Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
December 11,   2008
God in Stages

 

God in Stages*

 

By Echo Bodine

 

In my quest to better understand god -- and prayer -- three friends and I formed a prayer group called Master Mind. I'd heard about this kind of group at church. At our weekly meetings, we'd each share what we wanted help or guidance with, and one person would write down everyone's requests. At the next meeting, that person would read out loud the previous week's requests, and each of us would talk about how our prayers had been answered.

In our group, I learned about the power of prayer and the importance of being clear about what you're asking for. I saw that not all prayers are answered immediately. I learned about divine timing and that everything happens when it's meant to. No matter how much I pleaded for something, if it wasn't for my highest good, it wasn't going to happen.

I learned that if I prayed for things like patience, tolerance, and courage, life would present situations that required just those attributes. I remember once calling my mom and complaining, "Everyone's driving me crazy!" Mom asked what I had prayed for in my Master Mind group, and when the word patience popped out of my mouth, we had a good laugh. God wasn't going to just hand me patience; He was going to show me that I already had it but wasn't using it.

In Master Mind, I also saw how my low self-esteem limited my sense of entitlement. For example, instead of praying for a brand-new car, I'd ask for one that works. Instead of asking for a hefty raise at work, I'd ask for enough money to get by.

By listening to what each group member prayed for, we all learned a great deal about each other and ourselves. We also became aware of the issues we had around trusting (mainly not trusting!) God.

When suffering with intestinal problems, I prayed to God for a healthy colon. After weeks of saying the same prayer, I landed in the hospital and needed emergency surgery. At first I felt let down that God hadn't healed me, but then it dawned on me that in order to have a healthy colon, I needed thirteen inches of "floppy intestines" removed. This was God's way of answering my prayer.

I wanted to be on a spiritual path more than I wanted any specific outcome I might pray for, so I started praying, "Thy will be done, not mine." I wanted any and all fear of God to go away so that we could be partners in life. I didn't want negative religious messages to interfere with God and I moving forward with each other. I wanted the trust that is essential to any good relationship. My Master Mind group showed me the areas that needed to heal so that I cold gain that trust. I realized that God wasn't a Santa Claus you could hand a list to.

We'd end each meeting with gratitude because we'd realized that ultimately, what we needed to do was surrender our will -- our list -- and instead ask for God to show us our highest good.

What Is Intuition?

You've probably noticed by now that I always turn to my intuition when making decisions or seeking guidance. Still, I didn't really understand this inner voice of mine until just a few years ago. My mother, who listened to her gut and taught me to pay attention to mine, simply called it "women's intuition."

My thirst to know God continued, and I began taking classes at the Unity Church, which I belonged to. One of the books we studied was Lessons in Truth by H. Emilie Cady. She refers to the "still, small voice within" as the voice of God. A lightbulb came on over my head. I asked my minister if Cady was saying that women's intuition was the voice of God. He confirmed that that was exactly what she was saying, except that we all have intuition, not just women. "Are you sure?" I asked him. My whole life I had expected to hear God as a booming voice from on high. It never occurred to me that the voice I had been listening to since I was a kid was actually God's soft, subtle knowingness. There's a passage in the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:15-18) that says that God's voice was so loud, people asked Him to please speak through the prophets. Could my inner knowing really be the voice of God?

Even though my minister was very clear about intuition being the voice of God, I wrestled with the idea until I read Living in the Light by Shakti Gawain. Gawain puts it a bit differently than Cady, saying that the inner knowing we all have in our gut is the voice of the Universe. Reading her words smacked me between the eyes. I finally got it.

Gawain writes that intuition never lies and is 100 percent accurate. It is not emotional. Feelings, our emotional responses, are not the same as intuition. I was like a Christmas tree, so many lightbulbs were coming on around me. I felt like someone had just given me the key to the Universe, and in a way, they had.

What about Meditation?

As I read and asked questions about getting closer to God, the practice of meditation kept coming up. This was not an answer I wanted to hear, because it seemed impossible to quiet my mind. People were also talking about God being within us, and this went right over my head. I had been raised to believe that God was in heaven, far, far away above the clouds.

I sat in a lotus position. I closed my eyes. I did the "om" thing. Nothing happened, other than my mind wandering to my grocery or chore list. I felt like a failure at meditation, so I minimized its value.

One day I got the inner nudge to call my friend Roy, who meditated daily. Could he explain the concept of Higher Self and teach me to meditate? Roy said that the Higher Self is the part of us that is God and that we meditate to communicate with this presence.

My mind jumped back to a class I'd attended at Unity. There I'd heard that there was a personal God and an impersonal God. The personal God resided inside us, while the impersonal God resided outside us and watched over the world. My mind grappled with these new ideas, and later that night, I asked God to help me understand them.

Meanwhile, I kept trying -- and failing -- to meditate. Then one day I had a breakthrough. I was running on a treadmill and for some reason grabbed onto the bars, closed my eyes, put my attention on my belly button, and asked God, "Are you in there?"

Suddenly, a white light came out of my midsection, and I heard a male voice say, "Yes, I am." My first impulse was to jump off the machine and run! But I stayed and watched the light emanating from my solar plexus. I felt peaceful. The more I concentrated on it, the more peaceful I got. After a while, I wanted to stay on that treadmill forever. I stayed with this unusual experience until the light disappeared.

The next day, when I got back on the treadmill and again asked God if He was within me, a beautiful white energy came out of my solar plexus. It took the form of a sword, like Excalibur, and I had the sense of this light being my protector.

I believe I was able to experience this because on the treadmill, my mind was busy keeping my feet on the track. Because I wasn't desperately trying to quiet my mind, I was freed up to hear the voice. As the communications became lengthier, I began to keep a notebook by the treadmill so that I wouldn't forget all the information I was receiving -- insight into the gift of healing and my psychic abilities, guidance about clients, advice on my personal journey.

I finally understood why meditation is so important. Studying about meditation, in classes and books and at church, had only given me head knowledge. Now I knew, quite literally, in my gut. I was in touch with my Higher Self and getting to know God. It was wonderful. My thirst was finally being quenched.

After several years of talking to Him, the feeling of this powerful male presence within me changed and became softer, more feminine. I felt a shift in who I was talking to. I asked the female voice what had happened to God, and She said that She was the feminine side of God. She would now be working with me for a while. "Could I ask the real God if this is okay?" I asked Her. She had a good chuckle at that.

The Bible verse telling us that we are made in God's image and likeness (Genesis 1:26) came into my head. I realized that if that was true, there must be a female side to God. We aren't all men, after all. I had to ponder this because I had been raised to believe God was male. Once again, old teachings were being booted out. I had asked to know the real God, and I was being shown the real God.

It took time for me to adjust to the female half of my Higher Self, but once I accepted Her wholeheartedly, the male side began talking to me again. I now hear both. And meditation is no longer restricted to treadmill time. I spend the majority of my day in silence, receiving guidance from both the male and female sides of my Higher Self. This is the most peaceful and beautiful way I have ever lived.

 

For You to Think About

Your Meditation Practice

Do you meditate? If so, write in your journal how your practice got started for you and how it has changed over time.

If you do not meditate, write down what might be keeping (or blocking) you from doing so. Also write down what you feel you would need in order to meditate.

Do you know that prayer is talking to God, and meditation is God talking back? We need to give our inner voice time each day to express itself.

I want you to try sitting in silence for at least five minutes every other day. Just sit, close your eyes, and ask God if He/She has any messages for you. Keep your focus on your solar plexus area (just below the rib cage). When you find that you have more time, do this for longer periods.

If your day is absolutely packed with activities from morning till night, then I want you to write down when, during that hectic schedule of yours, you are all by yourself. In the bathroom? In traffic? At lunchtime? During a coffee break? I guarantee that when you're ready to give God some time to talk back, you will find the time -- and be grateful that you did.

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*Excerpted from Look For the Good & You'll Find God: The Spiritual Journey of a Psychic and Healer 2008 by Echo Bodine (Her website is www.echobodine.com). Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA.

 

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