A lot of people offer training programs or certification programs, and I offer one myself.
But I don’t think the certification itself matters very much.
It’s similar to belts in martial arts: a lot of people have a very strong desire to get a black belt, for example. But by the time they get there, they realize that the belt itself doesn’t matter so much.
What is important, is doing the work. Having the understanding. Experiencing the teachings and beginning to live it as a practice.
Martial arts is hard: there’s a lot to learn, and practice, and commit to muscle memory. It takes time and dedication to learn it, and you change a lot along the way.
Spiritual work is hard too. It causes you to give up a lot of your life that you had so nicely, neatly organized. It can mean you have to quit relationships, quit jobs, move, absent yourself from friends and family, and change all the parts of yourself that are no longer aligned with the new Self that is emerging.
You can’t put that on a piece of paper.
I offer the certification training, because it gives people a path to follow.
You can go all the way, if you want. And when you do, you’ll find the certification means nothing. It’s the work, the understanding you did on the way to get there.
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There was a time when I worked two or three jobs for years. Back in the day, I had four kids in the house, and my then husband was in law school and couldn’t work much.
We had very little money; it always ran out before the month did. There were groceries and clothes and diapers and daycare. And so I worked: a part time job, and a freelance job, and another freelance job. And we kind of cobbled together survival from these tiny little paychecks.
I felt really proud to support my family. But for those many years, I had no free time, no me time, no downtime, because I was always working. I got up early and did my freelance job, I got the kids to school, went to my regular job, picked up the kids, did the activities-dinner-homework-bath thing, and started it all over again the next day.
Some mornings when I woke up, I felt like crying, because the day was going to be so darn hard: no break, no chance for a slip up, the endless, grueling scheduling of just keeping it together. I know a lot of you have been through this, or maybe you’re in this now.
What I wish I could have understood then, is that I didn’t have to push so hard. I didn’t know how to meditate then, I didn’t know how to have direct connection with the Universe. I didn’t have any kind of spiritual practice.
If I had only slowed down, stopped pushing, and let the Universe show me, I know that something different would have opened up.
It’s just that back then, I didn’t know how to do this.
If you’re in a place where everything feels hopeless, where you wake up and want to cry first thing because it all seems too hard, consider letting go.
Stop pushing. Stop being afraid. Stop trying to control it all. Connect in to the Universe, and see what plans are there for you.
Chances are good, there is another way to live, that is much more enjoyable than how you are living now.
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I sometimes read Calvin Corelli, who blogs about coding and being an artist and being yourself. I like him because he’s super bright and got a very Scandinavian-goes-to-New-York point of view.
Recently, he wrote about how he kicked his smoking habit, which had been a pack a day for many years.
And he wrote about the idea of how we have to love our habits, and ourselves in our habits. That’s the only way to let go of our vices.
This makes perfect sense to me: we need to love the part of our Self who wants to eat ice cream, or drink wine, or stay up way too late watching Netflix, or skip the gym/yoga/run, or use drugs, or smoke. We need to love the part of our self who doesn’t show up fully present, who is withdrawn from connection, or sarcastic to others, or who has anxiety or anger or who simply can’t deal.
These are parts of our Self that are intricately wrapped and woven in our being. We can’t just shed those parts, and be left with our high and holy Self. We’re all of it: the good, the bad, the all of it.
Even if you stop smoking, drinking, eating junk food, doing drugs or whatever it is that you consider your “vice,” that part of you that wants that release, that self-medication, doesn’t go away.
Instead of fighting a vice, you might try something different: start to inhabit that part of you that is more grounded, more adult, more disciplined, more clear, and start to live there more often.
You will find that the weaker, lay-around-eating-chips self, soon takes second position. It’s still there, but you’re not interested in listening to it.
You still love this part of yourself, because it was invaluable in showing you how much pain you were in. But you relegate it to the place of a child, your immature Self. You love it. But you don’t let it lead you anymore.
Try this out, if you’re trying to get through an addiction or bad habit. It’s a process to be sure, and you may not see change overnight. But over time, you will.
You can love your whole Self. But you don’t have to let your immature Self be in charge.
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Sometimes old people surprise you.
I recently met a man who didn’t seem very important; he was small, and thin, and dressed very simply. And yet, the energy was bursting out of him. It was his sense of presence.
He started telling me about himself, and at first it was hard to understand what he was talking about; he wasn’t speaking clearly, and he was rambling in a round-about way. I listened patiently, because a lot of times people have trouble understanding what I’m talking about too.
I realized he was telling me the story of his life, starting at the beginning. And what a story! Of Japanese descent, he’d been born and raised on a potato farm in Idaho. His strongest memory was of his mother telling him he needed to go to college.
He had no education, no experience, no money, no support. Plus he was Japanese which, at that time, was very difficult to be in the US. Back then, property was taken away. Japanese people had to live in internment camps.
For this man, the path was beyond challenging, and yet he continued. He went to college. Then he went to more college. Then he went to more. He ended up going from potato farmer to a Ph.D. in chemistry, and was professor for many years at a respected University.
This man didn’t show up to life with burning ambition, with goals, with manifestations and plans… society was too stacked against him for that. He just showed up, fully present, and let the Universe show him his path, one step at a time.
If you’re not sure you know your destiny, why not just let it unfold? Allow yourself to accept the reality that the biggest, best experiences can happen to you. Then get out of your own way, and let the Universe lead you.
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In Sanskrit, “sadhana” means spiritual practice.
If you were raised in a western religion as a child, then your religious affiliation was your (or your parent’s) spiritual practice. But if you’re like 70% of all Americans, you’ve left the religion of your parents, and are now practicing what most people call a belief system of their own.
Thus, your sadhana, your spiritual practice, if you are not affiliated with a particular religion or spiritual program, is likely a sadhana of your own making.
So, what are the elements of your spiritual practice?
For me, the meditation, the prayer, and the importance of ritual that were part of my early Christian and then Catholic upbringing, are all part of my personal sadhana, my personal spiritual practice now.
I have left behind, as have most of you, the rules, the restrictions, the guilt, the punishment, the sin of the old religions. Those don’t make sense to me now. My sadhana now is, as Matthew Fox writes, about turning original sin into original blessing.
Think about what your spiritual practice is. If you’re not sure if you have one yet, think about if you’d like to create one.
Some ways to do it are to connect to the Divine frequently, in all the ways that are meaningful to you. Celebrate with ritual. Work on your expansion as soul.
Walk in the mystery.
There are some ideas that work for a lot of people, as we create sadhana in a new way, for a new world.
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“Satsang” is a Sanskirt word that means for gathering together for spiritual discourse or for “being with the truth.”
It is an ancient idea that we must sit in satsang, in person, together. But this idea was created centuries ago, before there was electricity, much less computers.
From what we know about energy, it’s clear that you can be in satsang, whether you are in the room with others, or whether you are using technology to create the connection.
As souls, we can move and connect beyond matter and beyond time. We don’t need to be in physical proximity to have connection as One.
In ancient times, they could not imagine the world as it is now. They could not imagine cell phones, or texting, or teleseminars, or Snap Chat, or Skype, or any of the ways we connect in person, by visual and by audio, in real time.
When we are in satsang now, we can be anywhere in the world. We can be One together, learning, and growing, wherever we are connecting fully, to the energy of the moment and to the group holding the energy.
Satsang is no longer limited to in-person sitting. That is one way, and it’s a beautiful way.
But the world has changed, and now there are other ways that we can connect with each other, each of us bringing our experiences and our understanding from wherever we come from.
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Sara blogs weekly on spirituality and intuition!. Get Divine inspiration direct to your inbox, plus instantly download the FREE ebook, "What are Your Unique Psychic Gifts?"