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A Circle of Light
Transform Grief into a Unique Opportunity for Guidance
By Adele Vincent
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2012 Adele Vincent
All rights reserved.
Learn to Love: The Spiritual Checklist
This is a step I've been working on my whole life. It is the first and most important step to turning grief into guidance. I can't count the number of times I've made a promise to be more loving, only to break it in the heat of the moment with family and friends. Losing a loved one represents a special opportunity to learn to love, not only those around us, but more importantly ourselves.
Today, you begin a journey to understand grief and the importance of guidance in our lives. It might be a familiar journey that you embarked on several times, but feel you haven't quite 'arrived' yet. You wonder why you continue to suffer, if there isn't some important lesson to be learned in the experience of loss. It may be a journey that is very new and strange to you. Whatever your reasons for reading this book, know you are not alone. You are loved by many. Step by step, you will learn to return this love: both visible and invisible. There will be plenty of signs and encouragement along the way. The trick is to pay attention.
Like every good journey we embark on, preparation goes a long way. Here's your personal checklist.
The Spiritual Checklist for Learning to Love
[check] An Inquisitive Mind:
Throw out the rulebook. Admit you know nothing. It may be hard to understand at this moment, as you may be a very cultivated person of impressive status, but accept that everything you know is but a mere fraction of the collective knowledge that exists in the universe.
[check] A Loving Heart:
Open your heart. Learning to love isn't just about learning to love others. It also means loving oneself and life, and appreciating the interconnectedness of everything we experience. People often think of love in compartmentalized terms. We tend to favor certain kinds of love, relishing the early days of a new love affair or the undivided attention of a good friend. These are the kinds of relationships we find easiest to initiate, but what about the unrelenting relative who we can never seem to come to an agreement with or the beggar on the street corner?
[check] Be Willing to Ask the Difficult Questions:
'How do I behave in these situations?'We are all guilty of turning a blind eye. Many of us feel frustration when we encounter people who are radically different from us. We are incensed when someone expresses an extreme view that doesn't tally with our own view. This isn't a lecture. It's a lifelong lesson which we never stop learning.
[check] A Journal:
Take a good look in the mirror. Don't be afraid to meet your own gaze. Be honest, really honest. What do you see? Do you see fear, anger and silence? Maybe you see nothing. That's okay. Take a journal and write your observations daily.
Learning to love is about levels of awareness. When you become aware of your behavior, you can change it. We often think of ourselves as loving and open people. However, if we make an honest assessment of our lives, we see there are areas which could be improved or relationships which could be enriched. Self-awareness is something we learn by facing the most difficult tasks in our life, like confronting loss. I learned to truly love when I lost my mother unexpectedly after my 22nd birthday. I realized I had spent my life escaping difficult situations because I believed I wasn't strong enough.
Every person is different. It took a great loss for me to understand how to love the important people in my life and reconnect with my spirituality. The reasons we choose to reconnect with our spirituality are ours alone. What remains indisputable is our shared need for spirituality. Learning to love is about submitting oneself to an experience like grief and its greatest gift: healing.
Even if your loved one experienced a tragic or untimely death, know that death is simply a process of transformation. There is perspective to be gained from every loss. I speak with authority on this issue, having lost my brother when he was just 2 months old, my mother when I was barely into my twenties and my aunt at 15. My brother's death was one of the most transformative experiences because it taught my family to love in different ways, strengthening our family ties.
How I Began My Journey
The person who embodied love and faith best was my mother. She was a believer in all things spiritual: the redemptive power of love, fate, God and the importance of exercising personal will. She had an unquestioning faith, the kind that permeated every inch of her face, resonating in her startling blue-green eyes. People were afraid of her. I think more often than not they were afraid of the intensity of her beliefs and the fierceness with which she defended her views.
In a society where people were reluctant to speak of their views of the afterlife, she was something of a trailblazer, befriending Raymond Moody, author of the bestselling book, Life after Life. They often discussed their ideas about life after death. I think these discussions framed her opinions on the possibility of communication. However, her spirituality was deeply rooted. It was something she inherited from a long line of churchgoing, corset-wearing women.
Mom's passing on Thanksgiving Day 2007 represented a turning point in my life. It taught me to slow down and appreciate the small things in life. We live our lives in such a mad panic. When is the last time you called a loved one to tell them just how much they really mean to you? I wish I had done this more when Mom was alive. It's so easy to get distracted and forget to spend quality time with the people who really count. It's never too late. You may think because you lost someone, they are no longer part of your life. This is not true. The people we love will always be a part of our lives. The memories and lessons they taught us continue to live on with us, helping us heal and grow as people.
The Importance of Angels in Our Lives
Most people believe in angels or spirit guides because they feel they were helped at some crucial moment in their lives. I use the term 'angels' to describe the elevated spiritual beings that surround and protect us. These divine beings assist us in realizing and fulfilling our greater purpose. Each of us has several angels guiding us through our journey. Do not hesitate to call upon them in times of need or doubt. This is their divine purpose.
How Angels Assist Us in Learning to Love
Angels are the embodiment of love and compassion. They can help us access our deepest fears and darkest beliefs, working to change the way we think about the world and our place in it. When miracles happen, an angel is usually close by, ensuring that an outcome is positively realized. However, an angel cannot shape fate or free will. These are two factors which are not open to influence. Angelic beings will guide you, but they will not make important decisions for you. Our lessons are ours alone to learn.
This is why those of us who struggle to love find it difficult to invite angels into our lives. We often find ourselves caught in a vicious circle. We struggle to love and in that struggle we find little room to heal and grow. The loss of a loved one sends us spiraling further down. Fortunately, angels can help us change our patterns of behavior and transform grief into guidance. However, the griever must become more aware of the presence of angels in his life before he can work with them to truly heal.
People often wonder why they have never had an angelic encounter. The answer is simple. You haven't invited the angels into your life! If you do not give them permission to work with you, they will stay behind the scenes. The more you invite them into your life, the more they are able to help. It is very much a give-and-take relationship. Some angels or spirit guides grow by helping people on earth. So remember you aren't the only one on a journey to become more aware of your purpose; angels have missions too!
How You Welcome an Angel into Your Life
Do some homework on the subject of angels. There are many saints and archangels to call upon for help and healing. The more you read, the more informed you will become. Knowledge is power. As a consequence, your mind will be less blocked and more open to their presence. I like to call on Archangel Michael or Mother Mary, but I also like reading about the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. It is a highly personal preference which isn't dependent on religious ties.
* A note on researching
You aren't restricted to saints or angels; you can also call upon famous people in history. They might not always arrive to help (sprits do not always dedicate their lives to others) but it is worth trying if you are finding it difficult to connect with an angel. I love Saint Francis of Assisi because of his connection with animals and his chosen life of poverty. We share a love of animals. This connection helps me tune in to his presence.
It's the most simple of techniques, but it works wonders. A prayer is a silent meditation of intent. The more we ask for help, the more intention we have of receiving that help when it appears in our lives.
* A note on praying
If you are struggling with the grieving process, please remember to pray nightly. It is important you focus on intention, because feelings can manifest in our physical lives. If you are feeling ill or poorly, you will soon find yourself down physically. Prayers can help control our waking thoughts and welcome angels into our lives to help heal and uplift us. I often pray to Archangel Michael when I am feeling tired or stressed. I always wake up feeling refreshed and positive the next morning.
Visualizing angels is never an easy task. Even some of the greatest artists of history struggled to conceive how angels look. I have a ceramic painting of Saint Francis that I like to look at in the kitchen. It sounds silly, but taking a few seconds out of my busy day to look at the image helps me to relax and refocus my energies.
* A note on visualizing angels
Visiting a religious place, museum or website where you can find pictures of inspirational spiritual figures might also help you relax and refocus throughout the day.
You can also say mantras throughout the day like, 'Angels, I welcome you into my life.' If you want to increase the potency of a mantra, leave your bedroom door or office door open. You can even leave notes on your desk, reminding the angels that you invited them into your life. Angels have a sense of humor and will appreciate your invitation at a physical and spiritual level.
How Angels Help Us Connect with Our Loved Ones
It is important to make a distinction between angels and loved ones for the purpose of this book. Angels are elevated beings who dedicate their existence to helping others with compassion and love. Loved ones who pass on to the other side differ from angels or spirit guides in one important respect. Loved ones work with angels to help family members or friends in the physical realm.
Unless they had a special passion or hobby, it is rare that a loved one would spend time helping strangers. This is usually the realm of angels. Angels help us with our spiritual development long term, while loved ones help us with our personal development short term. Nonetheless, angels and loved ones work closely together to achieve a vital balance between personal short-term goals and long-term spiritual development. Both play an essential role in our spirituality.
* * *
My mother's passing led me to discover another world, a world where hope and love are boundless. Imagine such a place and you are one step closer to receiving messages from your loved one. Just don't be surprised if your loved one says, 'What's the matter? I've been here the whole time.'
Pay Attention to Coincidences: Techniques to Cleanse Thoughts
Each of us has this moment. Some call it an epiphany. Others refer to it as an awakening. For me, I think it was closer to a reckoning. I spent many years turning away from my spirituality in an attempt to feel socially accepted. You see, it just wasn't 'cool' to talk about angels. Growing up, friends wanted to discuss boyfriends, music and movies. They were less than willing to discuss the deeper questions in life. It was only when I really began paying attention to the coincidences in my life that I found the happiness I desperately sought in my teens and realized my true path.
There are several ways you can learn to pay closer attention. You might want to try the following techniques to clear your mind and the space you inhabit. The more weighed down we are with painful memories, daily preoccupations or stressful thoughts, the less likely we are to notice the events occurring around us. Negative thinking is like a narrow alley. It constrains us to think in a certain way, inhibiting healing.
Techniques to Cleanse Thoughts
Listen to music.
Keep your living space tidy.
Avoid clutter, old clothes with bad memories, or photos of people that make you feel less than the best.
Cleanse your body; cleanse your mind. A shower can help revive you.
Take a holiday to a sacred space or natural park.
Keep a journal. This will help you from revisiting unhelpful thoughts. You can write a negative thought down and counteract it with a positive statement.
Remember we are all special beings with a unique purpose. Transforming grief into guidance helps us to realize that purpose, freeing us from the preoccupations many of us experience after we lose a loved one.
Our journey is as much a story as it is a quest. The more you understand about your life day to day, chapter to chapter, the more you become aware of its direction and course. With this awareness you begin to connect the dots between time, place and person, and distinguish grief from guidance.
Throughout the 11 steps of this book I share my story and experiences to illustrate how I turned grief into a unique opportunity to receive guidance. My story shows how death can become a life-affirming experience by using many of the techniques, tools and exercises cited in each chapter.
A Childhood Memory
Spirituality was always an essential component of my story. My earliest recollection was of a conversation that took place with my mother. I was 5 years old. There was a perfect autumn sky, clear and crisp. My breath was visible on the window of the backseat, clouding the glass every time I exhaled.
Mom and I were driving home after dance class. I sat in my pink tutu and black leotard, looking up at the Milky Way. There were ten thousand stars dotting the night, casting their soft light over the darkened farmland. My mind instantly wondered at the magnitude of the sky, which held the moon and all the tiny sparkling stars. We were told in class that this was the kingdom of God, where heaven was and the angels lived.
My mind couldn't grasp the enormity of it. I found myself wondering aloud what heaven looked like.
'Heaven is big and white. People are very happy there,' Mom explained.
'Do people live in houses?' I asked.
She paused for a minute, before answering, 'People live in houses they build with their imagination.'
'What would our house look like?'
'Big and full of light,' she replied.
I imagined a transparent house with infinite rooms floating in the sky. 'A glass house!' I shouted with excitement.
'That's right, a glass house where we could see for miles and miles, and everyone we knew and loved would live with us.'
'Like Grandpa and my baby brother?'
There was silence, followed by a long sigh. 'Everyone will be there: your grandfathers, grandmother and baby brother.'
'Will you be there?' I asked under my breath, afraid of her response.
'I'll be there when it's my time.'
'But how will I know it's your time?
'I'll send you a sign.'
'What's a sign?' I asked. My face twisted with confusion.
'A sign is a message. I'll send you a rainbow to let you know when it's my time.'
* * *
Admittedly, I missed a few rainbows along the way. That's the problem when you don't pay attention. Skepticism gets the best of all of us, even me. Fortunately, I did not miss the breathtaking rainbow radiating from the window of the airplane, landing on my son's cheek as he slept. It was the first time I had visited the United States in 2 years.
As I boarded the plane, I thought how challenging those 2 years had been. My pregnancy was full of health scares, and the months after my son's birth were difficult. I struggled to adapt to the grueling waking-and-sleeping schedule of a newborn baby, all the while missing Mom terribly. It was hard not being able to call her to ask her if I had also suffered from colic. Dad wasn't much help in this department as he tended to have memory blanks concerning anything to do with me crying or needing to be changed.
'You really don't remember, Dad?' I asked in frustration as the clock struck one in the morning, another late-night emergency call. My question was greeted with silence, followed with Dad's defeated voice: 'Sorry, darling. I honestly don't remember.'
Excerpted from A Circle of Light by Adele Vincent. Copyright © 2012 Adele Vincent. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Dear Readers x
Author Notes 1
Preface: The Energy Cycle of Life and Death and The Cycle of Grief 2
Step 1 Learn to Love: The Spiritual Checklist 11
Step 2 Pay Attention to Coincidences: Techniques to Cleanse Thoughts 18
Step 3 Recognize and Interpret Signs: Common Signs Loved Ones Use 29
Step 4 Accept Loss: How Loss Can Positively Affect Our Lives 40
Step 5 Document Your Journey: Useful Tools 46
Step 6 Don't Lose Faith-Ask for Guidance: Breakthrough Grief 53
Step 7 Be Skeptical, But Don't Let Fear Get the Best of You: Counteract Doubt 60
Step 8 The Three 'A's: Attend, Attune and Attain: Achieve Spiritual Goals 69
Step 9 Don't Give Up-It's Never Too Late: Techniques to Encourage Healing 76
Step 10 Trust Your Intuition: Exercises to Increase Intuition 82
Step 11 Practice Appreciation: The Importance of Mindfulness in Our Lives 92
The End of a Journey: Finding Purpose 99
About the Author 124