The Spirit Series

Spirit Wrap-up

I hope you have enjoyed reading this series of articles about The Spirit as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I have certainly learned much, and I trust that you have, too.

We have covered a lot of territory, including what Spirit is and what It isn’t. 

Let’s pay more attention to the Spirit. As we do, let’s include these facets, and focus intently:

  1. How the Spirit can be advantageous to us
  2. What role meditation plays in Spirit
  3. How we can develop the habit of Spirit
  4. How we can practically apply Spirit in our lives 
  5. And the best ways to measure our growth in Spirit

Spirit is a part of our overall beings; it constitutes a vital part of our minds, along with our emotions and intellect. Spirit is truly what makes life fun and worth living.

As with anything else in life, it is important for us to weigh what we put into our Spirit and how we develop It. Be guarded and proactive in putting only the best thoughts, beliefs, expectations, and attitudes into your Spirit, especially if you want the best results from your life.

As you read, study, meet new people, and undergo new or recurrent experiences, take time to examine the results you get. You may want to inquire:

  1. Are these the results you want?
  2. Does a particular result help you and those around you?
  3. Is God pleased?

If your answers are less than what you may desire, choose to make course corrections to get back on track. However, if you are satisfied with the results, be grateful and then move forward to other challenges and decisions.

I cannot stress enough the importance of recording (journaling) your findings as you grow. The entries you make into your journal should help you and encourage you as you read back over your life, and they should also benefit others who look at your life in the future.

Sooner or later your life will end. You will “shuffle off this mortal coil …” (Shakespeare’s Hamlet, 1602) and move on to the next phase of your existence. I would hope that you would want your life to be one that was well-lived, which possessed relevance and meaning. Incorporating Spirit in a wise way and a certain method for doing just that.

God speed as you move forward from here.

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Measuring Spirit

Becoming more Spiritual in your day-to-day living can be a very worthwhile endeavor, but it also takes a lot of work. If you are like me, you want to see proof that       a change of this nature and magnitude is really worthwhile. You want to know that becoming a more spiritual being will actually help move you along the pathway to success before you decide to put a great deal of energy into it.

Are there demonstrable results you can see or sense which justify the efforts you are making? The answer is undeniably yes.

Let me tell you about some of the ways I have found to grow in Spirit: 

  1. Decide what qualities you want to build into your life.
  2. Look for examples of ways in which you are becoming the person you want to be.
  3. Keep a journal to record your growth and development.
  4. Manifest your creativeness.
  5. Help others.

Qualities of a Spirit-filled Life
It is difficult to “hit the target” unless you have something to aim at. For me, that is being free, giving to self and others, creating, leading and following, and thinking. The antithesis (i.e. being bound, taking, using, letting others lead, and reacting) is less that what I desire for myself. God set my sights higher, as I hope He did yours. 

Hitting the Target
Becoming the person of excellence that you want to be is an active, purposeful process; you don’t get there by default. Monitoring your behavior to ensure that you are instilling the right attribute is key. 

A Life Worth Living Is a Life Worth Documenting
It is difficult to underestimate the importance of recording your change/ improvement. A friend of mine once told me that the most important documents he possessed were his Bible and his journals. The Bible is the key to your faith; journals are a record of your history on earth.

All of us are in a constant state of flux. You are not the same person you were last year, last week, yesterday, or even last hour. Your physiology, emotion state, intellectual inventory, and Spiritual capacity ebb and flow. depending on where you put your emphasis. Make a record of your life, not only so that you can learn from past experiences, but also so that your loved ones can benefit from the situations you describe, and especially, the lessons you learned.

You want to be able to see the changes you have made in time. You want to remember the things that worked, and those that did not. You want to be able to repeat the things that helped you grow and develop, and discard those things that weakened you.

Your loved ones want to know that you are and were human, just like they are. It will help them in their growth. They will benefit by knowing that you struggled at times, and made wrong decisions and bad mistakes, just like they have. I wish now that I would have gotten to know my mother and father better before they died. Few records remain now, much to the detriment of me and my brothers and our family.

Journaling Is a Terrific Way to Keep the Important Memories Alive
Journaling is the single best way to assess and document who you were and who you have become. It is like keeping a diary about you.

Every morning, write three pages longhand in a notebook or binder. Just let the words flow. Put down whatever comes to mind. Make lists. Make goals for the day, the week, and the month. Write down thoughts that come to you while you have slept. Put down your goals for the year in January, and hold yourself accountable in December for having achieved those goals.

Re-read your journal periodically. As you do, it will become readily apparent that you have changed and are changing. It will likely not be subtle; you will be able to see substantive metamorphosis in every facet of your life where you have worked.

Discover
Exercise your resourcefulness and ingenuity regularly. Create or discover something new and unusual. Sketch it on paper, and then make it for real.

Prepare for the rough times ahead (and they will come) by becoming resilient. Major General Bob Dees has written a series of three books on the subject (Resilience Trilogy: www.resiliencetrilogy.com), and would be well worth your studying.

Remember the great times and how you felt when “nothing could be better than this.” Resurrect those feelings whenever necessary. Cultivate a habit of appreciation/ gratitude.

Help others


Encourage others. Laugh with others. Tutor those who are struggling in school or in life. Giving to those who can’t repay you is one of the best feelings you will ever have.

If you do these things, and “graph” your progress along the way, you should be able to readily see how you are moving in the direction you have chosen.

We will wrap up the Spirit Series next time. Remember that the Spirit is only a part of the “total package” which you will want to consider in becoming a person of excellence. Learn more about this in my book, All-in or Nothing * Master Your Destiny, which is available at a discount on my website (www.all-inornothing.com). You can also find the book at Amazon.com.

Measuring Spirit Read More »

Applying Spirit

In a prior discussion, we explored reasons why people use their Spirit so infrequently in pursuing excellence and in reaching for success. Let’s assume for a moment that you now know what Spirit is, and you agree that it is important to you. You see the need to learn more about it, and have already decided which habits of Spirit you want to incorporate into your life. Understanding how to apply or implement those habits can be confusing. Let’s shed some light on the subject.

Implementing Your Habits
Here are five practical and tangible ways to implement Spiritual habits:

  1. Meditation or prayer.
  2. Give back to your community.
  3. Create something unique; meet a need.
  4. Absorb God’s Word into your Spirit.
  5. Find God’s fingerprint in Nature.

Meditation/ Prayer
Part 4 of the Spirit Series dealt with meditation. It is the gateway to the Spirit, because through it, we become familiar with, and accepting of, our inside (meditation) and outside (awareness) worlds. Please refer back to that section if you need a refresher.

Prayer is just an extension of meditation as we become focused and aware of God and His role in our lives. More than just asking for help when we are in need or in trouble, prayer should be a running (minute-by-minute) dialogue with the Creator of the Universe.

“Give me peace in this situation, Lord.”

“What other options should I consider here, Lord?”

“Thank you for giving me that insight.”

“WOW! That’s not what I expected. Now I understand.”

“I don’t understand, and I trust You anyway.”

“You have my future in Your hands. There are no accidents in my life.”

“Help me to hold my tongue. I want to honor You.”

You get the idea. He should be an integral part of your life, not just a punctuation mark. Do you want the defining moments of your life determined with the Almighty, or do you want to rely on your ego or someone else’s opinion in making those decisions? For me, the answer is a no-brainer.

Community
Many people helped you get where you are today. They loved you, taught you, disciplined you when necessary, and encouraged you along your path. They may not have expected anything in return, but the selfless, responsible individual will want to return the favor at some point. If your “helpers” are still alive, call or write to them and thank them. Tell them how much you appreciate their input into your life. If you are like me, most of my “most important people” have already passed away. There are still ways to “give back.”

Find a need and meet it. Make the world and your current community a better place than when you arrived. It is more than just giving money. Be a model citizen, an ambassador for those who helped you. Pick up trash, keep your yard maintained and your car washed. Be on-time to meetings and respectful of other’s feelings and thoughts. Be the best you can possibly be at your work. Volunteer through meaningful organizations or in areas where you have a particular interest (coaching, tutoring, public speaking).

Don’t be a taker only; give back cheerfully. When you give freely to others, it raises your Spirit to new levels of greatness. Health benefits (decreased stress, decreased blood pressure, increased serotonin) accrue to you as well.

Create Something Unique
God put you here on this earth for a reason. You are not just a place-holder. You have a gift for the world. Find out what it is, and cheerfully do it! Give it away so that others might enjoy and learn. It might be a book, a song, a sculpture, a painting, a model relationship with your spouse, a child, a farm, a meaningful attitude, a model prayer life, reaching others with the knowledge you have, or amazing others with your abilities in sport while showcasing the Lord you serve.

Eric Liddell, 400 meter running champion in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, France and star of the 1981 motion picture, Chariots of Fire, once said, “I believe that God made me for a purpose. He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” https://www.quotes.net/mquote/16621. I hope that the same is true for you, no matter what you choose to be or do.

Absorb God’s Word


In order to be more like God, it would be wise to study His attributes. What does it mean to have the heart of God? (Acts 13:22 NIV) What is a clean heart? (Psalm 51:10 NIV) Read the Bible and other distinguished works about God. Find out what He wants, and what He expects from those who follow Him. Listen to sermons and lectures, go to conferences, and find friends who can mentor you along your chosen path. Become a student of God. You do the same with sports heroes and other people whom you respect; why not God?

Find God’s Fingerprint in Nature
You don’t have to be in the mountains of Colorado, Montana, or Oregon, or walking along a picturesque stream in Europe, in order to be awestruck by nature. A leisurely stroll through your neighborhood or a nearby park may suffice. Think about every flower, every tree, and every person you see; where did they come from and why are they here? What purpose do they serve? And then, what about you and me? This gives new meaning and new perspective to the word “masterpiece.”

Spirit seems ethereal. How can you tell if you are gaining any benefit from becoming more Spiritual? Tune in next time …

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Developing the Habit of Spirit

Habits are methods of behavior each of us develop over the years which we use to help solve problems. Some habits are useful, others are harmful. Unless we periodically analyze our habits to determine whether they are continuing to benefit us, we will unconsciously carry our “bad” habits with us into the future. The key to living a fruitful life is to exchange great habits for the outmoded, dysfunctional ones, and thereby consistently “elevate our game” as we age.

Take cigarette smoking, as an example. You may have started smoking in order to “fit in” with a desired group of friends or because you thought it looked “cool.” As the years went by, though, you may have learned that your chances of developing lung cancer and emphysema increase in direct proportion to the amount you have smoked. As we get older, watching grandchildren grow up and maintaining our health usually becomes more important than satisfying our friends, so we quit the habit of smoking and start walking or doing yoga as an alternative habit.

All of us are remaking and remolding ourselves in order to better satisfy our current needs. That’s necessary and healthy.

What Are Your Spiritual Habits?
When it comes to Spiritual habits, you may have to think long and hard to come up with any at all. You may have been taught that Spiritual things are not important or not useful, or you may have pushed those thoughts to the back of your mind. Now, though, because you understand some of the more practical and useful ways of the Spirit, you may be willing to reconsider those prior notions.

Not to worry! Sometimes starting with a clean slate makes change easier, and growth becomes the path of least resistance.

Consider these Habits
Here is a short list of Spiritual habits which have been meaningful to me:

  1. Live your life truthfully and genuinely. Be yourself, not who others want you to be.
  2. Be open to learning and change.
  3. Treat others with dignity and respect.
  4. Have a hunger to know God better. 
  5. Appreciate the beauty of creation in all things around you.

Be Genuine
Don’t allow hypocrisy to become a part of your life. Determine what principles and values you think are most important, and live by them. Don’t sing hymns in church on Sunday morning, and then badmouth competitors and/or colleagues during the week. God doesn’t appreciate your two-faced attitude, and neither does anyone else.

Be Curious
Look for new ways of thinking, or new answers to old problems. This will require being purposefully bold and courageous, but you can do it! Ask yourself, “How is that old habit of _____________ working out for me? Would things get better if I did it in a new or different way? Would it hurt to try, and see?” Start with small changes; drive home from work by taking a different route. Say “Thank you.” Take a vitamin every day. Not exactly radical, right? The results you get may surprise you!\

Be Respectful of Others
Others need your respect and your encouragement! You may be their only source. They are God’s children, too. They need to be appreciated just like you do. Feed them.

Find the Perfect Mentor
I am not perfect, and never have been. Moreover, I have never met anyone else who is, except God! He is the ideal. Moreover, He knows what you are going through, and was tempted in similar ways without yielding or succumbing. Read about Him, learn His ways. Pattern your life after Him.

Nature Is Awesome
A short walk in the woods on a cool, autumn morning may be all that is necessary to be reminded of God’s miracles which are all around us. The warmth of the sun, the majesty of a blooming flower, the strength and symmetry of a large oak tree, the gracefulness of a deer, the changing clouds, and the silent flow of an every-changing river are just some of the many ways that God makes himself known to us. You have but to observe and appreciate.

God’s creation is fresh every morning. It is just like Christmas morning every day, if you want it to be.

There are many other habits of the Spirit. Use your resourcefulness and ingenuity to discover others that may be more meaningful to you. When you know what habits you desire, the question becomes “How do I use these, apply these, or employ these in my life?” That is the subject of our next discussion. Until then …

Developing the Habit of Spirit Read More »

Meditation

Like Spirit, Meditation is frequently misunderstood. There are many fables and myths surrounding it. In fact, though, Meditation is just focused awareness of what is going on around you (mindfulness), or within you (focused breathing).

Rekindling the Spirit
Meditation is important to learn and regularly practice. It is the most effective vehicle for jump-starting your Spirit. Remember, our creativity, imagination, and search for God can be significantly stunted by allowing the people closest to us (parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, mentors) to influence us to go in other directions.

These are the people we most often listen to and learn from. At some point, there may be only small embers of Spirit left within you, but they are always waiting to be fanned aflame. All you need is oxygen (breathing), and a fuel source. The fuel you use usually involves desire, resolve, and positive feelings generated from the heart, such as love, compassion, appreciation, and gratitude.

More Spirit … Many Benefits
Once rekindled, the Spirit can grow and develop like any other part of our being. What can we expect as our Spirit renews? Many people experience serenity, clearer thinking, lower stress levels, fewer distractions, better focus/concentration, lofty insights, or a smoother flow of life as they move through their day.

As you practice more, and learn to effortlessly enter into this mindset, you may find that you are in a better mood most of the day, your life seems to be more in balance, your relationships improve, and you care more deeply about others. The world just has a rosier tone.

The Roles of Coherence and Entrainment
We function at higher levels of performance because of coherence and entrainment induced by meditation. Coherence is stabilization and consistency of our heart-rate variability, which generate a strong and steady electromagnetic (EM) energy field around heart. This field, which extends as much as three feet beyond our physical bodies, synchronizes all systems within us (entrainment), so that every part is vectored in the same direction. We are at maximum efficiency. There are no distractions. There is no wasted energy.

This EM field also positively affects other individuals. This is a psychophysiological phenomenon which can be measured scientifically; it is not just an obtuse, nebulous theory. It applies to all of us, not just a select few.

So, you see, if we want to function at our highest potential, Meditation is an essential and important part of our toolkit. It is the ignition key to our hot rod known as Spirit.

Don’t just take my word for it. Research meditation yourself. Heartmath (www.heartmath.com) is a great place to start. My book, All-In Or Nothing, Master Your Destiny, is also a great source (pages 223-225).

In summary, that “still, small voice” which is so critical to our welfare and our performance is usually buried beneath a superficial veneer of distractions. That still, small voice can be best accessed through Meditation.

You’ll be glad you took the time to find out more about Meditation!

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Why Spirit?

Let me make this abundantly clear … you are born with Spirit. It is a gift, like life, purpose, temperament, freedom, and the opportunity to prosper. God is a part of that Spirit, that energy; whether you choose to allow Him to influence your life is up to you. You owe it to yourself to at least consider the possibility. He adds so much more to your life, so it puzzles me why so many neglect Him.

I can think of five distinct advantages for choosing to use Spirit in your life:

  1. It makes you a complete person, and more content with life.
  2. It allows you to discover new ideas and ingenious ways of doing things.
  3. It gives you a differential advantage over others with whom you are competing or cooperating.
  4. It allows you to access “the Zone” on demand, and in whatever way you desire.
  5. If you allow God to have access to your life, you have a moral template for living, an infallible Guide for negotiating the obstacles of life, and the promise of everlasting life with Him after your death.

When you synchronize your whole mind-body (mind equals emotions, intellect, and Spirit), you are functioning with all that you have. All of your energy is being vectored in the same direction; you are focused on the same result. Nothing is being held back; you are like a high-performance car which is tuned to run on all eight cylinders. No parts sit dormant; anything is possible. Life is great, and there is meaning to what you are accomplishing.

As creativity expands, you think about new and unique ways of solving problems. You might use successes from other areas of your life to create additional success in the arena in which you are currently.

Most other people with whom you interface are still using only their body and their intellect, because that is all they know. You have a great differential advantage over them, whether competing against them or cooperating with them. Your creativity, discovery, resourcefulness, duty, honor, inspiration, and character will shine forth like a laser, and you will find that it is easier to function at a level far higher than theirs.

“The Zone” is a state in which you are functioning at your highest level; it is effortless perfectionism at its finest. It is not found solely in the body, emotions, or intellect. The Spirit must be present as well. In fact, “the Zone” is found at the nexus of the mind-body. Performers of all types (athletes, musicians, artists, dancers, academicians) strive to be in the Zone every time they “play.” It is the ultimate in performance; once there, you will never want to leave again.

With God, life becomes a series of positive adventures, designed to benefit you and bring glory to Him. There is no fear and no worry. “No accidents” has become a mantra of mine, in that God has planned every event in my life uniquely for me. I can rest in that, and am perfectly content no matter what. You can have this too … just ask Him.

So, now we know what the advantages are for having Spirit. Pretty compelling, eh? How we actually incorporate Spirit into our lives is the subject of our next discussion. If you want to read more about the Zone, pick up a copy of my book, All-In Or Nothing * Master Your Destiny. The Zone is definitely within your reach.

Have you ever been in the “Zone?” Tell me about your experience. I think you will agree that words cannot adequately describe how wonderful it is … and if you have never experienced it, now is the time.

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Neglecting the Spirit

Spirit plays a large part in our ultimate success. It is responsible for the meaning we attribute to our lives. If it is so important, why don’t we rely on it more to move us in the direction we want to go?

Spirit is difficult to define.

The reasons are three, I believe. First, like the wind, Spirit is difficult to see. You can’t actually put your finger on it, like a muscle, your weight, or your best 40-yard dash time. You have to infer its existence by watching its effects. The manifestations of Spirit are love, faith, peace, joy, creativity, ingenuity and imagination—in a word, it is the source of our satisfaction with life. It is what makes life interesting and unique.

Spirit is not taught.

Secondly, Spirit remains mysterious and illusive because we are taught very little about it. It is difficult to become aware of something about which you are ignorant. At home, only if parents are interested in Spirit and in passing along its importance to their children, will the subject be raised. In many cases, the “urgent,” tangible things of life take precedence. Knowledge of the Spirit becomes a back-burner issue.

In most schools in our country, Spirit is shunned. Obedience and compliance are rewarded, and those who dare exhibit resistance to authority or “thinking outside the lines” are scorned and corrected. No wonder most kids dislike school!

The freedom to think is a choice. Spirit is part of the “right brain” which, heretofore, has been relegated to the trash pile of “useless” gifts by the intellectual gurus who believe that success in life mainly comes about through logic, objectivity, and rationality. The child with imagination is branded as a “daydreamer,” and his/her perceived laziness must be eradicated, not nurtured. But just because something is believed to be true, does not make it right. History is punctuated with stories of very successful people (Henry Ford, Abraham Lincoln, John D Rockefeller, Isaac Newton, and Rush Limbaugh) who did not get their education through formal channels. School is not the route to success for everyone, thankfully.

I attended public school; I was compliant. I bought into the theory of left-brain dominance leading to success because my parents did. As a middle-aged adult, when the realities of the world failed to jive with my conceptions of it, I realized I was out of balance. I was missing one or more pieces to the “puzzle” of life. I chose to re-explore imagination, ingenuity, peace, joy, and love and add them to my inventory. My life has been more complete and fulfilling ever since, as can yours.

Spirit is confused with religion.

Thirdly, many confuse Spirit with religion, and in the current climate of social correctness, it is not considered wise to mix the two. God, the Universe, the Great Spirit- whoever you perceive Him to be—is a part of Spirit, to be sure. But the Spirit of man is also found in his/her creativity and ingenuity. Neglect God if you will; allowing Him to become a permanent part of your life will always be your choice.

But it is unwise to automatically exclude everything else that constitutes Spirit just because you think that knowing God will limit your freedoms in life. By making that choice, you necessarily discard much that can help you toward becoming a better person and a more successful individual while you are here on earth. Duty, discovery, honor, character become minimized by neglecting Spirit; that is a lot to “leave on the table.”

So, now that we have made the case for why Spirit is neglected, let’s think about how it helps. If you want to read ahead, go to All-In Or Nothing * Master Your Destiny, pages 246-250. Differential advantage may be found somewhere in the discussion.

Let’s talk again soon. Send me your comments.

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The Spirit of Man

I have been thinking for some time about Spirit. It is one of those things in which I am interested to learn more; it is also something which influences the way I live my life each day. It qualifies as “important” to investigate, but not something that is particularly urgent, and therein lies the “rub.” Because it is not urgent, we place it on the back burner of our lives and deal with more immediate things first.

Our Distractions in Life

Let’s be honest. Incoming email and a ringing phone interrupt the flow of our lives constantly, whether or not they bear important information. This phenomenon has been described as “the tyranny of the urgent.” Don’t get me wrong! Email can be important, such as when important papers need to be initialed or signed, our fourteen-year-old “pup” has to be put down, or friends/relatives become severely and suddenly ill. So many times, though, it’s birthdays, vacations, “friending someone,” or “just checking in.” The urgent has a tendency to distract us from the important things with which we all need to deal.

As I began my search into Spirit, I thought it might be important to begin with a definition. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines spirit as “a vital principle held to give life to physical organisms … a supernatural being or essence.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spirit) This seems to imply that it is a force or energy which resides both within us and outside of us. It not only gives and sustains life, but is also bigger than life itself. WOW! That’s a mind-bender!

 

an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms … a supernatural being or essence.”   

                              merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spirit

Spirit is more than religion.

Spirit is more than just religion (man’s process or method for understanding God and living according to His precepts). Many religions exist, but only one life force animates all of life. What I was hoping to discover in this quest was understanding Spirit more, but also to strengthen it in my life and to use it effectively (give it voice) every day to make me a better person. More than just “knowing” about Spirit, I wanted to be able to weave it into the fabric of my life and to go places where I had not yet been.

The Source of the Spirit

If Spirit lives within us, where is it? We cannot see it, but we can certainly see its effect. It is part of the “mind,” along with emotion and intellect. Spirit impacts every part of our bodies in at least four different ways: through neural connections, pressure waves, hormones, and through an electromagnetic field. That places the origin for Spirit directly in our heart. If you want to “read more about it,” look into my book All-In Or Nothing, Master Your Destiny, Chapter 11. The book is available from this website or from Amazon.com. Heartmath, the ways in which the heart and the Spirit influence us, is described further in the book, and is truly fascinating.

Oh, excuse me, the phone is ringing and I feel compelled to answer!  More about spirit later. I wonder ….. what keeps us from using spirit more than we do? Back soon!

If you have any thoughts on spirit, please let me know in the comments below.

I would like to thank Heartmath for the use of their information. You purchase their books from their website: Heartmath.com.

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