What it looks like when you’re on a spiritual journey.

People on a spiritual journey are going somewhere. They grow. They shift. They change. They move. They may live physically in the same place their whole lives, but they will not stay the same person. They do not ever arrive. If you have disembarked at some fixed point in your pursuit of recovery, healing and wholeness, then it’s unlikely to be a spiritual journey you were on to begin with. It is fitting to be content with your looks, your home, your belongings, and your relationships, but spiritual self-satisfaction is something to be remedied rather than pursued.

Your Holy self is made to seek, not to cling. She does not live in your body any more than smoke could live in the fire. Your body is a temple to her, your heart, an altar for her. She owns no furniture, owes no mortgage, requires no chattels. She outlives the fleshy box you carry her around in, outlives it many times over. She dances always, arms outstretched, in the heavenly spaces between herself and God.

Spiritual sojourners transition, like seasons, like the earth, like the moon, like wind, like water, like a flame, like dust. They understand things of spirit are not static. They are ecstatic – extra-static. They appreciate there is a time for every season. They know when to hold on and when to let go. They know there is a time for birth, and a time for death. A time to sow and a time to reap. A time to dance, and a time for mourning.

Do not fear the sense we all have at times of being spiritually unsettled. Be wary only of spiritual colonialism. Of ownership, occupation and consumption which calls itself a spiritual enterprise. Of taking and not letting go, of gathering without attrition. Be wary of those who claim to be the God-people, who claim to be spiritual, but who do not exercise the principles of seasons, resisting the cycles of birth and death, accumulating, accruing and growing exponentially without allowing natural processes of detachment, death, loss and grief. There is a name for the living cell which forgets how to die in the appropriate season, and remembers only how to live, stay, grow, and consume and colonise. Those cells are called cancer.

Spiritual sojourners need not fear death of the body. We are not merely our physical selves, and to be awake to Spirit is to understand we can never truly die. The journey towards healing and wholeness will encompass many deaths, many lettings-go along the way. Attrition and rebirth are as familiar to the brave-becoming as our own hunger and thirst. Our pangs neither direct nor enslave us. We pay attention to them with friendliness and care, without allowing ourselves to be redirected from our purpose. Moving is our purpose. We are always walking forward on the path.

A brave-becomers work is not arriving, it is becoming.
………………….
From The Book Of The Brave
(c) Jo Hilder
Coming soon!

Image credit: bruniewska (stock image)

Perfect love casts out fear.

You will cast out fear like a an artist casts out a brush without suppleness. As a writer casts aside 12742504_1036715449707878_567661044966021180_na pen that no longer writes. With thanks, for the service it provided thus far. Thank you fear, for the safety and security you gave me. Thank you for helping me in your own way. But you no longer serve me as I need you to. I am not attached to fear, any more than I’m attached to the plate I ate my last meal from, or the flowers than grew in my garden last year. That time has passed. It’s time to go forward now. Love your fear, be grateful for it. Love it, and love it perfectly. Perfect love does not hold on to its object. Perfect love lets go.

The Price of Peace.

Things are tense.

People are tense.

Hadn’t noticed?

Been sleeping in a cave?

Sorry, that was a tension loaded comment.

Things are tense.

We have been slowly awakening to the reality of what it will mean for human beings to be alive in this age.

And for many of us, it isn’t measuring up to the brochure.

This isn’t the world we hoped to leave for our children.

For a great many human beings, this world isn’t promising peace, abundance, safety, shelter, blessing, or even life.

The borders are being checked, tested, even closed. To keep us in. To keep “them” out.

We can’t even tell who “they” are any more.

The lines between tribes and tongues and territories were blurred and broken down, sometimes in the name of love, sometimes of God, sometimes of war.

And we don’t know who to fear any more.

Things are tense.

Dear friends, I know you’re feeling it. Even in the relative safety of our peaceful countries, we sense the deep collective outcry of suffering and pain and distress – of fear – is being felt across the earth. We all feel it.

Or we try not to.

Fear doesn’t want to be found going about its business in your head. So it will disguise itself as other things to go undetected.

It knows you’d be repulsed to realize you were inhabited by raw, visceral fear, would see it as a weakness, and would attempt to evict it immediately.

So it disguises itself.

And it’s veiled presence causes your vision and perception to be distorted. It adds it’s toxic energy to your thoughts, feelings and perceptions, and what is suddenly becomes something other.

Your grace becomes intolerance.

Your smile becomes a smirk.

Your non-reactive presence becomes restlessness, opposition, even open hostility.

Your skin crawls with criticism just trying to work its way out of you any way it can.

And while your attention is directed towards managing the unpleasant feelings fear gives you, you don’t see the mindless actions you direct towards those around you.

You can’t hear the poison in your words.

Worse, you don’t even notice your indifference towards the pain and suffering of others.

This is how terrorism works. Those violent, random attacks push us into “fight or flight”, shove us blind and stumbling into panic and self-preservation, so that even if a few days ago we were accommodating and at peace, today, we would trample someone who stood between us and the way out if this horrible, chaotic fear.

Stop, my friend.

Yes, I know there are feelings.

And our culture has done a terrible job of teaching us to manage our fear, loss, suffering, even death.

We may have not learned how to feel the feelings that come with the threat of losing all we’ve feel we’ve become entitled to.

And yet, here the feelings come, whether we are ready for them, or not.

Breathe, dear one.

Things are tense.

Want to rail and scream and pick everything apart? Want to smash something? Someone?

Fear brings its own terrible, destructive energy with it.

It’s your task to direct that energy where it can do least harm to you or to others.

Things are tense. Are you tense?

Do things seem different to you the last few days?

Don’t allow the fear to turn from a veil to scales.

Those bastards are far more difficult to remove.

The merchants of fear are awake and moving. So you must move away from the marketplace, my friends.

Out onto the path with you. Out, into the wilderness of awareness, awakeness. The path we all are on that leads back to God, to source, to ourselves.

One step in front of the other.

Things are tense, but you are not of the stuff of those things.

Peace be with you, and between us, here and elsewhere.

Selah, my friends.
Jo

Obey your intuition.

Over the past week or so, I’ve been pressured from various directions to compromise a decision I made, made based on strong leading from my gut. In fact, my gut told me in the strongest possible terms I am obliged to obey it under these circumstances for my own and my family’s personal safety. No contest. But the pressure from the other to disobey my inner compass, and in the name of God and Jesus and love, no less, has been constant and exhausting.

But I know the creator who knows me knows I’m best going only where I’m sent, particularly when there is danger, or my own or another’s well-being at stake. No one has the right to demand you disobey your gut instinct. Listen to your gut. It’s a good gut.

Jo Hilder

Dealing with the drama monster.

Several months ago I read some superb teachings by Deepak Chopra, which said we need not ever defend our thoughts or beliefs, but when challenged, simply say, “is that so?”

Later, when conversing with Jesus on another matter entirely, the Lord gently reminded me, “Yeah, so I’m into that too. It’s called turning the other cheek.”

Is that so?10006923_782054591840633_5802792591008362091_n-1

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to exercise this new habit of late. I run a couple of Facebook groups and every now and then things come up, people get angry or don’t like it when I remind them they can’t say anything they like, or tear proverbial strips off other people, or bully me into doing what they want. And they stand toe to toe with me, inasmuch as you can on Facebook, and they shake their proverbial fists in my face and demand I explain myself, or engage in the drama they made in which they’ve written me in as a character, when they don’t even know me. And when this happens, it’s all I can do to resist not punching them on the nose, proverbially of course, or beating them with my theology qualification, or smothering them with profuse amounts of very carefully arranged but incredibly overwhelming words. And I want to pull everything out of my arsenal of sarcastic and articulate responses, but now I’m learning, it doesn’t matter. Once you engage in that, you lose anyway. You’re in the drama. You’re out of your peace, and your power. You have to do what Jesus and Deepak say. You got to let it go.

You have to say, “Is that so?”

I am a learner driver on this one, dear ones.

Love you lots,
Jo xxx

Bound and hobbled in the dark; the lie of fear-based thinking.

Fear. It’s got nothing for us, it’s got nothing on us. The Bible tells us to fear not. Says that perfect love casts out all fear. We know fear twists and stunts and drives us hobbled and naked into the darkness. Fear is dysfunction, it’s paralysis, it’s toxic and its debilitating.

And yet, a great many of us are living under a fear-based psycho-emotional and spiritual regime. Many of us are so programmed into fear-based social and emotional practices, we don’t recognize there is any other way. And the problem with fear is by its nature, it is vision-limiting. When you’re in fear, you can’t see all the options before you. Your options seem limited, your choices few. You suspect whatever you choose, all you’re left with are varying degrees of your not being able to cope. You choose the option where your failure will cause the least fallout. This is the character of fear-based thinking. Holding the status quo is all you ever truly hope for. You cannot go forward for fear of failure, change or loss. You cannot go backward for fear of revisiting a great sorrow or untenable situation. So you’re stuck. You never go anywhere or do anything, because fear has you convinced hurt, rejection, failure and shame await you on every side. Fear based living says that failure is not inevitable, and is to be avoided at all costs, because failing is proof you are less than, unworthy and wrong. Fear tells you that you are all the things that happen to you, and you are intrinsically bad, weak, foolish and unworthy. This is a recipe for mental, spiritual and emotional illness.

Love-based social and emotional practices are characterized by an intrinsic belief in your strength, goodness and capacity. They do not offer guarantees, but instead count on your ability to handle whatever comes. Love-based living presumes your worth, and does not assign badness or stupidity or weakness to any failure or difficulty you experience. Love-based living says you’re not what happens to you, and you have within you now the resources and capacity to traverse any challenge. Love-based living says failure is inevitable, is to be expected, essential for creativity and success, and is a teacher. Love-based living is the way of Christ, the path toward healing and wholeness.

It’s difficult to give up our addiction to fear, but like all addictions, break away from it we must. We need support, we need good teaching, we need wholesome spiritual and emotional food and lots of exercise. As with any addiction, with fear based thinking, there has to come a time where you’re willing to imagine a life beyond the prison. Sometimes the first step is simply agreeing with your deep suspicion if you take that step forward, you will be able to handle whatever comes, believing you will not be alone. You will not be alone.

The hell of your own creation.

You have a vibrant and God-given imagination. Anything you can imagine you can create. So why would you use that power to imagine a hell for others to go to?

It baffles me how anyone can use their brilliant mind to imagine not only a real place called hell we go to when we die, but also will fellow human beings to go there, simply for being who they are. And then, to imagine God wills this, in fact, to decide that God is the architect of this.

The only hell is the one you have imagined. It is yours alone. Willing others to go there, even delighting in believing they might, is a hell in and of itself.

And gives being saved a whole new meaning.

Silencing your inner critic – loving all the parts of you is BRAVE.

So listen; what about that voice in your head who says you can’t, you mustn’t, you shouldn’t, you wouldn’t dare? What about that voice, my sweet? How on earth will you do all this, with her there, up there? What will we do about this doomsday storyteller, this inner critic?
………

A few months ago, something happened to me that changed my life forever. It’s not hyperbole. I can’t go back to how I was, ever. This new way of being is working so amazingly well, I don’t think I could ever go back.

I learned how to shut up.

Now, I’m not talking about talking. I’m talking about the infernal chatter in my head. The inner doomsday storyteller. The voice I believed was me, or maybe God, or at one stage the devil. But it’s not the devil or God. In fact, that perpetual gabble going on up there isn’t even me.

You know the voice I mean, don’t you? That constant internal dialogue that narrates our lives with banter about what we should and shouldn’t do, who will have what to say about it, and what’s likely to happen if we don’t get it exactly right, whatever it is. The inner critic. I’d never actually thought about what that voice was, until I read a book about meditation. The book said to consider the idea the voice we have in our heads, constantly narrating and directing our actions, responses and perceptions, isn’t really us. Not the real us, anyway. It’s all our built up knowledge and the things we’ve learned along the way which our subconsciousness likes to repeat back to us to help us keep safe and avoid ever encountering things, circumstances and people that could pose a threat, physically, socially or emotionally.

That voice is the narrator or our history trying to predict our future, but it isn’t us.

The author of the book asked me to consider the idea I was not the speaker in my head, but instead was the one listening to that speaking. I was not the narrator, but the person witnessing that narration.

This was a revelation to me, this idea that I was not the fearful, anxiety ridden voice, always warning me to be wary of this and careful of that, but instead was a witness to that voice, the listener of it. That I was perhaps standing somewhere behind that chatter and noise, and this was intriguing to me. I started spending quiet times practising quitting that inner critic, teaching and disciplining the voice in my head to be perfectly quiet. I literally told the voice to shoosh, to stop and cut it out for awhile, and waited to see what would happen next.

What do you think? It started up again, telling me what a dumb idea this was and how boring it was, and totally impossible, and not to forget to buy dog food and ring the accountant the next day.

Argh.

But I kept practicing. I kept comforting and consoling my inner voice, telling it I’d get around to those things tomorrow, but for now, what it needed to do was be still. Shoosh now. And I waited in that space. And guess what I found there?

The thing I’d been running from all these years.

Peace.

Total peace.

Not just audible peace. Not just an empty space where the nagging, fearful, chicken-shit storyteller of the actual and imagined past and the doomsday clairvoyant of my future finally lay down her guns, but a place of true peace, and, thank the God of heaven and the little baby Jesus, a place of blessed rest. And, unexpectedly, a place in which I found helpful resources. Just lying around. In fact, back there where the real me – the me without the constant fearful chatter in my head – lives, I discovered a wondrous array of all the terrific things I was needing in my everyday life.

Courage. Wisdom. Creativity. Patience. Perseverance. Kindness. Strength.

I found that I could sit there in that space and let the peace simply tell me what to do. To guide me. It was like God was there, and I simply turned and found Him there with all this helpful stuff, just we were like sitting at a bus stop, and he said “Hey, what took you so long?”

And this has changed my life. To find all the resources I need to get through my days and face life, right there, so close. Freely available.

And not out there. In here. In me.

I’ve always known that part of me was there. I had glimmers sometimes, flashes of intuition and knowledge resonating, but I didn’t know where the source lay, where the centre was. And here it was, underneath the chatter, behind the fearful perpetual gabble in my head. I thought my memory and my history was guiding me, when in fact they’ve been clouding me.

It seems my heart, my gut and my spirit are bigger, deeper and stronger than my memory or my history. Connected to eternity, my soul guides me like a current pulls a raft. If I trust the source, and the destination, then I can confidently silence the nagging voice of fear, and trust my gut, my centre, to guide me.

It’s so quiet down there, I find myself returning there often now, just to check in. I can feel if I’m in the right place now. I only need to quiet that minivan of frightened orphans I carry around in my head. Once I’ve hugged them all quiet and gotten them asleep in their car seats, I’m free to take to the open road in confidence and peace. And off we go. Shoosh, my babies. Everything is going to be all right.

……….
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Living in your truth is BRAVE.

Remember when you were small, and pure, when being naked, when dancing in front of people and singing at the top of your lungs was as natural as breathing, and you never wondered if it was any good, because somehow you just knew you were beautiful and so were all the gifts you gave to the world?

Remember when you loved to hear your name in another’s mouth, when it made you feel loved and like you belonged to someone, with someone?

Remember when you trusted what you knew, and knew what you trusted? Remember when you didn’t have to deny who you were to be safe and accepted? You just were?

Remember when you used to go outside without having to do your face first, without having to check your hair, with barely anything on you but a slip of cotton, with your bruised shins and your freckles all out there for the world to see? Remember when you used to get away with just your bather bottoms, and you loved to run your hands down your smooth, flat chest and it made you feel free and you never knew what it meant to be showing too much skin? You never needed to wonder if you ought to be ashamed, to cover yourself?

Remember when you learned you needed to cover yourself? Remember who told you you were naked?

You need to put a top on honey, you can’t go swimming like that.

You need to pull your dress down, sweetie. They can see your underwear.

Put your knees together. That’s not ladylike.

Cover yourself up please. That dress needs about three more inches. And wear your wrap.

Nobody wants to know what you think about that. Just do as you’re told.

Can you keep your voice down? Don’t be so boisterous.

Who told you that? Where do you come up with such things?

Please fix your face. Go tie that mess back. Cross your legs. Come here and let us look at you. That’s better.

And you learned. Your sparkling soul, your small, pure self was embodied within a shell others needed to control. People stopped seeing you as small and pure. They stopped seeing you at all, and started telling you how to cover yourself up – with you.

Once, you were not ashamed. But others helped you understand that shame is simply what we do here. Without even trying, without doing anything, by simply having a body you needed to behave in a way that demonstrated your shame.

And then, there were the things others did that brought you a full, close and intimate understanding of shame.

And you understood to be one of us, to survive, to retain even a semblance of whole ness, you needed to cover yourself.

Your body. Your face. Your soul. Your spirit. Your innocence. Your creativity. Your dreams. Your sexuality. Your intelligence. Your spirituality. Your self.

The truth about you is you are not what others see. The truth is shame about the things you did, the things that were done to you, and the things about you that could not be helped or changed made you cover the naked you so long ago, you’re not sure if you can even trust that part of you any more. You haven’t listened to your gut, to your heart, to your creativity for what seems like centuries. All you’ve done is what you needed to do to survive, to stay safe, to belong.

And then came the startling moment in time when it became clear that staying ashamed in your darkness was going to be more painful than showing your true self ever was.

Place your hands on your smooth, flat chest, my little love. Feel your innocence, your truth beneath your palms. Close your eyes to the prying, lying world. Hear the music. Take off the mask, and let the sun kiss your face once more. Kick away the shackles of shame from your feet, and dance. Dance with your arms out wide and your eyes open. Dance and feel the layers fall away. Open your mouth and taste the truth as it pours from your swollen cheeks. Those are your words, this is your song, my love. That is your story. This, my heart, is who you really are.
……………………….

Do Awesome Broken is my online course for women who wish to grow into a greater appreciation for their own beauty and greatness, and who would like support to build a healthy platform emotionally, socially and spiritually from which to live their purpose and be their most authentic selves.DAB icon

Do Awesome Broken runs over eight weeks and involves –

  • Unique and stimulating course content, vibrant group discussions and a place to share, relax and connect with others.
  • A secret (private), facilitated Facebook group where we view course content, and where course participants can interact with each other in community every day, talking about our discoveries and experiences and sharing our discoveries, thoughts and ideas.
  • Support, both technical and pastoral, individual and collective, in real time (Facebook messenger) or via email, as well as a safe, facilitated space accessible 24/7, and a creative, supportive group culture.

Do Awesome Broken – Season Two is enrolling now for start date early 2015.

For more info, click here.