Chapter 1: A Practical Guide To Spirituality

 spirituality

Finding Your Soul At Work, At Home and When You’re Alone! is a practical guide to making spirituality understandable and useful in every aspect of your life. It is intended to be an owner’s manual to understanding yourself - without losing the mystery - a ‘how-to’ book offering a practical guide to spirituality and effective living. It is our interpretation of how human experience is basically ‘wired up’.

There is a divinely inspired, soulful, spirit-based place inside all of us where we are always at peace, safe, secure, clear, strong, gentle and wise. If we are not experiencing those things in our life, it’s not because they are not there. It’s because we’re not where they are!

We have heard no one talk about finding your soul the way we want to talk about it. The vision and experience of spirituality is clear for both of us. The Eight Clues we want to share with you are a result of where we now are in our lives, the sum of our experiences - how we each ‘got here’ and how we have thus far moved through our own suffering.

What we will share in this book is by definition beyond words. So our words are not meant to hand you truth on a silver platter, but rather to point you to a silver platter with which to embrace your own truth. We do not suggest that we have the ‘right’ answers for everyone. However, we have each personally found these spiritual tools profoundly useful and invite you to see if they resonate for you as well.

If they ring true for you, then you - and only you - will find ways to use these Eight Clues as an inspirational and practical guide to improve the quality of every aspect of your life - a happier and more passionate life!

We each wrote this book for ourselves, but for somewhat different reasons. Yet we agree that in our combined 65 years of business experience, consulting and counseling, no one has adequately dealt with spirituality and the emotions of daily living in a way that seems practical.

We invite you to temporarily suspend what might be your normal way of thinking about things and consider what we have to say here. If you are willing to do that, you’ll learn some very practical path­ways to discover or rediscover your spiritual self, to get off autopilot and realize the significance of the choices you make every day.

While it’s human nature to want to know and understand, it seems to us that we have lost the sense of balance between knowing and experiencing or feeling things. Where are people supposed to go to learn why and how we feel the things we do?

We think that what we feel has more to do with the quality of our life than what we know. For instance, what if you finally knew everything and discovered you were still miserable?

Good news! The dynamics and mechanisms of human experience are accessible. This isn’t magic. It’s knowable and learnable. But where are the people and the classes to coach us and help us practice this stuff?

Wayne Dyer states:

“I tried to put together a curriculum in schools to train young people how to be the healthiest human beings they can be. You ask yourself what do you want for your kids? What’s the answer? I want them to be happy! I don’t want them to be neurotic. I want them to be fulfilled; I want them to have a sense of purpose in their lives. And where can they go to learn? Where are the courses on how to avoid feeling guilty, and how not to think anxiously, and how not to worry about what others think of you, how to eliminate approval-seeking all the time, and how to love yourself, and how to live in the present rather than live in the future or in the past?”

We agree.

Actually, there are and have been a fair number of courses around. These are the personal growth seminars and workshops. And there are many religious paths that point to some of the principles we will cover. But none of them really focus on the spirit and mind/body connection in the way that we want to talk about it. They either tend to get stuck in psycho-babble or turn towards religious dogma. It’s our intention to help you learn not just how to be temporarily happy but rather to help you discover where your happiness originates.

We have chosen to write this book because we also feel many of us have forgotten or have never really learned the practical guides to living a happy, healthy and soulful life.

Soul

When we speak of the ‘soul’ we refer to that aspect of our being, in fact, the very essence of our being, which connects us to all of life, each other, the earth and all its creatures and to the Source. We refer to the soul by using many words and phrases such as spirit, inner or higher self, deeper self, the heart, the loving witness within, the uni­versal mind, the big mind. We consider soul to be our access point to the Divine, whatever you consider that to be.

The soul is beyond the realm of the intellect and the mind/body. It is not measurable in the science of physical reality. Soul is bigger than that. In fact, physical reality only exists in the context of the Divine. Through our soul, we all have access to a shared and very real experience of this Source. We may or may not be consciously aware of this ‘connectedness’ but it is nevertheless very real. It is, and we are part of, the Mystery.

Ego

When we speak of the ego we are referring to that part of us that thinks it is us. The value of the ego is that it is the mechanism by which the Source creates the unique and inescapable opportunities for each of us to do the healing work we came here to do. By its very nature it is always based in fear, scarcity and separation. It lives in a fear of loss of the infinite love from which it came. It is in a con­stant state of seeking or trying to hold onto enough love, money, sex, power, control and safety. It feels separate from everything and everybody. It feels it is different, alone and only knows to search for the love it needs out in the world of physical reality. The problem is, of course, that the world of physical reality doesn’t make that love in the size package we need.

The ego is the source of all of our suffering. It creates its own suf­fering by forming attachments to the people, things, circumstances or objects it thinks might deliver the love, safety and connection for which it longs. It forms these attachments by fearful, insecure thoughts. Those thoughts are the source of the feelings that we call our suffering.

The ego is not the enemy or the problem in our lives. It is com­pletely innocent and yet totally misguided in its experience of life. The problem is in those moments of now that we identify with our ego rather than our soul.

Life is a dance between the ‘ego’ and the ‘soul’, which continues every moment of our entire lives, whether we’re aware of it or not. Who ‘leads the dance’ determines the quality of our life, moment to moment.

So how do we nurture our soul, allowing spirit to manage our life? There’s the story about an old Native American tribal chief who, when asked how he would describe his own inner struggles, answered:

“There are two dogs inside me.
One of the dogs is mean and evil.
The other dog is good.
The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.”
When he was asked which one wins, he answered,
“The one I feed the most.”

America seems to have shifted to a ‘left brain’, ego-driven culture. The rational, scientific, logical thought process dominates and leads the charge to manipulate and control everything it can, which leads to chaos and misery. But when soul, rather than ego, manages our lives, the re­sults are always positive and life-enhancing. With a payoff like that, isn’t it worth the effort to make spirituality understandable and therefore, applicable to everyday living? The potential is mind-boggling.

We feel we are all strongly influenced by the ‘corporate world’ in which we live. By corporate world we mean the entire business world, from the front door to the boardroom. We are referring to every person that lives or works in the world of business. And who of us doesn’t? Business in America and most of the rest of the world is a perfect reflection of how each of us lives our life. Therefore, we also think this applies to family, community, politics, religion, education and in our own personal life, especially when we are alone.

Today, so many of us are totally stressed-out. Most of us are obsessed with our jobs and holding on to them. We take the least amount of vacations of any society in the industrialized world. We seem to be in a constant search for more, more, more while worrying about the high cost of living. The demands from others never end. We move from one crisis to another and never have time for what really counts.

For the first time in American history, single people living alone outnumber traditional family households. We communicate with as­sorted electrical gadgets like cell phones, faxes, computers and the Internet instead of face-to-face. Even companies insulate themselves from us by using automated phone systems - efficient but soulless.

The outcome is that many of us have become disengaged, critical, afraid and out-of-touch with our souls. We’ve become isolated from other people and our sense of connection with the world around us.

In the past we could turn to our family, the church, our neigh­bors or our community to provide us with the focus in our day-to-day lives. For numerous reasons, many of us have lost contact with the love and support they can offer.

The most powerful force in our corporate world today is business. It seems to control our lives and has a major voice in how our world is being shaped. So how are we all feeling about how business is being conducted these days?

A Common Experience

Imagine you are a woman in your mid-thirties with two girls in public school, married to a man who is very busy running his own small business. You have some college education and you’ve just been promoted to middle-management. You are now on the fast track. You and your family just moved into a new house in a city away from your relatives and the friends you grew up with. You’re doing the best you can but it never seems to be enough. Recently you’ve noticed you’re often close to tears and you’ve been getting a lot of headaches. You’re drinking too much coffee. You’re feeling agitated, always in a rush. You feel like you have no time for yourself. You’re wondering,

“Is this all there is? Why do I feel so empty, alone and disconnected?”

This person has lost touch with her soul. And we’re here to assure her that finding her soul is simple but it may not necessarily be easy for her to embark on that wonderful inward journey. This book is intended to offer her the tools needed for that journey. The adventure will be worth every moment of her time!

Getting There From Here

The quality of spirituality comes from within the very essence of your being. The answer does not lie ‘out in the world’. There is noth­ing you have to do to get spirituality. Since it is your natural state of being, you access it by learning how to let go of the thoughts that pulled you away from your soul in the first place.

That’s not an easy task! We all have deeply ingrained patterns of thoughts and beliefs that are difficult to release. But we can learn to more frequently cultivate spiritual experience. How? By learning ways to deepen our awareness of the practical wisdom of the Eight Clues, and using them.

Many speakers and authors are proponents of ‘positive thinking’ and their intention is right on target. But many of the theories that could be valuable and which are guaranteed to work, fail to get to the essence of the problem. They don’t explain how to ‘get there’ - to feel positive from the inside.

Phil Mcgraw has written some wonderful and helpful books. If you watch Dr. Phil on television you know one of his favorite expres­sions is,

“What the hell were you thinking?”

Reflect on this: your thinking does indeed determine your ex­perience of life. The problem is not so much about controlling your thoughts but rather how to choose where those thoughts are coming from - your soul (love) or your ego (fear).

If you want your life to have value and meaning, where will you find the answers to your questions? We think the answers lie within the Eight Clues.

The first step is understanding who you are: a spiritual being liv­ing in the physical universe. Second, is discovering the tools and un­derstanding the mechanics that will help you live in this world we’ve created.

The reason to get skilled at connecting with your deeper self is not that you’d be a better person - though it may feel that way. It’s important to be clear on this: there is nothing wrong with who you are at the core of your being. It’s just that who you are at the core of your being is not who most of us get to live with on a daily basis. So, the reason to tap into those ‘core resources’ is simply because every­thing in your life works better in those moments that you live from your spiritual centeredness (soul) rather than from your reactive, off-centered-ness (ego).

You are the one who determines the quality of your life. The intent is to get to a point where awareness of what you’re doing and what you are experiencing helps you make better choices. The blows we all take in this life can guide us to exactly where we have gotten stuck. As you learn to honor the process of awareness and letting life’s blows be your guide, your life becomes more of a soul-nurturing activity.

If you can cultivate that awareness in a few more ‘moments of now’ each day, soon you might be feeling better 30 per cent of the time, then 40 per cent. If you can identify with your soul rather than your reactive self 50 per cent of the time or more, then the stuff that happens the rest of the time, you’ll be able to deal with more easily and with more passion. You will find life more interesting and re­warding when you don’t take yourself or the things around you quite so seriously.

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The two characters in Finding Your Soul At Work At Home, and When You’re Alone! are William, a 37 year-old midlevel manager in a large corporation located in the city. He is struggling with his life. Charmaine is a wise older woman who becomes William’s mentor.

In this story, Charmaine helps William discover the Eight Clues that nobody ever taught him. First she helps William understand the mechanics of how we are ‘wired up’ and then practical ways to ef­fectively use those tools in his daily life. This story is about William’s quest to find his soul.

The Eight Clues

Clue # 1: Suffering is a gift in Disguise.

All suffering, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual is an ex­quisitely designed, divinely inspired and perfectly functioning com­munication system. Suffering is a gift. It is mind, body and spirit working together to tell us something we need to know to help us heal ourselves. Our pain and suffering only exist to serve us. So go toward it. Explore it. Discover what it is there to tell you. Opening your heart to your suffering is the pathway to your freedom from it.

Clue #2: Live Your Life in Each Moment of Now.

Being present and living in the moment is being totally absorbed and involved with all of your senses in the present. It’s not living in the past nor is it imagining the uncertainties of the future. Living in moments of now frees you from judging, comparing, labeling and as­signing credit or blame. Being totally present and living in the moment relieves fear, worry, anxiety and life stress.

Clue #3: Learn to Choose Soul Over Ego, Love Over Fear.

We can learn to choose our soul rather than ego, love over fear, an open heart over a closed one, our ‘big mind’ over our ‘little mind’. Which one you live your life from in each moment is ultimately what determines the quality of your life. The soul is your access point to the Source and all its gifts. The value of the ego is that it is the pre­determined mechanism by which the Source creates the unique and inescapable opportunities for each of us to exercise our free will to do the growing and expanding work we came here to do. Understanding and consciously participating in the dance between the soul and ego and learning to choose between them is the key to living effectively, with pas­sion and wonder.

Clue #4: Practice Loving Yourself.

Loving yourself is embracing who you really are. It is holding your­self with tenderness and mercy. It is having compassion for yourself. It is being patient with all your shortcomings and mistakes as well as with your strengths and successes. Loving yourself opens the possibility to love others. It gives us access to feeling a sense of connectedness with the earth, all the creatures and all of humanity. Loving yourself at this soulful level is not selfish or arrogant. Loving yourself is what happens when the ego allows in the soul’s divine love.

Clue #5: Be Honest With Yourself in All Things.

The power of honesty is that the more you tell the truth to yourself and the world around you, the more you are aligned with your authen­tic self, your soul. Though we are all quite transparent, the reason for telling the truth is not so much for others as for our own benefit. With it comes a feeling of aliveness, authenticity and new life-energy. All honesty begins with honesty with yourself.

Clue #6: Let go of Attachment to Outcome.

Forming attachments is the source of all suffering. When you learn to practice letting go of attachment, you will discover that the sense of peace and joy you seek out in the world actually comes from and through your deeper self. Attachments include our addictions to people, activities, substances and beliefs. Attachment to unchallenged patterns of thinking is an almost universal cause of great suffering.

Clue #7: Forgiveness is a gift that Transforms the giver.

Develop both your inclination and your ability to forgive yourself and others. Unforgiveness is a form of attachment that can cause great suffering. Like spite and revenge, it is a poison that will affect not only your thinking but your body. Learning to forgive can free you from guilt and resentment.

Clue #8: Practice Some Form of Meditation.

Meditation is the single most powerful practice that can help free ourselves from fear and suffering. All suffering comes from the ego forming attachments. All attachments are formed by thoughts. Meditation is the moment-to-moment practice of letting go of the attachments formed by those thoughts. Meditation can take many forms. Find what works best for you. It simply works. We can only do it or not do it. We can’t even do it wrong. Ultimately, the purpose of meditation is to help us identify with our soul rather than with our ego.