Day 22 of the Feast
Dear One,

When I first started meditating, I thought I knew what a spiritual person was, what a spiritual life was, and what spirituality was. I was full of ideas. Now, I've been meditating for 30 years, and I realize I don't know much.

When I became a meditator, I put a bumper sticker on my car which read, "It’s all good". That's what I thought I should think. But my truth was that it wasn't all good. It wasn't good when my partner cheated on me. It wasn't good when I got a diagnosis of cancer, and it wasn't good when I didn't get what I wanted. But I overrode those feelings in lieu of "being spiritual." This caused a lot of stress.

Now, in the case of karma or the big picture, yes, it all works out perfectly. But when I was experiencing it, I just pretended my way through it. I did what’s called a spiritual bypass, because it went against what spirituality was. I didn't allow myself to feel my feelings. I thought that by avoiding feelings of being sad or mad was a spiritual way to be.

Do you have ideas of what spirituality is? How about your ideas of God? Or ideas of religions? Do these labels keep you from having the direct full-on experience of what actually is happening?

I want to share a story of peaches. You know what I'm talking about right? That fuzzy, sweet, stone fruit? In the summer, the four peach trees in the backyard of our house in Sedona blossomed beautifully, and soon offered an abundance of fat colorful peaches. It was exciting to go out there and pick them off the tree. There were too many to eat, so I made peach chutney, peach pie, peach tarts, and I'd bring them to my meditation center and give them away.

The aroma of fresh peaches is intoxicating. I would wipe some of the fuzz off of one, and take a bite. Though the juice would run down the side of my mouth, it’s a glorious experience to let the peach flesh explode with flavor in my mouth. No matter how much I tell you about this peach, you’re never going to have the experience of it. Instead, you’re going to have your own experience when you eat a peach. What you have here, is simply an idea or a story.

So, we can talk all day long about what these peaches taste like or look like, and like peaches, the same is true for the concepts of love, or God, or spirituality. Unless we have the direct experience of each one of these, we are trapped in a mental construct or gyration, without really knowing the object of our perception. Today, notice if labels get in your way of having a direct experience of something, whether it is a person, or a place, or a feeling.
Thank you for putting your spirituality first during this time of deep practice. I am practicing with you.

Love, Sarah

Sarah McLean
Director, Feast for the Soul, Inc.

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Meditation Teacher Highlight
Casey Bledsoe's prayer is that by loving and growing together, praying together, singing together, laughing and crying together, we can ease the burdens of this world and magnify its kindness, joy, peace and light, and thus fulfill our purpose as human beings - to bring Love/God to life and be truly happy.

Casey is spiritual guide, teacher, mentor, and minister on the path of universal mysticism. Who has studied intensively with profound teachers of the inner way, including Christian hermit Kelly Nemeck, renowned yogi Swami Sunderanand in India, and Senior Sufi Teacher and interfaith peacemaker Shahabuddin David Less.

Spiritual Practice Tip
There is no right or wrong way to feel while meditating.  

Sometimes you will feel like you could meditate all day, and other times you’ll want to quit. Also, all kinds of emotions will arise in meditation. Some of these you’ll like and others you won’t. Your job in meditation is to feel what arises, the actual sensations and emotions, and let them have their life. Also, when you notice you’re no longer feeling the feelings but are instead seeking the reasons for the emotion or contemplating the source of the emotion, that’s when you return to the focus of your meditation.

A meditation practice can be like brushing your teeth. You do it every day. It’s part of your routine. Some days brushing your teeth feels really good, almost satisfying, and other days, you just want to get it over with. You do it because you know it is good for you. You are not waiting for a fabulous experience. Instead, you have faith it will prevent disease. It’s the same with a meditation practice. Every meditation and the experiences you have in meditation are beneficial. However, no matter what your experience is during meditation, you will experience immediate benefits. Whether you “got to that peaceful place” or not, the benefits of meditation will show up in your life. 
Living the Feast
C reate a thanksgiving ritual every day

Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance , says, "You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."

I believe her. Being grateful is a practice of being innocent, being appreciative, and welcoming the present moment and everything this moment brings. There's an opportunity to practice gratitude all the time. But some of us need reminders or cues.

Maybe you can remember to say thank you when you first awaken. Or before you eat your meal. A formal prayer isn't required - you can easily bring your attention on what you're grateful for in the moment. You can bring your awareness to the elements, nature, and every one that had a hand in creating the moment.

And while I am writing about gratitude and appreciation, I want to take this moment to thank you. Because of you and others I am able to do the work that I love.

Right now, bring to your mind everything you are grateful for. Start with the basis, your breath, your senses, your body, your practice.... then go from there.
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