“When the heart is ready for a fresh beginning, unforeseen things can emerge. And in a sense, this is exactly what a beginning does. It is an opening for surprises. Surrounding the intention and the act of beginning, there are always exciting possibilities. Such beginnings have their own mind, and they invite and unveil new gifts and arrivals in one’s life. Beginnings are new horizons that want to be seen; they are not regressions or repetitions. Somehow they win clearance and become fiercely free of the grip of the past. What is the new horizon in you that wants to be seen?” -John O’Donohue
I was raised in a home where we faithfully attended a Baptist church. As a child, I spent many Sunday afternoons sitting on an uncomfortable wooden church pew, while listening to sermons about the strong possibility of me going to hell. At 12 years-old I even had a traditional water baptism. However, despite this religious background in place, at some point during the trying times of my adult life I moved away from faith into fear and scarcity. I can recall having made some major decisions rooted in fear, poverty mentality and heavily disguised self-doubt, and because of this I did not always honor what was in my heart.
The more I let fear take the lead in how to direct my life, the closer I moved toward crisis.
After years of prolonged financial problems, I had to accept that I could no longer dismiss the repetition of these problems in my life. The crises in my life eventually served as catalysts for me to understand I needed to make different choices to engage higher perspectives. In reading self-help and personal growth books, I began to understand when there is a reoccurring problem, such as the financial hardship we experienced, the underlying higher messages want to be revealed. They will make a continuous unyielding effort to get our attention through repeated states of crisis. The opportunity that lies within perpetual crisis is, you have to be willing to look closely and identify the underlying patterns and message in what is happening around you.
The prolonged crisis, along with the hundreds of books I read and uplifting talks and workshops I attended, encouraged me to be still and be quiet in order to allow the deeper messages to make themselves known. It was from this humble beginning that I actively began to participate in my personal unfoldment by means of what would become my saving grace, going within and seeking clarity through meditation and prayer.
Throughout the turmoil, it wasn’t easy. With continual highs and lows, I grew tired of listening to myself constantly whine and complain. Although I was scared and wanted answers, I didn’t want to continue to discuss our situation with family and friends. With no money to pay for therapy or counseling, it seemed the only place left for me to go was within.
So I did.
During my meditations, in addition to periods of silence after prayer, I began to ask questions to solicit clarity and guidance into my awareness. The more I posed questions during a meditative state, I began to notice answers would indeed come into my awareness. However, as soon as the meditation session was over, I would forget what guidance came into my awareness. The only way to remember would be for me to write it down. It was at that time I decided to bring a large pad and pen to my meditation and prayer sessions. At the start of the meditation, I would first pray. I then would move into a period of sustained silence. After getting comfortable in twenty minutes of complete silence, I was much more relaxed and whatever thoughts that continued to try to hover would begin fade.
With my eyes still closed I would then say the following:
“I call upon my Higher Self to join me in my meditation. During this meditation, I ask that you protect me from any and all vibrations, energies, frequencies and communications in all directions of time past, present and future that are not of love, light and the highest good. Please let this communication be clear. Let the answers be communicated to me in a way that is easy for me to understand. Please let me feel your loving energy when you are ready to begin. I thank you in advance for your presence.”
For more than one year, I sat down in a meditative state and asked questions to help me mentally and emotionally navigate the difficult and uncertain times I faced. The guidance I recorded helped me to move through some of the most difficult and unsettling times with comforting reassurance that I was deeply loved, there was no need to be afraid and that I was not alone. The guidance I received, however, were not the answers I wanted. My posed questions and concerns were continual attempts to address the immediate unfavorable conditions that surrounded me. The guidance during my meditation, however, provided the larger context of what was happening in my life and the higher messages that sought to make themselves known.
So many times prior to understanding, when I felt anxiety surrounding the outcome of a situation, I utilized my spiritual practice for a “save me please” answer. I wanted someone, something, anything to tell me what to do, to whom I should speak and what I should say. For a long period of time, I wanted to be rescued. I didn’t want to do the “heavy lifting” of really looking at what was underneath. In the beginning, when I began to ask for guidance those times were no different. I didn’t want anything vague. I wanted the final answer in the form of a deeply fulfilling (and immediate) job. However, that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
One aspect that is important to understand is that for years fear dominated my responses, my choices, my reactions, my conversation, and movement throughout my life. I was consistently afraid that some event would occur that we would not be able to financially handle. And eventually it did. For a prolonged period of time we could not afford to live anywhere. We could not pay our bills, and it was an unyielding struggle which took a toll on every aspect of our life. Before establishing a consistent meditation practice, I constantly felt threatened by a looming financial disaster. My nerves “lived” in fight-or-flight mode from the endless anxiety I created.
In the midst of this silent struggle, I turned within to make it through each day.
I knew that I could either continue to do things as I always have, or take a chance of actually trusting my intuition and absorbing what the moment was trying to teach me.
Life is not always linear, pretty and clear.
Sometimes you have to step outside of the box, especially when you realize you’re being pulled out of the box. With this in mind, I continued to meditate. Meditation grew to become the most practical, accessible and effective way I found to calm myself of the anxiety-ridden thoughts that propelled me.
Let’s be clear, meditation did not immediately remove any situation from my life. That’s not what it does. Although mediation can be a powerful tool for personal growth, it is not a quick fix. What it did was help me to establish and strengthen my practice of meditation and prayer, as a way to move through the conundrum of situational difficulties with greater ease, trust and a sense of growing empowerment. Considering there were deeply held unconscious beliefs that unknowingly contributing to the problems in my life, meditation helped me to bring these unconscious beliefs to the surface to be consciously addressed and released.
Here are the three levels of the mind that influence our lives:
The conscious mind is everything you are aware of and thinking about. It includes sensations, perceptions, memories, feeling and fantasies inside of our current awareness.
The subconscious mind consists of accessible information you can become aware once your direct your attention to it; memory recall.
The unconscious mind is a reservoir of unconscious beliefs, patterns, and subjective maps of reality that automatically reacts to situations according to its stored behavior. It includes feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that are outside of our conscious awareness where information is hidden and stored. Most of these contents are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict.
Within each of us there is also a higher part that goes beyond our conscious awareness. This Higher Self always has access to and communicates with a higher, more expansive and intelligent Divine Consciousness that some refer to as God, the I AM Presence or something else. The Higher Self is the highest expression of your individual connection with the Divine Consciousness. It is greater than our conscious everyday self. It is part of you, yet more than you. It is in and of itself a part of the Divine Consciousness. Within the practice of quieting the mind and connecting with our Higher Self, we can access unconscious information from the highest part of ourselves that is out of our conscious awareness.
Meditation is the “doorway” through which I was able to quiet my mind and access unconscious information from my Higher Self. Through meditation, higher information can be brought into our conscious awareness to identify the best course of action towards the highest outcome.