SGM June 2018 Weekly Message One: “The Four Stages of Your Spiritual Journey”

SGM June 2018 Weekly Message One: “The Four Stages of Your Spiritual Journey”

We truly hope you enjoy this "Weekly Message" normally reserved for members of Spiritual Growth Monthly. If this resonates for you in any way, we would like to invite you into our "home" to receive further guidance, blessing and support. Click here to learn more about the benefits and responsibilities of Spiritual Growth Monthly membership.

 
 
Welcome to this week’s edition of Spiritual Growth Monthly. I’m Kevin Schoeninger. It’s great to have you with us here at SGM!

This month at SGM, we’ll explore “The Power of Your Spirit,” the latest book by Sonia Choquette. Choquette is a world-renowned author, healer, and spiritual teacher. She has authored several best-sellers, including “The Answer is Simple,” “Trust Your Vibes,” and “Soul Lessons and Soul Purpose.” Choquette was educated at the University of Denver and the Sorbonne in Paris and holds a Ph.D. in metaphysics from the American Institute of Holistic Theology.

In her latest book, Choquette addresses the issue of connecting with your spirit, your Divine spark—what makes you glad to be alive and excited about your life purpose. In her work as a teacher and guide, Choquette has found that far too many people experience life as a struggle to make ends meet or exhaust themselves doing work they “push to get through” in order to have a few moments of weekend fun, vacation, or family time.

Our global culture is plagued with fear, stress, illness, and fatigue—hardly the joyful quest it is meant to be. As Choquette tells us, “I am convinced that the loss of Spirit is the root cause for most depression, addiction, disease, and discontent. But the worst consequence of a life disconnected from Spirit is that we lose touch with our deepest sense of personal creativity, which is the spark of Spirit in action.” (p. xii, TPOYS)

At the same time, we are witnessing the emergence of a new spirituality, a desire to live lives of deeper abundance, love, joy, meaning, and purpose. Yet, so often these pursuits, or the programs that encourage them, fail to deliver what they promise. What is the missing piece of the puzzle?

Choquette believes that “the reason for this frustration and spiritual impasse is that way too many of us are trying to make a transformational, energetic shift through intellectual means alone.” (p.xi, TPOYS) We are accustomed to taking in ideas and information but less familiar with what it really means to apply these ideas to transform our lives. As she says, “we’re still not making the commitment that will ensure our success. We want the gifts, but we aren’t engaging in the practical work necessary to obtain them.”

That is exactly why we created SGM—to support you in your personal spiritual practice. Choquette especially encourages us on this point: “The key to your success is to earnestly begin the process of unlearning and undoing the false, limited habits and beliefs of the inauthentic self that have imprisoned you, and replacing them with the liberating, conscious habits of a Divine creator. You have to be disciplined and commit yourself to practicing daily until Divinely conscious habit become second nature—and ultimately the only way you choose to live.” (p. xv, TPOYS)

The only way to fully realize what we truly seek—the experience of connection with our Source—is to make that the most important thing in our lives. Anchoring your life in Spirit can be accomplished through meditation, breath awareness, intention setting, conscious dreaming, expressing appreciation, focusing on gratitude, and sharing your gifts in service to those around you. In these and many other ways, you reorganize your life around your spiritual intent, rather than seeing spirituality as something you do after you get everything else done.

You may think that giving your devotion to spiritual practice will mean losing out on other things. You may think that it’s not practical, that it’s going to cost you time, money, or investment in things that are going to get you ahead. You may think that it means giving up something that you love—that it means poverty, intense self-discipline, or retiring from the ways of the world. You may not be ready for that—and so you may dabble on the outskirts of spiritual practice.

If you’re thinking like that, what you might be missing is that the Universal Life Force is the Source of everything that you require. When we devote ourselves to aligning with Spirit, our only loss is our attachment to things that “promise yet fail to deliver.” We lose our attachment to addictions and striving for things that can never satisfy.

What we gain is connection to the essence of “who we are.” We gain connection to our deepest inspiration. We gain connection to our highest purpose. We gain everything that we need in life as a result of that primary commitment to Spirit.

That commitment may come as a result of some intense or dramatic life-altering experience, or it may come from repeated experiences of frustration with a life that is oriented around ego-centered control. However you arrive at valuing Spirit as the center of your life, the practice of that is certainly a lifelong process. It is a journey of increasing refinement. According to Choquette it unfolds in four progressive stages: Awakening, Discovery, Surrender, and Flow.

In this Week’s Message, we’ll explore the four stages in order and what you can do to move through them in your own way. Next week, we’ll discuss a simple practice you can do to anchor a spiritual perspective in your life, remind you of that intention, and deepen your daily spiritual experience. In week three, we’ll explore how to release that which holds you back. And, in our Meditation of the Month, we’ll practice attuning the four dimensions of our being to align with our spiritual path.

So, let’s begin with the Four Stages of Transformation. I encourage you not to think of these stages in a strictly linear fashion. In other words, it’s not that you completely finish one stage then go on to the next one. Most likely, you’ve moved through all four stages in some area of your life, maybe in your career, self-care, or a particular friendship, while you may feel stuck at stage one or two in another area of your life, maybe a love relationship, parenting, or fulfilling a dream you have.

By becoming familiar with all four stages, you can learn how to move step-by-step from where you are to where you want to be in each area of your life.

You may want to set aside a nice block of time to go through these four sections thoroughly. Otherwise, you could give yourself four short time segments and go through each section one at a time. Either way, I encourage you not to rush through this material. Take time to ask the questions at the end of each section and then rest in a felt connection with Spirit afterwards.

1. Awakening

Do you find that you are living in a state of low-grade, yet persistent, stress? Do you ever feel that you are just trying to hang on amidst the craziness of the world? Do you feel that your life is about fending off endless emergencies? Do you feel as if you are working hard to stay in control of your life?

If you feel this way, your spirit may be ready to Awaken. You may be ready to shift from chasing after the endless distractions in the world, the addictions that numb you, and the many things that tempt you to replace your Authentic Path with “the next big thing!”

If you’re playing the game of trying to control life, it’s O.K. to let it go. You’re not going to win that game. There will always be more to do. Life is constantly changing. You’re not going to keep up by trying to “stay on top of things.”

At some point, you’re going to give it up. This is the point at which you open to “Awakening.” You say, “O.K. I see that I can’t do it all. I can’t plan for every contingency. I can’t control what happens. I can’t figure out the perfect things to do to avoid illness or make me live forever or have the perfect thoughts all the time. I need to find a different focus before this just wears me out.”

At this point, you’re ready for the following questions. I suggest that you set aside a little quiet, private time to answer these questions. Write down the first answer that comes to you without editing or conscious filtering. Are you ready? Let’s begin:

*What is the state of my health?

*Do I sleep well at night?

*How is my energy level?

*What percentage of the time do I feel like I’m living in a state of emergency?

*What am I trying to control?

*Am I taking daily quiet time and/or time to do “what I love?”

*Is there anything that I’d like to do, but I keep putting off?

*Have I had any moments of unexpected guidance or assistance, or events that stopped me in my tracks and prompted me to shift my perspective?

After you answer these questions, close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and enjoy this opportunity to connect to Spirit. Rest in stillness and silence. Entertain the possibility that there is a Force greater than yourself that is with you all the time, patiently waiting to support and guide you. The more you take time to connect with Spirit, the more the work of that greater Force will become evident in your life. Go forward in life expecting that Spirit is guiding you every step of the way.

2. Discovery

As you awaken through the questions above, you may become more curious about what it means to you to live a spiritual life. Your curiosity may draw you to Discover more about that. You may also discover what you are doing that keeps you from living your spiritual path more completely. You may discover that to move forward in your spiritual life requires you to establish some new priorities and commit to some new actions.

This may bring up fear that a spiritual path will “deconstruct” your current life. You may find yourself running away from that as much as you are attracted to it. You may inch your way to a certain point and then get cold feet and go back to your former ways of thinking or behaving.

What moves you through this phase and forward on your path is establishing a regular practice of connecting with Spirit. The more you feel that connection, the more you’ll want to feel it. In the Discovery stage, the primary question to ask is this: “What feels right for me in this moment?” In order to accurately tune into the inspiration of Spirit, a daily spiritual practice becomes a top priority.

Here are some questions to ask in the stage of Discovery. As before, give yourself several minutes of quiet private time and write down the first answer that comes to you:

*What does Spirit mean to me?

*Do I have a daily spiritual practice?

*Do I begin my day by focusing on connecting with Spirit?

*Do I check in with Spirit during the day?

*Do I end the day by reflecting on my life in terms of how I’ve expressed my spiritual path?

*In what way am I willing to devote myself to expanding my spiritual practice?

After you’ve answered these questions, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and tune into the feelings in your body. Rest in stillness and silence. Spirit can be discerned more clearly in stillness and silence. Connection to Spirit leaves you feeling expanded, peaceful, and inspired. Feel what Spirit means to you. Feel what Spirit is prompting you to do right now.

3. Surrender

Surrender happens as you let go of egoic control and turn your life over to the mysterious, unlimited, eternal guidance and support of Spirit. You connect with that guidance most directly through intuition. Intuition involves letting go of fears related to control and trusting Spirit.

Surrendering to Spirit is a shift that changes your priorities. It shifts what you focus on and how you spend your time and energy. It expands your availability to others. Choquette tells us that “The Spirit empowered rule is: If it calls to you , speaks to your creativity, brings out your most authentic self, honors your truth, opens your heart, and challenges you to grow, then it is the most important thing you can do in the world.” (p. 121, TPOYS)

Surrendering to Spirit means embracing your vulnerability, acknowledging your fears and insecurities, giving up your personal agendas, and listening and feeling for what Spirit is asking you to do right now. Following your Spirit liberates you and those around you, even if you can’t see it in the moment.

Here are some questions to answer at this stage on your path:

*What new creative expression or learning experience is calling me right now?

*If I’m not following this impulse, what reasons do I have for not following it?

*What am I afraid to change or let go of?

*What would it feel like to say “Yes” to this spiritual impulse?

*What would it feel like to surrender to Spirit’s guidance and support in my life?

*If I were to completely follow Spirit’s inner calling, how could it change my life?

After answering these questions, close your eyes. Take several deep breaths focusing on exhaling completely. Then, rest in stillness and silence.

4. Flow

The more you are able to surrender to Spirit, the more you experience flow in your life. As Choquette says, “You receive uninterrupted guidance, direction, solutions, gifts, and even positive surprises from the Universe every day. You place complete trust in the Universe to take care of you in every circumstance and situation you encounter. You can expect assistance with every problem or challenge that arises, and you will receive it.” (p.153, TPOYS)

You may have experienced the quality of flow at different times in your life. It may have been when you were totally involved in something that you love to do or when you were helping someone else. You may have been surprised by flow at unexpected moments. You may have found that it can come and go at any time. Along your spiritual path, you learn to facilitate flow by surrendering to Spirit.

In my experience, this is a life-long task. Flow may come easily in certain situations and not so easily in others. It may come easily in certain relationships and feel blocked in others. Once you begin to experience flow more often, it will become a familiar background against which you can more easily discern when you are not experiencing “that.”

It’s also important to realize that there are cycles to flow. There are times for expansion and times for rest and recovery. There are times for giving and times for receiving. Being in flow is about honoring the natural cycles of life.

Here are some questions to facilitate flow in your life. Take several minutes of quiet, private time to write down the first answer that comes to you as you contemplate these questions:

*What do I do so well that it’s a pure joy to do it?

*What does it feel like when I’m completely engaged in something I love to do?

*In what areas of my life do I feel flow most often?

*In what areas of my life do I feel the least flow?

*In what area of my life am I ready to expand now?

*In what area of my life do I need to take a break, rest, and regroup?

*On a scale of 1-10 how much do I trust my intuition to receive guidance about what to do right now?

*What would it feel like to trust my intuitive connection to Spirit 100%?

After you write down your answers to these questions, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and feel your body as a whole from the inside. Rest in stillness and silence. Rest in your connection to Spirit.

In next Week’s Message, we’ll explore a simple practice to support you in moving through these four stages on your spiritual path.

Until next time,

Listen and feel for the spark of Spirit,

Kevin

We truly hope you enjoy this "Weekly Message" normally reserved for members of Spiritual Growth Monthly. We appreciate these insights are not for everyone. But if this resonates for you in any way, we would like to invite you into our "home" to receive further guidance, blessing and support. Click here to learn more about the benefits and responsibilities of Spiritual Growth Monthly membership.