Category Archives: Higher Self

The Power of Prayer

prayerI have always been interested in the potential of prayer. Did praying work, or is it just a pipe dream of the uninformed and naïve. When I was young, my southern-raised grandmas told me to pray. “To Jesus,” they would say. At night when I attempted a prayer I wondered, should I get down on my knees? Can he see me? Do I need to fold my hands in front of my face? Then I thought, “If everyone is praying and asking for something, how can Jesus keep track? How could he possibly answer all these prayers?” I doubted that he could.

By the time I was in college I had been questioning religion for several years and decided, while taking a course on world religions, that I was a Hindu, and not a Christian at all. Upon further study I decided I was, in fact, not a Hindu, but an atheist. My college years were spent questioning the role of religion in our world, while doubting the existence of God and refuting the relevance of prayer.

Over the next couple of years things happened that renewed my faith. Two of my closest college friends died in the same year, eliminating some of my naiveté and forcing me to reconsider my former disregard of God. I reconciled not with the Protestant God I’d been raised with, but a God who embodies both the masculine and feminine—a powerful energy of creation that suffuses all of life. It is with this view of the Divine that I researched prayer for my doctoral dissertation.

My interest in the power of prayer came on the heels of Dr. Larry Dossey’s research which he compiled in his book Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine. This inspired me to research the effect of meditation, visualization, and prayer on a group of patients in England.

Those who offered their prayers were located in the United States and Canada. The study had statistically significant results, with the patients in the receiving group experiencing the most improvement.

One problem some people have with prayer, with asking the Divine for assistance, is that they won’t be heard. But I believe prayers are heard and answered. Sometimes the answer is not what we thought we wanted. Sometimes the answer is “not now” or “you don’t want that in your life—you just think you do.”

We can trust this answer. We don’t know all the unseen forces at work on our behalf, so we can have faith if the answer is “not now.” Although we want life to be the way we desire, we can’t always understand the higher vision. When we trust unseen forces, we can trust that our prayers have been heard and answered.

In my experience, the most powerful prayer holds the intent, “For the best and highest good of all.” For example, “Please help me to make wise choices, to expand my awareness, and to move forward in joy, for the best and highest good of all.”

What is the Dark Night of the Soul?

hopeThis phrase is commonly used to describe a time in one’s life when it appears as though all is lost, including the attention and support of God. Old ways of seeing life and believing in it end without a clear focus on what comes next. It can be a period of dark moods and hopelessness.

Originally stemming from the 16th century writings of Carmelite priest Saint John of the Cross, the phrase “Dark Night of the Soul” was indicative of mystic development, a quest for holiness. In our modern era, the phrase indicates a time when spiritual development is moving full speed ahead, except the person in the midst of it is usually in despair. During this time, the old and familiar fades away, making room for a new and deeper meaning to life. The challenge is that we can’t see the relevance while going through it, so we suffer.

Experienced as internal chaos and misery, the original Christian notion of this Dark Night is that God has turned away for good. What actually happens is a new pathway opens up that encourages transformation of one’s relationship with God. It’s a blessing in disguise.

In Christianity, the feeling of abandonment by God, a place of darkness, is considered a test of one’s faith. The agony of making your way through the dark causes the old self to reform. The ego dissolves, and a surrender takes place. Old expectations and illusions about God are broken. It is this process that brings a person to new levels of consciousness and into a new, more meaningful relationship with God.

In the midst of a Dark Night, don’t pull out the pills or jump off the bridge! Keep walking through it. It doesn’t last. You’ll come out the other side. God, Goddess, the Supreme Being, the Divine, the Universe, whatever name you choose, you can be sure that it does not desert you. It might seem to for a time, but it’s impossible for it to abandon you. Instead it leads you into greater light.

My Thoughts on Doing a Silent Retreat

533796_3292120096307_1066899692_3043234_1472076028_nEvery year I do a silent retreat or two for at least a week at a time. And each time, people look at me puzzled when I tell them this is what I’m doing. After all, it’s so strange to not talk incessantly, or be talked to. Isn’t it?

Sometimes I join a group, other times I go solo. Often, in April, I like to do a solo retreat in Maui or Kauai (or both, let’s be honest). It’s my birthday month and I love to be immersed in the island vibe. But this April, since I was in Maui last September finalizing the last chapters of my new book, I decided to do a silent retreat in a place where I won’t be able to check messages because there’s no wifi, let alone cell phone service. I’ll be with about 100 others, who come together from distant places, all with a similar idea: let’s take a little breather from the madness, check in, tune in, and listen to what’s real and true, if only for a week.

I very much look forward to no talking, writing, reading, computers, television, or electronics of any kind. No checking email, no Facebook, no Twitter, no CNN, no Orange County Housewives. Am I in the minority when I think we’ve become a completely distracted, unbalanced society through this media? At any rate, there will be the sights and sounds of nature along with deer, turkeys, maybe a fox or two, hawks, lizards, sunshine and intermittent fog.

And, oh yes, I almost forgot—the sound of my own thoughts. The chatter of my inner 5 year old, my inner sullen teenager, and various other inner selves all interrupting my older, wiser self. There will be unexpected random memories, songs from 1983, compulsive planning, weighing the pros and cons of letting my hair go gray, living room redecorating, and ideas of what I should have said to someone 15 years ago. This chatter will go on at least for the first couple of days until it exhausts itself and my mind surrenders to balance and spaciousness.

The first time I attended a silent retreat, I had signed up for 10 days at a meditation center in the Massachusetts countryside. I’d been told by one of my professors that it was the best thing he ever did. Better than any sort of therapy. Incredibly transformational. So I jumped right in and attended the New Year retreat when we entered this millennium. It was lights out by 10pm on December 31, 1999. No fanfare, noise, champagne, nothing. We were awakened by the sound of a bell at 4:00am on January 1, 2000 to continue meditating. It was odd, but delightful.

So here I am 13 years later, still longing to get immersed in my week of silent meditation. Still looking forward to not knowing what’s happening in the outer world. It feels a little defiant, actually, in this information age, to simply turn my back on it all and ignore it. I won’t speak for a week, or be spoken to. I won’t hear my neighborhood’s leaf blowers, screaming children, or the Harleys going down Hwy 1 on Sunday. Instead, I’ll have the opportunity to engage inwardly, locate my deepest center, learn to love the rhythm of my own breath, and release a bit of what doesn’t belong to me.

When it’s over, I’ll return home with greater inner peace, with more love to share, and a greater tolerance for all that is noisy and alive. Now why would anyone not want that?

Communing with Your Higher Self

green goddessYour Higher Self is the wise, all-knowing part of you that is connected directly to All That Is—the Divine Source. It knows why you’re here, where you’re headed, and carries much knowledge and awareness accumulated through eons of time. I believe it’s the part of us that helps us hold our integrity in life. It keeps us moving forward toward positive expansion.

In this age of constant distractions—shiny, sparkly objects catching the attention at every turn—it’s easy to become detached from the Higher Self. At worst, this detachment leads to self-abuse such as drug-use, violence, physical neglect, and negative mental states. At best, it’s a nagging feeling that you’re not living the way you were meant to.

Accessing your Higher Self connects you to your wisest self which has answers for you and knows what step to take next. Communing with your Higher Self requires that your mind be quiet enough to hear its wisdom. Being in silence, settling inward, and getting in touch with the body and breath is one path to linking more strongly with your Higher Self. Experiencing joy is another way. Real inner joy, coming from experiences that raise your vibration high enough that you transcend the ordinary mundane world, can link with your true higher nature.

We not only can touch our soul essence in meditation by tuning into the body and breath, or when we allow ourselves to be truly joyful, but we can gain guidance from our Higher Self and begin to allow it to be the guiding force in our lives. Once you’re in touch—ask, wait, listen, and trust. It’s always been talking to you, but hasn’t always been heard. So give it some practice because there is no guidance better for you than your own wise counsel.