This past week I was blessed to be part of a mini-retreat here in Rochester, NY with my friend Sarah St. Claire. Sarah has devoted her life to sharing the message of peace, love and forgiveness based on the teachings of A Course in Miracles.
After our group gathering, I spent some one-on-one time with Sarah. We talked about many things- how I was inspired to start the nonprofit (Coaching for Inner Peace) and the work I was currently doing, as well as about parenting my son as a single mom, and so on and so forth. Sarah then posed a question to me that left me speechless — and amazed at my being speechless. As someone who loves to write and communicate, I am rarely speechless. 🙂
“How is the nonprofit serving you?” she asked.
Now, I could list countless ways that nonprofit was serving others- the coaching, the newsletters, the website, the online courses and so on and so forth. Yet as I approached the two-year anniversary of Coaching for Inner Peace, at some level I was ready for Sarah’s question. What began as a creative venture filled with joy, love and passion over the past several months had begun to feel, well, somewhat heavy. The marketing. The trying to keep up with social media. Financial concerns and so on and so forth.
How was the nonprofit organization that I created from a space of joy, love and passion serving me in the NOW?
True service includes everyone
I know that many of you reading this are healers, therapists, doctors, parents, caretakers or helpers of some sort. So, I know that we all love to serve. And we are so generous in our serving.
Yet how does this service serve us?
It may seem to be a selfish question.
Aren’t we here to be of service?
Is that not a noble reason and purpose for life?
Of course, it is!
Yet I feel that Sarah with gentleness, yet firmness was guiding me to a deeper realization.
She offered an invitation to Include myself in this service. Serve so that you are also served. Share so that you are also nurtured and nourished in the process. Do not exclude yourself from this service because in doing so you become the unhealed healer. And in my career in medicine, I am very familiar with the experience of burnout that can occur when we do this to ourselves.
And this is also key. We truly do do this to ourselves. By not allowing ourselves to be included in this beautiful Circle of Love and Light that we offer so generously to all our clients and loved ones. We may ignore the small tell-tale signs of not serving ourselves- a little irritation, fatigue, lack of joy, not feeling inspired yet still ‘pushing through’ the task, or the day- or maybe even our lives. In my experience, this ‘not including’ ourselves may even create symptoms of illness in our body. Pain, distress, dis-ease – all can come from this space of not honoring ourselves as an essential part of the Circle of Healing.
Follow your bliss
After Sarah left, I found myself reflecting on Joseph Campbell’s famous teaching that he shared with all of his students:
Follow your bliss. Follow your joy.
Follow the road that feels light, loving, peaceful, joyous and leads you inward to the Truth of you. The Place of Light and Love that we all know at our core we truly are. The thing is that you cannot help but be of true service when you are following your bliss. It is like falling in love and being lit up from the inside. You just naturally exude the love wherever you go. Like fragrance from a flower.
I am willing to see service differently
Sarah’s gentle reminder has allowed me to give myself permission to even look at my blog in a different way. I want to continue to write and share – but as inspired. It is important that what I am sharing truly nourishes me as it is shared with each of you. I am also looking at my parenting, and at all my relationships in this way. How can I allow this relationship or whatever situation is before me to serve me – as I serve the one before me? It could mean saying no at times. Or postponing a meeting or event that ‘could be helpful’ but I feel I just don’t have the inner resources to participate. Letting myself rest. Play in the kitchen and create a new recipe. And even take a nap. 🙂 And of course, watch a favorite Bollywood movie. 🙂
I invite you to join in allowing yourself to be nourished, nurtured and loved as you extend this to all those around you. In the end, the Beloved in you and the Beloved in me and the Beloved in all others are not different. We are all the Beloved and truly worthy of basking in the Love we share and extend so freely!
An invitation for some self-reflection
As a student of A Course in Miracles, I know that ultimately when I heal, I am not healed alone. What I experience is shared with everyone- near and far. And ACIM also teaches that to heal is to make happy. So why not start with choosing happiness for ourselves first and then allow this to ripple outwards to all the lives we touch?
What would that look like for you- if you were following your joy, your happiness, your bliss?
How would you show up in life differently?
What activities and meetings would you include in your life?
What activities and meetings would you let go of- not because they were not helpful- but they just no longer served you?
We heal together
From across distance and time, I join with each of you as we give ourselves permission to choose happiness over obligation, joy over pain, and freedom over bondage. It may not even look like we do anything differently in our actions- just that we show up consciously- knowing that we made this choice and we can choose differently- whenever we want.
The choice is truly ours- to live a life of service to everyone, including ourselves. 🙂