You haven’t heard from me for awhile. Taking a break is a giant no-no in the world of book marketing. But I think that’s a mistake. A big mistake.
Marketing is necessary. It’s how new readers find me and old readers go deeper into the concepts I share. But, as much as I love communicating with you through my books, courses, events, newsletters, and social media, I know that silence, stillness, and solitude are necessary in my life. And not just in my life. I believe that silence, stillness, and solitude are necessary in any spiritual life.
And what I want more than anything is a vibrant spiritual life. My own spiritual adventures are the source of all my books and ideas. And so, I have been quiet this July. And, don’t you know, as soon as I got quiet, the source fountain started bubbling over. It all began in Montana.
My annual soul-venture was a Soul Quest at the Blacktail Ranch in Montana. I stepped into this adventure the way I step into all my trips–in a complete state of trust. First, I trust Gayle Lawrence who designs all my trips. She is an expert in this field, having designed hundreds of spiritually stimulating Journeys of Discovery. I trust Spirit to attract the perfect group. And I trust that as the trip unfolds, everyone will experience exactly what they need, when they need it, and in the form they need. That includes me. I’m one of the travelers, too, and I know that I will be fed in ways I could never predict.
That’s exactly what happened at the Blacktail. I have many luscious stories to tell you, but the one that wants to be told today is the story of the cave. What happened there may well be the most important message I’ve ever received.
On the Blacktail Ranch there is an ice-age cave. The family protects it carefully and keeps it in its natural state. There are no railings, ramps or walkways inside. When you step into this glacial cave, you step into the womb of mother earth.
To get in, we backed slowly down a straight twenty-foot ladder, then crouched down and stumbled forward until we reached a large wet rock. The only thing to do was get down on our bums and slide into the cave.
But once we were inside and could stand up and look around, we realized we were walking where ancient brethren walked. They left petroglyphs and a bison and bear altar stone. They slept here, worshipped here, cooked here. We were on holy ground.
We asked our guide to leave us alone in the dark for a bit. He left and turned off the gas generator that powers a few lights. It didn’t matter if my eyes were open or closed, but I still closed them. It felt more reverent. The cave was not silent. There were drifts of cool air and a chorus of mysterious drips all around us. I swear I heard a few stone groans. The rocks emitted a perfume that cannot be described.
In the silence, I asked the massive stone ceiling above me, “Do you have a message for me?” What happened next is difficult, if not impossible, to describe.
I am accustomed to “seeing” divine guidance on the page. I have also trained myself to lie still in that not-awake-but-no-longer-asleep state I now know is theta. In those precious moments, I know what it sounds like to “hear” guidance. And in yoga, I’m learning what it “feels” like to be still.
The cave experience was none of these. In the moment after I asked the question, the stones delivered a message that arrived inside of me. No seeing, hearing, or feeling was involved. It was an automatic transmission or infusion. The voice of the stones was simply inside me and the rock said, “I am old. You are old.”
At first, I thought uh no, rock, it’s you who are old. Ice age, glacial rivers carved you. I, on the other hand, am just 64. But I wasn’t about to argue with the bones of the earth. So I was still and allowed the rocks to repeat inside of me, “I am old. You are old.” After a few minutes, I realized that the pronouns had shifted, and the I had become me and the you had become the rocks.
That’s when the wisdom burst open inside me. I sensed the rocks were smiling as they watched me awaken to a core truth. I am a soul. Souls are old. We know this. We say “immortal” soul. But think for a moment what that means. If a soul is immortal, it is old. Big old. Old old. Older than the rocks old. I was stunned by the depth of this wisdom. It is the first time I knew–and I knew that I knew–that I was a soul and my soul was in touch with all that is, even these elegant, eloquent, ancient stones.
Now, I know that this is a truism and we speak this truism all the time. But saying “I am an immortal soul” is not the same thing as knowing this at the core of your being.
Try it on for size. Imagine yourself in a Redwood forest or an ice age cave or beside an ocean. Picture yourself in your favorite natural setting. Ask for a message. Then, allow the tree or the rock or the ocean to speak to you. Perhaps it will say “I am old. You are old.” If it does, repeat it fifteen or twenty times and notice how you feel. Do you sense your soul singing in recognition? Then, from the soul level, sing back to your sister rock or brother tree, “I am old. You are old.” Or perhaps, your ancient friend has a different message for you.
I’m going to post this newsletter on my newly renamed and renergized blog, “soul sparks.” (That’s a message from the Blacktail, too, but I’ll save it for another newsletter.) After you’ve had your own “old soul” experience, please add a comment about what happened. We’d love to hear.
From this old soul to your old soul, I wish you a space of silence, stillness, solitude this summer so your soul can step forward and sing to you. Perhaps it will sing a song of creativity. If so, my two courses on creativity are about to begin.
Plug In for Writers if your soul longs to sing in words.
Plug In for Expressive Souls if you want to see with the eyes of your soul, hear with the ears of your soul, feel with the skin of your soul, and know–and know that you know–with the mysterious essence of your soul.
Come play with me. I can’t predict the outcome, but I can guarantee a glorious adventure into the wisdom of your beautiful old soul.
Yesterday I was interviewed on the Change Thrivers radio show with Afsaneh Noori. We talked about how deep soul writing can be a loving helpful tool for anyone experiencing change. (In other words, everyone!)
At the end, Afsaneh asked me to share a few tips for listeners. Here they are. I thought they might be helpful for everyone, not just the Change Thriver audience. Because we all experience change. Change is life. And we all want to and deserve to not just survive change, but find the music of our souls within it.
Six Soul-Feeding Tips
- Give yourself the gift of STOP. The one gift we can all give ourselves is the gift of time. It can be just a few minutes, but for those five or ten minutes, get off the go-go train we ride all day and just be still. Deep soul write or meditate or just sit and breathe. Allow. Allow your inner knowing, that wise loving Voice, to speak to you. In the silence, you will find your way.
- Pick up a pen. Don’t wait until you’ve finished reading Writing Down Your Soul. Take a breath, set your intention, address the Voice by name and begin. (The seven steps to get into theta are at the front of My Soul Pages, the companion journal to Writing Down Your Soul.) It’s a life-long conversation. You can start it today whether you know all the ins and outs or not. Release any expectations of what it “ought” to be like. Just begin. You’ll find the Voice is a loving, gentle presence and is oh so happy you’ve come to talk. (You can find lots of tools to help you build a deep soul writing practice at my website, including the Thirty-Day Guide to Writing Down Your Souland a 45 minute teaching video on the Seven Steps to Get Into Theta and more)
- Ask for guidance. Ask for guidance on the page in your deep soul writing, in your mind, in your prayers, as you’re falling asleep. All day and night long, ask for help. Help will come. It may come in forms you didn’t expect, but it will come.
- Pay attention. Everyone has innate spiritual intelligence, we just don’t use it. By starting to become aware of your spiritual intelligence, you strengthen and expand it, just like a muscle used in exercise. How do you exercise your spiritual intelligence? Pay attention to your intuition, your gut feelings, your emotions, synchronicities, books and messages that come your way, invitations, dreams…. There is no end to the ways guidance works with us once we begin to pay attention.
- Maximize your natural time in theta. As we awaken from sleep each and every one of us moves through the theta brain wave state—the only state in which we have access to break through thinking and true creativity. So use it. In the morning, lie perfectly still, don’t open your eyes. Just lie there and allow information and ideas to flow to you. Train yourself to lie still for longer and longer periods of time. Any question can be solved just resting in theta.
- Go on a media diet. Especially if you are in a fearful state right now or prone to pick up other people’s fear. The media and our political systems are designed to keep us afraid so we’ll turn to them to tell us how to stay safe. Fear is the absolute worst thing for your soul. Your soul is not naturally fearful. It is not afraid of life; it chose life. So help yourself by stepping away from the waves of things to be afraid of coming over the TV and internet and radio. If you can’t limit all TV, at least don’t watch any news before bed. (And keep in mind this is from someone who worked for and loved CNN!)
- Eat lots of “soul food.” In place of your media diet, feed your soul with lots of rich spiritual books and practices. Listen to loving uplifting messages. Read mystical poetry. Write down your soul. Pray. Sit in nature. Be still and know that you are loved.
There are undoubtedly more things you can do to feed your soul, but these will get you started. Please share your favorite “soul foods.”
Have you noticed that when you set the intention to connect with your divine Voice on the page every day, those ten or fifteen minutes morph until it seems every moment becomes a vehicle for guidance, wisdom, and grace — even the most mundane?
Like running errands. After mailing three orders for Solarzar’s Theta Music CD at the post office yesterday afternoon, I drove to the library to return a book. The library is on the same street as my son’s high school. I’ve driven it hundreds, probably thousands, of times. Nebraska is an unremarkable street of typical Florida cement block homes. But yesterday something remarkable happened there.
Nebraska is a fun street in December. Many of the neighbors decorate for the holidays. As I passed one candy-cane filled yard, my eye fell on the plain brown house next door. The yard was overgrown, the roof layered with leaves. I know that house. It belonged to my first post-divorce boyfriend. He sold it before we went out, so I’ve never been inside, but he pointed it out once when we were driving somewhere. In the moment it took to drive past that house at thirty-five miles an hour, I felt a little twinge of neglect. He should have loved me more.
Huh? Where did that come from? I had no idea I was carrying any regret for that relationship. He wasn’t even the one who ended the relationship. I did. And I ended it ten years ago, for heavens sake! So why on earth was I feeling even the slightest speck of sorrow?
I know why. It’s because of this December Plan. This particular week of the December Plan. My old boyfriend’s old house had a message about forgiveness for me. And its not the message you might expect. The message is not about forgiving old lovers.
I realized as I drove past his house that any time anyone pulls away, even a little bit, and even for all the right reasons, and even because we ask them to, we feel at a subterranean level that somehow it was our fault. Somehow we were not enough. Not attractive enough, not smart enough, not clever enough, not rich enough, not organized enough, not focused enough…. Somehow we were not enough.
It’s a demented logic loop, I know. Here’s how it basically sounds:
If I were good enough, everyone would love me. They couldn’t help it.
So, if someone does not love me totally, madly, and completely…
I must not be good enough.
It sounds pretty comical laid out like that. But please don’t laugh. Look instead for the truth inside the loop. Go ahead, test it for yourself. Pick a relationship that didn’t work out. Even, or especially, one you chose to end. If you peek behind the door, I think you’ll find that at a deep emotional level, a deep irrational emotional level, you feel that somehow you didn’t hold the other person’s attention. If you had been just a wee bit more __________ — something — then he or she would never have turned to someone else, or fallen out of love with you, or simply stopped being interested.
Why is this such a big message? And why is it so important for this week? Because it proves that there is really only one person who needs forgiving.
Not the other guy. You. It’s always you. The wound is inside of you. It’s not about what the other guy did. That can and will be forgiven, but the first wound, the greatest wound, and the hardest one to heal, is inside of you.
Have you noticed that?
This is the beginning of Week 3 of the December Plan to call in a magical 2010.
Thanks for joining me in this December Plan to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls to call in a magical new year. It’s been quite an adventure so far, hasn’t it? The first week we set our intention and created our rituals and process. That was fun. (I continue to light my candle and say my December Prayer every evening and write one wish on a teeny card. Always renews my spirit.) Last week we unearthed the gifts of 2009 — all of them. I had quite a few surprises; bet you did, too.
This week we plunge into the richest spiritual work we can do.
It’s the most freeing, the most important, the most essential.
But, truth be told, we don’t want to do it. Guessed it yet? Yup. Forgiveness.
Hafiz, the great Sufi poet, described the magical power of forgiveness perfectly:
Forgiveness is the cash you need.
All the other kinds of silver really buy just strange things.
Everything has its music.
Everything has genes of God inside.
But learn from those courageous addicted lovers
of glands and opium and gold —
Look, they cannot jump high or laugh long
when they are whirling.
And the moon and the stars become sad
when their tender light is used for night wars.
Forgiveness is part of the treasure you need
to craft your falcon wings
And return to your true realm
of Divine freedom.
The Subject Tonight is Love, Daniel Ladinsky
Forgiveness is the cash you need. The cash I need. The cash we all need to return to our true realm of divine freedom. Freedom. That’s what we really want in 2010. That’s the whole purpose of calling in a magical year. Did you think it was the house, the car, the lover, the job, the contract, the money? Or as Hafiz says, “the glands, the opium, the gold?”
What’s the real reason you want the things you want for next year? Because you want to be free. To feel free. You want to “craft your falcon wings” and fly. Fly to the place where you are who you want to be — who you came here to be. To the place where you are the fullest, richest expression of your whole, authentic, holy self.
Next week, we’ll get real clarity about our wish lists. Hey, I’ve got an idea. From now on, let’s call them our “Freedom Lists.” But first, we need some cash to spend. The universe, you see, is a store. Like any store, it’s run on currency. You want something, you exchange currency for it. In this divine store, the currency is love, forgiveness, and gratitude.
Think about it. Is there really anything else?
- If you love and are loved…
- If you forgive and are totally and completely forgiven…
- If you are filled with gratitude and the people around you are filled with gratitude for all you are and all you do…
You’d be incredibly rich, wouldn’t you? The truth is you’d have quite a stash of universe-currency. And you could “buy” anything you wanted. Well, we are going to be doing some serious “shopping” on New Year’s Day, but first we’re going to gather some universe-cash, quite a bit of it, in fact.
So, join me this week as we dive into the miracle of forgiveness. We begin tomorrow forgiving the the person it is hardest to forgive. Do you know who that is?
(This post was originally published in the Writing Down Your Soul newsletter. To receive it click on the Subscribe tab above.)
Ellen DeGeneres woke us all up. My last post, the one about her commencement address at Tulane, attracted a huge spike of readers. I think I know why. Ellen laid out a way — an incredibly simple way — to SEE your Life Around the Corner, by “seeing” it on the page in conversation with God. Ellen saw herself sitting next to Johnny Carson on the tonight show. Given Ellen’s situation at the time, that could have been labelled totally absurd, possibly delusional. But, guess what? It happened.
Her experience has really stuck with me. So, this morning, as I was saying my prayers, repeating my Covenant and my Writing Blessing, I closed my eyes and had a little chat with Spirit, or as Reverend Lauren McLaughlin, calls it, the Eternal Life Force — ELF. I was just saying something to the Elf, when I saw in my mind a bright white glowing light about the size of a basketball in my hands. Instinctively, I looked down into the white ball.
OH, I realized, this is how Ellen did it. She looked into the future, into her crystal ball, so to speak, or using my new favorite metaphor, into her spy binoculars and saw the Life Around the Corner. Clearly. She saw herself sitting next to Johnny Carson. Not wishing or hoping or “wouldn’t it be great if…” but saw it. Probably felt the chair beneath her. Felt the lights, saw his face close up. She simply was “there” inside her future experience. Did it happen because she experienced it a decade in advance or was it always going to happen and in that moment she simply got a peak? Interesting philosophical, metaphysical question there. And I don’t have the answer. Not an intellectual answer. And guess what? I don’t care how it works; I just want to have the experience.
So, looking into my white ball of light, I said, OK, I get it. I’ll sit down with my pen and have my own conversation with Spirit and SEE my future.
I asked on the page, “What is in my life around the corner?” Out gushed a bunch of things: Being on Ellen and talking about her experience, being on the Oprah Soul Series and on her TV show talking about deep soul writing, being interviewed by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, shaking Neale Donald Walsch’s hand and hearing him say that deep soul writing is how he had his Conversations with God, and signing a half million dollar advance. All delightful. All powerful. All big.
But when I looked at the list, I said, “OK, I love them all and I DO see them all happening, but what ONE event, what ONE experience would be proof that all of this has transpired and more? What one experience sums up my Life Around the Corner?”
I knew immediately. I drew a bold dark blue ink square around the words: Walk into the New York city library and touch a shelf full of my books.
Even as I type that sentence, I feel tears. Tears are proof that this is THE apex experience I will have. I don’t know when. (When is not my job.) I don’t know how. (How is not my job.) Just know that it will happen. I am standing there right now, in my mind, in my white ball of light, smiling and reaching out and running my fingers slowly along the ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen books that I have written. I turn to my son and with tears in my eyes, say, “Here I am, permanently, in the New York city library. Guarded by the lions.”
Close your eyes, hold the white ball of divine light or the spy binoculars or become a hawk who flies ahead to see your Life Around the Corner. The image doesn’t matter. Just choose one that feels right to you and ask, “How will I know that I have achieved my Life Around the Corner?” Pick up a pen and start writing. See what images come through. No matter how wacky or amazing or unlikely or impossible — write them down.
Why? Because Ellen sat next to Johnny Carson. Because I will run my hands over my books in the main library in New York. (Oh, and be on Oprah and Ellen, and GMA!)
How about you? What are you doing in your Life Around the Corner?
So there I was yesterday, teaching small groups of school-weary teenagers what the theta brain wave state is and how to get into it through writing. After teaching the same thing for the third time, I was weary and wondered, “What am I doing here?” I could have gotten some sleep — and lord knows after teaching all weekend, I could use some sleep. I could have written a blog. I could have started my next newsletter… but here I am, talking to kids, most of whom don’t appear to want to do this anyway.
But there was one young woman who cried when she wrote. She didn’t say anything, just smiled sadly. She came back three hours later as I was leaving. I thrust my copy of Writing Down Your Soul in her hands. Last night, she emailed. She said she couldn’t put the book down. She was devouring it and underlining every other sentence. She said that that ten minute experience of deep soul writing awakened something. Now, she said, I want to “embrace a pen and never let it go.” When I read her email, I thought, oh, now I know why I said yes to Diana.
But it turns out I didn’t really know. Not fully. Jennifer Hill Robenalt, my heaven-sent media guru, sent me a video this morning with strict orders, “You have to watch this.” I watched.
I laughed for the first four minutes. Then, my eyes shot open and I burst into tears. Ellen found herself the same way the young woman at Blake is finding herself. The same way I found myself. The same way you are — or can — find yourself.
Your self is right there inside of you. Your vision, your purpose, your story — as it could be — no, as it will be. Ellen had a little chat with God on the page and found Ellen. And just look at what happened.
I needed a reminder today that Writing Down Your Soul matters. Here it is.
How did you (or are you) finding your self? I’d love to know. We’d all love to know.