There Must Be A Better Way
What’s the point of a spiritual practice if it doesn’t change your life for the better – pronto? Because Transcendental Meditation had brought many positive changes since 1972, I thought that was all I had to do for my life to be transformed. Ha! Blaming others for my lack of fulfillment became more ingrained than ever. I needed to be right.
Then, during meditation in 1989 – a new idea: Perhaps I’m responsible in some way for my problems with my job, my husband, my parents, not to mention my deep sense of unworthiness.
A new chapter slowly opened: I began choosing to see things differently. Who knew I had choice? I revisited my relationships with everyone, especially myself, in the light of forgiveness.
I allowed the hard outer shell I had created as protection to soften a bit.
I was amazed to see that my new vulnerability actually elicited welcoming responses, not attacks.
As is typical during such times of opening, the outer world rearranged itself to support the inner changes. My marriage ended, I moved to my own apartment, a new job began.
Then, in 1992, I spontaneously channeled a higher vision of my life in the form of my first written guidance. I had read Jane Roberts’ “Seth” books, but my channeling process was so different from hers, involving no “taking over” of my personality by a non-physical entity. I later learned that this isn’t necessary.
I started asking for advice from this spiritual guidance, and over the next year I observed great improvements in relationships, at work, and in my most basic assumptions about who I was.
I saw that I was onto something that really worked, as long as I was willing to actually try out the guidance I was receiving.
How Following Guidance Changed Me
What you’ll find below is a brief narrative of my life starting in the year I began to channel spiritual, or intuitive guidance. After each section you’ll find excerpts from guidance I received at the time. (The guidance I channel is longer than these excerpts.)
My changes can be seen as a template for a typical person’s experience of waking up — what I call a Soul Caper. I was alienated from myself; a control freak/people-pleaser with a lot of misdirected, self-righteous anger who, by her thirties, had become increasingly cynical and depressed about life in general. All the Maalox I slugged back couldn’t untie the knots in my stomach.
The good news is that because the rate of change
on this planet continues to increase exponentially,
it will not take you twenty years to experience
the freedom that comes from trusting your own
wisdom, as it did me.
Guidance from the higher realm of Spirit helped me re-examine my motives, find meaning in the worst of times and resolve the issues involved from a higher perspective than I was aware of at the time.
Here I am, minding my own business, when I start having thoughts about waking up. What does that even mean? This is Cleveland, for God’s sake!
Plus, I’m divorced and I forgot to have kids. Being single again feels good. So why am I so shaky about attracting someone new?
Oh, yeah. I’m 43. When did that happen?
Insight as I left my brief, for-all-the-wrong-reasons marriage in 1991: “I sound more like my dad every day. That’s just wrong.”
I vowed to let go of my need to be right.
Now, having read A Course In Miracles, John Bradshaw, etc., I know such things are possible. But where do I start?
In my Shaker Heights apartment one night, writing affirmations, I discover a big clue in the form of channeled guidance.
“Your fear of expressing yourself in a big way comes from restrictions you felt in early childhood. These no longer apply… You restrict yourself daily out of the ingrained belief that you would be ‘bad,’ ‘wrong,’ or rejected for acting out your deepest impulses.
“This is wrong. Your impulses are of the highest creative and healing order and must not be kept inside or you will only continue to be angry and unfulfilled and frightened and sick and a stranger to yourself… Your parents did not mean to restrict you so.”
I am a social worker. In 1993 I start to teach personal growth classes. The old fear of telegraphing “imposter” as I stand there faking it in front of an audience nearly deep-sixes my recurring dream of being a sort of teacher/entertainer hybrid.
Almost, but not quite. The big fear is of being humiliated. It’s a shock to find the class is with me as long as I can laugh at myself. My inner performer is freed!
Hints of purpose and meaning peek out from my heart like little stars. But too often I revert to old, self-negating ways, bruising fragile tendrils of self-love. Exhilaration and frustration leapfrog across my moods.
Why do I still give ego top billing?
I berate myself for not measuring up to Marianne Williamson and Caroline Myss. Comparisons have always paralyzed me. Other times I see great things ahead for me, I feel it!
If I’m on a spiritual path, shouldn’t I be seeing big changes? I go to all the workshops and I read all the books, but my fears still seem to be running the show.
“You are being asked to throw off the shackles, dear one, and that is always a great challenge — perhaps the greatest challenge for a human being, as you are all so accustomed to your nice cozy prison.
“How to step out of this cycle? Stop all the ‘should’-ing. You need only allow whatever is meant to be a part of your life to surface, and follow it. This sounds easy, does it not? And yet it is where most humans fail, for the old ways, even if they are painful or simply boring, hold such magnetic allure. They are who you THINK you are, and that is the error.”
Cleveland may be the wrong place to be who I am in a big way, although to my family this sounds like: “Woman Flees Cleveland, Survives! Film at 11.” With Carolina on my mind, I make a break for the state line in June of 2000. For once I’m running on pure intuitive juice.
Here in Asheville, North Carolina, with its large healing community, I won’t have to channel furtively behind my clients’ backs in order to avoid being labeled “weird.”
Roadblock: channeling isn’t paying the bills and I can’t find a social work job. Clinging to the image of “mental health professional,” I won’t consider anything “less,” and
I can’t hear guidance over the din of worrying thoughts.
Within two years my savings are gone. I lose my apartment, my credit rating, and everything that won’t fit into my Toyota. I’m 53 and I’m homeless. Me! But I feel strangely at peace, because before I am evicted I take the leap (nothing left to lose) and vow to listen, not to the fearful voice of the ego, but to my spirit. Its supportive guidance grounds me.
Five weeks in, friends offer long-term shelter. It’s a space separated from their kitchen by a curtain, and when they open the refrigerator, a curtain-draped rear end pokes into my tiny room. Grateful and humbled, I start to work as a Senior Companion.
Sometimes I wonder what will happen to me, and I feel lost. I am determined to follow Spirit’s lead, though. I recognize there are possibilities my little brain can’t imagine for myself.
I spend less time trying to figure things out.
The armor of professionalism was heavy! Lighter now, I’ve gained an expanded view of who Diane is: an artistically oriented, irreverently reverent spiritual guide and recovering people-pleaser/controller, who at 40 took aim at personal growth and stumbled upon the grace of Spirit.
I walked through a “dark night of the soul” listening only to my inner voice, no matter how crazy it looked to me and others. This took a lot of allowing, especially for a control freak like me.
I emerged more connected to my spirit than the fears of the ego.
I’m more able to allow things to be as they are, regardless of my comfort level. I’ve gained faith in the “inner register,” as novelist Henry Miller called intuition. And I gained that faith from practice, not just belief.
I see this is how it works.
“All your life has been building to this one moment, which is designed to open the door to your soul and your permanent alignment with it. You are being cracked open in order for the true Diane to step into her rightful place in this life.
“Remember that no matter how difficult, how scary things look to you, your outer experience is less real than what you are creating from the inside.
“The old ways must die in order for your new, true life to begin. This is where the stronger souls are separated from the weaker, in terms of their faith in what is greater than the personality — the personality you have identified as Diane until now.
“A total break and nothing less is required from that mis-identification.”
2003 – Present
I see the fingerprints of the sacred all over my life when I can relax into a state of complete forgiveness. Now I can examine my ragged edges up close without the self-punishment behind it that always kept me running in place.
But where oh where is my man? I know he’s here, I feel it. I am urged by a friend to go on Match.com. Who knew I’d be middle-aged Popular Girl in cyberspace?
Six weeks later I meet Jim (now my husband); everything clicks. Except that within a year I find myself choking on an old attitudinal toxin of mine: My Entitlement To Get My Way. Suddenly I “get” that indulging in self-righteous anger doesn’t make me righter — just louder. I thought I’d let go of all that!
It seems relationships are where the rubber of consciousness meets the road.
It’s a steep learning curve, but the power of guidance and The Power of Now bring the summit into view often enough to make the emotional blisters worth it. (Thank you, Eckhart Tolle)
How sweet the realization after all these years that emotional freedom comes down to the same question, every time:
“What’s most important to me in this situation:
a) being right b) being liked or c) aligning myself with the best outcome for the greater good of all concerned?”
The road no longer seems so littered with the messy complications of ego.
“In the coming years Earth will experience increasing chaos. Your center will hold as long as you stay focused on opening the heart MORE whenever you feel LEAST like doing so.
“That will always be your cue: Feeling angry? Open your heart. Feeling misunderstood? Open your heart. Feeling discouraged, frustrated, impatient? OPEN YOUR HEART. For that is when it counts — not when life feels good.”