All posts by Mindful Leader

Cecilia B. Loving is Deputy Commissioner/Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the NYC Fire Department. She also served as an attorney for the NYC Commission on Human Rights, and was a litigator at Patterson Belknap; Kramer Levin; and the Legal Aid Society. She is founder of the Mindfulness Group at FDNY, as well as Co-Chair of the NYC Bar’s first Mindfulness and Well-Being Committee. In addition to obtaining her Juris Doctor from NYU School of Law, Cecilia obtained her BFA from Howard University, MFA from UCLA and M.Div from NY Theological Seminary. She has written several books, including Prayers for Those Standing on the Edge of Greatness; God is a Brown Girl Too; God is a Lawyer Too; and Seeing Myself as God Sees Me. She also writes blogs and articles, including “Mindfulness: Being in the Now Without Bias, Blame or Shame” (Catalyst, April 19, 2018).

RELEASE THE PAST AND BEGIN AGAIN by Cecilia Loving

Rev Loving listening to SpiritI was watching one of the cat fights on The Housewives of Atlanta, and as much as I love all of my beautiful sisters, it reminded me of the need that we all have for forgiveness and release. If we let go of the past, we free up so much energy to be productive in the present. When we aren’t bickering and hating, we have a lot more energy to manifest the change that we need in the world. The irony was that the “reality” television show was juxtaposed by continuous advertisements about brown girls starving in Africa.

We have a lot of work to do, but everything that we give to others begins with ourselves. We have to start by loving ourselves. Only then can we share the powerful love that we need to give to each other.

The following is an excerpt from my book, Prayers for Those Standing on the Edge of Greatness. It’s about our need to let go and release the past, which is part of the journey that we will be taking at the God is a Brown Girl Too “Opening to Consciousness” Retreat (www.godisabrowngirltoo.com).

The most important lesson I learned in the past decade is that forgiveness is not for the person I need to forgive; forgiveness is for me. When we hold resentment against anyone, we DSC_0343bind ourselves to that person; we give that person power over us, so much that the blockage interferes with our spiritual awareness.

In Romans 12:2, Paul said, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The more we change our level of thinking from being limited to what we believe we can do in the physical world, the sooner our prayers can be answered. There is no question that God can answer our prayers by God’s grace, despite our failures or refusals to center ourselves in Christ consciousness. But when we realize that Spirit is always allowing us to manifest our desires through the right state of consciousness, we relieve our suffering and begin to manifest our goals with greater ease.

In Jeremiah 29:11–14, the prophet tells us that God said, “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” True prayer, then, is the act of seeking God with all of our heart, which is seeking Spirit without the baggage of hurt or resentment that we all love to lug around. True prayer is the process of centering in divine love by releasing and letting go.

beauty elevenJohn said “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) True prayer or communion with God is the realization of the love that expresses as us; we are made in the image and likeness of God. When we truly pray, we embrace that image and likeness.

* * * * *
To have the clarity to let go, we must open our eyes and see people, places, relationships, circumstances, and situations without denial or resistance. When we open our hearts with forgiveness rather than condemnation, we can accept that our spouses will not change simply because we want them to, that they are on their own path, learning their own lessons, which have nothing to do with us.

We can accept that our parents did the best they could and are doing the best that they can and their criticisms of us have nothing to do with us, but are reflections of their own struggles. We can accept the past, realize that past mistakes cannot be changed, and move forward.

We have to accept that people are in our lives only for a season, and when that season ends, we have to let them go. We cannot control the manner in which people make decisions, andmirror 3 we must respect them for who they are, regardless of our differences. We also have to recognize that sometimes people will not accept us for who we are; however, that is not a sign that we need to change.

Instead, it is a signal for us to go on about our Father’s business. We cannot change other people; they have to do that for themselves. But we can change how we allow other people to impact our lives and how we use our thoughts, gifts, and energies when we relate to them.

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BREATHING LOVE by Michelle Bernard

yoga 3Every time I tell someone that I teach yoga, they respond by saying something like, “I can’t even touch my toes,” or “Do you have to stand on your head?” Most people assume that their body must be pretzel-like before they can do yoga.   What they don’t understand is that the practice of yoga is far richer than touching one’s toes and much more than the mere movement of one’s body. Yoga has been marketed with images of quirky, tattooed, thin, new age, free-spirits sitting in a lotus position, or posing with one leg stretched up to the heavens, or standing contemplatively on their heads.  So many people attend yoga classes hoping to tie their legs behind their necks, tone their bodies without becoming “bulky”, or sweat profusely in the hope of melting away excess pounds.

Western culture has placed more emphasis on the physical rather than the spiritual aspect of yoga, despite theYoga 6 profound transformational  potential of this ancient, spiritual practice on body, mind and soul. I found my way to my first yoga class in 1995.  I was in my twenties and living in Hollywood pursuing the life of an entertainer.  Ironically, I was also battling the demon of depression.  The path my life as a singer no longer felt fulfilling.

I was suffering from  the awareness of dishonorable choices that I had made in my personal Yoga 7life and was unable to free myself from them.  I needed desperately to change my life — both in terms of my career and my personal relationships, but I didn’t know how to begin.  I really didn’t know how to re-direct my energy.  Moreover, I had no idea who I really was beyond the person that I had turned into.

I knew that the latter was not me, but I didn’t know who I was beyond the identity that I’d developed so far.  I was afraid.  Fear devastated me.  I was living in darkness.  And in this darkness, I was blind. But something led me to the Hollywood Y, a place where I could teach step aerobics and stretch classes.  So when I took my first yoga class, I did it merely so that I could  learn new Yoga 12stretches to incorporate in my fitness classes.

The yoga class was held on the basketball court upon a sea of thick, blue and gray Velcro-attached gymnastic mats.  The teacher, a brown man draped in a white, cotton loin cloth and a crown of bound “locks” spoke very little, like a guide. All I remember about the physical poses was standing with my arms at my side and breathing (tadasana, the mountain pose), standing on one leg and breathing (vrksasana, tree pose), and lying on my back and breathing (savasana, corpse pose).  What I never forgot was how the brown man spoke.  He was gentle, calm, compassionate, loving.  He wasn’t speaking to the physical me; he was speaking to my soul.  He was moving in oneness with my spirit.

And for the first time, in a long time, I felt an inner peace, that flowed from my own spirit.  I remember how quiet I became inside.  He guided my mind towards my breath, breathing in and breathing out, in and out.  There was peace in the breath.  There was peace in the stillness.   I found comfort.  I could begin again in the darkness.  I could breathe through it; and it wasn’t as foreboding. When I thought about the transformation that I had witnessed through the love of  breath from my own body, I was moved to tears.  I cried on my walk home.  Ninety minutes of standing, rolling, moving, breathing . . . .  had awakened something. I kept attending the Yoga Class at the Y.  I kept standing in mountain pose, engaged in the deep breath, guided by my teacher.

Through the stillness, through the energy, through the breath, I began to see more clearly — despite the darkness within.   I began to look at life differently, and I began to listen.  And there it was.  An illumination.  Great Spirit was with me, speaking to my soul, and showing me more of my Self than I’d ever seen.  I saw the essence of me.  I saw new courage.  I saw that I was capable of releasing the old Self.  Spirit was breathing in me the strength to uproot and recreate in a direction I had never considered.

I aligned with a deeper part of my essence.  Yoga, I realized, was not simply stretching; it was stillness.  It was the stillness that I needed to go within, the stillness that I needed to hear the Great Spirit, the stillness that I needed to move forward in peace. From those yoga classes, my life changed forever. Michelle Bernard is a licensed yoga intructor and personal trainer, as well as the owner and creator of  exquisite and original jewelry — each piece of which is an original work of art. 

See www.aboutpebble.com; www.thewanderingpebble.blogspot.com  Michelle is also facilitating two Retreat Workshops, “Breathing Love” and  “Transforming the Body.”

GOD’S LOVE EXPRESSING AS US by Sherri Roberts-Lumpkin

DSC08154[1]Mother Teresa put it aptly when she wrote, “I am a tiny pencil in the hand of God, writing a love letter to the world.” But would God use me — a brown girl — to express love in the world?   The answer is yes.  Love is part of the very fiber of our being — not separate from who we are; it was created when we were created and it never stops creating itself.  Love is in our hearts; and we are in the heart of love.  As John says, “[e]veryone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”  (1 John 4:19) Many brown girls the world over suffer from a lack of self-esteem, which is really a lack of self-love and self worth. We are inundated with so many negative opinions of us — from the media, family and friends, or our own minds. We are obessessed with who we aren’t, what we aren’t, what we haven’t done, how we don’t look, where we haven’t been, why we can’t — rather than focused on the love of God blessing us and lifting us unconditionally.   Roberta Flack sings, “where is the love?”  To find love, we have to stop looking outside of ourselves and dig deep within.  We have to release the beliefs that society imposes on us, as well as our own self- imposed negative thoughts about ourselves. The best way to start loving yourself is through forgiveness.  We have to forgive society.  We have to forgive the world.  We have to forgive ourselves.  We have to forgive the haters and even the discriminators.  We have to forgive those who hurt us.  We have to forgive those who Sherri Lumpkin Photolost our trust.  The amazing thing is that forgiveness is not for the other person, it is for us.  Forgiveness opens our hearts to accept the love that is always inside — and by so doing, forgiveness creates spaces to accept the love of others.  Brown girls need love like everybody else.   Brown girls have a tremendous capacity to love too — because we are here to radiate the love of God as us — in our beauty, in our rhythm, in our warmth, in our strength,  in our wisdom, in our creativity, in our dance, in our song, in our power, in our intelligence, in our compassion.  The problem is that we need to believe that we are the best thing that ever happened to us — not a man or a job or an opportunity — just us.  When we brown girls truly begin to believe in our self-worth, then we will begin to pass our love to the world. The Ragbaby Exchange uses doll-making to help release the layers of self doubt and unforgiving attitudes to uncover the love and beauty of the brown girl.   The magic of making and embracing our love through dolls is healing. Doctors use dolls to calm patients with dementia. Social workers and therapist use dolls to help victims of abuse express what has happened to them. Children hold and play with dolls to comfort them but while playing they learn how to be nurturing. God is a Brown Girl Too 2010 Retreat 032The Ragbaby Exchange engages participants of all ages in doll-making as a way to express themselves. The dolls becaome their self-portrait.  This self-portrait begins the process of discovery that brings about a sense of acceptance of one’s own love and beauty. Through our doll-making workshops, we peel back the layers of negative thoughts and allow you to: • express your thoughts and emotions in healthy growth producing ways, • gain a sense of accomplishment, which helps move you toward self affirmation and divine potential, • learn to forgive, accept and value yourself and others, • see your own inner beauty and feel the love inside of you. Once we can see our own beauty and feel our own love expressed through this doll, we are able to be that tiny pencil. Through our release and acceptance of self, we become the words in God’s love letter.  When we decide to pass our beautiful loving self-image to another person, in effect, they are given a love letter from God, which says, “I love you.”  Peter said,  “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  (I Peter 4:8) Change your life by joining me at God is a Brown Girl Too, and start a chain reaction of spreading God’s love with a little brown doll filled with your love.   Sherri Roberts-Lumpkin, Founder/Creative Director,  The Ragbaby Exchange, will be doing some fantastic workshops at the Retreat, using the power of dolls to transform a Brown Girl’s love and appreciation of herself.

CREATING WEALTH, by Myreah Moore

listeningCreating Abundance is about the good that we desire — regardless of how it takes shape. Good can be health, relationships, creativity, funds — whatever you need, when you need it. The most important thing about prosperity or abundance is that it is always available to us. Jesus said, ask and you shall receive. The only limit on our ability to receive is what we place on it. We should claim our good on a daily basis. This is demonstrated by the fact that there is not a particular class or race or culture that attracts wealth. Wealth is attracted by people who emanate the type of energy and focus and joy that empowers them to manifest prosperity. If there is a specific type of person who attracts wealth, it is someone who is confident, creative and connected with the Inexhaustible Supply of the Universe. You might be able to identify them by their buoyancy, synergy, clarity, or wisdom. You might be able to feel their serenity, grace, or compassion. You might be able to see their gifts and talents and accomplishments. They come in all shapes, sizes, ages, cultures, religions, and ethnic groups. But — unlike many people — they all know that they are blessed and highly favored.100 Even when everyone else is suffering from the appearance of a disastrous economy, those who are prosperous keep wearing the blessing of favor. How? Because they have transcended, looked beyond, lived above, lifted up their consciousness from what others are complaining about — and instead have connected with Infinite Source. Infinite Source is unlimited, flowing in the realm of spiritual ethers. It is our choice to see a cup half full or half empty. And like anything else that we can choose, we can choose to have a prosperity consciousness. We can choose to celebrate what we have and believe that we can always be supplied by Spirit. Our desires should not be the empty cup, but the full cup of our good seeking us. Our desires help us understand that we are more than merely human; we are divine. Through our divine nature, we can develop and maintain a consciousness without the limits or lack or doubt or fear that would keep us from demonstrating the abundance of God. There are millions of ways to demonstrate our good. Four simple steps, for example, can used to create a consciousness of wealth: 25The First Step is believing that you can create wealth. The Second Step is cleansing your mind to receive wealth. The Third Step is being clear about your wealth goals. The Fourth Step is invoking the magic number of increase. I will talk about how to implement all of these steps during my God is a Brown Girl Too Workshop: “Creating Abundance.” But in the interim, remember that you are a child of God, a child of a loving Mother-Father-God — always blessed and highly favored. You do not depend on people or conditions for your prosperity; they are merely channels. You bless those channels but at the same time acknowledge that Spirit is the sole source of your supply. Through Spirit, your good will flow to you effortlessly and easily. Through Spirit, you will always be guided and directed. The doors to your victory will open at just the right time that you need to enter them. The channels to your prize will bring forth the right people, circumstances and situations. The pathways to your success will lead you to the triumph of a resounding “Yes!” All you have to do is know that “Yes!” is the resounding Amen to all that you desire.

BROWN GIRLS DON’T NEED TO WORRY: OUR WORK IS DONE, by Cecilia Loving

God is a Brown Girl Too 2010 Retreat 235When we are called to do something, the work that we know we need to do in the physical world is already done in the spiritual world.  Jesus said ask and you shall receive.

This is simply another way of saying, it is already done, but asking and believing are the tools that you need to use in order to see your desire take shape.  

This is easy, simple stuff that is so hard for us in our human-ness to do.  But Jesus taught us that we are gods. 

So when we are Spirit-moved into action, Soul-motivated to accomplish a goal, we don’t have to worry about how it will take shape. ownership 12

God always does the work that God appoints us to do. 

The right people will show up to help us, mentor us, bless us, guide us, prosper us.  The right situations will unfold.  Even if we can’t see the finish line, the road will rise us to meet us, and show us the way — when we are tuned in and turned on to Spirit.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a multimillionaire from Scarsdale or a brown girl from the South Bronx, the same God is blessing you from the same Infinite Source. 

When the news is burdening your soul with the appearance of lack, it is even more important to affirm for yourself, my work is done.   When you truly believe that it is done and you speak it boldly and courageously in your life, Spirit will knock you over with the abundance of success.  You will find that you don’t need to be captive to a consciousness of lack because God is always making a way out of no way. 

You will know without a doubt that all of those things that you need in the material world are manifesting right now.  

You will start recognizing the pure potential that God is expressing as you. 

ownership 6You will begin to embrace the divine legacy that is yours because you know that the Word of God — spoken from your lips to the ears of the Universe is as good as it gets. great 7 You won’t need to tip-toe around the periphery of your greatness because you will acknowledge that Spirit expressed through you is the omnipotent creator of the shape and form and texture of everything in your midst! 

 My work is done!  So you can awaken to the truth that Jesus taught — that the Kingdom of God is within us.  And in that Kingdom of God, everything that you want, that you need, that you plant — is done. 

When we can say affirmatively and powerfully that it is done, we know that we do not need the economic appearances of health, the promises of others, the limited resources that we see in the physical world: the only thing that we need is the full and complete understanding of our divine nature. 

When we say it is done, we really do walk by faith and not by sight.  We really do step through our self-imposed boundaries and move into a new existence.  

 

 

WHERE DO I BEGIN TO SEE THE DIVINITY WITHIN? by Cecilia B. Loving

God is a Brown Girl Too 2010 Retreat 134For ages, women and girls of color — of every nationality, ethnicity, and origin — have been dehumanized, marginalized, enslaved, murdered, raped, or otherwise oppressed — as the “least” of humanity.  But we are all Gods.

As the Bible teaches, whatever you did or didn’t do for the least of us, you did or didn’t do for God.

Whatever you did or didn’t do for your brother or sister who suffers from poverty, hopelessness or despair, you did or didn’t do for God.

Therefore, self-empowerment, self-enlightenment, and self-love for those often viewed as the “least of us” is the starting point for this ministry — because the liberation of God is a Brown Girl Too 2010 Retreat 073those most in need is the catalyst by which we all obtain salvation.

We must not only celebrate “brown girls” of all ages and hues, across every race, culture, country, sexual orientation, and self-expression — but also uplift everyone who needs  uplifting.  Somehow, through the passing of time and the re-writing of history, we have lost our divine legacy, or have simply turned a blind eye to the truth that we are spiritual beings in physical form.

The Bible says that God created human beings in “our image, in our likeness . . . . male and female” God created them (NIV Genesis 1:26-27).   This teaches us that God is not the proverbial old white man in the sky that so many of us grew up imagining God to be, but that each one of us are — as Paul said — temples of God, made in God’s image and likeness.

In Romans 8:9, the biblical witness said “Ye are not [merely] flesh, but… the Spirit of God dwells in you.”  In John 10:34-35, Jesus said, “it is not written in your law, I said, ye are Gods.”   In fact, Paul said that we “live and move, and have our being” in God (Acts 17:28).

DSC_0253If we really believe that God made all of us in God’s image and likeness, we should have no problem believing that each one of us, including the “brown girl”, is a God, too.  This is meant to expand the notion of humanity’s Oneness with God.

The oldest bones of the mother of all civilization were found in Africa.  If the brown girl, who is the foundation of all life, has become disconnected from spiritual Oneness, then so has all creation.

But if the brown girl can realize God as herself, then so can all humanity.  We are not authentic because we are religious but because we realize that we are power; we are love; we are truth; we are Spirit; we are Gods.

The truth, Beloved, is that we don’t need anything or anyone other than this full and complete understanding of our divine nature because when we know that we are divine, then we truly begin to experience the same consciousness that was in Jesus Christ.

The knowledge of this Truth is the Kingdom of God — without which, we will never be full and complete.  In God Is A Brown Girl, Too (© 2009), the Legend reads:

who will discover  the bones of the plain brown girl
whose skull is as old as time
buried deep in the recesses
of prayers long forgotten, 

older than Lucy’s bones,
older than Eve’s mother,
older than dirt. soul-sings-illustration-1.jpg

                                                            who will look long enough
into her empty sockets,
who will dare to see themselves
gazing there.
who will find the courage to lift
their legacy out of the realm of
the forgotten,
and speak the Truth
once again.

Not that we’re looking for God,

but, Oh, that we have found Her.
Listening
angel

SPIRITMUV® (www.spiritmuv.com), founded by Cecilia Loving in September 2007, exists to build a community of like minds dedicated to self-transformation through the cultivation of spiritual development.  At the heart of its teachings is the principle that the Kingdom of God is within us (Luke 17:21) and that we all live and move and have our being in Spirit.   The following are some of the services that SPIRITMUV provides: a meaningful, motivational, life-transforming worship service every Sunday (www.spiritmuvvideo.com); a daily meditation (www.spiritmuvmeditation.com); online spiritual messages at www.spiritmuvblog.com),  workshops and classes on spiritual principles (see, e.g., www.godisabrowngirltoo.webs.com).  Reverend Loving is the author of Prayers for Those Standing on the Edge of GreatnessGod is a Brown Girl Tooand God is a Lawyer Too: Ten Laws of Unlimited Successas well as several workbooks.