-floors, plywood stairs and exposed carpet tacks, furniture piled up and possessions boxed everywhere. My friends were very successful in their creation of a "disaster area,” far worse then stained carpets. Their subconscious thoughts and fears had manifested. If you were to ask them they might say, “we just had some bad luck, it certainly wasn't our fault, how were we to know?” However, they were the main actors in their story, as we all are and when we take responsibility for our actions and then examine what the thoughts and feeling were behind the actions we took. We can begin to make real change in our lives by thinking better thoughts and feeling better feelings. Our thoughts and feelings are in our control and we can change them at will. When we do, we create a better existence, just like magic.
When a vexing person or situation arises, if we take a moment to step back from it, we can recognize that the universe is giving us the opportunity to heal our ego. It is the ego that is upset, that rejects what is and desires for things to be different than they are. “How dare they,” the ego says “who do they think are, don't they know who I am? This is UNACCEPTABLE!” Finding life to be unacceptable, the ego then tries to make what is happening change in order to become acceptable. When we attempt to change the outer world, we cause more suffering, more conflict, more anxiety. We feel separate from others and we alert them of it: “this is not acceptable, YOU are not acceptable!” Conflict only escalates. If we lash out at others, we need to recognize the action, the feeling, the judgment was always part of us, the event was just a convenient opportunity to express ourselves. When we are peaceful within, our words and actions are peaceful. In a very real way, we can thank those who trigger us for showing us what needs healing within us, what is keeping us from living peaceful and contented lives.
If someone is yelling at us, instead of getting upset, we can remain peaceful and respond knowing we are going through this together. We can ask them why they are in pain. We can ask them what we can do to help. We can assert our boundaries. We can share our feelings, instead of unleashing abuse. We can excuse ourselves to give them some space to calm down. We can let them know we hear them. We have options, beyond reacting with more anger. We heal the situation by calming our ego and choosing to love, which creates more options. We escape issues of right and wrong, forget about blaming and shaming and instead find solutions. This takes a great deal of power, to respond to someone's aggressiveness or insensitivity with love, but when we do, we are on our way to healing.
Magic occurs when we accept that what is happening is happening and send love to the situation, love to the people involved and especially, love to the locations in our bodies that are experiencing the discomfort and pain of resistant thinking and negative feelings. Are we feeling anger? Where do we feel it? How does it feel? Send it love. What often occurs is that when the emotional charge caused by the ego's reaction to the event is dissolved – so too is the event!
I discovered this early one Sunday morning. People were entering and exiting the house through the sliding screen door beneath my bedroom, banging it loudly, speaking loudly and I could hear the distinctive pop of golf balls being hit. My frustration and disbelief might have led to lashing out at others. Instead it led to a round of visualization and affirmations, during which I came to focus on the physical pain within. Tightness in my sternum and coldness in my feet is how my frustration felt. As I continued repeating my affirmations, I sent love to these areas, feeling them relax and untwist, experiencing a sudden burst of love in my chest. When I was finished and all was calm within me, all was silent below me. Magic.
All suffering is the opportunity to heal the ego. Heal the ego and not only does the suffering disappear, but the physical event may just dissolve as well. The physical event is merely the Universe's way of bringing our ego to our attention so that it may be healed.
There is Wisdom in Loving
When you are experiencing a challenging relationship, with a family member or friend or work colleague – you can heal that relationship by using the following terms in a blessing: sometimes, frequently, mostly and always. For example, what if your son is being particularly unloving of late and is unhelpful. Extend your view to include every member of your family and then on a piece of paper write the blessing, “my family is sometimes loving and supportive” and leave space for three examples beneath it. Now that the blessing is established, be on the look out for examples of loving and supportive behavior from your family. This expectation will attract to you the very experiences you are seeking. When you have your three examples as proof, next write: “my family is frequently loving and supportive” and again leave space for three examples of ways in which your family is loving and supportive. When those spaces are filled write: “my family is mostly loving and supportive,” following the same procedure and finally, you will be able to write: “my family is always loving and supportive.”
At the end of the process, you will have a dozen examples proving these statement true. Take the time to personally thank each member in some way for their love and support. As you begin to live the truth of these statements and share these new beliefs with others, you will see your relationships improving, including the relationship with the family member who was most challenging. Extend this practice to any challenge. If there is conflict, look for ways in which you are in harmony. If there is selfishness, look for ways in which people are generous. If people are ill, look for examples of health, energy and vitality. Always include the entire group of friends, family or colleagues and these steps will go very quickly. As your subconscious mind comes to value and appreciate your relationships, it will begin responding to people in a more loving and gracious way, which will in turn lead to relationships for which everyone is grateful. To the extent that you are able to like something, anything about someone – that is the extent to which you are able to access their field of pure potentiality.