Spirituality

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Well, I committed myself to a two month journey of self discovery and transformation called the Breakthrough Performance Workshop. The workshop is taught by a husband and wife team from California now residing in Charlotte, NC. The basis of the workshop is to use your voice to help overcome limitations and fears

I originally attended their weekend workshop which culminated with me singing in a live band in front of a small group of people. It was quite transformative but I felt I needed to push myself further by signing up for their 2 month workshop which ends with a live performance in front of a couple of HUNDRED people.  (Yikes!!.. what have i got my self into!!)

As I am writing this, I am week six into the workshop.  We meet every Thursday for practice and are assigned a new song each week until our group (8 people) and myself decide on a final song.

The point of this workshop is not to become a pop star or even become a great singer but to express yourself through music. Though they do include breathing exercises and techniques for singing better, the focus is on your personal interpretation and expression of the song.

Doing the weekly practice has made me feel more confident and I find myself more likely to speak up instead of shying away from a conversation.   Also, the workshop has helped me acknowledge and accept my vulnerabilities instead trying to hide them.

Last night my partner wanted me to sing for him (Gasp!).  Before attending the workshop, I would never have even considered the idea but I just went ahead and started singing my heart out. After I finished, I asked him to sing a song to me. At first he hesitated out of fear, but eventually he started singing.

As he was singing, I felt a closeness in our relationship that I had not felt in years. By revealing our vulnerabilities to each other we were able to tear down years of protective walls that kept us from fully experiencing our relationship.

As the final performance day approaches (Nov 2) I am feeling some anxiety but am also feeling a sense of calm and excitement that I have never felt before.

For those interested in attending the final performance you can get tickets online at www.pinevilledinnertheatre.com

Here is a video from their website: www.bigembrace.com

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I have been practicing the Science of  Mind stuff for several months since I discovered the Center for Positive Living in Charlotte.  I am seeing events in my life that I used to shrug off as coincidence but now I am starting to believe that I actually may be manifesting these events through my thoughts and intentions.

For example, a couple of days ago I was walking my dog and was feeling lonely and really wanted to talk to someone.  It was night and the moon was diffused by the clouds creeping overhead. I decided to lay in the cool grass (which I  never do) and just enjoy the moment viewing the moon through the leafless trees.  As I got up to leave, I heard a voice from across the street yelling “do you know where the Buddhist center is located”. 

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On my journey to capture a ray of spiritual awareness, I decided to visit some gay affirming churches in Charlotte, NC. I emailed most of them before I went. All of the churches responded positively and invited me to attend one of their services. Here is a quick breakdown with comments.

MCC Church- Very friendly, we were greeted after the service with hugs. Most of the congregation are Gay. Casual attire. Nice service.

Wedgewood Baptist Church-  Larger church, decent service, and the preacher came up to us after the service and introduced himself.

Myers Park Baptist Church- Very beautiful church with very large congregation. Service was OK. Most people were dressed in suits and ties. Easy to feel anonymous due to the size of the congregation.

Spiritual Living Center of Charlotte- A medium sized Religious Science church with positive, friendly people looking to change their lives and the lives of others through the teachings of Science of Mind. Great music, Indian flutes. Very touchy-feely emotional services.  My favorite so far. The ministers are a lesbians.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte-  Very nice building, services tended to be very cerebral and lacking emotional impact. However, the congregation was very friendly and inviting and seemed to do a lot for the community including RAIN and other organizations . The minister was also very kind and took time to meet with me and my partner.  I will probably go back to try out another service.

Unity Church Charlotte- I attended an EFT class at this church. The building is new and the people were very friendly, but I have not been to a Sunday service. Very similiar approach to Religious Science but with more focus on the  teachings of Jesus as a spirtual leader. Never responded to my email asking about their stance on gays and lesbians.

Center of Light Charlotte-  a Christian Mystic church. After  their positive response to my email asking about their stance on gays, I attended one of their Sunday services. The congregation is small (10) and they incorporate communion and some Catholic traditions but focus on our personal connections with Jesus and Mary.  Very friendly, services were OK and  involved some singing and a period of meditation. If you are uncomfortable with the whole communion thing you might want to pass otherwise it is worth checking out. Might attend one of their weekly lectures or movies.

The Churches listed below are gay friendly but I have not attended and only list them for reference. Try them all out until you find one you like.

 

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I saw “The Secret” last night via their internet delivery. The movie is based on the idea of the Law of Attraction which at it’s core states that what you think about whether negative or positive will manifest itself in reality.

This documentary is very inspirational and potentially life changing because it asks you to take notice and change how you think (sounds like Religious Science).  However, I do feel the filmmakers focused too much on personal wealth and materialism, but the beauty of this film is you can take whatever you want from the movie and use it in your life.

There are some very beautiful and inspirational thoughts and stories in The Secret and I think if I could sum it up I would use this quote: ” Whatsoever things ye ask for when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them“- Jesus. 

Here is a link to an inspirational video from the Secret website.

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Looking to explore my place in this world further, I decided to attend a Religious Science meeting. I stumbled upon  the local website of The Center for Positive Living and read up on Religious Science.

Apparently, there is no connection to Scientology . This belief system  is based on the writings of  Ernest Holmes and his book Science of Mind. It’s sort of a melting pot of Christianity, Buddhism, and several other new thought concepts. The basic idea is that we are all manifestations of God and through what they call “treatments ” we can connect to our source and live a positive, happier life. This all sounded good to me as long it was not some kind of weird cult. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to attend their weekly Science of Mind 101 class.

When I arrived, I was greeted by a warm, friendly woman who was one of the facilitators. 

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This Friday, I attended my first Mantra Yoga session at Yoga for Life in Charlotte.  Never having done this before, I was not sure what to expect. The info on their web site mentioned chanting, meditation and drums which definitely was not anything I had ever done or felt a need to do. Against my usual fears and social anxiety, I went anyway (I used the  Neuro-Programmer 2 before I went). When I first pulled in the parking lot, I could see a smallish group of people sitting on cushions through the large glass windows. Most of the participants seemed to be of Indian descent which intimidated me a little… The urge to leave was very strong.

I took some deep breaths and entered the facility. I was greeted by a friendly young lady who asked if I was here for the mantra yoga. I mumbled something in my usual nervous way and she guided me into the room where the yoga part of the class had already begun. After a couple of relaxing yoga stretches, they introduced the musicians that would be performing and I took a seat in one of the cushions at the front (gasp).

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My partner was working this weekend so I decided to attend the day long meditation workshop at the Vajradhara Buddhist Center in my neighborhood. I am a shy person and I tried to think of a thousand reasons (ie. did not want to spend money, did not know anybody, too weird etc. etc. etc.).  After much mind churning, I jumped on my cobwebbed bike and pedaled over to the center. When I got there, I was greeted by Tilopa, the resident monk. Tilopa offered us tea and some cookies. I also noticed some Tupperwared chocolate Turtles which I promptly ate. I was really liking this place and the sense of calm I was feeling. The foundation is basically a house that has statues of Buddha throughout and very little furniture so you have more room to meditate. By the time we were ready to start four more people arrived for a total of six attendees. Everyone was friendly, open minded and eager to begin the class.

There were six comfortable floor pillows in the meditation room with a small bench near each one. We each claimed our spot and sat in a lotus position as Tilopa began his lecture. This lasted for a couple of hours and then he began a guided meditation which ended with us all going out to lunch at Mellow Mushroom. As we followed the bald yellow and red gowned monk like ducklings, all I could think about was what the passing people were thinking (this is Charlotte for God’s sake- we’re still in the Bible Belt). After lunch, Tilopa continued his talk followed by a meditation and then a workshop. The workshop consisted us pairing with someone else and the other person telling something about themselves. When your partner finished you were supposed to recite back what they told you. The idea being that the one step to cherishing other beings is to truly listen to what they are saying…  I felt very akward and nervous but managed to stumble out something about my self. ( I was later informed that shyness is a form of self-cherishing).

The class ended in a meditation and I biked back home.  I think what I  learned from this class was the danger of self-cherishing . The first steps to inner peace require that we quit focusing on ourselves and our happiness and begin focusing on how to help other people find happiness . . . and so I begin this journey.

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In my journey to find some meaning in my life, I decided I would try to find a place to meditate with other people who could guide me in this process.

Searching the Internet ,I found a place in Charlotte called the Vajradhara Buddhist Center which seemed interesting. As I was looking through their site, I realized their foundation was in my neighborhood! and just a short walk up the road!!.

Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to attend a class sponsored by the center called “A Beautiful Life” which is taught by a Buddhist monk. These classes are supposed to help you to think more positively and to allow you to achieve inner peace. Not knowing what to expect, I was a little nervous (coupled with general social anxiety) as I entered the room.

There were about 15 people in the room of various ages and sexes. The teacher entered the room wearing a yellow and red gown(?). Everyone rose and assumed a prayer pose (a gesture of respect and humility) until he gracefully sat down.

He was a bald, Caucasian man who spoke with a gentle Scottish accent. He began with a guided meditation which led us to the lesson for the day and ended with a question and answer session. All in all, it was very positive experience and I plan on attending the entire series. I later found out there is a special event called “Healing relationships: a day of teaching and meditation” at the foundation this weekend, and I will probably bike over there to attend the class.

This may be what I have been searching for…