Take a nap!

Why is it that kids and older folks can take a nap and everyone accepts it, but as soon as anyone else does s/he is lazy and ought to be doing something?

Okay, I know that’s not true of everyone, but seriously: When was the last time you indulged yourself by taking a short nap in the afternoon? I hope it was lately! My favorite is curling up on the loveseat in the living room or on the bed with Lucy and Dillon (our cats, who are great napping experts!) and a nice throw. Aren’t throws and afghans just the nicest, most comforting thing? I especially like my Winnie the Pooh and Friends throw or the crocheted afghan my Grandma Esther gave me several years before she passed on.

The problem that often stifles a nap is our modern, techno, multi-tasking daily lives. if we allow ourselves to get caught up in that. I remember when I was a child hearing the futurists tell us that computers and robots would save us so much time that we’d only have three-day work weeks. Instead, we’ve adopted 50-, 60-, 70- or more hour work schedules using computers and other devices to double our output.

Ever been to Spain? I have. Lovely, civilized nation (like most of Europe) where everyone shuts down at noon, has a meal together and then sacks out for a couple of hours. Now that’s a culture that knows what it’s doing. I’ve read that a ten-minute nap can make us more cheerful; twenty minutes and our senses are sharpened; nap for thirty minutes and it promotes well-being.

I hope you live with loving people like I do who value rest time and encourage napping. If not, it’s time you gave yourself permission for a short revitalization period, as in a nap. Turn off your mobile devices, close the door and enjoy the peace and quiet of resting. At work all day? Some people crawl under their desk. I know a woman takes refuge in the ladies room. You could go out to your car if you drive to work. Napping outside is also an option and you can connect with nature as well. Lean my back up against a tree overlooking the Susquehanna River here in Harrisburg? Heaven. I don’t even notice the traffic noise on Front Street. Well, not much anyway.

You get the idea! Take time for you and nap your way into a more productive, peaceful and worthwhile day!

“I’m Just the Kid that Waters the Plants”

Yesterday I overheard a conversation between an employee and customer while I was at Home Depot picking out flowers for our gardens and getting mulch. It got me thinking about how we can so easily devalue ourselves and at the same time stay stuck in the space we’ve accepted for ourselves.

The customer asked the employee watering the flowers if he could help her to put some heavy mulch bags into her trunk. “I’m sorry I’m just the kid that waters the plants. Let me see if I can find someone else to help you.” (To his credit he at least offered that!)

Are we “Just the (fill in the blank) who does (whatever we do)?” This young man was not only stifling his experience, but he’s also buying into his title. When we allow our titles and responsibilities to constrict our expression of who we are and what we can do we rob ourselves of experiences that might enlighten us further on our spiritual path or give us joy. When we buy into our limitations we also rob the rest of the world of the unique expression of God that we are. Helping someone is a sacred act. The root word for “work” is linked to “worship”. What if we looked at everything we did as an act of worship, a holy expression of ourselves?

I recently attended an academic celebration for high school students. The keynote speaker talked about being “ordinary people”. I thought to myself, Wow – she’s inspiring these kids to be nothing more than others expect them to be. I was pleasantly surprised (and a little ashamed of my judgmental attitude!) when she wrapped up her talk by saying that what looks like an ordinary life to others can actually be an extraordinary life. We don’t all have to be superstars on the cover of grocery store gossip rags to be “extraordinary”.

Out of these two experiences I’ve recommitted to being extraordinary in every ordinary act I accomplish – whether or not anyone else is aware of it. I will also be willing to catch myself in being “just” anything. Join me in being proud of all you do and have a wondermous day!

The Calculated Risks of Prayer, Part 4: The Danger of Having Our Prayers Answered

I firmly believe that most of us have a far greater fear of success than we do a fear of failure. Failure we get. Our hopes and dreams have been dashed on the rocks more times than we can imagine: we lost the job, our partner cheated on us, we didn’t lose the weight, we never finished high school, etc. I hope you’ve seen in the first three parts of this series that the term “risk” in working with prayer is being used with a “tongue-in-cheek” meaning.

But success? OMG – if we get what we want what WILL we complain about?!? I’m sure you have people in your life (peripherally, I hope!) that you are sure belong to the Complaint-Of-The-Month Club. These dear folks are so attached to their problems that the problem du jour becomes a way of life, a guiding force to be considered about all else. The metaphysical Law of Increase states that whatever we focus our attention on increases. That’s great news if we are concentrating on creating a better life for ourselves, but not so much if we are always looking to the negative. I call it the “Eyeore Effect”, named after the pessimistic donkey of Winnie-the-Pooh fame. Since Law is no respecter of persons or intention, but simply responds, that same Law works just as consistently if we are concentrating on the next shoe dropping…and so it will.

So the last and really the biggest risk of prayer is having our prayer answered, i.e., we actually get what we want. Prayers never go unanswered and our treatments always work. I’m not a fan of “never” and “always”, but in this case they are applicable. Now, having said that, I must agree that our prayers are not always answered the way we want or in the time in which we expect them to be answered. Likewise, our treatments do not always manifest the way we expect them to on the conscious level.

The fact remains that, thankfully, Universal Law is impersonal and works the same for everyone. We cannot beg, barter, steal or bribe it to working differently. It works immediately and through our level of acceptance will affect the manifestation in our lives.

Believing that God answers prayers comforts millions of people, but it can also be frightening. A Hindu teaching says that when the gods want to punish us they give us what they ask for. I don’t believe in a punishing god, but in a humorous way it reminds us to be aware of what it is for which we are treating or praying. What happens when the prayer is answered?

I can answer that by asking another question: Do you ever become afraid when everything is going right? If we are willing to give up all our pet peeves, ingrained prejudices and old grievances we just might find peace in more areas of our lives than we thought possible. If we truly believed in the power of prayer and the strength of our treatments the world would look like a much different place. Dr. Ernest S. Holmes, the founder of the Science of Mind said over 50 years ago that if we only had 1,000 religious science practitioners practicing this philosophy we would change the world. We have had far more than 1,000 licensed practitioners for some time and thousands more lay practitioners using the principle of the Science of Mind. It’s time we started manifesting more effectively what we claim to believe, both for the planet and for our personal expression of life.

Harsh words? Not really. It’s Reality, and yes I mean to type the “R” and not the “r”. The Reality is that the Law of Cause and Effect has no excuse clause, no “I can treat for others, but I can’t treat for myself” clause, or a “God just doesn’t hear my prayer” nonsense. Are we ready for manifestation or not? Are we ready for God to answer our prayers or not? Or, are we only as ready as St. Augustine, who is reported to have prayed, “God make me pure - but not yet”.

Yes, there are calculated risks to prayer, even greater risks if we use Spiritual Mind Treatment. But these are not risks to our well-being – they are risks worth taking. What we are risking is having a life worth living. We are risking being happy all or at least most of the time. We are risking giving up complaining, whining and “puling” (that’s a wonderful little term I learned a while back which basically describes what it sounds like when people have taken whining to an art form).

The Centers and Churches of religious science are places you can risk being who you truly are. Unity and Unitarian churches are another option, as are so many affirming Christian churches, mosques, synagogues and groups too numerous to mention. The Science of Mind teaching supports you in being all that you can be. If it doesn’t float your boat, then find something that does. My foundation is Science of Mind, but I also practice transcendental meditation, Kundalini yoga, and celebrate the passing of time through Christian and pagan rituals and celebrations. Find what works for you. There is no “one way” to peace and a life worth living, but the way that evolves for you will have the same golden thread of Truth that I write about through the Science of Mind principles.

Take the risks. The payoffs are beyond your greatest expectations, for God always has a bigger idea for our unfoldment. I leave you and this four-part series with the words of the wise metaphysician, Mr. Willy Wonka of the well-known Chocolate Factory. He told the children: “There was a man who wanted everything he asked for. One day he got it. And do you know what happened to him? ..... He was very, very happy”.

Take the risks - DARE to be happy! And so it is!

The Calculated Risks of Prayer – Part 3: We Can Become More Christlike

I’m a little long-winded this week – sorry! If it’s any consolation it was a lot longer before I did a massive edit!

I should first establish the meaning of the term “Christlike” before I get into the real meat of this discussion. For most Christians, Christlike just means being like Jesus, because the belief is that Jesus is Christ. For the purposes of this week’s blog I’d like you to think a little more outside of that concept.

In discussing the essence of being “Christlike” I am referring to a more universal Christ Consciousness. In Religious Science we do not deny Jesus his divinity, or that he embodied all that is the Christ. But, we also recognize the divinity in all people as God expressing through us. Jesus the Christ saw through all the warts and scars of people to their true essence, be that innocence or malevolence. If we can emulate that same quality, how could that be a risk? How could it possibly be a bad thing?

First let me say that I am not judging it good or bad. I am only saying that there is risk involved. Like with the other three risks, this risk is worth the effort. However, all too often we blindly go forward in life thinking that just because we are doing something positive with our life then everyone will support us and all will be just hunky dory.

Not so. Developing a Christ Consciousness is one of inclusion and spiritual awareness. This is not a popular concept in the world of material success where western society teaches us that there is only room at the top for one and that we must do all possible to attain that top rung on the ladder to prosperity.

There is nothing at all wrong with success. In fact, if we are taking responsibility for our lives and adhering to the universal principle of cause and effect then success is guaranteed. When I feel like I’m not getting what I think I deserve – note I said “think” I deserve, because I believe I’m always getting exactly what I deserve regardless of how it looks – I remember the concepts with which I was raised as a child. My parents may disagree with me about this and in part I suppose that my childhood belief system about success and prosperity were founded more on my interpretation of those concepts rather than what my parents may have believed at the time or even today.

Nonetheless, as a child, success to me meant that there was probably something illegal, unscriptural and basically immoral going on. Mother used to say that just about anything she thought was fun was illegal, unscriptural, immoral or fattening…and often a combination of one or all of the above! The message I got was that for me to be a good Christian in the eyes of Jehovah I had to be pious, acting at all times in a way that would allow me to escape destruction of this system of things on the earth and be rewarded with everlasting life in paradise.

That meant that not obtaining a higher education and just getting by financially was just peachy, because Jesus and the apostles were poor and downtrodden, so I should be, too. I’m sure I will blog in the future about how none of that is true and that some of the most affluent people were Christians in the first century. Lydia, for example, was a seller of purple fabrics and garments (not a shabby living in the first century – think Coco Chanel in 50 A.D.). She accepted the Apostle Paul’s message and embraced the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. But like I said, that’s another blog! Back to Christ Consciousness and the risks. When we embrace the concepts of becoming more Christlike by directing our prayers, believing in results and taking charge of our lives something transforming occurs in our experience. We begin to see results. We recognize ourselves and others around us for who we are: Spiritual beings having a human experience.

Are you searching for spirituality, your spiritual nature? Look no further; you are already as spiritual as you’re ever going to get. What changes, and looks like a higher degree of spirituality, is our conscious awareness of the divinity within us and other people. As our awareness grows our lives change. Unhealthy habits and attitudes die a welcome death of neglect. People with whom we used to engage in unwholesome activities, be they “bad habits” or just those who can’t complain enough about how downtrodden they are, suddenly slink away into the darkness and go on being a psychic vampire with someone else who is willing to be their victim.

The risk when this happens is to run back to what is familiar. We humans like familiar. We basically enjoy knowing the outcome before we start because we can count on the result being the same. Change something in our lives and we have to deal with the unfamiliar and a different result. When we are Christlike we see the Truth in every situation in our lives and that means we are going to need to embrace change.

Embracing the unknown can be a painful process that can be scary. Two thoughts of admonition come to mind. The first one I heard from my teacher and friend, the Reverend Dr. Arleen Bump: “Pain is a given. Suffering is optional”. The other I first heard from another great teacher and friend, the late Rev. Helen Street: “When you’re going through hell, go through it. Don’t stop, get a realtor and decide to buy property.” In other words, don’t get stuck in the stuff. Move forward no matter what.

We have to jump into the pool without necessarily looking to see if there is water in the pool. We must believe that the universe supports us unconditionally. Not only is there going to be water in the pool, but it’s going to be warm, wonderful and filled with playmates. Spirit will support us. There may be times in our humanness when we do not feel that as strongly as we hope to. If that happens, know there are likeminded people around you who can be the Christ light if there are times of personal darkness. If you want support, it is available with just a thought because God (or Spirit, or Divine Love or whatever you want to call all that Is and all of which we are aware) is always there, always accessible and forever reliable. I hope that if I can be of support to you in some way that you’ll call, write or send up a flare so that we can treat and pray together for your highest and greatest good.

Be willing to embrace the spiritual you. Open to being guided in all you think, say and do by the Divine Wisdom within you. Take the risk of recognizing your Christlike nature and enjoy the rewards it brings. Till next week when we look at Risk #4, the biggest risk of all: The Danger of Having Our Prayers Answered.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Dr. Terry

panewthoughtcenter@gmail.com

The Calculated Risks of Prayer – Part 2: Seeing Ourselves as We Really Are

In the first “risk” of prayer I wrote about beating ourselves up for not getting what we want; or feeling that we’ve done something wrong, which is why our prayers are not answered. The remedy to that is to take it a little easier on ourselves when things don’t work out to our liking and re-evaluate why it is we think we want what we wanted in the first place!

The second risk has to do with what can be revealed to us as a result of our prayers. The inscription at the oracle of Delphi reads, “Know Thyself”. Being honest with ourselves about who we are and what we believe can be a daunting undertaking. We often think of ourselves as we wish we were – or as we hope others see us! – not as we really are.

Human beings seem to have an innate ability to use numerous devises to escape the facts, many of which are very creative. “I’m just a little tired” could really mean, “I’ve been working myself to death”. “I guess I should lose a few pounds” sounds a lot different when it comes from our physician when she says, “You are obese”.

We have to strike a balance between “Truth” and “truth”. The “Truth” is that in Divine Mind we are whole complete and perfect. But the “truth” we demonstrate in our lives may not always reflect that perfection. For example, we know the universe is abundant, but we can get into a feeling of lack if we are without funds or without an appreciation of the blessings we already have in our life. Sometimes in metaphysics we can get so caught up in the perfection of the universe that we forget we chose a corporeal form this time around. I’ve often called this “blithering metaphysical blindness”. Being human comes with a few rules on the physical plane, like not jumping off a cliff even though we know we are spirit having a human experience. The risk in our prayers is that if we are honest with ourselves and our higher power, we may have to admit a few “issues”.

In the teachings of the Science of Mind we do not deny problems, as do some spiritual paths. One of the major differences between Christian Science and the Science of Mind (or Religious Science) is that Christian Science views what we know as the physical world to be an illusion. I am not saying that notion is right or wrong; it’s simply their belief. Dr. Ernest Homes, the founder of the Science of Mind philosophy wrote about problems on page 100 of the Science of Mind textbook. He said, “Our problems are not an illusion. They are as real as we need them to be."

This begs the question, How real do we need our problems to be? Sometimes we are so stuck in the problem that we hold onto that which we say we want to discard by using all those “reasons” why our lives can’t change. Often these are not reasons. They are excuses. Think of a problem or challenge that you are currently having in your life. Got it? Okay…how hard do you fight to defend the notion that your situation cannot change? That’s how real you want the problem to be.

Seeing ourselves as we really are requires that we voluntarily face the truth about ourselves. We have to ask the hard questions: What are my motives? What is the payoff for keeping this situation around, the one I can’t stop complaining about? What are my dominate desires and why am I not moving forward to fulfill them? What are my weaknesses? What is my attitude toward others – do I rejoice in their success or wallow in jealousy? Do I want to change, or am I just into complaining and being a martyr?

The success we have in life and in the answers to our prayers must not be held to the standards of others. We must measure our success by our own ideals, ethics and principles. When we are willing to see ourselves as we really are all the flimsy excuses that hide our inner spiritual poverty come down. Once we have faced the truth we can then turn to prayer for spiritual guidance. The universe will lead us to our next step on the path to what we wish to become. This process is a pre-requisite to moral progress, hard our pride, but necessary nonetheless.

Until next time, when we will look at Risk #3 – We Can Become More Christlike

The Calculated Risks of Prayer (Part 1 of 4)

Virtually all people, all cultures throughout the planet have some form of prayer. Perhaps you are, like me, a religious scientist who uses a form of prayer called “spiritual mind treatment”. Have you ever given any thought to the risk of having your prayers or treatments answered? You might ask how there could be any risk at all? Before I speak to that, let’s look at prayer and treatment.

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There are several kinds of prayer, but most are offered up with the hope of comfort or assurance. Spiritual mind treatment usually involves five steps that are adapted to the reason for the treatment. The more traditional kind of prayer that most Christians use includes the three elements of confession, petition and thanksgiving.

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When we talk about confession, many people think of admitting sins to a priest or coming clean to a law enforcement officer. Confession can also simply acknowledging where we are. Being brutally honest with ourselves about where we are at any given time is the first step to changing our experience. Anyone involved in a 12-step program of any kind will tell you admitting where we are is a key element in recovery.

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To petition usually means to us that we are asking someone for something. Another meaning is “to seek”. In treatment we do not beg God to answer our prayers, but rather seek to understand our circumstances and align our thinking in a more positive way. We are not petitioning Spirit to give us something, but rather seeking the truth and wisdom within us. Treatment positively states what we desire to be and affirms that we are willing to accept it.

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Finally, thanksgiving or rejoicing is the way most people end a treatment and traditional Christianity gives thanks to Jesus Christ. The Hebrew scriptures of the Bible are filled with stories about how the Israelites rejoiced with song, dancing and celebration when the nation believed the God Jehovah had blessed them. It’s just my personal opinion and judgment, but it seems like so many wonderful people who call themselves Christians often fail to rejoice in the blessings God pours out upon them for fear that they are not living up to the appearance of being modest and humble. I think that’s sad….but, I digress….

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So here is Risk #1: We can beat ourselves up if we think our prayer is not answered or that treatment “didn’t work”. If this happens we run the risk of falling into guilt or shame of a toxic nature. The prayer or the treatment did not cause these emotions, but they can easily be blamed for them.

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Spiritual mind treatment differs from traditional prayer because of the power of treatment. It is also dissimilar in the amount of personal responsibility we take for the outcome. A caution in being a religious scientist or any metaphysician is that because we do take responsibility for our lives we can easily blame ourselves when things do not go the way we expect them to turn out. This is the difference between believing in a God that punishes or rewards based on our behalf compared to the belief that we live in a “user-friendly universe” that only says “yes” to our desires. If we believe the latter, we might think that we “didn’t treat right” or it was our entire fault we did not get what we wanted, i.e., if God only says “yes” and something did not work out, then we must have blocked the goodness of the Universe.

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So what do you think of Part #1 in the Calculated Risks of Prayer? Let me know! Email me at: panewthoughtcenter@gmail.com, or make comments here in the blog. Until next week with the next risk: Seeing Ourselves as We Really Are.

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Happy Easter, Blessed Ostara and Good Passover – The Season of Resurrection and Rebirth!

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Dr. Terry

Returning!

Greetings to all!

My blog has been neglected for the past five years while I've been finishing an undergrad and then my master in social work (MSW) degree at Temple University. My studies will be over by the middle of the year and I'm looking forward to how I can use my new skills.

Interestingly enough, my new skills are more often than not old skills with new names. Scripture says that "there is nothing new under the sun". This has been true of my path toward my MSW. Many of the social work and counseling theories to which I am most drawn as ones that reflect the same Science of Mind/New Thought principles by which I have lived my life for the past 25 years.

With the addition of my MSW, and license as a social work (LSW) in time (target date: August 2010), I will have professional and academic recognition of the kind of work I've been studying, practicing and teacher for nearly three decades.

One of the ways I'm doing this is through the creation of the New Thought Center of Central Pennsylvania. Currently our fledgling group is meeting once a month, beginning with a book study of the Ernest Holmes classic, "This Thing Called You". The people involved range from long-time students of new thought and Science of Mind, to others who are seeking a new outlook on life, or just curious about how SoM can enhance their own beliefs and spiritual practices.

It's an exciting time to be, once again, co-creating something new! I am un-attached (as opposed to "de-tached") from the outcome and am enjoy enthusiastic anticipation. This blog will be the next step on the NTCCP’s growth by posting articles, essays and blog-thoughts based on SoM and New Thought philosophies.

I hope you will join us at our meetings if you are in the area or participate in the postings and discussions online.

Until then…in Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Dr. Terry

Telling the Truth

Do you always tell the truth? Careful. There is an “always” in that question. The truth is, few of us, if any, hardly ever do anything all the time. Always and never can be words we frequently use, but do not actually mean.

When we break our always or never promises, we can usually justify the reason. We humans have a remarkable way of justifying our actions. Justification, however, does not mean it’s right.

I recently took a winter’s eve walk through a town square with a new friend in my life. Our friendship is rapidly growing into something deeper, and with that deepening come fears and assumptions from past relationships in our lives. I wanted to discuss something, but decided not to since it was not clear in my own mind. If I open my mouth before the issue solidifies I have found it can cause more harm than good. Fortunately, my friend has an intuitive ability and gently drew out my questions and fears. In the process we were able to lay out a number of issues on a table that we’d not set for this discussion.

How were we able to do that? Truth. When one questioned the other on something, the answer was truthful and quick, without regard for the consequences. When one tells a “white” lie it is usually to save the feelings of another person, or because the liar is afraid of the outcome if s/he tells the truth. What a beautiful situation it becomes, however, if two or more people can create an atmosphere of safety, so that all can be revealed.

Once the truth is established and examined from all sides, we can then move on to making further decisions about the future. By doing so, the future is built on a firm foundation of trust and integrity, not the shifting sands of indecision and deceit.

Wrap it up!

If you thought wrapping was done now since the holidays are past, think again. The end of the calendar year is tonight. This is a perfect opportunity to wrap up 2004 and look ahead to 2005.

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. Many are made under the influence of the moment or alcohol and several are regretted before January 1st. If you are a regular gym bunny, you know the machines and bikes will be packed until the 15th of the month, then slowly taper off back to the regular attendees. Why? People often feel guilty about over indulging during the holidays and want to lose what they’ve gained. Unfortunately, a commitment of repentance from actions that are willful is frequently ineffective. When immediate results are not realized, the sinner returns to the super-sized order.

Why not take a different approach to indulgence? Living a life of compassion for ourselves should allow each of us to indulge in our desires, so long as they are not harming others. If we are committed to good health, we will not eat ourselves into obesity, neglect our workouts, work too much and sleep too little. Think about not what you “should” do, but what you “want” to do for the highest and good of yourself and all concerned.

In doing this, we make a conscious choice of living, instead of repeating for thoughts we feel are wrong. It is the difference between living an empowered life and a life of desperation.

Tonight, before the ball drops in Times Square or you raise your New Year’s toast, write down a few things you’d like to leave in 2004. That might include procrastination, guilt, hopelessness and feeling impoverished. Take those papers outside and burn them in a bowl. Thank the Universe for the support you know is yours and ring in the New Year with a clean slate.

Happy New Year!

Dr. Terry

Nothing’s Perfect, Everything’s Perfect

I’m having one of those days when do matter what I plan out, with ever good intention mind you, nothing seems to be working right. I find myself tongue-tied when speaking with others – and amusing situation to most people given that I seldom am without a comment on most anything. I made three attempts at stringing lights on my Christmas tree, which resulted in language most unbecoming the season. I’m attending a charity ball this evening, and I don’t feel excited.

So WHAT is my problem?!? Plans and ego, that’s what. I once heard that it’s fine to “go with the flow” but we have the obligation to choose the stream, river, lake or ocean in which we will flow. Though I had many things to do on my “list” today, I have had absolutely no focus, no purpose, other than to accomplish “stuff”.

While I was having my first cup of coffee, and fretting about all I had before me, that “still small voice” suggested I take a few minutes to meditate. Of course, I didn’t, which is why I ended up in the state I’m in. I couldn’t be bothered taking the time. Mahatma Gandhi was once quoted as saying, “I have so much to do today I must meditate two hours instead of one.” I would have been wise to recall that this morning, instead of now.

By allowing ourselves to go with the flow of the day AFTER we’ve set ourselves up to win by mediation, prayer or whatever practice we have to center ourselves, then, and only then, can perfection be made manifest in our lives. And now, with that thought in mind, I’m going to take that ten minutes I could have taken this morning. Namasté.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Dr. Terry