December Plan Day 19: Who’s in your Dungeon?

We’ve been talking about forgiveness for several days now. And the conversation just keep getting richer and richer. Truth is we could probably talk about forgiveness with our inner divine Voice for a month, and still find more to say and more to forgive.

That’s why most people don’t begin. We sense instinctively that if we start to poke beneath the taut surface of our “everything is fine” mask, we’ll find dozens of wounds that need healing and there’ll never be an end to it. So why start?

Here’s why: forgiveness is the most delicious, most healing, most soul-lifting, joy-inducing thing you can do.

Want freedom? Forgive.
Want a vibrant healthy body? Forgive.
Want to find your purpose? Live your purpose? Forgive.
Want love? Forgive.
Want that magical new year? Gotta forgive first.

Forgiveness is the magic. It opens the door to a life you cannot even imagine at the moment. A life that’s yours, all yours, if you will just let go of the anger and resenting holding you prisoner.

St Theresa of Avila knew this way back in the sixteenth century. She explained it in her treatise, Inner Castle. In Entering the Castle, Caroline Myss gives us a modern insight into St Theresa’s vision. For Theresa, the soul has seven floors in the inner castle. Well, guess what’s on the first floor? Your castle’s dungeon.

Listen to St Theresa speaking to you about the dungeon through Caroline Myss:

“Everyone has a dungeon. It’s where you hold your prisoners…. Haul open the heavy lead door and walk down the damp, stone stairs. The atmosphere gts darker and colder as you descent. As you walk through, notice that there are cells for prisoners lining the walls. Everyone you cannot forgive or whom you resent or wish harm to is held by you in these cells. The parents you cannot forgive are in a cell; the business partner who cheated you and whom you still resent is in a cell; the ex-spouse is in a cell…. No doubt some of the people you hold prisoners are holding you prisoner as well.

Why do you keep prisoners? …you keep someone prisoner because you feel he has not been punished enough for the harm he did to you.”

It’s time to take a little tour of your own dungeon. Close your eyes for a few seconds and walk down the stairs in your own inner gut. Look around at the cells. Surprising how many are in there, huh? Glance around inside the cells. Who’s there? Any surprises?

Now, comes the fun part. And it’s easy. Instead of dissecting all the stories, reopening the wounds, explaining what happened, justifying your behavior or your motivation for locking them up, just release them. That’s it. Just release them. Here’s how you do it.

Stand up to stretch out your dungeon. Close your eyes. Put your hands in front of your dungeon like two doors. Visualize yourself walking down into your dungeon. See the cells. Walk up to each one and open it. Gesture for the prisoner to leave. No talking. No apologizing. No explaining. No nothing. Just open the cells and watch them walk out. When all your prisoners are gone, walk to the very back and release the pathetic prisoner in the darkest dankest cell. You know who that is. You.

When your dungeon is empty, call on Spirit to flood the dungeon with white and gold light. See the space being filled with this loving gentle healing light. Watch the cells dissolve. When the space is completely transformed from prison to light, say thank you and open your eyes.

How does that feel?

(If you don’t want to miss any of the rest of the December Plan, I invite you to subscribe to this blog at the top of the right hand column.)

December Plan Day 8: What did you create in 2009?

Thanks for all your emails and comments. It’s clear that this “December Plan” to prepare our hearts, our minds, and our souls to call in a magical new year has captured your attention and inspired you to create your own December Plans. Here’s my basic outline:

Dec 1: The process–Design your preparation rituals
Dec 8: The past—Uncover all the gifts of 2009
Dec 15: Get free–Release all your prisoners
Dec 22: Get focused–Create a short, clear “I want” list
Dec 29: Get ready–Call in your magical year

In week 2 our focus is on uncovering the gifts — all the gifts — of this past year. It’s a logical and necessary next step. In the first week, you put your basic December Plan in place. You created your process, identified your guides, wrote your special prayer, and began to play with what you want in 2010. (If you missed any of this just scroll down for Days 1-7)

But before we can jump ahead to the joy of calling in a magical year, it’s important to take a moment and look back at the road we just traveled. Why? Because you can’t call in something new, something better, something more joyful, if you don’t understand what you’ve already called in the last 11 months.

And yes, you called it in–even if you look back at what happened in 2009 and say emphatically, “I did not call this in. I did not want this, and believe me, I did not ask for it.” Well, maybe you didn’t consciously ask for it, but you still called it in.

That’s the thing with human consciousness, or perhaps I should say human un-consciousness. We are magically creative creatures. We are endlessly and always connected with the creative force of the universe. Every thought has magnetic power. But here’s the problem. It’s not just the pretty thoughts that have power. All thoughts have power. Worry, I am particularly sorry to report, is a powerful thought form that magnetically attracts more of what you’re already worried about. (I agree this is a rotten deal, but you can’t have the magical creative quality of the happy thoughts without the magical creative quality of the negative thoughts. Sorry.)

It’s not just thoughts that have creative power. Every feeling, word, and action leaves a trace on the field of energy that surrounds and connects us all. You can read Ervin Laszlo’s Science and the Akashic Field for a better understanding of the science behind that statement. It was Lauralyn Bunn, the great Akashic Record reader and trainer, who introduced me to Laszlo. I spent this past weekend with Lauralyn learning about the Akashic Records or, as it’s called in Genesis, “The Book of Life.” The Records are not some wacko, woo-woo spirituality; they are the energetic traces of all that is or has been.

But you don’t have to have an Akashic Record reading to uncover the creative power of your thoughts, words, and actions in 2009. You can just look back at your calendar and see for yourself. Sit down and have a nice long conversation with the Voice. Explore the whole calendar together. And not just what happened. Be sure to talk about how you felt. And what you learned. And why you think your soul called it forth. Ask to understand the blessings buried below the surface. The nuggets of knowing. Of learning. Of moving deeper into connection with source. Look at and honor the steps that were taken toward a fuller expression of your soul’s purpose.

In other words, find the gifts, all the gifts of 2009–the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here’s a Dear Voice writing prompt to get you started.

Dear Voice: OK, let’s talk about 2009. You know I’d really rather focus on the future, but I get that it’s important to look back too. So let’s do it. Let’s go over the last 11 months together. There was some rough stuff. I know I’m safe talking about you but this whole thing about my soul calling it forth. Ouch. I sure don’t like the idea that I called forth ___________ or ___________. But let’s talk about it. Maybe I did. On some level I don’t understand. If it did. Even unconsciously. If my soul somehow needed this situation to evolve, well then, I’m willing to dive in and dissect it because you know what, I don’t want any more of it. So, let’s talk.

I’ll be blogging all this week on uncovering the gifts of 2009. Come join me.

December Plan Day 2: You are your own priest/priestess

I stopped going to church my sophomore year in college. Nothing unusal there. Despite the fact that our parents sent us to a Catholic University so we wouldn’t lose our faith, everyone I knew stopped going to church their sophomore year.

I made a big mistake, though. The mistake wasn’t stopping going to church. That, I think, was a natural evolutionary step in my teenage struggle to differentiate myself. The mistake was tossing out the proverbial baby with the proverbial bathwater. With one giant whooosh, the whole thing flew out the window. I consciously wanted to toss out the dogma and theology and obligation and endless focus on sin, but in the same motion I threw out all the beautiful practices, all the prayer, all the mystical symbols and songs. I threw out every method I knew to connect with the divine.

It wasn’t until I woke up 40 and pregnant that I felt an urge to reconnect. I tried going back to the Catholic church, but it didn’t fit. Then, I tried Episcopalian and that went pretty well until one Sunday my 3 1/2 yr old asked as the priest completed the benediction, “Where’s God the mother?”

Good question.

That sent me searching for a feminine diety. And when I discovered that not only was God originally the Goddess, but she was served by priestesses, well, I was tickled pink. Bye-bye all-male priesthood. Bye-bye only-male altar boys. Bye-bye boys in charge. The girls are back!

But you know what? That felt great for a couple years but not for long. It was still an us/them conflict. It just had the “us” I prefered. But was it really any better that girls and only girls were in charge of dogma and theology and practice? Why did it have to be one or the other? Why did one have to exclude the other? Why couldn’t we both be emissaries to the divine?

Last week as I was having chats with my best friend, my loving wise Voice, a phrase popped onto the page: I am my own priest. I sucked in my breath when I saw it. The seven-year old “good little Catholic girl” who still resides deep under my skin was scandalized. “Whaddya mean, I am my own priest?” I wrote.

But of course, the Voice is right. I am, you are, we all are, we all have to be our own priests/priestesses/shamans/rabbis/imams. No intermediary is required. No intermediary is necessary. Maybe no intermediary is even desired.

It’s lovely, it’s true, to pray alongside someone who has a profound prayer practice. It is divine to be in the presence of someone holy. It is comforting to hear someone else’s words of prayer and hope. BUT, you can do it all by yourself. You can do it right now. In your kitchen. At the computer. Lying in bed in the dark. In the shower. Driving to work. Folding the laundry. You have direct and immediate access to Spirit. We all do. We just forgot that for a few thousand years.

I find this a relief. It’s not about finding the “right” priest or shaman. It’s not about finding the “right” religion. The “right” prayers. The “right” ceremonies. It’s about connecting. It’s about standing in the sacred space that you create, calling forward the words that come from your soul. And connecting, really deeply and truly connecting with that which is holy.

That’s what we’re doing today on day 2 of the December Plan. We are all becoming our own priests, our own priestesses, our own shamans, our own rabbis. We are all stepping into our own divine power and saying to our divine Source: here I am. How can we get closer?

How are you connecting this December?

The December Plan: Day 1

Do you remember your most magical year? I do. It was 2006. If I wanted something that year, I got it. I asked and I received. It was so easy and so fast, that “magical” is the only word that fits.

In January of that year, I called forth two life-altering miracles. First, I pulled my perfect marketing partner out of the sky. Those columns for UPI got the world’s attention and taught me how to write. That month, I also got tired of watching “Love Actually” and decided to actually have love. On Friday January 13 — my lucky day — I went to dinner with the intention of meeting my new love, walked into my favorite restaurant, and there he was. He told me later that at five o’clock he felt an urge to change his dinner plans and go there for the first time. So, what was I doing at five o’clock? Why, sitting in my chair and praying my request for the last time, knowing it would be filled — immediately. In June, Conari Press contacted me. In November, they accepted my proposal for Writing Down Your Soul.

2006 was a magical year.

Yesterday, I woke with a burning desire to have another magical year. I want so much. I want to write new books and have those books recorded. I want the perfect support and marketing team. I want to teach at renowned spiritual centers. I want prosperity to come home and roost — this time for good. And this year, I don’t want a lover; I want the love of my life.

I want.

And you do, too. I know you do. You tell me in emails and in person how much you want. You tell me over and over that you want 2010 to be different from 2009 — better, richer, more joyful, more abundant, more divine.

How do you do that? Well, I began the way I begin everything, with a chat on the page. “What made 2006 so magical?” I asked my Voice. The first idea that came up was Advent. “Advent” I wrote, “I haven’t thought about Advent for years. Why are we talking about Advent?”

Well, I learned why. Advent was a big deal in my childhood home. In December, we did not get a Christmas tree. We did not go on lavish shopping excursions. We did not decorate the house. Instead, my mother put a wreath on the dining room table with three purple candles and one pink. Before dinner, she lit one candle for each week and read a prayer. Advent, she said, was a season of preparation. If you wanted to fully receive the light on Christmas, you had to spend December getting ready.

You can imagine how thrilled we kids were about Advent. We didn’t want to pray. We wanted to make lists for Santa Claus. We didn’t want a bare living room. We wanted a sparkling tree. But there was no point whining. Mother was in charge and we were having Advent.

There was, however, one small delight. Every day one of us was invited to open a tiny door on a special Advent calendar. Behind it was a picture of a dove or an angel or a Christmas tree — some symbol of the joy to come. Those little pictures spurred our anticipation to even greater heights.

So what does my childhood experience of Advent have to do with creating a magical 2010? Well, I realize looking back that I had a spectacular 2006 because I spent the previous December getting ready. I spent long hours in divine dialogue dissecting how my life was unfolding. I wrote about the past and all its pain. I wrote about what I was learning and all the gifts I uncovered in my story. I forgave everyone I thought had harmed me. And I wrote in detail about what I wanted next in my life.

Finally, on January 1, 2006, I could write in a firm hand with total confidence: “I am ready. I am ready for my marketing partner. I am ready for my publisher. I am ready to be in a relationship. I am ready.”

The magic wasn’t just in declaring what I wanted — we’ve all done that and seen nothing happen. It was in being READY. I had given myself a rich Advent. I didn’t call it that at the time, but I had prepared my heart, my mind, and my soul to step into the next phase of my life. And because I was ready, totally and completely ready, everything I wanted came to me.

So this year, I am consciously creating a season of preparation.
Would you like to join me? Let’s spend December preparing the ground of our minds, our hearts, and our souls for a magical 2010. I ordinarily send my newsletter every two to three weeks. This December, I’ll send it every Tuesday. (Subscribe above) I’m also going to blog about it every day. Together, we will create a powerful December Plan.

By January 1, 2010 we’ll both be ready — really, really ready — to call in a magical year. I can’t wait!

Here’s the basic outline.

Dec 1-7–The process–Design your preparation rituals
Dec 8-14–The past–Uncover all the gifts of 2009
Dec 15-21–Get free–Release all your prisoners
Dec 22-28–Get focused–Create a short, clear “I want” list
Dec 29-Jan 1–Get ready–Call in your magical year

The first week is all about creating your own preparation. How do you want to honor this precious time? Here’s what I’m doing. Borrow any ideas that appeal to you or better still, make up your own.

I’m going to:

  • get a plastic candle wreath and fill it with holiday greens and 4 gold candles
  • light one candle the first week, two the second, etc, as I say a special prayer of preparation before dinner
  • soul write every day about preparing for my magical year
  • draw a little picture of something I want next year on each day of a December calendar
  • as I fall asleep, ask for help reaping all the benefits of the past year and let my dreams take me deeper
  • do a special December preparation card reading with my favorite card set to gain any new or deeper insights into 2009 and my desires for 2010
  • ask Brian and Lisa Berman on their live Going Deeper conversation on Wed, Dec 9 to talk about how we can listen with our spiritual ears to hear our deeper story (I think this is a particularly meaningful skill for our December healing and preparation time)

What about you? What are you going to do to create a fertile December that heals all the wounds of 2009, uncovers all the rich learning, and prepares the ground for a profusion of abundance and joy in 2010?

Tomorrow: you are your own priest/shaman/rabbi/teacher

Just what is your “intuition?”

When you get that gut feeling, that knowing, that “intuition” to do something or more frequently not do something, what is sending the message? Is it you or something outside you? And can you trust it?

What has happened to you when you’ve heeded or ignored your intuition?