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You Don’t Have To Like It To Love It

by Robert Meagher on 01/03/23


Photo Credit: pexels.com - Pack2Ride

Last year I signed up for the Great Cycle Challenge (GCC) taking place throughout August. The GCC was to raise money for cancer research for children. I have an increasing passion for cycling and I have a personal connection to childhood cancer. So, signing up for the event was a no-brainer for me. My personal connection with childhood cancer is that my partner’s, niece’s daughter is currently undergoing treatment for lymphoma.

I began my fundraising in earnest! I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the fundraising. It was exciting. Each donation I would receive filled my heart with joy, knowing how generous people were being and the support they were showing for the cause.

As with most anything in life, at least in this material world, you will have people who will support certain things, and others who will not. Deep into my fundraising efforts, an acquaintance responded to one of my fundraising emails to congratulate me on signing up for the GCC and wishing me well with my challenge. This acquaintance went on to share with me that they could not, however, in good conscience support the medical research behind the cause. This acquaintance expressed the view (and the same view as many other people share) that such medical research has been taken over by the pharmaceutical industry which has zero motivation to cure cancer, because their efforts to find a cure for cancer is really a thinly-veiled attempt to create a ‘cash cow.’ My acquaintance closed the response with a wish that my partner’s, niece’s daughter “truly heals from her cancer.” I responded to my acquaintance’s comments by thanking them for their support, blessing them, and sending them love.

I was initially taken back by my acquaintance’s response to my fundraising email. I quickly got over my reaction, realizing the message had nothing to do with me, personally. The response from my colleague was such a blessing and such a wonderful teaching. It got me thinking…

As a practicing therapist, one of the golden rules of therapy is to always, always, always, meet the client where they are. If the person is ready for a certain approach to healing, then that is what you start with. Who am I to judge what approach anyone would use to heal themselves? If the client thinks that eating Tim Horton’s donuts is what’s going to heal them, what purpose does it serve to tell them they are wrong? In the end, whatever we think will heal us, will heal us.

Had my acquaintance cared to enquire about my motivation behind signing up for the GCC, my acquaintance would have learned that I shared the same views as they did about the ethical nature of the medical system undertaking research in the name of ‘finding a cure’ for whatever ails us. If I had cancer, I may not be quick to dive into conventional treatment methods. I would more likely look to alternative approaches, approaches that might be considered by some to be more holistic in nature.

But in the case of the GCC, I put aside my own beliefs and views, and decided to give back to life—a life that has given me so much! Who am I to judge the motives of the medical industry? Who am I to judge someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and decides to undergo traditional treatment methods?

I don’t have to like something or someone to love that something or someone. I don’t have to like the medical industry. I don’t have to like cancer. In this instance, I put aside my views and personal opinions and chose to love it all, and give where I could.

There is a magnificent teaching from a great spiritual tradition that if someone asks you to do something that is insane, do it anyway, so long as it doesn’t hurt anybody. Even if you don’t agree with it!

Like with so many things in my life, and spirit-led things, I had been approached by a colleague, who knew I was a cycling enthusiast, to sign up for the GCC. I took this request, as most others, as a sign from Life that there’s something in this for me and I won’t interfere with what I am being offered. I will just go ahead and do it. I’ve never regretted this approach to life! I may not like it, but I can love it!

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.


Playing With Your Fears

by Robert Meagher on 12/05/22


Photo Credit: pexels.com - Jorgen Larsen

I was recently out for one of my day-long cycling adventures in the Gatineau Hills / Park, a favorite summertime playground for me. I was well into the ascent of one of the longer and steeper hills in the park. It was the third time I had made this ascent on this day and I was tired. As I neared the summit, I told myself, “Just keep your head down and keep peddling!...breathe…breathe…breathe!!! I was rounding a sharp corner and something out of the corner of my eye distracted me, however. I lifted my head and…

Only 20-30 feet in front of me, on the other side of the road, was a mother black bear and four cubs. What had distracted me was that the mother had been standing on her hind legs and when she dropped back down on all fours, her movement had caught my peripheral vision.

The mother bear let out a soft, yet deep, growl. I thought to myself… “That can’t be good!” My next thought was… “I can’t turn around at this point because the grade is too steep. If I try and turn around, I will simply topple over (based on my experience!) and turning around means turning in the direction of the bears (as they were on the other side of the road)…and I don’t want to be moving closer to the bears!” Then I thought… “Uh oh…I’m trapped! I can’t turn around. I can’t go to my right, because I’ll fall off a cliff! I can’t go to my left, because I’ll be moving closer to the bears!”

When the mother bear let out her soft, yet, deep growl, the cubs bolted for the forest on the other side of the road. But there was a steep embankment where the cubs bolted towards and two of the cubs clung to some rocks and tree stumps half way up the embankment. The other two cubs tumbled back down the embankment, to come to rest at momma bear’s feet.

Momma bear looked at me again. She let out another soft, yet deep, growl…as if to say to her cubs “Follow me!” Momma bear turned around (away from me) and started to run up the hill I had been making my way up. The cubs scrambled after momma. After running up the hill about 15-20 feet, momma bear stopped, turned around to look at me again, then turned back around and continued running up the hill, with baby bears hot on her heels. A few seconds later, momma bear and baby cubs had turned into the forest and were able to make their get-a-way.

Just before the bears dove into the forest, another cyclist came screaming around the corner, coming down the hill at high speed. I yelled “Bears!!!”…pointing directly across the road from me. The cyclist hit their brakes and careened toward me. Fortunately, the cyclist was able to gain sufficient control of their bicycle to avoid colliding with me. As I watched the bears disappear into the forest, I resumed my climb. For the next kilometre, I warned cyclists that were making their way down the hill (I was continuing to climb) of my bear siting.

The further I moved / cycled away from the scene / encounter with the bears, the more I felt the tension ease in my body, until I was in my relaxed state again. I became aware of just how afraid I was. I hadn’t panicked, in the sense of screaming or running for my life…but I was afraid just the same. I can remember having the thought “So…this is how it’s going to end!” I had never been that close to bears in the wild. I remembered the feeling of having momma bear staring at me so intently that I almost felt an out of body experience. I remembered thinking “Talk to the bear…tell her it’s okay…tell her I’m not going to hurt her or her cubs.” I remembered seeing the drool/foam around the momma bear’s muzzle. I remembered thinking the bears were so close I could smell them.

I made it through the experience alive, obviously; here I am recounting the experience to you. But in truth, I was never in danger for an instant. Only my fear thoughts had me in danger. That I didn’t panic was, perhaps, a good thing. But even if I had panicked, it would only have been my panicky and fearful thoughts that would have expressed themselves, not actually what was happening.

Whenever we’re in a situation that scares us, remember, it’s not the situation itself that is fearful, it’s our thoughts about the situation that are fearful and, consequently, make us feel scared. Everything is neutral. It’s our thoughts that determine how and what we experience.

 

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

Keep Practicing and One Day It Will Become Second Nature

by Robert Meagher on 11/02/22



Photo Credit: pexels.com - Pixabay

One cycling day last month I headed out to one of my favorite destinations. Just 1 km from my destination, at the furthest point from my where I started, my back tire went flat. I was directly across from a popular rest stop, so I gently rolled myself into the stop.

I took my bicycle repair kit out of my pannier bags, along with my previously-prepared instructions to fix a flat tier, and began the process. Shortly after I began repairing the tire, I young man stopped and asked if I had everything I needed. I said yes, thanked the man, and wished him a good day. I continued with my tire repair and a few minutes later a man and woman stopped to ask if I needed any help. I was well along in my repair and responded, “This isn’t exactly something I do every day, but I think I’ll be okay.”

There must have been something in my voice or written on my face, but the man said, “How about I stick around to see if you’ll need any help.” I thanked the man, saying “That’s very kind of you. Thank you.”

It wasn’t too long after that exchange that I ran into a snag with putting the repaired inner tube back into the tire. The man could see I was struggling, and said… “Here, let me help.” A few minutes later, I was back on track and 5 minutes after that, I had the tire back on the bike and was ready to hit the road again. I continued my cycling adventures for the day and made it back home safely.

The next day, I decided to take my bike into the local bike shop to have them check the bike. I explained to the bike jockey that I had a flat tire the previous day, and that I was able to fix the flat and get myself back home. I explained that because I was not confident in my mechanical ability, I would appreciate him taking a quick look over my bike to make sure I put everything back together correctly.

I watched the bike jockey quickly put the bike up on the hoist, quickly remove the tire from the bike, quickly and effortlessly check the tire and the gear mechanism, put the tire back on the bike, and adjust everything so that it was like brand new and coming off the assembly line at the factory.

I had been coming to this bike shop for many years. Early on, I couldn’t even change a flat tire. No doubt, I had been a butt of a few jokes among the bike jockeys about my lack of mechanical abilities. But over the years, I had become comfortable repairing a flat tire; given I had experienced more than my fair share of flat tires over the years while out on my cycling adventures. I’m just not as confident getting the tire back on the bike and making sure the gear mechanism is properly in place and calibrated properly.

As I watched the bike jockey look over my bike, it was clear he had lots of practice repairing bicycles. Afterall, it’s his job. He could repair a flat tire with his eyes closed! The more practice I get fixing a flat tire, the more confident I get repairing the bicycle on my own. Each time I take my bicycle in to the local bike shop and watch the bike jockey work on my bike, I learn something new.

The above story and experience are no different than my spiritual practice. The more I practice, the more my practice becomes second nature. After enough practice, I don’t even need to think about what I’m doing. My mind and body seemingly remember for me. So, keep practicing. One day you’ll notice your work is paying off. One day you’ll notice it’s no longer practice, it’s your life.

 

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

The Purpose of Spiritual Practice Reveals Itself

by Robert Meagher on 10/04/22



Photo Credit: pexels.com - Pixabay

During April, I experienced a protracted bout of influenza. For 10 days I pretty much stayed in bed, only to get myself out of bed to do something, anything to relief my discomfort. It was only after 14 days that I started to feel well enough to return to regular activities. It is during times of unwellness—dare I say suffering—that spiritual practice, if one has a spiritual practice, comes in very handy.

I remember about 4 or 5 days into the illness, I wondered if I might need medical attention (in the form of hospitalization), as I simply could not stop coughing. The pain and discomfort in my chest worsened. Days 6-9 saw the virus move into my nasal passages and head. Yet the coughing maintained, although not so virulently.

Throughout the 14 days of unwellness, there remained a steadfast reminder of the very simple spiritual teaching… “This too shall pass.” It’s true, everything and anything ephemeral shall pass. We may not know how it will pass, but it will pass. This gentle, constant reminder “This too shall pass.” always offered me the opportunity and gift of acceptance through the teaching… “Let go of what was. Accept what is. And have faith in what will be.”

Even when I was feeling my most uncomfortable, I repeated the mantra, “Accept what is.” It was in the acceptance of my current state / condition that I consciously allowed forgiveness to permeate my state of being. I have had a tendency during past illnesses (e.g., colds, flus, etc.) to feel sorry for myself, whine, complain, commiserate, get angry and cranky. There was none of those emotions this time around. It sort of surprised me. But I realized my spiritual practice was paying off!

Each day when we sit down to meditate, read spiritual teachings, participate in dharma through community interaction, or whatever our spiritual practice may be, we are training our minds to be at peace with whatever presents itself to us.

While I cannot say I felt ‘at peace’ for the 14 days of my unwellness. The absence of feeling sorry for myself, whining, complaining, commiserating, getting angry and cranky, suggests to me I was at peace. This simply would not have been possible without my spiritual practice. Why I engage in daily spiritual practice had not only revealed itself to me, but it has increased my resolve and commitment to maintain my practice.

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

The Power of Perception

by Robert Meagher on 08/05/22


Photo Credit: pexels.com - Jonathan Petersson

Earlier this month I was having a conversation with a dear, long-time friend. At some point in the conversation my friend asked me if I had ever seen so much unrest in the world. I said, “No, not in my lifetime.” My friend affirmed that they had not experienced such unrest in the world in their lifetime either. We talked a little about the current events unfolding around the world. We then moved on to talk about other things.

The very next morning, I woke up and walked out to the living room. I walked over to the large window overlooking the neighborhood. Sitting on the window sill was a hyacinth bulb planted in a small pot. The bulb had grown significantly since I planted the bulb several weeks earlier. In the past week alone, the bulb had really taken off. It was clear that something magnificent was going to become of this hyacinth bulb.

Later in the day I thought about the two experiences I describe above. The exchange with my friend regarding the events in the world was full of disbelief, fear, even anger. I saw nothing but darkness in the exchange. My perception of world events in that moment left me feeling only fear. The experience with the hyacinth bulb was full of beauty and joy. My perception of the hyacinth bulb was imbued with love.

One could look at the above two experiences, and the feelings associated with these events, and consider them to be two very different experiences. If they were, it was only because of my perception. It is said in A Course in Miracles, “Perception is a choice of what you want yourself to be; the world you want to live in, and the state in which you think your mind will be content and satisfied. It chooses where you think your safety lies, at your decision. It reveals yourself to you as you would have you be.” (T-25.I.3.1-3)

All events are neutral; they simply are. Anything I experience associated with an event is a result of my perception of the event. None of my perception is true, in truth. Anything and everything are only as I want them to be. Our perceptions are a powerful thing. In the above experiences, I was struck by how my perception made my reality in those moments. I could have as easily saw love in the current world events, as I could have seen fear in the sprouting hyacinth bulb.

We can train our perception to see a more peaceful and loving world. Like anything else we strive for, it takes practice—until we realize there is nothing we need do to return to peace and love. We are that we seek.

 

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

 


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Shanti, Namaste, Agapé,

Rev. Robert Meagher
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