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Nine years ago, I had the good fortune and privilege to get a hug from Amma.

At a big event in a Los Angeles hotel, people came from across the county – and the world – just to be near her. If you’ve never heard of the Hugging Saint, or never had a chance to be near her, find out more about Amma, here.

If you HAVE received a hug from Amma, well . . . you know.

On this occasion, her helpers and staff “prepped” those of us in line, waiting to go up to receive a hug. I was asked if there was something in particular I wanted Amma to address. I told the attendant I was experiencing a crisis of Faith, and the attendant jotted something down to show Amma.
Then, when it was my turn, I went up on the dais to receive my hug. As she held me close, Amma chanted in my ear a Sanskrit mantra (even as I type this I’m feeling goosebumps, remembering). And what she chanted, her attendant wrote down and translated for me.

I won’t reveal it exactly (it’s just between Amma and me) but essentially, it means, “I trust in and honor my Higher Self.”

Every morning during my 15 minutes of meditation, I focus on that mantra.
For anyone who meditates or has tried, you know the first several minutes are simply about squirming and getting settled!
Once I’m in the groove, any time I catch my monkey brain in action, I return to my mantra. It brings me calm, my breathing evens.
Then, finally, about 30 seconds before the 15-minute alarm goes off, I feel a brief sense of pure peace, during which, just maybe, my Higher Self can get a word in edgewise.
(This tells me that I need to extend my meditation to 20 minutes!)

I trust in my Higher Self – It knows better than I. It is the quiet voice. It is the alignment with resources and perfect timing. It’s like the wise elder who’s been through it all.

For those of us who are spiritual (but not religious) it can be challenging to sort out how Faith actually comes into practice in daily life.
Get in touch for more tools to connect to your Higher Self.

For people who are spiritual (but not religious) it can be challenging to sort out how spiritual belief actually comes into practice in daily life. Since we’re not necessarily members of a church or temple, nor are we strictly following scripture, there are no specific guidelines on what belief looks or feels like. So how does it show up for us each day? As a motivator, as solace, or as comfort.

One way I like to think of God is “Grace On Demand.” And, BOY do we all need grace these days. Grace to move through stress, anger, sadness, or despair. And not only grace toward others, but toward ourselves.

Only through grace and peace and calm can we be divinely guided with the next best step, or ideal response; to hear that quiet voice.

How do we access grace?
Through meditation, through prayer, or simply through breathing. And you have access to all of these practices. You can do any of these things in the moment, wherever you are:

  • Taking deep breaths, in and out, rather than speaking, is an act of grace.
  • Build your “stillness” muscle by starting your morning with 15 minutes of meditation, an act of grace.
  • A moment of prayer for a resolution, is an act of grace.
  • A small gesture of kindness, is an act of grace.
  • Having a go-to mantra to distract your mind when it is racing, is an act of grace. (A personal favorite is “All Is Well” (*Abraham-Hicks).

These are each simple and extremely effective tools to navigate your day, and the way you practice them can be completely of your own device.
But more importantly, when successfully executed, you can actually FEEL that divine connection to your higher self. You can FEEL the essence of grace. To me, this is how I experience God.

And, ultimately, that’s the whole point – is changing how you feel, or improving how you feel. Recognizing that grace and ease are always available, on demand.

What comes to mind when you think of self-reliance? Well, I’ve learned that it doesn’t need to mean suffering alone, or hard work.

In my family there is a strong emphasis and value placed on self-reliance.
When I was a little kid, when other mothers were driving their children to school, my mother worked full-time. That meant I had to get out the door on time to walk the half-mile to the bus stop: rain, snow, or shine.
As a teenager I was thrilled to get my driver license. But before I was allowed to take the car out by myself, Dad made me take a “Powder Puff Mechanics” course (yes, totally car broke down2sexist, but, it was the ’80s).

He wanted me to be able to fix the car and get myself out of a jam if I found myself stranded. I even learned how to change a spark plug in that class. (Admittedly, even if I were now driving the type of car for which you could still change your own spark plugs, I’d be at a loss.)

And my mother taught me how to cook – such thorough lessons that when I prepared my very first Thanksgiving turkey it came out perfectly.
turkeyMy parents gave me a gift – teaching me how to gain the skills to trust in myself, to be able to rely on myself.

In my adulthood, of course I continued that disposition of educating myself, both to be able to rely on myself and for the simple fulfilling joy of feeling accomplished and able, whether it was taking Spanish lessons, learning how to fall when you rollerblade(!), or attending Toastmasters to gain speaking skills.

Later in life, my perspective started to shift.
I started to learn another method of self-reliance. I began to learn about Divine connection, Divine alignment. Over the past 15 years I attended courses and workshops on developing my intuition, learning Reiki and Shamanic techniques, meditation classes, spiritual leadership.
Now I rely much more on mySelf, with a capital ‘S’ – my Higher Self. It has become part of my Faith.higher self

If I were stranded on the side of the road today, I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to fix my car. Aside from having zero mechanical talent, I have no desire to.

That might seem terribly irresponsible to some: not facing reality, impractical, or even downright lazy. But that is not the case (also, how many of us know how to fix a Prius?).

Because I have studied for YEARS my connection with the Divine, I’m quite good at manifesting a positive outcome. Practiced for YEARS. Observed for YEARS. It is almost an art form.

And when I manifest a positive outcome, I am often more exhilarated by the act of having manifested, rather than even the outcome itself.

So, while I will try to avoid being stranded by the side of the road – by taking the practical actions of keeping my car well-maintained, making sure there is a spare in the trunk, paying my AAA membership, etc. – if it did happen, I feel certain that with focused intention (you might call it prayer) I would manifest a positive outcome.

Because, Faith, to me, is not a matter of moral constraint. Rather it is a relationship with the Divine, designed to manifest connections of ease, awe, and Joy.

You have within you this same powerful resource. It is not a crutch; it is actually an amplifier of all the ways you, yourself, are Self-reliant.

self-reliance

This post is dedicated to Breonna Taylor. And to all the Black women who have been brutalized and murdered by those who are supposed to protect and serve.

My service as a nondenominational ceremony officiant takes me all over San Diego County (pre-Covid), working with incredible colleagues, and being inspired by my clients, and deeply moved by the expression of love in all its forms.

What I Know for Sure (to quote Oprah’s trademark phrase) is that Love requires action. At least every week, if not every day, I take action to fight for change in our nation, to tear down our white supremacist system of punishment and move toward creating a community of care. My actions sometimes feel so small and ineffective, but I will keep at them with a sense of purpose, and with the conviction of Love. There is so much that we all can do, every day.

I’ll simply share Oprah’s words:

https://www.oprahmag.com/life/a33460398/oprah-magazine-breonna-taylor-cover-artist-alexis-franklin/

“To continue the fight for Breonna Taylor: 1) Sign the WhiteHouse.gov and Color ofChange petitions to demand justice from officials. 2) Call Kentucky’s attorney general, Louisville’s mayor, and Louisville’s interim police chief to demand the officers involved in Breonna’s death are fired and charged with her killing. Visit UntilFreedom.com for guidance. 3) Donate to the Louisville Community Bail Fund to aid protesters fighting in Breonna’s hometown. 4) Hashtag #SayHerName on social media—so no one forgets her: Breonna Taylor.”

And, a few resources for social and racial justice that I have found helpful:
SURJ – Showing Up for Racial Justice

Gay Marriage White House Lit

It’s 5 years ago today  – June 26 – that the Supreme Court upheld Marriage Equality.

Prior to that, when same-sex marriage finally became legal in California in 2013, my event colleagues and I experienced same-sex couples coming in droves from across the nation, so they could be legally married.

I was thrilled to live and work in a state that recognized these couples, and happy to welcome them and help them live their dreams.

One couple in particular has stayed with me always: two Black women from Texas, with their young daughter.

Of course I suggested a ‘toes-in-the-sand’ beach wedding – an iconic San Diego experience.

They declined and instead requested the ceremony be in a small park near the hotel where they were staying.

I kept pressing them that you couldn’t beat the gorgeous San Diego beaches.
Finally they had to say to me, that they so often have insulting slurs hurled at them as a same-sex couple, that they didn’t want to risk a wedding on the beach – so very public – and the possibility that some passerby could shout a horrid remark, not only on their very special day, but in front of their young daughter.
I felt so naive and heartbroken upon hearing that.

So, when the day came we gathered at the park. Just the two of them with their daughter as flower girl, and found a lovely stranger in the park who agreed to serve as witness.
Their love and caring toward each other made it quite apparent that the surroundings were the least important thing that day. They declared their “I Dos” and could legally call each other “wife” from that day forward.

Oddly, I’m happy that I no longer have an onslaught of same-sex couples from across the nation requesting officiating, because that means they are now able to get legally married in their own home town, surrounded by friends and family.