Dr. Julianne Hanson

Psychologist - Chaplain - Intuitive

Ask Dr. Julianne

Posted by admin - December 29th, 2011

Aloha Dear Ones,

It’s a beautiful day on Maui, sky the color of the, “Sky Blue,” crayon in your childhood box of 100 Crayola Crayons.  Big, round, white clouds float above the horizon.  The trade winds have been up for the last few days, tossing palms about, fanning the sea into long, peaking waves that shine silver in the sunlight.  It’s a good day to explore the mystery.

Yesterday I was telling you about my experience as a Unity Church chaplain, and how the practice of evolutionary spirituality has been impacting the prayers I say in church.  I shared about being asked to give the opening prayer at our Christmas Eve service, held in a larger public venue than our regular meetings, attended by widely diverse mix of people.

I was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the sacred celebration of the birth of Jesus. Christmas Eve was the most precious night my devout, Lutheran parents spent with my older brother and me each year.  Christ’s birth was proof of God’s love, manifest on earth.  For our stoic, Scandinavian family, it was the sweetest emotional connection we experienced.

The prospect of giving the opening prayer at the Unity Christmas Eve service also made me feel anxious about, “getting it right.”  I wanted to celebrate the Christ who was, “the Son of God,” and, “the son of man,” while honoring Unity’s belief that all paths lead to God, while being available to the emerging call of the evolutionary impulse.  It makes me smile, days later, the notion of being worried about getting mysteries so beyond my intellect, “right.”

My main concern was my ego casting it’s pervasive shadow on the message, of the prayer that could be for the greatest good being distorted through the lens of my egoic conditioning.  After all, this would be the biggest stage I’d been on, in the active role of chaplain.  My bravely choosing to, “not hide your light under a bushel,” would, of course, not proceed with smooth purity, however pure my intention.  Our human condition predicts our ego rising up with our altruism showing up.

Let me explain the way, “ego,” is meant in this spiritual context.  We are not referring to the ego proposed by Freud in his three part model of human consciousness.  Freud described ego as the psychic structure representing the conscious self, that mediates between the id, the unconscious, and the superego, the parental/socially-constructed conscious.  In this model, the ego is our friend, helping us sort through drives and patterns of which we are unaware, and the influence of cultural expectations.  When modern psychologists use the term, “ego strength,” they are speaking of a healthy self concept, a cohesive, resilient personality, able to function successfully in the world.

Ah–were it that simple.  For those of you who are saying, “Well, it is,” I’m feeling you. Really.  Let’s just say that functioning successfully means different things to different people at different times.  Many people brilliantly successful by worldly standards long for a deeper experience of life, for meaning, for truth, for freedom, for love–for the real thing.

People wanting more of the real thing become seekers, either diving more deeply into the philosophy and religion of their family traditions, or exploring other cultural and spiritual practices.  Sooner or later, seekers discover a teaching about humanity living in the illusion of separation, of being separate from the essential mystery that set life in motion, and from each other.

As seekers, we passionately want to break through that illusion, but how can we see clearly? We begin to de-construct the story that created the illusion of separation from God, from each other.  All the conditioning from eons of evolution, from culture, family, religion, all the defensive patterns developed as we make our way in a challenging world–this is what spiritual teachers refer to as ego.  In psychological terms, we might call this ego the false self, the conditioned personality self, automatically analyzing each moment in reference to past threats, responding with learned defenses.

Yes, we can see pieces of Freud’s three-part model of consciousness throughout the spiritual definition of ego, but let’s not make ourselves crazy.  Maybe it’s time for an article in, “Psychology Today.”

O.K., back to Christmas Eve and giving the opening prayer.  To be able to show up in the moment, free from patterns of less than/more than, deeply resonating with Christ consciousness, available to the Holy Spirit/evolutionary impulse, was my intention.

I remembered Craig Hamilton (IntegralEnlightenment.com), with whom I’d been studying evolutionary spirituality, saying something like, “As we become more aware of how our ego works, are able to see it kick in,  and then choose to act in ways more aligned with the greater good, the ego’s hold on us lessens, with practice.  But we always have to assume it’s there. We always need to be willing to see more clearly, to ask for feedback, to go forward with the humility of not knowing for sure.”

My response to this truth was mixed.  It was kind of a relief to know I couldn’t know, I couldn’t guarantee clarity.  I also felt overwhelmed by the scope of this inquiry, the complexity.  I had to release the hold my mind was taking, to let go of trying to get it right.  I said a simple prayer, “Beloved Presence, thank you for showing up on Christmas Eve for the greatest good, beyond my personality self.  I give myself to you, I lay my stuff at your feet.”

For the next week, I was aware of a caring presence, most of time just holding me. Sometimes, I became aware of a phrase, a feeling, that could be a sweet, deep part of the Christmas Eve prayer–but I had a sense of being guided towards something, rather than being given the thing whole. I meditated in an open way, intending to cling to nothing, yet gratefully receiving loving grace as I awoke to it.

On Christmas Eve, I arrived at Iao Theater early (not my pattern–I really must have been motivated beyond my usual conditioning:), hugged some friends and found the seat reserved for the prayer chaplain.  There was a flutter of nerves in my stomach, and a flood of visual and auditory sensation as I took in the preparations for the service, the musicians, the choir, the hula hui.

For a half hour, I sat in stillness.  There was a serene, expanding aliveness, that seemed to be the nature of everything.

The service started.  I knew the opening prayer was after the first carol. The woman who was platforming was also leading the carols.  After  the first verse, she motioned me to come up on stage.  I carefully climbed the steps (yes, in heels too high), and stood beside the singing woman, thinking the carol was about to end, smiling as I joined in singing what I thought was the last phrase.  We didn’t sing more than two verses of any other carol that night, but, by God, as I stood in front of 500 people, I discovered  we were going to sing all four stanzas of, “Joy to the World.”

Now, who knows those last two verses?  I certainly didn’t, but here I am, singing away, hoping my memory will be jogged.  My spirits were bright enough through the third stanza, but my memory had not been jogged much at all, and I had faked half the words as best I could.  As my partner on stage zealously began the fourth verse, I felt a sinking sensation–a decision had to be made.  Was it better to stop trying to sing, would that be more authentic?  If I didn’t sing, would it detract from the field that was being created, would it distract someone?  Would I be less connected to everyone who was also trying to make it through that tune?

As these questions are swirling through my mind, I happen to glance down and catch the eye of the only woman in our regular congregation with whom there is an ongoing discomfort (she said something nasty about me years ago, and hasn’t accepted any reconciliatory gesture).  O.K., it could have been the lens of my ego, but I could have sworn she was smirking.  She was close enough to see me faking the lyrics.

I could not go there.  I chose to stay with the carol, singing the words I could make out.  I put my focus on the woman who was leading the carol, watching her lips, letting her words be mine.  I didn’t match her all that well, but I let go of needing to get it right.  As the music ended, I gazed around the room, marveling at all the souls, at the one soul, present.

My partner on the platform introduced me.  I looked into the faces across the theater, took a breath, made eye contact with a few more people, and began, “Sweet Beloved Presence,”…all of a sudden, my friend on the platform decided the microphone needed adjusting.  She fumbled with it, finally removing the mic and in a stage whisper, told me, “I’ll just hold it.”

It felt like the whole theater held its breath, waiting to see, well, more where the energy would go, or what the quality of it would be, rather than what would happen next.

Magically, my personality self stopped being triggered, stopped worrying, stopped needing to figure out or control anything.  I gently put my hand on the mic, lifted it to me and resumed praying.  I felt connected with the soul of everyone present, in that serenely alive awareness I’d experienced meditating before the service.  I can’t recreate the prayer, but I would like to share my memory of it with you.

“Sweet Beloved Presence, we know that your love created all that is.  We know that your love, and your grace, and your mercy, are the only true powers at work in our lives.

Beloved Presence, on this night, we celebrate the birth of your love as Christ Jesus.  We know that you loved us so much, that you sent one in form to be a way show-er, to teach us how to know you more, to love you more, to teach us how to love each other more.  We rejoice in that Christ light.

Yet, even as we rejoice in the birth of Jesus, we know that there are those here with a care on their hearts.  We are aware of our brothers and sisters around the world who need our love now, and so, Beloved, we claim the power of your love for these dear ones, not only for ourselves.  We put our awareness on the space between us, knowing that in the space between, there is a deeper, higher reality, a truer experience of your love emerging.

Sweet Dear One, we lean forward, together, into the edge of that space between us, into that pure love, knowing that in that holy space, healing is possible, transformation is possible, knowing that together, the power of that evolving love is so much stronger than any challenge we could face alone.  We open ourselves to your living Presence, that we may hear with the ear of the heart, that we may truly receive your love, as we give thanks for the gift of Christ.

Beloved Presence, we release this prayer unto your deep heart–we rely not on the brilliance of our minds, nor on our conditioned personality selves. We place our trust in the perfect unfolding, on this night, in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

And so it is.  Amen.”

Love and blessings,

Dr. Julianne

 

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Ask Dr. Julianne

Posted by admin - December 28th, 2011

Aloha Dear Ones,

It’s very early in the morning on Maui.  The need for rest and reflection has been foremost since Christmas Eve.

I’ve been a Unity Church chaplain for almost 10 years.  About a week before Unity’s Christmas Eve service,  I was asked to give the opening prayer.  I immediately said yes, then the scope of the responsibility set in. I wondered if I could show up the way that was needed, if I could be available to that deep edge of my being that allows the Holy Spirit/evolutionary impulse to come forth.  I didn’t want my own personality conditioning, or my human mind, to write and deliver a prayer that would just sound good–I wanted a truer voice to speak.

Unity Church on Maui (unityonmaui.org) started having the chaplains give opening prayers for Sunday services about six months ago.  We tend to follow a format for affirmative prayer used by many, “new thought,” groups, such as Religious Science.  This form of affirmative prayer, sometimes called, “five-step prayer,” focuses on acknowledging divine presence, aligning with this holy presence, affirming one’s intention, giving thanks and releasing the prayer to divine outcome.

For the past few months, my prayers have increasingly included evolutionary language and concepts.  I find myself saying things like, “Beloved Presence, we know that there is not only this now moment–there is also this now moment, becoming–we lean forward, together, into the edge of that becoming, into the space between us, for in the space between us, there is an awareness emerging of our essential unity, of a deeper, higher love that is our true nature, a sacred reality that is so much more powerful than any challenge we might face on our own, that is becoming stronger each day.”

I pray with my eyes open, looking into the eyes of people around the room.  When my prayers at Unity became more evolutionary, some people whose heads were bowed began to look up at me, with an expression both surprised and curious.  As I continued to pray, I saw people’s faces soften, open, then seem to brighten, with a quality of hope.  I especially noticed that when words of, “leaning together into the space between us, where we are more available to consciousness emerging, where there is a love and wisdom awakening between us that is so much stronger than any trial we face alone,” that some people sat straighter, some began gently crying, all appearing to release isolation, to embrace connection.

Together, with my brothers and sisters, I felt the sweet comfort of being one heart , and with that experience of unity, a deeper motivation to do the right thing–for God, for myself, for these people who are part of me, and who, with me, are all part of God.

Each time this happened, I was left with a feeling of amazement.  I would come with a frame for the occasion on any given Sunday, but never write a prayer, always allowing it to unfold in the moment.  I grew to trust that a greater presence would show up, in this new, exciting way, and felt a precious alignment with our small congregation.

On Christmas Eve, attendance is always much larger.  Unity moves its service to the Iao Theater in Wailuku town, which seats about 500.  A wide range of people come, mainland visitors from traditional churches, new age Mauians on a variety of paths, and locals.  I felt some trepidation about giving the opening prayer with this bigger group, with such different beliefs and expectations.  The concern was about my egoic conditioning. Could my personality self get out of the way enough to express as the evolutionary impulse?  Or would the false self feel compelled to put on a show on this bigger stage?

My ego wasn’t my only concern.  There was a call on my heart to truly honor Jesus as the birth of God’s love in form, as God’s love made manifest for humanity.

Unity was founded by a passionately Christian couple, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.  Their intention was to explore Christ consciousness under a big umbrella, accepting that all paths lead to God, welcoming people of all faiths to come together to study and celebrate a greater truth of being and living. My experience in Unity was that while every effort was made to acknowledge the beauty of all paths, there was at times a reluctance to speak of its Christian roots.  There was a sensitivity to the number of, “recovering fundamentalists,” in the Unity movement, those who had been wounded in conservative Christian churches where they experienced condemnation, and who could be offended by the mere mention of Jesus’ name.

I get this–and, there is an expanding awareness that allows us to heal, to hear with the ear of the heart.  My former Unity minister, Rev. Mary Omwake, told me about a conversation she had with Rev. Michael Beckwith, of Apage, in Los Angeles.  He said, “Maybe we are healed enough now to start talking about Jesus again.”  Amen.

So, how do I honor Jesus on the night we celebrate his birthday, on a Unity platform, being available as the evolutionary impulse, without my ego staging the gig?  What would you do?

This post is becoming so very long–I need a little food and a walk along Ma’alaea Bay.  Can I tell you tomorrow what happened?  Thank you, Beloved.

Love and blessings,

Dr. Julianne

 

 

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Ask Dr. Julianne

Posted by admin - December 25th, 2011

Aloha Dear Ones,

It’s Christmas Eve, the most sacred night of the year for the Christian community.

If you’ve read my last couple posts introducing evolutionary spirituality and evolutionary relationship, you might be wondering, “What does Jesus have to do with it?”  For me, coming from a conservative Lutheran home, Jesus Christ is an essential part of the divine mystery.

Exactly what part of the mystery Jesus plays has been a central question of my spiritual journey.  As a child, there wasn’t a question about the role of Christ on Sunday mornings. Nor was there any question of Jesus’ role in our home on a daily basis, as my devout mother reminded the family to show the love and forgiveness demonstrated by our savior.

I remember my first questionings of the fundamentalist interpretation of Bible scripture.  It was one of the Sundays our small mid-western church had a visiting missionary.   As he earnestly shared stories of victoriously converting the poor heathens, thereby saving them from eternal damnation in the fires of hell, I experienced an unfamiliar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I had heard these stories before, but somehow, on that morning, there was a malaise that gripped me, an awareness that was encroaching upon six years of the best-intentioned conditioning (yes, I was only six).

I accepted that God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to show us how to love each other. My parents tried to follow Christ’s example, and they were very loving towards my brother and me, and to our neighbors.  God must be happy with them, and me, I assured myself. Maybe God would be happier with people from other countries if they followed Jesus, too–but would God, who loved us so much, really send them to hell forever if they didn’t?

I just couldn’t buy it anymore.  The veil of separation from those who had appeared to be different from me was in place for six years, and then simply had to lift.  I remember sitting in the pew, watching the missionary’s face increasingly flush as he admonished us about the torments of hell waiting for the unconfessed, and thinking to myself, “he’s trying to be good, he just doesn’t understand that God and Jesus love everybody, no matter where people live or what kind of church their parents go to.”

So, there you have it.  I cannot pretend differently, my dear friends who subscribe to the orthodox doctrine of the exclusivity of Christ Jesus.  The condemnation of those from other religious traditions that I could not stomach as an innocent child, I cannot accept now.

Yet, my relationship with Jesus continues, grows in depth and breadth.  My capacity to understand and appreciate the miracle of his birth, his living example of  divine love in human form, his sacrifice, his promise, increases as I experience my own heartbreaks and joys along life’s path.  I identify as a Christian.  I often find myself in between cultural/ spiritual groups, not enough Jesus for some, too much for others.

During the first year of my immersion in the Evolutionary Life Transformation Program (ELTP), an online, global, evolutionary spirituality community created by Craig Hamilton (IntegralEnlightenment.com), I helped create a small, “Interest/Learning Group,” for Christians within the larger group of students. Together, we explored our relationship with Christ, and the impact of the evolutionary perspective on our personal experience of Jesus.  All of us were passionate about embracing the evolutionary impulse urging us to expanded our identity as, “We,” aligned with sacred deep care, God, and becoming responsible for living as that.  All of us discovered an even deeper, realer connection with Christ throughout this process of inquiry.

What does Jesus have to do with evolutionary/integral spirituality?  He is the best evidence of it I have found.  How, exactly, it all works, I don’t pretend to know.  I only know that on the eve of his birth, my heart rejoices.  I believe that Christ is God’s love made manifest.  My life is more aligned with his teachings now, than ever.  Even though I tremble with the enormity of that not yet known, I can tenderly, fiercely, look into the eyes of my little six-year-old self and say, “You were onto something, sweetie–keep asking, keep finding.”

Happy Christmas Eve.

Love and blessings,

Dr. Julianne

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