Last weekend I attended a retreat at the King’s Fold Retreat and Renewal Centre near Cochrane, Alberta. The theme of the weekend was inspired by Parker J Palmer’s work and his book Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation.

It was a powerful weekend of reflection, spending time in nature and being with others in a way that honored both our need to be together and space for being alone.

For every meal, we’d gather around the family style table with the other retreat participants as well as the volunteers who so graciously gave of their time to prepare the meals.

As the sun was beginning to rise one crisp morning, illuminating the snow-capped mountains to the west, a volunteer, I’ll call Maria, shared something that highlighted so powerfully how our beliefs can impact every aspect of our life.

Maria described how the past year had been a year of waking up for her. My antenna immediately went up when she used the word “awakening” as I don’t often hear that word used in casual conversation.  Maria described how she was shifting to a different view of God and spirituality that left her feeling loved, expansive and connected with other human beings.

In her soft, yet confident voice Maria explained that she had woken up from her “evangelical” beliefs about a God that had left her feeling fearful and separate from others for her entire life. Maria and her husband had participated in a yearlong course aimed at expanding their spiritual beliefs.  During that process, Maria realized that her beliefs about God had not been serving her or her relationships with other people.

Maria described her awakening as a radical shift in her beliefs and way of being in the world. She shifted from believing that there was a punitive God who was going to punish her for not being perfect, to a view about God that left her feeling unconditionally loved and connected to others.

Maria’s journey highlighted that for many people the process of waking up requires that we shed limiting beliefs in order to create space for the emergence of something new. The deeper wisdom of the soul is summoning us to gravitate to beliefs and experiences that feel expansive, loving and connected with others rather than constricted, separate, and fearful.

If you begin to pay attention, you’ll notice that there are always two forces at play in your life. One is propelling you towards greater freedom, creativity, expansion, love, compassion, and expression and the other is pulling you back towards constriction and fear.

For those of us that realize we are on a spiritual path, our challenge is to uncover the beliefs that trigger fear and constriction and replace them with beliefs that cultivate expansion, love, and connection.

How do we uncover the beliefs that are often hidden from our view but have a big impact on our lives? We notice the areas in our lives where we’re not thriving.  This feeling of constriction is a summons from the soul to look a bit deeper. The root of this constriction is almost always a misbelief of some sort.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do my spiritual beliefs leave me feeling expansive and more loving?
  • Do my beliefs serve to unite me with others or keep me separate?
  • Does my heart feel expansive and open towards myself and others?
  • Does my self-expression feel expansive?
  • Do I believe in a God or life force that is loving and not punitive?

If the answer is “no” then there is some fear-based belief that is preventing you from thriving.  As you become more mindful of your beliefs you’ll begin to notice that every thought, feeling, bodily reaction or action arises from either a place of fear, which always feels like a constriction in the body, or a place of love, which always feels like an expansion.

Each one of us is challenged to be honest and take the steps to shed the beliefs that are no longer serving us to live a life with greater love and expansion. This is what the soul is summoning us to do.