The Soul’s Journey – Holding The Centre When Organizing Meetings for a Spiritual Community.

March 8, 2022

A Dedication to All Those Wonderful, Selfless Souls Who Organize Events for a Spiritual Community.

Recently I came across a presentation I made in 2014 at the closure of a gathering I organized for ninety-five people. It struck me it was quite amusing so I sent it to a friend. A day or so later a mutual acquaintance she had shared it with wrote to me commenting “it was so true that it brought tears to my eyes. It can be exhausting! I am evaluating what I have the strength to continue doing at this point in my life.” I realized I was not alone in what had seemed a lonely journey. So this is for all of you who embrace the challenge of organizing meetings in a spiritual context.

Organization Skills and Efficiency Will Not be Enough

If I say so myself I am a fine organizer, administrator and financial manager. At first I saw my primary role as managing financial concerns, organizing a venue, accommodation, food, registration and collecting money. I also helped design the program, coordinate speakers, and negotiate terms. I knew I could handle this with ease. What I did not realize was the human side of the event that could drive one to drink.

Fortunately I had a dream that warned me of what would come. I have to deal with a “disorganized jumble of personal possessions and dirty laundry that I do not want to even touch” I realized this represented the human interaction, the aggravation, the frustration, the procrastination, the confusion and all of the stuff that makes up life when you are trying to organize 95 people and get them to pay you. NB never allow anyone to pay by instalments, I did and it was a nightmare!

Spiritual Communities Are Like A Family

At one point I was sharing with the teacher of our community some experiences and he looked calmly at me and said “I think you are being given an opportunity to experience parenting.” The community was my family but what a challenging family it proved to be.

Like many other families most people are eager to please, want to do the right thing, but despite best intentions things don’t always work out. Just like in a family people like to blame someone else. For example “Its not my fault I am late, you should have given us more notice.” “Why didn’t you make the deadline two days later?’

Typologies In The Family

I began to identify a number of different typologies that frequent a spiritual community. Some people fitted into more than one category. Here are some of the types I learned to work with.

The Technophobe

This seemed to a high proportion of the group – words like Survey Monkey, PayPal, Google, MailChimp run shivers down their backs. While trying to complete a simple registration form many people were convinced they had failed. So they tried to register again, sometimes bypassing the protocol to avoid this by using a second computer. So now I had to deal with duplicates. Many had to bombard me with their experience adding to my work.

The Scatterbrained

So many people cannot make up their mind, change their mind, disappear – three people registered and I could never contact them again. One canceled, booked, canceled, then wanted money back that they hadn’t paid.

The Self-Entitled

A number of people seemed to think I was their personal travel agent giving me instructions to “wait list me for a single, book me a double plus find me a room in nearest town just in case”

The Dyslectic

Some people gave me a wrong email address then complained when they did not hear back. Then there were checks with no signature or amount. Then of course the complaints of “I am sure I paid you.”

The Attention, Deficit Disorder.

Sadly I think most people did not have the ability to read to the end of an email. Literally I would get a question back immediately that I just answered in the email or being asked when they needed to pay when a schedule was attached.

The Dysfunctional Couple

There were a few of these! It shows up by both booking, neither booking or in one case the wife booked and her husband cancelled her credit card payment.

The Anxiety Stricken

These need constant reassurance – have I booked? Have a I paid? Am I registered? When I sent out a notice saying by now I should have received your payment the only people I heard from were those who had already paid, checking to make sure.

Waiting For a Sign

Some people seemed paralysed by indecision because they were waiting for the right sign or omen. This was most irritating as it was my reflection in the mirror. I tend to live my life seeking the sign or guidance. It works well until it impacts someone else. I got a glimpse of how infuriating I must be.

Holding The Centre

The dream was a continual source of support reminding me that this was just more dirty laundry. However I needed to find tools to help me stay centered and not overreact. I tried to remember Juan Manuel Ruiz’s simple formula – “don’t take it personally, don’t make assumptions, do your best and be impeccable to your word” and I took a lot of long walks to recite poetry and mantras. In addition I found music a great solace. Becoming centred helped me rephrase my responses to be a little more considerate and less pointed despite being tempted to launch a tirade: “there is one of me and 95 of you, do you really think I have time to answer your inane, stupid, unnecessary questions?”

Coming back For More

I organized four gatherings of my community. It became an act of service and gratitude. They did not get easier in fact became more complex as we expanded and held gatherings in Assisi, and Oaxaca in Mexico. The finale was supposed to be Assisi in 2020 but we had to cancel due to Covid. It was planned to be my swansong as I had decided to retire from these events. Now my final act was the undoing. Yet in hindsight it was all worth while. What will stay with me is the warm sense of appreciation and expressions of gratitude for a job well done. A quote springs to mind from my Christian studies, in Timothy 4v7, St Paul says: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. It feels like a lovely completion.


What’s All This Soul Stuff Anyway?

November 17, 2014
 
“What is this precious love and laughter budding in our hearts,
it is the glorious sound of a Soul waking up 

Hafiz interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky

Late in his life Carl Jung wrote to a friend and said, “I have failed in my foremost task to open people’s eyes to the fact that man has a soul” The derivation of the word soul is from the Greek word psyche that in turn means breath.

In medical terms the psyche is the sum of who we are: body, mental faculties, emotions and … For some the definition stops there, for others it may include the nebulous concept of the unconscious while depth psychologists and Jungian analysts believe there is a Soul. Unfortunately we cannot identify the soul with a body part. It is an elusive concept

Thomas Moore the writer of many books on Soul suggests that Soul must be imagined rather than explained or understood. A tough concept for the logical and literal minded.

In my Spiritual Coaching practice, the Soul represents a guiding force that supports us on the journey of life and aspires to that which serves our highest good.

As the spiritual coach my first priority is to assess whether my client can accept this idea. It does not matter what name we ascribe to it: Psyche, Self, Soul, Higher Self, Inner Wisdom, I look for common language that we can share.

Why do I consider this of importance? First, I consider the inner guiding force is the most effective tool for helping us through the dark wood. Second, it has a language of its own that is not verbal. It speaks to us through the circumstances of our lives. This can be through our body, our dreams, the patterns of our life, through sign and synchronicity, through “the still small voice”. Third, once we accept the principle that the Soul desires to communicate then it behooves us to listen and pay attention.

Our growth frequently comes out of the ennui, confusion, sense of being stuck even depression that are the sign that something wants to change. I have noticed both in my own life and in those of my clients that ignoring the signs or ridding ourselves of the symptoms can often cause an exacerbation or deterioration until we wake up. I once heard this described as “the cosmic two by four”, a description that seems especially pertinent and a good reminder to stay attentive.

In his excellent book, What Matters Most, James Hollis reminds us that, “if the ego is living in harmony with the psyche there is no problem, there will be a sense of energy, purposefulness, the supporting function of feeling and a sense of well being. In those moments one is in right relationship.” I think that sums up Hafiz’s poem pretty well!

Spiritual Coaching helps to assess whether we are in right relationship with ourselves. It begins with a check-in to the current emotional, mental and physical circumstances of our life and an enquiry into what they could be trying to signify.

The wonderful Julia Cameron, author of many books including The Artists Way once wrote, “Today I listen with my deepest heart. I am alert to guidance in many forms and formats. As I open my attention to a broad range of cues, I find myself guided and guarded.” An excellent practice for honouring the Soul’s journey.


Learning the Gifts of Loosening Control

November 10, 2014

The Magical I am Harmony Garden

The Magical I am Harmony Garden

This journey began with a vivid dream then a series of apparently disconnected incidents that eventually combined into to a glorious mosaic. In the dream I am with my spiritual teacher Atum on a bus when I realize I have left my baggage behind customs. (Nothing symbolic about that!) I ask if I can see him later and he says, “no”. I feel disappointed but go about retrieving my bags. The dream segues and I am with him again but this time he is wearing a red and white polka dot jersey.

I know the dream is important. Atum when he features in my dreams is generally representative of the inner wisdom aspect of psyche. I work with my dream partner (for more http://www.soulclarity.com/Dream_partnering.pdf) and look at the key symbols, feelings and energy within the dream. The symbol represented by the red and white jersey is a delicious example of how the unconscious extracts a personal symbol that is only truly meaningful to me. Followers of the Tour de France will recognize that this jersey is awarded every day to the rider who earns King of the Mountains.

A crystal clear meaning emerges. There is some baggage connected to my history that needs to be cleared in order for me to move on to a higher plane of inner wisdom and intuitive understanding. However I have no idea what the “baggage behind customs” represents. All I can do is affirm, “show me the way” and wait on the will of heaven.

My attention shifts to a long driving trip I am planning to Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. I am planning to visit friends in Aspen, Santa Fe, and Mammoth Lakes. In between I want to visit Ghost Ranch (a wonderful retreat center in Northern New Mexico that I found last year), and Sedona in Arizona, where I love to camp and tour the sacred sites.

After confirming dates with my friends I begin to book my reservation in Sedona. There is a problem that is initially frustrating but then I hear a distinct message that I need to leave space in my trip and not plan so meticulously. Somewhat reluctantly I decide not to make any other reservations. Those of you who follow these reflections will know that my desire to plan comes from my need to control everything and that letting go will likely add to my anxiety.

So the day comes and I set off for the long drive to Aspen. This is not to be a travel blog; I cover the details extensively at www.hangin.wordpress.com. The inner journey insinuated into my consciousness on my second day in Aspen when I decided it was now timely to book the nights at Ghost Ranch. To my horror and frustration I could not get in; it was full. It was interesting to observe my reaction. Even though I had surrendered my need to make a reservation, I had a major attachment to going there. For a moment this wrench in my proverbial wheel threw me off centre.

Then I recalled the wisdom of allowing space and decided to see it as an opportunity leading me to research other options. I found a wonderful daylong steam train excursion in Southern Colorado with the romantic name “Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.” It followed an old mining route from Antonito to Chama crossing a high pass at Cumbres at 10,000 feet.

I became enthusiastic about the new possibility and decided to book a B and B in Antonito but when my totally valid credit card failed, I wondered if the universe had other plans. I surrendered once more and focused on enjoying Aspen. Unfortunately my friend’s wife Kathy was away in Paris with her daughter and I did not expect to see her but she decided to leave Sunday and they arrived home at about nine after a long day in the air.

She was upset that I was leaving the next morning and asked if I couldn’t stay another day. Her husband observed nonchalantly that my plans had collapsed anyway so I gave up the idea of the train ride to spend the next day with her. It became clear during the day that this was the reason my plans went awry. We had an exquisite day together visiting the monastery of Father Thomas Keaton in Snowmass, and other beautiful parts of the Aspen Valley while catching up on each other’s lives.

Kathy also provided the insight for the next step of unfolding trip. She acquainted me with the a town in Southern Colorado named Crestone and the adjacent area called Baca Grande where twenty-three spiritual groups had made their home thanks to the generosity of the land’s developers. This idea resonated immediately and my next destination seemed set.

It was an amazing day, crossing the continental divide over the 12,000-foot Independence Pass then gliding down to the high desert plateau below. I found Crestone with ease but the hotel was full. No problem, although I would not make Santa Fe I could stop en route. Baca Grande was a special place. I meditated in a Carmelite Monastery, walked around a Buddhist Chorten seven times But the highlight was an exquisite meditation garden called I am Harmony, created with an amazing variety of natural rocks and colourful crystals. There was even a labyrinth. I stayed over an hour contemplating at a series of mediation stations. It was so much more than I could have imagined and I soaked up the sweet energy and astonishing vibration of a truly mystical space.

Then as I left I realized, I could make it easily to Antonito before dark and as long as I did not mind completing my trip to Santa Fe in the dark the next day, I could also do the train ride. It was a magical moment; it felt like I could do it all. But as I reflect back the magic had just begun.

Full of my exciting adventure I arrived safely at my friend Robert’s shortly before eight at night. To my delight he asked me if I wanted to visit Christ in the Desert Monastery. I was ecstatic because not only had I wanted to go last year but it was also close to Ghost Ranch so I asked if we could make a stop there as well. I felt so pleased that I would even get to spend some time at my original destination. Everything seemed to be combining so sweetly into a perfect trip.

Christ in the Desert Monastery provided yet another magical experience. It is situated in the beautiful Chama valley set adjacent to the red rock mountains of the Colorado plateau. The natural beauty is breath taking; the church provided an inspiring opportunity for meditation but the real surprise was yet to come. Entering the reception I heard a woman say my name. At first I ignored it but finally I looked up and was astonished to see my friend Taj from Petaluma who I had met a year ago. Now here I was 1,500 miles from home, and there she was 1,250 miles from hers. To use the English expression I was truly “gobsmacked”.

She was conducting a retreat there but it appeared possible that we would both be in Santa Fe for the weekend so I agreed to call her the next day. Robert and I stopped briefly at Ghost Ranch; it was too brief a stay and better than nothing but he was hungry and the dining room was closed.

We stopped for lunch twenty minutes south in Abiquiu then headed back to Santa Fe. Here the first glitch in this amazing day emerged, I had left my credit card in Abiquiu. This meant a special trip back the next day to retrieve it. Fortunately they confirmed it was in the safe and I felt surprisingly relaxed and trusting but curious about why this had happened.

The pieces fell into place as I drove back the next day. I realized that how I really wanted to spend that day was to return to Ghost Ranch and hang out. I also discerned that I wanted to delay my departure from Santa Fe, spending this day retracing my steps was making everything seemed rushed. Suddenly I relaxed, smiling at the realization that because I had built space into my trip, I could now let go of Sedona. I felt a sense of relief flow through me, the mystery of forgetting my credit card felt purposeful rather than careless.

I enjoyed a wonderful day at Ghost Ranch, walking the labyrinth, visiting the sacred Camposanto memorial site and hiking to Chimney Rock where I strolled over 200 million year-old sedimentary rocks. Then on my return I called Taj and we agreed to meet in Santa Fe for tea.

It was sitting in the roof top garden at the top of the La Fonda hotel in downtown Santa Fe that the mystery cracked wide open for a glimpse of the numinous power of the universe over the events of my life. I was sharing two stories about my life with Taj. First about all the personal work I had done around the impact of control on my life then the dream that started this blog. As I concluded there was a pause and then she gently interjected, “you do realize these two things are connected?” I looked puzzled and she filled in the space between us – “the baggage behind customs is surely the work you have been doing on control.”

I was stunned. In the words if a beautiful song composed by my niece Amy Newton, “it all made sense for a moment.” This whole trip had been about loosening up my control and allowing the universe to magically intervene. The amazing synchronicity of meeting Taj brought everything to a perfect finale. Paying attention to the signs had allowed me to do so much more – spend a day with Kathy, visit Baco Grande, take a steam train excursion, visit both Ghost Ranch and the Monastery. Trusting my intuition had allowed me to have it all.

I glanced down almost expecting to find myself wearing a red and white polka dot jersey. Oh well not quite yet!


Explore Your Dreams and Intuition: Toronto Sunday June 23rd

February 24, 2013

 

An Amazing Dream

Explore the magical mysterious, revealing world of dreams and intuition. In this workshop you will learn to understand the inspiration that dreams can bring, to  review the feelings, energy and consciousness within a dream, as well as activate the intuitive faculties of your imaginary world.

Discover the Amazing World of Dreams

Discover how to increase your recall, differentiate between dreams that have value and those that are the outpouring of a preoccupied mind. We will consider the different types of dreams that occur during sleep and the signs and symbols that may be really meaningful and practice dream partnering to unlock the secrets and deep wisdom within your dreams

Learn the Languages of Your Intuition

We will work with active imagination through meditation, poetry, music, drawing and cards to identify themes that may have particular value for you. This workshop will focus on an experiential exploration of ways you can access your inner voice, the different languages it uses and how these can guide your life.

Sunday June 23rd 9:30 am to 5:00 pm Urban Wellness, 489 College Street Suite 301, Toronto M6G1A5.
 
Cost $125.00

What Others Have Said

It’s wonderful to work with Trevor who is so knowledgeable and passionate about exploring dreams. I would recommend his sessions to anyone interested in learning more about themselves through understanding their dreams.” Vaune Kolber

“You are a great listener with strong insights.  You also have a subtle style that gave me “the guard rails to hold onto” while I found my own way.  You were well organized to keep us moving forward.  Your positive energy helped create a safe place.”  Barbara Beasley San Francisco CA.

“I found the sessions I was able to attend to be simply excellent.  I loved the opening meditations, your flow in bringing the content into application, and your style in honouring of individual input.   Thank you for showing us a craft that you have obviously invested time and energy in mastering.” Joyce Gwilliam

About Trevor Simpson: Trevor is a Spiritual Coach, author of the book Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions, and leads groups on Decision-making, Exploring Dreams and Training Your Intuition. For more see http://www.soulclarity.com/about.html