Today is Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, a time of celebration, a time to hear the shofar, and a time to eat apples dipped in honey. It’s also a day of judgement, a time when one’s name and fate are recorded in the books of account.
I find religions for the masses uncomfortable. I get much more of a spiritual centering from going within. Only I can judge myself and only I can choose my criteria.
In 1968, I started college in New York City, and I had no understanding of how to take care of myself, or how to be happy or at peace. When I faced the question of what path I would take towards finding answers, I chose drinking alcohol as the sure path to happiness, friends, attention, and love. Of course, that path did not help me find any of those things in a lasting way. It took me 22 years to learn that.
In the Twelve Step Program, I learned that acceptance is the key to all my problems. I learned I need to love myself. And I learned a rule to live by: if I am not centered, my job is to get centered. If I am centered, my job is to help others or be creative. Learning that simplified my life a great deal and I’ve practiced it for the last 30 years.
But I needed to find a moral practice for my spiritual centering. There are many I can point to. My favorite are the four agreements of Don Miguel Ruiz. He says so much we do is based on agreements we have made—agreements with ourselves, with other people, with God, with life. But the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. His four agreements are:
Be Impeccable with your word—when I speak, speak the truth, the actual truth, and the emotional truth. If I make a promise, make it good.
Don't take anything personally—people live in fear and pain around me and sometimes lash out; let them, it’s not about me. Don’t take it personally.
Don't make assumptions—if I assume I know why you are doing something, I could be quite wrong. Check things out before I act on my assumptions.
Always do your best—as a child, I was told I was never good enough. Now I know my father was just afraid I wouldn’t succeed in life. Now I know I am good enough and that I am doing my best in whatever I do. Sometimes I wish I was doing better, but instead of judging myself, I am accepting I am doing the best I can. And it is enough.
A Rumi poem
At night, I open the window and
ask the moon to come and
press its face against mine.
Breath into me.
Close the language-door and
open the love-window.
The moon won't use the door,
only the window.
Thank you for sharing your experiences in recovery, It’s so heartening when we get a new lease on life and it’s important for me to find that spiritual connection. This morning, in my meditation, my higher power will uplift me when I am down. This community certainly helps to do that. It’s a solemn time. As for spirituality, when we’ve been brought up in a particular faith, keep what we feel is special and important. And to incorporate our understanding as we grow and develop to make our spiritual connections more meaningful. The other thing I thought of is that my best is good enough. I can identify with that. In my home, it wasn’t just excellence that was expected, it was perfection. It creeped into a lot of things. It’s a real spoiler because I am a human being. I’m never going to be perfect. And when I start saying things like that and judging myself, I have to remember I’m only human. Didn’t hear that growing up. It’s never too late.
Thank you. I focused on the window. What first came to me were windows that meant a lot to me. The window from my childhood that I would look out of as I went to sleep. A window in the house I raised my children. The window that spoke to me was a window in a wall. My neighbor gave me a window. We had the window put in. I still remember standing when the wall came out and the rush of light and air, it was profound. It was such a blessing. During the meditation, what I was feeling, was that the light is there. I sometimes need to open to see it, to feel it, to acknowledge it is there. There is a window there. Thank you.
I knew I had to be here today. I’ve been suffering about judgements. I imprison myself out of fear of other people’s judgements. During the meditation, I pictured the bird—which is me, my free-spirited self—just banging up against a window. That’s tiring and it hurts. But I am in control of the window. I don’t know how to untrain myself except to go within and to trust the divine wisdom within me and to allow that to speak instead of looking out, which doesn’t serve me. And I know that up in my head. I just want to declare I am going to make a concerted effort to stay in the moment and open the window and express myself and not keep banging into the window. And that’s probably an assumption. Thank you.
I want to thank you for sharing the reading and poem. About the imprisonment of judgement. I’ve been looping about an acquaintance who has different political values than mine. I was upset and in tears at one point. I decided I had to leave the spiritual group we were in. I kept looping about her. The imprisonment I am causing myself from other people, I couldn’t get soft about it. My judgements of her and others was imprisoning me and I had to let that go.
During the meditation, I got an image of flowers, there was someone in a flower shop buying flowers for a friend who was dying. And a florist said, “Is your friend sick?” And she was very clear with her answer. She said, “No, my friend is on her natural path.”
Thank you for your reading. I love the four agreements. That window. This group is rich from both the reading and the shares and experiences. I liked the idea of the window. About being on the inside of the window and having it opened and then having the focus on the outside of the window. I got this image of me standing inside a food truck and opening the window and looking out at the world. But what I knew was that inside the food truck were a lot of goodies. And my value, all the things I’ve been seeking are already here. I’ve already been to the store, I’ve stocked up. I just need to take an inventory now, yep, I’ve got so many buns and whatever in there. And I can take that inventory inside the food truck and be on solid ground and know I have something to offer. And I can push that window open and say, “Hello world, here I am.” I’m going to take that visualization with me today. I’m in a food truck for the afternoon.
Abundance. I love taking inventory of my abundance every day.
I love the food truck idea. They aren’t that big, and it could get crowded, but we could all get in there.
What came to me is the word precious. I feel like this group is precious, what everyone says. I’m sensitive to sounds, enjoying sounds and grating sounds. I’m sensitive to people’s voices. Some voices out there cause me to be very uncomfortable. I hear other voices and I feel good. This group—every single voice, what they say, how they sound—is comforting and good. I think it’s because we are all so honest and compassionate. The whole circle.
I feel comfort from being here.
The Shift Network has a four-day summit going on. I attended it and it was amazing, the music, uplifting spiritual messages.
Photo credit: Karen Arnold