On Body Image, Faith and Spirituality

Image Credit: http://pixabay.com/en/users/werner22brigitte-5337/  Donated Image via www.pixabay.com

Enchanted Woman by: Brigitee Werner http://pixabay.com/en/users/werner22brigitte-5337

One of the things that I have been really working hard on lately is the elimination of fear as a motivator in my life. Through some internal awakening and some guided coaching I have had the gift of beginning to unwind some of the realities that I have created using fear.  I have come to the place where I have learned that fear is largely something self created.  It is formed in the thoughts and stories that I construct about life and the world around me.

The primary arena in which this has taken place for me has been in my spiritual landscape.

I can remember the exact moment when I was first informed about the modern interpretation of hell.  I was 7 years old sitting on my princess canopy bed with a close friend who happened to also be our preacher’s daughter.  I remember her telling me all about the burning lake of fire and the destiny of all of those who did not quite meet up with God’s approval.  I remember instinctually thinking that nothing I was hearing matched up to the God I knew and was actually quite closely connected to as a child who could naturally abide.  At first I dismissed what she was saying thinking it just didn’t make sense.

However, gradually, over the years the interpretation set in.  God’s judgement became an ever increasing reality for me and as his love grew more conditional with every turn taking a back seat to everything that was harmonious about my faith.  The church, rather than a family of love or hospital for healing, became a courtroom in my mind.

Fear had entered stage left and it became a primary motivator for me in almost every action that I took.

In addition to this, I had adapted well to the many messages about shame that were tied to my body as it began to blossom into womanhood.  All natural desires were evil.  I was part of the cadre of women who could be led astray and deceive men.  My sexual desires had to be repressed and controlled and yet at the same time there was a growing pressure to become a fashion plate in order to attract the kind of man who would be the head of my home.  I must be both beautiful by every standard of beauty the world held and chaste.

I could not separate out the difference between my body and my soul.  I thought I was a body primarily to be honest. I would never have said any of this that way. I did not have the understanding about things to make such statements.  But this was the reality I lived.

My weight struggles began when I was about 11 although in full they did not really manifest until 14 or so. That said, by the time I hit adulthood I was in this juxtaposition where every time I ate something “bad”  I felt shame and guilt and feared the fires of hell.  I was simultaneously confirming my fall as a woman and as an individual and creating the kind of body that was unacceptable and unworthy of love.

And this is where I was at when I entered the coaching process.

Today as I write this, I am a few years into my healing. And, I can see how very different things look.

I would love to be picking this up from my last blog entry and reporting that I had maintained or even increased in my weight loss.  The reality is though, that this is not the case.  Last Summer I reached a point of fatigue and though I have not gained everything back I definitely have taken more than a couple of steps back.

It is also the day after Thanksgiving and I am feeling so puffed up both from the carbs of the week and the focus on sales and shopping that my family hits that I almost am craving a fast.

The very strange thing though, is I can look from last Thanksgiving until now and really see a difference. Yes there is some net loss still but overall I feel closer to square one than I really do my ultimate weight goals.

However, I did shed some things last year that I do not think I can possibly gain back.


I do not feel ashamed of my body.  I do not see it as the source of sin and I do not feel at war with it.  Even at the weight I am right now I can look in the mirror or take pictures with my family and enjoy being present and represented.  I know that I am more than a body and I know it a deep level. I am a soul.  I dwell in a body.  I want to take very good care of that vehicle so that I can enjoy health and so that I can be here awhile to serve those I love.  I do not see condemnation though when I look in the mirror.


I followed a very strict regime with my nutrition  and I got very strong results.  I found a method that worked for me and my body and it’s medical needs and the results were solid.  I no longer feel powerless over this issue.  The self talk I am experiencing in my head tells me that I can overcome all of this and that the results I see are really in my own hands.  Living from a place of empowerment is a very different reality.


I am not afraid of losing relationships, particularly my relationship with God over this issue.  I am no longer seeing steps backward as indicators that I may be facing a lake of fire for my eternal destiny.  Instead I have found ways to experience oneness with my Creator and feel the inescapable grasp of unconditional love in the midst of what before would have felt like very low moments.

I have always been taught that perfect love casts out fear but I have never been certain how to apply that to my inner world.  I have also always been told that kindness is what leads to transformation (change, repentance etc.).  I have not known how to actualize the power of kindness or love towards myself.  In fact I am still very much learning.

The experience of losing fear for me was at first unsettling.  In fact, much of the steps backward have been made in an attempt to adjust to the serene reality that settles in when the intensity of negative motivations and emotions wane. At first I have had to learn not to fight that reality off, but to sit and dwell in the silence of it.  In the silence, I have found that I have encountered an eternal unconditional force of love and it changes everything.  As I abide there, my mind it’s becoming much more disciplined. Words of kindness, positive motivation and empowering love are filling my self talk and that is slowly creating a new motivation.

I do want to taste transformation. I long to live it, swim in it, and become it.  I want to see the same results in my life that I was trying to ascertain via fear but I want them to come from a different source.  I want them to emerge from that place of unconditional love.

Nutrition, health and wellness remain very important to me in fact I am learning that many of the drives towards these things are part of the core of who I am and that my struggles to seek them out in full were largely coming from a hunger that is deeply rooted in my soul for wellness and for transformation.  At the end of the day, I am not sure what final results I will get in my journey towards health.  But I do know that I want to keep trying but I want to do so from a place of self-care and self-nurture.

Prior to this year, I would have looked back and judged myself as worthy or unworthy based on my physical progress.  In no way do I wish to diminish my goals in fitness, they are actually more important to me now than ever before.  However, I can trace growth in a totally different way now.

I know what runs through my mind in the midst of what might look like failure on the surface.   That stream of consciousness has completely changed and I do not think it is even possible for me adopt my former ways of being and thinking.

And that is where I see growth.

It is a growth that I truly hope and believe will continue to manifest in my physical transformation. Even more importantly, it is a growth in love that I deeply hope and pray will spill over into the lives of others.

Personal Energy and Chakras

The personal energy centers and flows of the human body have been studied for thousands of years.  The chakra system is one of the oldest and most widely known conceptualizations of some of the major structures of the energy systems of the human body.  Here is some information that is generally helpful in developing some understanding and common language for discussing some of the main components of this conceptualization.





Week of October 27th-November 2nd

This week’s Indicator :  Non-Judgmentalism


Nonjudgmentalism is the ability and practice of not making conclusions and judgments about people based on their thoughts, beliefs, motives, or actions.  When this trait is underdeveloped, we will readily adopt critical conclusions   and opinions of other people. We will find fault in the thoughts actions, and beliefs of others and will readily assume and assign ill motives to them.  When this trait is functioning effectively we decline to find fault in others and accept ignorance, mistakes, and less than perfect thinking, beliefs and actions as a normal and understandable part of human life that everyone struggles with.

Non-Judgementalism is one of 21 Indices of Consciousness that our community focuses on improving.  As a community we focus on one Indicator per week and continue to cycle through all 21 Indices on a continual basis.

Conference Call Report

We reviewed our discoveries about Empathy last week. One observation that was common among our community was that when stress levels are high or task needs are taking primary focus, empathy is much harder to achieve.

Community Celebrations:

Tammy has made significant progress in using higher consciousness to resolve a delicate family matter with a much better than expected outcome.

“In its highest form, not judging is the ultimate act of forgiveness.” 
― John KuypersThe Non Judgmental Christian: Five Lessons That Will Revolutionize Your Relationships

Favorite My Conciousness Journey~Jennifer’s Story

Taking on consciousness coaching with me is no small decision. It
requires the courage to be completely transparent. It requires the
strength to face one’s fears and demons. It requires the willingness to
own the things one wishes no one else knew about them. And it requires
the commitment to keep going, long past when the person might want to
quit. But the payoffs can be huge. Raising consciousness can transform
a person’s life, helping them find a deeper sense of self, peace,
purpose, and joy.

Jenna was courageous enough to accept the challenge. Over a period of
almost three years she faced her fears and demons, took on some
tremendous challenges, and walked through fire. And now she is emerging
transformed. I have seen her grow more spiritually in 3 years than many
do in a lifetime. I believe her accomplishments and rewards are
incredible. Her story is quite remarkable from a consciousness
transformation standpoint. But I will leave it to her to tell it here
from her own perspective. : )~John Smotherman

My Journey Consciousness Journey~Jennifer

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I have always  been driven by a deep spiritual hunger and I had pursued it with passion in my religious upbringing.  However a few years ago I came to a place where I began to feel spiritually quenched and I did not feel like my life was bearing the kind of spiritual fruit that I wanted to see it yield.  My external life and inner journey were tumultuous.  On the surface I was struggling with adherence to good nutrition and the resulting body image issues that came from not taking care of myself.  I was masking my spiritual hunger with the desire to please others and find my worth there.  This led to an over-committed lifestyle which was driven by chaos in time management, lack of focus in attention and a pattern of creating stress.  I handled stress with anger and that anger would become unleashed when I felt threatened or tired usually at my spouse.  Although I was seeking spiritual intimacy and on the surface quite successful at many things in my outward life, I was destroying myself and my family.

About three years ago, I was given the opportunity to work one on one with a consciousness coach if I would agree to surrender 100% to the training that was to be required.  It was a frightening leap to take and the process has been quite arduous. I was absolutely terrified that it might lead me down a path that would cause me to deny my faith.  However, I was creating some very painful consequences for myself and others.  

My life kind of fell apart right as the coaching process began.  Within a very few months, I would up facing bankruptcy, foreclosure and divorce all outcomes of internal issues that were not getting the attention required. I also found myself moving back to my hometown which is situated in the midst of a desert.  So I can literally say that it has been very much a “desert experience” for this nature lover.  

The coaching process has been intense and it has taken a lot of work.  At the time of this writing, I have been working through it for about three years.  I will save some of the details of how this has worked for me and what has been involved for later posts.  For now, I will summarize by saying that over time I began to be able to be able to navigate my inner world and surrender to my soul and the results of this are finally beginning to be tangible.

I am very much still a work in progress, but I am in a very different place.   I relate very amicably now with my ex as a soul-mate whose journey I respect. I am a much better parent. I have found an empowering job.  And, in the last 3 1/2  months I have lost 45 pounds.  While I have embraced a very simple whole food driven diet, my adherence to it is a result of being able to now live from a place of inner balance. The anger, approval issues and self hatred have improved. 

Old passions that have lied dormant for years are finally coming through and getting attention.  Many of these dreams have to do with “finding voice”.  I began singing this year and within a few weeks I was training vocally and I now participate in my symphony chorale, our church choir and I am doing some vocal work in musical theatre productions. I have always had deep passion for both theatre and music but I never dreamed I would be training in classical vocal work or participating in the kinds of opportunities that have emerged.  For me the music, my coworkers and the people whom I have met in my hometown have very much become an oasis in the desert in which I live. However, I believe that all of the visible changes are extensions of the deeper work that is going on in me underneath the surface.

From the beginning of my journey, I decided that I would measure spiritual growth by my ability to love others without condition and by the kind of fruit that I have always seen as marks of authentic spiritual depth (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-discipline ).  After three years of training, I  can say that I have learned to live in a state of inner peace that transcends anything that I have ever experienced.  It is the kind of peace that I used to experience when I would go away on a personal retreats or get extended time in nature but it is forming within me.  I am learning that I can live in it’s stability day in and day out.

The fear that I had about “losing my faith” has not come to pass. In fact, I found a deeper sense of spiritual intimacy than I have ever known. Participation in sacramental living, reading scripture and other sacred texts, contemplative meditation and prayer are all even more deeply embedded into my spiritual journey.  

Transformation of course is always an ongoing process.  I very much still in the process of coaching but I feel that I am now in a position to begin to learn what it means to truly love and serve others because my own mountain of self is now much less in my way.

Conscious Evolution

Evolution Of ConsciousnessAs consciousness evolves, it expands.  As a very over simplified example/analogy, consider a child. As a baby, their consciousness could be represented by the single dot in the Stage 1 diagram.  They see the world only from their perspective.  It’s all about them, and what they want is the only thing they comprehend.  All they know is they are hungry or wet or scared or sleepy.  They have no real concept of the world outside themselves.

But as they grow and evolve, they come to the realization “If I bite mommy’s finger, mommy’s going to get upset.”  They are beginning to develop a comprehension of the world outside and how it “reacts” to them, or doesn’t.

Then as the child’s consciousness evolves a little more, they have the realization “If hit this other kid in the nose, they may not like me, because I don’t like it when I get hit in the nose.”  In very simple terms, their consciousness has doubled.  They are now beginning to look at the world from two perspectives: their own, and the target of their actions.  This evolution in conscious capacity can be represented by the Stage 2 diagram.

Then as the child grows and matures, their consciousness expands even further and they have the realization:  “If I call Jimmy a bad name, someone else might see me do it and not like me because I did that.”  In very simple terms their consciousness has tripled.  They are now looking at reality through their own perspective, the perspective of the target of their actions, and the perspective of a third, neutral observer of those actions.  This can be represented by the Stage 3 diagram.

So what we see, is that as consciousness grows and evolves (in our diagrams it’s moving up) it expands.  So we get the evolutionary structure represented by the Later Stages diagram.  As consciousness evolves/expands, the number of perspectives it values and attempts to utilize/consider grows.  This process continues until it reaches universal consciousness, or enlightenment.  At that level, every perspective that exists holds value for that consciousness.  People at very high levels of consciousness are able to “see things” from anybody and everybody’s perspective.  They are able to understand, empathize, and build rapport with almost anyone, even those that would normally be considered their enemies.

There’s an old saying: “The simpleton’s concern is for himself and his family.  The citizen’s concern is for his community.  The patriot’s concern is for his country.  And the saint’s concern is for humanity.”  This saying illustrates different people at progressively higher stages of consciousness, as their scope of awareness, and therefore affiliation and concern, grows larger and larger.

Mental Judo – Throwing Off Drama

Argument“The best defense is to not be there.” ~ Mr. Miyagi.  Sometimes, when the threat of interpersonal drama rears its ugly head, a little mental judo is just what the situation calls for.  In college, a friend of mine told me about Leon.  Leon was brilliant.  He was so smart he would correct the teachers, and occasionally even the textbooks.  His IQ was off the charts and he graduated with an engineering degree in three years.  One time Leon was explaining something.  A classmate said “No, that’s wrong.”

Leon said “Actually, it’s right and here’s why…” And Leon took about a minute and a half to explain to the guy the reasoning behind Leon’s position.

The classmate said “No, that’s wrong.”

Leon knew he was right.  Leon knew the classmate was wrong.  Leon smiled at the classmate and said “Well, ok.” and walked off.  Leon was smart enough to know he was wasting his time arguing with someone who’s mind was made up.  Leon also recognized there was nothing at stake- it wasn’t a test question.

Later that year another friend came to me, very upset because someone had criticized her in front of other people and embarrassed her.  What really drove her crazy was that she knew she was right about the “error” she was being criticized for. She tried over and over to defend herself and explain to her critic why her position was not wrong, but he just got more and more assertive and demeaning because he was convinced he was right.

So I relayed to my friend the story of Leon.  Several months later, she told me her own story.  She had just returned from a recruiting meeting with a very large firm.  There were a lot of candidates there, of which she was one.  During a social session, a guy calls her out in conversation and explains what a blunder she had made.  She knew what she had said was not wrong, but she also knew this guy was not going to back off.  Her biggest fear was looking like a fool in front of her potential employer.  But despite her fears, she looked at the guy, smiled and said “Well, ok.” and walked off.

From that, she explained that she learned two lessons.  The first was obvious.  She avoided getting sucked into pointless drama, arguing with a person she would never be able to persuade.  But the second lesson she got was a surprise.  Later in the day, one of the people that worked with the firm that was recruiting, pulled her aside and praised how skillfully she had handled that guy’s rude behavior, rose above it, and “took the wind from his sails”.  The company hired her.

Sometimes this approach is not appropriate.  If something big/important is at stake beyond our egos, then we may need to take a stand.  But often times, if there’s no real gain to be had, we’re better off letting the belligerent have they field.  They will often wind up on it, alone.

Our world fills with that upon which we let our mind dwell.

dreamstimefree_181175 resizedWhatever we let our thoughts dwell on, becomes prominent in our lives.  An example of this, that many people are familiar with, is the new car syndrome.  When we buy a new car, all of a sudden we see that model everywhere.  It’s not that our buying the car has instantly influenced people all over our community to acquire one, it’s that we notice them much more than we did before.  They become prominent in our awareness; It just appears as though a lot more of them suddenly hit the road.

This same principle applies to many things in our lives, most especially attitudes like happiness or dissatisfaction.  Happy people always seem to have a good attitude and things always seem to go right for them.  Unhappy people are the opposite.  Often times, it is not that their lives are so vastly different, it’s what they notice about their lives and what is prominent in their awareness that is world’s apart.

By changing what we let our minds dwell on, we can significantly change our reality.  By focusing on the positives in our lives and the good in other people, our world becomes filled with those things.  In contrast if we focus on everything that is wrong with our lives and the flaws in other people, our world becomes filled with those things.

For anyone that has any doubt about the power of what we let our minds dwell on to literally change their world, here is a very enlightening way to actually experience it:

“First assess your general attitude towards life and your world.  Then for 30 days do not let yourself think about anything in a positive way.  Three times a day, stop and write down 3 things that are wrong with your life and 3 things that are wrong with someone or some people you know.  At the end of the 30 days, assess your attitude towards life and your world again.  You will notice a darker shift has occurred.

Then for the next 30 days, reverse the above and don’t think about anything negative.  Three times a day stop and write down 3 things that are good about your life, and 3 things that are good about someone or some people you know.  You will notice a lighter shift has occurred.”

After doing this experiment, they should be very clear about how important it is to monitor and manage what their mind dwells on.  While it takes a little time and effort to do this experiment, the lesson learned can significantly change their life, as they consciously choose what their world will be filled with.

Is it LOVE?

What exactly is “love”?  In most English speaking places, if the answer matters to you, it would be a good idea to reflect on that.  For example, a person might say: “God is love,” or “I love you” or “I love ice cream.”  Same word, clearly different meanings.  In America, we use “love” to cover a very broad range of sentiments.  The result can be quite confusing.

Nowhere does this matter more than in a close, intimate relationship.  Sadly when most people say “I love you,” they don’t mean “I respect, honor and appreciate you for who you are.” (I call this authentic love.)  What they more often mean is “I love what you do for ME.”  (I call this needs based love.)  And if there is any question about it, quit giving them what they want and see how they feel about you.  If they still think you hung the moon, then they probably meant authentic love.  But if they become angry or have no further use for you, then what they were referring to was a needs based love.

We’ve heard from sources the world over, and throughout history, that love is one of the most powerful forces in the human experience.  If you are considering a serious relationship with a person and you want it to go well, it would be a very good idea to understand what love means to them.   Then if they tell you they love you, you’ll have some idea of what they’re saying.  It can lead to a long road of heartache to find out you assumed you knew what they meant, and were wrong.

Lessons From Sports

Sports provides some good analogies for consciousness.  In a football game there is always more than one referee.  That’s because there is just too much going on for one referee to watch everything.  Additionally there are times when one of the refs is unable to see or call something because they were not in position to see what actually happened.  So multiple points of view enable more effective and accurate officiating.  This principle of multiple points of view is a critical part of higher/expanded consciousness.

Most people either heavily favor, or are unable to escape from, a monodimensional perspective of life.  They see things from their perspective, but have difficulty truly seeing things from other people’s perspectives.  The Indians had a saying “Never judge a man ’till you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.”  The principle being that you really don’t know someone or how things are for them until you’ve lived “as them” for a bit.  So to really have any understanding of someone else, we have to be able to see things the way they do.  We don’t necessarily have to agree with it, but we have to be able to see how the world looks to them, through their “glasses.”

If we look at the levels of consciousness, the first 5 levels of consciousness (see my post on The 7 Levels Of Consciousness) tend to heavily favor a monodimensional view of reality.  But when consciousness reaches the 6th level, it shifts and becomes much more likely to utilize a multidimensional view of reality.  Why is this so important?  Because it is like going from one referee, to many.  Utilizing a multidimensional view of life, or a circumstance we are faced with, gives us a much more accurate view of how reality actually is.

Wayne Gretzky is undisputedly the greatest hockey player of all time.  He famously said: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is.  A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”  The secret to being great, was the ability to process multiple perspectives.  Gretzky not only understood where he was going, but also where his teammates were going.  That meant he was simultaneously processing his perspective, as well as his teammates’.  This skill at a multi-dimensional view of the game was one of the keys to Gretzky’s greatness.  In a similar fashion, being able to play the game of “life” utilizing multiple perspectives (or levels of consciousness) is a major factor in playing it well.

Why Should We Care About Consciousness?

dreamstimefree_245578In a nutshell, people should care about consciousness because it the single biggest determiner of how happy and successful people will be at the game of “life”.  And by successful, I mean by whatever their particular definition or view of success is.

I’ll start with a pretty good definition of consciousness: “The capacity of a system to respond to stimuli.”  While most people are very aware of the obvious (if you’re unconscious there just isn’t much you can do or succeed at,) the more subtle layers are easy to miss, and most people do.  There are many many reasons why higher (or expanded) consciousness is such a powerful thing.  Most people are aware of the principle that the greater the amount of relevant information you have on a subject, the better a decision you can make.  If we look at the 7 levels of consciousness, we see that each level tends to view the world through a certain “lens”.  (See my blog post on The 7 Levels Of Consciousness.)  Being able to see the world from multiple perspectives (or levels of consciousness) gives more relevant information and leads to better decisions.

Being able to see the world from multiple levels of consciousness also enhances our ability to relate with other people.  If we can see the world the way they do, it then becomes much easier to “connect with them where they’re at” and have meaningful dialogue with them.

Consciousness is a critical component of being successful.  It is a critical component of being able to make and maintain good relationships.  It is also a critical component of how happy we are in life.  Consciousness, and the level of it at which we operate, more than any other thing, determines the quality of our life.  When we think of consciousness as the means by which our minds perceive, interpret, interact with and respond to reality, the significance of consciousness becomes obvious.  Anything we can do to improve this component of our functioning, has far reaching effects on our lives.