Courage to set boundaries

In February 2014, my boss asked me to take over a programming task of a colleague who would leave our team for the duration of half a year. I had been warned before by the colleague that my boss would ask me.

And my colleague also let me know that the coding was partly object-oriented . That would make the maintenance of the coding much harder because it would be more difficult to understand. Whereas old-fashioned procedural computer programming can be read like a how-to-bake-a-cake recipe, object-oriented coding is more generic and cannot be understood that easily.

There was a bit of a backstory to this request of my boss to take over the coding of my colleague. The first thing was that I was disappointed about how my engagement at work had not been appreciated the way I hoped it would be appreciated. I wrote about it here.

The second thing was that in 2012 my boss had said he could recommend me for a promotion when I would take care of a certain task in 2013. But even though I did the task, there was no mention that I would be promoted in early 2014.

So, when my boss approached me in Feburary 2014 with the request to take over the rather challenging coding of a colleague, I declined. I said it would be too difficult for me to handle because it was partly object-oriented and we had only one day for the handover of a large amount of coding which is too little time, in my opinion.

My boss would not give up easily. He tried to convince me  to agree to do the maintenance of the coding. I should be more flexible. And there would be chances for me. And I should be engaged in development.

But I still refused.

In the end, he warned me that once I was promoted, he would more often demand such tasks of me. And if I would refuse them, then I would be graded as “does not fulfill expectations”.

That was when I lost my calm.

“This promotion is not gonna happen anyway,” I blurted out. “It is just a carrot, forever dangling in front of my nose in order to keep me motivated.”

Now he was upset. He said that this was an allegation and not true. He surely was planning to recommend me for a promotion – at some point in time in the future.

“I have learned to give up the hope that a promotion will ever happen,” I said. “And I will take over only such tasks that will not put me under undue stress. Taking over the maintenance of the colleague’s coding would be too stressful for me. Therefore, I will not do it.”

Finally, he gave in and let me off the hook. He said he would find someone else who would do the task.

***

That encounter was important because I stood up for myself and spoke up courageously and did not let myself be exploited anymore.

I want to note that setting boundaries was not something that has changed for me with awakening. I think I was never the typical people pleaser. I had quite a few situations in my life where I needed to set boundaries even at the cost of upsetting others.  But, still, I bring this story up here, first, because I would like to share how the events at work unfolded. And second, because I want to let you know that having my courage tested was part of the integration part of my spiritual journey.

In the spiritual teachings there is often the talk of ‘no resistance’. But what does that mean? Should we do everything someone asks of us?

I think it does not mean to become a doormat to other people’s wishes. But it is more about having no resistance to one’s inner guidance. It is not about following the boss at work but the boss inside (higher self).

I had come to know how important it is to be in inner peace. And now I had a clear direction, i.e. to remain in inner peace. And doing a task which likely would be very stressful (and felt nearly impossible for me to tackle) just for the sake of pleasing my boss or getting a promotion – this would distract me from the inner peace. And therefore, I rejected it.

About a month after this conversation with my boss, I read a German newspaper article that was like a thumbs up from the universe. A young woman had worked in an internship at a supermarket in Germany for several months. But even though she was doing all the work of a normal employee, she did not get paid at all.

Every month she was told that she needed to work for just one more month without pay – and then they would offer her a position as an apprentice.  The poor woman followed the carrot in front of her nose for eight months always hoping to become an apprentice.

Until she finally woke up and said “Enough!” and filed a lawsuit against the supermarket. She won the case.

I felt like this story was a metaphor for how I had handled work for a long time and that it was time now to say “Enough!”.

***

This post is part of a series about my spiritual journey (table of contents).

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From anger to acceptance (part 4/4): letting go

It had been 2 years now since I heard that I would not get a promotion at work. Two years of anger –  and now I was ready to let go.

Relax

July 2011. I was in my cozy bed, slowly waking up, when suddenly letters came into my mind. WYTAR, all capitalized.

WTF??

Confused I asked what this meant. It wasn’t any word that I could identify.

After some pondering, I decided that because the letters were capitalized, maybe it was an abbreviation? But for what?

Then the thoughts came that it could mean, ‘Watch your thoughts and relax.’
Or ‘Wipe your thoughts away, relax.’

It sounded like an attempt from my guidance to communicate with me. And since I was not trained to listen to their words, they had to use an abbreviation to get their foot in the door.

Giving up at work

I had finally made peace with the fact that I would not get a promotion. I still did all the work as before. But I was not attached to the promotion anymore.

Journal entry of Sept 9, 2011:

I have given up at work. It feels as if I get no appreciation. Not for programming. Not for my cooperation with the other department.

I feel resigned and a kind of relaxation. Pleasantly quiet. Listless and apathetic. I don’t care anymore.

Whether I spend an entire week to do a PC upgrade or whether I do something more ‘useful’, it doesn’t matter. It’s all like occupational therapy anyway.

When the world is just a dream, why should I be engaged? What’s the point of it all?

The only important thing that counts is waking up. Getting out of the dream.

And somehow things fall into place now.
Those projects where I didn’t want to participate are either canceled or staffed with other people. These are all gifts from the universe. My older child is about to stop singing in the choir, just in time so that I don’t have to do the dreaded task of having to sew a costume for their musical performance.

Maybe my state of relaxed listlessness is quite a good thing.

Gimme!  Gimme! Gimme!

Nov 4, 2011. In my mind, I heard the song Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! by ABBA.

I looked up the lyrics and thought, ‘Yeah, please give me someone to take me through the dark night.’

By giving up the attachment to a promotion, I had on the one hand gained some inner peace. But on the other hand, I also felt  listless and apathetic. My usual passion and engagement was gone. A bit like a dark night of the soul. And I wondered who was going to come along and take me through that dark night?

ACIM workbook start

Even though I had read the textbook part of A Course in Miracles a while ago, I could not make up my mind to start the lessons in the workbook.

But on date 11.11.11, I eventually started the lessons.

Maybe it was Jesus and his words in ACIM that were meant to help me through the dark night of the soul?

Inner discussions

It was not like detaching from a promotion and doing the lessons in the ACIM workbook would immediately work wonders for my emotional turmoil. Rather, I was still in constant inner discussions.

What was the solution?

Should I rather work as project lead because that was more rewarded than doing coding development even though I did not like the work as a project lead?

Nah. Career was not that important to me that I would force myself to work in a role that was not fun for me.

Or should I drop my engagement?

That would mean I would have to give up the programming which was so deeply satisfying. I feared that I would become depressed if I did that.

Or maybe I could  continue to work with passion and engagement like before even if I would never get a reward for it?

That sounded like it would be the ‘spiritually correct’ choice. To do the work that was fun and give a damn about whether it was rewarded or not. And also to do selfless service. I thought that I had to try to choose that path. And I tried. But every time I attempted to work like before, the anger would bubble up again, ‘It will not be rewarded. That is unfair. I feel exploited. I am angry.’ So, that path did not work for me either.

Maybe I should leave the company?

Well, I needed the money. Just dropping everything here with no idea what else to do would put me into fear because I would have lost my regular income.

Or maybe I should at least change the department?

Good idea. But hard to do because I was working part-time. Besides, I figured that the problem of anger about too little appreciation would follow me around wherever I went.

No. I would stay and find out what happened.

It was now more than 2 years after my colleague had let me in on the secret that a functional career path did not exist here. And I my mind was still running in circles.

 

New salary group

End of January 2012, because of a new rule in our company, I was placed into a higher salary group. That would allow for more pay raise than in my previous salary group for the next years. Woohoo!

That was one of the gifts by the universe after I had started to let go and make peace with the situation at work and after I had started the workbook lessons of ACIM. And many more gifts would pour in later.

This is a pattern that I have experienced over and over again on this journey. Whenever I manage to come to a state of inner peace about a troubling situation, then things will change for the better.

Layers of emotion and an experiment

I had noticed that my emotions came in layers. I would stay with an emotion until it dissolved, but then some new emotion would show up underneath.

Below the anger was sadness. Sadness, because I felt worthless when didn’t get the appreciation that I felt I deserved.

And below the sadness, there was anxiety. Like a diffuse fear about an unknown cause. I wondered where it came from. Maybe it was a fear of the dissolution of my known sense of self or a fear of being non-existent?

Also, I was afraid that I would fall into a depression when I followed this route of detachment towards work. I was afraid that I would fall into a nihilistic hole with apathy, listlessness, and an overall feeling of meaninglessness.

I decided to make an experiment. What would happen when I let myself fall into detachment?

Depression? Or inner peace?

I was curious.

Inner peace

By end of March, 2012, I had stopped doing ACIM lessons (- I got only till around lesson 100 (of a total of 365 lessons)). Instead, I had discovered the Raj material (Raj aka Jesus channeled by Paul N. Tuttle) and devoured the transscripts of the gatherings (informal Q&A sessions).

My state of mind was peaceful, blissful, and very detached from work and any of my usual concerns. Listless, without any motivation to do anything, but peaceful.

Nothing mattered.
I would never get a promotion – okay, never mind.
Our house needed to be cleaned – that didn’t matter.
My child wouldn’t do his homework – but I didn’t care.

Now, let me clarify this. It wasn’t as if everything went down the drain. Somehow the basic important things were done – at work as well as at home. It was just that I didn’t invest that extra struggle or control that I would have invested previously.

Also I want to clarify that merely detaching from the promotion was not the end of letting go. There was more letting go to be done later on the path.

After I had detached from the goal to get a promotion, I felt the imbalance between the effort that I put into my work and the reward. I mean I could accept that there is no promotion. But doing all the work as before with the same amount of passion and the same amount of responsibility and stress? Well, that was an entirely different thing to let go of and would come much later in the journey. And finding forgiveness and  letting go of resentment and grudges was yet another process.

Is it okay to be detached and peaceful?

But I wondered: Was it okay to be that detached and peaceful? Wasn’t I overdoing it when I didn’t care about my normal duties?

Then synchronisticly, I came upon a Raj channeling where someone asked whether it was okay to feel listless for a longer time.

And Raj’s answer was, yes, one could compare it to a symphony where the violas have a long break of several dozens of bars. The symphony was designed this way that the violas have a break. They didn’t need to feel guilty for their lack of involvement.

I was in awe that my request was answered so promptly and took the metaphor with the violas as a sign that the forces behind the veil were approving my new state of mind.

***

Using the metaphor of a hike for my spiritual journey, the winding road uphill had become rocky again due to the anger at work.

During the rocky time, I took a leap of faith over an abyss when I bravely managed to get off the allopathic meds (see previous post).

I was shown with much stick-and-carrot-guidance that anger would give rise to undesirable results and inner peace would result in miracles.

On my uphill path, I had reached another turning point when I managed to let go of the need for a promotion and came to inner peace about the situation. I was as if I had thrown a heavy rock out of my backpack. I was now walking uphill with much lighter baggage.

Anger_letting_go_3

 

 

***

This post is part of a series about my spiritual journey (table of contents).

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Insights from the spiritual journey

My spiritual journey has turned my worldview inside-out and upside-down. Here are my key insights:

1. Consciousness can exist without a body.
Before becoming aware that there is something more behind the 3D visible world, I grew up with a scientific, materialistic worldview. I assumed that consciousness was just a by-product of the activity in the brain. (I use consciousness and awareness interchangeably here.)

But then I read a lot of near-death experiences (NDEs) and reincarnation stories. Later I had some meditation experiences which involved the void. And that shifted my worldview. I am consciousness with some content in it. Even after leaving this body, I will be consciousness with something in it.

2. Consciousness is a higher dimension.
What do I mean by that? When we think of  life in a two-dimensional plane, for example (like in the book Flatland), then the higher dimension would be the third dimension which is perpendicular to that 2D plane.

And what characteristics does the 3rd dimension have compared to the 2D plane? It is at the same time everywhere inside  the 2D plane and also surrounding  it. It is above and below and inside the flat sheet of paper, for example.

Yet, even though it is everywhere, it cannot be detected easily  when one is a being which is living in the 2D land because the 3rd dimension is not a 2D thing.

Only its effects  can be felt in 2D land. In the book Flatland, there is a scene where the 3D sphere tries to convince a 2D being that it (-the sphere-) is real. After several fruitless attempts, it does so by punching it in the middle of its 2D-shape, something which is painful but seems supernatural enough to convince the 2D being.

For our 3D world it cannot be visualized that well, but I think of it as analogous. Consciousness is that which embraces all and permeates all.

The witnessing awareness is not just a silent and watching witness. The void (which I call the void because it is not in the realm of things and therefore we have no words for it)  is the potential before manifestation.

3. Everything is connected via consciousness.
As illustrated in the following picture, one 2D being (red triangle) would be able to make a connection to another 2D being (red square)  even if they are separated by a wall. The connection could simply go upwards and then downwards again, passing through the 3rd dimension.

Flatland_connection_2

Again, here in 3D land it cannot be visualized that well. But it works analogously. Telepathy or remote viewing are possible for some people because they can connect via consciousness. I have experienced getting messages from others in my dreams and also feeling the physical pain from from someone else in my own body. These messages were passed via consciousness.

Consciousness is one. There are not many single consciousnesses floating around. The many expressions of consciousness are more like branches of a single tree or arms of a single octopus. Individuated but not separate.

4. Thoughts create.
Some may think, ‘Duh, obvious, we have to think before we create something.’

But that is not what I mean.

I mean that thoughts, especially if coupled with emotions, can manifest stuff, literally (for an example, see post Can thoughts influence the weather?).

After I came upon that insight, I understood why it is important to learn to watch and control my thoughts, especially when the interval between thinking them and receiving the effects became shorter.

5. Inner peace is inside – and can cause miracles.
This could also be phrased as ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is within.’

I used to unconsciously search happiness by rearranging things ‘out-there’.

But now my focus has turned to finding the inner peace first. (by turning the focus of attention back on awareness itself, see post Describing the ineffable)

It does not mean that I have to put up with whatever disagreeable circumstances are apparently ‘out-there’. I am not a doormat. (see post The riddle of acceptance)

But finding the inner peace inside first  does two things. A) I can hear guidance more easily when I am at peace. And B) inner peace is the place from which miracles tend to happen. So, even though I do not necessarily change things on the outside by my action, circumstances still change for my benefit (see posts The power of forgiveness and  The magic wand of inner peace)

The insight that inner peace can cause miracles is nothing new. The teachings of The Work by Byron Katie, Ho’oponopono (The World’s Most Unusual Therapist), and A Course in Miracles (ACIM), for example,  all use different approaches for dealing with upsetting situations, but they have in common that they all aim for inner peace when shit hits the fan.

6. There is a guiding force behind the veil.
I was raised partially on spiritual texts that talk about ‘We are consciousness. Everything happens in consciousness. Stay as the witness. Watch your thoughts float by. Detach.‘ and so on. These are important and useful practices.

But I don’t recall any mention of spirit guides, synchronicities, and a force behind the veil which guides us (see post, Coming out of hiding). (Well, there are some mentions, like once we realize what is going on, our head is already in the tiger’s mouth and it is too late. But that didn’t prepare me for my experiences.)

So, I was very surprised when I got clear directions as to where I had to go. Even though I was familiar with the phenomenon of channeling and that there is an inner voice which can tell us wisdom, I was not prepared that this inner voice would give me directions. And not just in a polite way like a sat nav would give them,  but it sounded more like a drill sergeant. Apparently consciousness is not just a silent witness, but it has a direction and a will to it. Once I had done the plunge into the void (awareness looking back at itself), it was like a new boss took over.

And resistance was futile (- surrender is still work in progress).

***

These insights represent what I have come with up to this point in my spiritual journey.

I did not mention every point in my worldview that has shifted. There is certainly more, for example, what about time?, what about free will?, and much more. But the ones mentioned above are the foundation.

For me, these insights are a shift in my worldview that is comparable in order of magnitude to a Copernican Revolution. What seems ‘out there’ is not really ‘out there’ as everything happens in consciousness and therefore happens in me. And reality (i.e. the ever changing content of consciousness) is more pliable than I had assumed before.

(Related post: 15 insights from the spiritual path)

***

This post is part of a series about my spiritual journey (table of contents).

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Describing the ineffable

It seems that everyone who has come upon the Source inside has to make an attempt, at least once, to describe the ineffable. Here is my attempt.

Disclaimer
Before I start, here is a disclaimer. The ineffable cannot be described with words because it is outside of the 3D realm for which language was invented.

The book ‘Flatland’ presents a metaphor for this kind of communication problem. It is a story of a three-dimensional sphere trying to communicate with beings who live on a two-dimensional flat plane. The sphere is trying to wake the two-dimensional beings up to the fact that there is more to life than what they can perceive with their senses. As you can imagine, much confusion and frustration follow from that attempt.

The same confusion and frustration happen whenever someone tries to describe the ineffable within us. Names are given. Consciousness, awareness, Source, void, emptiness, fullness, blackness, light. Piles of books have been written on it in an attempt to describe that which cannot be described with words. Those who have met the Source in themselves will nod their head and say, “I know what they mean.” But those who have not yet come upon the divine in themselves will think, “What are they talking about? What a hell a lot of gibberish! Doesn’t make any sense.”

Then, why try to talk about it at all if any attempt is doomed from the beginning?

Because Source insists on it.

Content of awareness
As I am typing this, I am aware of my surroundings, physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions. A blue computer screen, black keyboard, green plants in the room, the view through my window, white sky today. The physical sensation of my body weight sitting on the chair, fingers touching the keyboard. A feeling of coldness in the fingers. The thought that the coldness could be alleviated by eating a warm meal. A gnawing feeling in the stomach. Another thought, ’Is it lunch time yet?’ Impatience arising. A mental vision of my spirit guide. These are all things I can turn my focus towards. The focus of my attention is like a flashlight that I can turn towards anything I choose. Right now it is focused on the battling thoughts ‘Let’s have lunch’ and ‘No, let’s get this post done before lunch.’

Apart from all these things, sensations, thoughts, emotions arising, there is something else. The ineffable. I can choose to turn the focus of my attention away from all the things I have mentioned before. Away from everything out there, away from any thought and any emotion. That does not mean that thoughts and emotions will just vanish while I do this. It just means I can choose to put the focus of my attention on something else.

Where to look
I turn the focus of my attention 180 degrees away from all the things I have mentioned before, like in a U-turn, and look directly back at that which is looking. I turn my awareness back towards awareness itself. I am putting the focus of my attention directly on the sense of I AM.

It is looking at that which is always there in the background, which is always the same for all times (explained in the video on www.justonelook.org as looking at what it feels like to be me; looking at the sense of me). If you prefer to read a book about this method, it is described in The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss by Michael Langford as ‘Awareness Watching Awareness’ method.

[edit Feb 2020: How to find out what you should turn the focus of your attention to? Here is a short exercise:

Ask yourself what are you experiencing right now in this moment. Notice the sensations, thoughts, emotions.
Then in your mind go back to about a year ago. What did you experience back then?
Then go back to about ten years ago. Again, what was it like?
Then go back to a moment in your childhood. What was the experience like?

 

Pause and relax.

 

Now ask yourself: what was it that stayed the same throughout all these points in time?

That is the sense of ‘I AM’. That which is watching. Which is aware. This is always the same no matter how old we are. That is what I look back at in the 180 degree backwards looking meditation.]

I don’t need a special posture, a guided meditation with green meadows and a blue sky, or to count my breath, or to still my thoughts to find it. I turn my attention away from my body, away from my breath, away from my thoughts. Even away from any mental visions of my spirit guides.

Describing the ineffable
Ok, now the problems with describing the ineffable start. So, bear with me. What do we find when we turn awareness back on itself?

There is nothing there. Or rather, there is no thing there. What I am looking at is not something like my computer screen which one could look at with the eyes. It is not a physical sensation like the coldness in my fingers either. It is not a thought like ‘I am hungry. I want to go to lunch.’ Not an emotion like impatience or frustration as in ‘Why am I writing this? Probably just another useless attempt at describing the ineffable. Let’s have lunch…’ It is not a vision of an angel in my mind.

The eye does not see anything when the attention is turned 180 degrees backwards. Therefore, my mind labels it ‘blackness’ or ‘nothingness’ or ’void’.

That doesn’t sound very enticing, right? Why turn the attention inwards when there is nothing to be found?

Because this place is Home.

What it feels like
In the beginning of this practice, I experienced a lot of resistance for the first few weeks. This manifested as an itchy sensation over the whole body when I tried to look inwards. But I tried again and again. Eventually, staring back at the one who was looking gave rise to a sense of peace. Now, I have to resort to metaphors. In the beginning, it felt like the peace of a surface of a dark still lake. And when I rested there even longer, I got a sense of quiet joy streaming in. Like a small fountain in the heart area, always moving, flowing, inexhaustible.

I turn there in times of trouble and let myself be cradled in the peace and joy and the feeling that all will be okay.

During daily life, especially during routine activities, part of my attention is usually focused inwards. The peace, joy, and gratitude which come from resting in this looking-back-at-Source-place are unconditional. That means they are always there. Even if my fingers are cold and I am hungry. If there is a sudden shock or panic, I may lose the focus on this quiet background of peace, but I try to return to it as soon as possible.

The peace found inside has a magnetic pull to it. It pulls me inside because it feels so good to rest there.

There is a sense of completeness. Of needing nothing else to be happy. Nothing can reach this joy. No outer things like good food or enjoyable company or an expensive vacation.

The experience of this place is different for different people. Not everyone experiences peace and joy right away. For some, it may feel like a void, and not blissful at all, at first. Inner peace can feel weird. It can be experienced as boring. Or not feeling emotions if someone else suffers feels inhuman.
I have read a story by a woman who was in search of God. And then she was swallowed by this void at times and found it horrible. It took some time for her to realize that the void was answering her prayers, and eventually she was able to relax into it and feel the bliss.

What it is
Since this is so ridiculously easy to get there, I was tempted to think, “This can’t be it. No way. This was much too easy. Why should I be able to find it if others meditate their butt off for decades and still don’t find it?” It is easy to dismiss this place of inner peace and joy as ‘just another emotion’. But it is not. It is the connection to Source right inside of me. It is Home.

It is what we are. It is a higher dimension. Like what the 3D sphere is compared to the beings in 2D flatland, this space of awareness is for the content of awareness. It contains everything. It is not awareness arising from my brain, but it is the other way round. My brain is arising in awareness.

It is a place of singularity beyond duality. It embraces opposites. It is beyond the gnawing feeling of hunger in my stomach and beyond the pleasure of having a cup of creamy Belgian Chocolate ice cream.

This void or no-thing-ness is prior to thoughts. It is like pure potential from which thoughts can be born. It gives birth to thoughts and these turn into something solid.

It is the connection to the single guiding hand behind all the seemingly separate appearances. This is the force which orchestrates synchronicities.

The universe will put us to our knees just so that we can find this place of I AM. We are collectively suffering from a sense of mistaken identity. Looking for love in all the wrong places to fill the perceived hole inside of us. Trying to recreate the lost paradise by getting or rearranging things in the outer world. So, the usual path is that the sense of the wrong persona is stripped away, so that we may eventually come unto THAT which cannot be described with words but which is our true Home.

Turning the focus of attention back to awareness itself is remembering who I am. Or rather remembering what ‘I’ is.

Benefits
It is the place from which guidance and intuition come. And it is the place of the magic wand. Little wishes tend to be fulfilled promptly when I am in this place of unconditional peace. It is just that I don’t have many wishes (except for lunch, maybe) when I am there because everything is well.
It is my life jacket in times of turmoil.

Risks and side effects
It is the connection to Source. At first, I thought, ‘How cool! Can’t you tell me the winning lottery numbers?’ But, no, connection to Source means that Source moves me. In my case, that means I get little homework assignments like ‘Start a blog! Contact this person! Learn to speak up!’ all of which force the little ‘me’ to get out of its comfort zone. (This should be in the fine print to be considered before one embarks on the spiritual journey.)

It feels so good and so complete that there may be little motivation left to do anything else. Why animate this meat suit again if this is not who I am anyway? Why bother with worldly concerns if nothing in the 3D world can give me this peace and joy?

Other risks and side effects of this journey are the deconstruction of the former sense of self and the ego’s reaction to that (see my post about the Dark Night of the Soul). It is all fun and games until someone loses an ‘I’.

Oh, and yet another side effect of having found this place is writing a very long post with too many words about an ineffable topic which cannot be expressed with words in the first place.

But, waking up to this place of unconditional inner peace and joy inside is what we came here for, and that’s why it needs to be expressed even if though it is ineffable.

 

Inner peace and intuition

I was stirring zucchini in a pan, when all of a sudden hot oil splattered onto my finger. Ouch! It was just a tiny spot of skin burned, but it hurt like hell.

‘Ok, breathe deep and remember all things tend to resolve when I keep my inner peace!’ I thought. I turned to the kitchen table, stared at the  pressed garlic which I had prepared before, and tried to calm down.

Then, I had a sudden idea. What if I put garlic on the burn? I had never done this before.

After I had distributed some of the paste on the finger, the pain lessened immediately. Amazing! (Please note: I left it on for about ten minutes only and did not cover it with bandage).

‘Has garlic been recommended as a treatment for skin burns by anyone yet?’ I wondered and searched the web. Though there were some recommendations for garlic paste against pimples, I could not find resources related to skin burns.

On the contrary, fresh garlic can actually cause serious skin burns. So, in my case, the immediate positive effect on the pain seems to have been a homeopathic one (‘like cures like’).

Inner peace can lead to intuition for unusual solutions.

Disclaimer: Don’t try this at home! Fresh garlic (especially if it is applied to the skin for a long time and covered with a bandage) can cause serious skin burns!

 

Phases of the journey

The spiritual journey consists of several phases.

Phase 1) Searching happiness ‘out there’.
Peace, joy, and fulfillment seem to be out there in the future, if we could just get that new job/car/partner/house/child. But the happiness found in the achievement of a new goal is fleeting at best.

Welcome to the human condition.

Phase 2) Searching and finding happiness ‘in here’.
This is an inward movement. Downsizing outer distractions like TV or social activities and withdrawing into the metaphorical cave for meditating.

This phase involves a painful stripping away of the attachment to the former personality (see my post about the Dark Night of the Soul).

Eventually, we find the unconditional Source of peace and joy inside of us. Job/car/partner/house/child may still be there, but they are no longer a requirement for happiness.

Phase 3) Returning to the marketplace
During this phase, the inner peace is tested while being active in the marketplace of life.

Walking through the rings of fear
For me, this phase is about sharing the insights of the spiritual journey. Getting out there and becoming visible, open, and vulnerable. It requires me to leave my comfort zone.

As of summer 2012, the usual chain of events in my experience goes like this:

At first, there is a call by the universe that I need to share in a particular format (anonymous in a forum, for starters, but with full name in a blog later). That call is delivered via the inner voice and is usually enforced by outer signs.

If I resist because of fear (which I usually do), I experience a strong sense of guilt and then there is a talk by my spirit guide. At first a gentle coaxing which turns into a stern lecture later.

If I still resist (which I usually do), there are dreams which tell me that I am procrastinating and which soon turn into warnings (“Share, or else…”).

And if I still resist (which I sometimes do), there are consequences like clogged drains mirroring my resistance, or even health problems.

Relief from the guilt and fear is found, once I yield and do what Source wants me to do.

Recently, I was told by my spirit guide to speak and share in a video format. After the usual battle of resistance (including health issues in the throat chakra region), I finally gave in and recorded this short video about the phases of the spiritual journey (1:30)
https://youtu.be/9z3O8flnm9s

When the universe says Boo!

“Oh no, not another one of these problems!” I exclaimed after my husband had told me that our trash can outside of the house had just vanished into thin air. It wasn’t our own container. In Germany, we usually rent them from the local waste management company.

My mind started racing. Would I have to inform the police and insurance company that it was stolen? What does a trash can cost? Where do we store the trash now?

I’ve had enough of these annoying issues already. From April 2015  through August 2015, they arose one after another. Threats to my time, plans, money, and even my health. Ranging from mildly annoying to frightening.

During one of these issues, I went into panic mode and made an unwise decision. When the train drivers announced their strike, I canceled my train tickets right away and decided to go by bus instead. But about two days later, the strike was called off temporarily and the train drivers agreed to enter mediation instead. Now, I was stuck with the bus tickets which meant a much longer travel time.

That was a lesson. Had I only been able to stay at peace and listen to the voice of intuition! During the next issues, I made sure that I didn’t let fear take over.

It was as if the universe said Boo! in a haunted house ride, trying to push me off center, and all I needed to do was stay at inner peace and say to myself, “I wonder what I feel guided to do now and how this issue will be solved.”

The answer from the wise inner voice was usually,
“Don’t worry, you’ll be okay.”

And then I watched how things worked out – with little or no action from my side.

What about the trash can?

“Oh, it can happen that the garbage truck swallows the trash can altogether. Don’t worry, we will provide you a new one next week”, the lady from the local waste management company assured me. “You can even have a larger one at no additional cost.”

How great! We could really use a larger trash can. With much relief and gratitude, I accepted the offer.

 

Why it’s important to love yourself first

This is a contribution to Barbara Franken’s call for posts about why it is important to love ourselves first. https://memymagnificentself.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/loving-self-first-is/

What does it mean to love ourselves first?
For me, it means taking care of my inner peace first. I turn my attention 180 degrees inwards, away from the 3d world, away from all thoughts and emotions, and then I look at awareness itself. That is how I find the place of inner peace. Unconditional inner peace. Peace and joy no matter what the circumstances are.

Inner peace is our real nature.
At first, I thought that inner peace is just another emotional state. But, no! It is our real nature. Being there means being Home.

Inner peace is the place of power.
I realized that wishes tended to be fulfilled promptly when I was in inner peace. I thought, ‘Cool, this is like having a magic wand!’ Whereas when I was in a state of emotional turmoil, weird and annoying things started to happen (- my specialities seem to be broken electrical appliances when I am angry).
If I am not at peace and instead get reactive to the events around me, this emotional state will be the very cause for the next round of disasters. It is as if the universe says, “Dear child, you like feeling angry and upset? Well, let’s see what I can do for you.” And, boom, like a rabbit out of the wizard’s hat, there will be another round of problems.

Inner peace is the place from which intuition comes.
The inner wise voice of guidance can be heard or felt more clearly if we are at peace. Whereas, when there is emotional turmoil, the still small voice is inaccessible.

Inner peace is the place from which love fills us.
We can only give what we have received. We are like a garden hose nozzle with water flowing through. In order to water the plants, the nozzle first needs to receive the water from the source. It can only let out as much water as it has received before. I can only give love when I have received it before. I receive love from inside when I am at peace. If  people don’t find this place of connection to Source, then they can behave clingy in relationships. There will always be searching for fulfillment coming from the outside.

I remember that the Raj material contains many statements about how we must learn to be ‘divinely selfish’. Here is  a quote I have found:

“You cannot think yourself into greater appreciation of another. If you could, your appreciation would be theoretical. Appreciation arises out of Knowing, out of experience. So, let your primary desire be to know your Self more and more significantly. It is to know what God is being, because God is being You. […] You could call this a divine selfishness. But the wonderful thing about divine selfishness is that it blesses everyone, because it does not block the essential Presence of God right where You Are. It does not obscure It.”
(Raj/Jesus, channeled by Paul N. Tuttle, https://nwffacim.wordpress.com/)
Source : CONVERSATIONS WITH RAJ, OCTOBER 1985 ,Vol. 2, No. 10
http://heavenlydesigns.homestead.com/files/vol2num101985.htm

10 ways to inner peace

  1. Know about the importance of inner peace
    Inner peace is not just another emotional state, but it is our real being. It is the place of power. Being there is like having a magic wand.
    Inner peace is the place from which knowing comes. Knowing how to act appropriately in a given situation.
  2. Desire peace
    As long as it feels good to succumb to anger, the desire for peace is not strong enough. But life will take care of this. Eventually, we will all have suffered enough, and then inner peace will become the highest priority.
  3. Clear the clutter and simplify your life
    Too much stuff, too many items on the to-do list, and too many responsibilities can feel overwhelming. A friend asked me how I can stay relatively relaxed. I replied that part of it is that I have a low maintenance life-style. I just don’t do a lot of things that women and mothers are supposed to do in our society. Of course, that raises some eyebrows every now and then. But, inner peace is more important to me than fulfilling norms of the society.
  4. Get enough sleep, exercise, walk in nature, breathe consciously
  5. Keep a journal
    Write down anything that is bothering you just to get it out of your system.
  6. Meditate
    My favorite method is turning the focus of attention 180 degrees backwards so that awareness looks at itself. No counting of breaths, no special posture, no visualization techniques. Can be done during sleepless nights lying in bed or during routine tasks like peeling carrots for dinner.
    (This method comes from the Dzogchen tradition, but the easiest explanation is here in this 4 min video http://www.justonelook.org)
  7. Forgive
    If shit hits the fan, my favorite method is ACIM style forgiveness.
    In case you get angry about a situation, turn within and ask for inner guidance. How can I see this differently?
    If I don’t hear any answer, I run through the following checklist:
    -) I don’t get upset because the me which is hurt is not the real me ( – like it would be stupid to get upset about losing in a board game of Parcheesi).
    -) I don’t get upset because the thought which leads to being upset is not true ( turn the thought around with The Work by Byron Katie)
    -) I don’t get upset because there is something good even in this seemingly bad situation ( – maybe the disturbing event or person is meant to mirror me in order to show me something? Maybe it is a reminder of lost peace? Or it has a metaphoric meaning?)
    -) I don’t get upset because I have created the upsetting event myself in the first place (via the power of my creative consciousness).
    -) I don’t get upset because I have planned this challenge before my incarnation and it serves the purpose that I shall remember who I am in truth. (See the great books  Your Soul’s Plan and Your Soul’s Gift by Robert Schwartz. I was surprised to find out why someone might plan to experience alcoholism for decades. I highly recommend these books in case you struggle with some major issue which makes you upset for several years.)
  8. Stop the thought spiral about past and future
    How to stop anger and regret about the past and worries about the future? Options are ACIM style forgiveness, meditation, or focussing the mind on the present or on some task (like mantras or a flow activity).
  9. Give up control
    Being a mother has taught me that I have no control over my children. I have no access to the switch in their head when it comes to whether they learn or whether they clean their room. I can’t turn a tulip into a rose and vice versa. I can only give them water and fertile soil. It’s useless to struggle and then beat myself up about my inability to control them.
  10. Wake up
    See that the separate personal self is an illusion in the first place.
    We are consciousness. Before birth, in the body, and after death, we are consciousness. There is always the ‘I Am’ with content. We are the ‘I Am’ with all its content: noise colors lights shadows sensations thoughts emotions (which are physical sensations in the body) memories (which are thoughts). But by putting the label on our body as ‘me’ and on the other person and the wall over there as ‘not me’, we have separated ourselves with the consequence of fear and guilt. The way back home is seeing through the illusion of these labels. ‘I’ is just a label for this particular body-mind appearing in consciousness and it is not more real than Santa Claus. (Book recommendation: Gateless Gatecrashers by I. Cuinaite and E. Nezhinsky)