Letting Go of “My Kingdom”

Most Christians glibly recite “Thy kingdom come,” but this means almost nothing until and unless they also say “My kingdom go.” – Fr. Richard Rohr from his daily blog.

Except for the few great teachers and masters, including Buddha and Jesus, all of us are to some degree caught up in the beliefs and behaviors that we learned in our family of origin, our culture and our peers. This kind of unconscious conditioning is inevitable and not something that we should beat ourselves up about. And it is something for us to learn to gradually slough off.

This conditioning is what Richard Rohr is calling “My Kingdom”. Each of us sees the world and ourselves through a distorted frame of reference. In the US we could say that our culture’s frame is one of individualism, materialism and a worship of success, power and influence. These are our idols that we worship. To some extent this frame distorts all that we do in this country and it is not the kingdom that Jesus invited us into.

One way of releasing ourselves from our belief systems is to begin to inquire deeply over and over again as to what we (often unconsciously) actually believe about ourselves, our values and the world around us. Instead of taking at face value what we SAY we believe we inquire into what actually motivates us. What we see ourselves doing says a lot more than what we say we believe. When, without shaming ourselves, we do this on a regular basis, the outlines of “My Kingdom” become clearer and clearer and more vulnerable to change.

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TENDER LOVING KINDNESS

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 My wife Marna and I adopted two darling new kitties, Gracie and Cali, (shown above) a couple of weeks ago. Gracie, the grey kitty licking her sister in the photo, was very skittish and initially would not let us get near her. But after much food bribery and consistent loving kindness, she now lets us pet her and she hangs around close to us when we are around in the house. When I pick up the kitties it is so tangible how delicate and vulnerable they are and I am moved to be extra gentle with them. Yes, Tender Loving Kindness has overcome Gracie’s initial fear and trepidation in being in a new place with strangers and now she sees us as her family.

 For many of us, we have parts of ourselves that we are not very friendly with. When they show up in our so called negative emotions, we want to send them away forthwith. In fact, we often have a whole gang of Defenders: Inner Critics, Inner Control Freaks and Protectors who are activated when negative emotions threaten our sense of well being. What can frequently disarm these Defenders is practicing Tender Loving Kindness when our vulnerability is activated. This can mean literally stroking our heart and belly regions when we feel the vulnerability activated in those regions, as a loving parent would an upset child.

 Amazing Grace!            Blessings, Robert

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Tender Loving Kindness for our meditation

Dear Group,

 
We will be continuing on the theme of Tender Loving Kindness for our meditation meeting this Friday. Some of you may have Inner Critics that will turn up their noses on this topic with disdain or possibly anxiety. Yes, our Inner Critics don’t like Tender Loving Kindness because it invites all of our wounds to come out of hiding and to be nurtured and loved. And if there is one thing our Inner Critics were designed to do it was to banish our wounded parts into the netherworld of the unconscious: buried but never healed. Tender Loving Kindness is a way towards healing because it is unafraid of the pain of our wounds. With Tender Loving Kindness we can contact the pain without fear and allow the healing that has been prevented by the Inner Critics to flow. Very simple in theory but not always easy in practice! 
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One other thing that Tender Loving Kindness brings us in contact with is our incredible aliveness. My Spiritual Psychology teacher Ron Hulnick used to say that one spiritual we have as we heal is being able to tolerate feeling really alive and joyful. As we heal our wounds what arises in their place is incredible aliveness and joy. So come take the joy challenge with us: how good can you allow yourself to feel? How open and undefended can you allow yourself to be?
See you soon,
Robert
FYI, as part of the talk at the end, I will be playing an exquisite piece of music, Salve Regina, by the Estonian composer Arvo Part.
If you don’t already know of Part’s work go online and find the You Tube performance of this and other pieces by him. If you do, you will see why I am playing this particular piece when I talk about Tender Loving Kindness!!

 

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PRACTICING TENDER LOVING KINDNESS

 

As part of my spiritual practices I have once again been allowing myself to to enter into the realm of tender loving kindness. For me, there is something of an effort in this: a connecting to the heart in an act of intimacy, of making close contact with HER. For the heart is soft and feminine and extremely delicate. This requires patience and great gentleness, especially when we are experiencing some hurt.

 One of the challenges we have as humans is that when we are activated into our pain body, we experience an automatic response of aversion and a desire to move away from or reject the pain as it manifests in our body. This is how we have defended ourselves from this pain our whole lives. Instead with heart work we move towards our pain with tender loving kindness. This is the true source of all emotional healing.

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 When one truly makes contact with the heart, there is a warm glow that arises in the heart. And when one begins to think from the heart – there is a very different quality of thinking than when it is a top down mental level type of thinking. It is deeper, wiser,  quieter and more compassionate towards oneself and others.

 How do we make this contact with our hearts when we live in such a mental level culture where everything is about analyzing, critiquing and fixing?

 Some things that can help:

 The gentle intention to be kind to oneself. 

Recognizing and setting healthy boundaries with Inner Critics and Bullies.

 Placing a hand gently over the heart to bring ones awareness to this often forgotten spot.

 Listening to music that is heart centered such as J S Bach, John Tavener, Arvo Part.

What are ways that you cultivate tender loving kindness in your heart?

 Blessings, Robert Cornell

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THE TERRAIN OF TENDERNESS

Why do I go on about becoming aware of and understanding our Inner Critics and other negative parts of the Ego? Isn’t that focusing on the negative when we should be focusing on the positive? Perhaps. But what I have found for myself is that knowing our Inner Critics helps us to loosen their influence on us and actually helps us to make progress on the spiritual path. Ironically one of the things that religion so often confuses with enlightenment is a kind of harsh morality that we think will push us on to spiritual perfection. Instead it cuts us off from Love and causes us to be anxious and depressed.

in my own life I have had two very stubborn, pervasive and powerful  Inner Bullies, the Perfectionist and the Efforter or Pusher. In the past, they served to cover over my childhood wound of feeling not good enough. Perfectionism and Efforting have long been a part of my spiritual life, often resulting in a kind of spiritual exhaustion from too many overly earnest attempts at connecting with the Beloved.

 These days I have been gradually letting loose my grasp on intense spiritual practice and allowing – yes that’s a key word – allowing the Beloved to enter into my heart. What I experience then is an incredibly soft and vulnerable tenderness that sometimes brings gentle tears to my eyes. There is a beauty in this bright, oh so tender poignancy.

 My Zen teacher gave me the Buddhist name of Jik’Shin KanDo, which means “straightforward Mind penetrates the Way”. What I did not know then as a young monk was that I had it turned around: it was the Way that would penetrate me to the very center of my tender heart.

Blessings, Robert

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FIFTY WAYS OF LETTING GO

Fifty Ways of Letting Go

“Robert Cornell has written a wise and practical book for our times. A book that beautifully integrates psychological health and well-being with a genuine spiritual path.”

—Roshi Robert Joshin Althouse , Zen Life & Meditation Center, Chicago

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“This is a book that bears witness to a life-long journey of intense self-understanding and is an exquisite exploration of the oft-heard spiritual injunction to “let go.”  I say intense and exquisite, because you will be stunned by the subtle layers of the human psyche that Robert has beautifully un-packed and articulated in a way that will give every authentic pilgrim of the human experience some new territory to ponder and explore.” 

—John Dephouse, Associate Priest, All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, CA

MY NEW BOOK WEBSITE

Embark on a journey of self-discovery and learn the Fifty Ways of Letting Go.

ISBN 13 (Trade Paperback): 9781504373579

ISBN 13 (Hardbound): 9781504373586

ISBN 13 (eBook): 9781504373593

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 Watching out for the Inner Meanies

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 Many of us have severe Inner Critics that cause us much suffering. Whenever I have a client who suffers from depression, I can just about assume that they have a mean Inner Critic that gets on their case a lot.

Basically you could write a formula for depression like the following:

 Severity of depression =  intensity of self judgment x frequency.

 I will be continuing to describe a whole list of different Inner Meanies (about twenty in all) in these talks as confronting and misidentifying with these Inner Beasties is one of the best means of bringing more peace and self acceptance into our lives.

 To be continued,  Robert Cornell LMFT

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Spiritual Practice and Baggage

We also bring a great deal of baggage into spiritual practice from our cultural values and attitudes. Our culture is hyper individualistic and focused on success and competition and so we will tend to bring a very competitive individualistic attitude towards our practice, worrying if we are keeping up with our peers and wanting to please our teachers. Ours is a culture that is impatient for results, materialistic and focused on personal comfort. Consequently, we are not comfortable with the kind of slow, gradual work involved in spirituality. And we are not comfortable just being with raw emotions and neither acting them out, dramatizing them nor numbing ourselves out through drugs or distractions. With the rise of increasingly sophisticated technology, there is more and more emphasis on taking in information and mental level processing and the devaluing of grounding in the natural world, including our oh so vulnerable bodies.

 Spiritual seekers are often hard on themselves. After all, in some way they are often seeking a kind of perfection to make up for a sense of deficiency and badness that they feel within themselves. Hence, it is wise for them to become aware of how they relate to themselves and learn how to work skillfully with Inner Critics as part of their spiritual path. In my own work with clients who are committed spiritual practitioners, I usually find it very important to address the conflation of the Super Ego’s injunctions with their spiritual aspirations right at the beginning of our work. Most of them have some kind of Inner Critic actively monitoring their behavior and commenting on it. As with many behaviors that are long entrenched in the psyche, it takes some time for them to begin to distance from and to dis-identify with these interlopers and finally to change their relationship with them.

 

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Dethroning the Inner Critics in Spiritual Practice

Dethroning the Inner Critics in Spiritual Practice

It is often said and very truthfully that spiritual practice is mostly unlearning what we bring to our spirituality rather than what we learn and try to add to ourselves. 

Letting go of False Self, True Self Emerges

We thought we knew how to get there 

through sheer dint of effort,

with self criticism and self flagellation.

But somewhere within us, 

we realized the insanity of our efforts.

Dropping into the dark abyss of surrender,

we encounter the deep heart of tenderness. 

And we finally realize we were home all along.                                                      

  – Robert Cornell

  The False Self of the Inner Critics

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Very often when we come to spiritual practice for the first time, we bring to our efforts many preexisting ideas and much unconscious conditioning from our family of origin, our peers and our culture. We are often fixated on making ourselves into some image of what the ideal person is so we can feel better about ourselves. In doing so we conflate what Freud called the Super Ego with enlightened mind. We have ideas about what constitutes the enlightened state and so we try to make ourselves conform to them. “Well,” we tell ourselves, “the enlightened person never gets angry so I won’t let myself get angry.” What we have done in this example is to set up an ideal and then to force our real feelings underground so that we can think we are making progress towards enlightenment. But this is just another form of spiritual materialism or ego centered activity.

 It is a common mistake to confuse the ideals and criticisms of our Super Ego with enlightened activity. One of the most common manifestations of the Super Ego are the Inner Critics that are typically internalized parents (Object Relations) that were demanding, critical, abusive or just unapproachable or emotionally cold to us growing up in our family. We internalized these parental injunctions and criticisms early on in our life and they tend to be our unconsciously held view of ourselves and the world around us. In childhood, we also developed protective behaviors of self- criticism, self-rejection and self-guilt tripping self flagellation as means of protecting ourselves from further harm, rejection or abandonment from our parents or siblings. 

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SOUL WORK PRACTICE GROUP

 LETTING GO OF EGO, CONNECTING TO SPIRIT

 Join us on a journey with SOUL WORK small groups to learn how to live a more heart-centered life. Heart-Centered living is the abundant life, which is free of the grip of ego-based fear. How does one live from the heart? Living a heart-centered life means being rooted in openness, authenticity, silence, simplicity, and deep connection to Spirit, God, our Higher Power, True Self. When we are connected to our true selves, the thing we most desire is to be in loving service to our world.

In these sessions on SOUL WORK we will meditate together, connect with Spirit and each other, explore our shadow selves, and discern our vocations. Our shadow is the wounded part of ourselves that we try to hide or deny. Once we uncover, engage with and heal our relationship with our shadow – not dismiss it – we’re free to move into the power of heart-centered living. During our time together we will practice spiritual disciplines for soul work and heart-centered living. A sample of a some of the psycho-spiritual disciplines we will engage with in this work include:

Deep Listening from the Heart                                                                                Buddhist Meditation & Christian Contemplation                                                  Lectio Divina & Engagement with Spiritual Teachings                                          Soul Friendships; Relating to the World from the Heart                               Shadow Work: Embracing our Vulnerability                                                  Enneagram Study of Personality Types                                                          Discerning Our Vocation for Service.

Please consider joining us for a transformational journey of love, joy, and abundance. Your body, mind, and heart will thank you.

 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO CONTACT US: www.robertbcornellspirit@gmail.com           Phone: 626-398-5581.

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