I remember the day I started to question my faith. I grew up Catholic and honestly had a very good experience with it. I love God. I felt the Presence in church. I loved the “band masses” we went to as a kid, where what I now call the “hippie church band” played 60s-style devotional music… “What color is God’s Skin? What color is God’s Skin? It is black. It is yellow. It is red. It is white. Everyone’s the same in the good Lord’s sight,” complete with bongo drums and banjos. I loved that. Even the pipe-organ masses were something else. I could feel the music flowing through my body. And it was fun, too, to see all the ladies in their fine dresses wearing lace veils that I covertly tried to touch when they weren’t looking. There was just something about so many people getting together to pray that felt good to me.

That said, some of the beliefs didn’t feel so good. While we sang about equality at band mass, some people in the church believed “our” way was the “right” way and the “only” way. That never made sense to my second-grade brain. If God made us all, why would they love some of us more? I didn’t accept that. The catechism taught us the Omni’s – that God was omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc.— all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful. If God was all present, well, he/she/it was in me and everyone else, and why would God not love itself? I had a lot of questions, but I was still raised in the religious tradition and wasn’t willing to question it to the point of changing my life… until I was in my young twenties.

A friend brought over a book he had been reading. I don’t even recall the title. It wasn’t one of the more famous ones. It was about the author’s experiences out of body at night, meeting up with various beings, some of them ETs. I read it and felt both unsettled and curious. What if everything we believe about heaven and hell was based on someone’s out-of-body adventure in the other realms? What if purgatory was just where the confused sat around until they got into the light? What if there was really no judgment? Then how would we all know what was right and what was not? I didn’t have the understanding I do now. I had only what I was taught, what I had accepted, and I was starting to wonder about the reality of it all.

I started to pray for answers, and books fell off the shelves in front of me during my visits to the local bookstore. Now, websites pop up! Back then, the real books jumped off the shelves. I started to read and learn about energy and other realms. Everything I’d ever experienced and all I believed started to make sense within the context of a much broader reality. My traditional faith had been shaken, but my questing led me to focus my feelings, with attention and action, on the love that I felt was the true nature of the Divine.

The path was a bumpy one. I had to dive within to make peace with myself and came to the conclusion that what lived within wasn’t what I thought I was. It wasn’t my thoughts, my actions, or my choices. What lived within us, I found, was something far greater.  

It was this faith, the faith the angels call, “focusing the feelings with attention and action in total harmony with love,” that has given me a rock-solid belief in things unseen. I no longer believe in the capricious mercy of an external God, because I’ve shown myself time and again that this magnificent love offers only a constant and steady stream of goodness. It is up to me to focus in a way that taps me into this stream.

I didn’t grow up with the advice to seek good feelings. In many unspoken ways, we were taught to suffer nobly. Jesus spent tortuous hours on the cross. I learned to suffer through my crosses too, until Jesus appeared to me years ago, and lovingly but firmly, “Get off the cross! I did that centuries ago!” It struck me as obvious when he said it. Why would we suffer on purpose unless we, like him and the rare few, were called to it? Why sit on a leg that is falling asleep in order to answer a few more emails? Why not get up and walk? Why eat a meal that doesn’t turn out well instead of blessing it, tossing it, and getting a bowl of cereal? Why try to be nicer and nicer to someone mean instead of lovingly turning away? I had never even questioned these things, but I started to ask myself all day, every day, “What feels better?” “What feels more like love?”

I still put up with things at times that I don’t need to. I still forget to focus my feelings at times. When I injured my knee and foot these past few years (being ungrounded is something I must beware of given my work!), I put up with the pain for far too long until a few months ago, I went on a focusing campaign to fix things, and of course, they’re now mending, and I no longer hurt. I’ll be back to hiking again soon enough.

It doesn’t take long to focus on something that feels better. It takes only willingness and perseverance.

First, we have to be willing to feel better. It sounds crazy to say we’re unwilling to feel better, but sometimes we aren’t. Sometimes, we want to stay angry because it is justified, and it makes us feel temporarily powerful. Sometimes, we are just sad and aren’t ready to move beyond that for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, someone has hurt us so much we don’t believe we can feel good.

When we’re ready and willing, we can feel better. When ready and willing, we can reach for a kinder thought or focus our feelings with attention and action “in total harmony” with love. There is always something to feel good about if we’re willing.

Secondly we just have to persevere and practice tuning. Sometimes it is easy, and sometimes it takes a lot of mental effort. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect and the more we taken finding good feelings seriously and put this into practice, the easier and more natural it becomes once again.

Children, animals, and the rare few who haven’t lost their natural state of being do this easily. I once watched a neighborhood child climb on top of the car parked in front of her house. She was having royal fun sliding down the windshield and rolling off the hood into the grass until she landed hard in the mud. She let out a good wailing cry, sobbed for a few moments, looked around, then wiped off her tears. She gave the car a fiercely indignant look for tossing her on the ground, then went on to play with her friends! Within minutes, she was laughing and enjoying life again.

The humorous post-script to this story occurred when her dad came out and saw her muddy outfit and torn pants. “What happened to you?” I saw the wheels turn in her mind! She turned on the waterworks and started sobbing, “I fell and hurt myself,” she cried. Daddy picked her up, soothed her, and carried her in while she grinned and waved to her friends. I laughed myself silly. That little genius knew how to feel good and knew how to play the “How I should feel” game just perfectly!

At this age, we don’t have to play the “how I should feel” game. We can just have our natural feelings and then practice the angels’ definition of faith by focusing our feelings, with attention and action, in total harmony with love.

Here are a few exercises to help you practice this kind of “faith” to cultivate the more widely accepted version of “faith” (belief in things unseen):

1.   Practice focusing on things that are easy to feel good about

Instead of trying to feel good about the tough stuff and the stuff we don’t enjoy, it is far easier to tune yourself into love by looking for easy things to feel good about. I don’t love doing accounting, but I do love my desk, my hot tea, my accountant, and the fact that I have such brilliant people who can answer all my questions and guide me.

I love the cushion on my office chair, the crystals on my desk, and the feel of my keyboard that practically sings under my fingers. I like the feeling of numbers adding up correctly and seeing the year in order. I love reminiscing about the events that are associated with each little receipt. Even though I’d rather be writing or talking to angels, I make the task fun by focusing on all about it that I can love.

If you can’t find anything good about a situation or person, do as Jesus advised and “turn the other cheek.” Look elsewhere, at something else that makes you feel better.

It is much easier to practice tuning into love when focused on things and people that are easier to love. As you learn to find the feeling of love, you’ll be able to call it from within you, even under tough circumstances, even when life doesn’t give you a good reason.

2. Collect Good Feeling Thoughts

Keep a photo album, a collection of quotes, a notebook of positive memories, or an inspiring book nearby so when you are in need of something positive, you have some tried and true ways to get there.

There are a gazillion ways you can surround yourself with goodness starting with having things around you that you love, to creating positive playlists, or stocking the fridge with healthy snacks that you enjoy.

However, you go about it, stack the deck in your favor by having things that can help you focus on good feeling thoughts whenever you’re in need of a little assistance.

3. Use symbol, ceremony, or action to put bad feelings aside or transform them

Of course, we have to handle some things in our lives that are unpleasant. However, we don’t have to give them more energy than they deserve. If someone is unkind or behaves badly and wobbles you, remind yourself that you deserve to feel good.

Write what they said on a piece of paper and shred or bury it as a symbolic release to reclaim your mind. I once wrote something nasty someone said on a piece of TP and flushed it! That’s about all the attention unkindness deserves.

Alternately you can transform unpleasant feelings by releasing the energy in a healthy way. I have clients who kick-box, use a punching bag, throw water balloons, or power walk. I’ve made art, written cathartic poetry and often cleaned house or weeded the yard to burn off steam. Raw energy, even if unpleasant, can be put to good use!

If you’re sad, have a good cleansing cry, and doing things that are cleansing helps you feel a little better. Take an Epsom salt bath. Eat foods that nurture your body. Curl up under a good blanket and feel its softness. Give yourself the space to feel so the Love that lives within can help transform those feelings.

In whatever way you can, symbolically put bad feelings aside or transform them.

My faith in how the universe really works didn’t come overnight. I didn’t blindly accept what the angels taught me, and what I read in the early days of my seeking. I tried things, went kicking and screaming at times, and eventually proved to myself that we are powerful energetic tuners. When we treat ourselves as “be-ings” that can tune rather than machines that have to act as we are “supposed to,” we can experience what we still call the miraculous in our lives. At the very least you will live a life filled with love.

In a world that tries to focus us on all that is wrong, there is so much good going on. I see it every day in the lives of good people, doing good things, reaching for more.

It is deep in the human psyche to desire a life lived in the flow of love. Thought-by-thought as we focus our feelings, with attention and action, in total harmony with love—if only starting with love and acceptance for ourselves—our lives begin to shape themselves in more beautiful and loving ways.

PS – My garden reminds me to have faith. When I plant a seed I have to believe it will grow and love on it till it does!

The post Faith as a verb first appeared on Ann Albers Visions of Heaven.

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