Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2011 New Year's Eve Manifestation Ceremony

Spend this New Year's Eve in sacred ceremony. What better way to start out the new year than with your community in a circle of divinity. Come and place your intentions for the coming year into sacred space. There will be all kinds of surprises and powerfully fun activities in store for you to empower your intentions, connect with Spirit, with each other and the earth. We'll be doing something called Future Recall....a technique to call your future to you, setting up your vision and working from the end back.

Please dress in your favorite color appropriately for sacred ceremony of this magnitude. This is YOUR LIFE - Let's Celebrate it!

Facilitated by Rev. Renee Bledsoe
Where: Church of Spiritual Light, 1939 Park Meadows Dr. #1, Fort Myers, FL 33907
RSVP: 239-560-6314
Cost: $25

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Preparing the new Temple of the Soul

 You are perfect exactly the way you are.
You've never needed to be anything more than who you are.
No matter what has happened in your life, you could not have done anything differently.
You are a blessing in this world.

The Body - Temple of God
Based on Edgar Cayce's Readings
by John Van Auken

St. Paul asked in 1 Corinthians: “Don’t you know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” and “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God?” In 2 Corinthians he comes right out and says it plainly: “We are a temple of the living God; even as God said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’”

The disciple John hints at this when he recounts in his gospel an event when Jesus was in the great temple in Jerusalem and was asked to show the people a sign. “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The people at the temple said, ‘Forty-six years was this temple in building, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he spoke of the temple of his body.”

From Edgar Cayce’s attunement to the Universal Consciousness, he too saw and taught that our bodies are more than physical vehicles for living in this world. Here are five brief excerpts:

“Know that your body is the temple of the living God; there you may seek communion. There you may seek counsel as to the choices to be made, the directions to be taken.”

“He has promised. ‘If you will but open the door of your consciousness, of your heart, I will enter and abide with you.’ This is not a fancy; this is not hearsay. You may experience such. For it is the law, it is the way, it is LIFE itself!”

“Seek and you shall find. Not without but from within. For in thine own temple He has promised to meet you.”

“All that you may learn of the Father God is already within self. For your body is indeed the temple of the living God, and as you meet Him there you may gain in your own consciousness the satisfaction of walking and talking with Him. When these consciousnesses are yours and you are one with Him, then indeed may you see that the kingdom of heaven dwells within.”

“This is a promise to you, to each soul; yet each soul must of itself find that answer within self. For indeed the body is the temple of the living God. There He has promised to meet you; there He does. And as your body, your mind, your soul is attuned to that divine that answers within, so may you indeed be quickened to know His purpose; and you may fill that purpose for which you entered this experience.”

Years ago, when I first read these teachings, I would sit quietly and go within my temple. With my physical eyes closed, I would scan inside my head with my mind’s eye, looking for God. I would begin conversations, and then sit silently, listening for a response. In those early days it was like sitting in a dark, empty room by myself. There was nothing in here but me. If I began to perceive a response, I would not know if it were some aspect of me or truly God speaking. Now, thirty-some years later, I cannot close my eyes without feeling the nearness of a vast inner universe of life, information, creativity, and God. In preparing to write this article I spent some time recalling how I went from sitting by myself to awakening to the heavens within. It is true that if one seeks, one will find; it’s a matter of seeking long enough. And it was a long journey, with some side trips that led nowhere. But, through it all, there was a thread that I can now see in hindsight. There were spontaneous moments of enlightenment, of direct contact with God, and of knowing the truth. Sustaining those proved more difficult than expected because outer life was more integral to inner growth than expected. If I stopped living the fruits of the spirit in the outer life, the inner life dried up. But the inner life is the ultimate, eternal life, and it is only lived by going within the temple of the body and awakening to it.

There are two excellent ways to enter the temple within: deep sleep and deep meditation. A good biblical example of deep sleep producing a vision of the life within would be Jacob’s dream of the ladder to and from heaven. You’ll recall that upon waking from deep sleep, he said, “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate to heaven.” The place of deep sleep and illuminating dreams is indeed the house of God and the gate to heaven. A good biblical example of deep meditation producing a vision of the life within would be John’s description of how The Revelation began. John tells us that he “was in the spirit [in deep meditation, caught up in the spirit] on the Lord’s day and I heard and saw and was told to write.” In this issue, let’s explore how the body, the temple, is arranged for spiritual activity.

I am often asked to describe what it feels like to open centers and raise energy, and to be in the presence of God. The Ineffable is just that, ineffable. Even God ordered Old Testament seekers to make no images or utter any name for Him. Additionally, I’ve found that people are quite unique in their wiring and perception. Some are more visual. Others are auditory. And some are tactile or kinesthetic, feeling more than perceiving. Some are conceptual; they know. Frankly, I could find no difference in the profoundness of their spiritual experiences. For me, it began with feeling the Presence and the energy, then developed into knowing, and eventually became visual. But I have a friend who began seeing before he could feel. I recommend that you seek and practice and allow yourself to discover it as it comes to you. You must have some faith that it is there and in the beginning you’ll need to be inspired (that helps lift you into the Spirit).

Many of the body’s major systems may be used for both physical and spiritual activity. For example, the seven major endocrine glands that secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream to keep the body running optimally are also a physical portion of the seven spiritual centers or chakras that can affect major changes in our vibrations and consciousness. The central nervous system, so vital to living in the three-dimensional world, is also a portion of the kundalini pathway that can raise our vibrations and help us perceive beyond three dimensions.

Much of this was known in the sacred and often secret temple schools of ancient cultures around the world. For example, the staff carried by the god Mercury (also known as Hermes by the Greeks, Thoth by the Egyptians, and Enoch by the Hebrews, and who Cayce said was an incarnation of “the Word”) remains today as the emblem of modern medicine (the caduceus). But few really know its intended meaning. It is an excellent emblem for physical healing, but it also contains the metaphysical structure of the body for spiritual flight, flight with the messenger of the gods, Mercury, into the heavens and the presence of the Most High God.

An important but often forgotten teaching in several ancient temple schools dealt with the movement of the life force in the body. It was taught that when the life force flows downward and outward through the body’s structures, one becomes fully incarnate and conscious in this world; when the life force flows inward and upward through these same structures, then one moves beyond this reality and becomes conscious of the heavens. If both flows are made to circulate the life force, then integration occurs, and the person becomes whole, both human and divine. Cayce and other sources teach that this is accomplished by using the breath. The Taoist teacher Liu Hua-yang wrote: “There is a turn upward toward Heaven when the breath is drawn in. When the breath flows out, energy is directed towards the Earth. In two intervals one gathers Sacred Energy.”

Edgar Cayce’s readings affirm these energy flows and encourage us to work at entering the temple within and raising the life force in order to draw closer to God and receive His/Her counsel and comfort, and ultimately to become one with God. In the process, we are to channel that light and love into this world, into our lives and the lives of those we interact with each day. This, according to many spiritual teachers and schools, is the primary lesson to be learned in this incarnation: know and love God completely and channel that light and love into this life’s daily opportunities with others. Entering the temple, raising the energy, enlivening the spiritual centers, and uniting with God are not necessary to living a spiritual, loving life. But, if one wants to experience the whole of God consciousness and eternal life, then one needs to raise the body’s vibrations and experience higher states of consciousness. Moses could not ascend the mountain and meet God face to face until he first gave water to the seven maidens and raised the serpent off the desert floor -- symbolic of enlivening the seven spiritual centers and raising the kundalini energy.

Let’s explore the body’s secret structure and some of the techniques for finding God within us and channeling the light and love into our lives.

The concept of spiritual centers can be found in the art of antiquity, from glowing globes on people’s heads in Egyptian art to third eyes on the bodies (even on the palms of hands) in classical Asian art.

The first formal mention of spiritual structures, including energy centers and pathways, appears in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, c. 300 B.C. He reveals six centers and an ultimate luminescence that occurs around the top of the head. These centers are depicted in two ways: as chakras (literally, “spinning wheels”) and as padmes (literally, “lotuses”). Therefore, one may understand that the spiritual centers are both energy vortexes that generate movement as they are stimulated (as a spinning wheel) and enlightenment complexes that unfold as they grow (as an opening lotus). Cayce correlated these centers with the endocrine glandular system in the body. He also said that there are twelve (1861-11), but seven are of importance here. Whenever we find seven people, places, or things in a classical story, we may correlate them with the seven spiritual centers. Cayce’s most famous example of this is in his interpretation of the Book of the Revelation. He correlates the seven churches, seals, vials, and plagues to the cleansing and opening of the seven spiritual centers within a seeker’s physical body (for more on this, see my book Edgar Cayce on the Revelation). Hugh Lynn Cayce had a fascinating presentation on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as a tale of spiritual awakening.

Patanjali also identifies three pathways in the body. Two are an interwoven double helix called ida and pingala, often represented by double serpents (as in the caduceus). The third is a single path, the sushumna, beginning in the lower pelvic area and traveling directly up the body to the top of the head. 

Many modern books and teachers list the crown as the highest and the third eye as sixth, but Cayce instructs us otherwise, as do many of the more classical texts and images. For example, in ancient Hinduism the kundalini pathway is symbolized by a cobra in the striking position, not straight up. In mystical Egyptian and Mayan art it is a winged serpent in the striking position. In Hebrew and Christian mysticism it is the shape of the shepherd’s staff. The energy flows along a path that is like a question mark (?), not like an exclamation mark (!). Cayce says it flows up the body to the base of the brain, then over to the center of the brain and the crown of the head, and then on to the forehead and the great frontal lobe of the brain and the third eye.

Cayce states that the navel and the crown centers have a powerful magnetism between them. He says that the crown is always ready to illuminate and elevate, but that individuals must open the navel center before they can begin to transcend and transform. He calls the navel center the “closed door” and the crown the “open door.” Some Eastern texts call them the “lower gate” and the “jade gate.” Reconnecting these two centers is key to restoring our connection to the divine within. Here are three Cayce excerpts on this:

“This was from the flow of emotion from the kundaline center or the Lyden (Leydig) gland, to the ones in the center [pineal] and frontal portion of the head [pituitary]. This is nothing to be fearful of, but keep the emotions better balanced.”

“Second sight, or the super-activity of the third eye may come whenever there is the opening of the lyden (Leydig) center and the kundaline forces from same to the pineal.”

“We find that there has been the opening of the Lyden (Leydig) gland, so that the kundaline forces move along the spine to the various centers that open with this attitude and these activities of the mental and spiritual forces of the body.”

He teaches us to prepare to raise the spiritual forces in the body by setting and feeling a powerful, fully-penetrating ideal of God’s will, rather than our will, and to feel God’s direction throughout the whole of our being as we open the centers and raise the energy. As he said in an earlier reading, “There is nothing to be fearful of, but keep the emotions better balanced.” So many people that I’ve talked with over the years of teaching meditation have expressed their fear of raising the kundalini and opening their spiritual centers. The teaching is: don’t raise and open by yourself! That is rightly fearful. But do get in there and attune self to God’s presence and then, in His/Her presence, open and allow the spiritual forces to flow. Here’s a wonderful reading on this:

“Indeed it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Yet, they that love His coming, they that walk in the cool of the evening, in the shadow of His precepts, shall be awakened to the great truth....”

Are there dangers? Yes. But most of them are before us always. As Cayce points out: “Yourself is your greatest weakness, as yourself is your greatest strength.” If we seek to become fully conscious of God and one with God, then we have to get to work on cleansing, raising, and living the love and light that is God and on with controlling our willful, self-seeking desires. “With the opening of yourself to the vibrations, the emanations, you may be tempted by the desires of the flesh; yes, of the spirit of untruth. But hold fast to that light which is your assurance of His presence with you!”

After imbuing ourselves with the ideal of “God’s will be done,” Cayce instructs us to get our bodies in order: properly assimilating nutrients needed to maintain high levels of life and eliminating wastes and toxins that build up in the system. He also directs us to exercise, even if it is just walking a mile after dinner, and to get massages and adjustments to keep the fluids and electrical energies flowing smoothly through the whole of our system. He specifically identifies three points along our spines through which there is the activity of “the kundalini forces that act as suggestions to the spiritual forces for distribution through the seven centers of the body.” They are among the vertebrae and ganglia of the spine: 3rd cervical, 9th thoracic, and 4th lumbar. These need to be kept limber, open, and flowing. Get them massaged and adjusted, and do daily exercises to keep them fluid.

So important is the body’s condition that in some cases he actually recommended not practicing deep meditation until the body’s health improved. There are many other activities one can do in preparation for entering into the temple and meeting God. Each of us should study and research them on our own and select what works for us.

Not only Adam and Eve fell in the Garden, the serpent fell also. And, as Moses raised the serpent in the desert, so must we all raise the serpent power within ourselves in order to receive the presence and the power of God, the Omnipotent, within our temples, our bodies. One of the most primary practices for doing this is kundalini meditation.

Like the Magic Silence method, this method will use words, breath and spaces of silence, but in more powerful ways. Since there is more power involved, there are more warnings in the readings about using this method without proper preparation and self-examination.

“But make haste SLOWLY! Prepare the body, prepare the mind, before ye attempt to loosen it in such measures or manners that it may be taken hold upon by those influences which constantly seek expressions of self rather than of a living, constructive influence of a CRUCIFIED Savior. Then, crucify desire in self; that ye may be awakened to the real abilities of helpfulness that lie within thy grasp. ...without preparation, desires of EVERY nature may become so accentuated as to destroy....” Therefore, let’s examine our purposes, searching our hearts for our true passion. Is it cooperation and coordination with God, or are we still longing to gratify some lingering desires of our own self interests?

The Taoist meditators of The Secret of the Golden Flower talk about the right method being like one wing of a bird, the other wing being the right heart. A wise seeker must remember, the bird cannot fly with only one wing. All seekers must have the right method and the right heart.

The Ideal

The right-heart concept leads us naturally to the readings’ teaching that an ideal should be raised as we seek to awaken the life force. What is our ideal? To whom or what do we look for examples of better behavior, better choices, better uses for our energies, better relating skills with others? What standard guides us in conceiving our better selves? Who is the author of our “Book of Life”? Is it the circumstances of life? Is it our self-interests?

These are important questions from the perspective of the Cayce readings, questions that should be considered before going on with the powerful kundalini forces aroused in this method of meditation. As the readings say, we can build a Frankenstein or a god using basically the same meditative method. It all depends on the ideal held as the practice progresses.

FIND that which is to YOURSELF the more certain way to your consciousness of PURIFYING body and mind, before ye attempt to enter into the meditation as to raise the image of that through which ye are seeking to know the will or the activity of the Creative Forces; for ye are RAISING in meditation actual CREATION taking place within the inner self!

The readings would advise anyone who feels unable to “set the carnal aside” and attune to a high ideal for the period of meditation to not meditate -- and instead to pray. If the pray then changes you and you feel that you can set the carnal forces aside, you may enter into meditation. Otherwise, stay away from it. Meditation gives power to whatever is in the consciousness and desires of the person. Make sure these are pure and of the highest.

Jesus Christ

Kundalini meditation is certainly an Eastern concept and method of meditation, but the Christ Spirit can help one awaken these powerful forces carefully and in accord with God's will and way. The Edgar Cayce readings present Jesus Christ as not only a high ideal but as a powerful force of protection for anyone seeking to loosen their life force, to open the bio-spiritual seals, and enter into the presence of God. Christ is presented as an advocate for us before the Godhead. To call on this protection and guidance is to call on the greatest resource available. However, the readings do not put the religion that formed around Jesus Christ above other religions. The readings are too universal for that. Seekers from any religious faith can use the power of Christ in their meditative practice and still remain loyal to their religion. Here’s an example of this perspective, from reading 281-13:

If there has been set the mark (mark meaning here the image that is raised by the individual in its imaginative and impulse force) such that it takes the form of the ideal the individual is holding as its standard to be raised to, ...then the individual (or the image) bears the mark of the Lamb, or the Christ, or the Holy One, or the Son, or any of the names we may have given to that which enables the individual to enter THROUGH IT into the very presence of that which is the creative force from within itself -- see?...

Raising then in the inner self that image of the Christ, love of God-Consciousness, is making the body so cleansed as to be barred against all powers that would in any manner hinder.

Notice how “Christ” is given as equivalent to the “love of God-Consciousness.” Seekers from any religion may have love of God-Consciousness. Christ in this perspective is more universal than the religion that possesses that name. Notice also how “love of God-Consciousness” cleanses us of self-interests that may hinder or harm us.

However, there is much more to this reading than ecumenism and protection. Cayce is giving us a great insight into just how a meditator may be transported from a good meditative stillness into the very presence of the Creative Force, God -- with all the ramifications of such an experience. If in our imaginative forces we can conceive or form the ideal (the standard) to which we seek to be raised, then we (as the Revelation states) bear the mark or the sign of that power (whatever name we give it) that enables us to enter through it into the very presence of God within us, the Creative Force within us. Despite the power of some of the other techniques in this form of meditation, imaging the ideal is seminal to transformation. Reading 1458-1 points out our only limitation: “The entity is only limited to that it sets as its ideal.” We are “gods in the making” if we can conceive ourselves to be such -- in cooperation and coordination with the Great God.

The Kundalini and Eternal Life

As we have seen, the readings interweave Judaeo-Christian teachings found throughout the Old and New Testaments, but particularly in the book of The Revelation, with concepts and practices from ancient Hinduism and Yoga. The fundamental concepts are these: The kundalini is metaphorically seen as the great serpent power fallen from its original place of honor. As Adam and Eve fell from grace in the Garden, so did the serpent. But as Moses raised the serpent in the desert and Jesus raised it to life everlasting, so each of us must raise our serpent power to its rightful, original place of honor. Kundalini meditation is intended to do just that.

This kundalini or life force is within the human body, the temple. Normally it is used in ways that dissipate it, eventually leading to aging and death of the body. All people are allowed to use their life force as they choose (at least within the parameters of their karma). Whether they dissipate it consciously or unconsciously makes no difference. When it’s gone, it’s gone. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As the readings put it, “...if there will be gained that consciousness, there need not be ever the necessity of a physical organism aging ... seeing this, feeling this, knowing this, ye will find that not only does the body become revivified, but by the creating in every atom of its being the knowledge of the activity of this Creative Force ... spirit, mind, body [are] renewed.”

The “elan vital” of the Western world and the “kundalini” of the Eastern world follows natural laws, and can be made to flow in rejuvenative ways which enhance and extend the life. This is not only possible with kundalini meditation, but it is a valuable goal to pursue. Here’s one reading’s statement on this: “How is the way shown by the Master? What is the promise in Him? The last to be overcome is death. Death of what? The soul cannot die, for it is of God. The body may be revivified, rejuvenated. And it is to that end it may, the body, transcend the earth and its influence.” This meditation practice works directly with the forces of life.

Prayer Words

Now let’s look at the mechanics of this method. Assuming that our ideals, purposes and hearts are in the right place, that we have crucified our selfish desires, conceived of our ideal, and drawn on the power and protection of the Christ, “love of God-Consciousness” -- let’s begin with prayer-words for the seven chakras. These words vary with different practices, but the Cayce readings teach that one reason the Master created the Lord’s Prayer was for this purpose. The readings give a slightly different version of the prayer, which we’ll use. The readings are also comfortable with the feminine aspect of the Godhead as well as the masculine, so let’s also use this. As you say the prayer, feel the meaning of the words as your consciousness is directed to the location of the chakra.

To fully realize the power of this prayer, one must understand that it is intended to call forth the highest in each chakra. Just as we felt the words “stillness” and “God” in the earlier affirmation/mantra, so now we must feel or imagine the change brought on by these words and their meanings. Take your time. Consider this as part of the meditation period.

The order of the chakra prayer is significant in that it attempts to awaken the higher chakras before awakening the lower ones. This is the best approach. Awakening the first chakra before the seventh and sixth is like opening the serpent basket without the charm of the flute. The serpent is loose to its own interests, rather than under the charm of the higher music. Keep a higher ideal, a higher purpose, a right heart, and the consciousness focused predominantly on the higher centers. Draw the kundalini upward.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Holiday Dance Party 2010

Join us for an evening of holiday celebration, food and fun. Bring your dancing shoes and get ready to party hearty. Also bring your favorite dish to share. Come together to be with one another, in your sacred space, with your tribal community in brotherhood and sisterhood. We must retrain ourselves and reframe not only our own, but the cosmic shift out of suffering and into our natural state of wellbeing, abundance and joy. Let's end the year by bringing in more JOY! Being more IN JOY - so ENJOY Your Life!

December 18th, Saturday 6:30pm - All Welcome

Sunday Sermons - IMAGINE JOY!
Dec 5 - Featured Speaker: Rev. Joanna Salerno
Dec 12 - Featured Speaker: Rev. David Essel
Dec 19 - The Conditions of Unconditional Love
Dec 26 - The Day After Christmas Celebration

December Affirmations
I am a shining star, radiating love to one and all.
I take my place in this world and express my special genius.
I am supported by the oneness of the Universe to become a unique expression of God/Goddess.
The stronger my sense of self, the less I need to prove myself to others or myself.
I allow my sense of purpose to full emerge in my life.
I tap into the angelic forces to empower and enrich my life.
I help others to realize their dreams, when I realize my own.
I allow myself to embody grace, peace and poise in all my dealings.
As my soul matures, my personality and character align with the Truth of my entire being.
My desires are purified by the Light of truth and guided by Love.
I am a vital part of the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity.
When I take my rightful place, this allows others to do the same.
Others, who are a part of my soul contract, are waiting for me to accept my power.
My joy leads me to the Light.
Peaceful acceptance of what is leads me to the path of realization of my highest good.
I am open to experience more love, peace and joy in my life.
I unconditionally love and accept myself exactly as I am in this moment.
I surrender to my soul and set my Spirit free.
I am a radiant light unto the world.
I receive the love of all that is into my being, so that I can share this love freely.
My art, my creativity is the gateway to my joy.
As I open up and allow others to assist me, I activate the divine template for abundance.
I recognize the face of God/Goddess in every living being.
Each day I give gratitude for the abundance of blessings in my life.
I am thrilled to be a human, alive at this time in our cosmic evolution.
The value of my love is priceless to myself and others.
I am open to the discovery of my entire being and all the magic contained within.
While I am the superstar and lead character of my life experience, it is the desire of the God force within me to be the cause of joy to others.
Bringing peace on earth and goodwill toward men is the foundation of all my soul intentions.
I follow the instruction of my soul.
I now live only by my soul intentions.

 by Rev. Renee Bledsoe
Permission to freely distribute granted.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crystal Bowl Meditation with Cathy Blair

"Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons.  You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body."  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Crystal Bowl Meditation with Cathy Blair of Naples, Florida on Monday, November 15th at 6:30pm. Join us for this very special, one time event with Cathy. We're lucky to have her in Fort Myers!!! She has 26 bowls, some of which are made of precious and semi-precious gemstones, such as ruby, emerald and my favorite, kyanite and they each have their own special sound.

Crystal bowls not only provide a beautiful way to meditate and relax, but also carry profound vibrational healing frequencies to every cell in our body. Come and experience Cathy and her unique array of bowls!

Where: Church of Spiritual Light, 1939 Park Meadows, Dr. #1, Fort Myers, FL 33907
Cost: $10
When: November 15th (Monday) 6:30pm - please bring blanket/pillow or lounge chair (indoors)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yoga: A Journey of Exploration

by Carol Haefner
The word Yoga means "unity" and is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj meaning "to join". In spiritual terms yoga is about joining the individual "spirit" with the Divine "Spirit" or individual consciousness with Divine Consciousness to realize our already complete nature. In more practical terms yoga is a means of balancing and creating harmony between the body, mind, breath and emotions. And, like finely woven cloth, yoga weaves together layers of expression to create an integrated whole.

Like many before me, I came to yoga to exercise my body. I enjoyed the challenge of putting my body into new and sometimes unflattering positions. And, just like many of my other pursuits I pushed and pushed hard to make my body conform to the yoga body image I saw in magazines and advertisements. But it seems that the practice of yoga will have its way with us and despite the fact I knew nothing about yoga except for the postures, something began to happen in my practice, something startling and seemingly otherworldly.

I realized I was on an adventure of exploration and I didn't have to leave my house or even my yoga mat to participate. Yoga has invited me into an "in the body" experience at every level of my being. I realized that the unity or oneness of body, mind and spirit described in yoga is what I had been seeking all my life. So, yoga (not just the postures but the entire philosophy of yoga as outlined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) not only describes this way of being but also gives us all the tools to realize this already existent state. I have not experienced any other body of knowledge that has been the means and the end in and of itself like yoga is.

Since those first eye opening experiences when I got the sense that I was exploring my own subtle nature I have begun to study yoga more intently and became a yoga teacher. I have started to consciously explore and I invite my students to explore in their practice who they are at every level of their being; including the mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual levels.

As I watch, mentor and guide my students and we participate in each others growth I see that it is important during yoga practice to create a safe nurturing environment where we can learn to perceive ourselves directly, free of judgment and criticism so that all that we are, think we are and wish we were can be exposed in a loving atmosphere. This then becomes the starting point for our exploration, the grist for the mill of self inquiry. We learn we can't hide from ourselves and yoga holds us in arms of compassion during our journey.

In our practice we move into Tadasana (Mountain pose), Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) or Trikonasana (Triangle). What really happens in those poses? How can they deepen our experience of who we are and move us into a deeper knowing of ourselves? I often encourage my students to journal about their experience (as I often do). It is not unusual for a student to sit down in the middle of class; journal nestled on lap, and begin writing about an insight gained during a posture. Sometimes, after class the student will share their experience and sometimes what was revealed to them was too personal and they simply leave quietly with journal and mat tucked under their arm. These to me are moments when yoga is weaving its magic!

I believe everything we do on or off the yoga mat is a multidimensional expression of who we are. As our yoga practice deepens we begin to see that each posture has many levels of expression. It is really a form within a form created and sustained by the dualities of movement and stillness, tension and relaxation. This could be expressed as the yin and yang of each posture, the coming together and balancing of opposing forces. It is in exploring these energies in every posture that we can begin to understand who we are more deeply.

Each posture has an external form, the shape the body takes to be in the posture. This is the active form of the pose. Each pose also has an internal form as our organs adjust to a new physical position. The internal expression is receptive and restful; the expression hidden from the world. At this level of exploration we experience the opposing forces of outward strength and inner stillness.

On another level is the energetic expression. We must exert energy to move into and hold a posture. At the same time the posture creates space within for energy to move. We experience energy that moves and creates and energy that sustains and supports. With the breath we discover another expression. The inhalation creates expansion and spaciousness that take us to the dynamic edge of the posture while the exhalation allows us to explore that edge and move deeply, more consciously into the pose. The inner dance of breath and energy echoes the rhythm and pulse of creation and is the bridge between the inner and outer worlds.

Each posture has an emotional expression. I find this expression the most challenging and revealing and often it creates the deepest sense of inner questioning. It seems that if we allow ourselves to explore the emotional edge of a posture we can begin to see how even deep seated emotions are changing, fluid and impermanent. We all have our favorite postures that illicit feelings of peace and comfort, surrender and relaxation. What is it about these postures that create those feelings? And we all have the postures we resist. Can we be in those postures and explore our own resistance? Can we allow ourselves to come to our emotional edge and create an inner dialogue listening and responding with compassion, exploring the continuum of emotional expression that is part of the changing nature of emotions?

As we explore the full expression of a posture, we explore not only our physical limitations but how we sometimes use our mind and emotions to create limits. Very often our limits, real or perceived, become our teachers, if we explore them with openness, curiosity and nonjudgmental awareness.

Yoga is the practice of opposing forces equalizing each other, creating balance and unity. It is the practice of active exploration and resting in the moment.

Every posture has the capacity to move us deeper if we allow the full expression of who we are in that moment to be manifest in our practice as we explore the tantalizing synergy created by opposing forces. If we can allow the posture to bloom within us and explore our physical edge with softness, our energetic edge with awareness and our emotional edge with compassion we have the potential to reach inside to our own pool of wisdom and insight and come to a deeper understanding of who we are. In this way there is nothing outside the scope of yoga practice. We can bring this same depth of experience; this same rich tapestry of sensation, emotion and mindfulness to our everyday lives. In this way yoga truly enhances every moment and creates an experience of exploration at every level of our being.

Carol Haefner, RYT is a writer, artist and teacher; author of Sisters of the Circle: One Woman’s Journey to Wholeness and owner of Stories For Life™, LLC whose mission is “Empowering through Storying our lives”. Carol conducts playshops where participants explore and express their personal stories through yoga, meditation, writing and other forms of artistic expression. For more information email: storiesforlife@cinci.rr.com

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November 2010: Remembering

Welcome to November - It's time to Remember! We've had quite a journey this year and will be putting together a special book filled with the highlights and affirmations of each month at the end of the year. It is my hope that you will become aware of how much you have grown in all aspects of your being. I honor those who have followed this path and traveled this journey together. This has been a powerful year and as we approach the last 2 months of the year it is really important to take stock and realize and enjoy what has transpired. Even through the difficulties, when you have a deeper understanding of the interplay of the realities at work in your life, it always brings you to the same thing: without each other it's just not any fun. The closer you get to God/Goddess, the more consciousness you reveal, the lonelier it can become, unless you reach out to others who are traveling this journey. Everything, even our woundedness is driving us to this. So why not remember who you really are and what you really want? Remembering or Re-membering means to recall, recovery and re-establish a connection with who and what you really are. We will be spending this month re-membering and putting the beautiful pieces of this mosaic called you into a beautiful framed work of art.

Also, please join us for our Thanksgiving Potluck Feast on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25, 2010 at Church of Spiritual Light, 1939 Park Meadows Dr., Unit 1, Fort Myers, FL. Click here for more info.

I am grateful for my life.
I am filled with grace and gratitude for the abundance of this world.
I am loved and blessed.
There is love and beauty all around me.
I access higher realities and bring order to any chaos in my life.
I remember who and what I am.
I reach out to others to share love and prosperity.
I am prosperous beyond my wildest dreams.
I desire to receive in order to share the bounty of my life.
My life is a sacred trust.
I see and get present to myself and others.
I see others for who and what they really are.
I am in tune with my inner song when I am in service to the Light.
I accept my personal evolution and see myself in the highest light.
I honor the path of each and every being.
I am a multi-dimensional being of light.
I am filled to overflowing with gratitude for light, love and life.
I call to the powers of the Universe to support and care for myself and others.
I am the author of my fate and the creator of my destiny.
I remember my sacred contract and open to what is necessary to fulfillment.
My sacred contract was created by me and I was born with everything I need to fulfill my destiny.
I open my consciousness and expand my awareness to non-local reality to create and enlighten my life.
I reach for ever higher and deeper expressions of love.
I set my soul free and come to the center of my Self.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.
I am a force to be reckoned with and I use this force to gather my will for the greater good of us all.
I love all.
I am, that I am.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Feast & Giveaway Ceremony 2010

Thursday, November 25th, 2010
Thanksgiving Day - 3-6pm

Church of Spiritual Light presents the 2010 Thanksgiving Feast and Giveaway Ceremony. Please bring your favorite holiday dish to share, as well as a small gift which will be given away to honor a very special sacred ancient ritual to show gratitude for our blessings. The gift can be anything that has meaning to you, including feathers, stones, figurines or sacred objects. In order to honor the energy it should be something that you love and not a cast off item.

The potlatch is a festival or ceremony practiced among Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest most prominently. At these gatherings a family or leader hosts guests in their family's house and hold a feast for their guests. The main purpose of the potlatch is the re-distribution and reciprocity of wealth. The word potlatch comes from the Chinook jargon, meaning "to give away" or "a gift".

Help us coordinate our feast and call Rev. Renee at 239-560-6314. Everyone is welcome!

Click here to check out our menu the very first year we did this in 2008!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Great Invocation

Let the Forces of Light bring illumination to mankind
Let the Spirit of Peace be spread abroad
May men of good will everywhere meet in a spirit of cooperation
May forgiveness on the part of all men be the keynote at this time
Let power attend the efforts of the Great Ones
So let it be, and help us to do our part.

Let the Lords of Liberation issue forth.
Let Them bring succor to the sons of men.
Let the Rider from the secret Place come forth,
And coming, save.
Come forth, O Mighty One.

Let the souls of men awaken to the Light,
And may they stand with massed intent.
Let the fiat of the Lord go forth:
The end of woe has come!
Come forth, O Mighty One.

The hour of service of the Saving Force has now arrived.
Let it be spread abroad, O Mighty One.
Let Light and Love and Power and Death
Fulfil the purpose of the Coming One.

The Will to save is here,
The Love to carry forth the work is widely spread abroad.
The Active Aid of all who know the truth is also here.
Come forth, O Mighty One and blend these three.
Construct a great defending wall.
The rule of evil now must end. 

From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into the minds of men.
Let Light descend on Earth.
From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let love stream forth into the hearts of men.
May Christ return to Earth.
From the center where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide the little wills of men -
The purpose which the Masters know and serve.
From the center which we call the race of men
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.
Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.

by Alice Baily

Friday, October 22, 2010

Flow Yoga

Join us for this beautiful Flow Yoga class, with Connie Caracappa, certified and registered yoga teacher and former studio owner in NYC! 

Flow Yoga: You will learn to move from the heart first into each asana; flow yoga is a progressive style of yoga where each pose flows right into the next . You are synergistically taking your body through multiple motions, angles, and planes, while channeling all of your energy into one synchronized symphony. It is a beautiful melding of fluid and flexible strength, mental focus, deep breathing,and stability in motion. 

Flow yoga is the absence of resistance. When you bring flow into your practice, you let go into the movements and create a liquid quality that inspires deep release. It allows you to build magnificent momentum and heat while moving through your practice in an effortless, seamless manner. Flow encourages meditation in motion: When you ride the flow like a wave, it moves you out of your head into your body and the present moment. Flow creates dynamic energy that keeps your internal heat up and your heart pumping steadily. This brings the cardiovascular element into your practice, which facilitates weight loss and an over all increase in health. Practice is one hour with a 25-30 minute savasana,( meditation)
Church of Spiritual Light, 1939 Park Meadows Dr., Unti 1, Fort Myers, FL 33907
Saturday's 9-10:30am |  Tues & Thurs 4-5:30pm
Cost: $15 walk in - 4 Class Pass=$40 - 8 Class Pass=$75

Facilitated by Connie Caracappa

Tai Chi Class

COSL is pleased to present our Tai Chi Class with Rev. Paul. The ancient art of tai chi uses gentle flowing movements to reduce the stress of today's busy lifestyles and improve health.

Tai chi is sometimes described as "meditation in motion" because it promotes serenity through gentle movements — connecting the mind and body. Originally developed in ancient China for self-defense, tai chi evolved into a graceful form of exercise that's now used for stress reduction and to help with a variety of other health conditions.

Saturday's 2:30 - 3:30pm
Church of Spiritual Light, 1939 Park Meadows Dr., Unit 1, Fort Myers, FL 33907
Please wear comfortable, loose flowing clothing.
Cost: $10 per class

Monday, October 18, 2010

Crystal Bowl Spiral Journey

Everything is Energy - Light, Color and Sound - What better way to speak the essential language of your being than through the beauty of the Crystal Bowls?

Tonight is a very special Crystal Bowl Journey - We will be using the sacred spiral formation to help you heal and renew your mind, body and spirit connection. The crystal bowls can help reset your vibration to wholeness and clarity. 

Crystal Bowl Spiral Journey
Church of Spiritual Light
1939 Park Meadows Dr. #1
Fort Myers, FL 33907
Facilitated by Rev. Renee Bledsoe
Cost: $10

No reservation needed. Just come as you are!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Missing Link of Addiction Recovery

I don't understand how anyone can think that it is far-fetched to acknowledge the pull that plants and the earth have on us, yet ingest these self-same plants in an unconscious way, desecrating their own bodies in the process and discounting the power of these plants and the intrinsic need of the human spirit to connect to the earth in consciousness.   What is far-fetched and will keep us engaged in the addictive process is our denial of what the body/spirit/soul truly wants. Like a rat in a labyrinth, we must find our way to the center and find out who and what we really are.

I believe that when we disconnect from the land and from the essence of the creator, as many of us have done during this leg of our human spiritual evolutionary journey, we will continue to unconsciously seek out ways to do so. We can say that we turn to drugs and alcohol because of our woundedness, inhibitions, anxiety, stress and peer pressure, and while that is true on one level of reality, it is not the whole picture. If you keep looking and go beyond even sobriety, the end/beginning of this human story takes us back/advances us to our longing to connect to our mother, the earth and our father, the Sun. We have connected to them in our heads long enough. If prayer and meditation is not taking you to the land, if it is not helping you to connect more fully to the human experience, keep at it. Our creator is not some unknowable force. Now it is time to develop the eyes to experience in the physical what is here and has always been here.

Alcoholic beverages are made from the earth, herbs, barley, hops, juniper, fruits, etc. and filled with the "spirits" of the earth. Tobacco the same. When these sacred substances are utilized in this way, we deny our true connection to them (and the earth) and we over do it. Of course we over do it, because we're not getting what we really want. We can never get enough, because we do not recognize the gifts of our deep, deep connection. We have scales over our eyes. We are carrying around oxygen tanks in a world filled with air and withered with thirst in oceans of water. 

People can become sober. The 12 Steps has shown us that. But can they become fully human, limitless beings of light who are deeply tapped into the earth, the cosmos and their own soul? We must keep going...there is more...much more....Sobriety is the beginning, it is not the end. For there is no end to the journey. The snake eats its tale. And right now we are in the period of our evolution that is about to come to a measure of wholeness, as a whole, that we have heretofore not seen.

by. Rev. Renee Bledsoe
For more information visit www.AddictionAlchemy.com 

May repost with full attribution.

Other articles of interest:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Love, Compassion & Forgiveness vs. Anger, Judgment & Revenge

Invocation of Forgiveness
Today, I call on the powers of forgiveness,
the hope that heals and wipes away resentment,
I am ready to forgive and heal old wounds.
I forgive you for the past, making way for friendship &
to forgive all who have hurt me in the past, deliberately
or by accident. I am ready to forgive myself for errors
made and things I have done in the past that I regret.

Healing replaces resentment, peace replaces anger
as forgiveness grows inside me, my heart lightens.
filling me with a sense of wellbeing and acceptance,
I embrace forgiveness, the great healer of hearts.

Go and wash off all hatred from your chest
Seven times with water.
Then you can become our companion
Drinking from the wine of love.
-- -- Rumi

“Forgiveness means letting go of the past.” Gerald Jampolsky

"The incoherence that results from holding on to resentments and unforgiving attitudes keeps you from being aligned with your true self. It can block you from your next level of quality life experience. Metaphorically, it's the curtain standing between the room you're living in now and a new room, much larger and full of beautiful objects. The act of forgiveness removes the curtain. Clearing up your old accounts can free up so much energy that you jump right into a whole new house. Forgiving releases you from the punishment of a self-made prison where you are both the inmate and the jailer." ~ Doc Childre and Howard Martin, The HeartMath Solution

"Many people are afraid to forgive because they feel they must remember the wrong or they will not learn from it. The opposite is true. Through forgiveness, the wrong is released from its emotional stranglehold on us so that we can learn from it. Through the power and intelligence of the heart, the release of forgiveness brings expanded intelligence to work with the situation more effectively." ~ David McArthur and Bruce McArthur, The Intelligent Heart

“Forgive or relive.” ~ Unknown

“Forgiveness is the remission of sins. For it is by this that what has been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again.” ~ Saint Augustine

As I looked at the messages from all the great sages, from every book, every articles, every prayer and even my own head came the sweeping message: "You MUST forgive, or else....fill in the blank." And it wasn't going to be a good thing that you would fill in the blank with. This struck me as somewhat counterproductive to the process of forgiveness. And in the several hours of searching I found very little without really, really digging around  that breathed any sort of wisdom into the HOW YOU FORGIVE part. And so I layed on my bed and reflected in meditation and asked to be shown more wisdom about the how. Because I do not like to continually bash myself or others into forgiving something they are not yet ready to forgive. I trust in the supreme wisdom of the human being. And I understand that we must work with our whole selves and not just tell one part to "suck it up" or "stuff it"...and furthermore if we do we will continue to hear from that part until it is acknowledged!
So to that end I was rewarded with, perhaps, not the whole picture, but what I felt to be a pretty big piece of the puzzle: We often are not able to forgive, because we do not feel safe. And we do not feel safe because we do not yet feel like we can protect ourself. And We do not feel that we can protect ourself, because we need to better develop our sense of self and our personal boundaries. Once we begin to feel strong enough within ourself, the process of forgiveness will come naturally. It first begins with compassion to the self...the whole self...the little child within...or even the bully within.
The problem of getting stuck in unforgiveness occurrs when we do very little work on ourselves to encourage the development of our sense of self and our personal boundaries. Eureka! I was clearly shown the path to wholeness, without using force on ourselves and working with ourselves. Forgiveness can be fostered, not forced.




"Setting boundaries is about learning to take care of ourselves, no matter what happens, where we go, or who we're with.
Boundaries emerge from deep decisions about what we believe we deserve and don't deserve.
Boundaries emerge from belief that what we want and need, like and dislike, is important.
Boundaries emerge from a deeper sense of our personal rights, especially the right we have to take care of ourselves and to be ourselves.
Boundaries emerge as we learn to value, trust, and listen to ourselves.
The goal of having and setting boundaries isn't to build thick walls around ourselves. The purpose is to gain enough security and sense of self to get close to others without the threat of losing ourselves, smothering them, trespassing, or being invaded. Boundaries are the key to loving relationships.
When we have a sense of self, we'll be able to experience closeness and intimacy. We'll be able to love and to be loved.
Intimacy, play, and creativity require loss of control. Only when we have boundaries and know we can trust ourselves to enforce them and take care of ourselves, will we be able to let go enough to SOAR. These same activities help develop a sense of self, for it is through LOVE, PLAY, and CREATIVITY that we begin to understand who we are and become reassured we can trust ourselves. Having boundaries means having a self strong, NURTURED, HEALTHY and CONFIDENT enough to LET GO--and come back again INTACT."
From the book: "Beyond Codependency" by Melody Beattie

Every doubt, fear and judgement against the self is an act of inner violence. Too much of this and it will outpicture. Replace these thoughts with compassion to self. It is in this way that we cultivate the grace of compassion within our being and in our lives. ~ She Who Weaves the Web

‎"As I lived up to the highest light I had, higher and higher light came to me." ~ Peace Pilgrim

The electromagnetic field of the heart deeply affects the well-being (or not) of the body and the environment. Feelings of appreciation and positive emotion affect the resonance of the heart and in turn affects the electromagnetic field of the body to create better health and more happiness.

Now - not only does our heart energy affect your own body functioning - it also affects the entire planet and even our cosmos - We are not separate from this planet in ways that are finally being proven by science. Now anyone of any belief can understand how this is so. Hallelujah! I want to roll in the earthen soil and give praise for this magnificent creation. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Blessed be.

So how do we make the conditions ripe for forgiveness? We take really, really good care of ourself. We allow our soul to be heard and ultimately to be expressed. We have compassion for ourselves and we develop our sense of self as fully as we can, with healthy boundaries. When we are generous with our own spirit, when we are filled with love and compassion for ourself, then we are calling this to us and it will manifest. When we have it to give, we can then and only then give it.

I think when we go around the forgiveness wheel time and again what has happened is that we have stopped filling our own cup. We feel small and weak again, and we start to remember old grievances. As we attempt to climb our way up the emotional scale we come back to the place of blame. We must not judge ourselves for this and worry that we haven't really forgiven or that we will never be able to forgive. But what we must do is continue to climb that scale. What we must do is remember to take any signs of unforgiveness or blame as a call to self love and self care. Step it up a notch - do something extra nice for yourself, be silent and reverent and gentle with yourself for a day. You will see a shift. I promise, if you do this. Fill your own cup with love, by first loving and caring for yourself in the same ways you would care for others...then you will be overflowing.

I can tell you from my own experience - self care has to be scheduled in just like going to work. If you don't make it a routine, life and everyone else's needs will come and erode it away. People might not thank you for taking care of yourself, but they sure would be mad if you leave them, or get sick and die, etc. When we protect and take good care of ourself, we are really protecting and taking care of those who love us. We do not only belong to ourselves. We belong to the world.

I recently read a blog article that takes the power of forgiveness to yet another level. For I feel that as we increase our consciousness, we do become more and more compassionate and able to break with denial. The more we break with denial, the more we see the traumas and the atrocities on the path of our human evolution, which are potentially much more challenging to forgive than anything we personally experience. So in a sense our personal relationships and their challenges, betrayals and traumas are teaching us how to be compassionate to humanity and the human experience as a whole. We will not let ourselves off the hook and allow ourselves to walk into the new earth filled with joy and abundance as long as we have not mastered the art of compassion.

The story below is by Dawn Dancing Otter, who uses the powerful practice of Ho' oponopono to go to the place of ultimate compassion.

Soul Alchemy: my recent response to ‘hate mail’

Everywhere I go, in every moment, the ongoing mantra in my mind is the 4 graces of Ho’oponopono – I am sorry, I love you, Please forgive me, Thank you.

What I have come to realize is that my life is transforming miraculously as a result. Whatever situation, whomever/whatever is in my field of observation, whatever thought or sensation which is in my present awareness, I am constantly reconciling, acknowledging, forgiving, and integrating.

The miracle, to me, is, that each moment I live is a lesson, a gift, an opportunity to love myself even more; to reconcile with the parts of myself that have been forgotten, disassociated, unloved….my shadows.

Recently, I received an email from a blessed man in Poughkeepsie NY. The gist of the email was this man’s need to communicate his fears, disillusionment, and anger over my Shamanic workshops, and that I ought to realize that whatever I am offering to the world is a lie, deceitful, and intentionally misleading; further, that I am a thief. He insisted that I become a skeptic of this way of life, as he is.

When I received this email, I took a deep breath in and let it wash over me. I felt the hot anger, I felt the ‘knives’ of pain touching all the places that responded to the words ‘thief’ ‘false’ ‘liar’ ‘deceiver’. I kept breathing into those places and let the pain build. I then recited the 4 graces until the sensation shifted.

Then I responded, telling this wonderful man that yes, I have been a thief in my life (I have at various times stolen/shoplifted when I was living in scarcity), and yes, I have lied in my life (too many times to count), yes, I can see many times in my past when I have intentionally deceived others,yes, in the past I have been false.
It didn’t (and doesn’t) matter to me that this man knew nothing of my work, my history, or of me personally. It didn’t matter to me that the contexts were entirely different. This beautiful human being was asking me to be present to the part of myself that I have kept hidden and in the shadows. I gratefully obliged.

I also realized that in his pain of having experienced deceit in his life, having experienced theft, that he was simply asking SOMEONE to take responsibility for it. Again, I obliged, with the intention that, as human beings, we are all One. Why shouldn’t I take responsibility. I have no idea what I have done in this life or any other which may have supported or caused this injury in him. At that moment, it didn’t matter to me. I simply took responsibility, and with the 4 graces, I acknowledged the injury and asked forgiveness. I then let it go to the Universe.
The ecstasy that filled me was so overwhelming, I cried. I felt this huge release…this part of me that had been acknowledged, forgiven, and loved was definitely ready to be integrated, and it had provided me with so much learning.

When he wrote back, in an entirely unexpected outcome, he had softened considerably…though his opinion of my work had not changed -which is as it should be, it is not my intention to impress my Shamanic life choices upon him for validation/invalidation. It felt to me very much that we were able to connect together as human beings. This was such a joyful moment, because to invite us both into a human embrace to experience oneness was my intention.

I am so grateful to this man. He was moved to show me this shadow of myself, and he took the time to do so. Wherever you are, G. C. from Poughkeepsie; thank you.
Big Love,
Dawn Dancing Otter