Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Lessons We Are Here to Learn

This has been a busy news week in the US, with some major stories that continue to unfold.  For this blog I’m going to focus on two events:  the shooting of those in a prayer meeting; and the Supreme Court decision that Gay Marriage is legal and should be acknowledged in all 50 states.

The dichotomy, and yet the similarities between these two stories give me pause.  I understand that not everyone views them in the same way.  But it’s my blog, so I get the microphone for now and I’m going to attempt to express how they affected me, in the hope it might be helpful to you.

Both have historical implications and both involve prejudice and bias. One of the stories was originally about hate, and generated a lot of pain that will be felt for generations.  But it also generated a lot of love, forgiveness and unity – displayed by families and friends of the victims, and by others who are weary from all the hateful acts that have been committed in recent years.  The other was born of love – by those who were simply asking for the right to marry the person they love.  But it, too, has spawned a rash of hatred, bigotry and intolerance.  It’s my contention that both of these situations are examples of the lessons we are to encounter as spiritual beings having a temporary human experience.

The horrific hate crime in Charleston and the memorial services that are taking place have touched me in a very deep place. The depths of how hate can affect us as humans – and be spread so quickly – simply because some people are threatened by others who appear different from them leave me in wonder.  I’m sure I don’t understand the emotional turmoil the young shooter must have been going through.  But I do know we all have the capacity, if we narrow our focus enough, to let something we believe germinate until it grows into something else that becomes larger than life.

And then the there’s the recent rapid change in the country toward LGBT citizens (after years of struggle) – culminating in the Supreme Court decision that was just announced. (One poll I read showed Americans who support gay marriage has risen from 32% in 2004 to 58% today.  This event also touched me in a very deep place.  And I still tear up just thinking about it.  I know there are others who are very upset by this ruling because of their faith, which I respect and honor their right to maintain. But I’m repulsed by some of the venomous comments on social media, and especially by political and religious leaders.  These remarks invariably come from people who label themselves as Christians.  How can it be Christ-like to say such vulgar things about another human being!?  Again, much of what is being said is because they are threatened by those who appear different from them. 

What happened to researching, discussing and educating ourselves when we don’t understand something?  Just because someone is different from me in some way is not a reason to intimidate and torment them – unless there is fear. When we feel fear, we attempt to control whatever we believe is the cause of that fear.  I repeat: If we narrow our focus enough, to let something we believe germinate until it grows into something else that becomes larger than life.  As Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, commented to Chely Wright while he was helping her prepare to publicly come out:  There’s no one quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus.

I used to believe it was enough to love and respect the people I know who are of a different ethnic decent than I am or my friends who are LGBT.  But five years ago, when our friend Chely Wright became the first openly Lesbian Country Artist, I realized it wasn’t enough to just love my friends. That’s like being a bystander who does nothing when someone is being mugged.  I had to become more vocal and work to help secure equality.  I’ve always found my clients from a different heritage or the LGBT community fascinating and courageous.  But then I started volunteering at the LikeMe Lighthouse (an LGBT Community Center in KC founded by Chely).  I started sharing posts about LGBT and racist issues. I educated myself and engaged in conversations.  But most importantly, in this process, I met more people and I found some of my best friends – people who do more good in this world than I ever hope to.

Gay people marrying is not going to affect anyone who is not gay.  They are not out looking for recruits.  They are not polygamists.  They are not child molesters.  And if they get married to each other, they are not going to have any influence on heterosexual marriage.  (Although some of my lesbian and gay friends have some very strong marriages from which many heterosexual couples could learn).

Equality isn’t just for Blacks and other ethnic groups, LGBT, disabled or anyone else who appears different. It’s for each and every one of us. We all come from the same factory.  We may come in different packages, but inside we all contain the same ingredient – just like a drop of water exists of the same molecular structure as the ocean, we are each a piece of the originating Source. That ingredient is the energy of love.  The problem is that when we become human, we often forget that, and we let our ego run away with us.

If I had to point to the one issue that clients present most in my practice – it’s that they are trying to fit into someone else’s idea of who they should be. They feel they have to please someone – or everyone else.  In the process, they become sad, bitter and sometimes homocidal or suicidal.  It never works to live our lives for others, but that’s what those who oppose equality are trying to enforce. They are trying to say, “You have to be more like me.”  We are all meant to be free – free to be who we are. Those who are fighting equality (unbeknownst to them) are actually more imprisoned by their own rigid beliefs, because any time we fight or resist anything – we give it so much more power over us.

So, just as these two stories may be part of a divine plan, so is our reaction to them.  I’m not saying God (or whatever you call he/she/it) caused these things to happen.  Humans did, because we have free will.  But now we have the opportunity to determine whether we are going to let the world explode from hatred or if we are going to lift it to new heights of unconditional love. It’s up to you and me.


5 Lessons I Learned About Life By Investigating The Afterlife

Over the past few years, I have told many clients that I’ve learned so much more about how I want to live my life here and now from my study of the Afterlife. This is a blog written by Bob Olson, author of the book, ANSWERS ABOUT THE AFTERLIFE, and host of Afterlife From what I’ve learned over the past 10 years or so, I agree with almost everything I’ve read from him or heard him say.   Today is Father’s Day – and, although my own father is on the other side, I feel closer to him than I did while he was still here in physical form.  So I defer to Bob for my weekly blog. Enjoy.

I began investigating the afterlife after the passing of my father in 1997. Because I was skeptical about life after death and had little spiritual foundation or understanding of it (despite my Catholic upbringing), I became curious about what happened to my father after his passing. So I decided to use my skills as a private investigator (my career at that time) to investigate the afterlife.

My father’s passing was the beginning of a 15-year journey that would teach me as much about life as it would death. To be clear, I’m an investigator — not a psychic, medium, or channeler. I’m also not a scientist. I’m an investigator who draws conclusions based on an examination of the evidence using logic, reason, and pragmatism. I begin my investigations without bias or expectation and draw conclusions only after gathering and examining the available evidence. In other words, I look at the evidence first and draw my conclusions second.

In the last 15 years I’ve had the honor of interviewing thousands of people in this field, some very well known such as James Van Praagh, Anita Moorjani, Dr. Brian Weiss, Dr. Eben Alexander, and others of whom you’ve likely never heard. And while I can say without a doubt that I started in this business as a skeptic, I have now seen and learned too much to say I’m still one.

Here are the 5 most important lessons I’ve learned about life by investigating the afterlife:

1. Challenges In Life Are Expected
So many folks believe that something has gone wrong in their life when they experience disappointment, tragedy, suffering, loss, or pain. But no one promised us only positive experiences in our human lives. We learn just as much, if not more, from our challenging experiences as we do our more pleasant ones.

According to my experiences with mediums, our souls choose a human life in order to have experiences that we’re unable to have in the spirit world. Because there is no death, fear, illness, or hatred in the afterlife, our souls choose a physical life to know these experiences and, thereby, more deeply understand the love, joy, and inner peace that we know as spiritual beings. Consequently, we learn from the dichotomy of experiencing the opposite sides of what we know in the spirit world.

2. It’s How We Respond To What Happens To Us That Matters
People who have had near-death experiences teach us that experience is what happens to us, but it is our free will that gives us the choice of how to respond to what happens to us. Take any experience that most people would consider negative, and we can find someone who reacted to that experience as a victim and someone who reacted to that experience by making the best of it. The latter inspires us, of course, but even more these stories exemplify the power of free will and the human spirit.

3. Our Actions Create A Ripple Effect
Near-death experiences and life-between-lives regressions teach us that upon our return home to the spirit world, we as spirits experience what’s called a “life review.” What’s most amazing about this life review process is that we get to know and feel the physical, emotional and psychological impact we had on people in response to things we said and did in our lifetime. This insight inspires us to be better human beings. Knowing that our behavior in life has a ripple effect that potentially touches the lives of countless people is encouraging to be more mindful of how we behave and interact with others.

4. Forgiveness Is For Our Benefit
By studying after-death communications, mediumship, and channeling, we learn that forgiveness is actually less about letting the other person off the hook than it is relieving ourselves of suffering. When we carry the weight of blaming someone with contempt, it is actually our burden to carry. But when we release them of that blame and contempt (while maintaining healthy boundaries), we release ourselves of holding that negative energy inside us, which raises our overall vibration of love.

5. There Is An Evolution To Our Truth & Knowing
We all have our own truth. This is not to say that there isn’t a single truth–one universal truth–but being human, we can only know truth from our own individual filters. Our brain functions, past experiences, beliefs, and education all filter our present experiences in a manner that affects our interpretation of each experience and, therefore, our ultimate knowing. That doesn’t make one person right and another person wrong, of course; it makes your knowing and my knowing both perfect, even if they are miles apart. This also means that your truth today might change tomorrow if you have new experiences that add to your knowing. It doesn’t make yesterday’s knowing wrong; it merely adds a new layer to it, a layer that deepens your understanding at the knowing level.

My investigation of the afterlife has given me a greater chance for making the best of what happens in life rather than falling into victim-hood. Even in my daily life, I live with less fear and greater inner peace when faced with challenges. My understanding of why bad things are allowed to happen to innocent people–children included–helps me to focus my compassion on their suffering rather than get paralyzed by blame, fear, and judgment. And it is this understanding that I wish for you and others.

In the end, rather than take my word (or anyone else’s) regarding life or death, I encourage you to become your own afterlife investigator, gather your own evidence, and then draw your own conclusions. After all, this is your life experience. I merely share my own to help you recognize the possibilities.

Go to the Core

All of us have challenges in our lives.  Whether or not we see those challenges as problems or as opportunities will determine our sense of self.

Our problems are all near the surface.  When we have stress or anxiety, or any number of other concerns, as all humans do, it’s because we are allowing our ego to run our lives.  This definition of the ego is  the human part of us that feeds the thoughts that make up our belief system. The thoughts we feed are the ones that gain weight and eventually become our beliefs.  It’s the ego’s job to keep us feeling less than.  It tells us we are not good enough, never have been and never will be.  If we continue to pay attention to these thoughts, we will eventually define ourselves in this way.

Therefore, our problems originate with the ego.  When we become completely wrapped up in the comings and goings of our outer life, it can quickly wear us down.  It’s my belief that some types of anxiety and depression – and certainly stress – are caused by living on the surface, and not recognizing, honoring and feeling what we need to feel at the time a situation arises — in our core.  Our troubles result from avoidance of reality.

That might sound ridiculous to those who worry and obsess about things.  They don’t believe they are avoiding anything.  They think they are trying to face it and “figure it out.” (And I know a lot about this, since I have been known to obsess a bit myself!)  But all that does is keep us in our heads (which is where the ego resides). Most of those thoughts we are feeding are the same thoughts we had yesterday, and the day before that, and will be the same thoughts we’ll have again tomorrow unless we consciously choose different ones. And I’d guess the majority of those thoughts are negative.

There is nothing to be gained by ruminating about something.  This is when we become identified with those negative beliefs.  We become slaves to our beliefs. Slaves have no choices and no personal power.

But we are more than whatever is bothering us.  If we detach ourselves from these surface issues and become a compassionate observer of our own lives (through meditation, mindfulness and self-compassion), we discover the opportunity to address the causes of our problems, not just the symptoms. Often, there is something we can do – but mostly, it’s just about an awareness of who we are at our unconditioned level of self.  That is the part without the ego attached; the spiritual/higher self that is at our core.  That part of us is connected to our Source – and to every other being in existence. When we can find that place within us, we’ll find peace.  Rather than defining us, our difficulties then give us an opportunity to move forward – powerfully.

So our troubles are on the surface – much like an ocean, which can be rough, stormy and unpredictable.  But if we go deeper – to the floor (or to our core, unconditioned self), it becomes quiet, calm and peaceful.  The answers are not in our heads, they’re in our hearts.

Be the Instrument

When I was younger, I played the flute and piccolo. Before I decided to major in psychology instead of music, I became pretty proficient as a flautist. But if the flute was just sitting on my bed or in it’s case, it didn’t make music. I had to pick it up and play it to make the music.

The same principle applies when we think about our lives. It’s very clear to me that I don’t actually help people. I understand that I am just the tool or instrument that is available to help them effect change in their lives.

Saint Francis used to pray “Make me an instrument of thy peace”. Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

They weren’t asking for peace or change to be granted to them. They both understood that to have something, we must become active in the direction we want to go.

I recently heard an analogy that brings this home to me. We don’t need a map for our lives – a map gives very specific information about which road we should take, where to turn, etc.

What we need is a compass. A compass simply gives us a direction. Then we can use our “inner GPS” to help guide us. We are drawn towards what we are here to do. Having free will, however, we sometimes choose to ignore that pull. But if we take a side trip, our GPS will recalculate and, if we listen to it, we’ll eventually end up where we need to go.

So if you feel you’re not on the right path for you, or if you’re upset about the way things are in the world right now, decide what it is you would rather see in the world. Sit with it quietly and ask your higher self to lead you. Then get about the business of exhibiting those qualities you want to see.

Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens through you.