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A Journey with Grace through Transformation

by Robert Meagher on 06/03/19


Let me, first, define what I mean by ‘grace’ so that I can then examine grace in the context of the sequential steps of transformation: awareness, acceptance, and change. Grace is an exalted state of divine influence resulting in no difficulties, challenges, struggles, guilt or burdens.

Grace may come through awareness in those moments when time seems to stand still. At times it can feel like a flash of light. Something dawns on us—a new insight, seeing something a different way or anew, realizing our judgements or condemnations. This awareness may come out of the blue. It may come from a traumatic event. Or it may come as a result of our devotional or similar practice. But grace is always brought to and through us. Grace is not something we do necessarily. It is an allowing, mostly unconscious, of something other than our small self to show us something else, a new vision.

Even though we may be shown something anew, it does not necessarily mean we will accept and adopt that new vision. In the movie classic Christmas Carol the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, was visited by three ghosts and shown things from his past, present and future. Initially, Mr. Scrooge did not want to accept many of these visions. It was only toward the end of his journey into the future did Mr. Scrooge begin to accept what he was being shown. Once Mr. Scrooge began to accept what he was being shown, did change unfold and occur.

The story of the Christmas Carol is symbolic of so many of our journey with grace through awareness, acceptance and change. Allow me to use a personal example of journey with grace through awareness, acceptance and change.

In 2006 grace came to me in a flash-of-light-like experience. On a fateful 2006 morning, I woke to a clear and audible message. It was the closest I’ve ever come in my life to ‘hearing’ a voice from the ethers speak to me. The message was “Rob, simplify you life: materially, financially, relationally (i.e., with other people).” In the days that followed I became intensely aware how unhappy I was with my life. At the time I was still in the headspace of blaming everything and everyone around me for my unhappiness (i.e., it’s there fault; they did this; they did that, etc.). But the underlying awareness of my unhappiness was acute.

Fear quickly reared its head as I asked myself the questions: “What do I do now? How do I change my life? What do I change? What do I change to?” The fear was so intense that I momentarily (i.e., weeks) denied change was possible and resolved myself to the fact that this sorry state of my life was my lot in life. But grace flowed in again to give me the courage to accept that if I wanted my life to change, then I had to change my life (i.e., no one or no thing was going to do it for me). When I began working with a Life Coach in 2007, I began to accept and be willing to take responsibility for my life.

Fear was ever-present throughout the transformation; but so was grace. I reached a point in the transformation that the fear of change was less than the fear of staying the same. It was at that grace-filled moment that I knew change was possible. Even after releasing myself from Corporate Canada in August 2009, and jettisoning a way of life, the fear remained. But again, grace showed the way.

I surrendered to life. I can remember lying in bed, trembling with fear… “What am I going to do now!?” I was out of work (for the first time in my life!). I had no solid leads on a new job. It felt like I was afloat in the middle of the ocean with no sight of shore. The boat I was in felt very small and not particularly sea-worthy! But I would lullaby myself to sleep each night with the words… “Thy will be done. You have me now. Guide me where you would have me be.”

As the days, months and years unfolded, change slowly and gradually occurred. And as the days, month and years unfolded, I came to trust more in life. I was able to trust more in life because grace was walking along side me. I was able to tune in more to grace’s divine-filled presence and allow it to guide me. The result was fewer difficulties, challenges, struggles, guilt or burdens.

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.

We Are Only Ever Seeing Ourselves

by Robert Meagher on 05/02/19


Many spiritual teachings inspire us to an awareness that we only ever meet ourselves; that every person we see is a mirror on our soul. I have come to learn what a beautiful blessing and teaching this is.

Everyone we have every met or seen in our lives merely shows us an aspect of ourselves. We are given the opportunity to observe ourselves.

This teaching is perhaps most challenging to accept when we look upon someone and condemn them for being any host of personalities or characters that society would frown upon—everything from the thief, rapist, dictator or child molester. Whatever it is we are seeing, is merely a reflection of that aspect of ourselves that lays in our sub-conscious or unconscious.

Equally true, however, are those people we look upon and see beauty or good. These aspects of ourselves also lay just below the surface of our conscious awareness. But they are there. That is why we are seeing them.

So what are we to do with this teaching, this awareness?

With an awareness of this teaching in our lives, we are given the opportunity to be less reactive to anyone or anything that appears in our lives. As each person comes in and out of our lives, we learn to become more an observer of the other person rather than a reactor to the other person. We begin to become more curious or interested in other people, regardless of what the other person appears to be showing us.

Where this teaching guides us is to the ultimate awareness that because we only ever see ourselves in other people, there actually is no other person. There is no person that is separate and distinct from us. This awareness brings us into unity consciousness as we realize the oneness that surrounds us at all times.

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.


Turning Everything into An Opportunity for Gratitude and Love

by Robert Meagher on 04/03/19


The more I engage in spiritual practice, the longer I devote myself to spiritual practice, the more I see opportunities to turn anything and everything into an opportunity for gratitude and love. Allow me to explain through a recent experience.

I recently embarked on an adventure to publish an article on a popular online repository. The name of this online repository is irrelevant, it differs only in form from any other popular online repository. My thoughts about one repository over another is merely a reflection and projection of my judgements. But I digress. Back to the opportunities to turn everything into a practice of gratitude and love…

The online repository I was working on had many people (potentially) comment on the article in production. This was before it even made it to published space. A few comments were very helpful; some were neutral, neither helpful or unhelpful; some were confusing and did not help me any; and some seemed rather harsh, judgmental and some even accused me of acts I had no idea I had been perceived to have committed in preparing the article.

The helpful and neutral comments were easy to take. The confusing comments were, for the most part, frustrating. The harsh comments felt hurtful (at times) and embittered. It was the harsh comments that I reacted most profoundly to. I did want to ‘attack’ back. I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to point out that the other person was wrong in their judgements about me and their comments were inappropriate.

The first thing I did was…nothing. My spiritual practice has taught me that to respond back out of ‘reaction’ would do nothing for anyone. My spiritual practice allowed awareness that what was unfolding was merely a reflection of my own inner state of being. My work was not in attacking back; my work was in exploring my inner world and thoughts to learn from what was unfolding, to assess what I was perceiving and to take stalk of my own judgements and projections.

As I began this unravelling and unfolding process, I was able to begin to give thanks for the opportunity this experience was giving me. I was being given the opportunity to practice patience. I was being given the opportunity to practice receiving feedback. I was being given the opportunity to practice not judging others, even though it felt like they were judging me. I was being given the opportunity to discovery the chinks in my emotional and psychological armour. I was being given the opportunity to heal.

As I became more and more aware of what this opportunity was offering me, I became aware of my gratitude for this opportunity. And as I became more aware of my gratitude for this opportunity, I was able to open myself to the possibility of not only loving the experience, but also loving all the people involved in the experience, including those who offered feedback that I perceived as harsh and accusatory.

 We can turn anything and everything into an opportunity for gratitude and love. Our ability to create ‘space’ between the event(s) and our response to the event(s)—the less reactive we are and the more responsive we become—is in direct proportion to our personal and spiritual growth and development.

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.


Giving Advice and Sacred Attention Therapy

by Robert Meagher on 03/02/19


The therapeutic process is a mystery. And Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) is no exception. To help demystify the process, I offer an introductory session to new aspirants. When I meet with an aspirant for the first time, I invite the meeting to (a) get to know each other a little; (b) learn about what has brought the aspirant to therapy and what their expectations are of the process; and (c) share with the aspirant how I work and equally, if not more important, how I do not work.

When I begin sharing with the aspirant how I work and do not work, I typically begin by talking about how I do not work. I explain that I do not give advice and I share that I do not give advice for three important reasons:

1.      It is none of my business how someone lives their life. I should be coming to a session with an aspirant in non-judgement. How someone lives their life is a divine fulfillment of their free will and the choices they make. It is not up to me to interfere with the aspirant’s free will and decision making.

2.      I cannot know what is best for someone. I can only know what it best for me. The most I can do is to help the person discover what is best for themselves.

3.      I have to let people live their own lives and learn their own lessons. I can accompany an aspirant on the journey, and support them as requested, but telling them how to live their lives is not what we do in Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT).

More than once an aspirant has said to me after hearing the above, “If you aren’t going to give me any advice, why am I coming to you?” Their question gives me important insight to their expectations of the therapeutic process.

I typically reply, “That is a very good question; why are you coming to me?!” The question allows me to probe further into the true (or truer) reason(s) the person is coming to therapy. In SAT we are all too aware that the reason the aspirant thinks they are company to therapy is not the ‘real’ reason. It is rare that an aspirant it mature and evolved enough to know the depths of truth that has brought them to therapy. We pay close attention to the reasons the aspirant thinks they are coming to therapy, and we hold the awareness lightly; knowing that the truth will reveal itself in time, should the aspirant choose to embark on the inner journey.

My life teachings have intuitively guided me toward listening to my own heart in all matters. I simply do not understand why anyone would want to take someone else’s advice. Wouldn’t we be far better off to do whatever it is we need to do to develop our own strength and sense of guidance in life? Why would we want to give over that gift, that power, that sense of knowing to someone else? It doesn’t make sense to me. What does make sense to me is to develop a relationship and/or connection with that authentic part of ourselves that can truly and honestly guide us lovingly through life.

SAT is not alone in this foundational practice of not giving advice. Parker Palmer talks about the perils of giving advice this way:

Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed—to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.1

Heather Plett says it this way:

To truly support people in their own growth, transformation, grief, etc., we can’t do it by taking their power away (i.e., trying to fix their problems), shaming them (i.e., implying that they should know more than they do), or overwhelming them (i.e., giving them more information than they’re ready for). We have to be prepared to step to the side so that they can make their own choices, offer them unconditional love and support, give gentle guidance when it’s needed, and make them feel safe even when they make mistakes.2

In our topsy-turvy world, people want answers. The reason people want answers is because they have lost their inner guidance system—their ability to know what is right for them. Richard Harvey writes “What went wrong? Has there ever been a time when people looked so desperately for guidance, when their inner sense of referral was so lacking? When their alienation from their inner wisdom was so total.3

In SAT, if we do anything, we give the aspirant back to themselves. We offer with our presence to show, once again, the aspirant their true, Divine self—the Self that is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Through a process of listening with the whole self to the soul of the other, SAT practitioners foster the removal of the blockages to truth. And that’s all therapy is, nothing more and nothing less, the removal of the blockages to truth.

There is nothing right or wrong, good or bad about giving advice. But the old parable about giving a man a fish, versus teaching a man how to fish comes to mind. As the parable goes, a man is given the opportunity to either give a man a fish to feed him and him and his hungry family, or to teach the man how to fish. The fisherman responds to the options with this gem of wisdom:

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

I see advice in the same light. Give advice and feed the aspirant for the day. Witness and commune with the soul and feed the aspirant for a lifetime.

 

1.    1. Palmer, Parker. “My Misgivings About Advice.” www.awakin.org. January 23, 2017.

2.    2.  Plett, Heather. “What It Means To ‘Hold Space’ For People, Plus Eight Tips On How To Do It Well.” www.heatherplatt.com. March, 11, 2015.

3.    3.  Harvey, Richard. “I Give You Back YourSelf.” http://www.therapyandspirituality.com/articles/i-give-you-back-yourself.html

 

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.

Endings? Or Beginnings?

by Robert Meagher on 02/04/19


In the summer of 2013, Richard Harvey and I embarked on a journey to develop and launch an online training program for Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT). After an initial series of videoconference calls, we established the training was intended for 3 audiences:

  • therapists – psychotherapists, counselors, and other healing practitioners
  • people who want to train to become SAT therapists
  • seekers who wish to practice SAT for their own personal growth and spiritual development

 

In earnest we began our collaboration. Richard started writing the lectures and supporting documents; in parallel he recorded the lectures. I turned my attention to figuring out the technology end of the equation: What platform would we host the training on? How would students be enrolled? What would the student experience look like? Etc. In parallel, I served as a second eye for the lectures and supporting documents.

The process was daunting. Month after month Richard toiled over the lecture material and supporting documents. I would make a discovery and progress in one area of the technology equation, only to be set back with the realization of the challenges, shortcomings, and/or glitches with the approach being considered. There were times when the entire process seemed out of reach.

But we persisted and in January 2015, SAT online training, Level 1, was launched. Since that time students from around the world have applied and enroled in this progressive, radical, and innovative psycho-spiritual psychotherapeutic training program. Very soon after Level 1 was launched, Richard and I talked about developing Level 2 of the training program.

Four years later, with many of the same challenges we faced in Level 1 training development and production, Level 2 of SAT Online Training has been launched. Level 2 has a distinctly different look and feel. The content is very different, but a natural extension of Level 1 training, and the lectures themselves have a very different look and feel to them.

When Richard sent me the final written material for the Level 2 course, he expressed great joy that this Level of the training had been completed. Four years of hard work had come to conclusion—it had ended. I smiled along with Richard at his, at our, sense of accomplishment. Indeed, there was a great sense of accomplishment knowing that all our hard work had finally come to fruition.

For me, however, there was an overwhelming sense that this journey, with SAT Online Training, Level 2, had only just begun. Yes, the course material was completed, developed, packaged, and launched; but now the journey of sharing this progressive, radical, and innovative psycho-spiritual psychotherapeutic training program with the world would begin.

This ending and beginning with SAT Online Training, Level 2, got me thinking about how we treat endings and beginnings in our lives. How do we deal with endings? Do we resist endings? Do we run away? Do we loathe endings? Or do we embrace endings? Do we celebrate endings? And what about beginnings? How do we treat beginnings? Are they reason or cause for joy? Concern? Fear? Of course the answer to any of these questions may differ, depending on the situation. But, in general, how do you treat or deal with beginnings and endings?

Birth and Death

Is there any more poignant metaphor for beginnings and endings than the societal metaphor of life and death. Conventional wisdom has us being born to start our life, and dying to end our life. It was not until my 30s that I questioned this story of birth and death.

I can’t remember exactly where I heard  the following, but it was either on a radio or TV show many years ago. The host of the radio or TV show was sharing that many of the great faith and spiritual traditions share the common pedagogy that when we die, as our soul leaves this realm, we pass through a dark tunnel but we see a light at the end of the tunnel. Many spiritual and faith traditions indoctrinate their faithful to “go to the light” upon their passage to the mythological heaven. The host of the show then shared their ponderings about what it must be like for a newborn child to pass through the birth canal. The newborn child may experience a dark tunnel but see or sense a light at the end of the tunnel. The host of the TV show asked if is was possible that the process of death as we commonly know it was merely a passage way from one life, one ending, to a rebirth or new beginning?

If this be so, is there really an ending or beginning? I have heard it said that death is not the end of life and birth is not the beginning. Life always was, always is, and will always be.

The Flow of Life

Is it possible that death and birth, endings and beginnings, are the natural flow of never-ending life? What happens when we examine these matters from our mind versus our heart? When we open up our heart center, do death and birth allow us to see endings and beginnings differently?

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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