Let’s face it. Relationships come in all sorts, sizes, and for all reasons. We have a relationship with out family of origin. It may be a great relationship or filled with hate and despair. Each of our family of origin members have an opinion and judgement about us and you your own thoughts and feelings about each one of them. Each relationship is unique and different. In order for any relationship to be positive, the relationship must be cultivated and nurtured like a beautiful Japanese Garden. Relationships take patience, time, and attention. Without those three things there is no positive relationship.
Why do you think your relationship with the Divine is any less work? How is it we go through life thinking that the Divine is some sort of Santa Claus that is benevolently filling our Christmas list? It is my experience, that in our Western Society we have become tone deaf to our relationship with the Divine. It is my hope that this article and series of articles will help you become curious and interested in cultivating a relationship with the Divine.
It is important to first give yourself permission to explore what it might be like if the Divine wants a connection to you as much as you want a relationship with the Divine. Second, before you finish this article, get our your journal and write down you current beliefs. What do you believe about God, life, afterlife, faith, hope, and a source outside of yourself being greater than you are. Set the timer for six minutes and write about all of that. Then come back to this article. (You of course are invited to write longer, but six minutes gets quite a bit of writing done.)
Now, I am going to talk about the eight pillars of Joy from a Buddhist perspective. I am not speaking of these pillars as dogma but as an open invitation to reflect on the Divine. I gathered my evolving thoughts on the subject from the book, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu. Because this article is the first in a series and our attention spans are only available for nano seconds I am going to only talk about the first pillar: PERSPECTIVE.
With PERSPECTIVE, the words perception and purpose also come to mind. Just like I said in the beginning about the complexity of all relationships, the Dali Lama says there are many angles to all stories and situations. Let this guide you to change your PERSPECTIVE on the Divine. How would you like for your relationship to be different with the Divine? How might your life change if you developed a meditation or prayer practice? What would be better in your world if you reached out to someone who you are now biased or prejudice against? How could a gratitude list at the end of each day bring you more joy? Reframing the negative into a positive or at least a neutral helps you not be overwhelmed by your emotions and the negative thoughts that negative emotions generate.
In the field of psychology, there is much written about attachment theory. Attachment to a positive, nurturing care-giver as a child is necessary for a child to grow up with a sense of well-being and being okay with him/herself in the world. When that is missing in one’s childhood then an attachment disorder is born. When there is an attachment disorder and there are many and too numerous to expound on in this simple blog, the “detached” person has a difficult time in forming meaningful relationships, including a positive relationship with the divine. If you are searching for a connection to the divine and feeling frustrated with the lack of expression, connection, or meaning, besides doing the above suggestions try this:
Imagine or write out your ideal safe place. Allow yourself to go to that safe place and enjoy the landscape you have created there. Notice the colors, the smells, the temperature, and allow yourself to focus on on your breathing. As you inhale focus on the word love. What do you want love to look like? What do you want love to say to you? Where do you want to position love in your created landscape? Just practice for a few minutes each day allowing your conscious mind to create the love the way you need it to be. You are the creator of this narrative. If you keep coming up with negative thoughts, feelings, or images, you may want to consider a session to help you bypass those negatives and find resources that allow you to create the love you want so desperately in your life from a source outside of yourself. The Divine is a real life-force energy and will meet you where you are. Next, use crayons and paper to color the images of love that come to you. Maybe love will show up as a heart, maybe flowers, maybe an image of a sacred object, or even a person. There are no limits to your imagination, only the negative thoughts and feelings that get in the way.
Perspective is the first thing that has to change for our relationship with the Divine to begin to change into what we need it to be.
Books that may help: Click on the links.
May you enjoy the mystery of cultivating a relationship with a source outside of yourself and continue to put one foot in front of the other on your path.