What’s the Difference between Religion and Spirituality?

The concept and practice of spirituality is becoming more popular and acceptable these days. Many people, however, struggle with defining the difference between spirituality and religion. I will offer some fundamental differences between traditional religion, progressive religion and spirituality.

I also provide research on the trends of religion and spirituality. Additionally my own thoughts are included, as to the importance of traditional religions being more open to progressive spiritual concepts for their own sustainability.

What is Religion?
The word religion in Latin means: “to bind oneself, to commit oneself.” Religion involves offering duty, a commitment to God and its particular teacher/prophet, such as: Jesus Christ or Mohammad.

Religion is about morals and what’s deemed right or wrong by the religious leaders. The spiritual or religions teacher’s messages are interpreted by church leaders and created doctrines, for man’s understanding and use. These doctrines offer a moral compass, and dictate how people should conduct themselves in order to win favor of God and the religion in general. 

Traditional religion I believe, often stresses the importance of sacrificing oneself as a way to honor and live for one’s God. Religion offers rituals of worship and praise to their God. It is public and group centered in its orientation; designed to be a source of comfort and advice, through a supportive community.

Conventional religious organizations, offer a way and place to worship and praise their God. Providing a structure for connection and friendship. Likewise, offering inspiring and comforting messages, rituals and music.

The churches or temples are beautiful and offer a sense of awe and peace. Religion serves many people well, and reinforces the “group think” and connection need.

Systems, such as: governments, education, corporate and financial systems, have rules and ways the masses are to adhere to, in order for the system to function. These systems require the group to conform, so it doesn’t want you to be different or step out of the norm.

Beginning in childhood, we are condition to conform to family and group/system rules and order. On one level, this serves a purpose and is a means of maintaining order within the system. However, it can create subtle, yet powerful ways to control people.

I view traditional religion, as a system, having its own rules and group norms. Generally, religion, like most systems is about conformity to its group rules. It’s not really interested in you becoming self-actualized or liberated‒free. It often struggles with independent thinkers and people being “out of the box.”

In my opinion, the philosophy of many religious organizations advocates the belief: God, is out there somewhere. So you need a third party to intervene with your communion and communication with God.

Traditional religion is a structured institution, governed by hierarchy, which is mostly male dominated and oriented. Today some religious hierarchies remain blinded to the fact, that women are becoming more empowered and have equal merit in their wisdom and capabilities to be religious leaders.

Progressive religious organizations are ones that are breaking the old paradigm, and including women in leadership roles and worship services. They are in general more including, rather than excluding, and embrace the concept of unity, rather an separation.

What is Spirituality?
The origin of “spiritual” is the Latin word spiritus meaning breath. Breathing, is an essential element of human life. Therefore, spirituality like breathing, is part of the essence of living. Other words with this common root include inspire, aspire and to conspire which means to breathe together.

Spirituality is more personal and individual in its philosophy and formats. It takes a more holistic‒body, mind and spirit approach. With an emphasis on one’s well being within their connection to a higher power. It views the divine, is as much inside of each of us as outside of us.

It embraces and encourages three parts or aspects of life, for exploration and discovery:
1. Divine wisdom from a higher power and your own
higher self.
2. One’s connection and relationship to nature and the
universe.
3. The discovery of the true self.

I believe, spiritual seekers have interest in moving beyond their ego; with a desire to live more from their heart-center. Spirituality encourages exploration of the soul and seeks to ask, and more importantly explore life transforming questions, such as:
Who am I?    
What’s my purpose for being here?
What’s the meaning of life?

Spirituality allows you to have control of your own individual journey‒your purpose, beliefs and method. Like the spiritual masters and teachers of many traditions. A spiritually mature and confident person has released the “group think” ideas and mind-set.

They are independent thinkers and doers; sailing on their own spiritual destiny. They are comfortable and adaptable with both personal and group interactions. They have learned the art of non-attachment, so they are accepting and tolerant to the path of others. Additionally, they have no need to convince others of their own spiritual path.

Distinctions between Religion and Spirituality
In my view, a major distinction between conventional religion and spirituality is: Spirituality advocates inclusion, love and unity of all parts of us, our fellow humans, and the earth.

It views the natural world as sacred, and has a child-like curiosity of the universe, and our connection to all that makes up the universe. Spirituality sees the divine/God in all that is. In addition, there is equal honoring and value of both female and male in leadership and teaching roles

Many traditional religions are about fear and shame/guilt, promoting a fear of God/Allah. Advocating separation and exclusion, an “us vs. them” mind-set. If you aren’t of my faith and belief, you are not welcomed and I should refrain from interaction with you.

I’ve come to realize a simple distinction between religion and spirituality is: Religion tells you who you need to be. Where as, spirituality invites you to discover who you are and can be.

There are roughly 4, 200 religions today
Most people believe in only one of these and discount the other 4,199. There are over 7 billion people on the planet today and each one of us likely has a different perception and interpretation of what spiritually and religion means.

I believe the key is the realization that humans and all of life, for that matter are inherently spiritual. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Spiritually affirms there can be many paths to the divine and inner peace. It encourages the exploration of the metaphysical.

“Metaphysics” is the study or exploration of those things and phenomena which are “beyond-the-physical” realm. It’s our connection to all things seen and  unseen.

Spirituality does not necessarily need a building to connect with God and inner peace. Many spiritual people find connection with their higher power and to life in more natural and informal surroundings.

To promote one’s spiritual experience, ways of self-expression and connection with divine energy. Spirituality encourages, meditation, being in nature, participation in a yoga or other self-enhancement classes, and spiritual retreats, etc.. Even preparing and eating a meal can be a spiritual experience with mindful intention, thoughts and practice.

I myself enjoy and encourage my clients (if they choose) in exploring the teachings and wisdom of different spiritual masters and world religions. This makes for a more inclusive understanding and acceptance of others. Which is part of the ingredients of love and world fellowship.

Enlightened Beings
Teachers and prophets: Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad and Krishna were not of a particular religion. Jesus wasn’t Christian and Buddha wasn’t Buddhist. They were spiritually enlightened beings and teachers, who taught inclusion, unconditional love, acceptance, and higher divine truth and ways of being. Particular religions adopted each of these teacher’s as their own. As in Jesus Christ associated with Christianity and Mohammad with Islam, etc.

Jesus for example, was an independent thinker and doer. He was for everyone. He interacted with women, children, the poor and sick. He promoted power-with, not power over. He challenged Jewish law, and broke the Sabbath; he was a rebel/”out of the box.” Church/group leaders were threatened by him, and used their man-made laws to condemn him.

Jesus’ purpose was to offer humanity, a higher dimension of love, teaching divine/metaphysical laws and ways to live a reverent spiritual life.

A Trend Toward Spirituality 
The phrase “spiritual but not religious” has become widely used in recent years by some Americans who are trying to describe their religious identity. While Pew Research Center does not categorize survey respondents in such a way, surveys do find that the U.S. public overall appears to be growing a bit less religious‒but also somewhat more spiritual.

A study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2012 found that the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion has increased from 15% in 2007 to 20% in 2012. One fifth of the US public and a third of adults under the age of 30 are reportedly unaffiliated with any religion, however they view themselves as being spiritual in some way. Of these religiously unaffiliated Americans, 37% classify themselves as spiritual, not religious, while 68% say they do believe in God, and 58% feel a deep connection to the earth.    http://www.pewforum.org/files/2012/10/NonesOnTheRise-full.pdf

Changing Times
The latest survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center in 2014, finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are not affiliated with a religion has jumped over six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.

Furthermore, the study suggests, that in some ways Americans are becoming more spiritual. About six-in-ten adults now say they regularly feel a deep sense of “spiritual peace and well-being,” up 7% since 2007. And 46% of Americans say they experience a deep sense of “wonder about the universe” at least once a week, also up 7 points over the same period.

Overall, 64% of religiously affiliated adults say they feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least weekly, compared with only 40% those who are unaffiliated. Even among the “non-believers,” there has been a recent 5-point rise in the people who say they frequently feel spiritual peace (from 35% in 2007 to 40% in 2014).  www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/21/americans-spirituality/

To address this decreasing trend in religious affiliation. Some religious organizations and particular churches; are embracing progressive spiritual concepts into their organizational structure and worship service.

In closing
The concept of spirituality and its practice is growing, especially among younger adults. Research shows people are abandoning fear based doctrines and self- righteous authority figures within the religious structures. As a result, more people are favoring the exploration of a higher truth on their own. Spirituality seems to offer an attractive fit to this new paradigm shift.

As humanity is becoming more globally connected, people have greater exposure to spiritual traditions and ways of living from around the world. A sort of West means East encounter is happening.

People are embracing and including several spiritual traditions into their lifestyle. There is a greater desire to know and understand our neighbor and ourselves, in relation to not just the world and God, but to the wonders of the universe‒our connection to all that is.

Spirituality, with its progressive concepts and teachings provides a vehicle to assist individuals toward one’s divinity.

I believe, if religions are to sustain themselves in the years ahead; it seems important for them to begin to embrace the concepts and ideas of spirituality.

Progressive churches of some religions are realizing the value of incorporating the ideals of spirituality as a way of connecting with people. While offering a more universal and holistic approach.

There is value in taking the productive love based concepts and teachings of religion and merging these with spirituality. Offering an inclusive, love and acceptance based way of assisting individuals on their journey.

After all, we are to expand the mind and open the heart. This is how growth and transformation happens on both the soul and human level.

I welcome your comments.

Are you curious and seeking more information or guidance with your spiritual journey? A gentle resource is just a phone call or email away. Please contact David Schroeder if you would like support with your spiritual concerns and journey. David offers life transition and spiritual growth counseling and coaching session’s in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and move through life transitions.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed and spiritual social worker, certified life transition coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through his website: transitionpathways.com or through online bookstores: amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.

Earth and Human Changes: Why Its Messing with Me & What to Do?

Have you been out of sorts physically and/or mentally lately? Have you found your relationships and people in general more difficult to tolerate and cope with? Have you found yourself or hear others say: “What the heck is going on with the world?” “It sure seems crazy and it’s messing with me.”

A New Era is Unfolding – Creating a Wave of Change and Unease

Well, here are some interesting insights to those questions. Be open to entertain the possibilities as you read on. For the openness to possibilities is what allows us to change and grow. This article is all about the wave of change and more importantly, opportunities for growth awaiting us all.

A Shift in Consciousness
Humanity, individually and collectively, is currently going through a major yet, predicable change and transition. A shift is occurring in human consciousness with a higher way of being and living here on earth.

It is predicable, because over the course of human evolution there has been a rise and fall of human consciousness. It’s a cosmic event, because we are ultimately connected to the energy and cycles of the universe.

There is a 26,000 year cycle in our universe called the Precession of the Equinoxes, otherwise known as the earth’s movement with the sun and the earth’s wobble through the constellations of the zodiac. This cycle has substantial effects on individual and collective rise or fall of human consciousness and behaviors. As shown in this Sine Wave Diagram of long term history.

Age of Pieces and its Consciousness
For the past 10,000 years the consciousness on earth has been rather dark and destructive. For the past 2000 years the earth has been in the constellation and age of Pisces. The consciousness of this Piscean age on our planet has been about fear, control, manipulation, and power-over. It’s been about us vs. them; divide and conquer; exclusion; “the have” and “have not’s” and masculine dominated.

It’s been about greed. Another way to understand greed is my definition: Greed is Power without Love and Wisdom. It’s been an energy and consciousness that has been more selfish and destructive than selfless and constructive to humanity and the planet.

However, over the past fifty years there has been a gradual shift on the planet. The earth’s wobble has been gradually moving out of the constellation and consciousness of Pisces; into the constellation and Age of Aquarius.

Entering the Aquarian Consciousness
The Aquarian age and its consciousness encompass love, acceptance, compassion, cooperation, collaboration and power-with. It’s about inclusion, unity, fellowship, peace, integrity, intuition, and wisdom. It’s the re-emergence of the feminine energy and striking a balance of the masculine and feminine energies within us and on the planet.

The energy and consciousness of Pisces is losing its grip on humanity. However, we humans struggle with change or losing control. Individuals and systems in power around the world (i.e. governments, religious systems, corporations, even family and personal relationships) are struggling with losing their power and control. In fear, many are hanging on tighter now to maintain their way with people, for their own benefit.

Part of the Struggle is Dealing with Our Shadow
As this shift is unfolding, it’s impacting all of us. We are being asked (and driven) to do shadow and inner soul work toward removing what blocks the love, worthiness and light that we actually are. The ego is our internal police officer, it serves and protects us from perceived physical and especially emotional danger and pain. Its partner, the shadow is what we repress, deny or project on to others, in order to protect and defend ourselves.

Those who resist doing their inner work are having a difficult time navigating and coping with this current shift in energy and consciousness. Those with a strong and resistant ego and shadow are experiencing an increase in mental or emotional and physical difficulties and this is making it even harder to regulate and navigate themselves in constructive ways.

Reconciling the ego and its shadow is vital on both individual and collective levels. For this impacts the functioning of relationships, governments, corporations, education and healthcare systems, religious systems, etc.

Many Systems are in Disarray
Much of the current disarray (in people and systems) is the result of the individual and collective egos with their shadows becoming more fearful and out of control. We see this manifest with dysfunctional decisions and behaviors, which produce less effective results. These people and systems are operating under the old energies and ways. Thus this new age, with its higher vibration and consciousness is not supporting their older way of being.

The current United States President, with his behaviors (way of being) is exposing his ego and shadow aspects in many profound ways. You see the dysfunction and negative effects it creates for him, this nation and the world around us.

I believe Mr. Trump won this presidential election on the spiritual level, not only to expose his own ego and shadow, but more importantly, to call attention to all of us, to look at our own ego and shadow for healing and transcending.

The increase in conflict between super power nations, i.e. United States, Russia and China, are also being heightened now as the shadow aspects of the need for control and power-over creates more chaos and tension now.

Both powerful and “wanna be” powerful countries are showing their political and military might with words and actions. Understandably this creates much uncertainty, worry and anxiety for many of us as we witness what’s happening on the world stage.

However, the consciousness of many is waking up to the fact that you never win a war with war. And focusing on war and terror, does just that, creates more war and terror.

Law of Attraction
The law of attraction in simple terms means: what we think about we bring about. This is true on both individual and collective levels. Individuals, big corporations and countries keep feeding their insanity called ego, by feeding their greed (i.e. money and war machines) at the expense of true peace and harmony.

Many countries have recently (or will in the near future) conduct crucial government elections that have implications for the particular countries direction for years to come. In the United States, we see the heightened clash between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, the right and left.

There is also a heightened exposure of, and focus on our differences. This causes increased exposure and conflict between whites vs. people of color, male vs. female, CEO’s/stock holders vs. employees, Christian vs. Muslim, West vs. East, Religion vs. Spirituality. 

In other systems as well, such as healthcare, conventional medicine vs. complimentary/alternative. In education, public education vs. charter schools. In business, do we take care of the environment (planet) vs. keeping the stock holders happy?

The old consciousness and paradigm of focus on the differences (us vs. them; driven by fear, ignorance, conflict and dis-harmony) is ego mentality that creates the struggle for power, and need to control.

All of this adds up to much unease and discord both individually and collectively. Can you relate? 

The Ways of the Ego
When things are changing, the human ego with its shadow needs to defend, to resist, project and blame. Out of self-preservation, it struggles to hold on tightly to what it fears will be lost or taken away

In order to protect oneself from the change, we do whatever we can to resist and prevent the change.

With the energy and perception of fear, we want our sense of control and power back. Consequently, many make unconsciousness choices and exhibit behaviors that are destructive or violent to others and themselves. This inner chaos with its acting out is becoming more heightened and extreme now.

However, the energy, vibration and ways of fear, struggle with uncertainty, need for control and manipulation will no longer work in this new energy and age.

The degree of uncertainty you can tolerate during this shift will determine the quality of your life. Patience and tolerance will be more useful to you as you move through this change and transition.

The Time for Unity
The current shift is about accepting and honoring our differences, while focusing more on our similarities ‒ finding the common ground.

One way to realize this is to consider this quote by Yogiraj Siddhanath:
“Our soul cry. If earth is to herald the dawn of the new age, let us all realize.
Humanity is our uniting religion 
Breath our unity prayer 
Consciousness our uniting God.” 

How would life on earth be, if we all could adhere to this quote? This is the opportunity and shift before us. But we must make the choice to shift our perception, focus, belief, attitude, and our choices.

We Are Being Called to Move from Fear to Love
In these times of change and uncertainty it is love, understanding, acceptance, patience and compassion that will more effectively help you ride this wave of change and transition. The energy of love, acceptance, patience and compassion will offer you a different perceptive, attitude and choices as you move through this shift.

This is the paradigm shift of the ages; moving from the consciousness and behaviors of Fear to the consciousness and behaviors of Love.

It’s all About Cycles
This great shift of the ages and its consciousness is happening, and cannot be stopped. It’s part of a cycle that the planet and humanity have experienced before. For the earth has gone through many cycles and transitions to get to its current state, and humanity (modern homo sapiens) have also gone through many cycles and transitions over its 200,000 years of existence.

Currently we are experiencing rapid change on many fronts. From advances in technology, information, globalization, change in climate and weather patterns, etc. These changes and their transition process have been predicted by people like the famous 20th century psychic, Eager Casey and ancient cultures like the Mayan’s.

The Mayan’s development and use of a calendar of 7 days and 6 nights, and the 9 levels or cycles of time, with stages/levels of human consciousness. Each level is marked by a turning point in human evolution, such as: higher reason, struggle and movement  toward more constructive use of power, and higher ethics/integrity (See pyramid chart below).

Each level/cycle of time gets progressively smaller and shorter in duration of time. Therefore, time and by virtue, life goes faster and changes are more accelerated and intense. This is where we are currently at and experiencing.

For the Mayan and many other ancient cultures, it wasn’t so much about following time, but rather following the cycle and flow of the universe. As December 21, 2012 neared, many had predicted that the end date of the Mayan calendar was going to be the end of the world or at the very least; we would experience very drastic earth changes.

The end of the world or drastic change never happen. It was later discovered after December 21, 2012, that a more accurate end date of the calendar was October 28, 2011 was the end of the 9th and final level of the Mayan calendar. 

Regardless of the actual end date, the end of the calendar was not the end of time or the world. Instead, it was the end of an age‒the end of a cycle. Moving from Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. This change through the 9 levels has been gradual from the divine eternal perspective, however, as we’ve reached each level time and changes accelerate. By the end of the final 9th level and going forward (where we are now); the vibration on the planet increases, time and changes accelerate more rapidly.  

We were ending one cycle or age and have moved into a new cycle and age. Which seems to create greater speed and intensity of change. Can you relate to this? Consider that the term “New Age” means: “A Span of Time.”  Things come and they go, the pendulum swings from one end to the other end. This is the nature of things. Ways of healing and living that were popular thousands of years ago are now being re-invented and used today.

With this shift in consciousness and behaviors, four things are happening:

  1. Souls are leaving the planet not wanting to be part of the shift (Many people of all ages are dying, some in interesting ways).
  2. People are contracting difficult physical and/or mental symptoms of discomfort or disorders. That conventional medical wisdom is having difficulty knowing how to treat.
  3. Some are losing their minds, committing crazy, greedy or horrifying acts toward others and/or themselves.
  4. While others are waking up, becoming more accepting, loving, helpful and peaceful.

You choose which part of this dynamic you want to be a part of. Yes, we choose consciously or unconsciously. 

All is Right on Schedule and in Perfect Cosmic Order
Everything of Piscean energy and value is now being exposed and challenged. The old ways are being dismantled, and in time will fall away. Its vibration and ways of fear, control and greed cannot be sustained with the new and heightened energies coming from the earth and the cosmos, especially our sun.

This impacts all of us, as we are being rebooted from our DNA outward. This shift is offering us the opportunity to live with greater love, integrity and cooperation.

More of the individual and collective human shadows of denial, avoidance, greed, judgment and corruption are being exposed, true? As fear is the absence of love, judgment is the withholding of love. This can no longer sustain us. This all is part of the process of ascension, what’s unfolding at present. It’s calling us to rise as love and goodness, because Love is who we are.

Shadows disappear, when you remove what blocks the light.

Those dwelling in energies and lower vibrations of victim-hood, or the aggressor, of shame, fear, anger, guilt, or greed‒ create a hell on earth. They will find it increasingly more difficult to sustain themselves in the 4th and soon 5th dimensional energies and vibrations of intuition, willingness, acceptance, love, compassion, joy and peace ‒ creates heaven on earth.

Here Comes the Sun
Part of our awakening to the new consciousness is that the sun is heating up and its solar flares and winds are sending high and intense energy to earth, weakening the earth’s magnetic field. The earth itself is moving to a higher vibrational state known as the Schumann Resonance. A great youtube video on this concept is suggested: “The Schumann Resonance Bursts and Affects on Human Consciousness”, youtube.com/watch?v=RLczNzWBbpE.

This resonance or frequency is rapidly increasing on earth, this along with the sun’s increased solar activity, is taking us all for a wild ride, physically, mentally emotionally, socially and spiritually.

Due to the intensity of these energies and light coming from the sun/cosmos and the earth many people are feeling the effects of this on the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual level. Feeling what’s called “Symptoms of Ascension” such as: lack of focus and concentration, increased frustration/anger, and increased fatigue, changes in sleeping and/or eating patterns.

See this link: more signs and symptoms of Ascension  for more information, or you can Google for yourself: ascension signs and symptoms.

The sun, earth and our higher soul self, are assisting us in this process of Ascension.

Ascension means: to move spiritually, to higher states of consciousness, love, wisdom and peace. We only need to be open, willing and receptive to answer and work the call to ascend ‒ rise as love, innocence and goodness.

I believe “The 2nd coming”, is not about Christ coming down again. It’s humanity (you and I), moving up, rising in higher consciousness and love, to meet our beloved. We rise as love and kindness. This is the 2nd coming – “Coming of Age in Spiritual Maturity“. Make sense?

Flashback
Within the ascension process, for several years I’ve been intrigued by three songs written by two of the Beatles and one by a group called the 5th Dimension. Two of these songs make reference to the sun.

These songs speak to this new cycle and age. The 5th Dimension in 1969 released a song entitled: The Age of Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In. It was referring to the sun and earth’s movement into the constellation and consciousness of Aquarius.

The song first speaks of Astrology; one of the oldest sciences that we have forgotten, but is slowing gaining more attention.

 When the moon is in the Seventh House 
And Jupiter aligns with Mars 
Then peace will guide the planets 
And love will steer the stars.

The song than points to us moving to the consciousness of Aquarius

Harmony and understanding 
Sympathy and trust abounding 
No more falsehoods or derisions.

Golden living dreams of visions 
Mystic crystal revelation 
And the mind’s true liberation.

I take the words of this song to mean: being more compassionate, dissolving greed, living through our heart, our intuition, and transcending the ego mind, i.e. “true liberation.”

The groups name 5th Dimension, speaks of us moving to the higher more loving 5th dimension, as we shed the density, heaviness and destruction of the 3rd dimensional ways.

Let the sun Shine In, was about allowing the “sun” which is often referred to as the Christ consciousness, to shine in, take hold within us. Raise our consciousness; be more responsible and accountable to ourselves and each other.

The Beatles, George Harrison wrote Here Comes the Sun, released in 1969. Which speaks to the power of the sun; how the sun’s energy is changing the climate and consciousness of the planet.  

Little darling, it’s been a long cold winter. 
Little darling, it feels like years since its been here.

My interpretation: We’ve been asleep, in the cold and darkness of winter, unconscious, for several thousand of years now.

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting.  
Little darling, it seems like years since its been clear. 

My meaning: The ice caps are melting, the climate, the planet is changing. The fear, coldness and ignorance of humanity is melting into love, kindness and integrity. Humanity is gaining more clarity, higher awareness, waking up from the falsehoods and illusion.

Lastly, John Lennon in 1971 released Imagine, which speaks of inclusion, unity and peace.

Imagine there’s no countries 
it isn’t hard to do 
Nothing to kill or die for 
and no religion, too.
Imagine all the people living life in peace.  

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can 
No need for greed or hunger 
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world.

Lennon’s words powerfully echo the consciousness of Aquarius I mention earlier. The writers of each of these lyrics, nearly 50 years ago, were offering us a message of an upcoming shift of the ages.

What the world could be if we moved from fear and hate, to love and acceptance, from doubt to higher knowing/intuition, from greed and despair to wisdom and sharing?

Creation and renewal, always happens from the darkness. Stronger light, greater love and insight, comes from the struggle, chaos, and the unknown. This is the nature of life.

Helpful Tips for Riding this Wave of Change: 

  • Within the current unfolding cycle, realize it’s a process.
  • So stay focused on the process of being the love you are, and getting your own emotional and spiritual house in order. Now is the time to stay grounded through activities such as, connecting with nature, meditation and other mindful practices.
  • Take time to understand this unfolding change and its intended purpose. Learn to ride its wave, rather than resist or be consumed by it.
  • Do your inner work to reconcile core emotional wounds and negative self beliefs and behavior patterns. This helps raise your consciousness and vibration.
  • Trust in and sharpen your institution. 
  • Connect with others in personal, face to face ways. Love and know your neighbor as you first love and know yourself. See this present time as the teacher and opportunity, not the threat or enemy.
  • Choose openness, awareness and love; refrain from fear, ignorance or resistance. The first choice will assist you in this shift, the second choice will create more struggle for you.
  • Yes, stand your ground/speak your truth with love, words and actions of peace. It’s important to “not to lose yourself” in this transition and ascension process. The intent of this process, is for you “to remember your true and loving self”.
  • When you stay in your process, the outcome will take care of itself. Your eternal soul is about the process; your self-created ego is about the outcome.
  • Know that uncertainty is just the result of change, fear of the unknown, and the transition through it. Learn self-control and self-discipline within the uncertainty. This is changing and controlling the only thing/person you can ‒ the self.
  • Focus on the positive, not so much the negative. Look for what’s good and uplifting,
  • Just be love, acceptance and kindness, to stay in the light. This will help you weather the storm and ride this wave toward a new age and way of being.
  • Understand and accept the cycles of the universe and life. Accept that life is impermanent ‒ things change.
  • Have awareness of your breath, of your thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs. Be mindful of your speech and actions, as you ride this wave of ascending to a higher state of consciousness, love and peace. Be patience, gentle and loving to self and others as we ride this wave.

Our Task Now is to Spiritually Awaken
To be the best version of ourselves. To protect and restore the sacredness of ourselves, our planet, and all that inhabits the earth. Honor and learn from the wise spiritual teachers, the stars and the heavily realms. With these great teachers, we must once again be the student – the disciple of these teachers and higher knowing.  Namaste

 

Are you struggling and anxious with the shift and the wave of change? Are you anxious and/or overwhelmed by change or uncertainty? Help is just a phone call or email away. Please contact David Schroeder if you would like assistance with your acceptance and change issues and how to work through them. David offers life transition and spiritual growth counseling and coaching in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and move through life transitions.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed and spiritual social worker, certified life transition coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey is available through online book stores: balboapress.comamazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.

12 Benefits of the Power of Acceptance

In uncertain times, we struggle with trusting the process of life. We are fearful, so we want control, we want to know the outcome, yet we tend to predict a negative outcome ahead of time, while bypassing the process of “what is.” All this feeds our fear, the sense of powerlessness and loneliness, which fuels depression and anxiety. 

Could it be in these uncertain times, that our individual and collective shadow aspects are being exposed more than ever? Could it be the contrast of light as love and dark as fear, is coming more to the forefront; to be recognized and reconciled within us individually and collectively? Sure seems like it to me, how about you?

Transformation and growth always comes from the uncertainty and the struggle. Creation and renewal comes from darkness.

Uncertainty, is a lesson and opportunity to practice Acceptance. So in uncertain times, we are called to the act of acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean you like or agree with “what is.” Acceptance, is to just be present to it. To be in the thoughts and behaviors of love and compassion with what is, rather than fear, resistance and resentment.

When we resist, deny, avoid or blame, we delay the opportunity for our happiness and growth. 

If we are unhappy and unfulfilled: we haven’t asked and more importantly answered an important question: What’s happened in my life that I’m not accepting?

Acceptance is to ride the wave of uncertainty, without losing yourself in the unknown of what is. Acceptance is shedding our will and way, and aligning with the divine power and will. With the knowing, we will gain more than lose, as we trust and allow in the power greater than ourselves. 

Acceptance is getting to know and understand our neighbor, from their perspective, not just our own. To respond, rather than react to differences and conflict.

The following are 12 Benefits, of why Acceptance is Powerful and of Value:

1. Acceptance is a sign of spiritual maturity.

2. Acceptance is being present and mindful to an experience without being defined by the experience.

3. Willingness and understanding lead the way to acceptance. Acceptance is wisdom in action.

4. It embraces the acts of spiritual surrender and willingness of “what is” creating realistic neutrally and non-attachment to experiences.

5. Acceptance, as spiritual surrender; magnifies our connection to the divine, and to love. Which restores hope, and allows for a higher meaning to life experiences.

6. Acceptance is an act of love and courage. Accept the things I cannot change, and the courage to change what I can. Furthermore, it moves you from powerless to  Empowerment.

7. Acceptance transcends denial, creates emotional calm and inner peace. In addition, it widens one’s perception.

8. What we Accept – we Conquer. What we resist – will Persist.

9. Acceptance is a forward moving energy. It allow us the opportunity to rise above our struggles. 

10. The willingness to accept another’s and our own imperfections, is to discover the perfection. Perfection in divine terms means: To have Compassion for. The divine has compassion for all that is. 

11. Acceptance leads to Compassion, which allows for Forgiveness or Reconciliation.

12. Acceptance begins to transform fear, sorrow and bondage to love, joy and freedom.

With acceptance, comes tolerance, resilience and confidence to weather life’s uncertainties and difficulties. I close with my quote, which seems to fit during times of uncertainty. Realize, the choice is always ours, as to who and how we want to be in times of uncertainty. I choose Understanding, Acceptance, Compassion and Forgiveness, for they equal the power of Love!

 

Are you struggling with accepting some life experiences? Are you anxious and/or overwhelmed by change or uncertainty? Help is just a phone call or email away. Please contact David Schroeder if you would like assistance with your acceptance and change issues; and how to work through them. David offers life transition and spiritual growth counseling and coaching session’s in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and move through life transitions.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed and spiritual social worker, certified life transition coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through his website: transitionpathways.com or through online bookstores: amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.

4 Steps to Changing your Attention and Focus

There is a universal law called the Law of Attraction, which simply says: What you think about, you bring about. In other words what we think about is where our attention and focus will be, this creates a form of energy; thus our experience in that moment. 

In today’s world there is much discontent. Many people are struggling with holding a loving, unconditional and peaceful focus and attention, due to much frustration, resentment and anger, with their personal/family relationships, workplace, government, etc. 

Many people want others to change to their own way of thinking and being. So our attention and focus is on those outside of us. Believing if others change – conform to our liking; this will make me feel safe, loved and happy.   

This way of thinking and being creates a dependence on others for our circumstances and happiness. Making others responsible for our lives, we are either in victim (poor me/I hate myself) energy or fighter/conflict energy (I hate you).

With both of these energies and mind-sets our attention and focus is more in a dis-empowering and negative direction, i.e.in the long run, these ways of thinking, believing and behaving, will create more negative destructive experiences and outcomes, than constructive and positive experiences.

Where your thoughts and attention goes, is where your energy will flow toward. This will be your created experience. 

Much of our degree of happiness, level of consciousness and success in life; has to do with our ability to focus and be attentive to the things that truly matter.

Ask yourself: What would truly contribute toward the growth and life enhancement of myself and others? Your answer to this question, is where your attention and focus is going. Creating the degree of happiness and inner peace you are experiencing.

This quote by the Spanish philosopher, Jose Ortega y Gasset speaks volumes to the power and influence attention and focus has in our life. “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”

Attention is your focus, so like I said with the law of attraction, where your attention goes is who you believe yourself to be, and thus what you will attract in your life.

If you are unhappy and unfulfilled with your experiences and their outcomes, keep reading I offer you these 4 steps to improve attention and focus:

1. Gain awareness of what your attention is focused on. This will begin to show you why you are experiencing the things and circumstances you are. This will also lead you to your core self-belief about yourself, and how you may be unconsciously reinforcing – feeding your core negative belief through your attention and behaviors. This awareness offers you clarity, to what needs to change within you.

2. With this awareness and clarity, change your attention and focus to what you truly desire. If your attention is more on what you don’t want, than you will create what you don’t want, because this is what you are communicating and thus broadcasting to yourself and the universe. The universe will always provide the experience you consciously, and especially unconsciously broadcast ‒ ask for.

3. Be clear and specific with what you pay attention to.
Be mindful, that a part of you wants to take your attention to the negative and self-defeating. This is the fearful and undeserving part of you, wanting to get the best of you and keep you in what you don’t want or deserve.

Become conscious of this defeating aspect of you. Gently counter this with self-love, worthiness and value. With this, shift your focus and attention, back to the good and wholesome things you desire in life.

4. Visualize yourself having these positive and worthy desires.
Like a GPS, despite the wrong turns and barriers that get in the way, the GPS, never loses focus or sight on the destination that it’s programmed to go to. Your heart, as much as your mind is your internal GPS, so allow it to keep your attention, focus and process on what you desire and truly deserve.

With positive attention and focus on what you desire you create awareness and clarity of your process ‒ the steps toward this desire. You create a “Can Do Belief” and mind-set. What you focus on becomes your belief.  What you believe – is what you can achieve. You create the energy, actions and motivation to achieve.

The power of a “Can Do” belief sets the mind and body toward that belief. This offers you the inspiration, focus, discipline, and the determination to achieve.

 

What are your thoughts on this article?  Please leave a comment.

Do you struggle with attention and staying focused on your goals? David Schroeder, can help you reclaim the love and goodness you are. If you would like assistance with learning to stay true to your desire and achieving them, David is here to assist you with his life transition coaching and counseling sessions. He offers in-person, by phone or Skype sessions. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and love yourself again.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or JustBeLove  Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

Navigating Change and Transition: From Struggle to Opportunity

As a therapist and life transition coach, most people seek my services, because they are experiencing a life change and are struggling with the transition of this change. An aspect of love is the willingness and ability to move through the transition change creates.

Change comes in a variety of ways. Such as: getting married, birth of a child, a death of a loved one, a partner’s affair, a divorce, job loss or transfer, or a grown child going to college. Some transitions can seem positive on one hand, yet create change and adjustment from our norm. So you may struggle for a time, adapting to “what is” now.

There is a difference between change and transition in the following ways.    

  • Change happens first and transition occurs due to the change.
  • Change can be seen as a shift from a norm, transition is the process of moving from one norm/way of being to another. Transition is the adjustment and adaptations we make from the change.
  • Change is usually an external experience, where transition is more of an internal process.
  • Change is often more sudden, more visible and tangible. Transition is a slower process, less visible, more intangible.

Change for people can be difficult to accept and move through, both physically and especially emotionally. It’s natural to want the situation and/or person back to how it was (old way).  Many people need certainty and to know the outcome, within what has now changed (new way).

The resistance to change, the need for certainty and the need to know, in the mist of the unknown, are often what causes many people to struggle with change. The need for certainty and control, leads to fear and resistance; creating racing thoughts, and self-created perceptions of negative outcomes.

This will lead to distributive sleep pattern, drained energy, and little motivation to move forward. The end result can be depression and/or anxiety. We become stuck in the mud of a self-defeated mindset. The process of transition has now become more difficult and overwhelming.

For a time, some of this is all normal and part of our process transitioning through change.  It’s important, however, not to get stuck emotionally and physically for too long.

The longer we chose to stay in the emotional and physical fear, avoidance and resistance, the more unhealthy and unproductive power and control we give to the resistance and uncertainty of transition; this does little to change our perception, process and reality to the change.

Human nature is such that when things change, we tend to focuses more on what we believe we will lose or need to give up. Healthy transition through change, one should focus more on what will be the benefits and gains of this process.

These two key Steps begin the process of transition through change: Moving you from struggle to opportunity.

  1. Accept the things I cannot change: This is the first part of the Serenity Prayer from Alcohol Anonymous aa.org. This prayer or principle I believe, applies to all of us when we experience a change in life. There are many experiences in your life you cannot change, and you may feel and believe you are powerless and helpless because of this. You feel like choices/options have been taken away.

    The second part of the prayer says: The courage to change the things I can. The reality is, in life situations, the only thing you can really change is yourself. You change, by changing your perception, thoughts, belief and attitude. It takes acceptance, courage and willingness to change from within.

    The good news and opportunity of this is ‒ there is much inner power and transformation that takes place with the act of acceptance. Acceptance is extremely difficult for many people, yet its incredibility liberating when you allow it to happen within you. Acceptance helps you to focus on the benefits of transition through change, not what you believe will need to be given up or lost in the process.

    To have the willingness and ability to accept what you cannot change, and change what you can; is the fundamental way to begin to change, and reclaim your inner power and determination to move forward. Acceptance is an act of self-love, and a moving forward energy. It acknowledges and accepts “what is.”

    The process of acceptance, doesn’t mean you like what’s changed, rather you recognize that resisting the change only creates more struggle and pain. With acceptance you create an opening to begin to change from within, with regard to what’s change in your life.

    This process helps you begin to gain power in a different way. You see it was your own misguided perception and belief around the difficult situation, which really gave your power away. It wasn’t actually the situation/experience itself. True power and moving through transitions happens when we change from the inside-out.  Acceptance is the beginning of changing from the inside-out.

  2. See the experience and the required process of transition as an Opportunity: If you are resisting the change, you’re likely seeing the change as a threat and the enemy. It’s something to deny, blame, and escape from. These are the mindsets and ways of our fragile and wounded self. This part of us wants to numb the pain and have someone else make it better/or back the way it was.

    It’s important to see and ask yourself: How are my perceptions and beliefs helping me move through this change? What is my pain and resistance reinforcing in me, that keeps me in this state of suffering?  Often in difficult times of change we become our worst critic and enemy, rather than a best friend and ally.

    When you are ready and able, it’s important to see the change, as the teacher and opportunity. Yes, transitions through difficult times, offer you the opportunity for learning and growth. The process of creation, birth and growth begins in the darkness and the struggle.

    The natural world teaches us the importance of the struggle. Take for example, of how the caterpillar transforms into the butterfly, from the struggle within the cocoon. For without the struggle, how would you learn, find a higher meaning to your experience, and grow?

Life is not meant to be easy, it’s meant to be meaningful. When you change your view of the situation, you create the higher meaning of your circumstance, and this allows for the opportunity to transition and transform yourself in empowering ways.

When you alter your thoughts and view of the change, you reduce your fear, your resistance and struggle around the uncertainty. Dr. Wayne Dyer said: “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

Change and the process of transition, calls us to be open and willing to reframe our belief and choices around the situation; this is how we learn and grow from the difficult and painful experience.

Although change can seem scary and threatening, the true intent of life experiences, especially the difficult and painful ones, is to help us heal, grow wiser, and become more accepting and loving human beings, both to ourselves and with others. Accepting that life is impermanent, that things change, helps you realize, life is about change, and learning to transition‒ adjust and adapt.

Being Honest, Open and Willing, especially with yourself, is part of the HOW to accept the unacceptable, and begin the journey of transitioning from what was‒to what can be.

Want to learn more about love and transition check out my book: Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. www.justbelove1.com, www.amazon.com, www.barnes & noble.com

Are you struggling with moving through a change in your life? Please contact David Schroeder, if you would like assistance with moving through a life change and how to work the process of transition. David offers life transition counseling and coaching session’s in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself transition through change.

To Improve Your Relationship: Understand this Gender Difference

There are several differences between men and women, some are obvious, some are subtle. Realizing, accepting and working with this particular gender difference can make a positive difference in the way you relate to each other.

Conflict and frustration in relationships often occurs simply because, we don’t understand why our partner thinks and acts a certain way. When it comes to thoughts, feelings and emotions there will typically be a difference in the way  men or women go about relating with you.

This gender difference impacts our ways of communicating, problem-solving and over-all interactions with each other. It stems from the way we perceive and relate to our thoughts, feelings and emotions; and the need we have with our partner in relation to our thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Men and women have thoughts, feelings and emotions; and these are important and not to be denied or discounted. Having acknowledged this, due to biological factors and social conditioning, one gender is typically more connected and concerned with thoughts, while the other gender is more connected and concerned with feelings and emotions.  Here’s the basic difference:

In general, the feminine aspect, typically (women) is more likely concerned with having their Feelings and Emotions respected.  The masculine aspect, (men) is likely more interested in having their Thoughts respected.

It should be noted, that some women may have more of the masculine aspect; and have a stronger desire for their thoughts to be respect. Some men might have more of the feminine aspect; and have a stronger need for their feelings and emotions to be respected. 

Women in general, come from their right brain, the intuitive and emotional side. They also come more from their heart center. So they are more concerned and value their relationships. Because of this, women in life and in their relationships will more naturally relate to and from their feelings and emotions.

On the other hand, most men are in their logic and thinking state, come from their left brain. So they relate to thoughts, in logic oriented ways of being in life and in their relationships. As a way of connecting, men relate more to their occupation and status (position).

For example: In social settings, women will typically, talk more about family and friends, social concerns (relationships/heart). Men generally, will converse more about their occupation, sports, objects i.e. cars, boats, women, money (logic/head).   

It’s not about who is right or wrong, with this way of being and relating. It is the way the genders are wired and conditioned to be in the world, and relate to each other.

It’s not about needing the other person to think, feel and be how I am. This is control and creates a love relationship that is conditional.

It’s about seeking to understand the other person as best I can, learning to accept this difference. Being willing to learn how best to relate and interact with this difference. This is unconditional love. 

A part of you, wants your partner or friend to be like you are. However, life is about contrast, in order to know one, we need to experience its opposite. That’s why we have male and female, light and dark, sorrow and joy.  Neither is really right or wrong it just is “the nature of things.”

It’s about accepting and honoring our differences, and working with them.

Gentlemen, out of love seek to understand, step out of your comfort zone. Take time and effort to connect more with your partner’s feelings and her deeper emotions, even if it doesn’t seem natural or logical to you. Connect your heart to her heart.

Ladies, out of love, get into your man’s world, honor his thoughts and work at seeing his logic as best you can, even if it doesn’t make sense or seem natural to you.       Don’t wait for your partner to make the first move. Authentic love, asks us to take the initiative, to seek to understand the other. If you both work at seeking to understand the other, you find the common ground within the differences.

Unconditional Love seeks the common ground, to accept, honor, and learn to interact within the differences, and enhance the similarities.  

What are your thoughts or feelings on these gender differences?  Feel free to comment below.

 

Are you struggling with understanding and working gender differences? David Schroeder, can help you reclaim the love and goodness you are. If you would like assistance with reclaiming this love and goodness David is here to assist you with his life transition coaching and counseling sessions. He offers in-person, by phone or Skype sessions. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and love yourself again.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or JustBeLove  Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

The Healing Power of Laughter

Over the years, working with people with emotional struggles and resistance to life changes; I’ve come to appreciate, two of the biggest barriers to happiness are: fear of foolishness & taking oneself too seriously.

Life is a serious adventure, yet the key is to take one self lightly within it. 

When you were growing up, did you ever find something funny and you started to giggle or laugh. Than a parent, grandparent, or a teacher said… Don’t laugh, that’s not funny? Yet, deep down inside you, your funny bone was tickled.

Many people learned growing up, that in order to be mature, you have to be serious. That if you are having fun, you are not being good and you are not doing your job.  We get conditioned to shut down our imagination and our childlike self.

Childlike vs. Childish:

We learned to shut down the part of us that is unconditional, accepting, spontaneous, playful and curious. Creative, patient, flexible, fearless, adventurous and joyful. The result, we become more fearful, doubtful, more controlling and rigid in mind and body.

We give up the childlike innocence and wonder, and as a result, we develop more childish behaviors being: conditional, inpatient, and controlling, demanding, whinny, selfish and unhappy. Or maybe we’ve become timid, doubtful, fearful, and anxious to take risk and step out of our comfort zone.

We learned being vulnerable is risky and painful. You will be judged as wrong and not enough. So you take both life and yourself too seriously, creating increase stress, wear and tear on your body, mind and spirit. 

Life is already full of stress, with our fast paced society, being full of expectations, judgment, the need for instant gratification, the overloaded of information, and obsession/addiction to technology and social media.

Research says that 90% of office visits to primary care doctors today are for stress related problems. Some researcher’s concluded that due our fast pace and information society, that we experience more stress (fight or flight response in different ways) in one year, than our ancestors did in an entire lifetime.

Many people hold their stress in by avoiding, resisting or being critical of self and/or others. This creates toxins in the body and creates distortions in thinking, belief and behaviors, which leads to dis-ease in body and/or mind.

There are only two times during the day that I’m under stress… day and night. Yes, the stress and pressures of life are increasing and getting more intense. The key is too not lose ourselves in it, and not take ourselves too seriously within it.  

The most frequently asked question on earth is. “Where’s the bathroom?” The   most disappointing question we ask when we pass on to the afterlife is … “Why did I take life and myself so seriously?”

Do you know why angles can fly?  They take themselves lightly.

The word humor means to be fluid, to flow.

A child laughs around 300 times a day; many adults laugh only a handful of times a day.

How laughter helps the Mind – Body:

If you laugh 100 times a day, that’s equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine. Laughter is a wonderful physical and aerobic workout.

When you frown you use 62 muscles just in your face alone. When you smile and laugh you’re only using  24 facial muscles. Point is, it takes more energy and effort to be unhappy than happy. 

Laughter releases a brain chemical called endorphin’s, which is our natural feel good chemical. 

We have cells in our body called T-Cells, that is connected to our immune system. One of the ways this cell is ignited is by laughter, so laughter and joy helps boost our immune system.

In terms of relaxing and re-framing thoughts, a 10 minute laugh is equal to 30 minutes of meditation.

Laughter is a form of mindfulness, it brings you to the present moment. Life and love are experienced in the present.

We need at least 12 laughs and 5 hugs daily to stay healthy.

Both laughter and crying are innate healing tools, and forms of healthy emotional expression and release through the physical body. We laugh so hard we start to cry, and we cry so hard we begin to laugh. One emotion naturally leads to the other.

Think of laughter as your internal Tranquilizer with no side effects.

In our humanness, we have embarrassing moments; we do foolish things, make mistakes and wrong decisions. The key is to do them with enthusiasm. I believe in the positive power of insanity, it’s the only thing that keeps me sane. There are no mistakes… only opportunities for learning and growth.

We all have embarrassing moments, and when you share your embarrassing moment with others, many can often relate to having a similar embarrassing experience as well. You are really not alone in that embarrassment; it just seemed that way at the time.

The loneliness factor is becoming a major illness throughout the world. We can communicate and connect with people easier and faster than ever; yet, because some people can be so judgmental, critical and demanding, we avoid interactions.

Many of us become more isolated to protect or insulate ourselves from the judgment. Others can become verbally or physically aggressive, as a way to protect and defend themselves. Either extreme on this continuum leads to the perception of being judged misunderstood, so we become lonely and unhappy.

Laughter is a great way to connect with people. For humor and laughter, helps break down barriers and builds rapport. Laughter is contagious; when we start laughing people around us often start laughing with us. 

It’s not about using humor and laughter at the expense of someone. The true and divine intent of humor and laughter is to relax us, connect us and help us relate to each other. It’s a way to honor the similarities of each other, and accept our differences.

Humor and laughter helps us put life situations into perspective, to view difficult circumstances in a different light and way. When you change your thoughts and perspective, you change your world. 

Dr. Bruce Lipton said: “The moment you change your perception, is the moment you change the chemistry in your body.”

People often ask me. Does the divine creator have a sense of humor? I say, “oh yes, it loves to laugh and play, the divine has a wondrous playground that the earth is a part of, it’s called the universe.”

In scripture Jesus said: if you want to enter the kingdom be as a child.

What’s love and laughter got to do with healing?

Laughter and being childlike are expressions of love to the self and others. They promote constructive problem-solving and positive ways toward reconciliation and healing. Being childlike, takes you out of the resentment or victim role; moving you toward a healthier and joyful way of living and being.

 

Feel free to leave a comment below.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

 

Forgiveness: Moving Beyond the Injustice

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful healing tools we have for reconciling and moving beyond from the hurts and wounds of life. It’s also a profound act of love and acceptance, especially self-love. For when we forgive another person or ourselves for a wrong doing, we set ourselves free and we benefit the most from the forgiveness. Despite the healing and liberating power of forgiveness; for many of us, the act of forgiveness is one of the most resisted and thus difficult acts we can offer to others or ourselves.

I’ve come to appreciate the only reason we have forgiveness, is because we make something matter. When we make something matter, we create an intense emotional charge within us. So an unjust “cause” done to us creates a strong “effect”, often having lasting emotional, physical, social and spiritual “effects” on us. The act of forgiveness helps to lower the emotional charge and intensity within us and helps liberate us from the painful experience.

Forgiveness is not about excusing the offense or saying/believing it didn’t happen. Forgiveness is not really about the offender, it’s about the one who is affected by the cause, the one holding on to the anger, resentment, grief. Being trapped in resentment, anger, depression, grief; waiting for the offender to take responsibility and ownership of the hurt toward us, is giving away our own power, inner peace and freedom. The more we can take charge of our own healing without an expectation that the offender needs to say something to us, or do something for us, the more empowered and liberated we can be. The quote by Lewis Smedes speaks volumes about the importance of forgiveness: “To forgive is to set the prisoner free and to discover that that prisoner was you.”

Forgiveness is an act of love, and love is freedom. To forgive is to be free and a way to love. Forgiveness means to go beyond our wounded ego self, in order to free the self. The willingness to go beyond the wounded self is to rise as love, to let go of what no longer serves us, so in time we can be restored to wholeness. 

Perhaps you’re not willing and/or ready to forgive someone. That’s okay and where you are currently at. Forgiveness is not something to be forced upon or to do out of guilt, if you are not ready. One should be open, willing and accepting in order to truly forgive. Human nature is such that, we are all at different stages of willingness and readiness. If this be the case, at least consider the importance of reconciling within yourself how hanging on to negative perceptions, create toxic emotions of anger and resentment leading to paralyzing beliefs and resulting self-defeating behaviors. How all this can affect many areas of your life in ways that are not helpful to you.   

I offer you the possibility and opportunity of considering a process I call “inner reconciliation.” Inner reconciliation is a way of reorienting our perceptions and beliefs about the experience and ourselves within the fact that our life has been disrupted either mildly or severely by a wrongful act toward us. Our ego defenses and beliefs often says: “They wronged us/hurt us and so let’s stay mad, bitter resentful, etc, that way we have a sense of power and control; since we didn’t have power and control during the offending experience.” Our anger, resentment and such, become a lens through which we see ourselves and the wrong doing. Its destructive thinking, beliefs and behaviors we create as a way to keep feeding our hurt and pain, in order to keep it alive and justify it. This is only hurting ourselves now, within the fact that we were hurt by someone in the past. This is unfortunately how victim energy and behaviors begin to take root, and if not tamed and reconciled can become our way of life.

Like grief, forgiveness is a process and takes time, willingness and commitment toward moving beyond what has hurt us and seemed unfair. When we can change our perception and belief about the experience, we begin to change our world and the way we interact in it. The process of forgiveness, like moving through any change we experience in our life, is an inside job. The job and empowerment of moving through what I call the 4 R’s: Recognize: who and how I am being with my current perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, feelings/emotions and behaviors. We can’t change or move beyond something unless we acknowledge it and tell the true to ourselves about ourselves. Reconcile: The willingness to resolve the inner pain and torment. Release: To let go of what no longer serves and benefits us. This offers space for healthier and more empowering possibilities to enter into your reality. Reframe: Is to now choose to see the painful experience, yourself and the offender, in a different and more constructive way. To see the glass more full than empty. This creates the willingness and courage to construct a more positive and affirming belief about yourself, within the unfortunate experience.  

In my own life, I’ve had many opportunities to practice forgiveness in what seemed at first, an unjust cause. I offer two experiences. One, was my wife of twelve years wanting a divorce, at the time it didn’t seem fair and not my choice. I was hurt, angry and frustrated. In time, I came to a place accepting her choice and let go of making her responsible for my feelings and behaviors within the stress and change. She made her choice out of self-love and what was best for her. I also had a choice of how I would move through it and who I wanted to be within a difficult situation. The choice of hanging on to anger, sadness and resentment and such, would only take me down a self-destructive and unfulfilling path. Through accepting the things I could not change, forgiving her and myself, and empowering myself to change what I could, which was only myself, this allowed me to change my situation from the inside out and move on in my life, and be a better version of myself and a father. Years later my ex-wife and I are friends and get along well on behalf of our sons and grand children. 

Several years ago, while driving my car I was hit head on, by a driver who was attempting to pass the car in front of him. The driver of this car was ticketed for failure to yield the right of way and his insurance company settled with me. Several months after the settlement, this man decided to sue me for mental harm. It was amazing that it ended up in a jury trial. I was in disbelief and just dumbfounded how I could be setting in a courtroom on trial for something I didn’t cause. Fear, anger, and uncertainty filled my days waiting for the court appearance and the verdict. I was found not guilty. A part of me with its voice inside me, understandably wanted to turn around and sue this guy, and many people suggested this. But another voice inside said, let it go, just let him be, he’s an old unhappy man, no need to put more fuel in the fire. I had compassion for this man and his struggle with needing revenge and justice, while not acknowledging and accepting he was in the wrong. He taught me, you never win a war – with war. So I forgave the error. In his need to get back at me, he was unaware of what his anger and resentment was doing to himself. I was at peace and moving on with life.

This man was after all, another teacher and opportunity for me through this difficult life experience. Through his actions, he was offering me the opportunity of learning and practicing the gift of moving beyond the injustice and my wounded self, toward acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.

You see, when you realize we have choices within difficult, painful and unjust experiences to see the offender as the threat and the enemy or the teacher and the opportunity. Depending on how you view it and think about it, is how you will experience it. What we think about we bring about.  When we can accept and understand that our experiences are really our teachers and opportunities to practice acts such as: acceptance, compassion and forgiveness, we take the high road with love, creating the willingness and commitment to move beyond the hurt, and learn the lesson for soul growth and self-mastery. Is this an easy task to get too? No. Is forgiveness a liberating and life changing act to engage in, that offers higher meaning? Yes, for sure. Life isn’t meant to be easy, it’s meant to be meaningful.

Questions to consider: Why might you struggle with forgiveness?  What would be the benefits of forgiveness for you?  How does acceptance and willingness aid the forgiveness process?  Feel free to leave a comment, share your answers to above questions, and/or share your experience with forgiveness.

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

Is your Heart Open or Closed To Love?

In my book, Just Be Love, I write about the importance of the heart as the seat of love in the human body and its experiences. The heart is one of the most important sensory organs in the human body. In the fetus, the heart starts beating before the brain is totally formed. The heart has its own neurons, as many, if not more than the brain. The heart may well be the true brain of the human body, since it is sending as much information to the brain in our head as this brain is sending to the heart. The human heart’s electromagnetic field is five thousand times more powerful than that of the mind. 

The heart holds the energy and expression of love. Imagine there is a doorway to love within the human body, and this door is through the heart. For many people, due to difficult and painful life experiences, love can seem to have gone wrong or broken apart. The heart can become guarded, even closed to protect the wounded self. When the heart is emotionally closed so is the door, and we can become fearful and cautious. So we’re not free and happy within the chambers in our heart. Then the mind follows the path of the heart, through fear, avoidance, resistance and non-acceptance of “what is.”  A closed heart contributes to a person becoming resentful, bitter, isolated and depressed. It’s like a dark prison, which we ordered ourselves to be confined to. Our inner judge; for various reasons saw fit to impose this self inflicted sentence, as a way to make sense of something that perhaps makes no sense or seems so unfair to us. We experience such inner torment and pain, which this prison seems to offer safety and security, as only a distorted illusion can do. Research has shown, we can become sick even die, from a closed, sad and lonely heart.

When the heart is open, we are free and vibrant, love flows within and through us, as a free flowing energy exchange called, giving and receiving.  An open heart is an including heart. Love is inclusion, fear is exclusion. An open heart is one that has found acceptance in “what is.” Acceptance is often the pivotal step toward freedom from the grips of grief, resentment, depression, anxiety, addiction, you name it. To put it simply an open heart is a free and loving heart, and is a way to expand the mind in possibilities. An open heart values the importance of expressing gratitude and appreciation. It allows for compassion, reconciliation or forgiveness to be. An open heart is the key to unlock us from the self-imposed prison we may be confined to.   

I offer 3 tips to open your heart to love and goodness. These can help alter your life in heartfelt and liberating ways.

  1. Be in Appreciation, Gratitude and Care, Toward Yourself and Others: This creates heart coherence i.e. balance, peace and harmony within the heart center; which will transfer to a calmer, more positive impulses, responses and behaviors from our brain.
  2. Do Your Inner Work, to Reconcile, the wound and/or grief of your past. Your heart does not create coherence i.e. openness, balance, peace and harmony, if it’s closed, bitter or sad. 
  3. Be Love: Allow yourself to accept you are love. In this gift of acceptance, give yourself permission to do acts of loving kindness to yourself and others, without conditions or expectations.

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love, is available through my websites:transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

Reclaiming Our Self-Worth

It seems the need and search for love and acceptance dramatically impacts our sense of self-worth. Yes, we get hurt in the name of love and some people don’t accept us for who we are. In this, we believe love can hurt. But that’s not the truth. Its actually our expectations, judgment, need for control, our feeling of rejection, loneliness, and loss that hurts. These are the results of fear, our belief we are not enough, we are not lovable, which closes the heart and thus we diminish our sense of worth.

The feeling of unworthiness is most often the byproduct of growing up. Many of us have had unpleasant experiences throughout our life. Painful and traumatic experiences, especially in childhood, create lingering physical, emotional and spiritual scars in body, mind and spirit. Growing up, intently or unintentionally we get wounded in a variety of unloving ways. In my book, Just Be Love I mention the “five core wounds” of the human personality: Rejection, Abandonment, Betrayal, Injustice and Humiliation. We generally have one of the first three listed as a primary core wound and from this wound let’s say: Abandonment, comes one form the last two, Injustice or Humiliation, say Injustice. So my core wounds would be Abandonment and Injustice, because they have the strongest emotional charge for me, when I think about my life from childhood to present. These wounds have negative self-beliefs attached to them such as: I’m not enough, I’m not deserving, I’m not lovable, I’m not worthy, etc. These beliefs, along with the perceptions and feelings that go with them often create self-defeating behaviors and outcomes in certain areas of our life.

Our core wounds are often unconscious, and they get triggered by present experiences and people. If the core wound is not resolved, we can experience similar feelings/emotions and beliefs in the present situations, like we did during a difficult/painful experience when we were younger. In other words, the present experience, reminds the unconscious little boy or girl in us of a similar childhood experience, and so we feel and thus act out the present situation in unconscious and often immature ways. This is part of the human condition and living an ego with shadow parts. The ego or lower self, being our internal defense mechanism and internal police officer, that serves and protects us. The shadow is what we repress or deny within ourselves, or project on to others. If all this is left unconscious and unresolved within our psyche, it has unchallenged power and influence in our life. That often leads to low motivation, limited potential, low self-esteem, a disconnect with the spirit within, troubled relationships and  unhappiness.

The following are 6 ways to improve self-worth. Be gentle, patient and determined in the practice of these tips. Realize as you work these tips, the lower/wounded side of you will resist these and other tips you may seek to incorporate. It will do its best to talk you out of reclaiming your worth. Because, there is a part of you that doesn’t believe you are worthy, enough and lovable. If you give in to this part of you; you give away your power and sense of happiness, peace and contentment. The higher more loving part of you wants you to remember the love, worthiness and goodness you are. It’s time isn’t it? Out of love, give yourself permission, space and time to remember, and return to the love and value you are. The choice and opportunity is yours. If not now, when? The time is Now, love is in the now. Change and growth happens in the Now. Please say yes to loving yourself. What do you say? You can do it, and you so deserve to reclaim your worth and goodness. 

1. Important to Recognize: Become aware that you have diminished your self-worth, by the negative perceptions, thoughts and beliefs you hold about yourself. We can’t change something until we are aware of it, and accept it. The first step to change is awareness and telling the truth to ourselves about ourselves, without shame or guilt. When we accept ourselves in this moment and how we’ve learned to be in life, we begin the process of changing it. This truth telling is an act of unconditional love and acceptance. The very thing we would like from others, we first should offer to ourselves. This is an act of self-love, showing concern and value to the self. This is changing from the inside-out, empowering ourselves, to be a better version of ourselves.

2. We are Always and in All Ways Love: Despite the difficult and painful life experiences, that may have seemed unloving and/or uncaring from others. It’s important not to give up the love and goodness we truly are. This is part of what we are to learn from our life experiences, not to lose the love and goodness we are. No one outside of us really takes our sense of love and worth away, we decide to give it away, because someone hurt us.

3. Reconnect with Your Shadow and Wounded Parts: This is an expression of compassion to the self. It shows concern and value for the parts of you that feel betrayed, rejected or abandoned. The parts of you that believe they are unworthy, unloved, or enough. Acknowledge and affirm to them they are doing the best they know how to be, yet you desire now to reclaim their innocence, to show them a better, more loving way to be and live. Tell them the truth of your innocence, divinity and goodness. Treat yourself as you would treat others, and want others to treat you; this is your birthright and part of your purpose.

4. My Mirror: Practice daily, looking in the mirror without shame, guilt or embarrassment. See, acknowledge and honor your innocence, beauty, strength, resilience and gifts. The true reflection from the mirror sees and knows your innocence, strengths, beauty and goodness. When we judge who we see in the mirror, we are withholding love and reinforcing unworthiness. To acknowledge our innocence and gifts reflecting in the mirror is offering unconditional love and acceptance, reinforcing our worth. I have a moving chapter in my book: Just Be Love, entitled Love and the Mirror, that offers a story and poem of “My Mirror.”

5. Commit to the Practice, of catching yourself falling into the gibes, belief and ways of your lower/wounded voice. Acknowledge the voice of the lower/wounded self, and say thank you for its opinion and how it’s may seem self critical and judgmental. However, we desire to be in the energy of love and acceptance for the wounded self, yet not give in to him or her. In this, than make the loving and caring choice to turn the negative self-defeating thinking into positive, uplifting and empowering thoughts and actions. It’s simply a matter of choice, and willingness to create a new habit within the mind. When you commit to yourself, you greatly reduce the emotions of the past to control your circumstances in the present. To say Yes to yourself, is saying Yes to Love.

Think of a situation when someone offers you something, but you really don’t want or need what they offer. The polite and empowering response to this person, is to acknowledge and appreciate their offer, by saying: “Thank you.” Then saying: “I am not in need of this offer.” In other words you are politely saying: “Thanks, but no thanks.” Practice the “Thank you” exercise to the lower self for expressing its opinion/perspective, yet say: “Thank you, but no thank you” to where it wants to take you with its thoughts and belief.  Share with the lower/wounded self, the more positive and affirming thoughts and belief you are choosing to hang with now and the benefits of this. Affirm, it’s negative and self defeating thoughts and views no longer serve you, and you are now choosing more positive and uplifting thoughts, beliefs and ways. You desire to affirm and live the ultimate truth of yourself, not your manufactured false truth about yourself you created years ago. Invite the lower/wounded part of you to come along with your more uplifting and empowering thoughts and beliefs. Notice how much better you feel, when you make a more loving and affirming choice for yourself. Acknowledge the self-love and goodness of this choice.  

6. Use Affirmations Daily, which seek to reinforce the truth of you, such as: I am love, I am innocence, I am freely loving myself, I am goodness, I accept all parts of myself and love them unconditionally. I am worthy, I am whole, I am compassionate to myself. I choose to be my best friend. I am a lovable, capable and worthy human being. I am a perfect, capable, lovable, worthy and radiant spiritual being, having a human experience. I am learning to be a better version of myself, and this feels good ‒ I deserve this worthy and good feeling.

As you journey back to worthiness, allow yourself to seek out support through friends and if needed experts in mental health.  Seeking support and/or assistance is a sign of strength and expresses value to the self. Call upon your “I Can” spirit to assist you in reclaiming your worthiness. With a compassionate heart and willing mind, summon the courage to change and create a new more empowering direction for yourself; and more loving, accepting connection with all parts of you.  Just Be Love – For only Love is real, and Who you are!

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  David’s book Just Be Love, is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com/ or justbelove1.com/. Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com