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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From anger to acceptance (part 3/4): with stick and carrot

During this journey from anger to inner peace, it was remarkable how the universe supported the process with stick and carrot.

Here are some examples of the universe’s teaching Methods ( – and when I write ‘universe’ I refer to the invisible force behind the veil; God, Source, Holy Spirit, Higher Self, spirit guides):

Electrical appliances break down

After that first warning, several weird things with electrical appliances occurred.

When I was upset, light bulbs in my room would suddenly burn out.

Or one day when I was in major inner turmoil, my freezer stopped working with a weird unknown error code. Until we noticed the issue, all the food inside was spoiled and we had to throw it away. This would happen several times and it always coincided with me feeling severely off balance. It occurred so often that whenever I got terribly upset, I would always go into the basement and check whether our freezer was still working.

On another day in November 2010, I felt overwhelmed by the requests from society (kindergarten teachers, neighbors, parents, teachers…) and I thought, ‘Oh, leave me all alone! Don’t bug me with your requests of what I should do for you. Just stay all away from me!’

And what happened?

The fuse of the doorbell burned through!  It had to be replaced. Hahaha!

That was a great answer from the universe. I wanted to be left alone, and if the doorbell cannot ring anymore then nobody can come in – and I will get my wish fulfilled. Thanks a lot to the forces behind the veil. Very funny!

Another story: Once, I got really upset about the behavior of someone. In this emotional state of sudden intense anger, I entered an elevator.

Guess what, the elevator didn’t work. It didn’t even manage to shut the doors. So, I took the stairs up and I wondered again, ‘Oops! Was that caused by me? Really? Weird…..’

I wondered whether I was going nuts. Who else had experienced such strange things?

Then I heard about a woman who would cause local area networks for the entire neighborhood to fail if she was in a crisis. The people who were called to repair it could never find any physical cause for the failure. It was just that if she was in a mental crisis, then the LAN would fail – that happened several times.  It was comforting to know that I was not alone with this weird behavior of the universe.

From some people, I received first-hand accounts about similar experiences in case of feeling severely upset. These include light bulbs at home burning out very frequently (every other week in the same room), burning out of an electric outlet, street lamps suddenly going dark when the person walks by, and a pause button of a CD player which would only work when the person was not in a stressed mood.

The influence on electronics seems to be common among people who had a near-death experience. For some of them, light bulbs and other electrical things were affected not only during anger, but also during a strong positive emotion.

Even though not everyone at the beginning of the spiritual path does have these experiences, I think that they might be far more common than I had assumed.

I regarded these events as little slaps on the wrist by the universe telling me to pay attention to my emotional state. ‘Hey, did you notice that you are off balance? You better watch your inner peace! ‘

Two screws loose

One day in April 2011, I was in the kitchen running the usual inner rant in my mind about how unfairly I had been treated, when suddenly two screws in the kitchen came off at the same time. One under the sink and the other one from a door.

It was such an unlikely event that I interpreted it as a message. It seemed like I was admonished, “If you stay stuck in anger, you have a screw loose. And not only one, but two!

Plants perish

I noticed that the herb plants in my kitchen would perish very fast when I engaged in angry thoughts while preparing dinner. I wondered what a bad quality the basil in the pot was nowadays. Always, the stem would become black at first at the lower part and then the whole plant would go bad in a week or so.

But when my mood changed eventually, then also the basil plant would stay fresh many weeks longer.

Something else I realized about these stick teaching methods is that they became stricter and stricter as I progressed on the spiritual path. At first, the weird events would only happen if I was really angry for a long time. But later, they would happen even if I was in a slightly stressed state of mind.

***

While it became clear to me that my anger would cause all sorts of turmoil in my surroundings, I was shown that inner peace would allow for miracles.

Calamari

I was taking a walk close to a Spanish restaurant where we had eaten a while ago. Suddenly the thought crossed my mind, ‘Oh, these deep fried calamari in this restaurant– how yummy! I wish I could have them again!’

But I did not talk about this wish to anyone.

Just a few days later, my husband went shopping and bought frozen deep fried calamari for the oven.  I hadn’t told him to and it is not an item we would usually buy. They were just on offer in the supermarket and he followed the nudge to get them.

I found it amazing, how fast this wish was fulfilled.

The trashbag story

Around Easter 2011, when my little kids were out of the house for a week, I was cleaning out their rooms, collecting old toys that they would not need anymore (- well, that I had decided they would not need anymore).

I collected many small transparent trash bags full of old and broken toys. But unfortunately, it was too much for our garbage bin outside. So, I had to store the transparent trash bags in the basement.

Then I thought, ‘Oh, it would be so useful to have one of these large heavy-duty drawstring trash bags, which are opaque, in order to hide the old toys, so that my children cannot see them when they come home.’ I was afraid they would l start lengthy discussions about whether these things can be thrown away or not.

That was just a thought. But we didn’t have any of these large opaque trash bags at that time and I did not consider buying any.

Two days later, when I got home from work, I saw some strange plastic lying in front of our garden door. I looked closer wondering what that was. And it was a large opaque drawstring trash bag, arriving just in time so I could continue with my toy-clearing work the next day.

Wow! I was so amazed at how this worked. This sure seemed like a very strange synchronicity. Too strange to be just some random coincidence.

I had come to realize that anger seemed to cause all kinds of strange turmoil. And on the other hand, inner peace attracted miracles. It felt as if the process of coming into inner peace was supported with stick and carrot.

 

Getting off the prescription drugs

Something else that occurred during this time period  was that I was able to get off the prescription drugs for my rheumatoid arthritis. In April 2010, after I had an acute illness with a couple of days of high fever (-it was the swine flu), my rheumatoid arthritis got much better.

I thought that this was the once-in-a-lifetime chance to get off the allopathic medicine. And in a courageous  attempt, I reduced the dose of cortisone and sulfasalazine even further. Each reduction would always result in a backlash of increased inflammation a few days later, and that’s why I could only try this reduction at that time where I had almost no RA symptoms.

I managed to reduce the dose down to zero in April 2010 and suffered through heightened inflammation with much pain in May 2010. But I didn’t give in to the temptation to start with cortisone again. Luckily, the inflammation lessened eventually to a lower level.

I found it remarkable that the much-feared swine flu had such a positive effect for me in the end. Yes, the fever was exhausting. But afterwards the RA was so much better that I was able to get off the prescriptions drugs. I am not sure I would have dared to get off the meds otherwise. And since then, I am able to rely on homeopathy for the treatment of my RA.

 

***

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

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From anger to acceptance (part 2/4): admonishments

In response to my inner turmoil about not being promoted, the universe sent me some messages.

Ridiculous titles

On an internet forum, someone mentioned the German satire Wiener Titelwalzer by Ephraim Kishon in which he makes fun of the inflationary use of titles in Austria (like professor, doctor, counselor etc.) (- this story is not available in English, but the title could be translated as Viennese Title Waltz).

I wasn’t aware yet to what extent the universe could respond to my urgent inner cry, but that looked like more than a mere coincidence to me. It was like a message,

Titles mean nothing. They are ridiculous. It doesn’t matter whether you ever get a promotion for your work or not. Be content with what you have.

The situation of introverts

Then someone mentioned a book by Gunter Dueck in which he described the various types of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personalities and discussed how the introverts have a much harder time than extroverts getting appreciation in our society.

That was an eye-opener for me.

Suddenly I felt understood. It is just a feature of our society that organizing and communicating are valued more than quiet and focused problem solving. That was a small comfort.

Dream: stag

After half a year of intense emotional turmoil, I had the following highly symbolic dream on January 1st of 2010.

Hand in hand with my little son, I was walking towards the sea when we came to a fork in the road.

Straight ahead was the shortest way to the beach, but there was a dead stag in the middle of the street. It looked young, beautiful, and innocent.

I felt uncomfortable having to step over that dead deer. Therefore, I chose to take a right turn and tried to get to the seaside on a different route. Besides, on the street to the right  my parents were walking in front of me. Thus, it seemed that this way couldn’t be entirely wrong.

Halfway to the beach, we arrived at a house. We were exhausted, went in and asked to stay a while in order to get some rest. People were friendly and let us in. We were allowed to sleep on mattresses on the floor.

The next day, my son and I wanted to go on to get to the beach and attempted to leave the house through the back door.

But what was that? Right behind the door was a huge active volcano. I saw that it was impossible to cross it. We would never arrive at the beach this way. Then I woke up.

Here is my interpretation:
The beach and seaside are symbols for freedom. I set out to find freedom. That is what the spiritual journey would lead me to.

I had to search the internet in order to find out what the stag meant. I found that it is a symbol for the Christ. I figured that the dream meant to tell me that I had to go the way of Jesus. That is, I was told to do the lessons of A Course in Miracles, which is a Jesus channeling.

If I chose the detour path, the road which people normally travel (like my parents), then I would never be able to find freedom. There would be unsurmountable obstacles (represented by the erupting volcano).

I assumed that this was what the dream wanted to tell me. However, it took me almost two more years of anger and suffering before I would follow its suggestion.

And after I would have followed the suggestion of the dream, the stag symbol would appear again – this time in a different way. I’ll describe that later.

Rigoletto

After the big forgiveness opportunity was presented to me at work, the universe sent me a warning:
I was given tickets for the opera Rigoletto as a Christmas present.

I wonder whether the one who gave them to me knew what this story is about:  Because of revenge, Rigoletto wants to have the Duke killed. But the Duke isn’t killed, and instead and by mistake,  Rigoletto’s own daughter is killed, whom he loved dearly.

I interpreted that as a warning and felt humbled and very grateful towards the universe that told me,
Dear child, if you choose to act in revenge you will only hurt yourself.’

But still, I felt angry and didn’t know what to do about it.

 

***

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

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From anger to acceptance (part 1/4): anger

When I came upon A Course in Miracles (ACIM), which is a Jesus channeling, I found it difficult to read, but it sounded like truth. I slowly chewed my way through the textbook of ACIM, and thought, ‘Sounds like this is somewhat more substantial than the Law of Attraction stuff. But unfortunately, it can only be applied if you are really angry with someone.’

Well, I wasn’t angry with anyone – not at that time.

Boooom! (Imagine fireworks and a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat)

“Here you are,” said the universe, and gave me something to be angry about – a big ‘forgiveness opportunity’ (as they call it in ACIM terms) so that I could practice the application of the book-knowledge (- yeah, I know, be careful what you wish for).

Let me share some background information about this.

Passionate about work

In my job, I was involved in a work process which required me to deal with errors in a last-minute fashion. Just before a deadline, there were always too many errors and too little time to have them corrected by other departments.

One day in 2004, I was so fed up with this high workload and the resulting stress, that I thought,  ‘There must be an easier way. Why can’t these errors be found and prevented much earlier in the process?’

And so,  I set out to develop a pilot tool which did exactly that: find the errors earlier in the process and lessen the workload at the end.

I poured all my heart and mind into this tool. I loved the creative and meditative aspect of the computer programming that was involved. A calm mind and deeply focused thinking about how to tackle an issue, the process of having a question and then getting the answer using intuition. The sense of satisfaction, when I could see that my little invention actually worked. How delicious! That was my preferred mode of operation since school and put me into a state of flow.

Then the management of our team realized that this new tool was a good thing. And they wanted to set up some projects in order to spread its usage.

Even though I had had the idea for this new tool and had developed a pilot implementation, I did not apply for the position of the project lead for these new projects. I rather worked on it as a project team member because that would allow me to focus on the development of the coding rather than the coordination and communication tasks.

It was deeply satisfying to me that the new tool could help many people to lower their workload and stress. I was proud of my ‘baby’, passionate about my work, and felt very engaged.

But besides the passion I felt about it, would my work be recognized and appreciated by the management eventually? This thought did not really take center stage for several years. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I always hoped, ‘Eventually, I will get a promotion for it someday. There are not only the management and the project lead career paths, but there is also a functional career path in our company. And this is the one I would like to choose. I am sure this will be properly appreciated at some time.’

Disappointment

But in July 2009, a short conversation shifted everything.

“Why are you leaving?” I asked a colleague who was about to change to another department.

He told me that he had heard from the higher management that a functional career path didn’t really exist in our department. And he was dissatisfied that good tool development was only rewarded with a pat on the back, but one wouldn’t get promoted for it. The rules were certainly different in the rest of the company, but in our department, only project leads of large and visible projects would get promoted.

What?!?

In our department, the functional career path existed only on paper, but not in reality?!
I couldn’t believe it.

Later, I asked my boss about the issue. He told me that he could not give me a promotion because I did not have the role of the project lead. He also said that, contrary to the rumors I had been told, the functional career path did  exist. In theory at least. But one needed to show the same qualifications as a project manager regarding areas such as communication skills, organizing skills, and visibility, for example. And that it would just take considerably longer to show these qualifications if one did not have the role of a project lead.

So, hairsplitting aside, it basically meant that I would have to lead projects in order to get a promotion. Invention of new processes and tools for improved quality and efficiency was allowed, but not rewarded.

I still couldn’t believe it.

In my frustration, I talked to another colleague about it. He said, “Considering what type of work you like (i.e. design and development of coding), I would suggest that you give up the wish for a promotion entirely.” That was extremely blunt and also correct. Of course, it was not what I wanted to hear.

So, I had just found out that my contribution at work would never be appreciated the way I expected.

Big disappointment. Big disillusionment.

After all, I was so used to getting a lot of praise for my work since school. Excellent work was rewarded with good grades and prestigious scholarships.  That was a huge part of my self-image. Now, this self-definition of me was threatened.

Anger

I was disappointed, felt treated unfairly, and became angry.

I was upset about three things. First, because the functional career path was not treated equal to a project management career path. And second, because this was disguised and not openly communicated. And third, because my self-definition as a high-achiever was threatened which not only made me angry but also sad and ashamed.

At work, I had to make the choice between doing what was appreciated (project lead) and doing what I like (design and development of coding) – and I chose to do what I like. That means, despite the disappointment, I still did further development and maintenance for my tool. But I couldn’t help thinking about this situation all the time, especially when my mind was not occupied otherwise.

Ironically, I was able to work calmly when in the office. But when I did not work and when my mind was unoccupied, feelings of resentment crept in.

The work which had once been fun and fulfilling suddenly wasn’t so much fun anymore. After all, I felt treated unfairly. Of course, I saw that the anger was not healthy for me. But somehow I found it very hard to ignore that part of me that was angry and wanted to set boundaries.

Again, like during the time when I could not dance anymore due to the rheumatoid arthritis, I thought, ‘How can I ever be happy again?’ I had derived so much joy from my work. But now, knowing that it would never be appreciated the way I expected it, I felt I could not continue with this work. Otherwise, I would feel exploited.

In addition to the anger, I often wondered what had gone wrong. I had followed my joy and intuitive urges and had done something which was a beneficial contribution at work for me and my colleagues. In previous times in my life when I had followed my joy and intuition and then had taken action with intensity and dedication, things used to work out well. I wondered why it was different this time.

Here we go! After three years of merely reading spiritual books, I finally got some real work to do in order to regain my inner balance.

About five times each day, the inner thought stream would play, ‘How unfair! My work is not appreciated. The company doesn’t deserve my engagement. If I continue with the same level of dedication, it will result in burn-out.’ On and on, for hours each day.

I had to find my inner peace again. But how?

***

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

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From overwhelm to spirituality (part 4/4): loneliness and lessons

Loneliness

During this initial phase of my journey, there was the urge to read and also the awe and wonder about the miracles and synchronicities. Okay, that was wonderful.

But there was also an enhanced feeling loneliness!

My head was bursting with all the new insights I had discovered in books and through real life experience. But there was nobody with whom I could share it. My whole wordview had just been turned upside-down, the world was not what it seemed to be just a few months before.

I was full of new knowledge and awe, but also full of doubt and confusion. Did these synchronicities really mean something? Or did I make these things up? Was I going crazy? After all, I came from a materialistic and scientific worldview. All this new stuff was totally opposed to what I had believed to be true.

Had anyone in my family or among my colleagues ever experienced all this weird stuff and could relate to what I saw?

I made a few attempts to share in my family what I was experiencing. They did not send me to a mental ward, but they reacted slightly astonished and amused, and also with  disbelief and belittlement.

No escape from stress and lessons in reciprocity

It would be nice to be able to tell you that I just needed to read a few books, changed a few of my beliefs, experienced a couple of miracles, and -poof!- all my problems in life evaporated and I lived happily ever after.

But unfortunately, it did not work like that.

Even though it was awe-inspiring to discover the unseen realm by reading and with little miracles, it did not solve all my problems. Even though I had the theoretical (and partially experiential) understanding that God was in all things, that I could ask and would receive, and that all was well, I still felt overwhelmed by competing demands of the outside world (children, family, kindergarten teachers). Often, I was helpless with decisions: What should I do now? No matter how I decided, someone was always going to be pissed off.

Therefore, I had the strong impulse to just flee from everything because the outside world seemed to be the problem. I imagined how peaceful life could be without quarreling children, demanding relatives and neighbors, and obnoxious pre-school teachers.

How nice it would be to live in a cave!

But I stayed and tried to learn my lessons. This was where the rubber hit the road. Spirituality didn’t allow me to escape everyday problems. But somehow I needed to integrate the theoretical book knowledge into life in the marketplace as a working mom.

The lessons of the universe at that point (2009) were mainly about reciprocity.

For example, my husband was upset about the fact that our car was dirty.

‘How can someone be angry about an unimportant issue like this? To me, a car is fine as long as it gets me safely from A to B, ’ I thought.

But the next day, I felt upset because our new kitchen towels had brown stains.

Oops!

Okay, thank you, universe. I got the message. Why do I think that kitchen towels are more important than a car?

Everything seemed to say:
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?‘ (Matt. 7:3)

Further topics in the curriculum included lessons about the fact that we are all connected in consciousness and that we are safe and guided.

Over and over again, the topic occurred that thought is creative.

The importance of inner peace was stressed extensively.
In Germany, the cardboard game Parcheesi is called Mensch-Ärgere-Dich-Nicht, which means ‘Man, don’t get mad’. The benefit of inner peace became so clear to me that I got the impression that life in duality is a ‘Man-don’t-get-mad-game’.

In retrospect, I had to learn to find my inner peace, and to find my wise inner voice. I had to learn to say ‘no’, even if someone else would be upset. My former strategy of being obedient to the voices of others didn’t work anymore. Instead, I had to be obedient to my inner voice.

***

Using the metaphor of the hike, the road had become rocky again. The feeling of overwhelm and the subsequent seeking for inner peace had first led me to try several side roads which turned out to be dead-end streets.

But then this led to the discovery of spirituality. Even though, the stress and overwhelm did not vanish immediately afterwards, I regard this definitely as another important turning point on my path.

And this time, I was slowly starting to walk up the mountain.

Spirituality_2

 

I had started to read A Course in Miracles (ACIM) which is about forgiveness and finding the inner peace and inner teacher.

And life had something in store for me regarding the challenge of finding my inner peace.

***

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

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From overwhelm to spirituality (part 3/4): more miracles

It’s story time again. Enjoy some more miracle stories from the beginning of my spiritual journey.

The magic hill

December 15, 2007. We were on a weekend gathering with my parents and my brother’s family.

On a cold and windy afternoon, we took a hike up a long hill. My younger son (almost 3 years old) was too exhausted and wanted to be carried by me. No way. I refused. He was much too heavy.

Therefore, I tried to entice him,
“Look. This is a magic hill. Once you have walked up to the top, you can say a wish and it will be fulfilled.”

I knew what he was going to wish for. It was not hard to guess since every other sentence he uttered contained the word ‘digger’.

We arrive at the top and my son mumbled,
“I want a big digger.”

“Louder, honey. You must shout it so the magic hill can hear it, ” I said.

“I want a big digger! ” he shouted.

I was relieved that we had arrived and thought he would get his digger as a Christmas present in less than two weeks.

However, the next day we took a hike again, this time a different route. And what did we see on the field, in December?

Not a real digger, but there was a tractor with a fork at the front – in the middle of December on an icy cold day in the middle of an empty field. Unusual, isn’t it?

And my brother suddenly had the idea to ask the driver whether my son could enter the tractor and join him.

Yes!

He got a ride on the tractor. Wish fulfilled. No need to wait until Christmas.

That was impressive. Even my 3-year-old son was able to manifest what he wished for.

Wishing for snow

Because I bike to work even in the winter, I am usually not too fond of snow and luckily we don’t get a lot of snow here.

But during Christmas 2007, I had hoped there would be some snow so that my kids could go on a sleigh ride.

On December 25, there was no snow. When the next day started and it was still not snowing, I had almost given up hope.

But then, miraculously, at noon it started to snow and at 2 pm we went for a sleigh ride to a tiny hill on the nearest playground. Hooray!

But what about my way to work? On December 28, I would have to bike to work again and would need a snow-free street. I was a bit tense. Would everything be okay?

I needn’t have worried. On Dec. 27, the snow thawed and the next day I could bike to work without issues.

A neighbor sent by heaven

Feb. 12, 2008. I was busy in our garden when a neighbor walked by and started some small-talk with me. Her kids were also preschoolers, just like ours.

Suddenly she said, “Oh, by the way, the usual afternoon group in the kindergarten is canceled today. Did you know?”

Oh my gosh! No, I didn’t know that. I had completely forgotten.

What a blessing that heaven had sent her to let me know. Otherwise, I would have picked up my child too late from the kindergarten.

Divine puppets

Feb. 15, 2008. After witnessing so many miracles and synchronicities, my worldview shifted. Before the start of my spiritual journey, I assumed that everything in the 3d world is like many separate things moving randomly about.

However, after all these unlikely and miraculous coincidences,  I got the idea that we are all like puppets on a giant, invisible, guiding hand, or something like puppets on an octopus with millions of arms. An image popped into my mind of a transparent light-blue octopus with a tiny red puppet on the tip of each arm.

I shared this idea with a fellow traveler on the spiritual path, but I remember that this guy didn’t get what I was talking about. Maybe, he was turned off by the idea of comparing God or Source to an octopus? I was somewhat disappointed that he didn’t understand me.

But in the evening my little son of merely 3 years (who knew nothing of the divine puppets analogy) climbed on my lap, looked at me seriously, and  said,
“Such is life”.

The umbrella

‘Oh, no!’ I thought as I looked out of the window and saw that it was raining cats and dogs. It was March 2008 and I was in the bus on my way to a training workshop in Heidelberg. If the rain  wouldn’t stop soon, I would be totally drenched on the short way from the bus stop to the venue. My mood darkened as I imagined how it would feel to sit through a whole workshop day with damp trousers on my legs.

At my destination stop, I was the only one who got off the bus, surrendering to my fate.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it. An ownerless umbrella was leaning against the railing of the bus stop.  That was too good to be true. Normally, I don’t steal umbrellas, but this seemed like a gift from heaven for me.

So, with a silent “Thank you”, I took the umbrella and arrived at the workshop with dry clothes.

The white feather

July 2009. I was thinking about feathers and their meaning as signs. Little, white fluffy feathers. How sweet.

‘Oh, how I wish that the universe would send me one, too!’ I thought.

The very next day, my older son came to me and said, “Mom, close your eyes.”

And then he tickled my nose with a large white fluffy feather.

Stinging nettles and connection

Around May 24, 2009. It was a sunny day and I was walking with family along a paved path between fields, my kids some 100 meters (330 feet) in ahead of me.

I saw my little son had wandered off the paved way right into the meadow when suddenly he started to scream, “Mommy! Aaahh! Come here!”

I wanted to run to him right away. But before I could do so, something grabbed my attention.

There was a sudden pain on my left calf which made me  bow down and inspect my leg. Had I been bitten by something? Where did the pain come from, seemingly out of nowhere?

I could not determine the source of the pain and decided to get to my child quickly to see what was bothering him.

It turned out that he had fallen into stinging nettles. And they had burned his left calf on the very same place where I had felt the sudden pain on my left calf.

That was a lesson on how we are all connected via consciousness.

***

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

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From overwhelm to spirituality (part 2/4): miracles

In this initial phase of the spiritual journey, my feeling was one of awe and wonder about the unseen realm. The following  stories may illustrate this.

The headache

One morning in 2006, I had a snippet of a song running in my mind,
…and gives me such a headache?’
It took me a while to figure out that it belonged to the introduction spoken before the song I Got Life  from the musical Hair.

In the evening, I had a headache. That was very unusual for me. I rarely get headaches.

After a while, I remembered that line which was playing in my  mind which said, ‘…and gives me such a headache?’. And here I was now with a real headache. Was there any connection or was this mere coincidence?

As soon as I had remembered that this line had been playing in my head on that morning, the headache ceased.

In retrospect, I think that my guides were trying to teach me a lesson about the creative power of thought.

The ladybug

“Mommy, do angels really exist?” my older son asked me. He was about 4 years old.

My first impulse was to tell him that they are not real. But then I hesitated.

“Yes, they are real. But they are very shy and we must listen carefully in order to be able to hear them,” was the answer that I heard escape from my lips.

He seemed to accept that response.

‘What did I just say? Where did that come from?’  I wondered.

Then we walked into his room. Outside it was a dark and rather cold winter evening.

As I opened the door to the balcony, a little ladybug flew into the room and landed right above my heart.

I was in awe. A ladybug in winter time – how unusual! As if some angels were giving me applause for telling my son to learn to listen carefully.

Grandma’s visit

One night in 2006 or 2007, I had dream where my grandmother, who had died a few years earlier, appeared to me.

“We see what you are doing and we like it,” she said.

That seemed like a real message from her. She wanted to convey that she approved of my interest in spiritual matters and wanted to encourage me to go further into that direction.

The answering machine

After experiencing so many miracles, I was in awe of the invisible Source that surrounds and permeates everything. And I longed for more and more connection.

Even if I could not hear God’s voice like Neale Donald Walsch could in his books Conversations with God, couldn’t God at least leave me a message in another way, for example on my answering machine? (Yeah, sounds silly, I know.)

Then one evening when our family was in the living room around the dinner table, suddenly the answering machine went on just as if someone had called.

But nobody left a message.

And the strange thing was that the phone hadn’t rung before.

“This is spooky,” my husband said.

I was stunned and in awe. Somehow my wishes really seemed to be answered.

Saved from an accident

Sept 28, 2007. It was evening. My children and I were talking a walk around the fields. It was getting dark.

I was aware that this was about to become dangerous. There were no street lamps and we didn’t have flash lights, so the small paved roads around the fields were dark. But we started running just for fun.

Then all of a sudden, there was a sharp pain in my left ankle. I needed to stop and wait at the side of the small paved street with both of my children next to me.

Suddenly, a guy on a bicycle drove by real fast – with no lights on.
After he had passed, the pain in my ankle stopped immediately and we could walk home.

The pain in my ankle made me stop at the side of the road and saved us from being run over.

Magic numbers

Oct 9, 2007. I had scheduled a past-life regression hypnosis for the next day and was a bit anxious.

The night before the hypnosis, I could not sleep too well. I woke up and pressed the light switch on my clock on my nightstand.

It showed 3:33 am.

That was remarkable not only because of the number sequence, but also because the light switch of the clock used to not work correctly and would usually illuminate only the hours, but not all the digits of the minutes. Except for this time, when the light shone on all the numbers.

Back then, I did not know anything about the symbolic meaning of numbers and how they are often used as messages in an attempt of spirit to communicate with us. But I took it as a sign of reassurance that I was protected and well taken care of and went back to restful sleep.

The no 1 at the bike rack

I usually bike to work and put my bike into the bike rack. In November  2007, I happened to use the same place in the bike rack almost every day.

Then one day, something caught my attention. Over several days some things seemed to be assembled down there on the floor.

At first, an old marker pen appeared.
Then it was joined by a feather.
And finally, by an acorn.

I never touched anything and just watched with curiosity how these items appeared at ‘my’ bike rack and were then arranged by an invisible hand from behind the veil.

After a couple of days or weeks, the whole thing had moved from an accidental mess to what looked like the number 1 (not in American style, but in European writing style).

It was too neatly placed to be a mere coincidence.

I wondered what it meant. Was there a symbolic meaning of number 1? Or maybe that all is one?  I couldn’t decide.

But I got the impression that there was some very powerful unseen force behind the visible 3D world.

And that invisible force wanted to get a point across.

***

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

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Emotions on the spiritual journey

What does the spiritual journey feel like from a psychological or emotional point of view? Is it a continuous climbing up the vibrational ladder of emotions from depression over boredom towards bliss?

I was searching for inner peace, but ironically the journey went through terrain that often brought up emotions that were the opposite of inner peace.

Everyone’s path and experience is different, of course. Here,  I share an overview of my own experience with the hope that it is helpful for others. I refer to the metaphor of a journey up a mountain to a lake at the mountaintop and then downhill in a river (which I presented in my previous post ).

Map_journey_1

Flatland
While I was in flatland, unaware of a dimension behind the visible 3D world, I was ambitious and focused on my next goal of my career and family life. When one goal was reached, there was always a next goal.

That time was marked by intense work, often accompanied by a sense of stress, tension and anxiety,  and also by joy about success and joy during activities that allowed me to be in a flow state.

Uphill
On the uphill phase, the road had several turning points. Each turning point was a problem/solution pair:

  •  A sudden onset of rheumatoid arthritis led me to homeopathy.
  •  Overwhelm led me to spirituality.
  •  Anger about what I perceived as unfair treatment at work led to acceptance and letting go.

That phase was emotionally difficult. I experienced:

  • Confusion, anger, sadness, listlessness, fear, loneliness
  • But also hope and fierce determination when searching for solutions.
  • Besides the negative emotions, there was also a feeling wonder and awe. At every turn of the way, a wonderful new worldview opened up which I would not have discovered had I not gone through the previous challenging time. And there were synchronicities and miracles which left me in awe and gratitude.

Mountaintop
On the mountaintop, I found mainly peace by looking back at awareness itself.

Downhill, strand A (lessons, tests, divine help; not contained in the picture above)
On this part of the way downhill, there was fear again because of the lessons and tests.

But there were also joy about new insights and awe about the divine which was peeking out from behind the veil every now and then.

Downhill , strand B (being in the river, i.e. guidance and sharing)
My guidance told me to share more frequently and more widely. But often I resisted this. Here I experienced the following:

Procrastination loops at the riverside: Doubt, confusion, fear, resistance, guilt, restlessness, sadness, annoyance, apathy. But also a feeling of safety.
Not yielding to the urge of my soul to share sometimes feels like building a dam and being about to burst.

In the river:  Upon surrender,  a sense of obedience,  reverence, and being humbled. But also an inner temper tantrum because I don’t like to be bossed around.
There is fear, but also faith. Awe, wonder, and gratitude about the many forms of divine guidance.
Passion (yes, sometimes).

Although things tend to fall more into place when I eventually follow the river, it isn’t that life becomes just more and more wonderful and free of problems. Sharing openly on the internet brings up new kinds of challenges and lessons which in turn can evoke anger, confusion and so on (see above, “downhill, strand A”). Also, the shock about the fact that a spirit guide became negative and started to feed off my pain is something I have yet to make peace with.

***

That shows that my spiritual journey is far from the continuous climbing up the vibrational ladder into bliss states. It is more like a transition from one operation mode to another, i.e. from ‘living-in-flatland mode’ to the ‘yielding-to-the-river mode’. And that transition is accompanied by all sorts of emotional upheaval as well as inner peace, awe, and wonder.

I remember one time when the emotions became too strong and it felt like too much to bear, I fretted, ‘I was much happier when I was not yet on the spiritual journey. Ignorance is bliss.’
But a couple of days later, I had a spam comment on WordPress and the email address of the sender contained the words ‘Ignorance isn’t bliss. Ignorance is ignorance.‘  LOL. Isn’t it awesome how the universe uses even spam comments as an input channel to get its point across?

Now, what has changed compared to flatland where I started from?

  • When I am off track, running in circles in the loops of procrastination and resistance, then there is a feeling of guilt which I did not feel before.
  • Also, the feelings of being humbled by the forces behind the veil and reverence towards the divine are new to me.
  • The feeling of inner peace and quiet joy that I find when I turn the focus back on awareness is something I did not know before I had reached the mountaintop. I see this as the holy grail or the pearl of great price.

(Related post : Dark Night of the Soul)

***

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

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A map of my spiritual journey

Is there a map for the spiritual journey? There are maps for every phase in life. When kids come into puberty, we teach them what is going to change in their body. When a woman is pregnant, she is taught how pregnancy, labor pain and childbirth unfold.

But what about a map for the spiritual journey?

I searched and found that there are already many maps out there. And they differ not only in the metaphors they use, but also in the emphasis which they give to the single phases and milestones of the spiritual journey. No wonder, because the curriculum of life is highly individualized.

So, I decided to draw a map of my own journey and add it to the number of already existing maps. And even though everyone’s journey is different, I still hope that some readers can relate to my observations.

When I look back at my spiritual journey, I think of it as hiking up and down a mountain. And I can discern 3 phases.

 

Map_journey_1

 

Phase 1:  going uphill.
Starting in flatland where I was unaware of a dimension behind the visible 3d world, my path was slow and winding at first, but steep and direct later.

Each turning point in the road consisted of a problem-solution pair. That meant that there was trouble quite frequently. And each time one problem was fixed, a new one would appear. But in retrospect I can see that every difficult time during that phase (coupled with the corresponding solution) brought me closer to the mountaintop.

Phase 2 : I reached the mountaintop.
Here I looked back like in a 180 degree U-turn at the one who was looking (awareness-watching-awareness meditation), got the fact that I am awareness and felt the deep peace of resting in awareness. (see post Describing the ineffable)

I think of coming to see myself as awareness as the important key point in my journey. Therefore, I place it on the mountaintop.

I depict awareness as a lake because that is what it feels like for me. Diving into the silent void feels like diving into a deep, still lake.

This phase was also where guidance came through strongly.

Phase 3 : going downhill again.
It consists of two strands.

  • Strand A  is about integration which, in my case, has the following components:
    Insights, lessons, and tests,
    development of intuition and courage,
    divine help and manifestation.
    (Strand A is not contained in the drawing above.)
  • Strand B is about guidance and sharing (or the resistance to it).
    I think of it as a river that flows downhill from the lake at the mountaintop. The direction of the flow of the river indicates the will of Source.  My guidance nudges (or kicks) me to enter the river and to go with the flow and share more.
    But I sometimes resist and rather stay at the riverside where I just run in circles – until life gets too painful and I eventually surrender and enter the river, only to get out of the water again when I feel too scared or resistant for the next assignment.
    The whole strand B is about coming into alignment with what my soul wants to do here. Sometimes it feels like coming into alignment is my only subject in Earth school at the moment.

From reading the stories of others, I know that there is more ahead. Bernadette Roberts, for example, described her journey in her books as diving into ever deepening states of stillness. She lost the ego which resulted in the unitive life; and then  some years down the road, she  permanently lost the sense of self.

Just to put my journey so far into perspective, when I compare my current position with Bernadette’s map, I see that I am not even fully in the phase termed ‘unitive life’ yet. And that which seekers in non-dual traditions strive for, the permanent loss of the sense of self, is far out of reach. Bummer.

But writing and publishing this post was another step towards surrender and entering the river.

***

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

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A Copernican shift in world view

It was a world view shattering insight for me that consciousness can exist independently of a functioning brain. This is becoming more widely accepted now.

“First hint of ‘life after death’ in biggest ever scientific study”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11144442/First-hint-of-life-after-death-in-biggest-ever-scientific-study.html

How can someone see and hear what is going on in the room when the brain doesn’t function anymore? Our current model does not account for this.

Whenever there is a discrepancy between the model and reality, it is always reality which wins. And it is the model which needs to be adjusted.

This leads to a Copernican shift in world view. Consciousness does not emerge from the brain. It must be the other way round. The brain emerges from consciousness.

Trying to understand how consciousness is created by the brain by studying the electric currents in the neurons is about as promising an endeavor as trying to figure out how the evening news is generated  by studying the flow of electrons in the TV.