Connecting to Spirit? What does that mean? How do we do it? And, what in the world is Spirit anyway? These are difficult questions to answer. Religion has tried. Philosophy has tried. And, now physics is trying. I have studied all these approaches and have found that words really fail to explain the essence of Spirit. And this is as it should be. Spirit is something that must be experienced first hand. But, once experienced, our lives are never the same. When we begin to connect to and live more and more from the authentic place of who we really are, we open to a level of joy and peace that truly does “passeth all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) To get there requires commitment – a true commitment – and a willingness to begin again, over and over, as we practice a new way of living authentically.
One of the first things that is important to understand is that Spirit is not something that is outside of us. We are already it. As the saying goes, “You are what you seek.” Accessing it, however, is where our work lies. We have forgotten who we are. This “re-membering” process is our journey back into wholeness, where our physical selves and energetic selves once again unite in harmony. From there, we can recognize the pure oneness of all creation. As Andrew Harvey says, this realization will “awaken you to your own deepest sacred desire to see all beings living in that harmony and to your deepest sacred courage to express this desire in passionate action.”
Ok, I know, you may be saying, “Come on Martha, this really sounds kinda woo-woo to me.” And, I totally understand that feeling. There is no language yet that can adequately communicate the reality of what Spirit is. That’s why I started with the idea that Spirit must be experienced. It truly cannot be understood until it is experienced. On this page, I will share with you four of the key resources I used to help me access Spirit which I define as “the Light within.” Also, my regular articles chronicle the unfolding process of my continuing path of awakening to that Light. But remember, there are many different paths of awakening. This is mine. It is my hope that by my sharing this information you will be provided with some ideas, benchmarks and guideposts on your journey into The Light.
Receiving the “Call” In 1997 my then husband Jim came home and said excitedly, “Gary Zukav wrote a new book!!” as he handed it to me. One of Jim’s hobbies in his 30’s and 40’s was the study of both theoretical and quantum physics. The first gift I ever gave him in 1979 was Gary’s first book Dancing Wu Li Masters, which is a clear and understandable (at least to Jim) account of the latest developments in physics. Jim was thrilled to be presenting me with Gary’s second book. I was a little suspect because I was no student of physics, having not been able to get through even the first chapter of Dancing Wu Li Masters. But I accepted the gift with a smile. Little did he or I know it would be the catalyst that dramatically changed our lives.
The book is The Seat of the Soul. As I read it and reread it, something within me was awakened. Gary’s message resonated deeply and served as my “wake up call” and first step on the path to awakening the Spirit within me. Brian Weiss, Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami and prolific author, describes Gary’s books as follows:
AUDIO CLIP: SEAT OF THE SOUL DESCRIBED
Using the basic laws of physics, Gary explains that we have evolved as far as our personality’s mental intellect will take us. To access our true selves requires the intellect of the heart which comes from our soul. This book helped me get in touch, for the first time, with the fact that I am both a physical being (my personality) and a non-physical, energetic being (my Spirit or Soul). Through his words, Gary encouraged me to connect with and use the wise and compassionate guidance that is always available when I can align with and listen to the voice of my Soul.
After deep reflection on Gary’s messages, my life began to shift. At first the changes were subtle and then, as years passed, more dramatic. I became to study the philosophy of yoga along with expanding my yoga practice. I began a meditation practice and attended workshops to learn more about living from this new place. My outward behavior didn’t change that much at first, but the information that I was taking in was creating the transformation of Martha from the inside out.
Some say that there is a “God Seed” within us that is just waiting to be watered so that who we really are can emerge. Seat of the Soul was that water for me and served as the wake up call to my Spirit. Everyone’s wake up call is different. If you are reading this, most probably you are interested in learning more about awakening. Perhaps Gary’s messages in Seat of the Soul will help you along your path as it so clearly did for me.
The Law of Attraction: In 2001, my good friend Michele who lives in LA sent me a tape recording of a woman named Esther Hicks talking about how we can change our lives for the better through our thoughts. I listened with interest but didn’t realize the true power of what I was hearing until years later. This was my first exposure to a very powerful law of our universe called The Law of Attraction. The basic premise of this law can be stated very simply – Thoughts Become Things! In others words, what you focus on you bring into your life.
The most potent form of energy known in our universe is thought. Thoughts, like everything else…including us…are made of energy. As with other forms of energy, every thought has a specific frequency or vibration which attracts to it energy of that same frequency. Thus, whatever is going on in our minds, whether conscious or unconscious, is what we are attracting into our lives. Unfortunately, most people think about what they don’t want, so by default they attract more of the same. I was no exception. Although I was living a very abundant life, I thought mostly about what was missing from my life rather than living in gratitude for what I had.
In 2006, shortly after my near death experience, I was reintroduced to the work of Esther Hicks who I learned translates blocks of thought from a group of non-physical beings who call themselves Abraham. Their intention, through their work with Esther, is to help us remember who we actually are so we can appreciate fully the important part we play in the process of universal creation. And, they are very clear about the fact that we create our physical reality through our thoughts. I frequently listened to Abraham’s messages and began to reshape the way I thought about my life. Here is a synopsis of the lessons I learned by studying the teachings of Abraham:
AUDIO CLIP: THE TEACHINGS OF ABRAHAM-HICKS
During that same time, I also watched the movies What the Bleep Do We Know and The Secret. These movies, that are both loved and criticized by many, helped me sort out for myself what within their messages was real versus just pseudoscience. This inquiry further developed my ability to understanding and put into practice the Law of Attraction. Although this concept has not gained broad acceptance within the scientific community, I experience it working in my life everyday.
Research groups such as the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in California, Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (PEAR) and the International Consciousness Research Laboratories (ICRL) have and are conducting cutting edge scientific studies on the impact of our thoughts on physical mass. Also, the Intention Experiment is discovering how human intention, properly focused, has the potential to change the world. Although these concepts may stretch what you consider possible, remember that like many scientific discoveries, what was considered “magic” yesterday, is fully integrated knowledge today. I encourage you to learn about this very important universal law – the Law of Attraction – and begin to experiment with it in your own life. It has made a remarkable difference in mine!
The Unthethered Soul: As part of my IONS membership, I frequently get “gifts” of books or CD’s as a thank you for my support. One such gift I received in 2008 was a book entitled The Unthethered Soul by Michael Singer. This book was pivotal in furthering my understanding of the non-physical, energetic part of my being. It reinforced all that I had been learning and experiencing about Spirit and it gave me practical “how-to’s” to truly live from this place. It is a short, but powerful book and a must read for anyone in search of a better understanding of themselves and of the Truth.
Michael explains that “there is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one that hears it.” This is a critical distinction because this internal shift in orientation allows us to disconnect our identity from that voice and develop what is called witness consciousness. As I began to live my life from the place of this witness rather than from identification with my physical self which always needed something, I was able to access an energy within me that had yet to be tapped. As Singer describes, “This energy comes from the depth of your being. The only reason you don’t feel this energy all the time is because you block it. You block it by closing your heart, by closing your mind and hiding in the darkness within you.”
I have chosen to stop hiding in that darkness and do the work necessary to stay in the Light. It’s not always easy and I don’t always succeed. But from the lessons learned from The Untethered Soul I made the following commitments to myself:
- I will live with an open heart and, no matter what, I will not close.
- I will be the witness and let everything pass through me no matter how painful.
- I decide to be happy no matter what happens.
- I will live in non-resistance to what is.
- I will not cling or attach to anything for these create my boundaries.
- I will live in spacious awareness and be the experiencer of each moment as it unfolds.
- I will live as if this is my last week on Earth.
By living these commitments day in and day out, I have been able to more fully live from Spirit where freedom, joy and peace abound. I invite you to join me in this “untethered” approach to life.
Coming Home: When I participated in Angeles Arrien’s Second Half of Life workshop in the fall of 2006, she shared something that rocked me to my core. She said, “You cannot reach true enlightenment until you revisit and embrace your religious root.” That statement really scared me and my mind went into defense mode. “Oh no” it said, “not Catholicism – I am NOT going back there!!” My sister and I were raised Catholic in our little southwestern town. My dad was a nonpracticing Southern Baptist but had to agree to his children being raised Catholic prior to being able to marry our mom. Almost all of our friends were Protestant. Church was important to Mother and being a Catholic was very much a part of who she was. Growing up, we went to mass every Sunday and learned our Catechism lessons. When I went away to school, I continued going to mass out of habit more than anything. However, I never really connected with the dogma of the Catholic Church. And so, at 26, after attending a particularly disturbing mass on the fourth anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, I made the decision to leave the church.
When Jim and I came together, we joined a Presbyterian church and were fairly active participants. But once our daughter completed middle school, neither of us felt the need to continue our involvement. Structured religion no longer had a place in my world. As a matter of fact, I became quite negative about religion in general. I found it divisive and the cause of much of the angst and turmoil in the world. Through my yoga studies, I became a student of this ancient philosophy of self-transformation and it took the place of religion for me. So when I heard that I had to re-embrace my religious root to become enlightened, I was not happy! Then, the way back in was delivered to me via a book entitled Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard. My friend Anna from Canada brought it to me as yet another hostess gift.
Disappearance of the Universe is a disarming, down-to-earth and sometimes very humorous explanation of one of the most important contemporary documents of our times – A Course in Miracles. As I read “Disappearance,” I felt as if I was coming home to an essential part of me that I had lost along the way – my religious root. Gary’s insightful explanation of “The Course” inspired me to learn more about A Course In Miracles and to study it on my on. My continuing study of The Course has allowed me not only to fully open my eyes to the Light within but to also live from that place of Spirit. I am very thankful to Gary Renard for having the courage to write Disappearance. Without it, I doubt if I would have felt comfortable even picking up A Course In Miracles let alone becoming a student of it. So, what is A Course In Miracles and what about it has made such an impact on me?
The Course was authored not by a person, but by a Voice that dictated it to Helen Schucman a research psychologist in the Psychology Department of the Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeon. Helen, who was Jewish and agnostic, started hearing a Voice that said “This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.” Needless to say, she thought she was going a little crazy so she ignored the Voice for awhile. Eventually, she did what it asked and started to take notes in a particular type of shorthand that she had developed for herself. Over time, it became clear to her that the Voice that she was hearing was the Voice of Jesus. The result of Helen’s note-taking, which was first published in 1976, is a 1200 page, three volume book. It is also a phenomenon, a work whose content and impact on the world is so unique that there are no real labels or categories for it.
The purpose of A Course In Miracles is to be an agent of inner healing and methodically teaches us to rewire the way we think about everything. It is a course in mind training that instructs us how to make the choices that will heal our inner conflict and bring instead inner peace. As Robert Perry, a scholar of The Course explains, “The Course has many deep similarities with traditional Christianity. However, it is clearly intended not as a restatement, but as a purification, of traditional Christianity. It states that by labeling sin as evil and time and space real, Christianity has subtly added to our burden of guilt, reinforced our limitations and made God a punisher, instead of a lover. As The Course says, ‘This is not the Gospel I intended to offer you.’ Ultimately, A Course in Miracles is designed to educate us in the choice between the spiritual reality of love and oneness and the worldly illusion of attack and separation.”
The Course is divided into three sections:
- The Text
- The Workbook
- The Manual for Teachers
The Workbook is where I started. It is made up of 365 lessons and is designed for us to do one lesson a day for a year. It took me about 16 months to complete the workbook. If you are interested in exploring The Course, this is where I recommend that you start. After completing about 1/3 of the Workbook, I also started on The Manual for Teachers followed by the Text. In total, it took me about two and a half years to work through The Course the first time. However, it is a document that I will spend the rest of this life and then some studying. I have just recently begun my second time through the lessons of The Workbook and am spending more time reflecting on the content of The Manual for Teachers.
A Course in Miracles has been instrumental in helping me heal and its teachings have facilitated my ability to clearly See The Light. My prayer for you is that The Course will find and speak to you as it has to me. I will leave you with the beautiful words of Robert Perry.
AUDIO CLIP: THE GIFTS OF THE COURSE