Tag Archives: surrender

The Power of Visioning


What would it be like if you could have absolute clarity on the highest path for your life, know exactly what you need to do to fulfill it, and be empowered to bring it to fruition? This is what the Life Visioning Process offers.

This powerful spiritual tool was developed by Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, Founder and Spiritual Director of Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, California.

This tool enabled him to clearly see his purpose and to build a trans-denominational movement and community of 9,000 local members and 1,000,000 friends worldwide. It opened the way for him to be one of the featured teachers in the movie, The Secret, to be a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show as well as on Larry King Live on CNN, in addition to a multitude of other public appearances around the world.

The purpose of this spiritual tool is not to expand our ego-based reality, but to connect us to our divine soul-level purpose for this lifetime and to empower us to fulfill it. Dr. Beckwith’s outward success is due to his complete surrender to a higher purpose, his willingness to be the vehicle through which infinite possibility is constantly creating anew through him.

Dr. Beckwith’s true success is not as much about his personal accomplishments, as it is in the number of people he has served as a teacher of universal spiritual principles and how he has contributed to transforming so many lives through his teaching.

Visioning is not a tool for a select few. Visioning is a tool that you and I can also use to fulfill the greater purpose that is part of our contract for this lifetime.

With visioning, we move beyond attempting to make things happen, instead advancing to a place of surrender, where we allow ourselves to be the vehicle through which what is ours to do can be made manifest. We listen within for divine intuition to guide us as to what is ours to do. Rather than moving from our ego-based reality or from a purely material-based sense of what we want to manifest in our lives, we connect to what our soul is calling us to do. This leads to greater fulfillment for ourselves and greater satisfaction for all who are the beneficiaries of the gifts we offer.

Dr. Beckwith developed a clear 7-step process called the Life Visioning Process that allows us to consciously live from the higher vision for our lives by empowering us to see what our inner growth work is, what aligns us in terms of our outward activities, as well as what we need to release and let go of if we are to realize our highest potential.

The seven steps of the Life Visioning Process from Dr. Beckwith are:

  1. Meditation to bring us into a receptive state.
  2. Asking a question of our higher wisdom, such as what is the highest vision for my life?
  3. Asking what are the qualities we need to cultivate to align us with the vision (Or, what must we become?)
  4. Asking what we must release in order to manifest the vision.
  5. Asking what are the qualities we already have that will serve the vision.
  6. Saying “yes” to what is being revealed.
  7. Expressing gratitude for the vision.

This 7-step process is more than just something we take 20-30 minutes to do. It begins to inform every area of our lives and how we show up in the world. It opens the way for us to be in the flow of grace as we surrender and release some of our willfulness.

The invitation this day is to begin to explore visioning more deeply, to see if it might be the very tool that allows us to step into the largeness of the greater vision of our heart’s yearning. How exciting!

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole is offering a free workshop (in person in Denver) and webinar (livestreamed for those outside Denver) on the Life Visioning Process on Saturday September 17, 2016, 9 am Pacific / 10 am Mountain / Noon Eastern. Email him at gregory@gregorytoole.com for details.

Staying Centered in an Election Year


Current events surely have the potential to throw us off our center, and presidential elections in the modern era often push our buttons like nothing else does. The presidential election this year in the United States is like none in our modern era in that regard. Not only are the candidates in the two major parties polarizing, but even the primary elections generated a lot of passion.

In such an election where we have a strong draw to a particular candidate or great angst about a candidate, how do we keep our center? How do we deal with anxieties about a candidate that we feel would be harmful to the country and its people?

It provides us an opportunity to look at where real power comes from. In the Science of Mind philosophy, we teach that there is only one power that we all have access to in infinite measure. It is the power and presence of the divine, and it is good in its essence. While we all can access this power, and while we have choice as to how we use this power – for good or for ill – ultimately its nature is good and the greatest power comes from aligning with power for the highest good.

Our call is ultimately to each personally use the one power for the highest good. In an election, we can look to what we can do individually and collectively to bring about the greatest good. Some examples include:

  • Voting our conscience in terms of what choice we feel will bring about the greatest good.
  • Educating ourselves and others on the candidates, their likely policies, and any other relevant information about the candidates.
  • Engaging in other activities, such as campaigning, for the choice we feel is optimal given the range of choices.
  • Inwardly hold the space for the highest outcome to occur through prayer and whatever ways we use to align ourselves with the highest.

Once we have done everything we feel we can do, then we are called to make peace with whatever the result is. We do not control results. If the electorate votes in a candidate we feel is not the best, we get to make peace that this is where we are collectively and to work from there to help in the evolution of our collective consciousness.

Just like in our individual lives, we might sometimes need to experience our darkness or shadow to come more fully into the light, so this is also true in a macro sense with all of us together. This may not be the path we consciously choose, but this is the way it goes sometimes. Fortunately, it seems we are coming to a place where our evolution keeps us moving closer to the light, but we need not resist or fear those times where we brought to experience the shadow.

We do what is ours to do, make peace with the results, and then do everything we can to work with the results to again do what is ours to do to evolve individually and collectively.

In this way, we don’t have to hold out any candidate themselves as evil, even as we might see that they represent our shadow or darker side. We move toward the light, but also embrace the shadow when it appears, knowing it is there to serve in greater healing and evolution.

The invitation this day is to come to center, act in the highest, and make peace with all possible outcomes. Remember, we are all one. There is nothing we see on the outer that doesn’t represent some part of us.

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole offers spiritual coaching to individuals and groups who want to create and live extraordinary lives. For more information, go to gregorytoole.com.

The Gift of Renunciation


The focus of today’s blog is a subject I never considered writing about until several recent books I read and am reading referred to the essentialness of it. That topic is renunciation. Typically, we think of the path of renunciation as one where we reject all worldly pleasures, including sexual activity, drinking alcohol, and even culinary pleasures.

The books from these spiritual teachers were speaking to the importance of renunciation from a different perspective. For example, Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite Monk from the 17th century who authored a book entitled Practicing the Presence of God, stated “…the most important part resides in renouncing, once and for all, whatever does not lead to God.”

Looking at it from Brother Lawrence’s perspective, we can likely see the value of renunciation on our spiritual journey. If an activity or way of being does not bring us closer to God, or in other words, closer to our divine nature, why would we want to pursue it?

This does not inherently call on us to give up anything in particular. It will be different for each individual. For example, a couple in a relationship might find sexual intimacy to be something that brings them closer to each other and more in touch with the divine quality of love. Renouncing sexual activity in this case wouldn’t seem to enhance their spiritual journey. On the other hand, a person with a sexual addiction whereby sexual activity brings out the worst in them might be well served to consider renouncing sexual activity, not because sex is inherently a bad thing, but because it is not currently serving them on their spiritual journey.

Swami Muktananda of the Siddha Yoga lineage wrote “Renunciation is necessary, absolutely necessary…It is only the illusion of ‘mine’ in all this that you have to recognize and renounce.” Here, the illusion of mine refers to a sense of separation from God or our divine nature, a sense that we have a unique self that is apart from God. Of course, we do have a unique self, but it is not separate from our divinity. Similar to the guidance from Brother Lawrence, the guidance from Swami Muktananda is to renounce any sense of separation from God.

Chogyam Trungpa of the Shambhala tradition and founder of Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado wrote “What (he) renounces is anything in his experience that is a barrier between himself and others. In other words, renunciation is making yourself more available, more gentle and open to others.” Again renunciation is letting go of that which puts us in separation.

Ernest Holmes, founder of the Science of Mind philosophy, wrote “It is a belief in separation from God which binds and limits.”

We need not renounce anything in particular if it is serving to lift us into joy, prosperity, well-being, and wholeness. The invitation is to renounce that which puts us in a sense of separation from our source, that which binds and limits us. This is unique to each person and we each can know what we are to renounce, or let go of, by honestly and deeply looking into the mirror that is our lives.

Thus, renunciation becomes a path to liberation and inspiration rather than the giving up of anything. What are you to renounce today? What does hinder thee? Perhaps letting go is really claiming the greater possibility that awaits you in your life.

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole offers spiritual coaching to individuals and groups who want to create and live extraordinary lives. For more information, go to gregorytoole.com.

When Is Right Timing?


It is common to speak of right timing, but how do we know when it is right timing? Certainly, we can look at our lives and see that we are busy and perhaps based on that say that the time is not right to add something else. Or we could look at our own sense of whether we are equipped, either with skills or mental bandwidth for a new activity.

These are all good and have their value. However, there is another aspect of timing that I would call divine right timing. The things mentioned so far consist of human timing. That is, what seems convenient based on our human perception of the situation.

I describe divine timing as when something lands in our laps such that it is now fully available to us. This is particularly important when it is something we have been saying we want in our lives. For example, let’s say we’ve been wanting and praying for an intimate partner. A person shows up in our lives who has all the qualities we’ve been looking for, but this a very busy period in our lives and we just can’t see how we could also fit in a relationship. This is where we might want to pause for a moment.

Divine timing doesn’t necessarily work in alignment with human timing or convenience. It doesn’t necessarily match our perception of what the timing ought to be, the ideas or stories we’ve made up about what it ought to be. In the relationship example, we might have decided that before we have a relationship we want to have our body looking just right, or we want our job situation to calm down, or we want our kids to be off to college. These are all just stories that we can change.

It is my experience that when what we’ve been wanting and praying for shows up, that usually is the perfect timing. When we try to make divine timing fit human convenience, we take ourselves out of the flow of life. We assume that our limited finite mind is important enough that it can finagle with what infinite intelligence has brought forth.

One poignant example of this in my own life was about 25 years ago when I had a desire to live and work in France. I couldn’t see how it would happen and eventually got busy and stopped pursuing it. Then a job opportunity became available at the company where I was employed that was also right in my current area of expertise. By then I had grown more attached to the area in California where I was living and decided it wasn’t good timing to pursue this job opening in France. While I choose not to have any regrets, when I look back on it, I can see that there really was no better time than when that opening came about, and no clearer opportunity again presented itself.

It was a great lesson in divine timing vs human timing that I never forgot. When prayer is answered or life presents us what we have wanted, it is a great time to pause and really consider accepting the good that has been given. I have come to believe that whatever time prayer is answered is perfect timing, and I get to rearrange my thinking or activities to fit divine timing rather than the other way around.

The invitation today is to be open to divine timing, which may require letting go of some of our ideas of right timing. If not now, when? Will there ever be a better time? You decide!

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole offers spiritual coaching to individuals and groups who want to create and live extraordinary lives. For more information, go to gregorytoole.com.

Let It Go!


In the spiritual practice of visioning that was developed by Michael Bernard Beckwith, one of the questions commonly asked in the practice, as we surrender to a higher vision, is “What am I called upon to release in service to this higher vision?” Having personally led the practice of visioning in many groups, I chuckle in observing that this question is the one where participants most often reply “I didn’t get anything for that question.”

Whenever we are birthing something new there is always something to release, even if is just the status quo, what exists right now.

As we look out into our world where change seems to occur at an ever increasing rate, the ability to release bygones seems even more paramount. Beloved musicians like Prince and Michael Jackson leave our midst. Technologies like smartphones, drones, and driverless cars render older technologies obsolete. Definitions of family and relationships expand. In the political arena, we see major evolution in what voters want from candidates. Yes, change is occurring at a rapid rate.

Accelerated change is not just taking place out there, it is also taking place within us and in our personal lives. There is a degree of restlessness. We want more from life and more from ourselves.

All of this forward momentum is calling us to let go, to release our previously held notions in order to usher in a greater vision for ourselves and for humanity.

What we are called upon to release are limiting ideas and concepts, those that stand in the way of a greater possibility. In this sense, what we are letting go is what no longer serves us, what is holding us back. A divine spark moves within us and speaks forth, “there is more.” Our “yes” to that divine spark includes an inherent “no.” Yes to the new means no to some of the old.

We need not release everything; only that which we see doesn’t fit with standing in the greater truth of who we are and what we are called to be.

One way to decide what needs to be released is to close your eyes and consider the idea, concept, thing, or person and the role it plays in your life. When you bring it into mind and consider it as part of your life, do you feel expanded or contracted? Does it make you feel bigger or smaller? If you feel contracted or smaller with something in your life, it is worth contemplating whether it is time to let it go.

The invitation this week is to ask what am I called to release and let go in service to a greater vision and possibility for my life? And then ask am I willing to release what no longer serves in order to have the greater experience of life that awaits me? You are totally at choice. What do you say?

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole offers spiritual coaching to individuals and groups who want to create and live extraordinary lives. For more information, go to gregorytoole.com.

Living Without Limits: Manifestation Checklist


As I was encountering some seeming “roadblocks” in manifesting what I wanted in my life recently, I decided to create a manifestation checklist to examine where I could align more completely with spiritual principles.

Science of Mind philosophy founder Ernest Holmes stated, spiritual laws are “exact and exacting.” He also said “Our belief sets the limit to our demonstration of a Principle which, of Itself, is without limit.” The laws or principles of which he spoke are those that govern the spiritual universe, or how things work spiritually. Paying attention to them and aligning with them brings us into our highest expression of who we are.

In examining some core spiritual principles and truths, I developed this simple six-step checklist:

  1. Oneness: Am I living in the awareness and embodiment of my oneness with infinite presence, power, and intelligence?
  2. Mental equivalent: Do my beliefs and the way I am looking at life match and support what I desire to create in my life?
  3. Love: Are my thoughts, intentions, and actions grounded in love, for myself and others?
  4. Gratitude: Am I continuously grateful for all the good that is in my life, including in the area where I am wanting to make a change?
  5. Surrender: Am I steadily surrendering and letting go, allowing room for grace to unfold beyond my own seeming limitations?
  6. Forgiveness: Am I forgiving myself and others freely for perceived mistakes and transgressions?

While this checklist is not exhaustive, if we can answer “yes” to each of these questions we are likely very well on track in creating the fertile ground and opening for what we wish to manifest in our lives.

In my own case recently, it was the very first item on the list that held the greatest opportunity: oneness. This meant coming fully into my body temple in the remembrance that the all-ness of divine presence, power, and intelligence is right at my center, at my core. Further, it involved grounding into my core to feel and experience it all right there. That got me right back on track.

Which step is calling you for more attention? Which one will free you to more powerfully create the life you are envisioning? The invitation today is to choose one item from the list above to deepen your practice. It could just be the one thing that creates the breakthrough you’ve been seeking.

Enjoy the journey.

Saying Yes to Your Calling

yes photo

I believe most of us have a calling, even if we’re unaware of it. I’ve had many conversations with people who have said that they would move into action once they got the calling. Facetiously, I have asked for their phone number and suggested I would give them the call.

The common misconception is to think the calling must come through some dramatic means, such as Moses hearing from God in a burning bush. In most cases, the calling seems to come more in the form of a thought that just keeps coming up, that just won’t let us go. It just won’t go away.

I often think of the dawning of my own calling, when I was called to be a spiritual teacher. After becoming licensed as a spiritual practitioner and engaging in several years of deep spiritual practice, I began to ask, in my daily meditations, what was I to do with my expanded consciousness? The first time I did this, the word “minister” immediately came to mind. I quickly dismissed it as some chatter of the ego or the imagination. But no matter how many times I asked the question, the answer was the same. Thinking I just wasn’t getting any reliable information with this process, I stopped asking the question.

Shortly thereafter, person after person began to approach me, unsolicited, asking “You’re going to be a minister, aren’t you?” To each person, my response was the same – “No, where did you get that idea?”

Finally, as the message continued to come through loudly and clearly, from within and from without, I surrendered to it and said “yes.” The moment I said “yes,” the complete clarity came. It felt totally right. And I never questioned it again.

What is it that keeps coming up for you? Perhaps a thought about doing something continues to rise. Perhaps others have noticed something in you that you have not yet acknowledged. Maybe you’ve always thought about serving the homeless or starting a non-profit for some cause that’s important to you.

We have many passing thoughts that aren’t necessarily a calling, but those that continue to arise and just won’t go away, those are likely meaningful to our calling.

In looking at my own example and in talking to others, I have found that sometimes we ignore the messages about our calling because they scare us. We wonder if we are adequate to fulfill them. There’s a saying that God doesn’t call the qualified, but instead qualifies the called. There is much truth in that saying. When we say yes to our calling, we open ourselves to gifts and talents we never even knew we had, and we open ourselves to grace to fill in the gaps where we seem deficient.

The invitation this day is to say “yes” to your calling, that which keeps calling you, and won’t go away.

Enjoy the journey.

Becoming Caterpillar Soup

monarch butterfly on flower

Ferris Jabr writes in Scientific American, “If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out.” That is because, in order to become a butterfly, the caterpillar must first become completely liquid to reorganize itself to become a butterfly. Apparently, everything needed to create a butterfly is already in the caterpillar. In the soup that is the dissolved caterpillar, the ‘imaginal discs’ that contain the information about each butterfly body part become activated.

Fortunately, as human beings we do not have to completely dissolve our physical bodies in order to transform. However, we do need to become like caterpillar soup in the act of surrender to something greater. It is in this process of letting go of what we previously thought of as solid and permanent that we open the way for newness to emerge.

Similar to the caterpillar, everything we need is already within us, but we must dissolve the old mental structures to create the environment for transformation to occur.

One thing we can learn from the caterpillar is to let the body experience fluidity, to feel ourselves letting go by relaxing and opening the body, perhaps by practicing yoga or other mindful movement. If we truly have let go and are surrendered, we will feel it in the body. As a former yoga teacher of mine used to instruct – “loosen your jaw.” Yes, when we are holding on mentally, it also shows up as tightness in the body or shallowness in the breath. The same yoga teacher once asked me if I thought someone was going to punch me in the stomach because I was holding so tightly in the abdomen area.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2007 published the following about prayer: “We are creatures of body as well as spirit, so our prayer is not confined to our minds and hearts. It is expressed by our bodies as well. When our bodies are engaged in our prayer, we pray with our whole person.”

Somehow we must become liquid in order to create the greatest opening for transformation. This is with our mentalities and our physical bodies together, as each are reflections of the other.

To go along with creating opening and space in the physical body, here are seven mental conditions that create the fluidity conducive to transformation:

  1. I am willing to let go of limiting beliefs and behaviors.
  2. I am willing to be wrong (in some cases, very wrong) about what I have previously believed.
  3. I am open to new ideas and ways of thinking.
  4. I am open to considering new ways of doing things.
  5. I am willing to be uncomfortable if that means I am transforming into something greater.
  6. I am willing to look silly (in some cases, really silly).
  7. I am willing to spread my wings and soar to new heights.

As you read these mental conditions, watch your body’s reactions. Do you feel any resistance when you read any one of them, or all of them? Do you feel excited? Does your body expand or contract? What you’re feeling provides feedback as to how fully you are currently embracing these mental conditions so that you know where you might want to adjust and dissolve a little.

The invitation today is to become the fluid, surrendered vessel through which great good can flow into your life and into the world.

Enjoy the journey.

But for the Grace of God

diamond lake - nederland, colorado

Where would we be but for the grace of God? There are so many examples in life whereby we couldn’t imagine how we survived, thrived or accomplished, but for something greater than ourselves. The odds of any one of us even being born are astronomical according to scientists and statisticians, with some saying 1 in 400 trillion.

The awareness of grace is cause for much gratitude, for surrender, and for humility. I heard a man last night, before tennis league play, boldly proclaiming that he was 33 years old and had plenty of time to plan a great retirement nest egg. He was confidently speaking of his investment acumen. I couldn’t help but remember one of my grandmother’s phrases: “The Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.” While this man was speaking the truth in a practical worldly sense, there is also the opportunity to recognize the role of grace in our lives. Each moment we have is by divine grace, by our leaning into the awareness of grace.

Twenty-five years ago, shortly after moving to San Francisco, I made a quick decision that could have cost me my life or otherwise not turned out well. I had attended a San Francisco 49ers professional football game and gotten a ride from a friend to the game. Since we were going in opposite directions after the game I told him I would catch a cab home. If there were cabs waiting outside the stadium, they were nowhere to be found in the area where I exited.

Seeing me looking for a cab, a man said that for $10 he could give me a ride home to San Francisco (the stadium was south of the city). Without giving it much thought, being the trusting person I’ve always been, I said “sure,” thankful that I had found a ride home. Being new to San Francisco, I didn’t know much about the route home, so I paid little attention to the roads being taken. However, I became alarmed when the man pulled off the road and onto a dark field. I was in the front passenger seat and there was a second man in the back seat.

I asked what was going on and the look on their faces and the energy suggested that they were not up to anything for my good. Somewhere within I summoned a powerful voice and began to demand that they fulfill the agreement to take me home. “You told me you would take me to San Francisco, now take me to San Francisco,” I said very firmly. Looking like he wasn’t even sure why he was obeying my command, the driver pulled back onto the road and drove me to San Francisco as originally agreed.

It was a rattling experience and one that reminded me where I place my trust. My trust is in divine wisdom and guidance within me. That day I did not pause to check in with my inner guidance before accepting a ride. What I relied on was more like blind faith or trust, as opposed to trust grounded in deeper knowing through divine guidance.

I am grateful that, through the grace of God, even my bumbling moments turn out okay. As much as many of us feel very competent and self-assured, most of us would likely admit that the good we have in our lives is through a combination of our own efforts and the grace of God.

The invitation today is to pay attention to divine grace in our lives, to give thanks for all the help we receive from “on high,” and to take ourselves a little bit less seriously. Life is good and we are supported by life!

Enjoy the journey.

Humor as Spiritual Practice

Blaumännchen mit Helm grüßt

by Gregory Toole

Humor is something that has always come quite naturally to me, perhaps influenced by growing up in a family where there was a lot of laughter. In high school, I was always trying to get a laugh in class, much to the dismay of my very serious Chemistry teacher. And now as an adult I can often be counted on to provide some comic relief.

Spiritually, humor is a way reduce our attachment to outcomes and to enjoy the process of life more, to see that what is happening right now doesn’t define us, nor is it permanent. It is a way to be in greater surrender, to recognize that we are not in control of everything, and to acknowledge the sometimes fragile nature of our humanity.

There are so many places to find humor and to bring ourselves to laughing in day-to-day life. For example, if we just finished preparing ourselves a couple slices of toast with our favorite jam on top and then clumsily drop them and watch as they land face down on the floor, do we break out in laughter at the ridiculousness of the situation or do we blurt out a cuss word? There really is an opportunity to laugh at ourselves there.

I remember many years ago having just bought a new outfit – shirt, slacks, and blazer – and going out to dinner. I was feeling good in my new outfit. I ordered a Piña Colada with dinner and when our server brought the drinks to the table on a tray, the Piña Colada, seemingly of its own accord, came flying off the tray and landed in such a way as to spill on each article of new clothing. The other drinks on the tray remained intact and undisturbed. I admit that I didn’t laugh immediately, but I did laugh shortly thereafter, especially after the manager offered drinks and dessert on the house and to take care of the cleaning bill.

The Jewish holiday of Purim has been called the Jewish Mardi Gras. It is a festive, upbeat, and joyous holiday. Ironically, it was born out of tragedy. It is a celebration of the Jewish people being rescued from a plot to exterminate them as told in the Biblical book of Esther. Mark Twain said, “Humor is tragedy plus time.” Rabbi Noah Weinberg refers to Purim as the official “Jewish day of laughter.”

The Mayo Clinic has written about the long-term potential benefits of laughter, including improved immune system, pain relief, increased personal satisfaction, and improved mood, among others. Here are a couple suggestions from the Mayo Clinic to tap into humor:

“Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips that make you chuckle. Then hang them up at home or in your office.”

“Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.”

Those who practice Laughter Yoga laugh just for the sake of laughing. They come together in community just to laugh. It may be strange to watch people breaking out in laughter on cue, but it seems to have great benefits to those who practice it.

How could you find more ways to laugh in your life? Perhaps there is even some humor in that situation that has really been nagging you and disturbing your peace. The invitation is to not take ourselves nor our situations in life so seriously, to step back a little and observe the ‘movie’ that is our life and enjoy it a little more, even with all of its drama.

Enjoy the journey.

Copyright Gregory Toole 2015. All rights reserved.