Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings

Posts tagged ‘Life Purpose’

Walking in Grace with Grief – Review and Author Interview


WalkGrace text_Layout 1One of my best friends lost her son in an accident and I felt the terrible anguish she and her family faced. I couldn’t imagine how one could go on to grow stronger and more centered in the midst of such tremendous grief. The answers came to me in Walking in Grace with Grief: Meditations for Healing After Loss by Della Temple. She beautifully offers her personal story of the loss of her son and the path she took to release her pain and find comfort in a continuing connection to him. She also describes how others can be of help to those suffering a loss, something we all need to know.

Part memoir and part meditation guide, Temple offers powerful guided visualizations to ground yourself, release the pain, grow stronger by filling yourself with universal energy and connecting to your higher self.

Using her meditations, you too can choose a path of growth and strength and release pain and grief, whatever your own personal struggles. Temple explains how to “let go of the story, the story of what would or could have been.”

Della Temple is an author whose writings meld the worlds of the physical and the metaphysical, a teacher and an energy healer. Here, she answers my questions:

INTERVIEW WITH DELLA TEMPLE


Becca: How would you describe the term “Walking in Grace?”

Della: A few days after the unexpected death of my son, I found myself in what I refer to as a state of Grace. I don’t know how else to explain it. I didn’t feel anger or rage against God. I experienced sorrow, a deep, fathomless sadness, grief, love, acceptance, compassion, and happiness – yes happiness – all at once. I felt the Divine surrounding me, in what I call the energy of Grace, offering me comfort and support.

I lived in this protective coating of Grace for most of the first year. It went wherever I went – and it literally felt like I was walking in a bubble of Grace. I wanted to include that in the title of my book, but there was also another part of my experience that was equally important. I don’t believe we walk through grief because grief isn’t something we get over. We walk with grief for the rest of our lives. We will always feel the hole in the heart left by the death of our loved one. The pain lessens, but grief is with us always. Walking in grace with grief is a very literal description of how I felt that first year of loss.

Becca: What message would you most like readers to get from your book?

Della: Often, we are so caught up in the emotions of sorrow, sadness, grief, anger, rebellion, and outright rage that we fail to hear our loved ones’ voices. But they are here. They constantly surround us with their love and support. We just have to open ourselves up to be able to receive their messages.

I often felt my son surrounding me in love and comfort—especially during the first year after his passing. I accepted this as a natural occurrence, and our Spirit-to-Spirit talks became an integral part of my healing journey. When we talked, he exhibited some of the same personality traits as in the body, and his sense of humor and playfulness helped ease my sorrow. I treasured these conversations because, believe it or not, they kept me rooted to the earth. They confirmed my deep faith that my son Rick had just changed form – the body had died, but his soul, the being-ness of my son was very much still “alive.”

What I’ve heard from readers is that some of them don’t believe they have the ability to talk Spirit-to-Spirit with their loved ones. Some even believe that they are not worthy or intuitive enough to communicate in this way.

What I tell them is to try.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to step into meditation. Daily meditation offers us the opportunity to quiet the outside voices and tune into our inner knowingness. Often our loved ones can reach into this space of soft awareness and let us know they are watching over us.

Rick’s presence in my life – his Spirit’s presence – confirmed my deep faith in life after life. My mountain of sorrow was lessened because I knew he existed as Spirit, and that was very healing.

Becca: We all hear about immersing ourselves in the present moment. What are your tips for doing so, to not focus on what could have been?

Della: I’ve come to think that grief is two-fold. It’s the painful longing for the physical presence of our loved one, and it’s the emotional heartache we feel as we disengage from these unfulfilled dreams, the sorrows of what could have been. The stories of a life unlived.

Every time my thoughts wandered to the what-if-he-had-lived stories, I pulled myself back. I literally would not allow myself to experience those thoughts. I chose another thought. I would force myself to think of something else – to remember a time from the past when he made me laugh, or to remember his voice or his smell. Anything but a what-if-he’d-lived story. This took energy and effort, but I think it made the difference in how I healed.

I shifted the thought and experienced my sorrow in a different vibration if that makes any sense. It was a higher, cleaner vibration – a healing vibration full of love and mercy. This vibration felt full of acceptance, kindness, and gentleness. I knew that if I could stay in this vibration – if I could surround myself with thoughts and feelings that resonated there – I could heal this deep wound. I had energy tools to help me stay in this vibration, and I share those tools with the reader throughout the book, so they too can stay out of the mire of what-could-have-been.

Defusing the power of the story allows you to return to the present, the now, the current situation without the baggage of what could have been, should have been, or wasn’t meant to be. Releasing my old stories allowed me to look at Rick’s death from a new perspective. It wasn’t about what could have been. It’s about what is – right here, right now. I still felt the pain, but it was a pain of missing my loved one right here, right now. It was not about all the future things that would not be.

Becca: What helped you most during your time of grieving?

Della: What helped me most during this time of sorrow was to embrace fully the concept of life after death. I have always believed in reincarnation – that we exist as eternal Spirits and come to earth to experience certain challenges and emotions. As we make ready for our trip to earth, we call together the Spirit forms of our soon-to-be-parents, siblings, friends, and colleagues. God is there too. We gather around a big “conference table in the sky,” and we design our soon-to-be life. We think about what our main purpose will be in this lifetime, and we design a life that presents many challenges and learning opportunities. Some of us choose to deal with only one issue; others choose many. Everyone at the table agrees to be a participant in this Contract of Life. Some will choose to be our mentors and trusted friends. Others will choose the harder role of being the “mirrors,” the ones who push our buttons and cause strife and disharmony. Each will take on a role that enhances the learning opportunity of both parties.

This Contract of Life includes many variables, or different paths that a person may take once they come to earth. Some paths are straight and narrow, leading right to the person’s overarching purpose while other paths are full of curves and unexpected dips and bumps. Some life paths are long, and others are short. Every day that a person is alive, she or he chooses which path to travel. This is free will in action.

Becca: What advice do you have for first-time authors who feel they have inspiration to share?

Della: Write! Journal, doodle, scribble – it doesn’t make any difference. Just move your story out into the world. Some people I know are more comfortable doing short videos, others write poetry. Don’t worry about whether it’s “good enough” – just share. You will get feedback along the way about your writing style, and that will help you craft your message so that it resonates with your audience. Most of us (especially me!) worry about what others think of our writing. Some of the energy tools I teach in this book helped to tame my inner critic, giving me the confidence and willingness to share.

Walking in Grace with Grief is available at Amazon.com. To contact the author, go to www.DellaTemple.com.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org

www.ChakraDiaries.wordpress.com

Review and Interview with Fred Howard on Transforming Faith: Stories of Change from a Lifelong Spiritual Seeker


Guest blogger Margaret Placentra Johnston, a practicing optometrist, is the author of Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind, Gold Winner of the 2013 Nautilus Book Award in Religion/spirituality.

I was delighted for the opportunity to read and review Dr. Fred Howard’s timely new title, Transforming Faith: Stories of Change from a Lifelong Spiritual Seeker. In it, he mixes snippets of his own personal faith journey with spiritual development Tranforming Faith coverwisdom from the ages. He uses these tools to work his way through to one of the clearest and most inspiring articulations of postreligious, postconventional faith that I have heard yet.

Howard’s book elucidates the spiritual development trajectory on three levels, his own personal journey, a synthesis of the stages other spiritual development theorists have described, and a trip through historical changes in religious authority that suggest our society in general is evolving through the same trajectory an individual might traverse.

A literal Christian in his youth, Howard worked his way through the inevitable religious doubts that anyone honestly engaging with our increasingly postmodern world would encounter. He emerged, as do many people going through these stages, with a deeper, kinder and greatly expanded interpretation of Christianity (and faith in general.) This form of faith allows him to engage more authentically in the world minus the provincial and limited religious beliefs of his youth.

Drawing on commonalities among the works of other spiritual development theorists, Howard refers to the earliest stage as “Adopted Faith*” common to most people in most traditional, organized religions, and similar to what he engaged in during his “born again” stage as a youth.

Howard calls the middle stage Individuating Faith, similar to James Fowler’s Individuative-Reflective Faith**. Here, a person faces down the inevitable doubts the rational mind is likely to impose upon the literal beliefs taught in most churches. This honest open-ended questioning and critical reflection may involve risk of defection from the church. But the benefit is that it can lead a person beyond the spiritual infancy of Adopted Faith, and may result in an individuated form of personal growth that is rarely acknowledged in conventional society.

The greatest gift of Howard’s Transforming Faith is in his articulation of the “final” stage. (I put the word ‘final’ in quotation marks because this is only the final stage we can articulate at this point. Spiritual growth is never finished, and we have no idea to what levels people may one day evolve.) He calls this Holistic Faith*** and says it is “a way of seeing life that [gives] wholeness, meaning and purpose to life,…better understood as a process….a verb rather than a noun…It’s an alignment of one’s heart with the heart of life and the heart of the universe.” Brilliant!!

But Howard lends added richness to the spiritual development concept by mentioning how our understanding of religious authority has continued to evolve throughout history. During the first fifteen hundred years of Christianity, tradition was the primary source of religious authority. Truth was dictated by outer authorities, especially in the form of the hierarchy headed by the pope. With the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, scripture emerged as the primary source of religious authority in the Western world. Together, these two eras may be seen as a society displaying a form of the Adopted Faith that is typical in the development of the individual.

With the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, the emphasis shifted away from outer authority toward greater importance on human reason as the more authentic determinant of reality. This era corresponds to Howard’s Individuating Faith stage.

Finally, in the nineteenth century, individual personal experience began to emerge as the ultimate determinant of reality – a type of faith “people can never fully grasp with analytical minds,” and corresponding roughly to Howard’s Holistic Faith stage – where faith is seen as trust – as opposed to beliefs. Howard wisely tell us: “Faith is not the absence of doubt. Faith is having enough confidence in the guidance of the heart.”

Transforming Faith serves as an excellent introduction to a hopeful and heartening view of individual spiritual development and overall societal human evolution, that has been articulated in many other books. Lest we be blinded by the “trees” of chaos and discord to which we are exposed through our conventional media, Howard’s perspective shares a glimpse of the “forest” – an optimistic future for humanity.

*referred to by other stage theorists as the Formal, Institutional, Fundamental, the Synthetic, Conventional, the pre-critical, the Faithful stage

**other theorists have called it the Skeptic, Individual stage, Critical Faith, the Rational Level, or the Critical Distance.

***referred to by other stage theorists as Mystic, Communal faith, Conjunctive Faith, post-critical faith, the Mystic level.

Here, Dr. Fred Howard responds to my questions:

MARGARET: What vision inspired your desire to write Transforming Faith?

FRED: When I first learned of the stage theory of spiritual growth, it so resonated with me as a process which I was in the midst of at that very moment. It made so many seemingly disparate parts of my life fall into place. Since then I’ve wanted to find a way to share it with others. Writing a book that included significant turning points in my journey struck me as a good way to do that.

MARGARET: How does your stance within Holistic Faith inform your work as a Unitarian minister?

FRED: Unitarian congregations are really a microcosm of our increasingly diverse religious world and, as such, have the potential to model good interfaith relationships to the rest of our society. Being in community with self-identified Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and even atheists, as is the case in many of our congregations, requires we develop a Holistic Faith approach.  The minister must think in terms of both/and rather than either/or. My goal is not to blend religions together.  Rather, I ask the members of our congregation to remain steadfast in their religious identity. I encourage everyone to find ways to be true to themselves and yet still be in relationship to one another. As we find ways to creatively accomplish this we develop Holistic Faith. We grow spiritually as individuals and as a community.

MARGARET: I know you are clear about this in your book, but for readers of Becca’s Inspirational Book Blog, could you supply a concise explanation of your view of God?

FRED: The word “God” has different meanings for most everyone.  But regardless of whether or not someone takes the notion of God literally, people with all varieties of spiritual sophistication still use the word to speak of a reality beyond the material world. So God, in essence, is a metaphor for meaning – a way for human beings to speak of something greater than ourselves, the great mystery of our existence, which gives life purpose. Heard in this way, it matters little whether or not God “exists” in any conventional sense.

Thank you, Margaret, for this incisive review and interview. Transforming Faith is available now on Amazon.com.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras – Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

Download my FREE Chakra Balancing Video at www.theChakras.org

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Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of Chakra Secrets, The Chakra Diaries and Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life

www.thechakras.org

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