the kingdom of heaven

the kingdom of heaven

It’s amazing, how many different ways there are to interpret what it means to live your best spiritual life. I’m not an expert on religion, other than Christianity, since it’s what I was brought up in, but I’ve always thought it would be interesting to become an expert on world religions.

I’ve met enough people to know many times people interpret religious text differently, even the same verse, for example, from the Bible.

I was brought up in a home where scriptures were interpreted literally, and I’ve spent my life, to this point, untangling the literal cords that nearly strangled me. 

My spiritual journey has been a winding, uphill road, but recently I had a moment, while listening to an interview on YouTube, where a massive, meaningful part of the puzzle, relating to experiencing the presence of God, fell into place. That interview, with Eckhart Tolle, can be found below, under today’s resource.

One night, when I was in college, in my dorm room, and my roommate was away overnight, I was determined to lie on the floor of our room, in the darkness, until I felt the presence of God either enter or surround me.

I was at a point, even while attending a Christian university, where I did not feel God was accessible the way I had been taught.

I could never really access God or Jesus the way I had when I was an impressionable, gullible child. There were just too many holes in the story, and the narrowmindedness of only “one way” to God felt dead wrong to me.

But on this night I was willing to once again open myself up to the possibility that maybe God would show “Himself” to me, if I pleaded and strove for it. So, I lay there in the darkness for hours, asking God to “show me a sign You’re real” or “Bring Your presence into me,” and, after hours of lying on my back in the darkness, I had to admit to myself, I felt & experienced NOTHING.

That was a turning point for me. Not long after, I decided that would be my last year at a Christian university. University of Colorado was looking real good. Al though I had encountered several awesome, groundbreaking Marketing professors and found an amazing church called Higher Dimensions, something about that experience on the floor, receiving nothing when I’d been pleading to experience ANYTHING, was a total let-down and game changer. If God really worked that way, God would have been sure to show up for me that night in a way I could have felt.

Fast forward years later to this video… it is truth for me and freed me up in how I experience the presence of God. Maybe it will do the same for you.

Specifically, this post focuses on the part of this interview identified as The Kingdom of Heaven, 23:21 into the video.

you are not your thoughts

you are not your thoughts

There can be a lot of struggle with what goes on in our minds, and I’m sure there are many different ways people handle unwanted thoughts.

I’ve always thought it important to be emotionally honest with ourselves and others, and still do, but something shifted in me after reading the resource I’ve included in this post. 

What shifted for me is that, no matter what thoughts or feelings I have, I can accept them and chose a behavior that moves me toward what I want, rather than respond automatically to negative thoughts.

So, if I’m in a friendship where I want a particular kind of response from a friend and do not get it, I can accept my thoughts and feelings, yet behave in a way that protects the friendship rather than brings damage. I can communicate honestly about what I was hoping for, but in a way that helps build trust between us instead of erode it.

This article starts with a quote I’ve referenced in another post:

“Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. ” ~Reinhold Niebuhr

I’m telling you, this quote is GOLD.

When reading this article, I was struck by the realization many of us feel overcome by our thoughts, but no one would know it, since it’s an indiscernible occurrence. Yet, isn’t that why many turn to drugs or alcohol, to tune out the thoughts?

The author of this article shares, “Around and around it went inside my mind, a never-ending internal conversation full of questions and uncertainties—the not knowing driving me insane and the desperation increasing every day. I must be able to resolve this, I thought. I need answers. I was overwhelmed by questions, uncertainty, indecision, paralysis, and fear.”

She goes on to tell us she was self medicating for a generalized anxiety disorder, and during her recovery she was taught and used a behavioral model called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (or ACT.) This is based upon three basic concepts: acceptance, commitment and behavior.

My main take away from her article mirrors what I wrote at the beginning of this post: we accept our feelings, but we choose a BEHAVIOR that moves us more toward what we want. To me, that’s true empowerment.

She writes, “You are not your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. You don’t need to try so hard to control them; you just need to accept them and come into the present moment so you can control what you do.”

That, my friend, is also GOLD!

She offers valuable insight, giving more detail for each of the three steps, and to read this article, click here.