Last year 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 honoured 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 and the volunteers who so graciously gave 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, whom I’ll call Maria, shared something that highlighted how our beliefs could impact every aspect of our life so powerfully.
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 in casual conversation. Maria described how she shifted to a different view of God and spirituality, leaving 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 to expand their spiritual beliefs. During that process, Maria realized that her beliefs about God had not been serving her or her relationships with others.
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 would 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, waking up requires that we shed limiting beliefs 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 in your life. One propels you toward greater freedom, creativity, expansion, love, compassion, and expression, and the other pulls you back toward constriction and fear.
For those of us that realize we are on a spiritual but not religious path, our challenge is to uncover the beliefs that trigger fear and constriction and replace them with thoughts that cultivate expansion, love, and connection.
How do we uncover the beliefs that are often hidden from our view but significantly impact 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 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 ideas serve to unite me with others or keep me separate?
- Does my heart feel vast 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 some fear-based belief prevents 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 home of love, which always feels like an expansion.
Each of us is challenged to be honest and take steps to shed the beliefs that no longer serve us to live a life with greater love and expansion. This is what the soul is summoning us to do.
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