Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday from A Spiritualists Point of View

Spiritual Task of the Day: Compliment someone you aren't very fond of. Be sincere.

It’s Ash Wednesday for the Christian sect. I’d like to think that exploring different religions and spiritual practices is good for the soul. So what is Ash Wednesday? It’s the start of Lent. It’s the day you begin to sacrifice a luxury for 40 days (until Easter), mimicking Jesus’ 40 days in the dessert praying and fasting.

The realist in me does not like this idea whatsoever. What if, let’s say, your ultimate personal indulgence is chocolate. You absolutely LOVE chocolate. You live for that moment in the day when you get to consume a piece of chocolate and enjoy the flavour as the creamy rich texture fills your mouth with a happy goodness that makes you tingle all over. Now really, why would you want to give that up? What harm does one little piece of chocolate give you, when it’s followed by such pleasure? We aren’t talking about heroine or cocaine here, just one little piece of chocolate. And let’s say you do decide to give up chocolate for lent, and you die on day 39. That’s 39 moments of sheer happiness you missed out on… for what? Exactly.

On the other hand, from a spiritual point of view, Lent can be a very useful ritual to take part in by simply flipping around the idea a little. Instead of giving up a luxury in your life, why not give up something that hinders you. Think of something you do that represses your spirit or you dislike about yourself and consciously give that up instead.

Here are a few examples:

For 40 days I will stop…

  • Saying anything negative about myself.
  • Procrastinating, I will finish the projects I have started.
  • Taking things for granted. Take a few minutes everyday to be grateful for the little things.
  • Focusing locally and start focusing globally by keeping up with world news and events.
  • Talking and start listening.
  • Complaining.
  • Mourning what could have been and focus on what IS.

Well you get the idea… give up something that will increase your spiritual well being not something that makes you happy.

If you want to make the whole process a little more ritualistic, go ahead and write your resolution on a piece of a paper, and burn it (using all fire-safety precautions) letting the ashes fall into a bowl. Dip your index finger in the ashes and mark a cross or and X on your forehead with the remnants while concentrating on your new goal.

After the 40 days, at Easter, you can look back and reflect on what’s changed in your life since you’ve made your chosen alteration. Perhaps you will choose to keep it up even after Lent. If not, at least you didn’t miss out on the chocolate!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Know Yourself

Spiritual Task of the Day: Spiritual task of the day: Look in the mirror for a good five minutes and find 5 positive features about yourself.

To Know Yourself is to Love Yourself

Happy Valentine’s Day! To mark the occasion let’s take a look at love. My mommy always said that if you don’t love yourself, you can’t truly love anyone else. I pondered this thought for years and I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t truly love yourself, until you know yourself. Has anyone ever told you they loved you and you sat back wondering why? Who is it they actually love? Do they maybe see something in you that you don’t see in yourself? Have you maybe adjusted yourself to be who that person wants you to be? Sure they love you, of course they do, but who is it they really love?

That’s where a little self-discovery comes into play. Sometimes the most drastic self discovery is made in times of crisis, trauma and life or death situations. But let’s not go jumping in front of buses to figure out who we really are.

Here are some ideas of how to get to know the real You:

• Keep a journal. Look back on your journals periodically to see the changes within yourself, maybe as a ritual on New Years or your birthday. Make it a way of celebrating You.
• List your Strengths and Weaknesses and decide if any of them need changing or if they are quirks that make you You.
• Give thanks to your creator, no matter what name you chose to give them. Remember that you are connected to a greater being in some way, shape or form and making you a truly divine creature as well.
• Get to know your body. This is a constant exercise as your body is always changing. If you believe a higher power is within in, then your body is their temple so you might want to get to know it. Stand naked in front of a mirror. Take the time to look at the lines in your hands, the creases in your feet, the symmetry of your toes, what part of your body is the softest. See how far you can stretch your limbs. Take stock of the situation and decide whether a change is needed or if you can accept the parts you are unhappy with. Most importantly focus on the parts of yourself that you like.
• Figure out what you want in life, your “True Will” so to speak. Now personally I’ve never been able to achieve this goal, if you have any ideas on how to find this answer, please let me know!
• Listen to criticism but don’t take it as gospel. If most of your friends say you are selfish for example, think about the actions you are doing to give off that impression. You might find you aren’t selfish at all but that you are doing something that appears selfish to others. Also remember to take what people say with a grain of salt so to speak. Opinions are just that, opinions. Don’t just focus on the bad, focus on the good too. If every one says you are the best listener, take pride in that and put some meditative focus into what makes you that way. Keep in mind that what you say to someone may be reflected upon as well, words hurt, so be mindful of your criticisms and generous with your compliments.
• Reflect. Every night before bed think about your day. How did you feel today? Was there anything you would change if you could start the day over again? Did you make yourself proud at any given moment throughout the day? Did someone make you feel good or bad today? What did they do and why did you react that way? Which brings me to the two most useful exercises in self-discovery…
• Pay attention to yourself in the moment and ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS! Asking yourself questions is the best way to really get to know You!

Check out my site on questions to ask yourself for self-discovery at