Owning Our Power Through Meditation        

I get crazy when folks in the meditation group ask me “why” questions or repeat what the current guru has said on television or talk in abstractions off the top of their heads.  I have committed to make the Saturday morning meditation group a healing experience and healing never happens intellectually. The Controller tells us to get into our heads.  The Controller is trying to protect our vulnerability, to prevent too much feeling, and to live superficially.  The Controller is never the figure we call on when we want to live with passion and depth, the essence of meditation.

The Controller helps us keep our lives going by attending to necessary details–keep food in the fridge, cut the grass, balance the bank statement (or at least know pretty much where you stand), pay bills on time, change the sheets regularly, buy clothes on sale, and generally use good judgment in practical matters.

 That’s great and we absolutely need the Controller’s input.  I hope you have a strong Controller.  But as with everything else there is a time and place for the Controller. 

If we indulge the Controller with too much of our energy we’ll have trouble sleeping, lose our spontaneity, forget how to have fun, and turn our lives into a series of projects to be completed. 

 The Controller is a subpersonality we develop from our experience growing up. In school we meet certain expectations–arrive on time, keep our desks neat, hand in homework, and sit quietly when the teacher speaks. We restrain our here-to-fore unrestrained natural enthusiasm in deference to the demands of the world around us. We all need to learn that lesson and to give it priority in many parts of our lives–our work, our responsibilities as citizens and neighbors, our conduct with strangers, and our planning for the future.  We don’t want to live without a Controller.

However, the Controller is not how we heal.  Healing requires vulnerability and an open-ended commitment to be present and to see what happens.  We don’t want to use that presence and vulnerability with the tax collector.  We give the state its due.  But just as we have responsibilities to the outside world we have responsibilities to the inner world, also.  “Why,” you ask, “is it not enough to obey the law, live a decent life, and contribute in our own particular way?”  Certainly no one will criticize you and you will build a comfortable life for yourself.  If you are satisfied with ceasing your questing at that point, OK.

 Some of us feel pulled to look more deeply, however.  The death of a child thrusts us into an agony we don’t think we can survive.  An unexpected turn of events leaves us without the future we had counted on.  Or simply living every day pulls us away from the world and into spaces inside which scare us.  For whatever reason, we want more. The surface verities don’t satisfy and our heads can’t answer soulful questions.  Our churches offer comfort and support but this delving to which we are called is so personal that we must set out alone. It would be easier if we could take the latest best seller with us and we could read about our lives but at some point we are confronted with experiencing our lives.  Just experiencing.  Not understanding, not controlling, not directing.  Simply experiencing.  Saying Yes to the moment and experiencing what is at any given second.   At first this exercise may serve to get us through a strained time but eventually it becomes a way of life.  And then we don’t identify with the Controller but with the one caught in the current.  We don’t know where we are being carried and we don’t need to.  We simply say Yes.

 On an inner level we practice non-resistance to everything–I won’t fight any feeling which comes up, then acceptance of everything–thank you for this feeling which I don’t like, then trust–I say Yes to this second.  Owning our power includes each of these steps.  Non-resistance challenges those of us who like to act, who judge and want to correct. But as we accept that life is not a problem to be solved and that our minds (our Controllers) don’t know best, we acknowledge the beauty and wisdom in the patterns of our lives which lead us to heal.  Life is for healing through experience. If our Controllers cut off our experience, we can’t heal.  We can’t stay safe, intellectual, above it all, comfortable and still heal.  Healing is messy and sometimes painful and always vulnerable and we’re never in control.  Life knows what experiences we need to heal.  We can go with them or resist and stay in our heads.

Owning our power may manifest in our gratitude for every little thing.  “Thank you for my breath today.” “Thank you for that driver cutting me off and taking my parking place.”  “Thank you for the latest disappointment.”  How many times have I heard, “That’s crazy to be thankful for what you don’t like and didn’t choose and don’t want!” 

 It is.  But what’s the alternative?  To be angry or hurt and vengeful?  To take it personally and hate others?  I’ve lived that way and it doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t empower me, and I don’t heal.  My life works better when I say, “Yes, thank you, and what’s next?”  I can get very angry and very self righteous and very intellectual when I’m hurt.  I can demolish another with my analysis and words.  But where does it get me?  I’m still in the world and so are they and I’ve just contributed a whole lot of pain that didn’t need to be there.  All because I was insulted, which is to say, not in control.  Control is useful only in circumscribed situations.  With God, the soul, eternity, feelings, or relationships, control is a dirty word.

  Meditation is practice for life.  We practice letting go of our minds, accepting what comes, releasing what we no longer need to hold onto, breathing, trusting, and waiting to be shown the next step.  If we can do that for twenty minutes we can do it throughout the day.  We practice the relationship we want to have with Life in meditation and then we live it all day.  And that’s owning our power. 


 A Spirituality of Your Own

Isn't it time that we move beyond religion and rules and belief into honest spirituality which is based on personal experience? Religion offers community which feels comforting and guidelines for behavior which build character. But true spirituality requires an adult’’s presence to her own experience. Thinking about what an authority tells us is at best a jumping off point for us to assume our own authority.

Developing your personal spirituality means that you choose to participate with Life as an adult. You own your responsibility not only for your behavior but for your thoughts and for conflicts lying just below your awareness. You know that at your core you are a spiritual being having a human experience. You accept that this lifetime is a gift for you to learn some truths and, wisely, you surrender. You know that change is constant and you release your hold on everything, appreciating in this moment what you have been given but not demanding that it continue.

The emphasis is on attending. What am I supposed to learn from this frustration? What is my lesson in losing what I had loved? How am I gifted by the obstacles that block my hoped for path? And we pay attention to the details of our lives in a non-proprietary way.

Through our surrender we see pattern in our experience. We learn to listen to Life and to trust its tugs. We notice that we are asked to submit and receive. We practice presence. We experience everything, inside and outside, and we release it. We practice gratitude, especially for what we don’t like. ‘‘Thank you for the opportunity to learn patience while I sit at this red light.’’ ‘‘Thank you for showing me the part of myself I hate in another whom I find irritating.’’

And we notice that the details of the day lead us deeper within ourselves. When we pay attention to what happens to us, we are led to what happens within us. We learn more by observing than by attempting to direct.

When we appreciate the unity of the outside world and the inside world, then we truly experience our own spirituality. Spirituality is oneness. It isn’t light and joy and beauty and otherworldly music. It’s the baby crying and the cat messing on the new carpet and the car that stops on the freeway and the job that doesn’t materialize. And it’s saying, ‘‘Yes, thank you. Now show me the next step.’’

When we embrace our spirituality we say ‘‘Yes’’ to everything that happens because we know that we are one with everything. Our lifetime is not an opportunity to run our will. We are not on earth to see what we can make of ourselves. When we accept life as an adventure and know that we are the students, then we open to learn.

Openness, attention, and surrender are the hallmarks of a mature spirituality.

 A Mature Spirituality

Being in partnership with God as co-creators of our lives is active as well as passive and receptive.  But it is active in the details, not the overall picture.  We ask for the highest and the best for our lives, we repeat, “Your will be done,” and we focus on the step we take today.  In our partnerships we are not the partner with the grand vision; we are the ones who implement it and polish it.  Understanding those boundaries is the essence of maturity.

So, our activity follows our passivity and is directed by what we receive in our hearts, not from the constructs of our minds.  Our activity is like the one-year-old who toddles away from mom, looks back, touches her knee, and then explores the room again.  We are always checking in with God.  Have we lost our centers?  Are we coming from our hearts?  We monitor the temper and tone of our acting.  When we feel solid, we move and let it go.


 Maturity is not struggling.  It involves waiting and accepting our place humbly and following as we are led.  It also involves joy and excitement and energy.  But we don’t create that.  We are available and we receive.  Addiction is our effort to create what we know is missing instead of feeling its absence and healing our wounds.  Love addiction tries to create the oneness with another human that by rights belongs to our relationship with God alone.  Food addiction tries to erase the gaping hole we feel inside when we sense our lack of wholeness.  Substance abuse seeks to approximate the well being which is only solidly rooted in a mature spirituality.  All of these addictions are attempts to procure the result (oneness) without doing the healing work that is ours to do as humans on this earth. 

Immaturity is trying to find satisfaction in something other than God.  We know we are not complete but we prefer to use our heads and our backs to find comfort instead of surrendering to the wisdom of our own unconscious to heal us.  Our minds are always looking for a solution instead of trusting the process that is us.  

Maturity knows when to wait and when to act. Maturity is always connected.  Maturity doesn’t look for solutions but knows that commitment to the life process is the answer. Maturity is what God asks of us. Not obedience, not self denial, not arrogance, not success. Simple maturity.

A mature spirituality is the only basis for partnership.  How can we partner with God if we are still identified with the Needy Child or the Driven Executive?  How can we even see God if our vision is blocked by identification with an unhealed part of ourselves?  Maturity is based on our allowing ourselves to be healed, not trying to make ourselves OK by our actions.  For it is in that healing process that we first partner with God.  We cannot heal ourselves.  It requires maturity to acknowledge that limitation and courage to allow God to work in us through our unconscious.     


A Powerful Woman

Personal power is not boastful or self centered or egotistical or self aggrandizing.  It is the opposite.  A woman who has owned her power is present when someone speaks to her.  She makes direct eye contact and gives the speaker her full attention.  She isn’t thinking about anything else.  When you speak to a powerful person you feel blessed and satisfied.  You feel known and received.
 Personal power is not striving.  It is completely rooted in the present moment without any thought to another moment and without an agenda.  Personal power acts like a cylinder.  Energy moves through it without direction or block.
 With personal power there is no room to be self-hating; that is too ego-centered.  Power is allowing, not directing or wishing or determining.  Power is about letting go and trusting. Power is loving in the moment, embracing all of whatever exists this second and knowing the truth.  Power is saying Yes to this minute and fully experiencing it.  Power is also recognizing abuse and insult and setting limits.  Power doesn’t hate but does not permit destruction.  Abuse serves no one and permitting abuse dishonors everyone.  Power is strong in saying No when it is appropriate, always respectfully, always seeing the perfection that is possible with every person.  Power doesn’t make situation interpersonal.  Power doesn’t take sides.  We all win together or we all lose.  Power wants the best for everyone.
 A woman who has owned her power doesn’t need a man to complete her.   She may choose to share herself with another person but not out of desperation or fear.  When she sees need inside her she meditates and writes in her journal and maybe talks with a trusted confidant.  She treats herself as gently as she treats everyone else.   
 A powerful woman gives herself time to be still each day, maybe several times a day.  She knows that she is nurtured from inside herself and honors that wellspring of wisdom that is removed from her mind.  She trust the depths of her being and knows that what she learns each time she stops and attends to her inner world is different.  She respects the ever changing process that moves through her.


A powerful woman is gentle with her words and her thoughts and her actions.  She  takes her cues from her heart.  Her compassion guides her.  Her strength lies in her readiness to say 'Yes' to what is at each moment.  She has no need to fight with herself or with anybody else.  She trusts that an intelligence greater than her mind’s will prevail so she doesn’t struggle.
 A powerful woman is not anxious.  She fears nothing her mind creates and any anxieties are seen for what they are–her mind’s desperate attempt to control what is not hers to control.  She is not caught up in the exigencies of the day but does what needs to be done with an open heart and a trusting manner and leaves the outcome to a Higher Power.
 A powerful woman doesn’t look for approval or for direction.  She doesn’t need anyone to interpret life for her.  She listens and considers and waits and listens and reconsiders.  She doesn’t use her mind when it isn’t needed.  She cries when her tears need release and she laughs with appreciation for the patterns in her world.  She is humble, waiting to be shown the next step, never insisting that her will prevail. 
 A powerful woman accepts that others are on their paths which may be different from hers.  She isn’t judgmental or controlling.  She knows that she doesn’t know the answer, either for herself or for another.  She has no need to direct.  She simply blesses and releases. 
 A powerful woman may or may not be a mother.  If she chooses that role she accepts its uncertainty.  If she has chosen differently she accepts the uncertainty of her path.  She may feel like she is the one chosen more than the one choosing but she says 'Yes' to what comes. Whatever her situation or her feelings, she knows that her job is to learn and so she pays attention,
 A powerful woman says 'No' when she needs to.  She doesn’t allow herself to be drained or to be used or to be mistreated.  Her referent for making decisions lies within herself, not in others' eyes.  She doesn’t need to impress or to offend and so the thoughts of others are considered respectfully but secondarily.  She trusts her own connection to her source of wisdom. 
 A powerful woman doesn’t over-schedule herself.  She knows how much sleep and exercise she needs and she insures that she gets it every day.  No job or challenge is more important than her responsibility to herself for she knows that by listening to her inner world she will be guided.  She doesn’t allow busyness to interfere with being present to herself.
 A powerful woman lives in a state of surrender. 
 Of course, the same is true for a man.

 Anxiety Addiction 
Anxiety becomes an addiction when we use it to reassure ourselves that we are doing everything we can to be safe and comfortable.  “I can only control what I can” becomes “And I’ll worry about the rest.” Anxiety is a motivator, it gets us to move in response to our thoughts of lack.  “If I don’t prepare myself, how will I ever get a good job?”  We learn skills and acquire certificates of competency and then we are acceptable.  Suddenly the arena is no longer what I do but who and how I am.  And life becomes an endless struggle.  With each accomplishment, I become more OK.  But the anxiety never diminishes.  In fact, with each hurdle jumped, it increases.  What’s next?  How can I make a bigger goal materialize?  What do I need to do to increase and prolong my success?

After decades on this treadmill, we tire.  We may question our belief in lack. “Does life work because I push it?  How come some people receive huge rewards in their early 20s without much effort when I knock myself out and still I’m not satisfied?  I’m such a good worker but I can’t get through an invisible ceiling and I’m frustrated and ANGRY.” 

If we believe we earn what we receive by the sweat of our brows only, we’ll cry “Unfair” when we don’t win the big prize for which we have worked diligently.  Apparently another factor is involved.  One that is subtle. One that lives inside our heads.  A scrim that our eyes look through but don’t see. We have assumptions about How Life Is and How I Am but we don’t even know what these assumptions are.  We have beliefs that severely limit our experience and we don’t know that we are the ones who choose mediocrity for ourselves.

Common wisdom would tell us, “Only a few can be great.  Most of us are ordinary.”  But if we examine life by its rules and not our mind’s, we notice something different.  Our mind values control and hard work and discipline.  Life outside us reflects our mind’s life.  What I believe to be true in my mind will take form in the world around me.  In the Catholic Church I learned to say, “I am not worthy.”  I manifested folks who would verbalize the same for me.  That felt right.  I believed life is a struggle and there is virtue in struggling without reward.  Outer circumstances aligned to provide me with opportunities to struggle.  As long as I didn’t step back and look at the light I was shining on the situation from my thoughts, I could feel like a virtuous martyr. 

But repetitive victim experiences tell me that I am choosing that and somehow benefitting.  I’m not struggling for God nor for the polish on my soul but simply to make true my mind’s erroneous belief that I should suffer and struggle.  In grade school the good Sisters told me (or did I misunderstand?) that life on earth was for suffering to make up for our sins so that when we die we can go to heaven without delay in purgatory.  My former classmates and I now laugh at the scary beliefs we developed from catechism class, but something seeped into the marrow of my bones and I still trip on a too easy acceptance of limitation. 

My experience is that when I am €œin the flow doors open.  Life welcomes me when I affirm myself.  When I recognize Spirit in me and rejoice, Life applauds.  When I share myself without comment or fear or need for any response, Life receives me.  When I trust, I am given what I need. 
Not so when I struggle.  Anxious struggling offers my Controller comfort that her belief in limitation is correct because “see how I struggle and still there’s no reward?”  But when I depose the Controller, I no longer need anxiety and I can open to experience Life.  And really all it takes is being present and a willingness to be vulnerable.  Not doing.  Definitely not struggling.  Just being and breathing and waiting and noticing.  No need for anxiety in that!  Just trust and acceptance–two qualities no Controller can provide.


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