Through her story, Aileen inspires each of us to know that along our life path, there does not need to be one right way or answer. Often, as we discover different facets of ourselves, they lead us closer and deeper into knowing who we really are. Aileen’s story also exemplifies the benefits of having a personal spiritual practice that can help ground and center us, especially when we may be facing various life challenges.
My journey of awakening and personal expansion
Those who are spiritual seekers come to the path for different reasons; one of the most common is relief from pain. I would love to say I came to the path from a different reason, but I was seeking an escape from reality and I could only find reprieve, peace and serenity in prayer. I was brought up in a strict Catholic family and I was an unwavering devoted Catholic for many years. I taught Sunday school, I went to daily Mass during the week and Mass on Sunday. My Great-Aunt was a Nun and there was a time I thought I would follow in her footsteps.
Well, life does what life does and one day, I found myself talking to a Priest to examine my beliefs. Some things had happened in my life and I felt deeply wronged and abandoned by God, in such a way that I could not say the name God. I couldn’t handle this psychologically, so my mind chose to not be angry with God, but simply not believe there was any Divine Spirit at all.
How one can go from being a devoted Catholic to an agnostic is still beyond me, but it happened. I wouldn’t go in any church, and I felt profoundly alone in life, because for the first time I didn’t believe there was a Divine spirit walking with me. After some traumatic experiences, I moved around a lot. Left the country, came back, moved to different states; I was trying to escape myself, and I couldn’t get free. I felt lost in the deepest sense, yet I didn’t want to be found. In a search for both escapism and inner peace, I found the Self-Realization Center founded by Paramahansa Yogananda. I spent a lot of time there, read his books, but couldn’t quite immerse myself in it because I still had a hard time believing in a Divine Spirit.
A year later I came across SGI – Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism. I loved the chanting and I could find myself relating to it since we didn’t use the name God and didn’t talk about Jesus. I could relate to the idea of connecting with something within me and not outside me. I immersed myself in it for a while. Then something happened, something began to shift inside of me. I had done a tremendous amount of healing work, and forgiveness work and… then, something changed and I felt that I had betrayed God, rather than God betrayed me.
I learned a lot about the Law of Attraction, and the patterns we create in our minds that call forth matching experiences. I didn’t intend to attract the hellacious experiences, but they happened. God consciousness started occurring, and I realized God didn’t want me to hurt, but in life everything is allowed to happen. God didn’t abandon me, betray me, wrong me – matter of fact – God was trying to show me light, when I only saw darkness.
After more forgiving and healing work, I found my way to the work of Ernest Holmes and Science of Mind/Church of Religious Science. It felt perfect! It bridged the idea of Divine Spirit within me, God, Jesus, and all spiritual leaders, prophets—all religions. It was a safe place for me to explore God again. I knew I needed to live connected to the Divine Spirit in order to have inner peace and serenity in my life. If I ever wanted to stop escaping reality and life, I needed a relationship with God. If I ever wanted to forgive myself and my past pains, I needed a relationship with God. If I wanted a happy fulfilling life, I needed to change.
These days I have a blended religious or spiritual practice which combines Catholicism and Science of Mind. Church is part of my life again, but so is meditation and affirmations.
I chose to shape my own spiritual and emotional life, by listening to my inner voice and forging on even when I was too tired of the journey. I knew I had to find what was true for me, and not live at the whims of life experiences. We don’t always choose what happens to us, but we can always choose how we respond—how open our mind is to exploring and trying. We can literally shape our own spiritual and emotional life regardless of what happens to us.
My Inspirations and Influences
Below are the strategies that helped me move forward and shape my spiritual and emotional life:
- Vision Boards
The ones I practice regularly are all of the above without the hypnosis. I no longer need it, but I highly recommend it when you need to breakthrough your mind patterns.
- SGI (Soka Gakkai International) Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism
- Self Realization Center Paramahansa Yogananda
- Church of Religious Science/ Science of Mind
- Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain
- You Can Heal Your Life and All of Louise Hay’s Books, CDs, all her work
- Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer
- Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsh
- Diamond in the Rough by Barry Farber
- The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama
- Law of Attraction & other books from Ester, Jerry, Abraham Hicks
- A Woman’s Worth by Marianne Williamson
- Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
- The Perfect Power Within You by Jack and Cornelia Addington
- The Psychology of Winning by Denis Waitley
- Excuse Me your Life is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn
- What the Bleep Do We Know
- Celestine Prophecy
- You Can Heal Your Life (Louise Hay)
- The Shift (Wayne Dyer)
My Positive Life Changes
Although I will try to answer this question, no words can convey how profoundly these changes have benefited my overall life and happiness. I still, at times, cry tears of gratitude, simply because I’m overwhelmed with how beautiful my life is. Now, I may not be where I want to be just yet with my career, and my desired accomplishments, but my joy fulfillment is beyond measure. I share more about my joys as well on my blog Kaizen Vision.
I’ve invested many years in changing and transforming my life experience, by using the recipe above consistently, day in and day out. Even when I have great wins and I feel I’ve made it, I still practice my spiritual work (prayer, meditation, gratitude, affirmation). My successes and accomplishments tend to happen in tiny steps, but I have already transformed into the person I once dreamed of being. I no longer seek happiness; I just feel it every day. I no longer seek fulfillment, I have it every day.
Yes, there are moments in a day when I’m not feeling particularly blissful. I’m not yet at 24/7 bliss; I’m still evolving in that way. But not a day goes by where I don’t feel joy and fulfillment somewhere within those 24 hours.
Now it is said, and I’ve experienced it, once you are a seeker and doer there is no end. So although I’ve accomplished great things in my life, I still have evolving goals to take life to new heights. We’ve got one shot at this life experience, why settle when we finally reach good?
The fun part is the journey, the exploration, the stretch. I can’t imagine a time when I no longer reach for goals. But I’ve learned there is a huge difference in reaching for goals out of desperation, and out of joy and curiosity. If I never reach another goal on my list, I’m okay; I’m happy; I’m fulfilled. It’s not about wining or achieving – those things feel good, but it’s the journey towards them, that adventure, and exploration that is exhilarating.
Because of the changes I made, I met the love of my life; if I hadn’t done my spiritual and emotional work, there is no way he would have been attracted to me or been able to stay in a relationship with me. He is a happy, optimistic, fulfilled individual, and he thrives around like minded people. Yes, we wish we had met earlier in life, but before I was able to radiate peace, joy, and fulfillment it wouldn’t have worked. It’s amazing how our life opens up and transforms beautifully when we take the time to go through the journey of our personal and spiritual development
My Next Steps as an Evolving Being
I have some goals in my mind for my evolving journey, but the next steps may change. I’ve come to realize personal evolution sometimes takes us on its own journey, and gives us surprises along the way.
My heartfelt intention is grow my faith and spiritual practice even deeper. I’d love to live without worry and never question my path. I’d love to be so centered in spirit that I never ever feel separate from the Divine.
Currently I’m taking courageous steps in my career. Part of my process is allowing myself to be okay with any stumbles, mishaps or things that appear as failures by seeing those things as part the process, rather than something in the way. I’m wanting to feed the feeling of empowerment, and dare to play large rather than play small.
I’m stepping up and taking risks and resolving to be okay with the results. Going beyond fear and awkwardness to see how far I can develop and what I can create. I’d love to say this is without fear, but it’s not. I’d love to say I don’t waver, but currently I still do. As I continue, I simply remind myself to pick up and keep going. Some moments are easier than others, but it’s not in the easy that we grow.
My Advice to Others
Find time every morning and every evening (even for 10 minutes) to sit in a moment of quiet. Concentrate on your breathing (the inhale and the exhale) and when you are centered, think of everything that you are grateful for. Think of the big wins you’ve had in life, and previous success. Think of the small wins. Think of all the times in the life that something went right. Think of things you were once afraid of, that turned out to be great after you entered the fear and did it anyway. Feel grateful for everything you can think of, even if it’s just for the sun, the moon, the night sky, the promise of new day.
Find ways to connect with the Divine. Maybe it’s sitting in a church, maybe it’s meditating, maybe it’s reading spiritual words. If you’re lost in your spiritual path, then be willing to explore.
If you’re feeling lost in life, take a journal and write down things you’re good at, things you do well, things you enjoy doing and find what you can do that aligns with those things. It might be a new job, a new hobby, but if you explore with an open mind, and an intention to grow and evolve into what you’d like to be, do, have – then you will arrive.
Create a vision board, or vision journal to help you get clear of what you’re desiring. Allow yourself to become very, very clear. Create an action plan, and be willing to revise it and change it as you move forward. Enjoy the process; find things to be grateful for along your journey. Don’t get too focused on the end result and attaining it, because it may feel discouraging at how far away it is. It may bring up stress, worry, fear, doubt. Trust you can revise your plan, take small steps, and live in a state of gratitude. Grow trust in yourself and in the Divine, and make the decision every day to enjoy your evolving process.