I had a curious series of events happen a couple of weeks ago relating to the energetic nature of money. I had received some money relating to teaching meditation, which represented a new opportunity for me in that realm. When I saw the money come through, I thought it could be a good idea to give half of it to the organization through which I received my certification, as a way to give back and in appreciation. That particular day I hadn't had time to do more than quickly consider that idea, not act on it, when I saw an inspiring message sent to a large group of which I am a member talking about the positive effects received by the giver when one donates money or tithes. Within a couple of hours of reading that message, I randomly watched a webinar during my lunchtime which also reinforced the benefits of donating or tithing and specifically asked for donations for a need which had expanded in cost. Then, within a very short time I also randomly came across a blog not related to either of those previous touch points talking about the energetic link between tithing and receiving.
By the time I received that third external nudge, I really felt that the universe was giving me a strong signal that I should give that portion of what I had received as an offering of thanks. I quickly made the donation online to the need highlighted in the webinar (which is part of the organization through which I received my certification). Within a couple of hours of the donation I received a message completely unrelated to any of the connections mentioned so far in this blog, that for a reason that seemed to just fall out of the sky I was unexpectedly going to receive almost the exact amount I had just donated!
I didn't even make the connection about the money I had donated being almost equal to the amount I was unexpectedly receiving until a few hours later, as I was driving and had time to reflect on the course of the day in hindsight. It gave me goosebumps as I thought back to the email, webinar, and blog post which all emphasized the importance of giving and how that is an energetic act which then attracts what is being given back to the giver, and then that exact lesson manifested itself in my life. My day began with that seed of thought that I wanted to offer some of what I had received back to what had enabled it to appear in the first place, and without any effort on my part that seed of thought was watered throughout my day, culminating in actually performing the action of donating which then very quickly boomeranged back to me.
It's something for all of us to carefully consider. Money is energetic. If we hold on to it too tightly, we choke off that energetic flow and keep it from flowing to us. But by thoughtfully keeping that energy circulating we give ourselves the capability of it continuing to return to us.
I think we can understand intellectually that small changes done over time can yield big results. However, when you are in the midst of those small changes it can be hard to really understand that things are in fact changing. Imagine a huge project that is being worked on by many people, such as the great pyramids in Egypt. Putting aside the debate about whether those who physically built the pyramids were slaves or not, it took a lot of people a long time to build an ancient pyramid. It's speculated that it took 100,000 people 20 years to build Khufu's Great Pyramid. If you are one of those 100,000 people, your view of the pyramid at any time is limited to the little part you are working on. On any given day, the progress you can see in your little part is so small compared to what is still left to be done. You may not be able to imagine how the small parts you are working on are contributing to the construction of something so grand. And yet, day by day, week after week, year upon year, eventually the work adds up and an amazing pyramid has been completed.
Meditation can feel like this. In the beginning, changes in joy and stress relief can be pretty noticeable. I have a client who noticed right away positive changes in skin inflammation that she has struggled with for a long time. Over time, however, those things level off or you get used to them, and you might feel like you aren't really making progress anymore. However, always remember that each time you engage in meditation you are shifting energy and doing yourself a huge service mentally/emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
This was illustrated to me last weekend. My family and I went to a hotel that has a great big water park inside. We were there the whole weekend and never had a need to leave the resort, and when we were loading up the car to leave we saw we had a flat tire! I got out my phone to see where the nearest tire repair store was and saw that I had just received a text from our pet sitter who sent a picture of a hole our dog had chewed in our new rug and said that she (the dog) seemed pretty sick.
Each of those events was stressful, and in a perfect world if I had to deal with them at all they could have at least had their own moments so I could focus on them one at a time. That's not how it happened; they arrived in the same moment. I had to do the best I could to address them both concurrently.
Everything worked out in the end, as it does if you give anything the appropriate length of time to get worked through. My husband was able to get the spare tire on for us, we found a Firestone near by, and I was able to advise the pet sitter in the meantime.
What struck me later about the series of events was that even though they carried stress with them, it was handled peacefully. My husband is very good in pressure situations, so that helps. But I know that before having a steady meditation practice my knee-jerk response to having two stressful situations in front of me at the same time would be to get frustrated and snap at those around me. That's not a way I enjoy acting, and it's of course not fair to those around me because they aren't any more responsible for the circumstances we find ourselves in than I am, but it's just how I process things when I'm not the best version of myself. Before meditation I didn't have that space between something happening and my reaction.
Through situations such as these that crop up as we move through life, those little changes that happen bit by bit as we commit day after day to meditation shine through. It's unfortunate in a way that sometimes it takes those times we'd rather not have to deal with to spotlight those changes within, but then again they will come whether we are prepared for them or not so we might as well keep strengthening our armor through meditation!
Recently I went to a Christian church service for a baptism. I hadn't been to church for a while. I grew up kind of going to an Episcopal church. We weren't regulars, but we went more often than just Christmas and Easter. There were points in my formative years where we went fairly regularly, as well as plenty of dry spells where we hardly went at all. All of that to say, I'm familiar enough with Protestant churches to know the flow of service and have the regular prayers memorized.
One thing I didn't particularly remember but was struck by with the service I attended recently was the focus on sin. My guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, said, "The greatest sin is to call oneself a sinner." This quote came back to me many times as I listened to this service, because the overarching theme of the time spent there was that we are born sinners, and God sacrificed his Son for our sins. I don't mean that the minister went on about this during his sermon - his sermon was inspiring, in fact, as he challenged the congregation to put more emphasis on their spiritual lives and incorporate it more fully in all aspects of their lives, which I agree with wholeheartedly and is the heart of my personal meditation practice. The focus on sin was, instead, a consistent theme in the readings, the baptism itself, and the music.
This is, of course, not unique to that particular church. This is a very normal way to approach the teachings of the bible, focusing on the sins. But, to what end? How does it make us grow to spend our reflective time in church scanning our minds thinking of all the wrong we have done? And what is the lesson behind God sending Jesus to die for us so we can be absolved of those sins? That our work is done, and it's all a wash because Jesus did the hard part for us? I don't really see where there is room for growth in this approach. There is certainly value in reflection. There is value in recognizing and owning our mistakes. Releasing ourselves from those mistakes by offering them to a higher power is also valuable. But, if the core of your spiritual time is spent focusing on the sins, are you taking the opportunity to focus on who you want to become? That seemed to me to be the part that was missing.
If I am attending a church each Sunday, and every Sunday the readings, the music, the call and response, nearly the entire hour is reinforcing that I am a sinner, then (assuming I am paying attention and not just there to tick my weekly "church" box on my to-do list) I come away feeling pretty hopeless about how I never seem to get anything right! Is that the message Jesus delivered? When I read his teachings, I feel that he was always trying to deliver a message that heaven is within, that we are all children of God, we need to love each other, and he saw his living life (not his death) as an example that all people could use to better their own lives.
The author Rob Bell does a wonderful job exploring this topic. I've enjoyed reading his books What We Talk About When We Talk About God and Love Wins. He is much more studied on the bible and Christianity than I am. His books are entertaining, thought-provoking, and full of love for Jesus (and all).
I really have learned a lot about Christ's teachings through Paramhansa Yogananda's teachings, as have so many yogis with Christian beginnings. Through those teachings, I view Jesus as someone who wanted people to have a personal connection with God to better themselves. I don't see his message as one of driving home how full of sin everyone is, but one of acceptance and striving for growth.
If the focus is on sin, we are always looking backwards at where we have been. We are focusing on what we have done already, and dwelling there. If we want to grow, we need to look ahead. Not as we already are, or what we have been, but what we want to become. It can help to visualize who we want to be, talk about who we want to become/how we want to improve/which direction we are stretching ourselves, and even start living today in the way that will get us there. We can't do any of that if we are turned backwards, looking at the past, dwelling on our mistakes.
So, if that type of spiritual practice appeals to you, where you are lead to focus on your sins for an hour or more each week, then by all means keep it up. But even if that is the case, why not try allotting extra time throughout the week to augment your spiritual practice of going to church by making a little time for yourself to contemplate your growth. Not by reflecting on what you aren't going to do anymore, but by contemplating what you want to do next to facilitate who you want to become. Meditation is a great way to get yourself into that space where you can connect with your Higher Self to work toward your growth and get you to where you need to be.
I am an Ananda® certified meditation teacher. I am passionate about meditation and embrace a yogic lifestyle for greater wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
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