Where Is Your Source of Energy?

A Long and Winding Road to Understanding

“Where do you get the time for all your creative endeavors ? Or the energy? Do you ever sleep?”

*****

People have been asking me such questions for some time now, and I must admit to some reluctance about answering them, because it's not a simple answer. For that matter, I'm just suspicious enough about myself to wonder if I'm not just talking nonsense.

I want to first note I’ve been trying to explain this for a number of years. In fact a lot of this foundation was laid in 2004 when I first released an audio set, Seeing True – The Way of Spirit, through my private publishing company. That material has now been released commercially in 2016 by Ozark Mountain Publishing.

That said, let me try to explain.

There is only energy, or spiritual energy if you prefer. All matter and all action are nothing but expressions of energy. Furthermore, there is an infinite quantity of energy in the creation, and movement seems to be its nature.

Quantum mechanics has determined that all energy is subtly affected by all the rest of the energy. It’s all connected through some pretty strange physics, which I’ve come to think of as responsiveness. So infinite variations of energy are constantly in motion and partly influenced by all the rest of the energy and movement.

The question then is, how is that energy being used by, and through us?

The first use of that energy is by our unconscious selves, for example bodily functioning and innate survival. The second use is based on our sensory perception, which is observable though not necessarily controllable. I’m referring to the energy needed to step out of the way of an oncoming vehicle, or to attend to a crying baby, or for the many things that seem to require our attention and effort.

But what happens when through spiritual or psychological development, some of these actions and behaviors become more conscious to us? Or when we deliberately devote energies to meditation or mindfulness? What happens when awareness increases?

Interestingly enough, the Big Book from Alcoholics Anonymous presents a conclusion. “We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly...”

As our underlying motivations are brought into our awareness, as we become more enlightened, more energy is freed up. Abraham Maslow saw this to be true when he showed that as our most basic needs for safety and security are met, more attention can be devoted to self-actualization. It may seem like we have more energy, and perhaps we do, but some part of that new energy is the result of decreasing the ways that it is diverted or used ineffectively.

I’d go so far as to say that Buddha himself told us this would be the outcome he called the Eightfold Path. That as we dealt with our attachments (the distracting or inefficient use of energy) we would find our way to right understanding, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

It turns out that like so many things, gaining greater energy is also an inside job.

Seeing True

While the reality is not simple, perhaps it can be summarized simply: The secret to finding greater energy is through discovering and addressing the ways that drain away energy.

Interestingly enough, today I think of this as forgiveness work. A practice of continuously releasing the things that bind us, over and over again. With practice and some success, more energy is available for higher purpose.

Seeing True in Action

Every path to greater effectiveness begins with awareness. And while these writings may have been a good beginning, each of us can look to where our energy is going by taking stock of any given day, or any given week. Then as we begin to see ourselves more clearly, the shift of energy begins, away from distractions and more toward our heart’s desire…and the realm of Spirit.

 

Could You Eliminate Discomfort?

Is Happiness the Point?

What if you could find a way to eliminate discomfort from your life?

I’ve been contemplating this question as a result of a conversation with a long-time friend whose mother has Alzheimer’s disease. He has long described his mom as a chronic complainer, a woman with a long history of reasons for her unhappiness that largely involve finding fault with others. At one point, I even remember him saying, “If it weren’t for bitterness, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself.”

Yet his recent report on the progression of his mother’s disease is that she is the happiest she has ever been, apparently because she has simply forgotten all the grievances she has long held. He’s quite happy for her, and frankly he’s pleased he no longer has to endure her complaining. My friend may be dutiful in attending to his mother, but he has held quite a few resentments about her as a result of her incessantly bitter and unpleasant remarks.

Regardless, she’s happy, and he’s happy, so where’s the problem?

Well, isn’t discomfort, or discontentedness the source of our drive to learn, grow and overcome? If we really could find a way to eliminate discomfort, would that undermine our own development? And of even greater relevance, is the point of our lives to be happy and comfortable, or is it to learn and grow? Would we seek improvement in our lives and world if it weren’t for unhappiness of one kind or another?

Rather than discuss this as a philosophical matter, I find myself looking to my own experience. As a result of recovery from alcoholism I have found tools for living that have greatly increased my feeling of contentment. And meditation in many forms brings great solace. So too does the ability to focus on meaningful work, often with the growth and development of others.

At the same time, the suffering of alcoholism was no doubt the greatest opportunity of my life. It made me willing and open to possibilities that led to recovery. Two painful divorces drove me into deep explorations of myself, which have proven to bear great fruit. Failings in my career brought all new possibilities, and a livelihood that is far better than any I may have imagined.

Everywhere I look it is clear to me that pain and discomfort are great gifts. And that comfort can actually become a source for complacency and stagnation. Still, there is a great desire to be comfortable, isn’t there?

I must admit I find this matter to be a bit exasperating. Must I retreat from the human desire for comfort at the expense of progress with human development? Or does a drive to make progress guarantee discontent?

What if the ultimate outcome is to embrace both by understanding that our inherent nature is to grow, and that comfort creates complacency, and yet were it not for increasing comfort with ourselves and our lives, we would have no apparent benefit for striving? What if in so doing we normalize that every station of life is temporary, and that at our best we must necessarily alternate between pressing forward and ceasing our efforts to enjoy the fruits of our labors?

Perhaps we were designed by life for dynamism, and to always be seeking our next stage of development.

Seeing True in Action

When is the last time you engaged in a significant effort to overcome some challenge, something that produced frustration, disappointment, discomfort or unhappiness?

When is the last period of comfort you enjoyed, and for how long?

If you are in relative comfort currently, can you look ahead to see your next developmental undertaking? On the other hand, if you are currently engaged in striving, is there an apparent future point you can anticipate where respite will be possible?

If the idea of effort or the idea of relaxing is disturbing to you, what might be a source of your fears?

 

 

How Do We Stay 'Right-Sized' While Also Accepting Praise?

When I lived in Greenville, South Carolina a few years ago, serendipity brought me to the gallery of a pair of artists; August and Susanne Vernon worked from their studio along the Reedy River. We struck up a continuing relationship through a mutual love of art.

One day I was talking to August. He was curious about my coaching and mentoring practices, which we discussed at length. At some point I found myself telling him some of the nicknames I had acquired from clients: the bulldog, Ronbo, Guru Ron and Ronald the Wise. All of which provided for laughter since they are all interesting characterizations of me. Frankly, they are like funhouse mirrors that offer up distorted, incomplete reflections.

Then I told August something I had rarely shared:  one client who had experienced profound transformation called me the Ronnie Lama.

August’s laugh was huge, but the spew of his ideas about what a cool painting that could make was remarkable. I was so enthused by his enthusiasm that I jumped right in with him in brainstorming ideas. The result is the image included with this blog.

As is so often the case, in retrospect I had much inner work to do about this painting of me. It was beautiful, and I do love it, but I also felt a sense of embarrassment, the source of which I could not identify. The best I can say is that it is a reflection of two things of great importance to me. The first is my sustaining desire to be an exceptional spiritual student, and thus to become an excellent teacher. The second is a deep mix of humility and humor that I can feel deep in my core. Just to keep it simple, I’ll call it honest holy ground, a genuine mix of right-sized-ness paired with an ability to not take myself too seriously.

I had prints made for both my daughters, but this image did not find its way into the world for quite some time.

There are a number of ways to explain the delay. There was a lucid dream about opening myself outward that was clearly the Soul speaking to me. And a conversation with a therapist that helped me to better see how deeply runs my fear of being seen. And a dialogue with my long-time mentor that was so disturbing it threw me off balance for several months. And reflections from clients of all kinds hammering at me, not with critique, but with a great deal of praise and acknowledgment.

Then, it became clear I would be launching two novels, an audio set, and a whole web platform taking me fully into the delivery of forgiveness and innocence practices. That culminated in feedback from a marketer who said, “Ron, it’s wonderful you care more about the success of your work rather than your reputation. But people want you to be real. They need to know that you aspire, and that you fail, and that you can be wonderful and awful.” Finally, a dear friend reminded me of the scriptures that urge us to not hide our light under a bushel.

To be honest, the degree of this disclosure makes me feel uncomfortable. There is always fear that in being seen, there will be rejection or attack. And there is a built in tension with a desire to not allow ego inflation. There is a great deal of evidence that one can fall quite deeply into a spiritual abyss in becoming too enamored with oneself.

Or perhaps the greater fear is exactly as Marianne Williamson described it. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”

What a curious space: desiring to be seen, and simultaneously fearing it. Wanting to welcome whatever magnificent attributes are part of me, while not indulging in either delusion or grandiosity. Claiming that which is legitimately a contribution, and owning where I have erred. Anxiety because it is so easy to overlook our weaknesses, and even easier to reject our strengths. Wanting to be fully revealed, to be authentic in my relationships with the world, and to myself, and shirking from what surely feels like great exposure. Wishing more than anything for the way of the Soul to be expressed in and through me. Yet all the while, feeling my way in a darkness of unfathomable forces, strangely blind to much within me that cannot be seen or understood.

Life, and our role in it is just plain messy.

Seeing True

The design of Life ensures each of us must face a crux, inner challenge that is essential to the Soul’s development. Masters tell us we must engage it in order to learn from it. Nothing great can emerge through us without some significant disruption within us. Somehow we must get over our selves.

The path is made with every step.

One breath, one moment, one step at a time.

 

Forgiving Your Way to Spiritual Transformation

           An Article from Conscious Life Journal: Conscious Spirit Issue March/April 2017*

           An Article from Conscious Life Journal: Conscious Spirit Issue March/April 2017*

Nearly all of us have been taught that forgiving is virtuous and beneficial, and most of us believe that to be true. Yet what if the practice of forgiveness could be far more than we imagine?

Author and teacher Stephen Levine observed that we are constantly under assault from the effects of life. He concluded we must attend to these psychological and spiritual insults lest they harden our hearts and callous our souls.

Consider the many ways we can be hardened or harmed:

·      Wrongs inflicted upon us by others, whether imagined or real

·      Failures in relationships, careers, and lives

·      Unrealized desires and dreams

·      Forces in the world that are unfair or unjust

·      Inadequacies or shortcomings in ourselves

·      Unfortunate circumstances that befall us

Individually or collectively, the effects of these can block us from realizing our spiritual potential by producing fear, discouragement, depression, anger, and even loss of faith. Unaddressed, these factors can grow to become great obstacles.

Letting go of every grievance or limitation creates a much broader perspective than the typical view of forgiveness. The broader perspective also calls for a continuing practice of releasing over and over again—not just mentally, but physically as well. Many of us find that we can’t just think about letting go or pray for forgiveness—we need something much more potent.

Here is a releasing practice that operates on body, emotions, and mind:

Pick some person, or situation, or circumstance that is somehow diminishing you. Close your eyes and visualize it as clearly as you can. Take a few deep breaths and intensify the visuals. Then turn your awareness to your body and, as you breathe, try to locate an associated feeling. Describe the feeling you find—for example, tightness in the diaphragm or fluttering deep in the belly. This is a physical indicator of where you are holding on… literally.

Breathe gently into the feeling. Probe it with breath. Notice how it clings, or extends, or even how it moves in response to awareness. Explore altering your breath and whether you can intensify or soften the feeling. See if you can get the feeling to release by breathing it away. Keep playing with it. Notice the sensations.

After the exercise, come back to the moment and write about the experience. How does it feel to hold on? What does release feel like? Do you gain insight into what you’re holding onto or the underlying thoughts that produce the feeling?

Once you’ve written all you can, discuss what you have learned with a friend you can trust. Try to deepen your understanding of the experiences, thoughts, and emotions that bind you to injuries or grievances. Repeat the exercise. With each repetition, see if you can discern changes within yourself and perhaps the shifting that leads to resolution.

With practice, we can learn to release any insult or injury that arises. Over time, our capacity for forgiving becomes like the proverbial spiritual muscle that strengthens.

This experiential releasing practice is complementary to other efforts to forgive. It assumes that the ways in which we are stuck are not simply cognitive, but are embedded in the body. As we become clearer and clearer, we are scoured of what some would call limiting beliefs and perspectives. Greater and greater potential is unleashed.

In my experience, we do not need to find wholeness. Rather, through forgiving, letting go, and releasing the things that block us, we open ourselves to resolution and healing. Eventually we find within us that which was never broken. We come to understand that we cannot be injured. Then we see there is nothing in need of forgiveness. The practice of forgiving proves to be the entry point to spiritual transformation.

Bio:

For thirty years, Ronald Chapman has been exploring the ways in which our lives are impoverished by spiritual obstructions and limitations. He has published four books and two audio sets addressing various aspects of these challenges. In 2016, Ron launched the Wonder Road Tour, a nationwide forgiveness campaign. www.SeeingTrue.com

*Click here to subscribe to Conscious Life Journal.

As The Crow Flies

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The Story of My Animal Totems

Not long ago I released a piece about Goat, one of my animal totems. I also acknowledged in that piece that my earliest totem was no doubt, Dog, which I described in another piece in my first book. And I alluded to the need to tell you about Crow. At this point you may be wondering if I have a whole menagerie of spirit animals; the truth is more complex than that.

We are all evolving across our lives, if not across lifetimes. My own evolution seems to have been from the energy of Dog, to Hummingbird, to Goat and Crow.

Some of my earliest impressions of animals came from dogs. To this day, while I travel too much to have my own dog in my life, I frequent dog parks and take full advantage of good dog energy wherever I can find it. It invigorates me, almost like first nature. Sit me down with a dog, and the whole world slips away for a time. Not surprisingly, dogs like me, and seek me out. I often hear from their humans that the dogs are unusually receptive to me. I have not a clue where such energy may come from, yet I can certainly see evidence of it in my life.

Pugs in particular have had special meaning in my life.

Pugs in particular have had special meaning in my life.

Some years ago, as I came fully into a conscious path of spiritual practice, I was smitten by hummingbirds. Not only are they symbolic of joy, they are little bursts of beauty, both themes in my spirituality. Yet when I heard the story of hummingbirds traveling as much as six thousand miles under extraordinary duress with near perfect navigational skills, I had a moment of insight: surely if the Creator had imbued such a tiny creature with such inner guidance, we must all have some form of such intuition. That epiphany drove the development of Seeing True: The Way of Spirit, my psycho-spiritual exploration of the ways and means by which Spirit animates our lives. Most assuredly, Hummingbird is an ally in this journey.

As I described Goat in that previous piece, it is so very clear to me that the curiosity, adventure seeking, and fearlessness of the creature likewise guides me.

Now to pick up the theme from my goat blog, a decade ago on a vacation to Victoria, British Columbia I stumbled across goats in a petting zoo at Beacon Hill Park. And into that transcendent interaction with goats, a murder of crows (yes, that's really what a group of crows is called) descended into the midst and set up a riotous and raucous banter. The sum total of Goat and Crow in the same space spun me off into a spiritual reverie and produced the storyline for My Name is Wonder, a spiritual parable of a goat named Wonder on a trek of adventure with his spirit guide, Mac Craack Crow.

Amid that unfolding, I came to have a tattoo on my chest of Mac Craack, a beautiful fusion of Crow and Hummingbird. Somehow it is true to and for me.

You might ask, “Why?”

Because the wisdom and canny nature of Crow are becoming mine. For me, Crow is aspirational, a living embodiment of how I most want to be as both teacher and student as well as spiritual adventurer. Intrepid. Somehow infused with the joy of Hummingbird all the while.

Seeing True in Action

“We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be awake and free! We can learn to fly!” Richard Bach from Jonathan Livingston Seagull

What animal represents your spiritual journey?

Feeling Hopeless About Our Impact

Is Everything Actually an Exercise in Futility?

It began, as it so often does, with an online conversation: after several exchanges on a controversial subject, I wrote the following: “Rest assured I have no expectation this will change your mind in any way.”

And while the person on the other end expressed remorse and "felt bad," it did not do anything to change her mind.

The next thing I knew I was in deep in contemplation.

Let’s be honest. Most of us do not ever really change our minds, our behavior, or our lives. That’s not a critique, it is simply the truth. In fact, based on ongoing research about our brains, apparently our minds are mostly made up before we even engage. We’re just looking for information or a story to justify what we already have unconsciously concluded. Barring a Road-to-Damascus experience such as Paul the Apostle’s that fundamentally disrupts our perspective, it seems we are destined to stay firmly rooted in our belief systems.

Said a friend, “I’m only as open-minded as my closed mind will permit.”

We could then say it is all an exercise in futility, though that feels rather hopeless. Or we could insist on the notion of freedom to choose, except if we look deeply into our lives we will mostly conclude that that is an illusion. (See The Way of Powerlessness by Wayne Liquorman, or Alan Watts’ The Wisdom of Insecurity if you’d like to explore it further.)

Given this, why in the world would we then make any effort to engage, or work on our own development, or even act to any seeming purpose?

Sometime in the past someone told me, “Understand that little you do will matter, but know you must do it for the sake of your soul.” This reminds me so much of the work of the Jungian Analyst, James Hollis, and his book, What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life. He would likely propose that we simply must do what we must do for it is the nature of the soul’s work, or our fate, or destiny if you prefer.

As I walked to my yoga class after these thoughts, I felt a heavy sadness in my chest: sorrow that so much we wish we could change for the better, even within ourselves, is simply beyond us. I felt grief that for unfathomable reasons, many hateful and damaging things will continue, no matter what we do. Even perhaps the things we wish to believe are useful to others or our world are (as the teacher Rhondell proclaimed), nothing but vanities of the self.

Seeing True in Action

If much is in fact futile, what then are we to do and to what end?

Perhaps we can work with our expectations, to release them. Perhaps it is then possible to also release our judgments and demands, even of ourselves and life itself.

What then would remain?

Taking pleasure in living, creating, and relating. Enjoying the experiences.

Maybe then we could simply live with surprise and delight.