This is a series of questions asked by Tess Marshall and posted on her blog, www.theboldlife.com. Wonderful questions that really made me think. I present them here with the hope that they might stimulate some of your own pondering too. You'll notice that Tess makes comments throughout, which I so appreciate. See what you think.
Tell us about your new book, The Loving Heart, and how we would benefit from it.
I wrote The Loving Heart: Navigating the Journey from Conflict to Peace, to provide my readers with a more peaceful perspective on themselves, their world and each other.
The benefits include:
Improved capacity to connect with others
Increased ability to transcend illness, loss, divorce, or any other life challenge
Decreased depression, anxiety, fear and anger
Increased ability to forgive
Augmented creativity and motivation
The Bold Life:
What I like about, The Loving Heart, is the opportunity to learn through experience. Laurie provides, questions, guided meditations, prayers, stories and examples through, out giving us the opportunity and direction to immediately apply what we learn.
What do you mean by ancient psycho-spiritual principles?
To me, ancient psycho-spiritual principles are core tools that have been passed down for generations and generations which have proven themselves to bring about comfort, joy and peaceful living; i.e. greater mastery over life.
"Psycho” pertains to the mind and “spiritual” pertains to Divine Spirit, the source from which we have come. So these are “mental tools” which we can learn to use with the help of our higher, wiser self or “Divine Spirit.”
The Bold Life: When applying these core tools to guide our own human nature, we have the ability to remain calm and peaceful in our turbulent world. That's powerful!
What do you consider to be the single most powerful tool or technique that you use and teach?
The most powerful tool that I use and teach is “Mindfulness.” We can use it in a formal meditation practice or informally all day long.
For me, to be aware of what we are thinking in a non-judgmental way, is an absolute necessity for self-transformation. My experience has shown me that our thoughts and beliefs create our feelings and that many of us have been “programmed” in “fear-based” thinking.
I believe that our core essence is that of love, and that only “love-based” thinking will bring about the peacefulness we desire. As we become aware of our fear-based beliefs (with total acceptance of them) and learn to choose love-based ones, we can move into that place of peace and harmony.
The Bold Life:
I agree, the key is to be non-judgmental as we recognize our fear based thinking. It's a wonderful gift to know that we are "love" and to return to the state of love is as simple as choosing a "different and loving thought."
You began your self-transformational journey 35 years ago. Who was your first teacher?
Thirty years ago, I had a nervous breakdown, which was the beginning of my spiritual journey. Looking back, although it was a most challenging time in my life, it led me to question everything I believed about life.
During the next 3 years, I read voraciously, anything I could, about spirituality and many authors became my friends during that time. But my first real live teacher came in the form of a lay minister who was my “Course in Miracles” instructor. It was through his vision and love that I came to understand my purpose and my path.
This led to the study of Attitudinal Healing with Gerald Jampolsky MD, who became my first well-known teacher. Jerry, as we knew him, is now 81 and still a friend to me. I am honored to know this gentle, wise man, and to have learned from him was an enormous gift.
The Bold Life:
I continue to recommend Jerry's books, Love is Letting Go of Fear andTeach Only Love. What a life of service that man has led!What a wonderful teacher and friend you have had. What is one unexpected thing that has happened to you in the last year?
One unexpected thing that has happened to me in the last year is that my mother has needed me much more than usual. My mom is 84 and living with her companion, Ray, of many years. Ray was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago, but was doing fairly well with it. In the last year, he has gone downhill enough that my mom has had to struggle with what to do.
I’ve learned much about elderly health care insurance, and how to proceed with a 90 year old Alzheimer’s patient. What has stood out for me is how this is a step-by-step process that requires much discussion, thought and tuning into my mother’s needs as well as her desires in any given moment.
These needs and desires continually change, sometimes from day to day. And her emotional roller coaster is somewhat of a challenge for her and all members of our family. But it’s fascinating to watch her process and what she feels capable of today as opposed to 12 months ago. To observe the process leading toward acceptance (for her) is quite intriguing, and renews my faith that we all can eventually come to grips with a difficult situation.
The Bold Life:
Your mom has been blessed to have a loving and caring daughter like you. You're sons are learning from you and will offer you the same understanding and care if and when you need it. Isn't life grand?
How do you spend your free time?
My main love in life is my family. I have always loved children, and I am now so fortunate to have an 18 month-old granddaughter. As I had 2 sons, this is new and wonderful for me. In my free time, I talk to “Aya” on the computer, as they live far away. But they are moving back to live close to my husband and me, and I can hardly contain my excitement. I hope to spend more of my free time with her in the next few years.
Other than my family, I love be out in nature. I walk and bike as much as I can, all year around, even though I’m in Michigan. Nature soothes me, renews me, energizes me, and balances me. The trees are my friends and the best listeners!
The Bold Life:
Technology has allowed loved ones to stay close regardless of any geographical distance. It makes me wonder what Aya will be doing with her distant relatives when she is grown up!
Tell us something nobody knows about you.
When people interface with me, the main impression I give them is that I’m spunky, friendly, put together, energetic, and just naturally happy. People are surprised to find that I’ve struggled in any way. But I’ve had to work at happiness and peace, and I’ve finally told my story in my book.
There are stories about myself that I tell in the book that I didn’t talk about too much for many years. I had to let go of a lot of shame, fear and guilt. And I continually work on this. However, I feel so fortunate now to have learned all that I have and I am hoping that I can pass on the knowledge I’ve been so lucky to receive.
The Bold Life:
I think the temptation to "glamorize" the lives of others, is ego based, causing separation instead of unity or oneness. A good example, is how our culture is obsessed with Hollywood stars. They appear to have it all. Yet if you put my ordinary life in a magazine and circulated it in a third world country, I would appear that way as well.
Like you said earlier our core essence is love. Nothing else matters. When all minds join together and recognize this, nothing will ever separate us again. The rest is the illusion.
Laurie, I can't even imagine the number of people you have touched over the last 20 years with your wisdom. I remember reading your column in that Detroit magazine. It was one of my favorites.
Thank you for giving us the tools to create peace and happiness in our own lives. I want to end with this excerpt fromThe Loving Heart:
"The Universe provides us with situations that cause us to suffer enough discomfort that we may feel "forced" to grow toward greater peacefulness. That is how evolution operates.
If we are passive and hide from ourselves, waiting for the Universe to push us, the pain we experience may be worse than the pain we feel if we allow ourselves to consciously choose to work on inner transformation.
If we keep on hiding in spite of our discomfort, we may experience serious disease both mentally and physically.
If we consciously commit ourselves to the process, however, our "gullies" may be shallower and our climb less severe.
Even if we struggle through our growth process with disease, we will reap the incredible rewards of our labor by experiencing periods of grace, gratitude, and wisdom known only to those on a conscious path." -Dr. Laurie Pappas