Honor your own inner knowing above all else

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As you may already know, a horrific event occurred October 9th in the desert near Sedona, Arizona at a retreat led by James Arthur Ray, well-known author and personal development guru. Two people died immediately and another died this weekend after participating in a questionably executed sweat lodge. Almost two dozen others were hospitalized with illnesses ranging from dehydration to kidney failure.

I don't wish to lay blame--others will be doing that, and it's strictly an ego exercise to do so. But I did want to communicate one important message in light of the outcome: Never, ever obey anyone's authority over that of your Spirit.

If someone seems to know more than you do, have achieved more than you have, have obtained what you want to have, or seems more enlightened than you believe you are, it is not a signal to abdicate your own sense of knowing to subject yourself to his or hers. Partake of their ideas, yes, if you're attracted, and try them on to see if they fit for you--or not.

If you are receiving any internal signals that something is wrong--or even not quite right, or just simply not a match for you--pay attention and
heed those signals. You don't have to prove anything to anyone--even to yourself. Don't let your own fearful ego lead you astray in a quest for something it's telling you that you haven't got. Ego is a consummate liar and will sell you down the river in a heartbeat.

All knowledge is already yours. All your desires are already yours, even if you aren't yet experiencing that. But the way to realize and manifest them into your reality is to follow your Spirit to the vibrational level where you can claim them. And you can't do that if you're busy following someone else. Or a group of someone elses. Or your own ego. Following anyone other than your own Spirit will lead you down in vibration.

If you find yourself caught up in group energy, something that often occurs due to the longing to feel the energy of being at one with your fellow human beings, pay special attention. You may find yourself willing to do things and take risks you'd never take if your energy was centered within yourself and not in the composite mind of the group.

I am somewhat painfully familiar with that dynamic because I once found myself streaking naked across my college campus after getting so caught up in the pack mentality and energy, I was compelled to join the streaking crowd. In that case, the only deleterious effect was a photograph of the back of me in my birthday suit (blessedly, with a shirt over my head) that showed up on the front page of the city's newspaper.

And here's one I have been learning the hard way: If your body is telling you to back off whatever you are doing instead of pushing, listen and obey. Ease your way into growth--don't force your way into it.

As a spiritual teacher, I take my responsibility to influence very seriously. For me, having your attention is a sacred trust and I am intent on keeping my ego in check to keep that relationship clear. Starting with the experience I tell about in the introduction to Recreating Eden, I have been continually shown that rejecting all authority outside one's own being, and honoring the voice of Spirit within is the very key to reaching the highest level of vibration and experiencing enlightenment.

My Spirit has always made sure I understood that trying to assert any authority over a person's own inner guidance, no matter how right my ego may tell me I am, is a ticket to disaster. My desire is to empower you to listen to your Spirit and be yourSelf, not to get you to take what I have to say as being the gospel. You don't need a guru--you have one within.

I can only imagine the pain that James Ray is in right now, not to mention the loved ones of those who died or who were otherwise injured. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that all involved may have stopped listening to their inner guidance. Then again, that is an ego-based judgment, based on limited evidence. Everything is in Divine Order, even when we don't like what Divine Order looks like at any given moment.

The take-away as I see it is this: Anyone who urges you to deny your internal signals so as to expand and evolve may just be, without even realizing it, asking you to risk your life. Anyone who tells you they can show you the way to Nirvana who isn't emphasizing that your Spirit is your only true authority is under the influence of ego and can't be trusted (only your Spirit can be trusted). But don't take my word for it--ask your own Spirit if this is true.



Julia, I couldn't agree more.

I've been in many sweat lodge ceremonies led by various Native elders, and I've received visions and other blessings within many of them. Some I've never returned to because they didn't feel right. Others I've never been to for the same reason.

When I became pregnant with my daughter, I instinctively knew I should not go back to the sweat lodge. Even though I was pressured by someone close to me, and I knew that many women do this and have very healthy babies, I followed my gut feeling. That goes the same for me in terms of which elders I will sit with, or which spiritual teachers I trust and respect highly.

Something as simple as not recognizing the smell of sulphur coming off a stone, and removing that stone immediately, can result in an explosion. People can be burned even just from sitting too close to the stones. It's not even just the physical aspects of the heating of the stones, building and caretaking of the lodge, etc. that can affect a person. For example, if someone has been drinking alcohol and goes in there, not only is it bad for them physically, but it affects the entire group in a negative way.

There are so many elements involved that our elders take years and years to train and prepare spiritually to be a sweat lodge keeper if that is their path. I'm not saying that wasn't the case here - in fact I have only heard very little and like you said, that would be getting into judging them anyway, which is not what I want to do.

My point here is that if you're going to do anything where you are taking a physical risk, no matter how spiritual and incredible it may look on the outside, like you said Julia, it's *always* best to consult with You - the inner you - to see if it is a fit for you.

And make sure you feel prepared. For me to go into the sweat lodge, I was fortunate to get lots of teachings ahead of time on how to prepare myself spiritually, how to make breathing easier with all that heat and steam, what to bring, etc.

The most important thing I want to say is listen to your spirit even if it means you might hurt someone's feelings or you might risk being embarrassed or you might "look bad" because of your decision not to partake in something.

THERE IS NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT TO ME than honouring my spirit. Every time I do, life flows beautifully. Every time I don't, I get teachings that may or may not be fun to deal with. And I don't feel good.

I think sometimes we can get caught up in the excitement and euphoria - that whole group energy thing - created by being at a workshop by a spiritual teacher/celebrity. Or we can start thinking that stretching our comfort level is the only reason we feel nervous.

Also, I have all too often been in a circle or workshop or ceremony where I knew I should leave immediately but I let the inherent unspoken - or sometimes spoken - rule of "you shouldn't leave in the middle of a ceremony" or "don't interrupt the elder" get in my way... and I convinced myself to stay just because everyone else was. And the whole time I could feel my spirit cringing and my body telling me to leave. I don't have that problem any more. :) I just leave.

I am really passionate about this because I've learned the hard way many times and now I experience that the easy way is to listen to my spirit and act accordingly.

Julia, thanks for sharing this... you raise some really good points.

Love & Light,

Brenda a.k.a. Medicine Song Woman

Julia said:

Thanks for sharing your powerful insights, Brenda! I especially appreciate your accounts of how you have sound some sweat lodge experiences to be in harmony for you and some not.

Instead of labeling everything as good or everything as bad, you've stayed attuned,in the moment, to your Spirit and let it make the call, just as we are designed to do.

Interesting, isn't it, how our egos have conned us into believing that we are supposed to ignore physical, emotional, and common-sense signs that something's not right for us in order to "progress."

Shell said:

Hi Julia,
I agree totally. When people are constantly searching for something they already have within them, the end result can sometimes be disappointing and disastrous. There is ,of course,nothing wrong with comraderie and enjoying your friends, but the pull of group energy can sometimes lead you down a wrong path. Wrong for you, anyway. The hardest thing I have to do,at times,is setting ego aside. If I remember my feelings and what really makes me feel good inside, I can always do it. Ego satisfaction never makes me feel good.The voice of spirit within is, indeed, your powerful source for guidance.

Thanks for this blog, you always have so many good things.

juditta said:

Thanks Julia
Wise woman

Thanks for the clarity and directness in the words and intention. Yes, groups may have an effect on you, it has been recorded in history, especially when working with a longing for perfection and power :-(
And that can happen in the spiritual arena as well.
As you say always listen to your inner voice and if the situation is such that that is being contradicted, well maybe one does not need to be there. Shortcuts have been known to create cripples.. although they maybe very interesting and challanging.

Thanks for feeling for Ray, whow what an experience it is to partake in, and so much responsibility and grief. I hope he pauses for recollection and healing.

We need to be very mindful, in my experience, for the quality of Will, striving and competition, and their involvement in our spiritual undertakings. It may shadow and muddle our best intentions, it may close our inner ears to our sincere prayer and the whisper of Spirit.

kindly Juditta

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