Category Archives: seeds

Faith, Spirituality, and Religion (plus my thoughts on their role in terror, violence, and love)

Just after the San Bernardino mass shootings, I queried a trusted group of friends for suggestions for my blog – the one that was supposed to run last week. (Perhaps you noticed that I never wrote one.) You see, I found myself somewhat incapable of writing in the wake of such tragedy and senseless violence, again. Everything I wrote kept devolving into anger and frustration. I was mad. What’s worse is that I was aimlessly mad, and the arrows that were the words I was typing were not hitting any marks. I simply couldn’t coherently get my thoughts on paper without some random rants and expletives in the mix.

Instead of offering suggestions, however, my tribe of trusted souls encouraged me to share my thoughts and my process with regard to the violence. My friend, Tyler, said, I’d love to hear what you’re really feeling and where you’re at and how you’re working through it. The real-er, the better in my estimation.”

At the time, I couldn’t go there. I hadn’t worked through it. Like most of the rest of the world I was in shock and disbelief that yet another report of gun violence and a mass shooting had occurred. I have many more thoughts that I will eventually put to paper, but it would’ve been a disservice to my readers, and indeed to myself, for me to write an emotionally reactionary piece on the violence and instability of terrorism, both at home and abroad.

And then, this past weekend I had my first-ever Ayurvedic consultation. Paul, my consultant, said something so poignant to me that I think I stopped breathing for a moment from the depth and simplicity of the words. He shared a wisdom from his teacher, Maharishi, that went something like this:

‘If you are willing to go to war, kill, and fight in the name of your religion, you’ve misunderstood your religion.’

I am certain I have paraphrased, but you get the idea. Which is what has prompted me to write this week about Faith, Spirituality, and Religion. Because, frankly, I think it matters more than we’re admitting. When people are making statements and taking inhumane actions based on their “religion” it bears taking note and actually discussing the topic.

I’ve tackled these topics before, individually and sometimes together. There certainly is a lot of language “out there” about the difference between spirituality and religion. So let’s start there.

Colloquially, religion is thought of as the practice of one’s faith within set rules of doctrinal teachings, typically conveyed in writing or sacred texts. The best examples of this are: The Bible, The Quran, The Torah, and the Vedic texts. These writings hold the foundational teachings of their respective religions. Over centuries or millennia, they have been shared, taught, and, at times, imposed on people, with the mindset of exclusivity. This last phrase is where we developed our current understanding of the word “religion.” Modern understanding of the word revolves around keeping ourselves separate and apart from each other, by practicing “exclusive” rights to the Divine. (aka: My religion is better than your religion.)

But years ago, I attended a lecture by Pittman McGehee, D.D. at the Jung Center in Houston, and he proposed an alternate definition of religion that restores it’s original intent based on the origin of the word. Religion is akin to religare, which means to reconnect.

From this perspective, religion is about the act of reconnecting to that which we hold to be true and know in our hearts, which resides outside of us, and is not exclusive, but rather inclusive. For me, this is how we currently define spirituality.

Spirituality is, in my opinion, the knowing that there is something greater than yourself, that you can’t touch, see, or quantify, but is connected to all things, inclusively. The Druids knew this as the inherent wisdom in Nature. The Abrahamic religions refer to it as God, Yahweh, or Allah. Spirituality is an act of reconnection. It is an inclusive practice that recognizes the collective above all things, allowing each to practice his or her own faith, with respect for the intention of reconnecting to something greater, something to which we all have access, in myriad forms.

So, what is faith then?

Historically, and currently, faith has been used as a scapegoat for war, terror, violence, and oppression. “People of faith” have committed atrocious acts of horror in the name of their beliefs. Five hundred years ago, the Christians persecuted non-Christians during the Spanish Inquisition. Seventy years ago, the Jews were practically decimated, and now a statistically small group of Muslims are terrorizing the world in the name of their faith. But it’s not their faith that’s driving them. It’s their beliefs.

Is faith belief? No. Belief is a choice. Faith is a knowing, a knowing that transcends choice. Faith is, above all else, a feeling that requires no justification or defense. It simply is.

Which is why I needed to take pause and write about this trifecta of theology. I think the horrific events in the world have caused many of us, myself included, to dig deeper into my faith, into what I know – and, more importantly perhaps, to challenge what I’ve been told (or taught) to believe. Beliefs can change. Inner knowing is constant. It’s what gives you hope when times are at their darkest. Faith is the seedling of Hope. It’s the flint that creates the spark that leads to the fire. And faith is all-inclusive. We can actually use logic to understand this concept.

Let’s assume for a second that I am God. If I were God, and I wanted all of my creations – but specifically my human creations – to find their way back to me, would I limit the paths to just one? Or would I want every human on earth to find me in their way, from their hearts? Would I plant a seed within them that would one day rise and grow? I would. I would be that smart. I would know that it would take billions of seed plantings – one for each human – to ensure each one had a path back to their knowing, to me, however that shows up for them, as they are ready and able to receive it. For some this is religion, for others it’s nature. For everyone, though, it involves some measure of faith.

So, logically, faith is infinite. Faith is what some call the God gene or the Divine DNA. We all have it within us. It springs to life in different circumstances and at different times, as we need it or pursue it. I’ve created an acronym to define faith. You may have seen me use it before. Faith is

Feeling
Alive
In
The
Heart

At this holiest time of year, celebrated from Pagan times as the Winter Solstice, on up through the various holidays we enjoy today, we find opportunities to explore and restore our faith, in ourselves, in each other, and in humanity. We are being called to unite as one, to hold onto hope in the light of tragedy, and be the beacons that guide others to that same light when they are shrouded in darkness. A darkness I found myself flirting with after the most recent tragedy at San Bernardino.

The process of restoration that I’ve undergone in the last 10 days has involved a fair amount of numbing, distraction, reflection, self-care, and pursuit of joy. I have taken walks, taken pictures, enjoyed a lot of tea, as well as a salt bath, listened to music, and restored my connection with myself, and with what I know – with my faith. Faith in action is my spirituality. As I explored and embraced what faith means to me, I wrote about it. I share that writing with you here.

What Faith Means to Me

Faith gives me something to hold onto
when I feel like I have no strength left in my hands.

Faith brings me peace when everything around me,
outside of my control, is in chaos.

Faith restores me to my heart when I’ve lost my way.

Faith reminds me of what’s important, what’s less important,
and helps me create those two lists.

Faith shows me what’s possible in a world
that would have me believe otherwise.

Faith inspires me, every day, to be the best I can be, even when that “best” involves staying in my pajamas all day, behind closed doors, licking my wounds. Especially then.

Faith fills me when I’m running on empty.

Faith offers me abundance when I’m feeling less than worthy.

Faith grounds me in who I am, what I do, and where I’m going.

Faith shares wisdom and truth with me through beauty and through pain.

Faith leads me forward through darkness, fog, and broken terrain,
as well as the smooth pathways and flowing pastures.

Faith provides me with a sense of self, a sense of purpose,
and a sense of inner peace.

And mostly, Faith offers me all these things and asks nothing in return.

Faith, spirituality, and religion have been used for good and for evil. They have been the life jacket and the straight jacket, the prison and the freedom. The difference in how they manifest lies in the practitioner, resulting in love or terror. When respect, inclusion, understanding, and unity are their hallmarks, this trio of theology is the very definition of possibility, hope, and love. It is up to us – all of us – to ensure this is the way forward.

Wishing you many blessings for a joyous and loving holiday season, however, you choose to celebrate. May the light of the season be yours, and may you spread that light forward in peace.

Imprinting and Seed Planting.

Let’s talk about it. Do you know what it is? Imprinting is what happens when someone else tries to help us understand something, and we take his or her statement as truth, without vetting it through our own intuition first. A classic example of this is when we relinquish our authority to someone else’s. Let me share a recent experience of my own:

Last fall I was struggling with something that seemed overwhelming to me. So, naturally, I sought advice/coaching/guidance. Most of what was discussed was a validation of things I already knew or felt, but needed reminding. (yay!) As a result, some seeds were planted or watered. But there were some suggestions that were new to me that felt “off.” However, because I had sought out some of the best intuitive people I knew (and because I spent good money on those coaching sessions), I felt inclined to listen and believe what I was hearing as 100% truth. Imprinting done.

The suggestions given to me, because I accepted them into my reality in some way, were now imprinted on my psyche and my intuition, whether they belonged there or not. It wasn’t until a couple months later that I was discussing it with a dear friend who brought up the subject of imprinting. In essence I had allowed someone else’s truth to become imprinted in my reality and, even worse, my imagination: the source of my manifesting and creative abilities. Oops!

There is no malice (usually, hopefully) in imprinting. In fact, it’s typically based in an effort to help. But there is a difference between imprinting and seed planting. I have often described myself as a seed planter. With my clients, in my writing, and in my workshops, my goal is to share seeds (aka: ideas) that may (or may not) take root in each person’s individual soil. The seed will only take root if the soil is ready (ie: the client thinks the seed is good for their garden).

Imprinting also is about sharing, but it takes it a step further. Imprinting leaves an indelible, yet invisible, mark on the ground where it’s placed, because it’s already a seedling, growing and taking up space. It also uses some level of “truth-telling” and “expertise” as its fertilizer to take root. It’s not insidious, though. It simply is what it is.

The main difference, therefore, lies within the recipient.
(doesn’t it always?)

In seed planting, the recipient feels entirely in control over what is allowed to go into their garden. A seed will validate or remind them of something they already knew, intuitively. In imprinting, the recipient has relinquished some of that control, or authority, over themselves and their soil. A seedling has been planted with an established root system, and it takes up space and changes the soil.

We all do it. I did it. Someone we esteem (or hire) has said something to us, based on their wisdom/experience/knowledge, therefore it must be true (even if it doesn’t feel 100%). Imprint done. The big question to ask is: is it bad?

If you know me, by now you know I don’t like the categories of “bad/good.” Imprinting is, therefore, neither. I would simply say it’s not helpful. Why? Because it hasn’t been filtered through your own intuition/wisdom/experience/authority. Nobody is a better authority on you, than you, even if they have the best of intentions. I’m not saying don’t seek out guidance or coaching, especially if you’re wrangling with something. Going it alone is not a solution, and I think we could all use more coaching in our lives. 🙂

What I am saying is: don’t allow others to imprint something on you that may not be your truth. If their idea isn’t right for your soil – let it wash away without leaving a mark on the ground. Hold that space for something that will take root and flourish, something that’s in alignment with who you are and what you hold true.

How do you do that? And how do you remove imprints that are already there? Well, those are blogs for another day – but I’d start with identifying your core values and reconnecting to your intuition. Those are always healthy starting points, for anything. 😉

Seeds

In reading the book “Jesus Lived in India” by Holger Kersten, I have been taken on a journey that I could not have imagined when I started it a few weeks ago. So many questions are running through my mind, and yet, at the same time, I find that I have no real need for answers. I have rediscovered that faith in something greater than myself, is simply that: faith. Whether Jesus died on the cross, didn’t die on the cross, lived in India, or didn’t live in India – it doesn’t change the faith I have in the Divine. And Divinity is different for everyone. Some see the Divine in nature, for others it’s in a church or a child’s eyes. You get the idea. Wherever you see and experience the Divine presence, one thing binds us all together, and that is the seeds of faith. Amazing.

With that said, there was a quote toward the end of the book that I wanted to share with you, because I felt it was particularly prophetic. It is a parable, presumably taken from Jesus’ life in India.

People hear my words: a farmer goes to sow his fields. Then the birds come and eat the seed. Other seed falls on the path. And behold, some falls on the rock where there is no earth, and withers away. Some falls under the thorns and cannot grow. The seed that falls on the good earth, however, sprouts and brings forth fruit. The sower is the sage and the seeds are his words of wisdom. The seeds that are eaten by the birds are like people who do not understand the words. The seeds that fall on to the rock are the words of wisdom that go in one ear and come out the other. The seeds that land under the thorns are those who actually hear and see, but do not act accordingly. But the seeds that land on the good earth are like those who hear the words of wisdom and act accordingly.” (attributed to Sheikh Al-Sa’id-us-Sâdiq and his book “Ikmâl-ud-Dîn” – translated by Max Müller; excerpted from “Jesus Lived in India” by Holger Kersten)

What are your seeds? Where have your seeds landed? And who has sowed them for you? Are you even aware of what seeds are growing in the gardens of your body, mind and spirit? The final sentence in the book contains the seeds themselves:

– he (Jesus) actually lived what he taught. Toleration at all times, care for the welfare and benefit of others (human and animal), giving and sharing, selflessness in helping others to carry the burden of their suffering, a universal and unconditional love for all –

Lovely. Now, what could we grow if we all allowed these seeds to land on good earth, receive water, sunlight and care? I think we must also ask: is our earth “good” enough to begin with? Perhaps that’s the better place to begin. There are so many ways to interpret that question – and I imagine most of you will read it differently. Here’s some clarifying questions to ask yourself: What does your earth look like? Is it fertile? Could it use some assistance or clearing of debris? What can you grow the way things are now? What would you like to grow, and how can you change the soil of yourself in order to create the garden of your possibilities?

THree Things

This week, the THree Things are quite simple.

Body – What “seeds” have you been planting in your body? Quite literally: what are you eating and drinking?

Mind – What seeds have you allowed to be sowed in your mind? It’s ok – we’ve all allowed others to “plant” things – but perhaps it’s time to do a little weeding.

Spirit – Your faith in the Divine is just that: yours. Hear the wisdom and follow it, on your path, nurturing the seeds that you know to be truth.

In love and light,

Martina