A Year of Living Spiritually: A Journey without Distance


by Marianne B. Rowe

“To be fully alive and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” - Pema Chodron

I am sitting in front of a fire, drinking a cup of tea, listening to mellow guitar music, nursing a cold, and feeling very content, just resting in a Realm of Cozy Spaciousness…a magazine picture of mindfulness and meditative calm.

This scene is quite a contrast to the events of 2017 – events that pulled, pushed, buried, and catapulted me up, down and sideways until…well, I caught a really, really bad cold and had to stop and catch my breath.

The past year has been one of inspirations, invitations, and instructions. Whether I found them comfortable or disturbing, easy or challenging, elegant or messy, I am grateful for them all.

The physical culmination came with cataract surgery that gave me 2 new lenses…taking me overnight(!) from being legally-blind to 20/20 vision. The internal culmination continues to arrive with meditation practice and life experiences that gradually remove the veil from my “third eye"… taking me a little further along my way, with a little more clarity and a lot more compassion.

So now that I’ve regained my balance and have my head above water again (for a while), my attention turns to how to bring these gifts forward; how, in 2018, to integrate this hard-won wisdom and kindness into my way of being.

Basically, I want to shift the direction of my journeying from covering distance to gaining depth. Rather than a measurement of how/what am I doing, the 2018 measurement is how/what am I being.

As it happens, guidance arrived (as it often does when I remember to ask for help).

I came across “The Periodic Table of Spiritual Elements” by Barry John Johnson:

For me, this beautiful table inspires contemplation of the qualities of living a spiritual life – one that is sourced in being part of something much, much bigger than I could ever imagine or understand, being part of a Really Big Mystery that is played out in infinitesimal moments by beings…like me.

Here’s my thinking (and inspiration):

From a fractal perspective, the smallest reflects the largest (and vice versa). So, if I bring conscious attention and intention to the capacity for these qualities in myself through my meditations, my actions, and my teachings, then these elements could come together in a very interesting way. Of course, to give this focus depth beyond the cognitive dimension, the intention will be not “to live with…” but “to live as…” (love, change, surrender, divinity, humanity, etc.).

Here’s my plan (and structure):

Guess what! There are 52 elements in the Table. That’s one element a week. Starting at the top, I begin with Divinity as a contemplative, meditative, reflective, and relational thread for the first week in January.

In my relationships:

What would happen if I assumed Divinity – that myself and everyone else is “The Divine appearing as (your name here).” Yep, I can see that this could be vee-eery interesting (translation: fun… challenging... inspiring... confusing… all beneficial in their own way).

In my offerings:

What would happen if I sourced my teachings, my therapy practice, my creative expressions from this Table throughout the entire year? In other words, one or more of these elements are part of anything that comes through me into the world…consciously, on purpose, and as pure as I can manage it (this means I take out the stories that I tell myself and just let it be (name element here). Yep, interesting and more interesting.

Here’s my accountability:

I’ll keep you posted. As part of my MBMS blog every other month, I’ll let you know what I’m noticing – where I feel slacking, where I feel soaring, what I see as impacts, and what I see as obstacles.

Here’s my invitation:

Join me, if you like. Whether we connect through conversation (please note: in my world, that means voice to voice rather than email or text), a course, a retreat, a Forest Bathing Walk, or a meditation at The Studio, there will be at least one of these elements that can be pointed to in our being together.

We can kick off this Year of Living Spiritually together at The Studio’s Birthday Party on Sun., Jan. 7.

And/or, if you’re interested in gaining clarity about your own values and meaning, perhaps a event focusing on Coherence (a.k.a., living in alignment with what matters most to you) could be helpful:

  •  The meditation class on Jan. 20, “Living with Purpose: Finding Coherence”
  •  The day-long retreat on Feb. 3, “Coherence: Living your Values.”

Research linking happiness with having a sense of meaning, value and purpose continues to come in. Let’s activate our agency in making 2018 a New Year of Happiness…from the inside out.

marianne, purple, beach 3.jpg

Here are my Wishes for All of Us:

May we all enjoy a deepening sense of safety, satisfaction, and belonging.

May we each find our unique way of cultivating these qualities in our relationship with the greater whole.