The Call To Be of Service – Caroline Myss

Artist Philippe Auge @ Tutt’Art


The Call To Be of Service

The following is from Caroline’s 2015 Salon

A few days ago, I put up the following Facebook post on the topic of service: “To be of service to others through your inner gifts, your intuition, your courage, your talents and your creativity is possible for all those who are willing to respond to the needs of others. Toward this end, you must see yourself as healed, having completed the unfinished business of your past. While you may visit your wounds every now and again, you can no longer emotionally or mentally reside in that contaminated psychic field, continually processing wounds that are decades old. Your focus has to be in the present moment. This is where you power is, and being in the present is what your health requires.”

This post went viral, as the expression goes. In fact, it has turned out to be one of the most read posts in all the years my site has been up. Now that has given me reason to examine the content of this one paragraph and the numerous responses written by all our Facebook followers very carefully. What is so inspirational about the content of this paragraph? So many of the comments were words of agreement such as, “I agree” and “Thank you for this”, so here are my thoughts on why this message struck a cord.

Being of service to other human beings is a calling. It is not a job. It is not a career. It is a calling. And although that “calling” may be packaged as a job or a career, that is merely the vessel your calling requires. Further, the call to be of service does not require a job or a career. All it requires is a healthy you. And even further, by “healthy you”, I do not mean a fully physically healthy you. I mean a “you” who is capable of managing a “healthy” personal agenda when involved in “conscious” acts of service, from volunteer work to your role in any number of service occupations. That’s a high goal to shoot for, I’ll grant you that. But a “calling” is the “high spiritual road”, because in the process of serving others, the situation, job, or occupation will often bring out your own demons as a way of serving your personal growth.

The idea of service has intrigued me for many reasons, far too many to go into in one article. But being of service took on greater significance for me as my professional life flowed organically from doing medical intuitive readings to examining questions about healing: What did people need to know or do or not do or get or whatever in order to heal? Once you start asking those questions, you never stop, because there is no end to that mystery. One question leads to another and then to another and so on. Eventually I realized that unlike the data derived from physical science of the body that are quantifiable, emotional, psychological and spiritual data are subjective moving pieces. A person’s feelings change every day and with those changes, memories shift a bit this way and that. Stories are recalled slightly differently. Intimacy with other people can rise and fall with a phone call. The inner world, in other words, is an endless moving picture.

Yet, even with that, certain patterns – indeed, archetypal patterns – present themselves as consistent within human nature. To wit, we thrive on hope and love and disintegrate without nurturing. We respond better to kindness than abuse. We are tribal by nature. We need community, in other words. And we need to feel that our lives are of value to at least someone other than ourselves. Being of value requires that we are of service, that we are useful in some way. Said differently, we must find a “use” for ourselves, for that is the essence of self-esteem.

And so we ask these questions: For what reason have I been given life? What use am I, Lord? Why have you given me this gift of life? How do you want me to use this precious gift that is my life? Surely I cannot just use this for myself, indulging just my own needs every single day.

I learned from years of observations in the field of healing that having an answer to those questions, that is, feeling you are of value to at least one person, is an essential ingredient to healing. In fact, as I learned when writing Invisible Acts of Power, that became the most essential ingredient of all.

I’m going to share a story or two from Invisible Acts of Power, because the stories people shared with me about acts of service in their life changed my life. Actually, those stories didn’t just change my life; they initiated the beginning of my mystical path in the truest meaning of a living mystical path. This is how it all began for me: I had sent a request out via my web audience asking for stories of experiences of “service”; either how they had been of service to others or how they had experienced an act of service from someone. I anticipated that I would receive maybe one hundred responses but in three days more than 1,200 unbelievably tender, loving, heartbreaking, soul-moving stories filled my email box. I read every single one of them, some of them four or five times, as they were so incredible. (Just as an aside, reading 1,200 plus personal stories of truly exceptional – and at times miraculous – content in a condensed period of time is an extraordinary experience. I got “spiritually high”. No kidding.)

I was completely taken with the experiences people were sharing with me, from the briefest to the longest, from the most dramatic to the simplest. Every one of them felt as if it was alive, pulsating with life. And then one evening, as I was reading one particularly extraordinary story, I realized that these stories were “alive”. They were like human scripture to me, each one a vessel of grace transmitting a story of the power human beings have to help each other make it through the hard passages of life. Many, many things about these stories moved me to tears again and again, but I was especially taken by the simplicity of actions and how little it took to make a huge difference in a person’s life. I could not help but notice that not one person said, “I was looking for a way to be of service and when I saw that homeless person, I thought ‘wow, here’s my chance.’”

These acts of service were spontaneous responses from one human heart to another. Many times, the person giving to the other in need had no idea how much that person needed that kindness in that moment – and no doubt, never would find out. One man wrote to me, for example, and said that he was on his way home with the intention of committing suicide. He stopped at a street corner, pausing to think for a moment about his method. He had pills and a razor blade. As he stood on the corner wondering, “Should I down the pills and then cut my wrist or should I cut my wrist first and then take the pills?” he wrote in his letter to me that a car pulled up to the stop sign. He waited for the car to proceed down the street but then he noticed the driver, a woman, smiling at him. She then waved to him to cross while continuing to smile at him. He said that the warmth of her smile was such that it dispelled any thoughts of suicide right then and there. Her smile gave him hope again in the power of goodness and love. Any one of you could have saved a human being with a smile somewhere along the line in your life. But who would think that a smile could hold the power to save a life?

What is being of service? Looking upon another human being with kindness and compassion and not judgment is a profound act of service and though such a form of service lacks for whistles and bells, this expression of “service” comes from truly understanding the power of your soul and what it means to “look upon another with eyes of grace.”

Writing Invisible Acts of Power turned out to be my own unforeseen portal leading to my life as a contemporary mystic, which I now admit I am. That simply means I dwell in matters of the spirit simultaneously with all that makes up a wondrous physical life. It’s cool. I am intuitively comfortable and spiritually fearless and physically at home in my body. Who could ask for more? And I owe so much to all those wonderful people who opened my eyes to a list of mystical insights, the most important of which I would like to share with all of you:

We are actually “designed” to be of service to each other because we are designed to sense each other’s energy field. That may sound odd but it’s the Truth – not true, but the Truth. Think of your intuitive system as a rose. The speed at which your rose opens – that is, the “speed” at which you become intuitively clear – is directly tied to how comfortable and safe you are with intuitively sensing the needs of others and helping them.

Further, the mystical laws that govern us teach that what we do to each one, we do to the whole. Therefore, even if we did not want to be intuitively sensitive to other people – and all other life – we could not prevent it.
Being of service to others is key to finding meaning and purpose in life. Givers fare far better than takers when it comes to having a meaningful life.

How you are meant to be of service is not necessarily your choice. That is, a “calling” is rarely so much a “conscious” choice as a path that organically unfolds as a result of other events.

When it comes to “health” and service, I am not speaking about physical health but psychic/emotional/psychological/spiritual health. Physical health is the least on the list. You can be ill in bed and of great service to another by passing on wisdom or by how you talk to people who visit you. “Health” should never, ever be defined as how you “feel” physically.

The healthier and more balanced your self-esteem is, the more comfortably and naturally you will sense the vulnerabilities of other people. You will not fear “empowering” another person; whereas, if you are intimidated by others, you will hesitate to listen to your intuitive guidance because you won’t want to help them. Or you will help them but not with the full measure of your heart and intuitive abilities. You will hold back, in other words.

Judging others blocks your intuition. Enough said on that. Just remember that every time you judge someone, someone somewhere is judging you right back.

Holding on to wounds makes you want to see the world “your way”. There is no such world as “your world” except in your own mind. Just remember that. Don’t except too much company in there. And don’t expect your “mind” to help you heal anything because as a rule, it gets you into more trouble than you can imagine. Wounds can generate an attitude that you “deserve” something from others – more time, more care, more sympathy. Every person’s wounds need to be acknowledged by not by every single person. Sometimes an act of service to a wounded person is to stop acknowledging an old wound and move on.

An act of personal and loving self-service is that you stop telling yourself nonsense. Healing is not about forgetting your wounds or pretending everything is okay. Someone on Facebook wrote that my telling people to get into “present time” was “blaming the victim”, although I am not sure how sound and wise advice came across as blaming the victim. The advice to live in present time is wise and healthy life advice. This is where your attention should be. What good is dwelling in the past, focusing on yesterday? Where does that serve you? To be clear, wounds never disappear. They are a part of your life and mixed with wisdom and self-esteem, they become assets in your life of service within the arena of your world. Some people have wounds the size of Mt. Everest. Their childhoods were nightmares. And then there are the day-to-day problems we face. Sometimes we have something to give to others and sometimes we are the ones who need to be taken care of. That’s how life works. Sometimes your self-esteem is up and sometimes it’s down. It’s never always up and it doesn’t have to always be down. Life is a moving picture show. We all go up and down. There is no such thing as being “always” anything – from always healthy to always happy to always sad to always anything. But we cannot allow our wounds to steal the whole of our life.

If your self-esteem is low, if you are seeking attention, your motivation in “serving” will be tainted in some way. This bit of wisdom is as applicable if you are serving as a volunteer or are in a service occupation or you are a caregiver for a family member. Our personal agendas are everything and it is tough work to keep them clean and clear. If you have a personal agenda that is other than what you signed up for, look out. Either whatever you are doing will exhaust you more than it should or it will make you angry because you are not getting enough attention for your efforts or you will become bored. Something will happen that will cause you to be disappointed in your surroundings, as is usually the case when a person is unclear about personal motives. You will likely seek gratitude, attention, appreciation and you will resent the needs of others. I have several examples that I can provide but none are as blatant as the therapist I knew who volunteered to serve on the therapy team for Columbine High School following the murder of all those students. As you can appreciate, several therapists flocked to Columbine, all eager to be a part of this crisis and as usual, power struggles exploded immediately as to what “volunteer” was in charge. This woman became so enmeshed in the power struggles with the other therapists that she was eventually asked to leave, which only infuriated her all the more since she was “volunteering” her time. As the other therapists gained minor notoriety on the news and had interviews with magazines, her rage went off the charts. Within a year, this woman died of a stroke. She literally imploded.

Wisdom about Service

What qualifies as service? To serve another means to be available for what that other person needs. Really, it’s no more than that.
Everything is an expression of service if you have eyes to see life that way. What is not an act of service if your heart is in the right place?

This is a question you should ask yourself before you get into arguments or gossip about someone: How does saying this or doing this serve me or the other person?

You need to be of value to someone other than yourself. Being of value requires that you know what is valuable about you and what your values are. No one can tell you that. No one can tell you what you should know yourself. What do you value about yourself? What are your values? Know thyself and you know your own Universe. It is no one else’s job to tell you who you are. You are in charge of choosing your values and sharing them with others.

Your intuition will thrive the more you find a comfort level with serving others.

Listen-respond-listen to your intuition. Toss a quarter to a homeless person. Don’t pretend you don’t see that person. Your intuitive gut can feel a vulnerable soul. Smile at people when you walk down the street. Smile at yourself, too.

Stay in present time. Remember, all things change in a second. Live in a field of grace at all times.



Artist Philippe Auge @ Tutt’Art

Gratitude to all artists. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah



Our Need for Inspiration – Caroline Myss

Fire Dragon by Typhon 39 @ DeviantArt


Our Need for Inspiration

The following is from Caroline’s 2015 Salon

The human spirit is capable of an endless number of extraordinary feats. It is a dragon slayer, animating its presence within our being to challenge images and thoughts that arise from the depths of our darkness, intent upon reshaping how we see the landscape of our life. Inner dragons can make us see threats on the horizon, even on the most beautiful of days. Our inner dragons often whisper despairing words into our minds and hearts like the spell casters they are, hypnotizing us with familiar memories of grief, abandonment, isolation, and fear.

Our minds have minimal resources to do battle against the onslaught of dragons that have escaped into the hidden passages of our consciousness. Our hearts are even less equipped against the heat of dragon fire. But the human spirit is undefeatable no matter the rage of a dragon, no matter the relentlessness of the opponent. Like the stealth force that it is, the spirit matches every negative thought or image with a counter one: A grace-filled burst of hope, of assistance, a way out, a way through, a reminder of how you made it through the last time a dragon got loose.

Your spirit is by nature an exorcist, inherently expelling dark thoughts that would possess your mind and make it difficult for you to perceive the activity or presence of a blessing unfolding in your life. Your spirit by nature dwells in perceptions of essential goodness. Dragons are always challenging your spirit. They are always trying to get loose, which they can in an instant. And then, just like that, instead of seeing possibilities and wonder, a “dark lens” descends over your consciousness and animates shadow-like perceptions and thoughts and emotions.

We often turn to our mind to battle these dragons: Positive thoughts and the like. But how often do we discover that the mind lacks the resources to break through a “dark lens” because it is itself imprisoned by them? Dragons can hold the mind captive. A dark lens, however, cannot prevent your spirit from seeing clearly. The spirit is that part of you that recognizes the need to seek healing, to find a way out and to keep going until you do. It is indomitable. It will never stop slaying your dragons.

Your spirit is also a dream-maker because human beings must dream. We have to dream and imagine and take flight into the other worlds. We are not meant to dwell in the physical world for long periods of time. We come into the physical world for temporary visits. Most of our consciousness remains in the invisible or timeless realm, the dimension of the cosmos. We create stories and myths and religions that allow us to somehow gain access to that realm while we are here in the physical state. All the while, however, the spirit within us slips easily into this realm through the flying carpet of the imagination.

We must utilize the magic of our spirit-imagination. Why? Why would that be essential to our well-being?

This may seem an odd notion for some, but the truth is our inner balance requires that we enter into transcendent fields of energy; that is, our five senses are simply inadequate when it comes to providing a sufficient “reality” screen through which to view, understand, examine, and interpret the full measure of all the many macro and micro experiences of our lives.

Consider this fact: Most – and I do mean most – of your experiences do not occur in the physical world. The physical world is the caboose on your train, not the engine. Your emotions, your ideas, your perceptions, your visionary thoughts – all that can be described as your “energetic content” – is actually the engine of the whole of your life. Your five senses are worker bees, survival senses that maneuver you around the physical world in service to your inner and far more refined emotional, psychological, psychic, energetic, spiritual, and other subtle senses.

Now, imagine (See? There’s that word again) that you were told that you could no longer have access to your “energetic nature”. From this moment on, the only part of “you” that you can know and rely upon is that part that sees whatever your eyesight is capable of seeing and the same for hearing, touch, taste, and olfactory abilities. You are forbidden to imagine something as a result of what you see or taste or hear. You are not allowed to imagine a garden of roses and lilies as a result of breathing in their fragrance. You are only permitted to breathe, smell, recognize and identify the fragrances and that’s it, because access to your imagination is banned. Now imagine (that wondrous word again) how long you could sustain any degree of balance, patience, self-control, violent rumblings, or just imploding as a result of the actual build-up of your own psychic energy that you are unable to process, examine, utilize, or release. Without having a constant dialogue between your physical world and your energetic nature – most important of which is your imagination – you would actually implode.

Your five senses “report in” to your imagination continually. You are always imagining what this and that is or what someone can do with this seasoning or that color or this musical instrument or that new scarf or this new computer. You exist in a constant dialogue with your imagination (your energetic nature) and you do not even realize it.

Your spirit is also a soldier of endurance. You have no idea what you are capable of enduring until you find yourself in one of those positions that you would not choose to be in. How many times have all of us said, “Oh, I could never handle that,” or “That situation would drive me crazy.” We all have, and who knows how many times. We make those cavalier statements because we have no emotional connection to the situation we are viewing. We are free to come and go from that scenario. It is that quality of “detachment” that allows us to make such sweeping statements.

And we make these detached statements for another reason. Deep in our unconscious, we want those types of situations to keep their distance from our personal lives. Like the way Indian women in India shunned (and in some parts of India continue to shun) widows lest they bring the curse of widowhood to their door (I believe this archetypal sentiment of the shunning of the widow is universal), we shun the life crises of others (or often the people burdened with them), because we fear they may be contagious. We shun poverty-stricken people for many reasons, one of which is the fear that poverty is “contagious”. This superstitious behavior also holds true in people when it comes to good and bad luck: People will avoid those they think of as unlucky and cling to those who they feel the “gods have smiled upon”.

We shun what we perceive as the unendurable. And yet, no amount of psychic shunning can prevent what life or one’s karma will bring to your door when the time comes. And it is then that the spirit in you emerges, as it is the spirit in you that has the capacity to endure what so easily collapses the mind and ego. And when your spirit partners with the love in your heart, you can endure anything. You end up surprising yourself. This is one of the paths in which you become your highest potential.

I have been asked so many times, “What is my highest potential?” Most often the person asking me is hoping that I will say something that will make him or her feel important and special because that is what they are seeking. They want this elusive thing called “highest potential” to be a path to specialness and attention on a grand scale. But your highest potential emerges through life circumstances, and circumstances that demand more of you than you thought possible. Life circumstances do not make you what you are; they reveal what you are to you. And it is in the most challenging of times that you need to merge the power of grace with the power of your spirit and your character. That is the alchemy that unleashes your highest potential.

Your spirit is an endless replenishing of the heart even when you think there is no love left in the heart at all. We have all experienced the empty well feeling for someone and we have all been on the receiving end of someone’s empty well. Yet, how often have we also experienced that empty well refilling itself automatically, one drop at a time, sometimes even when that drop is unwelcomed? Sometimes the unwilling refilling of the well with drops of love clash so painfully with an unforgiving or broken heart. The pain of each returning drop of love is enough to drown you and yet you cannot stop your well from refilling. You simply have to endure the pain of the return of love to your inner well. How paradoxical is that?

The spirit in you will not let you rot into an unloving creature. It constantly refills your well. It is impossible – utterly impossible – for you to not have a surplus of love inside of you. You can choose to freeze that water supply, as I have seen so many people do. But then – not to take this metaphor to the extreme – frozen water breaks the pipes. Apply this metaphor to the arteries/cardiac system. For many, the choice to freeze emotion for whatever reasons is applicable: Broken heart, fear of loving, bitter heart, angry heart, prideful and stubborn heart, punishing wrathful heart – all of the above have what it takes to freeze the water in the well.

And yet, the spirit in you continues to pour water in your well, regardless of how much the ego or mental fear patterns or shattered emotions shut down the heart. It hurts as much to be unloving as it does to be rejected or anything else that happens in a relationship. Human beings are designed to love and are at their worst – if not at risk of becoming barbarians – when love is absent.

Your spirit is constantly filling your well. Only you know what the temperature of the water is in your well. But if there is ice floating in your well, do something about it. And don’t wait.

Let me close this Salon with these final thoughts. Life is too short to make foolish choices. I have learned again and again that it is the spirit within you that is the authentic engine of your life. Love and kindness toward others is far more valuable than can be measured. Never underestimate the value and power of a kind word, an extra minute with someone, a prayer for those suffering in the world who have so much to endure.

And find something each day that inspires you. Read something that lifts your spirit out of your five senses and into a “state at the altar”. Pray like you’re crazy. Expect heaven to solve your problems. But help out the Divine by making bold and brave choices.




Fire Dragon by Typhon 39 @ DeviantArt

Gratitude to all artists. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah


Engel by Escume @ DeviantArt

POWER QUESTIONS: Your Answers Can Change Your Life

The following is from Caroline’s 2016 Salon

One of the more difficult truths to convey to people is that changing anything about your life – your health, the direction of your life, the quality of opportunities that you generate, how happy you are – is not that difficult. Change is not dependent upon wealth, as so many people are prone to believe. And it is not a matter of having time or space or energy.

It is a matter of how you organize, see, relate to the “reality” of your life. That’s a huge statement that requires a bit of interpretation. I suspect that if I had said that in a lecture, I would be looking at facial expressions communicating, “What?”

One of the great teachings of Buddha is that change is a dynamic that is always in motion. Everything is always in a state of flux. Our bodies are always changing. The day is in constant movement – seconds turn to minutes and then to hours, with us aging along with each tick of the clock. And as each second passes, just imagine all that happens in the world within that second. It’s incomprehensible. Absolutely incomprehensible. Food is rotting in your refrigerator while political decisions are being made and babies are being born and storms are forming in the oceans. It’s uttering astounding.

And you can’t see any of it. You cannot see anything at all and yet all of it – every single speck of it – somehow has an influence in the flow of the events of your life. It’s one of those wild, outrageous cosmic-sized truths of life. We cannot see any of the power elements that actually influence us. We only see the consequences. We may lose our job, for instance, but we do not actually see the thought processes involved in the decisions that need to take place before we are let go from our occupation. That is the caboose on the train of a decision – not the engine. We never actually witness the engines. They occur in the invisible world – all of them.

Choices, decisions, thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs are the engines that organize our reality. Events that happen cause us to make choices; they are not the choices. A common belief is that life changes come about because of huge events like the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, moving to a new neighborhood, buying a house, marriage or divorce, a new job or job loss, an increase or loss of income. It’s true that such events shift the course of our life but it’s also the case that these events do not happen often, given the length of our lifetime. We may have two or three children, not one a year. We may marry once in our life or twice; hopefully not endlessly. That means a person is either widowed or divorced. Job changes are more frequent these days, as is moving. But few people move annually.

What does happen all the time, however, is conversations with people on all levels, intimate, casual and professional. We read all the time, whether it’s Internet blogs or Facebook chatter, books, newspapers or whatever. And we just notice things. We listen to the chatter in our environment coming from everything around us. We live in the information age, as they say.

All of this constant streaming of human, written and electronic data flowing into our energy field holds the potential to generate new ideas or inspire a thought or stir a desire that sets sparks off in our imagination. Change happens when you let those sparks of imagination take hold of a new idea or, as in the subject of this Salon, answer questions that you do not normally think about. And yet these questions are the sort that invite you to evaluate how you think about your life and the quality of choices you make each day – and why you make those choices. If, for example, you were to decide, “I’m not waiting any more to follow my dreams. No more waiting,” what would you actually do next? By this evening, your life would be on an entirely different trajectory. Imagine that.

I call these Power Questions because they contain the power to change you, to inspire you, to draw you into reflection about what you want in your life and how you see yourself. These questions are not just about what you want. Life is not about taking, having and getting more. We obviously need to survive in life. We need to provide for ourselves and our family. But we also need to tend to the task of becoming a good person. Are we the best person we can be? Again, how you answer that matters. Maybe you feel you are or maybe you will decide there is room for improvement. And if so, how will you (and are you even willing to) do the work? If so, by the end of the day, you will have made a difference in the quality of your life and the lives of all those you encounter for the rest of your life. That’s a big deal.

So, take your time. I took my time creating these questions because they matter. Remember no one needs to see the answers to these questions but you, so be honest with yourself. Some of these questions might pinch a little, but that’s what I want these power questions to do. Otherwise, they are useless. And enjoy the task. Your life could be very different by the end of this Salon.

  1. What is the one thing you have postponed changing about yourself? Are you prepared to make that change now?
  2. Are you a good friend who keeps your word all the time?
  3. Would you offer a good friend much needed (uninvited) advice when you can see he/she is headed for disaster, or remain silent?
  4. Are you open to receiving uninvited counsel from a good friend if the situation were reversed?
  5. Is it more important for you to win the power game or to know the truth?
  6. What is more important to you – wealth or love? (No, you can’t have both so far as this question is concerned.)
  7. Have you explored your creativity to your satisfaction?
  8. Do you dismiss your creative ideas based on financial thinking or lack of time?
  9. Which would you prefer: Losing your creative energy and spark or gaining more free time in your life? (No, you cannot have both so far as this question is concerned.)
  10. Can you actually name a creative project or dream that you would like to pursue now?
  11. What are three very unusual qualities in you that define who you are?
  12. Do you feel that the choices you make allow those qualities to shine? If not, what are you willing to do in your life to let the best of you become the strongest part of you?
  13. Do you consider yourself to have healthy self-esteem?
  14. What three qualities do you appreciate most about yourself?
  15. What are your three greatest personal challenges?
  16. What do most of your close friends consider your greatest personal challenge?
  17. Do you spend your musing time drifting into past regrets, fear of the future or present time concerns?
  18. How much of your day do you dwell in stress and how much is spent in calm waters?
  19. Imagine your life twenty years from now. Close your eyes and drift forward to whatever age you would be twenty years from now. Which of today’s problems and emotional issues are still troubling you twenty years from now? Ten years from now? Five years from now? Three? Even one year from now? How significant can they be?
  20. Would you rather have acknowledgment or love? (And no, you cannot have both because often in life, the pain in a person is self-created because they can’t figure out which one they really need versus want.)
  21. But which do you need: Acknowledgment or love?
  22. Do you find it challenging to acknowledge the gifts and accomplishments of others?
  23. Which do you feel more often: That life has blessed you or that life owes you more? (Everyone tends to answer “I feel both”; however, the operative word in this question is “more”. Which do you feel more often?)
  24. Do you have to remind yourself to count your blessings or does gratitude come naturally?
  25. How sure are you of what you believe in? Spiritually? Politically? Personal values?
  26. Are you someone who stands up for what you believe in?
  27. Would you challenge a person who is critical of a friend?
  28. If you knew someone was telling a lie, what would you do?
  29. Is honesty an important value for you?
  30. Are you as honest with people as you want them to be with you?
  31. Are you someone who thinks that having more money is the solution to your problems in life – and if not all of them, most of them?
  32. Do you often spend from entitlement rather than from necessity?
  33. What makes you feel as if you are “truly alive?”
  34. How often do you feel that way?
  35. Do you generally feel that your life is good?
  36. Do you often hesitate to do what you want because you fear what others might say?
  37. And how often have others actually said something to you?
  38. Whose opinion of your life matters as much to you as your opinion of your life?
  39. How often have you gotten angry at yourself for not doing what you want to do – and then blamed someone else for your lack of courage?
  40. What qualities do you love most in others? And do you tell your family and friends often enough how much you care about them and how much they mean to you?
  41. How many of those do you have in yourself?
  42. We may all die tomorrow. Just because we are not ill does not mean we will live another day. We only have this moment and then the next. We only have each other. We only have each precious moment together. Knowing that truth – and it is a grand cosmic truth – review who you might still be angry with or what issues might still be unresolved and ask yourself if holding on to negative feelings for one more moment is worth it.
  43. If you said yes – even slightly – is holding on to your negativity:
    1. A matter of pride;
    2. Or the thrill or need to get even with that person;
    3. Or the need to get the “other” to acknowledge/witness the pain of the wound;
    4. Or the need to prove that someone unjust was done to you.
  44. None of those goals can ever be met. Very few people care that they hurt you just as you have already forgotten most of the people whom you hurt. You don’t think about them everyday. But imagine someone else dwelling on what you said to them twenty or twenty-five years ago. It’s preposterous. And if one of those people did finally come up to you, after waiting all those years to see you and said, “I’m so angry at you. Do you know what you did to my life because of what you said to me?” More than likely you would say, “Who are you?” Or you would say, if they were a close family member, “I don’t recall saying that at all. I’m sure I never meant to hurt you.” And now that person would be left feeling bereft. Or perhaps even angrier. None of their wounds were validated. But that is the more common scenario. We hold on and hold on only to find out the wicked other has moved on long ago. Or never registered the wound at all. What is true is that every human being has wounds and every human being has wounded someone along the way. Some have left battlefields of wounded people. We do not always get our apologies from the person who stuck the knife in us and we do not always get the opportunity to apologize to the people we owe an apology to for our dark actions and words. But in this world where invisible acts of the heart move through our “inner net” with the speed of “holy light”, the grace of our good deeds finds its way to wounded hearts in need of comfort. And the grace of our kind words are used to create soft thought forms that settle sweetly into minds in turmoil. It is worth letting go to make use of yourself as a vessel of light. You can put that space in yourself to better use.
  45. Is meditation or prayer time a value?
  46. If you had the rare opportunity to encounter experience “God call you by name”, would you say yes?
  47. Would you say yes to becoming a healer if it meant undergoing the Wounded Healer journey of initiation?
  48. How deeply do you really want to know yourself? Do you want to know all the whys about you or just a few?
  49. What are your three greatest fears and of those three, which two do you know you can release at any time?
  50. Finally: What is the dream you are postponing? And if you heard the Divine say, “No more postponing. I gave you that dream for a reason. Act on it,” what would you do? There are no financial guarantees with a dream. All dreams are financial risks. All dreams take courage. And dreams do not have to be great, big, huge. They just have to spark your imagination and make you grateful you are alive.

Now, go through your questions again. I hope you answered them slowly and thoughtfully. I did. It may sound odd, but I took my time with every question. Some of them came from Spiritual Direction work and others from my work with people and others popped into my head as I wrote this. I thought it obvious that many of the questions included a sort of, “Well, and so what are you going to do about this?” or “And, now what?” Next step. I did not feel I had to add that. For example, question 45 asks you if prayer or meditation time is of value to you. Whether you replied yes or no, I assumed you would then spend some time thinking about the value of introducing one or both of those practices into your life. A “no” answer is insufficient because it does not do justice to the significance of what it means to have a prayer/meditation life versus not having one. Having one implies that spending time in reflection and in sacred dialogue matters to you. Invoking grace matters. Having faith in something greater than yourself matters. Hope comes more easily.

I would love some feedback from you with this Salon. I would love to know if these questions really caused any of you to think more deeply about the choices you are making with your life and if any of you actually decided to do something outrageous.

And I send you all a heart full of love as we enter August. I hope you have a lovely final third of the summer.




Engel by Escume @ DeviantArt

Gratitude to artists & photographers. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah

Enjoying the Silence – Caroline Myss

Symbols for healing by Toni Carmine Salerno @ Blue Angel Publishing


Enjoying the Silence

From Caroline’s 2002 Salon

A classic cartoon that first appeared years ago shows two Buddhist monks seated in meditation posture. The older monk, responding to a question from the young novice, says, “Nothing happens next. This is it.” It’s a double joke: Of course, the beginning student wants to know what to expect after he closes his eyes, counts his breath, or follows whatever technique the monk has taught him, as if he expects the heavens to open and some explosive enlightenment to occur. But it’s also true that what happens “next” in a fully realized meditation is, well, nothing. Some apprehension of openness to the great Void may be as much as anyone might realistically expect from meditation practice. Yet, as meditation teachers have been saying for millennia, that “nothing” or “emptiness” is really a great something, a realization of the fullness of Being. It’s also the thing we dread most, the Void we may expect to enter at death, the eradication of our precious ego. That’s probably why beginning meditators often experience so much resistance to the practice.

Fortunately, that “nothing is something” phenomenon is not limited to the realm of meditation. What does it mean, for instance, to be creatively blank? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Facing a blank page, unable to come up with a new idea, can be a writer’s worst nightmare. But here’s the thing: That blank space creates a kind of vacuum into which the new ideas you are looking for can rush unimpeded. The problem comes when you try to maintain that blank state long enough for new ideas to germinate, without panicking that you’ll never have an original thought again. It’s a little like the college graduate who has to choose between jumping right into the job market to start earning a living, or taking some time off from the chase to explore other worlds and other ways of being. Although some grads do take time to bum around Europe or go to India in search of enlightenment, most plow right into the workaday world, either from necessity or out of fear. And that fear may not be so much about running out of money as the fear of encountering that creative blankness, or what we might call the “silence within.”


Maybe you can get a clearer understanding of what I mean by looking more closely at the phenomenon commonly known as “vacation stress.” You may be wondering how a vacation could be stressful — but only if you haven’t taken one lately. First of all, there’s the ordinary stress of preparing to go away, rushing to pack while still doing everything else you normally do. Add to that the anxiety of getting where you’re going. Flying these days has clearly taken on an extra layer of stress, but even driving anywhere further than the nearest state park can be stressful, fatiguing, and perhaps dangerous. Once you get where you’re going, you have to check in and start doing whatever you planned on — sightseeing, hiking, swimming, finding a place to eat – all the while pursuing that elusive feeling of relaxation. That can be especially hard to do when you find yourself surrounded by hundreds of other eager vacationers, all flooding into the same desirable locales in the last two weeks of August, hoping for peace and quiet but making it awfully hard to get a dinner reservation at a decent restaurant.

But there is another, subtler, more insidious form of stress best summarized by the age-old question, “Are we having fun yet?” You can feel so much pressure to “do” something on a vacation — to have a peak vacation experience, so to speak — that if it rains and you’re forced to stay in your room or tent or RV and just hang out, you feel like your vacation is ruined! (Especially if you’re paying $200 a day for a room by the beach.)Yet just the opposite is true. The word “vacation” comes from the same Latin root as “vacuum,” and means to become empty, to be free from duty or service. By extension it implies carving out a space of time, leaving your normal location and your normal consciousness as well, in order to enter a different space. The whole idea of a vacation is to let your physical and, if you’re lucky, your psychic field, lie fallow for a time as a way of reconstituting and recovering your power. In the parlance of teenagers everywhere, you have to learn how to “chill” — that is, to enjoy doing nothing. I can already hear the revolt being staged by proponents of the Protestant work ethic — an ethic, by the way, that has been adopted by Catholics, Jews, and most other religious and ethnic groups in this country. Sure, the party line goes, plenty of people enjoy doing nothing — most of them are on welfare, or on drugs, or are just plain slackers. You may even recognize this syndrome in your own teenagers, who are often professional slackers and proud of it. Oddly enough, as some books on parenting point out, the reason teenagers have so much trouble getting anything done is that all their energy is spent trying to figure out who they are. So what looks like doing nothing may actually be a sign that they’re engaged in doing inner work. Okay, so maybe it’s not classic spiritual work, and sure, they also waste countless hours watching TV, but something else is going on, too.


We probably are afraid of silence and empty space because we have trouble understanding the creative potential and power of lying fallow. When farmers do that, for instance, they are letting growing fields go “on retreat,” so to speak, so that they can regenerate precious nutrients that will go into the next crop that is planted there. The result, as farmers have known for ages, is a healthier, more nutritious crop of wheat or corn or strawberries. In the Chinese system of exercise known as qigong (or Chi Gung), one common foot posture is called an “empty step.” That’s when you put your front foot forward but don’t place any weight on it; all or most of your weight remains on your rear leg. As qigong masters explain, this is one of the most powerful moves you can make, because that front leg is free to move quickly to strike or block an opponent. A leg or foot that has all your weight on it is encumbered and can’t be moved nearly as fast or as effectively. And much the same is true of a mind or psyche that has become too busy and encumbered and needs some room to breathe.

We have such a dread of emptiness that the word itself has acquired mainly negative connotations in our culture; it can mean feeling hollow and inauthentic, meaningless, hungry, or just plain out of gas. And, as we saw with our discussion of the concept of “retreat” in a previous Salon, withdrawing from the active world can seem like a capitulation or loss, when, in fact, the very act of emptying out is what makes creation possible. A wonderful book that came out many years ago argued that it is precisely in the vast emptiness of interstellar space that new hydrogen atoms are generated. Because hydrogen is the most plentiful element in the universe, it is considered the building block of all matter. In effect, then, all matter ultimately derives from the apparently empty spaces of the universe; the author referred to this creative space as the “nothing between.” The book itself takes its title from a Sanskrit phrase, Neti-neti, which translates roughly as “not this, not that.” That is, the indescribable something that appears to be nothing. And yet this “nothing between” is not only an abundant source of creation, it also seems to be essential for life. How can we continue to ignore its importance?


Now that we know that it’s good to create some open space for your mind and heart to grow and create in, how do we go about doing that? One obvious way, of course, is through some kind of daily meditation practice. By learning to enter that space of emptiness on a regular basis, even if only for 20 or 30 minutes, you’ll become more familiar with the sensation and less afraid of the negative connotations of feeling “empty.” In time, you will probably come to enjoy the silence, the respite from cares and concerns of daily life, at least in the sense of not allowing them to wear you down and dominate your consciousness. Meditation teachers usually acknowledge that it’s impossible to keep random thoughts, worries, plans, and even obsessions from intruding during meditation. But it is possible to let them simply float by without playing into their hands. Tell yourself that whatever happens during your meditation time doesn’t matter – especially if “nothing” happens. Even if you seem to spend most of the time calling yourself back from daydreams and fantasies, or trying not to worry about something that went wrong at work yesterday, you are still entering a creative space. In time it will be easier to let go of distracting thoughts long enough to get some inkling of the “nothing between.”

But meditation is just the beginning. There are plenty of other ways of entering and enjoying the silence. One obvious way is to allow more silence into your life. Resist turning on the television the minute you wake up or come home from work, or automatically listening to the radio in your car. This kind of silence creates a mental space where ideas can germinate and intuitive feelings may be revealed to you. I don’t mean that you should use this blank time trying to think profound thoughts or obsess endlessly about all your problems. In fact, that’s why we compulsively reach for the radio dial or the remote — to shut out those nagging thoughts and negative feelings. But learning to control your mind is part of your work as a student in this Mystery School, and blotting out troubling thoughts with a constant stream of noise isn’t an effective way to control anything. Some people use mantras or short prayers for this purpose. Repeating a mantra or something like the Jesus prayer (which we also discussed in an earlier Salon) can help calm your nerves and ground you, while making it easier to let go of negative thoughts that are always jumping in. If saying a mantra doesn’t appeal to you, try just letting your mind go blank while focusing intently on what you’re doing. When you’re driving, just drive, as the Zen masters might put it. Don’t talk on the cell phone, listen to the news for the 30th time, or fiddle with the tape deck. (At least as many accidents are caused by people fumbling with the car stereo system as talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving.)

Focusing intently on what you’re doing is good advice in any situation, whether you’re cooking, exercising, or writing a legal brief. I know most exercise is boring and we do it more for the effects than for the sheer pleasure of climbing a Stairmaster (ugh!). But if your exercise regime is so tedious that only blasting the stereo or watching yet another hour of CNN makes it bearable, then maybe it’s time to look at the way you exercise. Or maybe you need to find something that will hold your attention on its own, whether that’s yoga, qigong, or kick-boxing. Remember, it’s the compulsive, repetitive nature of the distraction that we’re focusing on here. If your hour at the gym or out running with your Walkman is the only time you have to catch up on the news, then maybe that’s a helpful thing for you. And a little classical music while cooking dinner can help to soothe your senses. But pay attention to how often you use radio and television to fill in the empty spaces that might otherwise allow your mind to “lie fallow” for a few minutes or more. Don’t mistake what I’m saying for another attack on the evils of television. TV has plenty of good things to offer, especially some of the specialized channels now available on cable. And don’t think of turning off the TV as something negative that you have to do, like the old line about trying not to think about an elephant. Let it happen gently and see if you don’t actually come to enjoy the silence. Watch for creative ideas or intuitions that may begin to pop up during these silent times. (Then, when there’s something on that you actually want to watch, you’ll enjoy the experience even more.)


I think that what most people are actually afraid of when they create noise isn’t the silence itself or even the feeling of loneliness that may accompany it. What you’re really afraid of is the possibility of receiving some important intuitive hit that you might have to follow. It could be an inner voice telling you it’s time to change your job, to leave your partner, to move, or to take the spiritual life a lot more seriously. What will you do if you’re silent long enough for that “still small voice” to be heard loud and clear? You might have to act on it, or else acknowledge that you’re not being authentic. Sometimes the voice will repeat itself as if waiting for the chance to be heard. And, if you start learning to enjoy the silence, those voices that you missed may make themselves heard yet.

The kind of silence we’re talking about here isn’t necessarily related only to the absence of sound. Along with all the insidious forms of noise pollution that drive us to distraction are other forms of “noise” – visual, mental, even unwanted smells. We can clutter up our lives with images that are distracting or negative, but we can also create the mental equivalent of white noise by the constant repetition of negative thoughts. I don’t have to remind you how many hours you already spend rerunning those childhood tapes telling you that you can’t, or shouldn’t, or will never do something that you very well could do if you just believed you could. As Jesus said, “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Be moved from this place to that;’ and it will be moved; and nothing will be impossible to you.”

Do you really believe that? What if you wrote in your journal every time you thought you could do something until a voice in your head told you that you couldn’t? In fact, I’d like you to do that this month and then let me know how it worked out. Every time a negative thought intrudes on your silence, write it down. If you don’t have your journal handy, write it on a scrap of paper and transfer it later. Just by focusing your attention on these little bits of mental noise pollution, you can at least make yourself aware of how often they pop up. Keep in my that increased awareness is one of the goals of this particular Mystery School, and whatever form it takes is bound to be beneficial in the long run. In the short run, expect to meet up with some resistance. This can take the form of your rational mind saying, “What’s this? I know I have negative thoughts sometimes. Doesn’t everyone? Am I supposed to be some kind of New Age Pollyanna and think only happy thoughts?”

Well, nobody said anything about “happy” thoughts. I’m not suggesting you start sounding like the local newscasters who insist on finding something to laugh about even as they’re telling you about the latest child abduction. It’s really more a matter of not letting yourself be overcome by the “unhappy” ones. Let yourself see how it feels to have the burden of that kind of noise lifted from your shoulders for a few days. Imagine unexpectedly receiving a large inheritance or winning the lottery. All the gnawing financial worries and limitations are suddenly lifted and you don’t have to spend endless hours wondering if you’ll be able to pay the mortgage or buy a decent car to get around in. What starts going on in your mind? You may begin dreaming about what you can do once you’re released from the background noise of money worries. And I don’t just mean fantasies about buying a big house in Malibu or taking endless vacations, but maybe creative endeavors like taking up painting or starting to work on that novel or screenplay you’ve been dreaming about for years. You might finally realize you don’t have to live where you do, or stay with someone you don’t love anymore out of financial fear. You might decide you want to explore the spiritual dimension more fully, and spend more time working with a spiritual director or being your own spiritual director.

I’m suggesting that you can let yourself feel that kind of mental release without actually winning the lottery. And it all begins with getting comfortable with the silence – external silence and internal silence. It begins with allowing yourself the freedom to go blank without fearing the consequences. It begins with some simple practices like the ones I’ve outlined in this Salon.

I hope you’ll all continue to enjoy the last precious moments of summer.

God bless you on your journey,


Symbols for healing by Toni Carmine Salerno @ Blue Angel Publishing

Gratitude to all artists & photographers. Any queries, please let me know, Shekinah

Finding Faith, Nurturing Faith – Part 2 of 2 – Caroline Myss

art-ichiro-tsuruta female face hands

Artist ~ Ichiro Tsuruta


Finding Faith, Nurturing Faith

From Caroline’s 2003 Salon – Part 2 of 2


The number of times I have looked into the eyes of people who have just been diagnosed with something labeled “incurable” is in the hundreds. And then there are the many times I have had conversations with people whose lives have completely bottomed out. When asked by such individuals to explain why God did this or that to them, I used to come to a complete standstill, unable to utter a word of convincing explanation, much less attempt to contrive just the right advice to help them get the outcome they wanted. Lacking anything specific to tell them, I always relied on the old, “You’ve got to have faith that. . . .” Then I would walk away feeling frustrated, because at times those words rolled out of my mouth without any trace of personal energy attached to them. I used to be absolutely drained by people who wanted to speak with me because they were at their breaking points of fear, desperation, sorrow, confusion, or any of the overwhelming challenges of life. I blamed my feeling of depletion after being with them on the depressed quality of their energy. Sometimes this sensation of being energetically consumed by people became so intense that I would experience rapid and negative mood swings along with an implosion of anxiety. I would reach an irritation level that was so uncontrollable that I had to cut people off in mid-sentence and immediately flee – and I really do mean flee – the room. As soon as I got to some place away from people, my energy field would calm down and I would regain my balance.

It took me a while to connect this dot — and it is a tiny but particularly powerful dot for me. Obviously I could credit my exhaustion to standing on the stage and teaching for seven hours, but that really wasn’t the problem. I was having spiritual panic attacks. I was telling people to “have faith” when I didn’t have any myself half the time. I would tell them to pray and “things would work out” – whatever that meant. One evening in yet another hotel room following another such incident, I knew that the only protection I would have when surrounded by people in such need was to believe what I was telling them, especially on the nature of faith.

The problem is that “faith” is merely a word until proven otherwise. You cannot give a person an ounce of your faith like a pint of blood. And as for descriptions of what it is – I give up. What should I tell you? It’s peace, it’s a “knowing”? Knowing what? A sense of well-being? If faith were easily explained in these simple terms, faith crises would cease to exist. Then I remembered the woman I had met so long ago. Marge was the incarnation of faith. Apart from recalling her tiny frame and gentle nature, the vibration of consistent faith that she radiated is what left the imprint on me. That is the only way to use the words, “Have faith” and be able to leave the scene without feeling like a spiritual fraud.

So how does one develop such faith?

Okay – here’s the challenge. Maybe there is nothing in your life that you feel is out of order and perhaps you have come to terms with all of your fears and insecurities. But let’s say you are one of the billions and billions of the rest of us who still experience nighttime tremors about something or someone in your life. Here’s the practice:

  1. Observe how you pray. Everyone without exception is an agenda-prayer person until he or she consciously recognizes the pattern and takes conscious steps to shift gears. When people tell me that they are agenda-free in their meditation practice, I observe how agendas dominate their “ordinary” life and I know instantly that they are no more agenda-free than the average politician. Humbug. Observe your agendas. What do you pray for and how do you pray? How many times do you have a wish list, special request, or personal agenda? Mind you, there is absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing wrong with having such intentions in mind. The hurdle you have to get over is your need to have your prayers answered exactly the way you want them answered. Agendas are not harmful in your prayers; but the agendas you have for the answers you want reflect your lack of faith.
  2. Were you in a classroom with me right now with a microphone shoved in your face, you might report that you had no such thoughts rolling around in your head. Examine that agenda as deeply as you can. What are your motives? What is it you want to happen and why? Choose an area of your life where you truly have a desired outcome. How would “getting what you want” be the solution to your situation? How much of that solution favors you over anyone or anything else? Does getting your desired outcome make you feel more secure?
  3. Here comes the hurdle: release your agenda with a prayer of surrender and unconditional faith. And then immediately observe whether you add a postscript to that prayer. Can you surrender? If not, what are your reasons? What do you fear the most?
  4. Finally, shift the focus of your prayers. The intention is not to pray for anything at all. Rather, the intention becomes one of praying through your fears. Faith is the ability to pray without an agenda.
  5. Remind yourself how often you have been afraid before, and how things that seemed problematical yesterday worked out for the best today. Then recount how many times the outcome was absolutely nothing like the way you had anticipated that something would be resolved. The Universe tends to provide outcomes that you had never considered. Keep your attention on those details.
  6. Take time to pause in your day to “freeze” your thoughts and emotions and observe how often they are generated by stress and fear. Are you living a frightened life? What scares you the most? Being alone (that’s always a biggie), failure, or something else? Then observe how much those fears determine your actions, thoughts, words, and deeds. Again, are you living a frightened life?
  7. Finally, pray to experience just one second of the power of pure faith. That experience gives bliss a whole new meaning. Pray for one second of bliss. I now realize that Marge was living a fearless life. She remains one of the greatest examples of a complete person, and I think of her when I am in my own times of distress. From a mundane perspective, her life was not easy, but it was uncomplicated because she saw no benefit to indulging thoughts and emotions that did not serve her well-being.

The wisdom of living in the present moment is without a doubt the most comforting companion to surrender and faith that heaven has provided for us. Keep your attention in the present moment and when you find yourself wandering down a dead-end street, freeze that perspective and breathe it away. And then remind yourself of one of the greatest truths of all time: All things can change in an instant, no matter what the challenge.

And on a more personal note, I hope all of you are having a wonderful summer. Regardless of the fact that I have been free of the school calendar for years, I still think of summer as playtime. I hope pleasure is filling up most of the days of these glorious months.

With love,


Artist ~ Ichiro Tsuruta

Gratitude & appreciation to all artists & photographers ~ Credit given where this is known. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah

The Essence of Faith – Part 1 of 2 – Caroline Myss

Miniature Footbridge @ Garden Lovers Club


From Caroline’s 2002 Salon – Part 1 of 2

The Essence of Faith


The other day I was discussing with a friend a serious challenge she is going through in her marriage. We talked about the pros and cons of counseling, separation, divorce, and anything else that seemed like a viable option. At the end of the conversation, she leaned back in her chair and said, “Oh, well, I guess I just have to have faith that it will all work out.” I agreed with her.

Then I thought about how often “I guess I just have to have faith” was the closing remark in conversations I have had and continue to have. The realization that brought me to a pause was that I have never really taken the time to think about the nature of faith: What exactly is faith? How do we know if we have faith? And how is the power of faith manifested?

Growing up as a Catholic, “Just have faith” was practically a mantra in itself. But as I grew older, that mantra often came back to haunt me. I can remember times when I was so desperate for guidance that when someone suggested that I “just have faith,” I wanted to push them off a cliff screaming, “Just have faith! I’m sure there’s a net down there somewhere!” Every one of you reading this knows the feeling I’m describing.

What exactly is faith? How do we know we have faith? By what scale do we measure whether we have “enough” faith? And then there is the question of “unconditional” faith, which has to be the highest risk of all relationships with the heavens. That one is like giving the Divine a green light to send you on whatever missions the heavens deem essential — not to you, necessarily, but to the greater good. Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, who, while kneeling at the infamous rock, inquired in prayer why he needed to die such a horrific death. With no answer forthcoming from above, he agreed with unconditional faith to follow through with his Contract.

The Essence of Faith

Faith is power. It is the power to stand up to the madness and chaos of the physical world while holding the position that nothing external has any authority over what heaven has in mind for you. That kind of power is perhaps the most enviable internal strength that any human being can attain. Like any good Catholic schooled in the lives of the saints and mystics, I know an endless string of stories that show why their faith was the proof of their sainthood. Against all odds, these individuals were able to resist the forces of the outside world that others would cave under and hold steady on their course. That course could consist of believing in the process of inner revelation that was taking place within their spirits, or of trusting that their needs would be met regardless of the odds.

Some years ago I read a book about the woman known as Peace Pilgrim. For twenty-five years, she walked across the country in behalf of world peace, carrying all that she needed with her. She ate when given food and slept when given a bed. Peace Pilgrim’s journey was one of unconditional faith, and it was that aspect of her life that captivated my attention as I read her story. Her plan was to walk across the northern part of the country during the summer and the southern states during the winter. One time as she was walking through the South, the weather turned cold and she lacked proper clothing. She heard a voice tell her to seek cover under a bridge and when she reached that destination she discovered a box large enough for her to fit into with a blanket and pillow inside. One could call that a miracle, but is it really? Could that experience be simply the way things happen when we walk in faith? Isn’t it more the way heaven would work with us if we followed the teachings of the spiritual masters and trusted that our needs would be met – IF, indeed, we trusted that our needs would be met? I love stories like Peace Pilgrim’s because I believe that heaven does watch us that closely and can intervene in a moment’s notice – and part of my inner struggle is that I just can’t seem to live in that space. Nor can most of the people I meet. So many of us (perhaps you included) want to reach that place of living free from the parasitical fears that prevent us from being fully alive.

When I was growing up, I believed that heaven had to ask my parents’ permission to send me a crisis — that as long as I lived at home, I remained underage for “adult” problems. Later, when I was in my twenties and was just beginning to wonder about the nature of God, I met a woman I’ll call Marge, who had a magnetic personality. She lived a simple life that appeared quite attractive to me because she was perhaps the first person I had ever met who was truly content and did not invest her time in “wanting.” That quality alone was soothing to me because she so clearly loved her life just as it was. Marge was soft-spoken and small-framed, not that those characteristics have anything at all to do with faith. They did, however, stand in stark contrast to the enormous spirit that she possessed. I remember so clearly asking her why it was easy for her to believe that all things were taken care of and unfolded as they were meant to unfold. I challenged her with an obvious argument, namely, Would she offer that same posture to someone whose house had just been wiped out in a flood or to someone who had just experienced the loss of a loved one?

“Well, you know,” Marge said, “everything you believe depends upon how afraid you are of life, and how well you want to know the soul of life, because life itself has its own soul.” I loved the poetry of that response. It rolled around in my head like a line from an Emily Dickinson poem. Life itself has its own soul. I am still in awe of that thought because it is truth. We discussed the “behavior” of life, its precarious personality and whimsical nature. In the end, Marge pointed out that trusting in the nature of God is the same as coming to the realization that life should not be lived “safely” but “wisely.” To expect that God does not act through pain and pleasure equally is to maintain a child’s idea of God. It seemed to me, I said, that holding onto a belief that heaven means for you to lose your home in a flood borders on pure absurdity. (Keep in mind that at the time of this exchange, I was in my twenties and this is exactly what I believed. Looking back, I realize that I was in search of the rules to follow that would insure that it would never be my home that would be swept away under the waves.)

Marge told me that to seek a way to avoid chaos and pain was the true absurdity. “Life comes to call in full measure at times,” she said, “and faith is the power to accept the nature of life as it is and to cease the meaningless and useless task of trying to stop change from happening to you.” This final comment of hers reminded me that a touch of Buddhism always has a way of putting things into perspective.

But still…

Before I met Marge, there had always been something that irritated me about the belief that “things work out for the best.” It implies that today was empty and that tomorrow, all will be perfect. Faith, it seems to me, is the capacity to keep your attention in the moment and say, “All is as it should be now.” It shouldn’t mean speaking of that sweet comfort zone in the language of the inevitable, the not-quite-yet, the someday-down-the-road. The secret of Marge’s peace was that she did not live waiting for her tomorrow to be better. Whatever her day was filled with was “as it should be” and that was good enough for her. She had faith, a belief that in all things that looked still there was motion so fast that your eyes could not keep pace with the speed of change. She lived fully in the faith that all things could change in an instant, including the healing of an illness, an end to overwhelming poverty, or meeting the love of your life at the local gas station. Marge balked at the word “impossible,” saying that if she could ever ban something from her house, it would be spiritually disabling beliefs that had no place in the description of heaven.

How do you know if you have faith, and how much is enough to generate a miracle?

I can’t recall the number of times I have wondered about how much faith is enough to get what I want, or to make what I want happen. All religions have their rituals and prayer tools; Catholics, for instance, have the rosary and novenas. The power ritual involved with a novena is that you pray the rosary nine days in a row and – voila! You get what you want. At least that’s what I believed as a child. Would that it were that easy. I used to do rosary calculations: If I wanted something REAL big, that might take two novenas, which, by the way, required a good deal of effort. I would have to pray the rosary for eighteen days straight, without a break in the action. If you broke the nine day commitment, you had to start over again. Believe me when I tell you that I am not the first to do rosary calculus. It goes along with how many candles you need to light to show that you have faith in this or that.

One day as I was saying the rosary, I realized that I did not have an agenda as such. I was just praying for the sake of praying. It had to be one of the most mind-blowing experiences of my life. I couldn’t think of a thing to ask for — which was a bit like sitting on Santa’s lap and drawing a blank. I started to float in the experience of praying without an agenda. The feeling was truly euphoric. And then I knew that this was the first time I had experienced an unconditional sense of faith and trust in God. I had no complaints to state, no wish list, no this or that. I only wanted to float in this light space of trust. This sensation was so overpowering that I am struggling with ways to describe it to you. And I need to add that as much as I would like to say that ever since meeting heaven on truly holy ground I have remained there, that is far from fact. But I recall this place more clearly than I can see and feel my computer. In that moment I knew what it was to have faith. I lacked fear. I wasn’t dense with concern over my tomorrow or thick with regrets about yesterday. I was living in that place of “all is as it should be.” This same experience recurred once some years after I had met Marge. And when it did, I learned that everything that Marge had described to me about the lightness that naturally flows from having trust in the Divine was true. In that place, your spirit simply stops wondering and wandering. It has absolutely no desire to be anywhere other than in the present moment. Regardless of what is unfolding in that present moment on the physical plane, a sense of grace rushes through you that says “all is well” and “no need to worry.” And the miracle – if you want to call it that – is how easy it is in that place to believe that all is well in some way.

Next week – Finding, Nurturing and Developing Faith.


Miniature Footbridge @ Garden Lovers Club

Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists & photographers ~ Credit given where this is known. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah 

Happiness According to the Chakras – Part 4 of 4 – Caroline Myss

Artist ~ Harsh Malik


Happiness According to the Chakras
From Caroline’s 2012 Salon – Part 4 of 4


Just for fun, I used the chakra system as a map, charting the soul’s requirements for engaging with this organic force of Nature that we have named, “Happiness.” That is, if we could ask the soul, “What does the soul require us to know or to do in order to create a happy life?”– these are answers that might just work.

First/Tribal Chakra:
This is your tribal center that represents your connection to physical life as well as to the Earth itself. This is the chakra through which you are connected to the laws of Nature and to its cycles and rhythms. You are a part of this ecosystem. In order to thrive, you need to live in harmony with Nature’s ecosystem. You need to plant seeds, symbolically speaking. You need to stick your hands in the Earth and connect to the life force. You need to be rooted in something that matters. You need to be part of a community of people, a community of life. You need to matter to this community and find people who matter to you. You cannot define “meaningful” relationships only by those that are romantic. Life is filled with meaningful relationships of all kinds. You need to contribute to the living community that you are a part of on this Earth.

Second/Relationship Chakra: 
This is your center of relationships and creativity, as well as values such as integrity and loyalty. Knowing your values, then, becomes an essential ingredient for creating a happy life. You need to be in relationships with others. Friends, family, lovers, neighbors, community members, volunteer groups – you need people in order to thrive. No one can be alone and happy. People need people. And you need to stay creative. This means you need to feed your mind creative inspiration, like good books, film, theater, museums, and conversations. And you need creative outlets. Happiness requires expression and input. This is also your center of values. The absence of values – whatever your values are – leaves you adrift. You don’t know who you are because you don’t know what you stand for or what you believe. If you don’t know who you are or what you stand for, life will terrify you. You will never be able to count on yourself, much less anyone else. You have to know what you believe in and what you stand for in life.

Third/Self Chakra: 
This is your ego center. Happiness is built on healthy self-esteem. The shadow side of self-esteem is narcissism, a life that’s “all about you.” If you are serious about creating a happy and healthy life, then raise the bar on what you expect from yourself in terms of how you live. Decide to live the congruent life: walk the way you talk. Become a person who does her/his best to live without contradictions, keeps her word, and doesn’t betray others or lie. Such a personal code of integrity, I assure you, will improve your chances of creating a happy life because you will find you hurt people a lot less. You will discover that living at this altitude of consciousness requires that you are extremely mindful of what you say and do – and that quality of consciousness is exactly the type of thoughtfulness that creates the refined harmony we have named “happiness.”

Fourth/Heart Chakra: 
Clean out your heart center. Start fresh. If you want to be happy, reboot. Carrying baggage and repeating your wounded stories again and again – and again – is self-destructive. Punishing others for your bad days and unhappy childhood is cruel – although many find it useful as a control mechanism. If you want a happy life with someone, or just yourself, clean out your heart center. Get up tomorrow morning and fall madly in love with your life, or at least something about your life.

I told a woman to do this one time and she said she hated her life and everything in it. She said she could not imagine falling madly in love with her life. The idea, she said, was preposterous. I got that. So I told her to imagine that she was dying, that she had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given two months. She really got into this exercise. After a bit, I asked her, “Did you give in to the diagnosis or did you fight it? Did you want to live or die?” She started to cry, admitting she wanted to live. Indeed, she said, she would have fought with all her might to stay alive, even in her dire situation. We discussed that feeling – this desire to fight to stay alive even in her dismal situation – and she said, “I can’t explain it but I felt as if grace itself was talking to me, telling me to hang on because the situation was only temporary. I know we were just doing an exercise, but I think that grace really spoke to me.” Absolutely it did.

Happiness is about cleaning out your heart and nurturing the graces that matter: hope, love, and forgiveness. Let the past go. And don’t be shy about telling others you love them or that you are sorry for something. You may not have a second chance.

Fifth/Will Chakra:
Make important choices when you need to make them. Have the courage to be spontaneous. Do not let others make choices for you that you have to live with. Speak up. Remember that you are an adult. Children living in adult bodies never find happiness – remember that. Happiness requires that adults live, walk, talk, and act like adults.

Sixth/Mental Chakra:
Do not play mind games with others or yourself. Live the truth. If you live in denial about things or if you harbor secrets, creating a happy life will not be easy. Happiness thrives on open, clean air. You can’t be happy if you are always wondering if a secret has slipped out the back door. Keep your mind in the higher altitudes. Stay out of the trash: gossip, rumor spreading, etc. Don’t dwell in fear and if fears are controlling you, then do something about that. Everyone experiences fear. Big deal. Don’t let fears control your life. They seep into your mind, and then your heart, and then your bloodstream. Imagine for a minute that you have no fear of being who you are. How does that feel? Like pure bliss, right?

Seventh/Spiritual Chakra: 
Happiness requires that you have an inner theology or spirituality that can withstand the storms of life. It matters not what tradition it comes from. What matters is that your inner spiritual truth is, in fact, a genuine spiritual truth that truly nurtures you. You have to attend to your spiritual life, not just visit it when things go wrong. The Divine is not a hobby. The Sacred is in every breath of life, yours included.


I hope this Salon has been a fun read for all of you. And I also hope that this has provided some insight for those of you actively seeking ways to become happier people.




Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists & photographers ~ Credit given where this is known. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah 


art-harsh-malik - female face - colours

Artist ~ Harsh Malik


Reasons Why People Are Unhappy – Part 3 of 4 – Caroline Myss

Linger in the Shadows art by Christian Schloe


Reasons Why People Are Unhappy

From Caroline’s 2012 Salon – Part 3 of 4

Entitlements… I could write a book on this one topic alone. I’ve met more people drowning in their misery because of feelings of entitlement than I can count. Entitlements include: inheritance, apologies, real estate, promotions, raises, bonuses, special seating arrangements, invitations to events, the list goes on and on. And then there is the belief that you are entitled to: respect, privilege, attention, the position of first in line, the best seat in the house or the front row, special attention because you were a Wounded Child or have some other suffering history.

Divine entitlements include: The belief that bad things won’t happen to you because you are a good person; You don’t get sick, other’s do; Your child is special, therefore, ordinary events such as accidents and illnesses will never happen to your child; You are entitled to special protection from your God because, well, because you were born for something special – you just know it.

Sound familiar? Not only do these entitlements have a formidable influence upon a person’s life; they have the power to exert complete control over an individual’s life. Entitlements are not just destructive; they are made-up. They are extensions of our ego that we indulge in to create a landscape of power and protection around ourselves, maintaining the illusion that we are anything but ordinary. After all, ordinary people are not entitled to anything. One has to be extraordinary to be entitled, right?

A guaranteed recipe for unhappiness: A long list of entitlements.

Having an aggressive attitude about aging

If that’s you, knock it off. Seriously? Either you love being alive – which includes the natural process of aging – or you don’t. You decide.

Being a Taker
You will fit one of the two following sentences:

The Taker: What I want out of life is…
Takers do exactly that – they Take. They unconsciously view life as something to get something from. Often motivated by greed, Takers find it difficult to embrace the view that life is an integrated ecosystem and that Earth is a living creature. Takers walk into a relationship and situation with this mindset, “What’s in this for me?” Takers are easily disappointed in life and in relationships. Often they expect “life” to produce something for them, effortlessly.

The Giver: What I would like to contribute to life is…
Givers strive to make a difference in the lives of others. Meaning and purpose are gravity centers for them. They look for possibilities and strive to make things happen. Givers tend to be optimistic about life and they instinctively know how to rise from the ashes. Givers stand a much greater chance at creating a happy life.

You decide which one you are.

Needing someone to make you happy
I’ve heard many people say, “I need someone to make me happy,” or “He doesn’t make me happy.” No one can make anyone happy any more than you can make someone fall in love with you, or make someone forgive you. Waiting for another person to make your life perfect is the kiss of death. Let’s say you find someone and you think, “Finally, I found someone who was born specifically to make me and only me happy, hmmm, I wonder if he/she knows that? Do I tell him?” And so the story goes. If this isn’t a recipe for raging insecurity, I don’t know what is. But it surely isn’t the secret to a long and happy life.

All Talk and No Action
You cannot talk your way into becoming a happy individual. Happiness is hard work. Becoming anything worthwhile takes effort. Couch sitters are likely to stay exactly that – people who “sit” their life away. Depression comes upon them naturally, not because of chemicals in their body but because of dwelling on themselves and their problems over and over again and doing nothing about them. Problems inherently seek solutions. Nouns seek verbs. Same thing. Talking eventually requires decisive action. Think, talk, act. The absence of action in your life will always lead to depression and unhappiness. It cannot be otherwise.


Linger in the Shadows art by Christian Schloe

Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists ~ Credit given where this is known. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah  

Happiness as a Force of Nature – Part 2 of 4 – Caroline Myss

Artist Wendy Ng


Happiness as a Force of Nature

From Caroline’s 2012 Salon – Part 2 of 4

We have given a name to an organic force of Nature that we recognize has a certain quality to it that results in states of bliss when we are in harmony with it. We call that force “happiness.” I am not surprised people find “happiness” difficult to define for exactly this reason – the elements are rooted in an organic life force. Here’s an example of what I am talking about: We are happy – if not happiest – when we are living in harmony with our inner nature. We feel most content, most balanced when the choices we make reflect our true feelings. We feel honest and clear. We are not hiding secrets from anyone, we are not betraying ourselves, we are comfortable speaking honestly when in discussions (not about wounds, just about life), and we feel openly and generously loving toward others. Feelings of insecurity such as, “Am I loved as much?” do not enter your mind. You are confident about being loved and loving – not in return, just loving because of the quality of person you are.

At the core of this life philosophy is a deep understanding that you are a part of Nature and you reside within the cycles and laws of Nature. You, and everyone else, are therefore subject to the on-going cycles of life: Death and Rebirth; Gain and Loss; Joy and Grief; Feast and Famine; Bonding and Abandonment.

Further, as a human being, it is a given that you will age and experience the breakdown of your physical form. Responding to aging as if it were the enemy of your physical body is a guarantee of misery.

During your life, you will experience betrayal, both as someone who will betray others and be betrayed by others. You will lie to others and others will lie you to. You will judge others unjustly and you will be judged unjustly. You will hold onto grudges and others will not forgive you. You will be introduced to strangers to love and strangers will fall in love with you. You will be saved miraculously from harm many times, sometimes knowingly – most times invisibly. You will be guided to be certain places on time. Sometimes those places include accidents. Other times you will meet future partners and best friends. And when the time comes, you will be called home, ending the journey of your physical life on Earth.

There is nothing personal about these cycles of life or these experiences. They are archetypal. That is, they are essential ingredients that make up the alchemy of the human character. These ingredients make us the same, and vulnerable to each other. They tie us together like invisible threads through our weakest links so that we may stand humbly before each other. One of the roots of unhappiness is telling yourself that you are better than others, that you do not do what others do, or that you are incapable of their negative actions. No you’re not. None of us is incapable of any negative action because we are all made up of the same ingredients.

When we tell ourselves we are better than others, then we begin to believe that we are separate from Nature itself and the cycles of Nature. We begin to tell ourselves nonsense like, “The cycles of Nature do not apply to us because we are special. We are not like those people.” And soon we begin to feel entitled. We tell ourselves that because we are special, we are entitled to protection from the cycles of Nature, such as: Death and Rebirth and Abandonment and Bonding and Feast and Famine. In fact, pretty soon, we start believing we can strike up our own bargains with God. Here’s a popular one: If I am a good person and do everything right, nothing bad will happen to me. After all, I’m special and entitled.

Separated from the cycles of Nature and armed with a head full of self-constructed mythologies, off you go into a made-up world that doesn’t really exist – except in your own mind. Your happiness becomes based upon these myths holding intact, all of them built upon illusion, as Buddha would say. Inevitably, of course, one of those cycles and one or two of those experiences will manifest, shattering this fantasy. (This is usually the point at which people ask, “What kind of God does this to people?”) Perhaps a betrayal erupts in a marriage or maybe a sudden job loss happens. There is no shortage of examples of how the cycles of life express themselves in our lives.

Recently a dear friend of mine experienced the loss of her home, her business, and her sister. She went through – and is still transitioning through – a heartbreaking cycle of death and rebirth. Though her grief continues to pulse in her heart, signs of rebirth are beginning to emerge around her, as that is Nature’s way. She can’t help but think, “I need to move on now.” Indeed. “I’ve had a few ideas about doing this and that.” Oddly, I’m not surprised. It takes time, but Rebirth is inevitable.

Let me add that she certainly recognized there was nothing personal about this trilogy of death events; that is, she did not make her sister’s death her death. Her sister’s death was not about her; it was about her sister, obviously. It was synchronistic to many other endings in her life, and noting that, she recognized that she was deep within the cycle of endings/death and new beginnings/rebirth. In other words, this was the Nature of life.

I am convinced that people cannot articulate their ideas about happiness because they are completely dissociated from its very mechanism, which is Nature itself. Not understanding how you belong to and are subject to the way life works, you have no alternative but to make up your own story, your own mythologies, and hope they work. You will shy away from people who threaten your “happiness” myths, and you will perform all sorts of silly incantations and heel- clicking, hoping to instantly transform your life into a happy zone. None of that will ever be more than a kick-fix – ever. Listening to music and talking with your friends will never, ever have the power to create a happy life. (Who believes that stuff???)
~ 💚 ~

Artist Wendy Ng

Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists ~ Credit given where this is known. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah 

Why We Struggle with Happiness – Part 1 of 4 – Caroline Myss

Art: Blue Friendship by Luisa Villavicencio @ Fine Art America


Why We Struggle with Happiness

From Caroline’s 2012 Salon – Part 1 of 4


Small workshops are wonderful for several reasons, the main one being that they give me the opportunity to have more in-depth conversations with people about the subject matter I’m teaching. In a workshop a few years ago a woman noted that, “being happy is just so difficult these days.”

It wasn’t as if I hadn’t heard similar comments through the years, and many of them. But something about the way she said that made me stop for a moment. Maybe it was because I had noticed three magazines at the airport en route to this venue that featured articles on how to find happiness, steps to take that guaranteed you would be happy, and how to figure out why you weren’t happy. I have to admit that as I reviewed those magazines covers, my initial response was, “How typically American these days. I mean, really?”

I leaned back on a table and asked this woman, “What do you need to make you happy? What are the life ingredients you require?”

This woman, well into her forties, drew a blank. She actually had no idea what she required or what she wanted or what she associated with happiness. All she knew was that she was not happy. I asked, “Do you know what happiness is for you? Do you associate it with a feeling? Or is happiness a state of awareness for you? Or is it the defeat of a fear? Or is it the capacity to love without fear? Do you associate happiness with things or people? What exactly do you mean by the state of ‘being happy?’”

Again, this dear woman was baffled. I opened the question to all the participants, only to discover that almost all the people in this workshop were unable to articulate the following:

  • What being happy meant in terms of the big picture of their life.
  • Other than feeling happy, people could not identify another definition or state of happiness. Happiness was mainly associated with a feeling or sensation.

Because of the vague ideas these people held about what being happy meant to them, many lived in a type of dream-like notion about:

  • What do I need to make me happy?
  • Have I been thinking that my happiness depends on someone else?
  • Do I expect someone else to make me happy?
  • Do I even know what I mean by happiness?

I found the dialogue around the subject of happiness so fascinating that I included it in several other workshops, gathering data just for personal interest. But my intrigue grew along the way as I realized that most of the people I encountered were in a type of fog about what happiness was all about for them. Out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at how many books have been written on the subject. As of the writing of this piece, Amazon lists 15,744 books on the subject of happiness. You can read up on anything from “real” happiness, to “genuine” happiness to “authentic” happiness to “true” happiness. You can get to any of these variations of happiness in 7 days or you can extend your journey to 14 or, if you prefer to really invest time, reflect, deep thought, and a bit of yoga, you can become a fully happy person in 21 days. No kidding – just like that. Poof. Done. Wow.

Who knew it could be so easy? Recommendations include listening to music, sitting with friends, cleaning out a closet, (I am sooo serious here, folks), and staying in the present moment. Now, I’m not sure if these come from the 7-day program or the 18-day or the 32 ½-day journey to happiness. I’ve lost count. I’m really not surprised people keep searching for happiness if these are the books pointing the way.

What’s really going on here?

Should finding or understanding happiness really be so difficult? Really? What does it say about us when our society requires a library full of books on happiness – and yet audiences full of people remain unable to articulate their personal expressions of what happiness is for them? Given the availability of “happiness literature,” we have to ask, “What’s going on here?”

Maybe this so called search for happiness is not the real issue. Maybe we are finding the ingredients of happiness difficult to articulate, to achieve and to sustain happiness because we are the problem. Have we somehow become at odds with this force of nature that we have named “happiness?”

In this Salon, I’ve approached the subject of happiness first as an organic, archetypal force of nature. Then, I present a list of the leading reasons why people create unhappy lives. Finally, I offer you insights into what is required to create happiness according to Nature’s map.

Next week – Happiness as a force of nature.

Art: Blue Friendship by Luisa Villavicencio @ Fine Art America

Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists & photographers ~ Credit given where this is known. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah 


Big things that are really small – Part 1 of 2 – Caroline Myss

Angel of Illumination ~ Aeoliah’s Visionary Art


Big things that are really small
Part 1 of 2 – From Caroline’s 2012 Salon


Part 1 of 2 – From Caroline’s 2012 Salon

Buddha taught that life is an illusion and that we lose our power by believing something is “real” when, in fact, it is not. That teaching is a challenging one to comprehend, to say the least. I remember this one man in a workshop saying, “I don’t get it. If my wife dropped her iron on my foot, that would not be an illusion. That would hurt like hell.” (Ah, but for the literal mind, what would this world be like?)

True, I said. It would hurt like hell, but then again, Buddha was not saying, “Heavy objects dropped on your foot will not hurt you if you believe they won’t hurt you, was he?” Buddha was teaching a mystical principle, not a physics class or an alternate lesson on the law of gravity. In order to understand the nature of mystical teachings, it is best to learn the meaning of each teaching within the context of mystical consciousness.

While this may not be the best comparison, I recall the first time math class went from only numbers to including “letters.” For me, letters belonged to the realm of words, English, literature, and sentences. What were letters doing next to numbers? It was brain freeze time for me. No matter how much effort the math teacher poured into trying to explain the theory of algebra and higher mathematics to me, and how advanced mathematics required “letters” because you were now learning principles and theories, I stuck to my literary guns, insisting that numbers and letters just don’t go together. Nope. You can’t make a word or a sentence out of numbers – and what are you trying to teach me, anyway? Where’s Charles Dickens when I need him?

Well, I barely passed Algebra, not to mention Geometry, because I simply could not adjust my literal-literary mind to the higher realm of mathematics in which letters were required. I refused to go there. Truth be told, of course, numbers and math intimidated me to no end. It wasn’t until later when I grasped the theory of sacred Geometry that Geometry became delicious to me, but I had to find something “in it” for me.

My point, of course, is that each of us is our own master at constructing the boundaries of our reality, determining whether we will be open-minded or close-minded, literal-thinking or capable of imagining the universe in letters as well as numbers, or perhaps even within the design of the mystic’s inner self and soul. What did they see with such clarity? And how is it that their teachings have withstood the test of time for centuries upon centuries?

My reasons for Big and Small things

I decided to enter the subject matter of Big Things and Small Things through the portal of Buddhism for a few reasons, all of them connected to my experience as a teacher – no surprise there. But that role has taken more than one expression now. I’m a writer, a teacher, I do a call-in radio show, I have an interactive web site, and I have this Salon, FB, and sometimes I find time to write newsletters. I have many ways of reaching people and in return, people reach out to me. I pay attention to the letters I receive (even though I can barely get to answering most of them), but I read all of them. I listen intently to people I meet at workshops. And I take very seriously the people who call in for advice or counsel on my radio show. In other words, you are precious goods to me.

The majority of the questions I receive from people can be categorized in two distinct ways. They are either focused on matters related to a person’s physical survival or about a person’s emotional/psychological survival. The physical survival arena of life includes questions about jobs, relationships and life directions. The emotional/psychological and sometimes spiritual domain covers questions that speak of personal challenges, such as healing, working through emotional crises, issues of forgiveness and an appetite for vengeance, loneliness, and the search for meaning and purpose.

These two categories cover the challenges most people will experience in life. These are the issues that drive the engines of life, in other words. Most people would find it difficult to imagine that any of these, much less all of them, are, in the language of Buddha, illusions.

For example, telling someone who has lost his job that the humiliation of that experience coupled with the financial crisis that he now must confront is an “illusion” is almost preposterous. (At the very least, it requires just the right moment to introduce this teaching.) Similarly, I would never suggest to anyone going through the trauma of watching someone close die that this, too, is just an illusion. What could sound more cold-hearted, if not cruel?

I remember hearing one of those horrible, camera-grabbing reporters attempting to provoke an interview with an Amish spokesperson shortly after the brutal murder of all those young Amish girls a few years ago. With a smile on her face and a microphone shoved into the shocked, nearly paralyzed-with-trauma gentleman the media was trying to corner, she asks, “Are you prepared to forgive him?” What? Excuse me? This nasty reporter was trying to build a secondary story, suggesting or implying that the Amish community was “maybe not quite that authentic” because they were not considering forgiveness as an immediate response to the slaughter of their young girls. I wanted to reach through the television and ring her neck.

Ultimately, however, this courageous community, which wisely withdrew from amateur reporters and the gawking public in order to mourn, chose exactly that response – in their own timing. Their response baffled so many people, curiously most of them Christian (given the demographics of America). It wasn’t that the Amish collectively decided that the massacre of their daughters was an illusion; rather, they understood that they could not allow another person’s evil to destroy the good in them.

The question they confronted is this: Should any earthly experience have the power to ultimately destroy or command or take full control of the goodness in you? If so, then that experience is more real than your spirit is and you then position yourself through the choice not to forgive to serve the power and memory of that traumatic experience all the remaining days of your life. Or, you can decide to recognize evil in action and choose a position of consciousness that serves your relationship to life and truth.

This is what is true about evil: Evil things happen in this world. It is an illusion to think they do not. Evil does not discriminate. No one is immune. Nothing is personal about the actions of random evil. It is an illusion to think you are protected or immune from the natural forces of darkness, just as it is an illusion to think you exist separate from the natural forces of light.

Good things happen in this world. It is an illusion to think they do not. Goodness does not discriminate. No one is immune to goodness. Nothing is personal about the actions of random goodness. Impersonal goodness is often called “luck.” We live within the balance of these forces. This is part of the archetypal mechanism of life.

Truth versus illusion

We are such a curious species. We’ve spent so many centuries accumulating new learning and information, only to become blind and closed-minded when it comes to truth and knowledge. We continue to have the experience of discovering what we “believed to be facts” turn out to be “false truths,” replaced by later discoveries, but we dismiss knowledge that has remained solid and indisputable for centuries. The teachings of the mystics, for example, that pass down the wisdom of the ages fall into the category of what has always been true and what will always be true.

For example, entering the age of quantum physics has provided us with a type of companion physical science to energy anatomy and the “science” of the soul. We are now fifty plus years into a spiritual Renaissance in which we have had the benefit of learning Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, the Kabala, along with numerous other spiritual traditions and practices, only to see a rise in fundamentalism and creationism. Some people driving cars fueled by oil reserves that are millions of years old simultaneously believe that life began a mere 6,000 years ago because that’s what it says in the bible. And some of these people participate in the legislative body of this nation.

What, then, did Buddha mean by illusion? Buddha meant that you see what you want to see until you are able to perceive truth itself. We tell ourselves anything we want until we reach truth, which is an indisputable given that cannot be denied.

The Law of Gravity is a truth, for example. It exists with or without you. It has nothing to do with you. It is, in other words, impersonal. Let go of whatever you are holding and it will drop to the floor. It’s not personal that it drops to the floor. What makes the Law of Gravity appear personal is the reason why you let go of the object you were holding: Was it deliberate or was it an accident? Did you drop something of value to another person in order to hurt them or did it just slip out of your hand? Either way, the object will drop because it is subject to the Law of Gravity, but your intention personalizes that law.

Together, this forms the alchemy of “illusion,” the blending of the impersonal with the personal. Becoming “conscious” is the art of developing a keen eye that allows you to discern the “personal from the impersonal,” in your own actions as well as those of others. (So many lessons here, right? Whew). Where do we begin with this formidable task? Let’s start with learning to recognize the valuable from the insignificant.

The valuable from the insignificant

Most people do not clearly know what is truly important to them and if they do, they lose sight of it far too often. Wires get crossed and events, relationships, and things that are of no importance whatsoever rise to the top of the priority list. Here’s a guide list for you:


Relationships that make you more conscious of your positive and shadow qualities;
Opportunities to be of service;
Opportunities to learn and awaken;
Opportunities to give back;
Opportunities to start over;
Opportunities to cleanse and heal.

Holding on to past injuries;
An attitude of superiority;
Your personal sufferings weighed against the suffering of humanity.
You may think that having to start over in a business or re-entry into the social scene after a divorce is a position of powerlessness, but Buddha would tell you that is an illusion. Starting over – new beginnings – is symbolic of new birth, new life. If you could see past the illusion of loss and the pain of feeling hurt and perhaps humiliated, the truth of what is unfolding is the shedding of a world that no longer suited you.

The truth is that if we could step outside the tumultuous emotions created by painful events, we would be able to separate the personal from the impersonal and in doing so, recognize that we felt the oncoming of the new beginnings for some time.

Here is a truth worth knowing: The fear of being humiliated causes us to value the insignificant and discount what is truly of value in life.

Big things that are really small

We make small things big deals because we lack the capacity to see clearly, to discern the larger picture. We respond too quickly when we should take a deep breath. We take things personally that have nothing to do with us. We overreact and say things when we should remain silent. We make small things really big because we lack the ability to just let them stay small. The fear of being humiliated and its sidekick, pride, can generate some of the darkest illusions people have to deal with. We create hells of our own making more often than not because we allow a small thing to get out of hand. So here’s a guide of small things (illusions) that should not be allowed to get big:

Heartbreaks – A broken heart for whatever reason, divorce or death of a partner or spouse, or a breakup, is one of the core traumas of life. We all agree on that. It’s not an illusion. It’s a huge sorrow. So why would I include that in a section that says it’s “really small?” Because the “illusion” part of loss is that it often feels as if you are the only one that has ever or will ever experience such pain. Why this core life experience qualifies for the “really small” category is precisely because it is a core life experience, which means everyone can relate to this sorrow – if not today, then someday. It also means that because such loss is an inherent part of life, even if you don’t want to heal, part of you will begin the healing process anyway because the nature of life is to heal and return the body and spirit to a state of balance. Even healing is not personal, but subject to the laws of nature and balance.

It’s worth saying again: Even the healing mechanism in the body is not personal. A broken leg, for example, will begin to heal as soon as it is set, regardless of whether you are happy or sad. The same, believe it or not, is true of your emotional self. You have to work to stay depressed, sad, and mournful after a certain length of time – unless you’ve been exceptionally traumatized.

Remember that heartbreak is still part of the vast expanse of human experiences and though our personal experience is devastating, there is nothing unique about the experience of a broken heart. Such a position is not meant to diminish a person’s grief, but to reposition one’s personal experience within an impersonal or archetypal vantage point.

Losing Your Job or Home – Many people have contacted me because they have lost their jobs or have or are undergoing home foreclosures. On the one hand, nothing is as “big” as job loss, much less the roof over your head. What could be more frightening? On the other hand, it’s precisely because the loss of a job and home are so frightening that understanding the teaching of illusion as applied here is so powerful. No, it is not an illusion to look at a bank account and see the terror of only $100.00 left. That is not the right interpretation.

Rather, understanding illusion at a critical time like that means that you grasp the truth that while you may have lost your job, you did not lose your power, your creativity, or your spirit. The truth is your life – your destiny – is not in the hands of any employer. Your destiny is between you and the Divine. It is an illusion to believe that any one human being has authority over the journey of your soul on this Earth.

Thus, from such a perspective of truth, the loss of a job becomes a Small thing. Whereas the loss of your spirit would be a truly Big thing. Get the difference? So long as you have YOU, you can face starting again. You may have to confront illusions you have about yourself, such as holding on to titles and certain salaries and privileges. Those, too, are illusions – big things that are really small. The truly BIG thing is You.

Here’s a truth worth knowing: Only God has the authority over your life’s journey. No human being has more power over you than heaven.

Betrayal – Betrayal comes under “small” things because betrayal is a life experience common to all of us. We have all betrayed people. We will likely confront that situation again. And we have all been betrayed. Betrayal exists because we struggle with honesty and justice. We demand justice, but find honesty and integrity a challenge.

Betrayal is the one crime of which we are all guilty. It puts us all on equal footing, whether we betray by breaking our word to keep a secret, or stealing money from our boss, or infidelity with a best friend’s husband. It doesn’t matter. The illusion is to tell yourself that you are incapable of betrayal, that you are above this type of darkness, that you are always fair and just and without negative judgment, and that you never betray even your own values.

Having said that, it is also the case that we would like life to be fair and just. We would like all the pieces of the pie to be divided equally. But that’s just not the way it is. Rather, it is fair and just IF you truly understood karma. If we did understand the wheels of karma, we would perhaps grasp that justice and fairness are cosmic forces that take who knows how many lifetimes to come into balance. No one action can ever be given that much significance as it is connected to countless other actions unfolding in your life.

Here’s a truth worth knowing: It is better and indeed wiser to diminish the power of any and all negative actions in your life to small things than to elevate then to the status of significant and big.

It is an illusion to think you know what is really unfolding in your life. Hidden within the unseen forces of every experience of your life are the threads of the future, laying the groundwork for opportunities yet to come. It is an illusion to think that you know why things happen as they do.

Look carefully over your life. What is big to you? What is small? What do you make big deals out of? What causes you to overreact and why? What should you notice more but don’t because you think it’s just not that important? Perhaps you should look again.

It’s an illusion to think that you can’t change the whole of your life just like that: You can. Just pick any illusion and let it go. Watch what happens.

In Part I of this two-part Salon we’ve covered Big Things That Are Really Small. In Part II, we’ll explore Small Things That Are Really Big!



Angel of Illumination ~ Aeoliah’s Visionary Art

Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists & photographers ~ Credit given where this is known. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah 💙

Small things that are really big – Part 2 of 2 – Caroline Myss


Lotus Pearl @ Thea Izzi


Small things that are really big
Part 2 of 2 – From Caroline’s 2012 Salon

Let’s start this Salon with a few questions that you’ve probably never asked yourself:

When you pray for help or imagine assistance coming to you, what is the form that assistance takes? That is, is help or assistance big? Is it obvious? Is it physical? Does it come in the guise of a person? Money?

Does help to you mean that your problem or situation gets fully resolved?

Do you associate help or assistance with external changes in your life or internal/interior changes – or both? This is a bit of a tricky question because once you pause to think about you, you are likely to say, “both.” However, let’s say that you are in a financial crisis and someone shows up at your door and offers you two packages, one containing a million dollars and the other containing wisdom. Which one would you actually take? That is your real answer.
What are the conditions that cause you to declare, “My life has come to a standstill?”


I’ve presented these questions to audiences. Once they got through the confusion of the questions themselves, the answers were pretty much what I anticipated them to be. That is, by far most people associate assistance with something external as opposed to guidance from within. We look outward for some force other than ourselves to “come to our rescue” who has the wherewithal to make things better in our life. No doubt that goes back to our childhood and perhaps the Child archetype in all of us. Problems, no matter what they are, immediately make us feel vulnerable, and vulnerable brings out that feeling of being helpless. And helpless awakens the Child archetype in us, or the Damsel, or any of the other archetypes that symbolize powerlessness.

Secondly, people generally associate assistance or help with something physical. Help is a resource such as money or a connection to another person or legal assistance or a referral to a medical specialist. That’s logical as often that is exactly what is needed, but is it needed the most? Or, if that type of assistance is not forthcoming, do we assume that no assistance has been given to us in our time of need? Would you assume that? When I asked people in my workshops that question, the majority replied that they would indeed assume that no assistance had been given or at least the specific aid they were anticipating.

Now, mind you, I had to work through the initial wave of spiritual knee-jerk reactions in which people tend to say what they would like to mean or what they think they should say when asked these types of questions publicly – especially with me staring at them from the stage. But as I explained to them, replies based upon what you would like to say or do are irrelevant. We would all like to say or do things more consciously. What matters is what we actually would do or actually do in our life, at least at this time in our life. We may not always respond as we do today, but today this is who we are and how we interact with our world.

And with that in mind, we come to this question, which presents you with a challenge: Would you select money or wisdom as your means of solving your problems? Again, I needed to clarify for every audience that they were not allowed to state under what conditions they would select money or wisdom. These did not matter and certainly not in a public space where they could make up anything they wanted. What mattered was the dialogue they knew they were having with their conscience – not consciousness – but their conscience, which is the truth-teller in us.

People hesitated to share their answers when it came to this question, which of course told me instantly what they had chosen. It did not tell me, however, what their individual rational was for how they negotiated their inner dialogue between fear and faith, symbolized by money and wisdom. Money, as I pointed out, always seems like a big problem solver, if not the problem solver. Wisdom, on the other hand, is invisible. It’s a small gift carried into your life via a book or conversation. You can’t hold it in your hand or use it to buy your way out of debt.

In the immediate moment, therefore, wisdom can appear to be a small thing if not something useless, especially when measured against street currency that you can hold in your hand. Yet, one drop of wisdom that enters into your soul at just the right moment has the power to shift the direction of your life for the better. One wise person can save a nation. Think of Abraham Lincoln. We remember him precisely because of his wisdom. All the money in the world, conversely, cannot help a fool. Give a fool money to solve a problem and more than likely that fool will only “buy more trouble” for himself.

I want you to keep your answers in mind as we continue on to the next category, which I’ve entitled, Looking Back. I will tie these thoughts together following this next section.

Looking Back

I want to introduce a few questions that I hope spark some rich moments of reflection for you as I direct you to think about whether you are inclined to value “big and obvious, loud and expensive” as powerful or “instant and silent, inner and transformational.”

Everyone looks back on their life with the capacity to see things more clearly. We understand more deeply the complexity of people we knew when we were children and we appreciate even more acutely their significance and influence in our lives. Significance and influence are subtle forces in our energy fields. You can live with someone for years, for example, and yet when it comes to truly discerning the person’s influence upon you, often you will think in a very compact way, reducing your memories of life with that person to highlight words that were exchanged in either love or anger in a matter of moments. Or you will recall highlight memories of certain days that standout because of heightened feelings of sentiment or neglect.

We can’t possibly recall every day of all the years we’ve spent with people, even those whom we love the most. We remember small and big things, individual experiences, particular conversations or arguments, and days here and there or special dates and holidays. But certainly, people remember with great tenderness the small things that they shared with people. At least, that has been my experience with most people to date. The big things, like weddings, are right up there but it’s their own wedding and the weddings of their children that stand out, not all the other family and friend weddings that they attended through the years. I mean, do you remember all of those? I don’t.

But in addition to the wonderful memories that come from family and close friends, I always take note of extraordinary conversations that happen with people who tell me a story that takes my breath away. As soon as I hear one of those soul-stories, I recognize that I’ve been given a pearl of great wisdom that I will pass on to others through my teaching and hopefully those who hear it will be as inspired as I was when I heard it.

Stories in my world are small things that are really big. In fact, they are huge. A human being is a walking storybook, a diary of people that person has met that I will never meet, places he or she has traveled and lived that I will never see, and experiences that no other person on earth has ever witnessed. I have never met a person who did not in some way fascinate me. But once I encountered the majesty of the teachings of Teresa of Avila, I found that I listened even more intently to what people shared with me as I had been so profoundly influenced by Teresa’s mystical instruction to seek God in “all the small details of your life.” I took that teaching seriously, very seriously. I wondered, “What are the small details of my life? What do I consider a small detail?” In other words, what are the small things in my life that are really big things?

Teresa further instructed her nuns that any and every thing can serve as an answer to a prayer or as a vehicle for guidance. If you reflect upon the word “any” while glancing around the environment of your life – people, books, animals, symbols, sounds, music, food, synchronicity, driving, clothes, phone calls, emails, news – “any” is a big word. It also means that the Divine is in all things, hidden (not hiding, but hidden). The Divine is hidden from ordinary view, but obvious to someone who can see through the eyes of the soul. What does such a stunning phrase mean? And how do you “see through the eyes of your soul” in order to recognize (not see, but recognize) God in the small details of your life?

Mystical teachings, especially ones so sublime, are meant to drive your rational mind into madness. The mind in you, the harbor of the ego, always wants answers to be obvious, big, powerful, and immediate. You want problems to be solved, but solved your way and always with the outcome favoring you. Seeing through the “eyes of your soul” begins with appreciating that all things in your life have purpose and meaning.

However, purpose and meaning are not to be measured by a scale of productivity or financial reward. If you look through “those eyes,” you will always be disappointed in most of what you see, for how much in your life can actually be sold in that marketplace?

Purpose and meaning are revealed through values of the soul, not monetary ones. Learning is a soul value. Truth is a soul value. Courage, integrity, creativity, self-respect, and a belief in one’s own ability to navigate through a life storm are soul values. When you look at your life through “those eyes,” you hear conversations differently. Ordinary words enter into you as inspiration. A passage in a book grabs your attention because it sparks an idea. God comes through the hidden passageways that are everywhere. Everything that you think is small can suddenly become big and deeply significant because you perceive God through the hidden details of your life.

Stories about small things that are really big

A moment in time is not a small thing. A moment of your life is a small thing that is really big. Think of how many words you have exchanged with someone in just a moment’s time that have either filled your heart or broken it – in less than a minute. Or think about receiving an answer to a question that solved a mystery for you or changed the course of your health. Maybe that took only two or three minutes, but how big in terms of power and consequence to you? The truth is, your entire life can change in less than a moment. It often does.

I remember having one of those “pearl of wisdom” conversations with a man I shared a cab with in New York. He changed my life in less than a moment because of the wisdom he passed on to me. He told me about how much he respected cab drivers because of how much he always learned from his conversations with them. Then he told me about one particular time that stood out because the cabbie he was with taught him a life lesson that he, in turn, passed on to his children. He said that he was having just an ordinary conversation with the cab driver up until the time they arrived at his destination, at which time he handed the fare to the driver and said, “Thank you, sir.”

The driver immediately jumped out of the cab, ran around to the passenger door, and opened it for him. “I obviously had this stunned look on my face,” he told me, recalling this story. “He could tell I was wondering why in the world a cabbie would be opening up the door for a passenger. And you know what he said to me? He said, ‘You are the first person in this country to address me as, Sir, and I thank you for that gift of respect.’ I looked into his eyes and both of us just stood there for a moment. I could see the dignity in his spirit. I promised myself in that moment that I would consciously treat every human being with respect for the rest of my life. And that is what I have taught my children to do. Hopefully they will do the same with their children.”


Respect is a small thing that is really big. We all claim that respect is a really big thing, but I would challenge that in terms of how we actually conduct ourselves in the field of life – because when it comes to being respectful in small ways that are really big, we all slip. Of course we do. But what we need to realize is that it’s the small things that actually matter. Here are two stories that illustrate that point.

I collected stories about how people experienced being of service to others or being the recipient of an act of service by others for my book, Invisible Acts of Power. Those stories and the writing of that book changed my life. The stories that people wrote to me were like gifts from heaven. They were pure soul gold. I have rarely been as grateful for anything as I was for the privilege of sharing the wisdom I personally gained from all those beautiful stories. Two of them are especially appropriate for illustrating the micro-level of respect and its power to re-boot a human life.

A man who had once been homeless said that he was no longer homeless today, and not because of all the money people had given him, allowing him to get back on his feet. That never happened. Rather, it was because one woman leaned down to touch his arm and whisper in his ear, “I’ll pray for you and you will get back on your feet again.” In recalling that woman and what she said, this man wrote that he felt his dignity pour back into his body as soon as he felt another human being “touch me with respect. She did not see me as a dirty, homeless person. I was a human being to her. I knew right then I would get out of this situation. She gave me back my dignity.”

Human touch. Saying the right words at the right time. Comforting someone. Having compassion for a person exhausted by life. These are small things that are really huge. Take them out of your life and you will find yourself feeling that life is a cruel and frightening journey.

Yet another man who had gone through a period of being homeless recalled that during those darks days, he would often go two days without food. He had to beg on the street for enough change to buy something to eat. But for him, finally having accumulated enough change was only part of his struggle. The other equally formidable challenge for him was actually walking into a grocery store. He was terrified of the experience, specifically of ending up positioned behind someone who would fail to hold the door open for him. Having a door slammed in his face, symbolically or literally, represented the ultimate lack of respect for this man. (The particular grocery store he frequented was a corner market, not one with automatic doors, by the way. ) In order to avoid his terror of having a door slammed in his face, particularly by a businessman, he waited outside for just the right moment when he thought no one else was around. Then he would walk in, buy his few items, and get out as fast as he could.

On this one day, he arrived as usual to perch in an observational position of the grocery store. He had enough money for food for the day. Now the plan was to get in, shop, and get out. His entire mind was filled with mapping out just the right moment. And then, the right moment arrived. No one was around. He slipped out of his perch, headed for the grocery store door, only to be cut off by a man in a business suit. They met at the door. One of them would have to open the door for the other. He was paralyzed with fear. He wanted to run away. Then, the businessman opened the door, stepped to the side, and held the door for Bill, the homeless man. As soon as they were both in the grocery store, Bill started to head for the canned goods area when the businessman stopped him, saying, “Excuse me, Sir. Could you help me out with something?”

Bill could not believe his ears. A businessman wanted his help? Couldn’t he see how he was dressed and that he badly needed a bath? Bill walked up to him, feeling as if his stomach were about to explode onto the floor. The businessman explained that he was just traveling through and needed directions. Could Bill tell him how to get to this location? Yes. Could Bill tell him where this highway was? Yes. Bill knew everything that the businessman asked. Then the businessman extended his hand as an expression of thanks. Bill was stunned. He had forgotten what the language of professionals felt like, much less to be treated like a professional man “for even a minute.”

After that experience, Bill resolved to get back on his feet again. And he did. But his story touched me so deeply on so many levels. The next time I went to a grocery store after reading Bill’s letter, I stood outside the store for about twenty minutes, watching people come and go. I imagined myself waiting for just the right moment to walk through those doors because I was so frightened of someone letting the door slip through their fingers while I was behind them. Would I take it personally? No. It would not occur to me to take that personally. But Bill showed me that every human action contains the power to lift or destroy the human spirit. Holding the door open for any person so he can walk through first – such a small thing. But it’s really big. Or, as in Bill’s case, perhaps the man asking for directions was God hiding in the details of his life. Angels wear disguises all the time in daily life. You never know who a stranger really is.

My final story is about choices we make that seem small but are really big because of their consequences. I met a man just a few weeks ago who is a chef. I wanted to know how and why he became a chef – all the fun facts that make a person who he is. So, in between telling me recipes and his cooking history, he shared that his mother abandoned him and his father and sister when he was three years old. She went off to “find herself.” Eventually she found her way to a community lifestyle situation. He decided to seek her out when he was in his early twenties as he did not know her but he had the wounds to prove it. He said that it was important to him to understand his mom so that he could heal and get on with his life. He decided to give his visit with her three weeks. Instead, he stayed three years, working in the kitchen, which became the roots of his career as a chef.

But he considered that he lived in “healing proximity” to his mom, giving his own heart and mind and spirit the maximum opportunity to heal as well as to understand her choices as a human being. He left that community feeling complete as a person, not to mention skilled as a chef.

At the time, he never could have imagined that his “small choice” to just go see his mom for three weeks would have become yet another game-changer choice in his life, lasting three years. He considered it a small choice because he thought that he was going for a visit, to just observe where and how she lived. He had intended to keep his distance. He wanted her to see him and the quality of man he had turned out to be. Instead, that small choice awakened an appetite to heal fully and completely.

Your Personal Choices

Only you can organize the scale of values that make up the quality of your life. I love the idea of being in “healing proximity” to someone, for instance. This young man told me that he could never join the community his mother lived in or believe what she does. But by living around her for a while, he realized the type of person she is, both her really good qualities and the challenges she has to confront. He said, “Who am I to change her? I did what was wise for me and it worked out for both of us.”

Small things that are really big, for me, are a constant find. The tone of voice we use in speaking to someone, giving of our time to someone, really listening to what someone is saying without interrupting, taking a few minutes during the day at times for reflection and prayer. These are all small things that are really big.

Here are others:

Hand writing a note to someone instead of sending an email.
Meeting a friend for breakfast – that’s a big deal for me. Maybe not for you, but I don’t leave the house during the day. I’ve stopped that insane work schedule now and I meet friends during the day on occasion. It’s a small thing that’s really big because friends matter so much.
Sending out a small surprise gift to someone. Though the gift is small, the thought that you are thinking of them is priceless.
Say hi and goodbye to people – acknowledge them. Acknowledging people is a small thing that is really big.
Being kind to yourself in the right way. Buying things is not the right way. Do not allow yourself to dwell in negative thinking. Do not feed self-righteous anger. Do not envy others. Do not poison your mind and your heart. Poisonous thoughts are small things that are really big, but in a negative way.
Finally, in this world of billions of people, stars, and galaxies, you may never believe this, but YOU ARE A SMALL THING THAT IS REALLY BIG. You have more influence upon this grid of life than you will ever be able to comprehend. It’s easier, quite frankly, to play dumb, to say, “I don’t understand.” But in your soul, you do get it. You know you are a force for change in this world. That’s why no one can stand to think about him or herself as insignificant. You’re not. You are incredibly significant.

Every choice you make matters. Every thought has a consequence as well. The truth is, there is no such thing as a small choice – not really. Remember that when you next arrive at that place in life at which you think nothing you can do matters. Everything matters. Live in that truth.




Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists & photographers ~ Credit given where this is known. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah

Lotus Pearl @ Thea Izzi

How Do You Understand Power? Caroline Myss

The Current of Life by Christina Dehoff


How Do You Understand Power?

From Caroline’s 2014 Salon

One of my core teachings is that power is the fundamental ingredient of the human experience. That’s a profound mystical truth – so profound that we could spend an entire weekend together examining the nature of power in its endless expressions in our lives. We could use the chakra system as a map, for example, and begin with how power is introduced into our lives in its most base form – the huge, physical dynamics of life itself. We have the big, the loud, the obviously powerful forms of military might and destruction as well as construction and so forth. Here we encounter the power of nature, from the force of earthquakes and storms to the incomparable beauty of rainbows and sunsets. All of this type of power has this subtle question or challenge woven into it: How will I survive in a world that seems so vast and powerful?

As we ascend the chakra ladder, power transitions to different expressions. Stuff becomes power. The capacity to acquire seems to go along with safety, and to a great extent there is truth to that. We do need to acquire food, shelter, clothing, and resources. We are not outdoor plants, after all. Having just visited Assisi, Italy, I was reminded of the extraordinary life of Francis of Assisi who, in beginning his remarkable ministry devoted to living as Jesus did, stripped off his clothing in front of his father in public in order to make the point that nothing worldly – including his family – had authority over him any more. He would rely only upon the benevolence of the Divine. And he did.

Francis and his followers, along with so many other renowned mystics, I would remind all of us, did not have families or mortgages and the like and they lived at a time when mystical dramas were somehow supported by the celestial realm in ways that our imagination can no longer comprehend. Yet the thread that continues from their era into ours is a push-pull between being owned by the stuff of the physical world – burdened by it – and free of needing it so much. Or feeling possessed by the fear that we need stuff in order to feel safe in the world. And that fear is a possession. Having wealth is not a problem; being possessed by the fear that without wealth you are nothing, is the problem.

Our identification with power takes a turn as we ascend the chakras, from overtly physical to the far more subtle realms of how we interact in relationships. The power of symbolic language rises in the psyche and amazingly, so many people take little notice of the fact that the symbolic domain is the real battlefield of life. Buddha noted with great brilliance that the physical realm was all an illusion – a truth that becomes strikingly clear the instant a person recognizes the authority of symbolic language and the symbolic meaning we give to objects, relationships, and goals that otherwise would have no meaning whatsoever.

As an example, let me suggest you offer to help someone clean out a basement full of his or her “stuff”. I’ve done this and people have helped me as well. From your perspective, their stuff looks like, well, stuff – even junk. You could strike a match to all of it and walk away. It has no meaning for you whatsoever, unless of course your friend happens to be a collector of fine art. But let’s say we are dealing with the average person who has boxes of dusty personal history stored in the basement. As you both review the items, you objectively see old books or old clothing. They see memories – and then they see the items. First, we walk through our symbols, our myths, our feelings – and then we hold the physical object in our hands. This is as true for an object as small as a book as it is for an “object” as big as a marriage or as difficult to hold as a career.

Everything we have ever touched, lived, encountered, held, wanted or experienced has contained or continues to contain in some way, our life breath. Everything is nothing until we weave ourselves into it. And if it has even one thread of our breath, that object or memory still holds a fragment of our power, for we once empowered that relationship or dream in order to make it come to life. Without our life force, it could not have existed at all. Like the book of Genesis reads, we take dust and breathe life into it and we give it animation for a temporary period of time. And then it returns to dust.

This truth could take your breath away for a moment, or you could hit your inner pause button in order to give yourself time to reflect on the essential design of life. We are always struggling with power – and why is that? Because we are constantly living in the illusion between how powerful the outside world appears and how powerless we often feel, especially when it comes to our own survival. Life is this continual tug-of-war between events happening around us and their impact upon us.

I often speak about power in workshops and how all encompassing this element of life is, in part because it’s so incomprehensible. Everything is a power calculation of some sort, from what we wear to the items we own and even where we sit on airplanes and in lectures. We can’t stop doing power calculations. It’s instinctive because it’s part of our survival mechanism.

If I could offer the medical world one useful item, it would be a Power Profile, a questionnaire to answer along with all the other paperwork needed at the time of a physical. In an ideal world, patients should be asked to describe the health of their psychic field along with their body.

Shifting to a Higher Perspective

As consciousness ascends in our chakras, our capacity to comprehend the nature of power makes a transition into the higher realms. Power becomes animated, interior grace that illuminates your consciousness. This isn’t news to any of you by now. In fact, it’s old news. You’ve heard the words before, no doubt. I’ve spoken them and I’ve written them. And unfortunately, the written word is incapable of communicating the experience I so want to transmit to you. Yet, that doesn’t stop me from trying one more time. So let me go in through this door…

I have spent almost three decades now in the company of who knows how many wonderful people at countless workshops. I’ve shared endless conversations and cups of coffee and meals with people all over the world, listening to the personal stories of so many lovely individuals. Each time, I truly marvel at the life journey of each person – the challenges, the talents, the accomplishments, all the many wonders that make up the gift that is one human being. Even if I spend one minute with someone, I consider it a blessing to have met yet another human being alive right now on this Earth. I find it thrilling.

I listen most carefully when people describe their struggles – their times of disempowerment – because this is a path we all have in common. Details may change, but the path is identical. It is archetypal. I note why and how they have or are losing their power. I note what symbolically has power for them and I can easily recognize archetypal patterns in their psyche.

Then comes the tug-of-war moment when I am asked, “What should I do to heal?” Or, “What should I do to get out of this?”

I can so easily recall one gracious middle-aged man telling me about his position at work. He kept apologizing for how his boss was neglecting him, commenting that his boss was really very thoughtful, it was just that his boss was going through a difficult time and this man was the object of the stress his boss was feeling. Nevertheless, did I think he should speak to his boss? And did I think his high blood pressure was just a coincidence or related to job stress?

The man was terrified and his intuition was telling him that pressure was being put on him to resign. They wanted a younger man in the position and the company did not want him to reach the age of major benefits and retirement. He did not want to face that truth directly. Few do, of course. Powerlessness can diminish a person’s health as fast as poison.

I wonder all the time what it would be like to say to someone, “Get out of there. You know what your intuition is telling you. Listen to it. Trust your gut instincts and create a next passage for yourself. Your intuition always animates at exactly the right time. Your next step in life may not look like what you are doing. In fact, it probably won’t. Don’t look to recreate what you have been doing. Just act on your intuitive guidance in the moment. Stay fearless.”

But it’s rare that I can actually offer a message like that, one that encourages a person to trust his or her inner power over the illusions of power in the external world. Those are powerful illusions. I mean, you can’t exactly tell a landlord that the rent is an illusion. And feeding kids is hardly an illusion, so there is a lot to be said about being practical.

On the other hand, there’s even more to be said about understanding the nature of power and the fundamental difference between external power and your interior empowered self. After all, the great spiritual teachings are meant to instruct all of us through the difficulties of life. Among the most consistent teaching common to the sacred traditions is to learn to discern illusions. Again and again, spiritual masters have offered instructions to their students to not be blinded by the belief that the outside world has more authority than the power you have within you to shift directions. First, the student must detach from the illusion and then the direction changes immediately.

Many traditions speak about undergoing initiation rituals, which, granted, are not commonplace in our everyday lives. But perhaps we should re-introduce that word in order to recognize that on rare occasions, one of our life experiences may be just that. A life crisis, a major transition, may well be a modern day initiation into a different consciousness of power. And if you had such a perspective in mind while undergoing a difficult life change, would that change the quality of choices you made? Would that not give you a sense that what you are experiencing had purpose and meaning and wasn’t just a company firing you because you were too old?

Mystics were considered illuminated masters because they underwent an initiation between worlds. The purpose of such a profound experience was to force the individual into winning that game of tug-of-war with external power. That is, the soul of the mystic was forced through rigorous circumstances to become more powerful than outside obstacles. Buddha sat in meditation under the Bodhi Tree for forty days, for example, waiting for enlightenment. He was determined, so the story goes, to detach from the hold the outside world had on his body and mind. Whether it was forty days or ten is irrelevant. He won that tug-of-war.

Healing a serious illness is a tug-of-war between what science and medicine believes to be true about an illness and how empowered you believe you can become from within. That requires the capacity to detach, like Buddha, from the illusions that challenge your belief that you can heal. Getting to such a clear inner faith requires an initiation into an empowered level of consciousness. You can’t read about it. You can’t think your way into empowerment. You have to consciously detach from the illusions of the world that have power over you.

Your Turn

Everyone gets into a few good tug-of-war games every day. We get into power plays, financial fears, traffic jams, or whatever. We live in a constant environment of power interplays. Let me suggest that you heighten your awareness of where, why, and how you are losing your power. I would also encourage you to connect any insight to your physical health, especially if you are actively involved with a health-related matter.

Who do you have a tug-of-war battle going on with and why?

  • Pay attention to how much power is drained from you and what your weaknesses (illusions) are. Buddha would say that it is up to you and only you to deal with your illusions. They have nothing to do with the person with whom you are doing battle. Were it not that person, it would be someone else. Losing power is losing health. Remember that.
  • Review tug-of-war power issues with your past. Just as an interesting note, people actively seeking employment should review any and all attachments to their past image of what they did, earned, titles, benefits, and all that. Such strings have to be cut in order for a new creative path to open up.
  • Review tug-of-war issues with your present relationship in order to reboot it – aka heal it – or to find a new relationship.

I will close by reminding you again that power is your fundamental ingredient. Every word your say is a power tool. Every thought, every emotion, every idea, and every decision you make (or decide not to make) is ultimately a power maneuver. A wise choice is to learn the highest order of power and detach from the authority of the lowlands. Grace is the highest power we have available to us. Utilize the graces that run through your soul. Don’t just think about them every now and again. Dwell in them. Breathe them in like air. When you are losing power to something, close your eyes and pray for the grace to retrieve your spirit from a bad decision or an external fear, or a negative power play. Don’t wait for illness to wake you up. Think like a mystic out of a monastery.




The Current of Life by Christina Dehoff

Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists & photographers ~ Credit given where this is known. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah ❤

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