Posts tagged ‘Awareness’

How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ll By Brenda Bomgardner

What’s It All About? – How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

By Brenda Bomgardner


If you’re like many people, you may have an inner voice telling you things like you’re worthless or that no one wants you. Every day, an exhausting battle may rage inside of you.

Sometimes you try to push back against all those negative thoughts, but they come crashing through anyways.

In fact, trying to counter your negative self-talk only seems to make things worse. Spiraling down quickly, it often feels like there’s no relief in sight.

Now, imagine that there’s a way to counter the effects of negative thinking without pushing back or repressing your thoughts.

That’s what acceptance and commitment therapy is all about.

What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Unlike other coping skills—where you try to avoid negative thoughts or drown them out—acceptance and commitment therapy involves shifting your thinking to more productive outcomes.

This is accomplished by:

• Becoming more aware of your actions
• Recognizing what you consider to be your own values
• Making a commitment to act

The idea behind acceptance and commitment therapy is to face those negative thoughts in a more productive way.

It can be very difficult to drown out or counter negative thoughts, especially if they have been deeply ingrained into your thinking. However, acceptance and commitment therapy empowers you to choose what to do about thoughts.

Decide on Acceptance and Take Action

When you practice acceptance and commitment therapy, you utilize a process to make decisions independent of your negative thoughts.

For example, let’s say that you struggle with feelings of low self-worth based on negative experiences in childhood. When you think “I am worthless” you suddenly now have a choice. You can decide whether to take action right now to address this negative thought and might enter into a battle with the thoughts. You might try to counter the negative thought with a positive thought. You can spend a lot of time and energy in the battle and feel like you’re spinning your wheels and the thought keeps coming back. Here’s the deal. You can battle with your thought or you can act on creating behaviors that infuse your life with meaningfulness and fulfillment. You can act independent of your thoughts and/or feelings. You can accept a thought or feeling as a process your mind does based on your learning history and work towards making behavior changes.

Make a Commitment

Another important part of this process is making a commitment not to push back against those emotions, thoughts, or feelings.

Often, what causes people emotional distress is their attempt to push back or fight thoughts or feelings they find distressful. However, this frequently only causes them even more unnecessary pain and suffering.

When you commit to stop pushing back, and begin to be willing to accept your feelings you can begin to approach these issues from a new perspective and make changes based on what you truly value.

Why Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Helpful?

Perhaps the biggest reason why acceptance and commitment therapy is helpful is that you are no longer trying to avoid painful thoughts or feelings.

If you have thoughts about your low self-worth, you may be tempted to “numb” those thoughts through drug or alcohol use. On the other hand, you may try to bottle those thoughts and feelings up inside. Any attempt to release them causes you loads of emotional pain.

Let’s face it, this may temporarily work for you. But avoidance doesn’t really solve the larger problem. You still carry uncomfortable and unwanted emotions around you, and eventually, it will come out one way or another. Acknowledging to yourself that you have and experience painful feelings and thoughts transform them.

How to Practice Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

To practice this technique, it’s helpful to work with a therapist who understands acceptance and commitment therapy.

While it may be hard to discuss painful memories and difficult emotions with anyone, a therapist will be able to support you through the process. They can also help you find alternatives for viewing these thoughts and emotions so that they need not be compounded by the fight against pain causing distress for you.

If negative thinking is an issue and fighting those thoughts is causing you problems, consider acceptance and commitment therapy. You’ll likely find that by finding acceptance and committing to changing your thinking based on your own personal values, you will find relief and peace of mind.

To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page

About the Author: Brenda Bomgardner is in her encore career. One of her greatest joys in her career is seeing people move beyond life’s roadblocks toward a fulfilling and meaningful life. She believes each person has a purpose in life waiting to be realized that evolves over a lifetime. And the path to reaching your life’s purpose is as unique as each individual. We all have dreams. Step by step she will walk with you on uncovering how to bring your dreams to fruition.  Brenda is a counselor, coach and clinical supervisor and specializes in practicing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which is a cutting edge evidenced-based processes. This means there is scientific research proven to show ACT works. Before becoming a therapist, she completed a successful 17 year career in Human Resources at a Fortune 500 company. On a personal note she loves the great outdoors, ATV riding, adventure travel and family.

To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page,

What to Do When You are Triggered to Remain Connected ll By Dorothy Wallis

What to Do When You are Triggered to Remain Connected
By Dorothy Wallis


You are designed to connect.  “There is only One need and that is the need to connect,” says Deepak Chopra.  So why is it so difficult to remain connected with those we love? When you are relating to another you are either connecting or disconnecting from them. You move between connection and disconnection in a flash.

Disconnection is like having a switch that suddenly turns off the light of connection.

You turn off the radiating warmth of your love and caring.  Your attention moves inward and you either retreat within yourself or put up a shield of defense.

When something hurts you, your body naturally responds to protect you and it does so very quickly.  If you are physically hurt, your body swiftly goes into action to mitigate the damage. Pain lets you know that something is wrong.  The same response occurs emotionally when your esteem, values, and opinions are hurt or denigrated. You feel pain. Your defenses kick in and “trigger” a physical and emotional response.

The physical response is felt as intense sensation and your emotions flare up to protect you and warn you to pay attention.  If your safety is threatened, the reaction will be instant.

“Triggering” floods your body with neurotransmitters and hormones. Your senses are activated to be alert and your body is activated to be ready to take action.  Immediately, you feel a “Whoosh” or Rush of energy. The sensation is rapid and you will react from habit. The way you react depends on the pattern of reaction you developed that worked most often.  These reactions are induced by the limbic system for the purpose of protecting and defending you. You instinctually react to avoid emotional hurt or pain. You may suppress your feelings or project them out.  Handling the hurt in these ways avoids the message your body is giving you. Since you have not dealt with the hurt, it will ramp up the sensations and emotions until you pay attention to them.

It may seem counter-intuitive to attend to pain.  But that is exactly what is required. In order to come out of disconnection and being “triggered,” you must be self-aware of what is at the root of your hurt.    

Your natural instinct with a physical injury is to take care of it.  A broken bone in your leg hurts and so you take care of yourself by going to the doctor so that it can be “set.”  It may still hurt while it is healing because your body is telling you that you should not use this part of your body until it is completely healed.  If you do not listen to this message and go hiking or jogging, you may injure it further. The same goes for your emotional body.

If you do not listen to what is hurt inside and take care of it, it may fester into a larger wound.

Emotional energy builds and the disturbance remains in your body.  If it is not paid attention to, it will manifest as a physical problem or illness.   

The ego’s defense mechanism is primal.  It assumes that there is danger outside of the self and with that perspective it believes that other people make us disconnect or even force us to disconnect due to their negative behavior.  Self-awareness tells you that you are always in control of when you disconnect or connect. You have the power and choice whether to stay connected or not. Focusing on blaming your partner or friend will not result in creating connection.  The first step is to find out what is really going on within you and that starts with introspection.

Begin with a non-judgmental perspective and the realization that your pain resides inside of you.  Whatever outer circumstances are bringing it up is only part of what is really happening. Your first thoughts will be about what is happening externally to you.  You may need to withdraw. It is natural to protect yourself from harm or from harming another. Often what occurs in relationship are habitual patterns and reactions.  Instead of seeing a situation clearly without preconceived ideas about what is happening there are assumptions about what the intentions the other person has or the meaning about what is happening.  These assumptions can cause unnecessary pain. The negative stories we tell ourselves about others behavior or actions is usually laced with judgment.

Before you make accusations take the time to calm down (see below) and then check in with the other person to find out their perspective. Really listen.

It is also important to release any self-blame or thoughts of “screwing up again” because this is just another form of disconnection.  Shift your awareness to go into the spaciousness of peace and harmony that is within you. The more you go into this silent place, the more you will find that peace and love are always available.  Pain means that you are disconnected from the state of wholeness. Connecting to the source in your heart melts the disconnection and you will see how it heals your relationships.

When you are triggered, you can use the Basic Heartfulness practice to connect and attend to your pain and come back into balance.  As you do this practice, you are moving your consciousness from a primal defensive perspective into the expanded open consciousness of your higher mind.  Through this process, you can go to the source of your hurt, which may surprise you to see that the pain you feel has been there before in another form. With insight, you can change the story, the beliefs that no longer serve you, and find out the message your emotions are conveying to you.  Allow the wisdom within to tell you what you really need.

Attending to Your Emotions and Pain:  The BASIC Heartfulness Practice

B: Breath

A: Awareness

S: Sensation

I: Inquiry, Insight, Intuition, Images

C: Centered, Calm, Connection



• Be silent.  Stop yourself from speaking.

•Focus on your breath coming in through your nose.  Take some deep breaths in and out through your heart center allowing the initial Whoosh of emotion to calm down.  Feel your feet firmly on the ground. As you focus on your breath, your thoughts will calm. If you find your thoughts intruding, return to focusing on the breath coming into your nose.  Feel the sensations of the stream of air on the inside of your nose.


•Deepen your awareness of your body.  

•If you are still feeling a rush from being “triggered,” breathe in to a count of 4 and breathe out longer to a count of 7 or 8.  This engages the parasympathetic system, slowing your heart rate and calming your body. Do the “long outbreath” as many times as it takes for you to feel your body calm down.

•Continue breathing through your heart.

•When you feel centered, allow your breath to become natural.

Sensation and Inquiry

•Turn your eyes inward, inside of your body.  Gently scan your body to locate the disturbance of energy.  You may feel it in more than one place. Go to where it is strongest.  Your natural reaction may be to not want to touch or feel the sensations.  Relax into it and swaddle the tension with your care. Your body wants you to go to this place.  As you focus your attention on the disturbance, it will respond. The disturbance is both a physical reaction and energy.  With your awareness notice the area of your body where it is located. What size is the disturbance? What does it look like?  Just noticing the actual physicality of the energy, what is the action? Is it still, moving, contracting or expanding? If you could touch it, what is the texture?  What color is it? Does it smell? Does it have a sound? What is the temperature? Is it hot or cold? Inflamed or dull? Wet or dry? Explore it with all of your senses.  Be aware of everything you ”see” in this area of your body.

•Does it change as you pay attention to it?

•Breathe into the area from your Heart with feelings of acceptance.


•Allow the energy to “speak” to you.  What insights arise?

•What is the Truth in this moment?

•Are you physically safe?  What does not feel safe?

•Is there some action to take or not?

•If you are feeling emotionally hurt, bathe yourself in compassion.

•What is the story you are telling yourself?

•Are you holding on to a story that no longer serves your highest good?

•What assumptions have you made that you want to check out?

•Forgive and release anything in the past that no longer serves you.

•What is the story you want to create that fills you with joy?

•Receive whatever insights or images arise.  

Centered, Calm and Connected

•Feel the Loving spaciousness that exists in your Heart.

•Connect to your True Essence self and receive compassion.

•Allow the flow of loving kindness to radiate into all of your being and outward into the world.

•Feel yourself being Centered, Calm and Connected.

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness. and


Selfishness vs. Self-Care | Jenny St. Claire

By: Jenny St. Claire, featured People House blog contributor.



How many of you grew up hearing, “Don’t be selfish” or “It’s better to give than to receive?”  As children, we take these messages to extremes.  We start believing that to have needs or to receive at all is not OK.  Or, we buy into the idea that giving to, or pleasing, others is all that is acceptable. 

It’s important to look beyond these two polar opposites so we can create the greater freedom and nurturing that can be found in the middle.


What is the difference?

Imagine there is a spectrum:


Selfishness can be described as being so concerned with one’s own interests that one becomes blind to the needs of others.  I’m sure we’ve all met at least one truly selfish person in our lifetime.

At the other extreme is selflessness, where one gives very little attention to one’s own needs.  When someone is selfless, others come first to the extent that he or she may be unaware of their own needs.  Indeed, they may think it’s bad to have needs or to give to themselves.

Truly, selfishness and selflessness are two sides of the same coin.  At some point in life, something happens where you notice your needs aren’t being fulfilled and you have to decide how you’re going to get them met.  Some people decide to fight for them and exclude others to do so.  Others get their needs met by people pleasing in the hopes that they will be taken care of in the process.

Self-care is a place in the middle.  It is where you are aware of both yourself and others.  You consider both sets of needs and find a way to do what you need in order to fill yourself back up first.  A classic example comes from the airline industry when they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first in the case of an emergency.  If you take care of yourself first, you are better able to help others.

To some degree, we have all of these aspects within us.  We’ve all had moments of selfish pleasure, moments of selflessness martyrdom, and moments of presence and awareness that allow us to take good care of ourselves.

What’s important to notice is where along the spectrum you spend most of your time.  How well is that serving you?


Why is this distinction important?


If you are on the selfish side, how would it benefit you to open your awareness to others?  If this makes you feel like you have to fight to get your needs met, take a moment to consider when you felt like that in the past.  Perhaps there is an opportunity for some healing to take place.  Ultimately, you will find that you create deeper relationships by showing care and respect for all.

If you are on the selfless side, you may never notice you’re tired even when you’re dragging your feet.  You may be so focused on pleasing others that you are not aware of the quiet seething inside because your wants and needs are always put on the back burner.  What would it feel like to find ways to care for yourself as well as others?  Could you give that to yourself?

If you find that others are getting mad at you when you’re taking good self-care, it could indicate that you are shaking up the status quo.  Others may have liked you the way you were, always attending to their needs.  They may try to convince you that you are being selfish!

If you cling to the messages we took to extremes in childhood, you may have demonized being selfish and idolize selflessness.  This can skew how you perceive your own actions.  You may take one tiny step toward self-care on the spectrum and think that you’ve landed yourself deep into selfishness. 


What’s next?


It’s time for a reality check!  Take off the guilt or denial glasses and see more clearly where you are on the spectrum.  Consciously choose what action best honors you, while also keeping in mind other’s needs.  The attitude with which you carry out your self-care can actually show how much you care for others.

Assess where you are on the spectrum.  How often are you there?  Where would you like to be?  How can you be more aware of other’s needs?  Where can you be more compassionate with yourself?



About the Author: Jenny is one of the many phenomenal interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 15 years of experience as a Spiritual Counselor, 4 years as a teacher of meditation and energy work and 2 years as a Wellness Coordinator, Jenny is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Jenny is a gentle and reflective soul who is committed to inspiring her clients to reconnect with themselves, find meaning and create positive changes. For more information or to contact Jenny, please see her therapist bio.

Spirituality in Daily Life: Reject the Box – Not the Mystery! || Mary Edwards

By Mary Coday Edwards
People House Featured Blogger

In last week’s blog, I mentioned three items relevant to this week’s:

1. Staying present to your current experience: basically, HOW is your NOW?
2. Not only does this NOW hold valuable information, it’s also where we experience Oneness with the Universe, Divine, Higher Consciousness, Gaia, Brahman, Ultimate Reality, Goddess/God, non-God, Light, Love (space limits the ways this concept is expressed), and
3. Spirituality seems to imply we are seeking a connection with something greater than ourselves.

So, combining those three items, did you experience anything when you read that last phrase of No. 2, words I used to describe the ineffable, the unexplainable, the Mystery? Did any of those limiting words cause a reaction within you? In your body? Is one of your emotions screaming at the edge of your consciousness? Did you stop reading at that point? Or is one rising gently, peacefully? Did a past memory surface, pleasant or unpleasant? What did I leave out that feels important to your experience? Do you believe that some of those words/images are just flat out wrong?

I encourage you to bring your awareness to WHAT you may be rejecting and WHY.

No one can tell us exactly what – or who – this Ultimate Reality really IS. Mystics and poets down through the eons have described their own experiences and thus have given us intimations of what this Reality may look like, but at the end of the day, all these terms are metaphoric variations.

A metaphor is used when we don’t know what something is in order to give it some sort of meaning that we can connect the concept to.

Feminist Christian theologian Sallie McFague says that to think metaphorically “… means spotting a thread of similarity between two dissimilar objects, events, or whatever, one of which is better known that the other, and using the better-known one as a way of speaking about the lesser known (Note 1, pg 15).

Scholar Ian Barbour first studied science and then religion, eventually drawing comparisons and differences between the two, in particular how both used metaphors, models, and paradigms to explain the unseen (Note 2). Barbour says that “Religious language often uses imaginative metaphors, symbols, and parables, all of which express analogies” (Note 3, pg 119).

Models & paradigms: Helpful, but not the same as Reality!

Some of these analogies evolve into models. For example, Western Christians are familiar with the metaphors of God as father, king/conqueror, to the point where the Divine is restricted to this patriarchal-defined reality, leaving analogical language behind. In parts of Latin America, the model of God as Liberator informs reality.

But the New Testament scriptures are replete with other metaphors, such as God as the woman seeking her coin. Although that is mentioned in the same Bible verse as the parable of the good shepherd, how many stained glass windows do you see depicting God as Woman seeking her lost coin? Or Jesus as a Mother Hen, gathering up her chicks under her wings (Note 4)? Neither of those metaphors even made it to model stage.

Copy 3 IMG_3287

And this is not just true of Western Christianity; I’ve seen and experienced this pattern repeat itself all over the world. Every religion, every sect, for the most part, has definite ideas about Ultimate Reality, leaving little wiggle room – in other words, little room left for Mystery. It’s the mystics who shatter the walls of their respective boxes.

Barbour goes on to explain how a model can then crystalize into a paradigm. A paradigm, whether in science or religion, includes metaphysical assumptions and captures the imagination of its adherents. In the process, a paradigm defines reality, determines what sort of questions can be asked, and what sort of tools are used to analyze this reality (Note 5).

“Doubt frees us from illusions of having captured God in a creed.”

We have inklings of this Otherness, but our words anthropomorphize this Otherness. When we say, “God is Love,” our human ideas, images, and definitions of love immediately surface. Whatever negative or positive attributes we associate with love are now imputed to the God we defined as love.

When we reject “God”, what we might really be rejecting is the metaphor, the model, or the paradigm presented to us as the only or primary version of Ultimate Reality.  Perhaps it was imposed upon us in our childhoods and it no longer fits our experience. Our world picture changes as we grow and change.

Additionally, if you’re reading this blog, you’re either my good friend or relative, and/or you’re interested in growing spiritually. As noted in last week’s blog, spirituality conveys the idea of living peaceably with ourselves, with each other, and with our natural environment. The global battle for religious supremacy still rages among us. Thinking metaphorically vs. in absolutes (OUR absolutes) about the Divine opens up a space of humility within us where we can cultivate kindness, gentleness, and compassion for our fellow travelers.

Barbour says that, “Doubt frees us from illusions of having captured God in a creed” (Note 6).

So does thinking metaphorically.

Note 1: McFague, Sallie. Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982, 1987.

Note 2: The atoms subatomic construct cannot be directly observed, but based on theories we’ve developed amazing technology, such as this computer I’m typing on, my cell phone, and information available at my fingertips due to the internet.

Note 3: Barbour, Ian. Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

Note 4: Luke 15:8-10; Matthew 23:37

Note 5: For more information on metaphors, models, and paradigms, see Barbour, Religion and Science; Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A Comparative Study in Science & Religion; Harper & Row, 1974; and Kuhn, T.S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; University of Chicago Press, 1996 ed.

Note 6: Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A Comparative

About the Author: Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Minister. A life-long student of spirituality, Mary spent almost 20 years living, working and sojourning abroad in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America before finding her People House “tribe” and completing its Ministerial Program. Past studies include postgraduate studies from the University of South Africa in Theological Ethics/Ecological Justice, focusing on the spiritual and physical interconnectedness of all things. With her MA in Environmental Studies from Boston University, abroad she worked and wrote on environmental sustainability issues at both global and local levels, in addition to working in refugee repatriation.

The Warrior’s Way, LLC: Doing Shapes Our World – Glenn Bott

Whatever you do during the day defines and further cements your reality.  Proceed with awareness!

If your life is the way you want it to be, then keep doing, saying, and thinking the same.  If it’s not, it’s time to make some changes.  Many go through the day and treat it pretty much the same as yesterday.  This ongoing cycle of thoughtless action leads to a life of disillusion and frustration.  You’re on auto-pilot.

Take some time to consciously decide how you want your life to be, what you want to be doing, how you want your relationships to be, etc.  Define these items in as much detail as possible.  Once you’ve got this information spelled out, adjust your day by taking new actions, thinking new thoughts, and saying things differently in your ongoing internal dialogue.  This will change your reality – slowly but surely.  It’s really not difficult, but it does require discipline and a new set of behaviors. 


A lot of us don’t realize how powerful, creative, and vibrant we are.  When you’re ready to make a change, this is the way to proceed.  Start telling a different story, and reinforce this new story with new actions, thoughts, and routines. 

In the Don Juan book series they refer to this as “not-doing.”  Basically, not-doing is breaking your patterns in order to interrupt your habitual thoughts and create new perceptions.  Don Juan used to have his students walk backward to alter their perception of the world.  This isn’t recommended in the city, but if you’re in an isolated open space or uncluttered room, it’s an excellent way to experiment with new thoughts, habits, and perceptions. 

Instead of your usual perception of the world coming at you, when you walk backward it’s now receding from you.  This creates a subtle, yet powerful change in your visual perception.  Instead of the most recent objects in your field of vision coming toward you, they’re now moving away.  Rather than subconsciously seeing/feeling where your next step will be, you are now moving without your visual clues of what lies ahead.  It’s a great exercise to expand and refine your other senses.  It doesn’t take too long before you start to feel comfortable doing this.


The importance of doing these drills isn’t to refine your technique to walk backward.  The benefit is in creating new neural pathways in your brain that allow you to process information differently.  Increase your neuroplasticity in today’s medical jargon.  Your awareness and mental flexibility is increased.  The mental stories you tell yourself will begin to shift.  These mental stories, as we’re starting to scientifically prove, have incredible power in determining how we live our lives and what we do and accomplish.

I’ll tell you a little story to illustrate this principle.  After reading about this procedure, I decided to expand my awareness in many different ways.  I was enticed by the concept of walking backward.  I modified this exercise to backing into my garage when parking my truck at home.  At first, this was an exciting and challenging procedure.  With a little practice I got better and better at doing this.  I can now back up my truck, in extremely tight spaces with the best of them. 

In doing this I learned to process information in a different way.  I had to develop new neural pathways, new ways of processing the input, and new motor skills to control the wheels while looking in the mirror and backing up.  None of this sounds particularly beneficial, but in a holistic sense it is extremely useful.  I now know that I can back up my truck in tight quarters, I can easily change my habits, I can learn new things, I can process information in reverse, and I can quickly learn new skills.  This is the new story I tell myself.  I have broadened my capabilities.  I have a more flexible approach to solving problems.  I am creative.

Glenn Bott

Toilet Training for My Inner Child: Spirituality? – Rev. Stephen “Clyde” Davis

As a People House Minister, I felt moved to create a blog that had a spiritual nature. That sounded reasonable until I began to more closely examine the assumptions and possible expectations involved around the use and meaning of the word spiritual or spirituality.

Although I consider myself a spiritual person, I cannot demonstrate that by many commonly held beliefs and actions.

Do I adhere to a specific religion or faith? No, but I do find particular aspects and beliefs of some major religions to be attractive.

Do I believe in God? No. Certainly not the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent father-figure, creator, judge and, hoary thunderer I grew up with.

Do I worship or pray? No.

Do I believe in original sin or my intrinsic unworthiness and need to be redeemed? No.

Do I need an exterior authority to provide me with morality, ethics, values, guidance, approval, rewards or punishments? No (but I used to).

Do I need all my questions answered or have all my doubts and confusions resolved? No, although that seems very appealing at times…

Do I believe I have a soul? No. At least not the accepted definition of a soul, anyway.

Do I believe there is an afterlife in which my consciousness continues? No. Until someone comes back and reports their experience in a verifiable way, all bets are off.

Do I ascribe to or embrace any religious or spiritual dogma? No – and yes. More on this later.

So how do I justify my ministry, my ordination as a minister? How can I affirm my spirituality in the face of all these seeming contradictions?

That’s complicated. It calls for some examples of what spirituality is in my life, and what I believe are important components of spirituality or being spiritual.

One challenging spiritual thing I do is practice awareness. I try to expand the depth and duration of my awareness at all times. (Or at least whenever I am awake enough to realize I have the opportunity…) Whether I am at work, communicating, creating or just relaxing, I make an effort to be present with and listen to what is going on around and in me.

I am also drawn to situations, experiences and relationships where I am forced to admit I am ignorant, uncertain and may never know the right answer or path to follow. Embracing this constant uncertainty keeps me in a state of enhanced awareness and consciousness.

I also practice to the best of my ability the principles of compassion, non-judgment, personal growth, authenticity, accountability, integrity, ownership, listening and facilitating. Sprinkled with a (sometimes too) liberal dose of humor and spontaneity, these principles guide my spirituality and growth.

But there’s more to my notion of spirituality than these few hints – lots more.

Undoubtedly you have a few thoughts as well.  And so a blog is born. Hopefully I can stimulate you to question your own beliefs and values as I explore my own and we take this path together.

Until next time,


Growing Pains or Growing Panes – Lydia Taft

As I sit here and consider the first thing I might write in this column, it occurs to me that a brief introduction about the person doing the writing might be necessary.  Of course I can give you the basics… the credentials behind my name, the hours worked doing one thing or another, maybe even a bit about the years I’ve been on this healing path.  But as I consider that, and write and cross things off my list of who I think I am in this world, I realize I wish to express a deeper part of myself.  I’d like an outlet to share how I go about seeking and finding the truth of me.  I’d like to express the knowing and uncertain aspects of myself… all that inspires my exploration, has me bumping into stagnation, and, at times, achieving expansion.

This blog will explore Growing Pains: my life’s growing pains.  While considering what I would write about, I had asked the universe what the theme of this blog should be and I awoke one morning and heard “Growing Pains.”  It was a very clear statement and so, of course, I argued with it.  I tend to do that a lot, fighting against intuition, and I find myself smiling as I write this because that’s a perfect example of my struggle:  I ask for a clear message, I get one, and then I argue with myself about why it’s wrong.

So that morning, after receiving such a clear message, I circled around in my mind about what the significance of growing pains could be and what about it had me bothered.  I realized I didn’t like the word pain.  It has a negative connotation after all and I have promised myself I will exist on a path of positivity.  So I knew I didn’t want to emphasize the word pain.  But I still wasn’t convinced and since this little argument with myself was going on a bit, I gave myself permission to just let it be and wait to see what the universe had to show me.

I went to work and ran it by my girlfriend.  When I told her the theme that I had in mind, she immediately heard the word pane, instead of pain.  And then she shared this: “Sometimes in life we are simply looking out of the wrong window.”  When she said that, what I heard is that there are times in life when I need to turn my attention to a different view, so I might see something more beautiful.  She sold me.  So whether one hears Growing Pain, or Growing Pane, it is all the same thing.  It’s only a matter of what I am choosing to focus on.

So here’s what I expect we might share in this series of blogs…  I am on this life journey and I am guaranteed to run into my own barriers and judgments and opinions.  It’s a daily occurrence that I have surrendered to.  I have learned that the more entrenched I am in my own beliefs, the more difficult it is to get up and look at things from a different perspective.  This is the painful part.  This is the part I will explore in my writing.

I expect that I’ll share the walls I run into and the stumbling blocks I trip over.  But I’ll also share my journey to the other side, past those obstacles. And if I am in a place of awareness, I’ll share how I actually get there.  Always, I will seek to view things from a different perspective.  And if you have your own insight, as I stumble along this path, I am happy to take a look out of your window.

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth