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Spiritual Presence

The loving spiritual presence that I experienced during the Christmas time in 2008 has motivated me to change my entire life and has served as a benchmark to help me distinguish spiritual guidance from my egoic desires. For most of 2009 and 2010, I had no further spiritual presence in my life. This was a challenging period in my life. It was hard to know if what I wanted was my soul’s wishes or my ego’s desire. The teachings of the Cyberspace Ashram, certainly clarified many problems I had. They helped me work towards my goal of developing a loving relationship with all beings in all situations. However, sometimes situations would present that my logic could not determine which was the best path to choose. For example, several people may desire my attention or services, but I could only help one at a time. Also as previously posted here, I found myself with a woman, when I had zero plans on looking for a girlfriend. Back in those first couple years, I made many mistakes as I learned to separate my ego’s wants from spiritual guidance.

Often I would initially have a good general idea, but my ego would sneak in the back door and I would find it tainting the original intentions. For example, my advice to patients would turn from being inspiring into overwhelming and guilt provoking, with just a small change in my attitude as I presented it. Also my desire to share spiritual teachings with people initially was good founded, yet I was horrible at recognizing who was actually open for such teachings, and who just wants to be left alone. This lead to many uncomfortable rejections where I found myself pushing unwanted resources on people.

In hind sight, I would say that most of 2009 and 2010 I bounced from feelings of anger and guilt (and I still do to be honest). Just about anything could trigger them. Traffic, unexpected changes in my plans, my kids’ behavior could all trigger intense anger. Many of Han’s spiritual posts in the Cyberspace Ashram, my eating habits, my relationships with the women in my life frequently triggered guilt. While struggling with those emotional states, I found that my loving interactions with others were contaminated by them. I would inadvertently say things in a way to make other people angry and guilt ridden! During this time I read many different spiritual texts and was a bit closed to Hans. I cannot say it was conscious, but now I can recognize it was there.

In early 2011, while counseling with Hans he suggested I leave my current job and temporarily leave my family and friends to do humanitarian work. This shocked me intensely because I was already feeling guilty for not being present as a father… but deep down I knew that I would follow his advice if he really recommended it. After a couple days when he understood the full extent of my debt, he decided that was not a good idea. But that event had totally shocked my ego. Shortly after that I started to have the faintest awareness of a spiritual presence. I cannot say that I even felt “happy”, but I was relieved to once again feel the energetic presence. There was a faint buzzing in my head.

In May of 2011, a little after my Crossed Eyed Experience, I started to receive more frequent greetings of spiritual presence. They seemed directly related to spending meditative time in wild natural settings. It was also related to an increasing quality of medical work and fathering skills. To this day, this spiritual presence is still mostly absent and I continue to “troubleshoot” how I can improve the connection. It tends to occurs after good kriya yoga sessions or on a meditative walk in the park after a long hard day of work. I can also feel it after working in the garden, when giving a big long tree hug or on some reflective evenings when I’m spending time loving and reconciling all the people in my life. It is totally gone when I encounter major emotional upsets, get too busy with life or neglect to get myself outdoors. It is less noticeable when I take it easy or think that I’ve “got it figured out now” and loosen my self discipline.

The spiritual presence feels like a warm, comforting, soft energy anywhere in my body and sometimes I can feel it just beyond the limits of my skin. When the energy is present, it is sooo easy to have a good attitude. My mind is tame. My body is relaxed. I feel like my surroundings are smiling back at me. Gratitude wells up strongly, regardless of my circumstances. I just don’t identify with negative attitudes or thoughts and they dissolve instantly at those times. I am happy to start my day. I am eager to look for needy people to help in anyway and am open to accept challenging problems. I am open to be with very intensely suffering people. Normally I would feel a repulsion by them, but instead I find the experience pleasurable. This presence validates itself. Since the presence has returned, I have had more patients say kind words to me, that I never used to hear. I’ve been told I am a “God sent”, have a “warm heart” and that it just feels so soothing to listen to me. I have had other patients tell me that its nice to have a doctor who can feel their pain. This amazed me, because I hadn’t really changed my outward behaviors or my verbal counseling much at all. They were responding to the presence.

The presence guides me indirectly. I learn from the circumstances that seem to increase the probability of it and I adjust my lifestyle accordingly. Mainly the presence guides be by showing the contrast between it and my ego. If I’m feeling the spiritual presence and thinking about positive changes to make in my life, I can feel a strong sense of rejection if my ego is opposed to the idea. For example, one day I was saying a prayer to God while I lightheartedly walked through the park. I was saying in my head that I would be happy to make any changes in my life that would improve my relationship with God. I had maxed out all my daily time and could only increase spiritual practices by shifting my time around and I was looking for guidance. I mentioned specifics, such as working more or working less; spending more time in nature or less; spending more time with my loving friend or less; spending more time with my kids or less. As I said those words, I could feel that inside I was open to any possibility without an agenda. Then I said: meditate more or less. As soon as I said meditate more I felt a rejection inside. It was painful in comparison to the vibe I had been feeling. I immediately knew, I must meditation more and I immediately realized how I could do it!

On another occasion, I asked God what is the biggest attachment which I need to let go of? Immediately my nightly phone calls with my friend came to mind and I felt ill as I thought about letting them go. I knew it would hurt my friend temporarily. But I also knew that it was time to stop. I had to spend a couple hours in nature focusing on that ill feeling, while loving my surroundings, before my heart and mind felt balanced again.

At other times I receive guidance from my surroundings. For example in 2009, I was very enthusiastic about my plans to be a Holistic doctor. I had talked to many people about it. I had not thought about writing on the topic, until one week I had three different people say that they would love to read my book when its done. For the first two people I said “what book”, but by the third one I realized it was a message for me:).

I have had to approach my new career slowly because my ego likes to attach to it and use it to get attention. This spring, after taking a break from working on my mindbody paper, I had a couple totally different people inspire me to pick it up again, after saying some kind words. When I picked it up again, I realized that indeed my experiences had grown and my paper was ready for a revision.

With this increasing spiritual presence and guidance, a deeper confidence comes forth. Although I still experience some intense ups and downs mentally and emotionally, I don’t believe those thoughts or feelings like I used to. With the spiritual presence as a comparative state of being, I am able to observe those stormy times without identifying with them. I am more oriented and less confused throughout these storms. Yes they are definitely more INTENSE, but I also know with more surety that they will pass even quicker than before. And in their wake, I continue to experience a growing sense of gratitude and strength. I am starting to recognize some of my ego directly and seeing the purpose of human suffering. Maybe the most encouraging discover that I have had, is that despite all the mistakes I’ve made, people I’ve hurt, and negative mind chatter I’ve listened to… I could still be graced by this presence. Part of me had feared that I had done something irreversibly wrong. Yet with each return of this spiritual presence I am comforted to know that it is okay to make some mistakes as long as I am willing to recognize them, change and move forward. All those who wish to know this presence directly, I encourage you to review your life in relation to the Cyberspace Ashram’s teachings. Surely with persistent efforts and openness, you will come to know this natural state of being too and let go of anything that stands in the way.

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Christmas Preparation 2011

The Christmas season is very important to me.  If I wish to experience the loving presence that graced me in 2008, I know that I need to put forth full efforts to improve my attitude and lifestyle all year round.  There are many life changes that I’ve made this past year as part of my Christmas preparation:

1.  Stopping and Noticing;  I have forced myself to slow down and notice my surroundings.  When I shower, drive, eat, walk, listen or shop, I often feel an intense “sense of urgency”.  I have learned to slow down in spite of that driving force connect and with my surroundings.  After repeatedly applying this technique, I have started to enjoy my shower, my drive and my meal more.  I also recognize the needs of those around me more.  Many people just really need someone to fully listen to them, without judgement.  I learned that when someone really wants to talk to me, that is an opportunity for me to accept their love.  Other people just need someone to recognize that they are suffering and be there with them.  In these situations in the past, especially when working with patients, I used to feel discomfort while listening to them and think “I need to go back to working…I cannot wait for them to stop talking” and I would excuse myself.  Now I almost always let people keep talking until they have nothing further to say.  I notice that they are much happier and the next time I visit is much smoother since I have fully heard them and addressed all their concerns up front.  As I have slowed down, I have also noticed that I was bypassing many very needy people.  I was often worried about having enough time for my spiritual practices.  But I have discovered when I surrender to the needs of those around me, my spiritual practices have become easier and more adaptable.  For example, I can now meditate almost any time of day and my sleep demands have reduced by about 1-2 hours.

2.  Integrating with Nature;  I wish to some day be living integrated with nature.  To prepare for that dream I have made several changes in my life this year:

  • I started aerobic composting this year using kitchen waste and dry leaves.  As the year has gone on, the compost is getting better and transforming quicker.  Already I have used my first batch on my house plants and seen immediately amazing results.  I found Mike McGrath’s Book of Compost to be invaluable.
  • I also started a mixed organic veggie and flower garden this year (and I prepared gardens for a couple of my friends).  I started from seed and enjoyed many fresh flowers and foods this fall.  I am learning to organic farm in a garden using nature’s support.  I let the weeds grow and let the wild animals have access to the food.
  • I spent more time in nature than in 2010.  I went for many meditative walks after work.  I hugged many big trees.  I found this was very important for me and helped me to break free from some very uncomfortable emotional states.  I feel very safe and care free in nature and I can often keep this attitude when I return to work and my family.  I use nature to help prepare for my kriya yoga too.
  • I befriended bugs.  I have made an effort to look at, pick up and let all types of bugs be with me.  I have especially worked with bugs that I felt repulsed by, like earwigs.  Also on my nature walks, when I am in a meditative state, I let mosquitoes and flies bite me.  I remembered Yogananda mentioning this in the Autobiography of a Yogi.  Initially there is an intense anger in me from the pain that results, but then suddenly the pain and the anger dissolve and my body relaxes.  I choose to surrender and each time that I practice this, the bug bites bother me less and less.  In fact, after one intense session I was graced by the most intense loving presence for the rest of the walk.
  • I cleaned up my local park.  In the spring of 2011, I brought a couple plastic bags every time I visited a local park and filled them with trash.
  • I started feeding the animals around my home with bird seed and produce.
  • I planted a pear tree and some flowers at a scenic resting point on one of my favorite trails, as part of my annual blessing ceremony.

3.  Saying Yes;  I noticed more and more places to say YES.  I say yes to my kids more, even when every bone in my body wants to rest or be left alone.  I say yes to my friends more, even when my mind says “that won’t be any fun”.  I say yes to my employer more, even when I know it will add hours of more work in my day.  I say yes more because after a day of saying yes, eventually all my work is done and my mind and body fully relax.  I can then really enjoy peace, knowing I’ve done my best.

4.  Saying No Sometimes;  I have had to say NO sometimes when it was REALLY hard to.  I realized that some things I was doing only out of guilt, not out of love.  For example, instead of being more available for my kids personally, I was substituting by giving more money to their mother.  I was scared to stop doing this, because my ex-wife and I were finally friends.  But I realized our relationship was still dysfunctional because it depended on me giving money.  I finally moved closer to my kids (and farther from a friend of mine, who I had become attached to).  Once doing this, I stopped paying extra money.  Of course my ex-wife was made, but eventually she befriended me again and our relationship is much healthier than it has ever been (but there is still much work for me to do).  I also had become accustomed to talking to my good friend for 1-2 hours every night.  Initially this was a resource because we shared our days’ experiences and learned from each other at a time when there was little spiritual connection.  But as I my spiritual awareness grew, I became more aware of my ego and I could see that this was mostly an ego based activity.  It was very hard to say no to those nightly calls because I knew it would really hurt my friend’s feelings.  But I did and we have both grown closer to God from the separation that occurred.

5.  More Kriya;  Until the spring of 2011, I had forgotten my plan to steadily increase my kriya yoga after my first year of “warming up”.  In the spring of 2011, I remembered that plan and had a melting of some resistance to meditating.  I could suddenly see how my ability to let go of thinking and instead feel love in meditation, was allowing me to feel more love through out my day to day interactions.  I increased from 3 hours daily, to 4 hours about 2/3 of the time and 6 hours 1/3 of the time.  In October, I increased to 6 hours most days.

6.  More Random Acts of Kindness;  Inspired by the “I love you exercises”, I melted more and more egos in my life.  I started working at a free clinic.  I always bring flowers and give them to my patients.  I started humanitarian work, helping to repair homes for homeless people who are in the process of changing their lives.  I’ve given flowers, plants, food and money to complete strangers.  I connect those who are spiritually ripe to any resource they are willing to take (books, websites, movies).  I have started making more and more fresh organic food and for Thanks Giving I brought it to the hospital to share.

7.  Shrunk My Carbon Footprint;  I traveled much less in 2011, by choosing a job closer to home.  I also moved closer to my children, to reduce the driving time (and increase my availability to them).  I bike and walk more, drive less.  I recycle my kitchen waste (in the compost as mentioned above).  Next month I have made arrangements to start to take a train on my monthly commute to work.

8.  Reduced My Debt;  In 2011, I satisfied all my divorce expenses.  I recently paid off all my student loans.  I also met with the bank which I owe a large amount of money for my previous home, which sold for much less then it cost me to build.  I agreed on a payback settlement over three years, but I hope to be able to accomplish this in one year.

9.  Redefined My Job;  I have worked hard to develop the tools and skills needed to eventually be a spiritual doctor.  In 2011, I updated a paper that helps me bridge what I know spiritually with what I have learned medically.  I have also gained other skills while working as a neurologist to ease my transition into my future career.  As a spiritual doctor, I will be dealing with some of the most needy and intensely suffering people.  I now spend more time counseling my patients.  When in the hospital I go straight to the most intense situations and have significantly improved my ability to relieve tension for all those involved.  Every month my confidence grows that I can handle more and more challenging patients.

10.  I love my Guru even MORE;  during 2011, my Guru became more available for guidance through a private FB group (available to any serious God seeker, see the public FB Cyberspace Ashram).  I also have started re-reading the Cyberspace Ashram spiritual teachings again and applying the principles even more deeply.  I downloaded the free Cyberspace Ashram toolbar, which has made it easier to surf the website and stay connected to the teachings.  My relationship with Hans has grown and my loving connection with God has also become directly palpable again.  I see more and more work to do in my life.  Yet it is becoming more and more clear where exactly to put my full efforts.  This was one of my very first intense prayers to God…”I am willing to do any work for you, just please show me where to put my efforts”.  I thank God for clarifying my perception and inspiring more loving action in my life.

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The Christmas Eve Experience

On Christmas Eve of 2008 an unexpected and life changing experience occurred. Prior to that, I had no real spiritual interests. Enormous amounts of energy had been focused on my medical career, a new family and a home. Despite having achieved all of those goals in 2008, something was missing. Instead of a sense of accomplishment, I was feeling trapped by my possessions and the complex lifestyle that was needed to keep them. Although I had many comforts in my life, I was unable to fully enjoy them. The disconnected state had become so familiar I had thought nothing of it, until the spring of 2008. It was then that I finally had some free time and noticed my inner discomfort. First I decided I needed to physically cleanse. I did the master cleanse lemonade diet. It helped. But something was still missing. Then, I was given a book by Eckhart Tolle that was spiritual in content, but written in a very neutral way. I resonated strongly with the message. I was convinced that if I wanted peace and satisfaction, I needed to slow down, and learn how to enjoy the here and now. I needed to simplify, reconcile and earn a sense of accomplishment through meaningful work.

Initially I looked for a “method”. I read many books. I eventually found the online spiritual teachings of the “Cyberspace Ashram for Kriya Yoga”. I must admit the repetitive use of the words “God” and “Love” and the presentation of this website seemed cheesy. But something about this set of teachings had me hooked. Something kept me coming back to read more. An energy was awakening within me. I continued to read and the teachings spoke directly to me. My body recognized the truth and the truth ushered in a growing sense of freedom. One of the major messages was law of karma. That “what we do to others is done to us (especially in our thoughts and fantasies)”. Another major message it that love is the essence of this existence and we can experience it regardless of our situation or past, as long as we learn to express it wholly, no matter what. It is the law of karma or “cause and effect” that is mentioned in virtually every spiritual teaching. Very few individuals fully recognize and act upon this important law (even many spiritual leaders), because the effect is delayed from the cause. We just cannot see it happening. As I saw the many ways in which my mental habits and lifestyle were causing suffering, I quickly began to change my intentions and behaviors.

For example, although I worked hard for my family’s happiness, I did not notice the needs of many other people around me. I was constantly being driven by a “sense of urgency” through out my day, unable to stop and really soak in my surroundings. Even though I acted like a relaxed guy (and truly thought I was), my vibe spread tension to all those I met. Despite working hard to make my family happy, I couldn’t truly appreciate them or make them directly happy because of this tension.

I identified another major personal issue. I couldn’t tolerate mistakes well. With my wife and family this manifested as an inability to let them learn and do things on their own. We cannot learn without making mistakes. I always knew “the best” way to do it and tried to make my family happy by doing everything for them. This was exhausting for me and dis-empowering for them. I stole opportunities for them to become strong members of the family, because I could not watch them fail without getting frustrated. Nor could they fail without feeling like a failure.

By 12/23/08, I realized that deep changes needed to occur in my life if I was sincere about following the spiritual path laid out in the cyberspace ashram. It is an all or none venture, requiring that I make major life and attitude changes if I wish to truly succeed. When I applied what I was learning to my patients, I realized that most of them were suffering… not primarily because of a physical disease, but because of a holistic problem with their lives. A holistic problem that manifested physically.

At that point, I knew that I was going to change my entire career and to down size my home and belongings. That night I couldn’t sleep, so I went and laid down in my children’s bed. While lying there, I fully committed to changing my life forever and knew that I needed to inform my wife of this… but it was 2am on 12/24. I couldn’t wake her up. Within seconds of making this strong commitment… she came and found me! She had awoken and noticed I wasn’t sleeping in bed. It was clear to me that this was an opportunity to break some very tough news to her, while the kids were asleep. I told her of my major change in life purpose and life plans at 2am Christmas eve 2008.

Over the next several days my entire family tried to persuade me to change my mind. The teachings did not speak to them, to the same depth that they did to me. Despite the turmoil created by this change, I felt safe. I was enveloped by the most powerful loving presence. My head and heart radiated an intense, yet soft, buzzing, energy. There was no need to defend my position or argue. Fighting just manifests more fighting experiences in ones life. I chose to love all my surroundings. Without warning, the behavior of people I interacted with changed. People I barely knew let down their guard to share major personal issues with me, some would cry. Children were magnetized to me and would just come in stare in my eyes or sit on my lap quietly. They just enjoyed the loving presence. My mind was quiet and my body was relaxed. I had all the time in the world. I was satisfied.

Serendipity popped up in every facet of my life. Just when I needed support, a high school friend called me “out of the blue” to see how I was doing. I had no idea exactly how I would make the major changes that were needed in my life, but guidance came from many people and many sources, just when I needed it. Whatever had happened to me eclipsed any experience I had ever had and is difficult to put in words. But I had a taste of something which we all really need and want. Now there is nothing in this physical world that attracts me, like the loving presence did.

The loving presence, radiated from me intensely for about 10 days. However, there were several circumstances were I found myself entering an aggressive mind set. Some behaviors were so habitual that despite a resolve to change, I had slipped back into them. After each incident, the loving presence waned. Over a couple months I lost complete connection with that loving energetic presence. I had received a taste of unconditional love, but now it was my responsibility to reconnect through my own efforts. My efforts have been slowly, but surely successful. I am driven by a desire to develop spiritually and this loving energetic presence continues to guide me and reconnect with me. I wish that all others may know this presence too, on whatever path they choose.

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Introduction to Roger’s Blog

I have created this blog as a means to share my spiritual path with others.  I hope that my experiences help others progress spiritually.  I first started a spiritual blog at this site:  http://www.myspace.com/rogergietzen.  Due to the improved features offered by the word press blog, I have decided to switch here for further posts.

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