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Please visit my new website- its a way for me to do live video/blogs and interviews of interesting people…

http://www.philippalevitt.com

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Someone asked me ‘What do you mean by Spiritual Relationships?’ Here is my answer:

I am coming from the perspective that as humans we are always evolving, whether we like it or not. Consciousness evolves through experience. The most effective way to do this is through hardship, through suffering. That is why we are often attracted to people and situations which in our conscious mind we would never have chosen, but which in our unconscious mind, have something valuable to add to our awareness.

How does that look?

1. We are attracted to or find ourselves in situations of powerlessness, because the pain of being powerless forces us to dig deep and find our empowerment.
2. We suppress our own view, our own opinion, until the discomfort and disease from remaining silent, becomes so strong that we find our voice bursting out in cascades of authentic expression.
3. We fail to draw boundaries in our relationships, trying to keep the peace until we are so stepped on, that we learn to assert our boundaries.
4. We experience the bitterness and resentment of blaming others, and when that feels bad enough, we are finally ready to look at ourselves and see how we unwittingly participated in creating that situation. The agony of the victim is there to power the joy of the responsible creator.
5. We beat up and hate ourselves for having certain tendencies, until we tire of being so mean to ourselves and become gentler and accepting of those tendencies as being a natural part of our humanity.
6. We experience the agony of someone betraying us, so that we can learn to see where we betrayed ourselves and hesitate before betraying others.
7.We regard our selves, our feelings and our opinions as unimportant, until the pain of doing that hurts enough for us to begin to honour our thoughts and feelings and opinions.
8. We ignore our inner voice, our hunches , our inner wisdom and seek out the wisdom of others, until we realize that we had the answers all along, and no-one knows better than us what’s best for us.

When you begin to see your relationship to yourself, your relationship to others and your relationship to life in this way, you are indeed in the midst of spiritual relationships.

I am about to launch a website called Spiritual Relationships. Someone asked yesterday ‘What do you mean by Spiritual Relationships?’ Here is my answer:

I am coming from the perspective that as humans we are always evolving, whether we like it or not. Consciousness evolves through experience. The most effective way to do this is through hardship, through suffering. That is why we are often attracted to people and situations which in our conscious mind we would never have chosen, but which in our unconscious mind, have something valuable to add to our awareness.

How does that look?

1. We are attracted to or find ourselves in situations of powerlessness, because the pain of being powerless forces us to dig deep and find our empowerment.
2. We suppress our own view, our own opinion, until the discomfort and disease from remaining silent, becomes so strong that we find our voice bursting out in cascades of authentic expression.
3. We fail to draw boundaries in our relationships, trying to keep the peace until we are so stepped on, that we learn to assert our boundaries.
4. We experience the bitterness and resentment of blaming others, and when that feels bad enough, we are finally ready to look at ourselves and see how we unwittingly participated in creating that situation. The agony of the victim is there to power the joy of the responsible creator.
5. We beat up and hate ourselves for having certain tendencies, until we tire of being so mean to ourselves and become gentler and accepting of those tendencies as being a natural part of our humanity.
6. We experience the agony of someone betraying us, so that we can learn to see where we betrayed ourselves and hesitate before betraying others.
7.We regard our selves, our feelings and our opinions as unimportant, until the pain of doing that hurts enough for us to begin to honour our thoughts and feelings and opinions.
8. We ignore our inner voice, our hunches , our inner wisdom and seek out the wisdom of others, until we realize that we had the answers all along, and no-one knows better than us what’s best for us.

When you begin to see your relationship to yourself, your relationship to others and your relationship to life in this way, you are indeed in the midst of spiritual relationships.

I am copying and pasting the blog post of a friend’s nineteen year old daughter, Erin,who lives in North Carolina and who has spent the past month or two volunteering in the Kalva slums in India.

Let Everybody Teach and Inspire You, No Matter How Young
Wednesday, March 13th – 10:33 p.m. – Paridhi Apartments

As my time in India begins to near its end, I wanted to share some of the observations I’ve made about the kids I have been so fortunate to work with and help teach.

Almost every single one of these children is the very first in their families to receive an education. I applaud the parents so much that have chosen to take this new and unknown step and allow their child to attend school. They want their child to learn English, to be literate, to learn about the world, in hopes that they will have a better life than themselves. If their son or daughter does not go to school, it is more likely than not that they will never leave the slums; they simply won’t have the skills necessary to hold a decent job. We are hoping that through our endeavors, our small contribution to this large issue, we can help to break the cycle of poverty in the Kalva slums. As well as the literacy and nutrition program our organization has for the kids, we are also implementing the creation of women’s groups who not only are paid by the organization to cook and cater to the schools, but who will also receive aid in making their own arts and crafts to advertise, market, and sell. We are hoping that this enterprise will help uplift and empower these women, giving them a purpose and a job, as well as skill development. But that’s a different story.

During my time here, I have learned ever more that it’s not always what you’re teaching, but how you’re teaching it – the way in which you come across to your students and the unspoken messages you are bringing to them. It had never really occurred to me before, but a few weeks ago, something profound was brought to my attention. Simply the few of us being here meant so much in the way that it is showing these people just how much education means. It is always amazing when walking down the street, someone will ask us what we are doing here and when we tell them, they are absolutely stunned and inspired. Although it doesn’t feel like I’m doing much or really even working since it brings me such joy, the locals are always amazed and so incredibly thankful that we have come to do such a nice thing in their country.

The happiness these children have brought me is indescribable. I cannot wait to see their bright little faces every morning and the 20 minute trek through the 100 degree slums is always, always worth it.

After teaching Sunday school classes for a little while in the U.S., it is plain to see that there are huge discrepancies between these slum children and the typical affluent American child. The amount of respect that these kids have for their elders in general, let alone their teachers, is awe-inspiring. It is something I have rarely seen back in America. Each morning, they all stand up to face us and say “Good morning, teacher,” as each of us walks in, and then remain standing until we tell them they can sit. When someone asks them to do something, they do it. They are respectful in class, and it is easy to tell that they have a genuine love of learning.

The classrooms that these children are studying in are made of corrugated metal with cement floors. There are nails sticking out everywhere. The children sit on the floor. Some classes have a small, old ceiling fan to help dissipate the hot, thick air, but many do not even have that. One schoolhouse we taught in was about the size of a closet and was an entire half of someone’s house. There were about fifteen kids crammed in this one room, and we all barely fit inside.

Outside of the classroom, I am equally amazed. A lot of the children I see on the streets have absolutely nothing. They live in tiny shacks with dirt floors, no refrigerators, and just enough food to survive on. They have no shoes, and their entertainment consists of walking around outdoors, chasing chickens and poking through trash. The interesting thing? I don’t sense much sadness when I walk through the slums. If you read my earlier posts, you will remember I believe that limited distraction can seem like a curse, but actually be a tremendous blessing. These people don’t NEED cellphones. They don’t need tons and tons of money. These children don’t NEED video games or fancy toys or television. They derive their entertainment and their pleasure from the tangible world around them – their environment. At times, the way they play may seem dangerous, sure. Many frollick in the trash-filled streets with no shoes on, digging, playing with sticks and anything else they can find on the ground, filling up plastic bags with rocks, chasing after marbles, and dragging each other around on dirty sacks. But the truth is, they’re having fun. You can see it in their faces. They appreciate every little thing that comes their way, which is how I strive to be. They bond with each other, playing games together while shouting and laughing. So yes, these kids are poor, yes, they run around in the streets, but they get to keep those all-too-often-lost-too-soon things called “imaginations.”

Because they have so little, the simplest things bring them so much joy. I gave Muskan, a little nursery school girl a small green ball the other day and the way her eyes lit up and that smile spread across her face, well, it nearly brought tears to my eyes. A couple days later when I saw her again, she immediately took the ball out of a small pocket of her bag and I taught her how to play catch, which basically kept us occupied for about thirty minutes. And may I say, it was one of the best thirty minutes of my life.

Two days ago, we taught them about fruit and we had brought some for them to try. Even after seeing the food we’d brought, they stayed calm, and when we passed it out, they would deliver it around the group to the others instead of keeping the first thing in their hand for themselves. They did not snatch, try to steal more, or lie about not getting any. From their behavior, one would never guess how well these children knew hunger.

Today, also, we had a lesson in which we introduced them to pizza. Only one kid out of probably 40 had ever had it before. There were some mixed reactions to it, so it was funny to observe the apparent taste preferences present in different cultures. However, nothing was wasted. These children were appreciative. And most of them loved it, ate their whole piece and said it was delicious.

While handing it out, we saw one little girl putting the pizza away in her lunchbox instead of eating it. When we asked her why she was doing this, she replied “I’m taking it home for my mom.”

Lesson? These kids may be dirty… They may have no shoes. But they do have what it takes to capture all of our hearts with their sweet smiles, their integrity, and their hearts.
Posted by Erin Paly at 10:03 AM No comments:
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On Sunday 17 February , our teacher, mentor and inspiring guide, Debbie Ford, passed away at her home in San Diego, after a long illness. In her inimitable fashion, she outlived the predictions of her doctors by three years, dying in her own time and on her own terms. One of the world’s brightest lights has been extinguished, but her legacy lives on and continues to grow through her books, the thousands whose lives she touched in a profound and irrevocable way and through her beloved coaches, who live all over the world and who carry the blueprint that she so generously gave us to enable us to support others to live an extraordinary life and ensure her legacy continued long after she was gone.

Three days earlier and many thousands of miles away, another beautiful light was prematurely extinguished when Oscar Pistorius, the famous and inspiring Para Olympian, shot and killed, allegedly through a locked bathroom door, Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend of only a few months, claiming that he thought she was an intruder. Whatever his true state of mind at the time of the murder, (which hopefully will be ascertained by a careful appraisal of all the evidence, both circumstantial and actual, at the trial), it is clear that the world has met and been exposed to the dark side of one of our iconic athletes.

I link the two because core to Debbie Ford’s work and philosophy was her exposure of the shadow and the tools she developed to neutralize the negative effects of the shadow that exists in each and every one of us. From her New York Times Bestseller, “Dark Side of the Light Chasers”, to ‘Why Good People do Bad Things” to “The Secret of the Shadow”, and the life changing Shadow workshop that she devoted so much of her life energy to, Debbie taught, wrote and lectured extensively and passionately about the Shadow, always maintaining that the shadow holds the key to unlocking our full potential.

The Oscar Pistorius case is such a stark example of the shadow and how it can sabotage our dreams, when left unchecked and unexamined. On the one hand there is the Oscar that Oscar shows the world, the one that is courageous, who perseveres and triumphs against all odds, the nice guy who inspires everyone, that we all love and admire and place on a pedestal. The Glorious Oscar.

But what emerged this week, at best, was the profile of a man mired in fear, impulsive and prepared to kill an unknown ‘intruder'(despite the fact that he lived in a gated community with several guards just a moment’s notice away), without first establishing the facts like any reasonable person would do and at worst, with such a temper that he was unable to stop himself murdering his girlfriend and then lying extensively to cover it up, whilst ensuring all evidence of his overseas interests was removed by his family from his safe. The Inglorious Oscar.

This is what Debbie warned about when she spoke of the beach-ball effect. She wrote about how when we are too busy to pay attention to our emotions, we hide and repress our dark impulses and shame-filled qualities, like our angry self, our fearful self, our predatory self, our selfish self , our weak and vulnerable self , until one day, in a matter of minutes, when we least expect it, a rejected or unwanted aspect of ourselves can pop up and destroy our lives, our reputations and all of our hard work.Hiding, denying or repressing that unwanted aspect of our psyche is just like holding an inflated beach ball underwater. It takes a lot of energy to repress it, but the moment we relax or take our attention away from keeping it submerged, it comes flying out of the water, surprising us and splashing us in the process.

As we look at Oscar and perceive this stark split between the two aspects of self, we are actually gazing in fascination at an exaggerated mirror image of ourselves.

Because to be human is to have a shadow. No one is exempt. Not even Debbie Ford and no one knew that better than Debbie herself. Borne out of the parts of ourselves that got rejected and judged when we were very young, the shadow is the ‘underbelly of the human psyche’ and it is the origin of every act of self -sabotage from acts as benign as eating chocolates when you have declared your intention to lose weight, to road rage, all the way through to taking the life of another person.

But there is a solution. There is a way to integrate this fundamental split in the human psyche. That is what Debbie taught and believed in passionately. It is what got her up in the morning. It is what inspired her and inspired us, her coaches. Getting people to make peace with their shadow so that they could become the greatest expression of themselves, was the primary impulse behind her teachings. The secret is NOT to try to get ‘rid of’ the dark side. That just drives it deeper into the shadows and causes it to grow and become even more dangerous. It is to see that it that this aspect of self is an essential and vital part of our humanity. It is to understand this part of us, own it, embrace it, make peace with it and see how you can meet its needs in a functional way before its too late. It is to find the hidden gifts of the unwanted black sheep of our psyche. Most of our processes and practices are aimed at this.

Oscar, if you had had the privilege of meeting Debbie, you would have understood this.

The train of events in the past week and a half is calling upon us, now more than ever, to sit up and take note of the legacy left behind by Debbie Ford, to do our inner work to understand the basic split in the human psyche, to shower with love and acceptance our disowned characteristics, and to win our own Olympic battle between the two competing forces within, or face a similar fate to Oscar and remain forever imprisoned by our dark side.

COURAGE

As we get older, as we reach this time in our lives, our lives and our experiences are calling on us to open up, to grow, to access a place in us of greater courage and wisdom. Its almost as if you have a choice at this point, you can either shut down and play small and cling to what you feel gives you some form of security or you can expand, open up, become wiser, generally put yourself out there and reach out for a greater life.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the world are feeling this evolutionary pull.So many of us sense that NOW is the time to make that leap in consciousness and to begin to live a more authentic and empowered life.

Most of us have lost the connection to our authentic selves, that original state of being in which we were unafraid to walk towards possibility and reach for the stars. As we grew up, we contracted into people who often behave selfishly, fearfully and hurtfully. This behaviour is not a reflection of our essential nature, but is instead, a reflection of the wounds we have suffered, the limiting and often unquestioned beliefs we have acquired, as we have walked through life. Our work is about reclaiming your greatest life, removing the blocks, healing the wounds, shifting and replacing the beliefs that have kept you small. And addressing the discrepancy between where you are and where you want to be in any one chosen area of your life, be it a relationship, work and career, home and surroundings, or anyplace you want to transform.

As the worldwide financial crisis shows its implications in our personal lives, its calling on us to reassess the way in which we understand and have constructed our world and we can begin transformation, by transforming our inner worlds. Shifting from win/lose to win/win. Its time for us to step into the unknown, not knowing where its going to take us. To begin to access courage and care and compassion. This has to be the most important road that you can undertake in your lives. Our work is there for you to expand who you are, how you live and who you are being in and for the world. There are certain foundational concepts that make up this work, which I will share with you in my next blog.

Hello Again

Its been ages since my last blog. I have no excuse except that I have been really busy! Yes I know that is not a valid excuse! Savannah and I have delivered a few workshops and we have a talk coming up next week, but I was really surprised, when I looked at my blog traffic statistics at how many people have actually visited this blog. I feel like I have abandoned you all and I must apologize. Please if you do click on the site just leave me a comment to say you were here. Blogging into silence is not much fun!!

I am in such an inspired space at the moment . Many years ago, I used Julia Cameron’s book, ‘The Artists Way’ to inspire me with my art. She suggests writing morning pages every morning. These are three full pages of stream of consciousness thoughts that come to you when you wake up. The only requirement is that you write, even when you run out of ideas. Its for no one else but you. When I did it for my art, you have no idea what sort of ideas came to me, culminating in my icing a shack in an informal settlement which became a key work in my solo exhibition.

Morning pages are like cleaning out your psychic space, so that you can make space for your creativity to emerge. Well this morning I decided to do it for my writing ( I am working on a very exciting book and also on a website) and the ideas that came rushing in were amazing!! So… watch this space.