Journey 153: Far, Far Beyond

far far beyond

I spent a great deal of time in the car today, driving from one appointment to another, one town after another. That car time provided the perfect opportunity to listen on Audible to chapters 12 and 13 in The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer, in preparation for book club tonight.

I actually listened to chapter 13 twice, rewinding the audio in certain spots over and over again. I reflected as I listened, searched inward, reached outward. Chapter 13, titled Far, Far Beyond, begins with these words “Ultimately, the word ‘beyond’ captures the true meaning of spirituality. In its most basic sense, going beyond means going past where you are. It means not staying in your current state. When you constantly go beyond yourself, there are no more limitations. There are no more boundaries. Limitations and boundaries only exist at the places where you stop going beyond. If you never stop, then you go beyond boundaries, beyond limitation, beyond the sense of a restricted self.”

Those words captivated me two years ago. I read chapter 13 many times, listened to it on audio many times. Something in my heart broke open and I longed to experience a life lived beyond my limitations, beyond my comfort zone. The word beyond began to show up repetitively, in conversations, on signs, at random, seemingly coincidental times. I knew, toward the end of 2013 that beyond was my word for the next year, and that moving beyond my comfort zone was going to be crucial in 2014. How to do that, I wasn’t sure. And then I read about Lu Ann Cahn and her year of new experiences and knew that the way was being shown to me.

Michael Singer describes how to know when we approach the edges of our comfort zone….we feel discomfort. His example explains that a dog contained within an invisible electrical fence learns how close he can get to that barrier before he feels the mild zap of electricity. He learns to back up enough so that he doesn’t feel the discomfort, thus remaining within the confines of his yard. In the same way, when I approach the edges of my comfort zone, I feel the sting of discomfort and back up just enough to remove the feeling. The dog won’t die from the experience, if he chooses to put up with the momentary discomfort and charge through the barrier. If he can do that, he knows freedom. I won’t die either from discomfort, if I will move through that momentary rush of fear, or the dread of embarrassment, or the risk of failure. And I too will know freedom.

My comfort zone keeps me contained as surely as the electrical fence does the dog. I can choose to spend my life within my comfort zone, or I can free myself. The day I decided to push against the barriers of my comfort zone was the day I began to grow, the new daily experiences leading me to opportunities and joy, and through fear and doubt. I realized the confinement I lived within was constructed by me, with the intention of keeping me safe.  I could walk out at any time, moving past the pang of discomfort. And move beyond, I did.

Today, listening to this chapter, I looked at how much I have grown since first stepping beyond. I can feel the openness within me, feel how my soul has expanded, appreciate the quiet within my mind.  I also saw where I have pushed through and yet now rest, paused in front of new barriers, feeling pretty comfortable again.  Amazing insights welled up, along with fresh perspectives on my journey, which is what this year is all about. It’s time to push beyond again. And again.

I am grateful for the book club, which provided an opportunity for reflection and renewed energy to keep growing, keep going, beyond the edges of my comfort zone, beyond the edges of my limitations. I am going….far, far beyond.

Journey 97: Secrets of the Heart

untethered soul heart open

It was Book Club night again! How I appreciate this wonderful group of ladies who are willing to share and look within their souls, ask questions and grow. We covered chapters 6 and 7 this evening, titled “The Secrets of the Spiritual Heart” and “Transcending the Tendency to Close”.

Although the entire book is life changing, I love these two chapters especially, as they reveal the phenomenal power that the heart has to open and stay in a place of love and growth….or close and allow energy to become blocked, creating problems in life. I had time to re-read chapter 6, in preparation for the club meeting. And as I drove around town showing property I listened to chapter 7 on Audible, on my phone. It is amazing the difference in reading the words myself, and hearing the words read. Different truths and “ahas” stand out when I am listening, so much so that I often believe the audio edition has words included that are not in the book. I’ve checked many times….the book and the recording are identical.

Reading The Secrets of the Spiritual Heart opens my heart even more with each pass through the chapter. Michael Singer shares that the heart “is one of the most beautiful and powerful energy centers, and one that affects our daily lives. An energy center is an area within your being through which your energy focuses, distributes and flows. The heart controls the energy flow by opening and closing.”

My heart is open and energy is flowing easily and readily when I am experiencing love and being present in the moment. When something happens, for example, someone says something to me that I dislike, my heart closes, and the flow of love stops. My initial reaction is that I no longer like that person, at least, in that moment. The truth is, all through our lives, from our babyhood on, we have been experiencing situations that hurt us and cause us to close our hearts, over and over again. That energy doesn’t go away though. It gets stuck, in the region of the heart, and because energy must move, it circles around and around. We can push that looping energy away, to the back of our awareness, and there is stays….until something triggers that old hurt, that old fear, that old energy. Then the old but still very real energy, which tries to pass through the heart energy center again, is felt and experienced, creating the same emotions that the original hurt or fear caused. Until that energy is at last released, let go, it will continue to be felt anytime a similar experience triggers it.

One only has to be out and about in Joplin, when the tornado sirens sound, to immediately see this truth in action. That energy of fear that occurred as a result of the 2011 tornado gets triggered by the sound of the sirens wailing. The fear stirs and people react, big time. That has been true for me as well. I am still working through those layers of energy, releasing the fear, allowing it to pass through, each time the sirens sound or a severe weather alert appears on the tv. Currently, I experience a mild anxiety, felt more as restlessness, whenever the weather gets severe. I hope to eventually react in an alert, yet calm way, without fear, without anxiety, without that “flight or fight” surge of adrenaline.

Transcending the Tendency to Close is a wonderful chapter that teaches exactly what the title says….moving past, growing past, the tendency to close at all. Two experiences cause the heart to close: resisting and pushing energies away because we are bothered by them, or clinging to energies and keeping them close because they make us feel good. In both cases, we aren’t allowing the energy to pass through and we are wasting precious energy by blocking the flow, rather than just enjoying life.

Closing down is a way of trying to protect the heart from further hurt, further fear. The problem is, if the heart is closed down, all energy has a difficult time getting in or out. Closed is closed. Our joy is limited even as our pain is limited or confined. Singer points out that to be closed is to stop growing. He shares, “Once you close, you have to make sure that what you protected doesn’t get disturbed. You then carry this task for the rest of your life. The alternative…is to give yourself the ultimate gift by deciding not to do that anymore.”

I gift myself by watching what causes me to want to close….and stopping myself from doing that by relaxing and opening my shoulders and heart area and letting the energy pass through. And by being aware of what triggers old energy. I admit handling the triggers is much more difficult. I tend to want to react, and wallow in the old energy, the old hurt…rather than allow the energy to be felt, to be experienced again and then allow it to pass through. I am learning. And trust me, life brings plenty of opportunities for learning and growing, opening and releasing.

Michael Singer says, “The reward for not protecting the psyche is liberation. You are free to walk through this world without a problem on your mind. You are just having fun, experiencing what happens next.” Imagine, not allowing anything to cause a closure of the heart, a restriction of energy. That is what I desire, to stay open, and never close. To allow love and joy to flow through me, filling up and lighting up my heart, and then flowing out to touch those around me….without ceasing. That is experiencing life…and finding freedom, indeed.
untethered soul pic

Journey 83: Continual Joy

journey of joy

My journey today was a string of events that didn’t necessarily have any connection to each other. I found it difficult to narrow in on one aspect of this Tuesday, and stepping back, saw that my journey today might resemble the humorous Family Circus cartoon, where one of the kids’ journey throughout the day is depicted by a wandering path of dashes. Individually, each small journey was a dellight. Combined, the day’s journey was raised to a level of deep and abiding joy.

I started the journey with lunches with Joey and Oliver, at their school. This was my second visit and I knew the routine….where to check in, where the cafeteria was, where to sit to best watch for the boys. I enjoy these 30 minute breaks with the grandkids. It is a time of chatting and laughing as they eat, surrounded by a constantly shifting sea of kids. I find the setting cheerful and the experience entertaining as the school principal, wearing a mic, keeps up a steady interaction with the kids. Today was song day and I heard the song “Happy” twice and “Brave” once. The children sang with gusto. I was intrigued by “Brave”, sung by Sara Bareilles, and listened to the video on YouTube several times throughout the afternoon. What a great song about speaking up and bravely living your truth. Joey and Oliver were wonderful conversationalists and lunch companions and I left with a smile on my face and love in my heart.

journey of joy Oliver

journey of joy Joey

A quick impromptu lunch followed for me, which a friend ended up paying for. Both were unexpected and enjoyed. Next stop, the purchase of the DVD The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, released today and highly anticipated by me. I look forward to a thoughtful viewing of this film at home, where I can stop and rewind any scene that calls to me, and freely express the emotion that wells up during this final Middle Earth film.

journey of joy The Hobbit

Picking up granddaughter Aubrey from school, we met grandson Dayan at his home. With snacks nearby and a Dr. Who episode playing on the TV, we spread out art materials and began work on mail art postcards that will travel to Austria. The theme of this project is “turquoise”. Dayan had the brilliant idea of photocopying monuments and buildings in cities around the world, with the colors turquoise and blue predominant in the pics, and using those to cut out the letters to spell turquoise. For example, the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, Scotland became the E. This is a perfect fit for his interests. My piece will reflect my journey this year and incorporate the open door symbol. I’ll use turquoise and black paint and a variety of textures. Aubrey decided to make a postcard too, entering into the experience wholeheartedly, creating a sea of turquoise and adding the word turquoise above it. She was introduced to Dr. Who this afternoon and loved the episode that we watched, titled The Girl in the Fireplace. I enjoyed the time spent with my eldest and youngest grandchildren, appreciative of how patient Dayan is with his little cousin as he explains things to her. He showed her where various countries are located on his big wall map in his room. Aubrey is a quick learner and asked him great questions.

Journey of joy mail art

To cap off the day, I met with my book club group. I so appreciate this enlightened and authentic group of women. Each of us is on a journey of growth, not seeking answers so much as seeking life and the freedom to enjoy it deeply. We are reading our way through The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. The chapters on Who Are You?, The Lucid Self and Infinite Energy sparked interesting and soulful conversations and honest and open sharing of our unfolding journeys.

Interspersed with the highlights of the day were calls and texts with family, clients, lenders and friends. It was an ordinary day, made extraordinary by the connections with others and the living of life. Awareness brings gratitude for each moment and the desire to fully engage in that moment, offering out of a full heart, receiving graciously from the bounty and goodness of others. It was an incredibly joyful day, measured in steps and smiles, heartbeats and hugs….my favorite kind of day.

journey of joy untethered soul

Journey 34: The Untethered Soul

Untethered Soul

The book club I am part of started a new book this evening, The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer. I am thrilled about this opportunity to read through the book again, and discuss it with the thoughtful and lively ladies who participate in the club.

The Untethered Soul is one of the books that shifted my life dramatically a couple of years ago, when I read it for the first time. The description of the book, from the back cover, states:

What would it be like to be free from limitations and soar beyond your boundaries? What can you do each day to find this kind of inner peace and freedom? The Untethered Soul offers a simple, profoundly intuitive answer to these questions. Whether this is your first exploration of inner space or you’ve devoted your life to the inward journey, this book will transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you.

The Untethered Soul begins by walking you through your relationship with your thoughts and emotions, helping you uncover the source and fluctuations of your inner energy. It then delves into what you can do to free yourself from the habitual thoughts, emotions, and energy patterns that limit your consciousness. Finally, with perfect clarity, this book opens the door to a life lived in the freedom of your innermost being. (I highlighted the two words that are so important to me this year!)

Those paragraphs certainly intrigued me two years ago. I was ready to be free from limitations, ready to move beyond my boundaries. I knew the journey I most needed to take first was an inner one, and that can be a scary road to travel, alone. Michael A. Singer was my traveling companion on this important trek. His chapters on energy are some of the best I’ve ever read. Suddenly, so many things clicked into place and made sense. Such as why certain things trigger a reaction from me. Why I used to protect my heart area, or chakra, so much, even sitting with a pillow on my lap to make me feel more secure. As I moved purposefully through this book, old energy that had long been trapped in the region of my heart came to the surface, painfully sometimes, and I was able to set it free. It is a continuing process, this untethering.

My word last year, Beyond, first came into my awareness as I read this book. There is a whole section of the book on moving beyond, which became the name of my blog about my own journey of moving beyond my limitations and my comfort zone. It was with great anticipation that I delved back into the first two chapters, in preparation for the book club meeting tonight. Michael first focuses attention on the thoughts and dialogues that are constantly circling in the mind. It was good for me to be reminded that I am not my thoughts and that the mind seeks always to control and to keep safe, at the cost of freedom, peace and joy. It will be wonderful to slowly read through this fascinating book again and see where I have grown since my last reading. Already, a couple of things stood out.

One came to my attention this evening, as I was looking at the cover of the book before our meeting started. The subtitle of the book is the journey beyond yourself. I realized that last year’s word beyond and this year’s word journey are right there, together. Interesting! I had to get beyond my fears and limitations, my comfort zone and safe spaces, before I could really journey this year, in a way that is unencumbered. Then, as we discussed chapter one this evening, I suddenly saw these sentences about awareness: The one inside who is aware that you are always talking to yourself about yourself is always silent. [Realization] is a doorway to the depths of your being. To be aware that you are watching the voice talk is to stand on the threshold of a fantastic inner journey.

There they were, my keys words for this year….journey….doorway…and the amazing visual of standing on the threshold. I choose to pass through that doorway, and step over that threshold. The journey will take me deeper this year, deeper into myself, deeper into the Divine, deeper into life. I am excited to have Michael A. Singer again, as a traveling companion. I am grateful also for the company of the five extraordinary women, all seekers as well, who are sharing in this journey. Oh, the places we will go.

untethered soul crossing the threshold

Day 82: Leave Notes to Future Readers in My Favorite Books


Inspiration for my new experiences comes from many sources. Today’s first, going to a bookstore and leaving notes for future readers in my favorite books, came to me via a post I saw on Facebook. It was titled “20 Great Date Ideas”. I wasn’t looking for ideas for great dates BUT I am always on the lookout for great ideas for something new to do. I pulled up the article and found six or seven suggestions for firsts that I could do! This was one of them.

I spent the afternoon thinking about some of my favorite books and the impact they have had on my life. It was a long list of books that fit that category, as different books have been perfect for me at different stages of my life. I narrowed the list down to six books that have been crucial in my journey. They are:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

Loving What Is by Byron Katie

I Dare Me by Lu Ann Cahn

Wishes Fulfilled by Dr. Wayne Dyer

I selected heavy weight parchment-like paper and wrote two or three sentences for each book. So that a customer wouldn’t think she was purchasing a used book, I started each note with the words, From one reader to another…. And ended with Enjoy this book!

It was great for me to spend time considering how each book had helped me in my journey. Doing so allowed me to look back along my life path and see how far I’ve come. The notes were brief and encouraging. I wanted the future reader to know that the book he was holding in his hands had the power to change or enhance his life.

I took six notes with me to a local bookstore, hoping to find at least three of my favorites on the shelves. I was amazed to find all six. It was fun to tuck the notes between the pages of each book. Holding the book for a moment longer, I imagined the person flipping through the pages and hoped they would be encouraged, or at least surprised, to discover a handwritten note in an unexpected place. Perhaps finding a mini review will help them to decide to buy the book and read it too. I trust their lives, like mine, will be enriched because they do.