The Consciousness of Money: Money as a Spiritual Teacher

So often, what we resist and disparage actually holds the keys to our growth and freedom. This turns out to be especially true of money.

The deeply seated cultural beliefs that money is evil, or the root of all evil, have given rise to collective expectations about money that are playing out all around us. Even though it is virtually impossible to avoid interacting with money, most people have rejected it on some level (even if they have a lot of it) and as a result have accumulated a tangled mess of painful stories – of rejection, fear, lack, abuse, betrayal – about money. Small wonder there is so much dysfunction in society and in our personal lives. However, there is another way we can be together in this world, and changing our relationship with money is one of the most significant steps we can take to create a better life for ourselves and others.

When we relax and let go of all the painful stories and projections, set aside our rejection of money, and inquire into what money really is, we eventually discover that money is actually a most remarkable and radical teacher of life, and of consciousness. We discover that it wasn’t money that hurt us, and that if we had really understood what money is, we would almost certainly have had far more beautiful life experiences.

Money connects us with one another and with all that life has to offer. It is all about relationship. As we develop a comfortable and relaxed relationship with money, we stop pushing it away or trying to hoard it (which is actually the same thing). In fact, we open up innumerable pathways of connection, which means that money can come to us much more easily. At the same time, we learn the joy of being generous with money, as an expression of our overflowing gratitude for the magnificent web of connection that is life. In this generous flow of giving and receiving, we find that joy is ever-increasing and that life works better and better.

More radical still, we’ve discovered that what money really is – far beyond the bills and coins and bank balances that we thought it was – is an immensely powerful consciousness that yearns to reconnect us directly with our true nature and with the whole of life, if only we will let it. The more we engage with money, especially when we engage with it lovingly, the more we come to know the fullness of life, and ourselves, and the more conscious and awake we become in all of our interactions. Thus, far from being the root of all evil, money can actually heal us, and help to guide us home… to the realization of a profound inner peace and harmony with life.

I was shocked when I realized that Money is actually a spiritual teacher. That is the total opposite of so many embedded cultural beliefs and expectations. And yet these beliefs and expectations clearly haven’t worked. The world is in crisis now more than ever before. The sheer magnitude of humanity’s challenges is forcing us to revisit our beliefs and assumptions about how life works. The question of how we relate to money provides the perfect context for us to see that the truth is surprisingly different from what we may have been taught. The “shocking” nature of what we discover when we inquire into the true nature of Money calls to mind a saying from the Gospel of Thomas: “Let him who seeks [the truth] cease not to seek until he finds. When he finds he will be astonished, and when he is astonished he will wonder, and he will reign over all things!” Opening to Money as a spiritual teacher helps us to open to the wonder of our own true nature.

One of our workshop participants said it best. As a native man, when he saw past the generations of trauma, heartbreak, and abuse to the truth of what money really is, he nearly shouted with joy, “Money vibrates at the same frequency as Love!” Truly, as we learn to love money and let it love us, and as we work with money and let it teach us, we will learn to love ourselves and to live well together on this planet. We will heal, we will grow, and we will awaken. And in the process, our lives and our financial realities will change in beautiful and even astonishing ways.

Transforming our relationship with life and with ourselves, through the journey of exploring and embracing money, is the promise of The Consciousness of Money. Regardless of how much money we have, we can begin building a truly thriving relationship with money, and learning from it, right now. We can start wherever we are, with whatever we have. As such, the journey of how we relate to money can help everyone to heal, grow, and awaken. And, in particular, it can help you.

The next Consciousness of Money Online begins soon, and here is a schedule of our upcoming workshops and retreats in the USA:

Workshops

  • New York City: April 11, 2019 ~ “Transform Your Relationship with Money”

Three-Day Retreats

  • Napa Valley, California: April 23-27, 2019
  • Orcas Island, Washington: May 4-7
  • Crestone, Colorado: May 22-25
  • Asheville, North Carolina: June 6-9
  • Bucks County, Pennsylvania: June 12-15
  • New York City area: June 27-30

Please contact us if you’d like to participate in one of the workshops or retreats. You might also enjoy reading Love Money, Money Loves You, by Sarah McCrum.

The Ingenious Connection Between our Subconscious Mind & our External World

The woman in the green jacket

Our external world gives us the best signals.

In the town where I live, I’ve seen a young woman roaming the streets, asking for change, sometimes accompanied by a man who she always walks a few steps behind, but usually on her own. She often sits on High Street bundled up in a sleeping bag.

A few months ago, I noticed she was wearing what looked like a new green jacket. This past couple of weeks, I’ve seen her more or less every time I’ve been out and about. The jacket is dirty now, and she looks tired and worn out.

One evening a couple of days ago, I was on my way to a restaurant with a friend. We came across this woman and she asked if we had any spare coins. I don’t usually have any coins on me, but this time I did and I gave her what I had. Over dinner, I told my friend about her, and that something about her seemed to stay with me.

I hadn’t been able to put my finger on what that was. There was a chunky, “blobby” feeling in my chest whenever I thought of her. It felt very uncomfortable.

Was it guilt, shame, fear, or something else? I live my life believing that, if what I perceive around me triggers me one way or another, it exists within me. So…this lady represents something in me that wants to be seen and released.

I didn’t have to poke around long to see what was going on. It was staring me in the face.

The feeling wasn’t fear of her – it was fear of becoming her.

OMG.

I feel something stir as I share these words in the here and now, and there’s no shying away from them.

A timely rejection

Back in 2008, I was very close to moving to the US. At a crucial point in discussions about a job opportunity, the recession hit and that avenue closed. I continued to feel a pull to move to the US and in November 2012, I applied for an investment visa. It meant incorporating a company and investing some money in it to lay the groundwork for a visa while serving US clients from abroad.

As I walked into the US embassy in Stockholm for my visa interview in March of 2013, I didn’t “feel” it. It was as if I was in a bubble. No flow, no energy moving. Yes, I was nervous. But there was more to it than that, although I didn’t have the words for it at the time.

My visa application was rejected. I wasn’t surprised. I had a sense that the rejection confirmed something I already knew. I had followed my gut in pursuing the visa, yet maybe this was the Universe’s way of telling me it wasn’t meant to be…or, there was some other learning in it…or maybe the timing was off…

All the way through, from the first impulse in 2008 to move to the US, I’d been adamant that I would bring some furniture with me. My reasoning was that I had a few pieces from my grandparents that I didn’t want to give away, and since I was already living far from the rest of my family, I couldn’t easily return them. Or, so the story went.

I stayed curious about my stubborn determination to bring furniture. Why did I think there was a “need”? After some digging to see what was really going on, I found that I had a belief that moving to the US without furniture would mean I was homeless, with no security, and could easily become a living-under-a-bridge-with-a-shopping-trolly person. Now, I see the ill-crafted logic. Not having your own furniture doesn’t make you homeless – places can be rented furnished! But that somehow didn’t matter. I had this looming feeling that moving to the US without furniture could turn me into a homeless person.

It wasn’t until I was trying to figure out why the lady in the green jacket was having such an effect on me that I connected the dots and remembered about the visa application and the furniture.

Notice any similarities…?

Limiting beliefs

Over the past year and a bit, I’ve been training to become a certified Spiritual Practitioner. Part of the training requires getting to, and operating from, the cause-side of the “cause and effect equation”. Meaning that if I’m at the effect side of the equation, I perceive that things are happening to me. That’s victimhood. If I’m at the cause end of the equation, I realize I’m the creator, the one responsible. Exploring and learning to be “at cause” involves looking at patterns that show up and situations that trigger me in some way, and then releasing them.

Coming back to the fear of becoming the woman in the green jacket, there’s actually another piece that takes it deeper. I’m afraid of failing my new venture.

I notice my choice of words, “I’m afraid of failing my new venture”. I’m afraid of being a disappointment to my new venture, that I don’t have what it takes to do it justice, that I’m not good enough. Though that’s a lot clearer about what’s going on, it’s still somewhat covert as that wording still separates myself from myself. My venture is me, it’s my life’s work!

The above may sound a bit doom-and-gloomy, but it really isn’t!

As a Spiritual Practitioner, I have the tools to clear my limiting decisions or beliefs. Such decisions or beliefs result from traumatic events (in this lifetime or other lifetimes). Based on the experience in that traumatic moment we decide there and then to believe a certain truth as a way to protect ourselves in the future. That limiting belief gets stored in our subconscious and helps guide us forward in life. We’re usually not aware of these “truths” running our lives, and, at times, it can be somewhat tricky to find them.

I also know as a Spiritual Practitioner, when things that “show up” in my life trigger a powerful emotional response, some limiting decision or belief is poking me to be released.

For example, take the lady in the green jacket or being homeless without furniture. My underlying emotion or feeling of discomfort is a sign of something that’s ready to be released. Actively pursuing my life’s work, is triggering this deep-set limiting belief. I don’t need to figure out the details of exactly what happened when to cause this belief (to know the full story linked to the emotion). What has been, has been. The key is to identify the emotion within the trigger and ask what I make that mean about me now, and to ask that question repeatedly until I’ve gotten deep enough to reach the core limiting belief.

The true victory here is recognising the pattern and identifying the limiting belief (or core belief) that I’ve been running at a subtle level, a belief I’ve been using for a long time to make meaning of opportunities and possibilities in my life. A belief I was only vaguely aware of, off and on, until the lady with the green jacket showed up.

Zeroing in and releasing

I’m very close to nailing down the wording for this core belief. When I get it right, when I find the perfect combination of words, I know from past experience that I’ll feel that rightness as a deep, uncomfortable contraction in my chest. Despite the discomfort, I’ll welcome it, because finding the right wording for my limiting belief is the biggest chunk of the work of letting the belief go.  

The actual process for releasing the belief is fairly quick. And, incredibly powerful.

After a belief has been released, generally one of three things happens. (1) The situation or circumstance that caused the trigger disappears completely, or (2) the situation or circumstance remains but external behaviour changes, or (3) the situation or circumstance remains the same but you’re no longer triggered by it.

Knowing how powerful this release process is, I’m looking forward to shifting this core belief and seeing how I’ll show up in my life’s work when I’m not subconsciously holding myself back because of fear.

If you’re aware of patterns, or you are noticing similar situations showing up in your life that make you feel deeply uncomfortable, guilty, fearful, angry, or sad, contact me to schedule a free 45-minute Curiosity Call. You don’t have to let limiting beliefs hold you back.

The Expanded Landscape, 5 Phases of Awakening – Part #2

If you haven’t yet read Part #1 where I cover the 1st and the 2nd Phase of Awakening, you can do that here.

Early on, I “knew” that my 3D mind was limited in its ability to understand the width and depth of opportunities that may lie ahead. Even with lots of experience and knowledge there would still be an incredible number of possibilities that I would not be able to name, or even suggest, as they expanded beyond my sphere of awareness.

I had a sense that by fixating on a desired outcome I would limit what was possible. It felt more natural to invite ALL possibilities to play and allow my inner guidance system to take me by the hand and guide me forward.

I’d always had a sense that I had access to a “channel of information” or “flow” that was experienced beyond the physical body and mind, but it was so elusive that I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was just there. In conversation with friends in my teens and early twenties, I was able to offer suggestions to perceived dilemmas without necessarily having had the lived experience. That said, I didn’t have any language to access this kind of knowing back then. It’s just in hindsight that I’ve been able to recognise what was going on.

When I first experienced the sensation of resonance in my body, I felt it as a tingling sensation on my upper arms. It felt like a gentle squeeze, as if someone was standing behind me placing their hands gently on my upper arms applying slight pressure. The Squeeze proved to be a helpful way to gauge what direction to take in everyday situations, and in 2009 I made a commitment to follow my inner guidance system and my “gut-feel” for all my decision-making. It was both exhilarating and a bit daunting, as sometimes the Squeeze and my gut suggested next steps that took me beyond my comfort zone.

My first ever experience of gut-feel happened a lot earlier though – in 1994, while I was in the process of considering an opportunity to move to Germany for work. This was waaay before I was even slightly aware that there was such a thing as “gut-feel” and waaay before I had started to become aware of my spiritual curiosity.

Since then, I’ve learned that we have access to different layers of information depending on which level we engage at. Reaching the level of depth that touches someone’s soul is profound. I can tell when it happens as I feel it in my body, and I notice their energy change. It’s almost like a switch is turned on and something clicks into place. The client, however, may or may not be able to put words to their experience.

Today, we’ll continue our journey along the path of the 5 Phases of Awakening, the phases that Jeff and I outlined in November 2018. As I’ve mentioned before, this is just one model, one perspective, and its purpose is to be a guide for fellow travelers.

Continue reading The Expanded Landscape, 5 Phases of Awakening – Part #2

The New Consciousness

The “New Consciousness” is a comprehensive new pattern of activity and insight on the planet that includes both the knowledge and lived experience that all of life, and everything in Nature, is one whole and indivisible system of being. This one whole system has countless layers of individuals and collectives expressing all manner of possibilities, and yet there is only one living process going on.

Naturally, what is one and indivisible cannot truly be separated into, for instance, me and not-me, even though we may speak that way as a convenience. The experience of physicality becomes supremely joyful when we realize that, whatever the appearances, there is nothing outside of our one shared being, and nothing can ever be “other”. The genius of Creation is that what appears to be outside according to the five senses is always present in some form on the inside. There is always a correspondence that can be discovered, and especially when we are curious about how the one whole system functions, our abilities to tune into Nature’s subtle, though always available, information channels awaken.

Since there is only a single whole living system, it is true that “whatever we do to the web of life, we do to ourselves”1… and this applies equally to our fellow beings. To condemn anyone or anything that appears to be outside of us gives rise to external conflict and also produces disease inside of us. Similarly, to condemn anything on the inside energizes conflict on the outside as well as disease processes within. Each and every form of rejection, no matter how subtle, produces conflict within our one shared being. This conflict will eventually show up as challenges for our individual and collective bodies, and these challenges will be experienced in one form or another by all. All such episodes are a call to the New Consciousness; they are a means of getting our attention so that we might choose to step into the greater wisdom that is beckoning. Wherever there is conflict in any form, there is the opportunity to realize the New Consciousness more fully. And in this New Consciousness, there are much more empowered ways of transforming and healing the world available.

For one living in the New Consciousness, the richness and texture of life are radically enhanced, and there can be experiences of an almost overwhelming joy. One who lives in this New Consciousness experiences a state of vastly expanded identity without losing the beauty of individual experience or the ability to attune, discern, enjoy life, and make decisions from wisdom. Individuality is fully expressed within the New Consciousness, and at the same time one’s words and actions are naturally harmonized and aligned with the whole of Nature, offering immeasurable benefit to the one whole system. Thus we come to realize that there is actually no trade-off between the good of the individual and the good of the whole. Instead, there is synergy. The individual and the whole are indivisible, and the well-being of one is the well-being of all. At the same time, the diverse multitude of temporary distinctions and expressions becomes the basis for the experience of… beauty, truth, and goodness.

From the perspective of the New Consciousness, the entire progression of human events is seen as a movement from the entrenched belief in separation and the myriad painful reflections of that belief, to ideas and experiences of interconnectedness, and finally to the direct knowing and joyful experience of underlying indivisibility. Although codes of conduct and moral injunctions have served to maintain a semblance of coherence on the playgrounds of earlier stages, these structures are successively released as one’s capacity to move in a way that is attuned and aligned with the whole increases. Thus the individual who lives in this New Consciousness has realized the natural, comprehensive, and spontaneous harmony, which cannot be imposed or even taught, but which must inevitably awaken. Once the New Consciousness has awakened, the true and lasting peace is finally lived as the obvious and most-fulfilling choice.

*****

1 Chief Seattle: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together.”

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Three questions that’ll change your life forever

Three key questions have been coming up recently for entrepreneurs I work with who are “changing the game” in their respective industries:

  1. To what extent am I accepting all available help? (Shatters ego)
  2. To what extent am I providing all optimal assistance? (Shatters laziness)
  3. To what extent am I willing to steward something that could be truly big? (Shatters the comfort zone)

When I check in, I get that pretty much all gamechangers – people driven by a strong sense of mission – aren’t even close to being fully willing to steward something that could grow to the scale that changing the game requires. No wonder there are so many energetic roadblocks on the journey. We want it, but where the rubber meets the road we’re still lazy, egoic, and comfortably small in our aspirations. However, when we decide deep, deep down in the roots of our being to accept all available help, offer all optimal assistance, and be willing to play truly big, THEN we can change the game.

Since what we really are in the roots of our being is, and creates, the Totality of all that is and all that could ever be, to avoid playing big is to deny the aspect of ourselves that is absolutely vast. To pretend that we’re not bigness itself is to shut off creative power in our experience and become a victim of cosmic forces. At this point on the journey of awakening, denying any aspect of ourselves is going to fail miserably.

Being everything, we can explore the micro and meso scales of life – what we might call the human experience — and it is beautiful to do so in countless unique and individualized ways. But no one gets to say no to being/playing vast because no one is in any way separate from Totality. 

So say YES to stewarding bigness! A while back I offered the thought experiment of imagining being completely responsible for meeting Earth’s needs. It pays to imagine something that big, and even bigger. Even the universe is tiny in relation to what we are in Truth. Infinity is a microdot on your fingertip. If you can’t feel that yet, just be open to realizing the possibility that you could be so supremely vast and you will in due course.

Let us not be so stuck in our comforts! Let us not be so lazy and self-centered at the level of personal identity! Let us be AWAKE! Nothing less will satisfy. At this stage, nothing less has a prayer of bringing health, happiness, and real prosperity. In fact, until we say the big YES, the multitude of dramas will continue with our bodies, and at the personal and transpersonal levels with colleagues and loved ones, to indicate that we are still asleep.

Building gamechaging businesses is a high spiritual path. None of us knew what we were actually signing up for. But it’s too late to turn back. There can be no more refuge in the pseudo-comforts of unconsciousness.

Seekers, Finders, and 5 Phases of Awakening – Part #1

Awakening. It’s been around for eons. Some are living it, some are baffled by it, lots of people feel drawn to it. I first became aware of being on a journey of awakening in 2005, age 38. Yet, only recently did I see my own trajectory clearly for the first time.

To my surprise, I noticed that my experiences seemed to organise themselves into multiple “levels” of exploration. Each widening the perspective of mind, heart, and spirit. Now, this isn’t new, but what felt new was the fact that I ‘sensed’ the characteristics for each level.

How peculiar! My curiosity had been awoken. With the help of my friend and divine collaborator, Jeff Vander Clute, I decided to take a closer look.

The first characteristics of awakening to show up were: curiosity, experimentation, discipline, realisation, and mastery. Interestingly, when we looked at my experiences over the past 10+ years, they slotted in nicely with these characteristics. Who knew! We named the initial five phases: Awakening Curiosity, Awakening Experience, Awakening Insight, Awakening Realisation, and Awakening Mastery. Each name points to the focus and outcome for that phase.

phases of awakening
Example Trajectory

The learning that followed this discovery includes knowing where my expertise is of best use, plus a better understanding of how to support someone depending on where they are along their journey.

Reflecting on this newfound clarity, I came to see that a new tool had been born, ‘Phases of Awakening’ – a guide for seekers and finders along their spiritual journey.

Continue reading Seekers, Finders, and 5 Phases of Awakening – Part #1

Seven Practices of Thriving and Abundant Consciousness

Hi friends!

Just before the turn of the year, Jeff received the following in meditation…

Seven Practices of Thriving and Abundant Consciousness:

  1. Beauty
  2. Creativity
  3. Relaxation
  4. Simplicity
  5. Enjoyment
  6. Love
  7. Clarity

These seven practices necessarily expand and awaken individual and collective consciousness, and they create the experience of abundance. Together, they support an opening into Joy and Receptivity. They also support the deep work of healing, clearing, forgiving, and integrating that so many of us are drawn to at this time.

Curiously, three of the above practices – Relax, Enjoy, and Love – consistently show up in the same order in our work with The Consciousness of Money. “Relax, Enjoy, Love” is a simple formula that has already been helping people to live in much lighter and more abundantly joyful ways. Now, with the expanded set of seven practices, we have “more ways to play” as well as additional tools for staying grounded and clear.

Here’s our suggestion for the New Year: Let’s all see what happens when we celebrate and engage with these seven practices in the first few months of 2019. All of us at Sourcing The Way and The Consciousness of Money invite you to join in this fun experiment, and to let us know what starts to flourish as you do so!

An Open Letter to those in search of Spiritual Freedom – Part #4/4

This is the last part, part four, of my series on the principle that has guided my own journey and now underlies every element of my coaching, teaching, and mentoring practice: Spiritual Freedom. (Learn more at http://www.annamariaback.com)

So, how can one recognise Spiritual Freedom?

As a wise friend shared, Spirit is the oxygen of the soul. For the logical mind, Spiritual Freedom can seem challengingly elusive because it is intangible. Some say spiritual freedom is an experience. And, as frustrating as this may be, unless you’ve had the experience…well, it stays intangible.

Instead of calling it an experience, I would offer that Spiritual Freedom is more of a state. The beauty of it is that there is no fixed formula. You decide what it means to you, what makes it true for you.

As I mentioned earlier, in my view (which is only one model of many), the antithesis to Spiritual Freedom is Fear. Fear of living, fear of being oneself, fear of standing up for and to oneself, and fear of not believing in oneself, to name a few. When it dawned on me that my life lacked Spiritual Freedom, I felt confused. A part of me felt guilty because, really, what did I have to complain about?! I was a free spirit. My life was pretty awesome and comfortable.

To me, Spiritual Freedom is having the freedom to choose, to be who I am, to take responsibility for who I am, to be curious, to operate beyond the constricting boundaries of expectations:

  • It is what fires me up, what makes me want to take action, to change, to grow, to evolve.
  • It is my main motivation in everything I do, who I am, and also why I do what I do.
  • It is connected to instinct and deeper wisdom, inspiration, awareness, and autonomy.
  • It expands my perspective, it keeps me on my toes as it brings self-discovery and evolution into focus.
  • It provides me with the framework to having the courage to lean beyond my comfort zone.
  • It makes me feel freer, agile, alive, inspired, and energised.
  • It helps me fine tune my focus and have trust in turning inward.

Spiritual Freedom involves integrating spiritual practices in everyday life and not being held back by circumstances. It involves being aware of the systems I operate within, deciding who I want to be and how I want to show up.

During my ongoing self-discovery expedition, the following questions have provided direction:

  1. Am I owning my story?
  2. Am I living my values?
  3. Am I showing up fully?

Spiritual Freedom is about listening to our soul’s calling, giving our inner wisdom its opportunity to shine. Feeling contentment, fulfilment, and inner satisfaction. Being confident in who we are and what we have to offer, knowing that we are enough, knowing that our spirit is awake to express itself fully.

To no longer be defined or confined by story is also part of Spiritual Freedom. It’s about being free to own whatever is within you – that which follows you through life, and beyond – your inner core, your joy and freedom.

The three questions about owning my story, living my values, and showing up fully, have been a steady companion for some time. At times I have wondered if they are clear enough, and how and if they connect to Spiritual Freedom. One wise friend recently said, “They do for me. Upon answering these questions with ‘no– no– no’, it tells me why I’m not there yet”.

If your answers to the above questions are “no” – remember, it’s not about blame. It’s about acceptance, recognition, forgiveness, and appreciation. The beauty is, as there is no fixed formula, we all have access to those, and to the freedom they lead to.

My question to you is…is Spiritual Freedom present in your life? If yes, what does it look like? And if not, would you like it to be?

An Open Letter to those in Search of Spiritual Freedom – Part #3

This is part three of my series on the principle that has guided my own journey and now underlies every element of my coaching, teaching, and mentoring practice: Spiritual Freedom. (Learn more at http://www.annamariaback.com)

As I’ve pondered Spiritual Freedom further, I’m nudged to see that it is Timeless, Visceral, and Experiential…all at once.

Being “spiritual” usually comes with a host of connotations. For some it is the equivalent of being religious; for others, it is believing in energy healing, tarot cards, angels, fairies, and other elementals. For some, it involves being reflective, practicing forgiveness, compassion, and non-judgment. No matter which meaning you give it, our society, for the most part, doesn’t consider being spiritual as valuable as the rational mind.

For the mind, “spirituality” is this weird, challenging, and intangible thing. Some would say it is an experience, others that it’s a way of being. And more often than not, it is ridiculed or dismissed because the mind doesn’t know what to do with it, doesn’t know how to understand it.

Religion and spirituality weren’t discussed much around the dinner table when I was growing up. Looking back, I don’t quite know where my beliefs have come from. I felt an affinity for astrology early on, and I was secretly fascinated by the spirit world (to the point of being afraid of the same).

I first came across spirituality, by that name, in my early 20’s. I had recently landed my first job in accounting at a global high-tech electronics company. As I got to know the others in the office, there was one lady who stood out to me as very “colourful”. She was into theatre, dance, and – lo and behold – energy healing (whatever that was!). She was a bit “loud”, and according to my frame of the world at the time, she didn’t seem to “fit in”. I remember vividly, she wore a lot of purple plush and had wacky necklaces. She was good at her job, but I did not take her seriously. Today, I’m smiling at my youthful ignorance and immaturity.

What does the internet say about the word “spirituality”? Here’s a sampling:

From the Oxford dictionary:

(1) Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

– Having a relationship based on a profound level of mental or emotional communion.

– (of a person) not concerned with material values or pursuits.

(2) Relating to religion or religious belief.

From Wikipedia:

Traditionally, spirituality refers to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man,” oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live,” often in a context separate from organized religious institutions. Modern systems of spirituality may include a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one’s own “inner dimension.”

Upon reading these, I think that one way to give further dimension to “spirituality” and “being spiritual” could be to say that someone “spiritual” is more interested in the WHO than the WHAT. For example, I’m more interested in “WHO I am” than “WHAT I am”, which harkens back to one of my musings in Part #1 – that external labels is not who we are.

In Part #4, the last part of this series, I’ll be summing up my musings around Spiritual Freedom. I hope to meet you there.

An Open Letter to those in search of Spiritual Freedom – Part #2

This is part two of my series on the principle that has guided my own journey and now underlies every element of my burgeoning coaching, teaching, and mentoring practice: Spiritual Freedom. (Learn more at http://www.annamariaback.com)

If you have not read Part #1 you can do that here.

Back in 2005, instinct and deeper inspiration led me to move back to the UK, this time to Hertfordshire. For some time, my life had felt uninspiring, unfulfilling, on autopilot, and stuck in story. I kept asking myself the question, “Surely, this can’t be all there is…?”

New in a town where I knew nobody, I had the space to ponder things. I reflected on my experiences over the past year and a half, especially how—once I decided to leave Sweden and return to the UK—everything came together easily. Even though a move between countries was in the mix!

As I looked into my motivation for moving back to the UK, I made some interesting discoveries. I had always considered myself a free spirit, yet it dawned on me that I didn’t have spiritual freedom. At the time, I didn’t have the language or awareness to understand it in this way; the best description I could come up with was that I felt boxed in, unfulfilled, bored, and uninspired.

Now, I am a work in progress like everyone else. I have spent the past 13 years in a conscious self-discovery mode. At first, I approached the move to the UK as adding new aspects to my life; new learning, new friends, a new location, and my focus was on expanding my perspective—to lean beyond what I was used to.

The expanded perspective was great. I felt a lot freer, agile, alive, inspired, and energised. However, soon enough I felt nudged to fine-tune and be more deliberate in my focus—to turn inward. I recognised that changing only my external circumstances would never be enough— it wouldn’t fix “it”. I also needed to look at how I experienced the world, how I expressed myself in the world, and how I ultimately could create and live with more awareness.

In my experience, the antithesis to Spiritual Freedom is fear of living, fear of being oneself, fear of standing up for—and to—oneself, and fear of not believing in oneself. Ingredients that there are a lot of in this day and age.

Imagine feeling like there is not just one “right” way and you don’t have to comply with any dogma and doctrine. Imagine being genuinely open to possibility, and feeling free from judgment, mockery, and criticism—yours as well as others’.

People may feel fairly comfortable exploring spirituality in their personal lives. But we have a way to go when it comes to mixing our personal practice with our work life. Imagine having a safe place to explore the myths or beliefs that you hold about spirituality, that in turn hold you back. Myths that stop you owning your Spiritual Freedom fully, without shame, without fear of rejection, or criticism.

Imagine experiencing contentment, fulfilment, and inner satisfaction both at work and at home. Being confident in who you are and what you bring into being, regardless of your setting. Imagine knowing you are enough. This is true freedom, and has become my life work: Helping clients discover the Spiritual Freedom of being awake, aware, and fully expressed. And then, most importantly, helping them learn how to live that.

I’ll continue my journey into how to understand Spiritual Freedom in Part #3. I look forward to meeting you there.