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What you Believe

We watched a movie the other night, Jingle Jangle which was fabulous. The common thread throughout the movie was the power of believing. I highly recommend it.

In 2009, I was living in sunny Southern California, a geographical cure to loss and trauma. It was a huge adjustment since it was my first time out of Massachusetts in 50 years.

California was a learning experience for me. Upon my arrival after a jarring, cross country ride, I had an extended Fibromyalgia flareup that put me in the hospital. After recovering from that flareup, I sifted through my interests, and I found music and community. The culture was vastly different from the east coast and I discovered the beauty in cactus and the desert. I learned about the power of the mind and the power of belief.

I became a member of the Center for Spiritual Living, a center with a mission to instill belief and community among its people. Centers for Spiritual Living are nation-wide and based on the teachings of Ernest Holmes’ principles that thought is a physical form created by a Universal Mind or Higher Power which manifests and reflects the belief systems of all living persons.

In other words, what I believe is what I see and experience. I was attending classes once a week in the Center’s offices. On the wall was an abstract pointillism painting as part of the décor. Every week, I stared at that painting while learning about the power of belief.

I was new to California. I was vulnerable. I had survived a deep loss after my wife’s fatal car accident two years before. I had left estranged step-children blaming me for the loss of their mother. I had left my chronically-ill daughter in hopes she would stand on her own two feet and mature. I had left my other healthy daughter, married, working and happy on her life path. I had left to find myself.

I ran from fear, escaping down a side alley away from triggers that controlled my behavior and peace of mind. Fear plagued me. I would play video games on the computer until my eyes drooped and I fell into bed. My goal was to keep my mind busy until I couldn’t stay awake. I was a mess.

I keep thinking about my encounter with this picture week after week in my Ernest Holmes’ classes. It was a picture that made no sense. But it took over my thoughts.

As I gazed at it, I found an image taking form that scared me. It was a monster very similar to the monsters I drew as a child with horns and sharp teeth. I would see it and look away. I never told anyone for fear they would think I was crazy. I’d leave the class and forget about it, until I was reminded the next time I was there when it emerged again. My breath changed as I believed this is the monster in me. This is what is lurking inside that I’ve been fighting against. Maybe I’m possessed! Maybe I really have lost my mind and no one has discovered it yet but me.

Some weeks I would ignore its presence. Other weeks, I was obsessed with the loudness of it and wanted to share it. All the while learning what I believe becomes reality.

I had some mind-bending experiences in that class as the gentle loving teacher challenged my belief systems using role-playing in scenarios that mirrored my belief systems.

In the end, the whole experience opened up my mind to the possibility that I am a good person, that fear plays a role in my life, and that I held a belief system that I was bad and so deserved bad things to happen to me. I learned the power of my mind is there for me to use with knowledge and direction. That if I allow my mind to run amok with fear and shame, I am at its mercy.

Ernest Holmes’ quotes:

“When you want to do a big thing, get the mental pattern, make it perfect, know just what it means, enlarge your thought, keep it to yourself, pass it over to the creative power behind all things, wait and listen, and when the impression comes, follow it with assurance. Don't talk to anyone about it. Never listen to negative talk or pay attention to it and you will succeed where all others fail.”
“Expectancy speeds progress. Therefore, live in a continual state of expectancy. No matter how much good you are experiencing today, expect greater good tomorrow. Expect to meet new friends. Expect to meet new and wonderful experiences. Try this magic of expectancy and you will soon discover a dramatic side to your work which gives full vent to constructive feeling.”
“The mind is a magnet and we attract that with which we identify the self. In order to get the most out of life we must learn consciously to change many of our habitual thought patterns. This is not easy, for our old thought patterns cling to us with great tenacity, but, being thought patterns, they can be reversed. If you are filled with fear, refill yourself with faith, for faith always overcomes fear.”

Participant Reflections:

  • Thank you for the reading. I went on a very long journey with this one. There were a lot of layers. I did a soul collage reading shortly before joining the group today. What spoke to me in the reading were that thoughts I had during breakfast came up in my cards. The power of thinking about an animal, there would be a message from the animal. So I went on this long journey and, in the end, what I focused on was shifting a thought process of “I deserve love”. It felt like a rebirth, like a birthing, a transformation. Thank you.

  • Expectancy is one of my favorite concepts, I love it. It’s what got me out of my grief. It’s knowing that something good is going to happen, you said magical. If it’s in there, then you start seeing it and it starts coming out. Not sure what it is, but being in the unknown and expecting the best without having specific expectations which can lead to disappointment. Thank you for bringing up expectancy again (see blog April 15).

  • I went to the Center for Spiritual Living for years. I learned so much there. I remember the minister talking about if you are in a boat with someone and they are poking holes in your boat, get them out of the boat. He would put two chairs at the front of the room and said if you sit in one chair looking one way and the person sitting next to you is not in support of you, turn your chair and look a different way. It was all about taking care of yourself. I was in a terrible relationship and I believed that the principles he was talking about would help us work through our issues. I didn’t let the fact that she was poking holes in my boat bother me because I believed we could work through it. I finally saw that was impossible and I got out of the boat. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  • Speaking of poking holes in the boat, I am reading Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, author of Sea Biscuit. This is a true story from World War II about two guys shot down over the Pacific. They lasted 47 days on a raft with sharks poking literal holes in it. When their food ran out, it got dire. But their vision became incredibly clear and they kept each other going by thinking about talking about lofty thoughts. It was inspiring.

  • I was confused by the first Ernest Holmes quote, and I wondered why one wouldn’t share a thought with others.

  • My understanding is that we can help ourselves by believing what helps lift us up. And if we share that belief with someone who doesn’t share that belief, then we give away the help we are helping ourselves with.

  • Thank you very much for reminding me of the power of expectancy. I’ve been reading The Art of Meditation, a book by Joel Goldsmith, recommended by Eckhart Tolle. It was written in the 1950s. He talks about the purpose of meditation being to sit in receptivity. To just sit. It can be five minutes; it doesn’t have to be an hour. Five minutes a day, a couple times a day where I just sit in receptivity. A couple of years ago I realized there are different types of meditation. I practiced mindfulness for quite a while, and then I realized this is not the type of mediation I was looking for. I was looking for the other, to just sit in receptivity. I love that, it’s exciting.

  • I wanted to add to that. My experience today—I always start by focusing on my breathing which is the mindfulness approach and it wasn’t working. Then I thought, I need to be relaxed. So I went through a relaxation exercise and I felt the world melt away and I was in a place more receptive. It helped me identify what was coming up the most for me.

  • We all have these ways of going into meditation. I use music as I meditate and I found myself breathing with the music. Sometimes the music bothers me, usually it is helpful. Breathing is great. And what we learned a few weeks ago (see Nov 3 blog) about the Quieting Response—tightening a fist while we breathe in and then relax the fist as we breathe out, it’s a great way to focus on a relaxing technique.

  • Thank you everyone for being here, for listening, for spending time with yourselves in fifteen minutes of silence. It’s very powerful. It’s an accumulating effect that keeps blessing us. I hope you have a gentle, aware, and expectant day.

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