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Living the Serenity Prayer

By Dr Kevin Ross Emery

Several months ago, a friend approached me with a question. If I were to get up in front of a large audience and speak about something I thought would make their lives better, what would that subject be? For the last several years of my teaching and speaking career, my first response would have been to say, ‘Empowerment.’ This time however, I looked at my friend and without missing a beat said, ‘The Serenity Prayer.’

Photo credit: Abby Lanes via Flickr

Abby Lanes via Flickr

When he asked me why I would choose this subject, I told him that I had used the Serenity Prayer for almost 20 years in my spiritual coaching and counseling practice to help my clients.

In this article, I would like to explore the serenity aspect of the prayer. As often times is the case, when I begin to talk or write about something, I like to see what Webster’s Dictionary has to say about it.

One definition I found for the word ‘serenity’ was, ‘A place of calmness and tranquility.’ The question that brought up for me was, ‘Is serenity a place where we go, or a state that we live within?’

Rather than just answering this question on my own, I decided to see what other people had to say. Many of the people I asked said that serenity is associated with acceptance, as in The Serenity Prayer: ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.’ However when asked where they found the calmness and tranquility that defines serenity, some replied that when they did find it, it was when they meditated or chanted; or did yoga or T’ai Chi. For others, it came by listening to certain kinds of music. Some said that playing or singing music could also create that state of serenity. And then there are those that find serenity while cooking, knitting, or even shooting hoops.

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Did you notice that all these things required the effort of setting aside a period of time and doing something? It was a place they went to or an activity they participated in. It was clearly not a state of being they experienced in their ordinary day-to-day activities.

Another definition I found for serenity referred to being free from stress or emotion; the absence of mental stress and anxiety. Again, a question arose in my mind. ‘Does that mean that serenity is only achievable when we are empty of emotions and thoughts?’

Even the possibility of eliminating emotions and thoughts made no sense to me.  So I did what I do best and allowed my soul to take me to the place where the answer might lie, at least where it might lie for me. As often happens when I go to my intuitive self for guidance, I flashed onto something from my past that guided me to an answer.

For close to twenty years when people ask me what I do for work, I tell them that I don’t do work, I do joy. I do joy because about 90% of the time, I am in joy, and part of that joy comes from what I do that some people may call work. I can tell them this because I realized that joy, in and of itself, is not an emotion, but how fully you live, learn, and move through the emotions that you have at the time that you are experiencing them.

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Now why would I bring up joy when I am speaking about serenity? Simple — because to be in joy is all about acceptance; accepting exactly where you are, and doing so fully and without judgment. This is the first thing that one prays for in the Serenity Prayer. Serenity is clearly tied to acceptance. So what then is acceptance? Often, we associate acceptance with giving up on something, turning the other cheek.

However, when I hear that, I think of a statement that Simon Peter (St Peter), one of the beings who sometimes comes through me when I trance channel, made through me: ‘Sometimes you turn the other cheek, and sometimes you stomp down on their foot so they don’t do it again.’

Acceptance is about clearly seeing and being in the reality of any situation; not just thinking about how you would like for it to be, or fear it might be. It also means dealing with the situation from that place of acceptance. We can accept something and still have unhappy emotions or thoughts about it. Frustration, anger or sadness don’t change our acceptance of a situation, they just are, and they make us feel a certain way, which we in turn also accept.

Living in serenity isn’t about having no emotions, no stress, or no thoughts but light and fluffy ones. It is all about acceptance. In the Serenity Prayer, we ask God to grant us the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change. Yet isn’t it the ability to accept that which you cannot change that leads to serenity?

The acceptance of what you are not willing to change, but know that you could change, can also bring serenity. It is possible to realize that we can change something, and at the same time decide that now is not the best time to change it. But sometimes, we tell ourselves that it is okay to leave things as they are, and then proceed to beat ourselves up over the choice.

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If we cannot be in peace about living with something for the moment, then perhaps, we really can’t wait in serenity. Realizing this is the difference between timing and avoidance. If it is truly just timing, then you actually can be at peace with the choice, if you can’t than it is probably avoidance. In other words, one does not find serenity without acceptance, and acceptance brings serenity. One of the great spiritual paradoxes!

Acceptance in all forms is what brings one to live in the place of serenity. Some might even call it radical acceptance, and this is what makes it possible to not only ‘find’ serenity in certain activities, but to live in serenity.

So serenity is not about living without, or in emptiness, but it is about living fully within all that life brings you, fully embracing all of your emotions and each situation as it appears, so that at the end of the day, you can joyfully accept that you are just are as you are, living in each moment.

We began by discussing how some people can find moments of serenity for themselves, but the most important question is:  How can we bridge the gap between moments of serenity to a life of serenity? The answer to this question involves four steps:

  1. Doing the things we know bring us serenity as often as possible.
  2. Daily spiritual practices.
  3. Getting out of fear and staying out of fear.
  4. Living in the now.

It is as simple and easy as that, which is neither simple or easy, but can be accomplished.

Can we really live in serenity? Better yet, can we live in serenity when we are living in a world that is fearful, judgmental and full of unknowns? Absolutely, in fact it is the only way we can live fully in this world.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/spirituality-articles/living-the-serenity-prayer-1127788.html

About the Author

Dr. Kevin Ross Emery is a popular author, psychic, coach, consultant and teacher. Dr. Kevin travels internationally, offering lectures and workshops to empower people from all walks of life. He’s also available for phone (and Skype) consultations. Dr. Kevin’s primary practices are in Portland, Maine and Haverhill, Massachusetts. Visit his website for his radio show and additional articles at http://www.weboflight.com

Since this article’s initial publication articlesbase.com has undergone some changes. We have left the original links intact. 

 ‘4-Hour Work Week’ author Tim Ferriss is convinced New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time – so he does a simple annual ritual instead (businessinsider.com)

 This Couple Has Created a Program To Help You Heal From Toxic Relationships—And It’s Pretty Brilliant (prweb.com)

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The brain and the gut are more connected than you’d think

Intuitives, shamans and mystics have known for many years that the brain is not the entire person. While psychiatrists tend to focus on the brain, this can be misleading. The human being is a whole person, to include body, soul and a relationship with God.

To exclusively focus on the brain seems superficial to some, dangerous to others. Luckily, however, modern research is beginning to realize the inadequacy of purely brain-based psychiatry. Last night I saw this video with author David Perlmutter:

http://tvo.org/video/213114/david-perlmutter-belly-and-brain

At first glance I thought Perlmutter was just another new age, health huckster who will say or do anything to peddle his book. But once he began to speak, I realized he was an intelligent, articulate proponent of the idea that the brain and the gut are intimately connected.

Dont get me wrong. I agree that the brain is crucial. But it’s not alone. It’s part of a total organism located in a physical, social and spiritual environment.

—MC


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Resolving Conflict

rock5a

Are we so different?

Copyright © Anagarika Eddie, 2013. All rights reserved.

What we extend outward toward others, we internalize. Whether the emotions are negative, such as hatred, animosity, and anger or positive, such as love, forgiveness, and peace, these feelings seep inside of us and affect us deeply, both emotionally and physically.

You can feel the physical difference between, on one hand, hating someone, and on the other, forgiving someone. One is restricted and one is spacious, and our body reacts accordingly with feelings of stress or feelings of ease. The person we hate, or forgive, only feels the rejection or acceptance momentarily, where we, conversely, feel it constantly. This is because it is never them that we hate, but we, ourselves, that we hate, and the feeling is there all the time. We are always the recipients of our actions, no one else. We hate ourselves because the ego that we have created in our minds is a terrible burden to sustain, even if we think the opposite; that our ego is delightful.

Positive emotions create spaciousness, they create acceptance, and love accompanied by a feeling of completion. Hatred and anger, negative emotions, create closed-in feelings of conflict, and a feeling that something is left undone, which creates tension. Because we are under the influence of our illusions, we take steps to make certain that our hatred and anger is never directed at ourselves. We do this by searching for targets outside of ourselves in order to vent these negative emotions, and when we run out of distant targets, the targets become those closest to us.

We erroneously think that if we can only eliminate the people and ideas that we hate, or change them, the hatred will go away, but this never quite works out. There are always uncountable people and conflicting opinions to hate. The reason for this is that the hatred comes from inside, and if there is nothing to externalize the hatred on, we begin to hate ourselves. We are ever on a mission to discover new things outside of us to hate, and we try to keep the hatred alive, sometimes even over long periods of time, decades. It protects us from looking at ourselves.

Part of the illusion is that we, each one of us, are unchanging entities. We become concrete images in our minds complete with a set of uncompromising opinions. Concrete images of others and concrete images of ourselves is based on memory, and instead of being here and now and discovering ourselves and everybody else in a new light moment to moment, we chisel ourselves into marble statues based on memory and thought. And statues, memory, and thought are all dead.

Being truly alive is being completely absorbed into our passion, whatever it is. There is no room for hatred here. Those who are passionless, who have not discovered that which they love to do, will become caught up in the past, in the images and thoughts that haunt them constantly. Within our true passion is the absence of thought. In the moment of discovery, thought is never present, only creativeness.

Few discover these things, and as a result, many live a life filled with stress. This is a sad thing. And if someone would mention to them that there is a creative spaciousness of mind, that is absent of memory and thought, and a spaciousness that will introduce them to their individual creativeness and passion, they will be suspicious of any new ideas. Their habit patterns of hatred will instead look upon ideas alien to their conditioning as targets of hatred. This is symptomatic of closed minds, and the reason humanity continues to war with each other even after countless years of culture, in our families, our neighborhoods, and our world. .

A new consciousness is slowly evolving, however. If you hate, dislike, detest . . . look into it for your own good. You are only hurting yourself and creating karma that will come back on you, if not in this lifetime, in subsequent lifetimes. Begin with meditation, which will slow things down so that you will see how an initial feeling of fear spins out of control with a succeeding flurry of thoughts, turning the fear into hatred. You only have to see this once, clearly, and the hatred ends. The fearless never hate, and meditation, if practiced for some time, breeds fearlessness.

The one that we hate so, our separate ego, slowly evolves with meditation. It becomes extremely intelligent, and because it begins to realize the interconnectedness of all beings, it begins to experience genuine courage because it is no longer isolated and alone. It now has the courage to understand others, see their side of things; stand in their shoes, and feel authentic compassion toward them. Then the fear is gone. Then we can be integrated beings once more. It’s a great relief.

And if none of the above makes any sense to you at all (maybe you even hate it!), then simply look to the saviors and sages throughout history. Did they profess love, or did they spread hatred? They professed love, of course, and if you are a person of faith, to hate instead of forgive would be nothing less than a contradiction of your beliefs.

About the Author

Anagarika Eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary and author of A Year to Enlightenment. His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk.