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Man MeditatingCounseling/Guidance
Life is meant to be fulfilling, both meaningful and enjoyable;
Life is also inherently challenging, painful;

Therefore, Life requires awareness, understanding, capacity and skills
in order to see the meaningfulness and remain in the joy.

And when we don't have what we need Life's challenges turn into suffering; we become stuck.
This is the purpose of counseling-to free and empower you to live Life fully.

Kurt and Karen

Navigating the Psycho-Spiritual JourneyLost

Life is meant to be fulfilling, both meaningful and joyful; Life is also inherently challenging, even painful.

Therefore, life requires awareness; And from awareness: understanding, capacity and skills such that we may see the beauty and remain in the joy.

When we donít have what we need Lifeís challenges turn into suffering; we become stuck. This is the purpose of counseling: to free and empower you to live life fully.

. . . the Psycho-Spiritual Journey
When exploring foreign countries I have found it common to encounter other travelers, and regardless of our diverse countries of origin, I find that what we have in common stands out—our being sojourners in a distant land. But one important factor has become apparent for me. I’ve found that it is those who have done some traveling inward, those who have dared to know themselves and dared to know something of Spirit that get the most out of visiting distant and foreign lands. It amazes me how relatively few people actually cut loose and go abroad, but even fewer venture inward. I have found that in traveling inward there are, similarly, vast distances and horizons, exotic tastes and wonders,hazards andrewards. And it is such an inner journey that frees us to truly see the world around us. Such are the rewards of venturing forth into Living Awareness.

Markers, Maps, and Guides:
Geographical explorers have always done their best to consult navigation charts, maps and tools, always valuing the most accurate and comprehensive they could find. Unfortunately, many documents abounded that were vague, incomplete or questionable, sometimes leading to disastrous outcomes.

Map with compassThere are uncharted spiritual seas and lands enough as well, so it is wise for spiritual explorers to carefully search for reliable maps.

Furthermore, forms of navigational information vary greatly. They can be the simplest signposts, markers, or compass headings; or they can be elaborate maps with recorded accounts of magnificent detail.

They can be full of metaphoric images of serpents and flying dragons or they can have the precise measurements of science behind them. Each in its way contributes a significant truth.

The realm of venturing inwards is no different. Sadly, most of us, whether stranded on the shore or pinned upon the rocks from pounding surf, have been or still are, tangled and bewildered in a morass of poor charts and navigational aids. These are not healthy and accurate psycho-spiritual tools; they arise from our fears and shame-based conditioning.

We certainly don't want to remain lost or stranded. And we gravely need awareness of expansive and rich destinations so we have something better to move toward. Finally, we need the tools to point us in the right direction and guide us along the way.

Martial Arts ClassWhen it comes to the psycho-spiritual, there is an enormous range of "maps" and "markers." Some are as simple as symbols that represent archetypes, meant to remind us of deep truths and focus our attention on them. Some are simple descriptions found in chants, rituals and ceremonies.

Some are dramas and myths handed down through generations, often in song or story.

Some are systems reflective of the complexity of reality: whether ancient scriptures and religious treatises or more modern philosophies or theories of human health and development. Optimally we can find what's truthful in each of them and create an "integral" navigation system for our journey through the Cosmos, both outer and inner.

Many people make one of two mistakes. They either drift around through life bumbling into things - these are those whom the world's major religions say are living an illusion, asleep or blind. Sadly, they neither seek out maps and navigators nor venture into the inner realms on their own to "rediscover" the beautiful islands, coasts, planets and riches they contain.

This group includes all those who live compromised lives, settling for "getting by" in life, no matter how dull and unrewarding that may be. Often, they defensively ridicule others who have made mistakes or encountered some misfortune in their ventures.

Then there are those who seek out maps, swear by them, but get lost in them. They never get beyond living their lives through the maps and travel books. These are the armchair psycho-spiritual travelers who never leave the comfort of their favorite rituals; the dogmatically-religious (however severe or subtle) and the "theory-bound," hiding within the witty reasoning of their ego.

No, venturing into and through this life fully with your eyes wide open is not for the faint of heart. But the rewards are beyond measure.

And the "treasure maps"-the symbols, proverbs, stories, religious disciplines and theories of humanity-the best of them-are wise and helpful for our journey. We simply need a healthy relationship to them. Some contemporary "navigators" and "mapmakers" such as Anthony DeMello and Eckhart Tolle serve as examples.and their guidance can be wonderfully liberating.

Map with compass
One can get lost in the Cosmos .or worse, one can get lost in a multitude of maps.

Either way, however-no matter how good the "maps," we eventually have to leave them behind and venture into land and sea, sky and space that is new to each of us. Can you imagine sitting in the driver seat of your car, holding a large, unfolded map in front of you-your whole view obscured by the map-and yet you try to drive the car? Yes, it is wise to consult the maps and travel books. But then we have to put them aside, step out and truly live our own lives. Eventually, we have to take some risks and put up with some of the discomforts of travel in order to truly deepen ourselves psychologically and expand ourselves spiritually.

Perhaps the best psycho-spiritual maps indeed show an edge to the world, a place where we either “fall off” or we make a deliberate leap of faith. Because this place is too difficult to sketch it’s often referred to as mystical in nature and, for that matter, those who’ve ventured there have traditionally been called mystics.

Definition of Living Awareness
To find images of beasts shrouded in fog on the charts at these nether-lands beyond the "known world" shown in ancient maps is somewhat appropriate for our inner journey. After all, this is where we may encounter the 'dark night of the soul' on our way to the heavenly places. Indeed, the "drop-off" is aptly shown as our usual reliance on our beliefs and emotional responses become wholly inadequate and must be left behind in order to reach these next realms.

Hand pointingAll of this is perhaps best summed up by the adage of the raised hand with an extended finger. Many, unwilling to face the pains and responsibilities of life, suck on the finger finding infantile comfort. Many others, full of shame and condemnation, use the finger to gouge out their eyes-or the eyes of others. Some even pontificate on the gesture and published all their findings. Nearly all make shrines of the form and worship it. And then there are the few who see the finger for what it is, a marker that points beyond itself to the Truth. These are they who appreciate the gift that it is, willingly aligned themselves with it, and leave the marker (teaching) behind as they venture forth and make contact with Living Awareness.

Note: As a presence-centered counselor I will set an example, provide pointers and encourage you to venture beyond what is known for your own realization.

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