Reflections on My Interspiritual Journey
I grew up as an only child playing and dreaming on the rocky shorelines of Maine. I moved to Boulder, Colorado in 1996 with my two children, Elijah and Bethany, to pursue studies in Transpersonal Psychology at Naropa University. Naropa is a leader in contemplative education. My journey began there.
Upon starting school at Naropa, I immediately fell in love with Buddhism and decided to take my Refuge and Bodhisattva Vows. During this time, I worked closely with my dear teacher and meditation instructor, Dale Asrael. Dale is an archarya (spiritual teacher) within Shambhala Buddhism.
My first time at Naropa was cut short when I experienced a grand mal seizure driving home one afternoon. I made the difficult decision to leave school at that time and concentrate raising my kids and tending to my health. Dale continued to be an amazing support for me, though, especially later on when I was being treated for breast cancer. Read more about my journey with breast cancer on Mindful.org.
I continued to study and practice Buddhism for about five years, but then began to feel like something was missing. I didn't know where God was in all of it. My love for God and Jesus had been instilled in me as a child by my grandparents, so I went to talk with Dale about this.
Dale recommended I read Thomas Keating's book, Open Mind, Open Heart. I was immediately drawn to Centering Prayer - a receptive method of silent prayer that prepares us for the gift of contemplation (the experience of God's presence within). I received direct instruction in Centering Prayer from David Frenette when I returned to Naropa a second time to earn my M.A. in Religious Studies.
Dzogchen and An Awakening
As I was completing my master's program, an interest in Dzogchen - the most highly revered system of thought and meditation among the ancient lineages of Tibet - developed.
In order to fulfill the requirements of my degree, I was doing a two-week at home meditation retreat. I felt a lot of tension and pain. It was all quite frustrating. I remember feeling extremely defeated one particular afternoon and deciding to take a break. I pulled out a book by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and turned to the section on Dzogchen.
Suddenly, the issue was clear. I was trying too hard! I needed to relax. I thought I would take the rest of the day off, but then had a change of heart later that evening. Once again, I took my meditation seat. It was different now though. I didn't feel like I had to prove or achieve anything. I simply rested in pure awareness. In what felt like about ten minutes, two hours went by.
For several weeks after that, I felt vibrantly awake and completely at peace. Eventually, as is apt to happen, I started to grapple with my neurotic tendencies again. Ego is, after all, incredibly tenacious. Nonetheless, for a little while, I tasted real freedom and that left a huge imprint on my soul. I quickly became a student of Tenzin Wangyal.
A Course in Miracles
I consider myself very fortunate to be living in Boulder. I have access to many teachers and programs of study here. One place where I often seek spiritual nourishment is Unity of Boulder. I began my studies in A Course in Miracles with this community and continue to be greatly influenced by this system of thought today. The Course helps us correct the misperception that we are separate from God. Just for the record, I'm a huge Marianne Williamson fan.
Most recently, I became a Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher under the guidance of my personal mentor, Sean Fargo. Mindfulness is a practice of bringing nonjudgmental attention to everything occurring in the present moment. I believe that bringing mindful attention to our life and practice is appropriate no matter what tradition we call home.
The Perennial Truth
Needless to say, I have practiced within many traditions. I sometimes feel like I live inside a revolving door that keeps popping me out the wrong side. I am learning to trust this journey though. It always brings me closer to who I really am. Oddly enough, what I've learned can be summed up in a few simple words:
Our true essence is loving, open presence. We are here to be just that.
“And this is the secret: Christ lives in you.”
Colossians 1:27 New Living Translation
Pray Without Ceasing: The Transformative Power of a Prayerful Attitude: I self-published a short book on Amazon that you might enjoy. It relates to the Apostle Paul's startling command to "pray without ceasing." Given the responsibility and demands of modern life, we naturally wonder if that's even possible. I would say the way we define prayer holds the key. An important clue, contained in Paul's own writing, suggests that maintaining an attitude of gratitude and celebration is a form of continuous prayer.
It's my belief that developing a prayerful mindset contains unparalleled potential for spiritual growth. In my book, I empower readers with useful tools to meet the challenges of daily life by cutting through negative thoughts patterns in order to develop increased love, compassion, and joy. This book will teach you how to work with your mind in order to become more appreciative of your surroundings while adopting a more loving attitude toward yourself and others. Get it on Amazon today.
“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”
A Course in Miracles
I am a blogger on Contemplative Light. We are a community of interfaith spiritual teachers rooted in the Christian contemplative tradition providing resources for beginning and experienced contemplatives, clergy, and spiritual directors for understanding, growth, and healing. See my posts here and please join our active Facebook Community. I do a lot of micro blogging on our Facebook page.
Kimberly Holman is a contemplative writer and mystic with an M.A. in Religious Studies from Naropa University. She is a student of A Course in Miracles, as well as a Certified Mindfulness Meditation Instructor. She is passionate about helping others recognize their divine nature.
God has granted us precious and very great promises, so that through them we may become partakers of the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4