Lori’s story exemplifies the highly gifted individual she is, where her interests and abilities span many arenas. Through her story she inspires us to rise beyond our circumstances, whatever they may be, as she shares her personal challenges and how she has decided to deal with them. She inspires us to merge into oneness with all life, as we increase our understanding about science, spirituality and nature, and claim our essence of love.
My journey of awakening and personal expansion
I’m not sure my spiritual evolution has been a conscious choice. Challenges have been put in my path and I’ve had to find ways to deepen my well of knowledge and continually build my emotional/spiritual toolbox to deal with them. I’m sure it’s like this for a lot of people, really.
The religious foundation of my youth shattered when I traversed some difficult relationships in my 20′s along with my first marriage failing. Also, about that same time, I was diagnosed with a life-altering chronic illness, which has profoundly shaped my life and spiritual beliefs.
About fifteen years ago, my doctor said, “Well, Lori, it looks like you have MS, but at least you don’t have a brain tumor.” My eyes welled up as I sat there in shock. By the time I reached my home that day I knew I was walking a new life path. That day started my journey of the mind: to broaden my experience getting to know my inner landscape and to find ways of feeling at peace outside of the physical body.
My Inspirations and Influences
I experience difficulty talking about spirituality without discussing the influences of the natural world. My most important teacher has been nature, the laws of nature, and the absolute beauty and elegance of the natural world. For me, spirituality and science (i.e., natural laws, mathematics, and observed evidence) have always been woven together into a beautiful, gossamer web.
An early inspiration in my teenage years, and still to this day, is the astrophysicist Carl Sagan. As one of the most gifted, compassionate scientists of modern day, Dr. Sagan held a deep love for the cosmos, nature, and humanity. His writings had me spellbound. Knowing we’re only one beautiful planet amongst billions of heavenly bodies helps to frame my perspective.
The Earth is over five billion years old, and after 10,000 generations of humans, my challenges really seem quite small. When life seems topsy turvy, I feel such peace and love by merely looking up at the night sky or feeling my own heart beat. In our short time here, I truly believe we are all miracles and meant to enjoy, play, love and be loved. We’re nothing but a blink in human history, why not enjoy our brief time here and do what makes us happy while also improving the lives of others?
Science is an ongoing process. It never ends. There is no single ultimate truth to be achieved, after which all the scientists can retire…And because this is so, the world is far more interesting.
Dr. Carl Sagan
About two years ago my MS suddenly advanced and changed my daily life quite profoundly. When anyone experiences major life changes, I think this causes us to re-evaluate our lives and seek resources to help bring us peace. I spent a lot of time revisiting texts about world religions, spiritual leaders, and various cultures. I returned to my meditation practices to calm my mind and help me find solace when I was in pain or not able to do much but read or lie still.
The Buddhist philosophies or practices deeply resonate with me, but I also incorporate many ideas from other schools of spirituality. Buddhism can be considered a science of the mind, and my mind yearns for careful study and observation. Humans have evolved with an naturally inquisitive mind; those who have survived through the ages have done so by questioning, adapting, and adjusting to change.
A multitude of things, people, and experiences have inspired my life, I could write an entire treatise about this question, really.
It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.
His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
My Positive Life Changes
After being rattled by some very traumatic events along my MS course, I feel now more than ever that humanity is woven into a blanket of love: connected to each other and nature. As I walk about my neighborhood, or pass a stranger, I feel warmth and love for each person. I want so much for everyone to see their immense capacity for love, connection to nature, connection to each other, and connection to the universe. When I see people being hurtful or unkind, I know deep down they are hurting inside and I want to help them see the love surrounding all of us, and also inside each person.
I think the work I’ve done to strip away the physical body to get to know my mind and also find comfort in the breath has helped immensely. When I was first diagnosed, I spent time in cognitive therapy learning to evaluate my thoughts, to get to the very core of the thought. Today, the spiritual concepts of “emptiness” and “mindfulness” have definitely helped me traverse rough waters.
I also now have a deeper understanding of my own relationship to connections between science, nature, and spirituality. I find comfort in that connection. Science isn’t a means to disprove the magic of life, it’s a celebration of life and our world. I love the way the first-century philosopher described this concept.
The time will come when diligent research over long periods of time will bring to light things which now lie hidden. A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted…, would not be enough for the investigation of so vast a subject. And so this knowledge will be unfolded only through long successive ages. There will come a time when our decedents will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain to them…Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been effaced. Our universe is a sorry little affair unless it has in it something for every age to investigate…nature does not reveal her mysteries once and for all.
Seneca, Natural Questions, Book 7, c. first century
My Next Steps as an Evolving Being
I enjoy studying other cultures and learning new things: language, creating art, anything science/nature related (staying sharp in my field), reading writings of spiritual teachers, and the like.
I’d love to be healthy enough to start teaching or public speaking again. I also have been feeling a calling to write a larger work. I’m not sure if that’s a manuscript, a course, or maybe to simply keep blogging. My health has been playing a large factor in what types of goals I set for the future. In the meantime, I look forward to continuing my writing on my blog Jane Be Nible.
My Advice to Others
When the student is ready, the teacher will come.** I have been repeatedly surprised with the wealth of knowledge I happen to discover at the perfect time.
Be open to new/different teachings. Even if you’re deeply rooted in a certain religious or spiritual practice, challenge your thoughts and revisit often whether your beliefs are truly working to build the best version of you.
Get to know your mind. Your mind is a filter of thousands and thousands of stimuli every day. Spend a few minutes each day in silence and talk to your mind. Ask it how it’s doing, listen to the answer. This may sound goofy, but truly treat it as a friend, share a cup of coffee together, and get to know each other. What are your mind’s triggers? When does your mind make more of things than what is really occurring? Can you coach your mind to find the calm, to rest in the space between the breath when you feel stressed, panicked, hopeless or angry?
Surround yourself with people and stimuli that better your life, not those that put your health or life in a “bad place.” I was in an incredibly stressful job, flying two or three times every week, and working crazy long hours when my most recent major relapse occurred. MS had other plans for me, she got my attention, and I’m spending quality time in discussion with her now.
If you’re feeling at wit’s end or hurting, do something for someone. Give of yourself — give love as often as possible. We are one, thus you’ll be giving to yourself as much as you’re giving to others.
Look to the sky, talk to the stars, and celebrate your celestial body from the heavens. Because, we’re all intrinsically built from star dust. You are brilliantly beautiful! And, please let me know how I can help you.
We do not ask for what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song is their pleasure since they were created for singing. Similarly, we ought not ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens…the diversity of the phenomena of Nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.>
Johannes Kepler, Mysterium Cosmographicum, published in 1596