Sermon by Diane Donovan-Vaughn 01/06/2018

With the next Destiny Retreat coming up soon on March 1-4 combined with the beginning of 2018, it is a great time to reevaluate our creations in life.

Look at your life. Look at how you feel about your creation. Do you accept that you are in charge of creating your life? People argue this point but more about that in a minute. For now, check out what you say every time you open your mouth, every time you think, fully observing your self. Observe your habitual way of focusing on the world around you and inside you.

You are always creating destiny. Pay attention to your words as you watch your physical sensations. Pay attention to your thoughts as you notice the profound beliefs underlying your thoughts. Are you tense? Are you relaxed? Are you filled with a feeling of lack or plenty? Love or fear? Are you happy or do you feel vaguely or even majorly unsatisfied.

If you spend a while like we do at Destiny, slowing down every event, every thought, every emotion and every feeling to notice your focus, then you start to become aware of your contribution to your own unique reality. We create reality simply by where we focus our attention. Yes, the brain chemistry we inherit drives our focus automatically but this does not mean you have no ability to change your focus. Brain chemistry can just make it more effortful to accomplish. However with practice you can change your focus, even learning to hold a focus you desire to hold. Obviously it is much easier to hold a focus that interests you than one that does not. It is much easier to hold a focus you believe than one you do not. However, these beliefs are arbitrary and most often not even true. Also, please note that addictions can take over and hold a focus for you. For years.

Some of you probably remember my paradigm shift with bad drivers. For so many years, I attempted to stop swearing and reacting to all the bad drivers on the road. With such wonderful adrenaline reactions to sudden movements, I was constantly on edge and upset. Logically, I could blame all those bad drivers. I could also beat myself up for having so little control over my own reactions. Year after year, I failed to change my creation, one that will never change as long as I have something to blame. My focus is on the bad drivers and on my own inability to control my reactions to them. “I am not them” would be the logic and the “they cause me to behave badly” would also be the logic and “I should be able to behave better” would also be a voice in my head. Every one of these statements is false. The voices in the head are lying, creating a denial of my own power to create this problem. When my husband and I read the book Handbook to Higher Consciousness by Ken Keyes my reality tilted on its edge. All I had to do was get in my car, change my focus, and look for good drivers to create a new destiny in the car. Almost everyone is a good driver. You see the choice is your focus. Either focus exclusively on the problem or move your attention to the rest of the potential realities you could choose instead. In fact, as soon as you encounter a so-called bad driver, which is also often a lie the brain creates, you can move your attention to all the good drivers instead. After all, when the danger is not real, the attention is not required. How often do we hear stories repeated later of how scary it was on the road today or a plethora of other insulting problematic interactions we may have had? The focus is stuck on the problem.

Last time you talked about something annoying, weird or bad that happened did you ever notice two things? Did you notice that you believe the event is not you and that it is outside you commandeering your attention? This belief that “you are not that” as discussed in the Art of Spiritual Peacemaking by James Twyman and A Course in Miracles is the human denial that you are actually the one in charge of your focus! No matter how much you feel that you are not in charge of it, you really are able to move your focus with your own will. In fact, believing you cannot move your focus is often a form of learned helplessness or dependency.

While distracted by a problem, did you notice that you actually lost contact with all the awesome and wonderful realities going on at the exact same time that you are lost in your misery? Move your focus every time you find yourself distressed and see how easy it actually is to notice something else. If you are safe, then why not change directions? After all, you would prefer a more fulfilling destiny.

Reality coalesces when you focus on something. Everything you see and hear is your creation, your focus. Oh sure if a shooter goes off like the one on the strip our survival system is invariably drawn to that focus. Why are you there the day he went off? Everything that happens to us is our movie, our lessons, and our challenges. As the movie plays, we focus on elements unique to each of us. As over sixteen people told me about the shooting, every one of them had a unique focus, a unique experience. And more than once, someone would say, “I believe I know why I was meant to be there.” Being close to death unveiled a lesson they were learning and gave some a renewed meaning to life. For others, in denial, the event is gone and buried deeply in the shadows waiting for a moment in time to show itself as the lesson takes its time to be accepted.

We look upon a world of possibly our own creation and think it is not ours. Amazingly, we cannot notice that we have a particular focus. No! We did not personally create the shooter. We bought a ticket to a concert to hang out in a crowd, knowing full well that humans can be dangerous or in denial of the danger. When danger occurs, we focus on survival in whatever way we have learned or inherited in life. Then watch the focus afterwards because that is when you really take charge. While the adrenaline is pumping, you are not controlling your focus. Your survival system is in charge. However, as the danger decreases, your ability to focus returns rapidly. The mind likes to go over and over true dangerous events to keep you safer. In fact, we do not control life and death. We only control our focus if we choose to.

The brain defaults to the negative because it can hurt us. When your brain, beliefs, emotions and feelings get going on something unsettling, watch how long it takes you to move your focus. Watch why you think it is happening.

Is some universe or some person out to get you? This is a negative belief and misdirection. There is no one but the one you are focusing on and when you are focusing you can move your focus.

Creating your life, the life you want requires a focus on a life that you can imagine.

When an intention does not manifest, ask yourself about your true beliefs about this intention. Obviously we have resistance or we would already have this intention. If I have money chaos, then I easily create money chaos. My intention to solve my money lack has to erase a belief, to alter my focus and change what I am doing. If I work more and more hours for more and more money, then I have to stop and find peace with money. In other words, to create with a new focus means seeing and hearing something one has never seen or heard. Imagine having plenty of money, of being satisfied with money or love or whatever. Imagine being at peace and satisfied. Imagine noticing peace and happiness and satisfaction. Truthfully these things already exist and they are just beyond the negative belief and accompanying focus on lack and fear.

Watch your focus.

Watch your words.

Watch your feelings.

Watch your emotions and pay attention to your body.

Move your attention away from your negative, chaotic focus on so-called problems and return to everything else instead. After all, even death is an event that happens in the space of one last breath. Flowing in and out of various possible realities of focus is a form of surrender or allowing rather than directing, of floating rather than thrashing about.

Here we are swimming in a sea of consciousness with the ability to choose our focus. Pick some good ones! Allow the hard ones to flow through, painful and then back into the ocean of potential bliss. Embrace the constant appearance of change as the good and bad come and go, allowing rather than becoming enamored in chaos of pain and lack.

Surrender reminds me of the very moment I convinced myself that I no longer need adrenaline for turbulence while on a plane to Cancun. In that moment of surrender the plane feels like a gently swaying rocker, rocking me to sleep in a space where thrashing about for many years I had been in hell.

It is really all about focus.

Todays’ compassion lesson and practice from <em>A Year of Living with more Compassion – 52 Quotes and Weekly Compassion Practices </em>(Edited by Richard Fields) pp. 78-79, Chapter 25 is by Albert Einstein selected by Jenny Phillips, Ph.D, MS.

Einstein said, “A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”

Jenny Phillips Compassion Practice:

“Sit in a comfortable position. Let your mind be still. Focus on the breath. Hold an image or sense the presence of all those to whom you are sending selfless love and good wishes. Feel the Metta* coming from your heart and moving forth into the universe.

“May all beings be filled with loving kindness.

May all beings be well.

May all beings be peaceful and at ease.

May all beings be happy.”

 *”Metta, or loving kindness, means to radiate out from a constricted focus on the “Self” as separate from the “Others,” from “Me” and “Mine” to “Us” and “Everyone.” What a huge task this is for us to achieve! It requires persistent practice, working against our biological nature.”