Spiritual Practices in Challenging Times – Jim Lockard guest blog

May you live in interesting times ~ Ancient Chinese Curse

We live in interesting times, which means that we live in challenging times. Of course, there are always challenges present, there is only a difference in degree and in how individuals or groups relate to the challenges present. But for each of us, the challenges present in our own lives are ours to master.

The challenges that I will focus on here are challenges to our highest ways of being. Our society makes it a challenge to be loving and kind, to be wise and true, to be humble and honest. We live in a harsh emotional climate where anger and hate, ridicule and insult, driven by fear, often rule the day.

“Fear is insidious, fear is contagious, fear reflects our darkest dreads & most harrowing nightmares. Fear is imagining far beyond the worst-case scenario. Fear becomes anger, becomes irrational, isolates & looks for a target for its terror. The awakened ones have always offered a spiritually designed alternative. It’s called mature love, evolved kindness, radical compassion. And, the good news is, it’s who we essentially are. When I commit to waking up & staying up, I find ways to serve Spirit by helping others. Divine guidance & intuition point me to the ways of personally contributing to forging a new path founded on inclusion & transcendence. God Is/I Am!” ~ Dr. Sue Rubin on Facebook

Fear is the major driver of our politics today and when driven by fear, we cannot strive to the heights of human possibility, rather we can only focus on keeping what we fear at bay. Dr. Sue Rubin hits the metaphysical nail on the head when she speaks of the need to change our viewpoint, our attitude, toward our fears. We need to wake up and stay up as spiritually mature people. Our fears are nothing but beliefs, nothing but inner reactions to an interpretation of outer events. We can change our attitudes — our interpretations. It is the key to spiritual growth.

“The GREATEST discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” ~William James

The word attitude has an interesting meaning in aviation. It is a measure of the relationship of the wings of an aircraft to the horizon. You might think of your own attitude as the relationship of your emotional self to unconditional love. You have a positive attitude if you are close to unconditional love and a negative attitude the farther that you get from unconditional love.

“The highest attitude of mind, from which all else springs, is one of perfect calm and absolute trust in the Spirit.” ~ Ernest Holmes, Creative Mind

We constantly enable lousy attitudes in one another. We say things like “anyone would be upset.” (Really? How about the Dalai Lama?} We often rush to show sympathy to someone, when the more compassionate thing to do would be to remind them (lovingly) who they really are. We flock to “entertainment” where victimhood is celebrated, revenge is enacted, and violence and harsh words fill our ears. Actions such as this, no matter how well-meaning, simply serve to enable limitation and negativity.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor Frankl survived the concentration camps of the Nazis not only physically, but psychologically as well — he refused to give the Nazis dominion over his mind and emotions. We are constantly surrounded by events which can, if we so empower them (and disempower ourselves in the process), distract us from our peace and purpose in life. Through regular, purposeful spiritual practices, we steel ourselves against such distractions — it is not that we do not see them, it is that we retain our power when we do. Staying empowered means that we can be humble, for one is only able to be truly humble when empowered. We are then open to the awe of being alive!

“Awe and humility — the twin attitudes necessary for religious or psychological truth — being new life to each of us, if we can bear them.” ~ James Hollis

Interesting times call for a deeper dive into spiritual practice and, thus, a deeper sense of spiritual realization. We become what we think about all day long, so that spiritual practice must extend beyond just a morning formal practice. We must also pay attention to our thoughts and feelings as the day progresses, using clear intentions to guide us and bring us back into alignment when we drift or are distracted. Remember that our Source is Spirit — focus on that when things are challenging. But first, prepare yourself daily for those challenges that are on your agenda but have not arrived yet — build your spiritual muscle in advance.

No current spiritual practice? Begin One!
Have a current practice? Expand and/or deepen it! 

Affirm:  Fear does not govern my life. I live in awareness of Source and I realize my Power as Love every moment of every day.

“The decisive question for a human is:  Is he/she related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his/her life. Only if we know that the thing which truly matters is the infinite can we avoid fixing our interests upon futilities, and upon all kinds of goals which are not of real importance. Thus, we demand that the world grant us recognition for qualities which we regard as personal possessions:  our talent or our beauty. The more a human lays stress on false possessions, and the less sensitivity he/she has for what is essential, the less satisfying is his/her life. He/she feels limited because he/she has limited aims, and the result is envy and jealousy. If we understand and feel that here is this life we already have a link with the infinite, desires and attitudes change.” ~Carl Gustav Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections (gender-neutral added)


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