Your humanness and your human experience are to be Accepted, appreciated, and cherished for what they truly are. Being in human form is the most exquisite opportunity for Awakening. Your human experience, your unique Earth School Curriculum, is a Spiritual Blessing especially selected, chosen, and carefully packaged by and for you. – Ron and Mary Hulnick
Did you also find the title striking? If that’s not enticing enough, how about “A Course in Soul-Centered Living”? I was easily drawn to it!
But do you know what struck me more? I’ve read the book description and came across “Spiritual Psychology.” What? Yup! Fascinating as it may sound, Drs. Mary and Ron Hulnick clarify that psychology, which we know as “the science of mind and behavior,” was derived from the word psyche that actually translates to phrases such as “breath, principle of life, soul.”
Sounds like it got a little lost in translation. And so it became Mary and Ron’s calling to restore the spiritual dimension to the heart of psychology, hence the term “Spiritual Psychology,” which they define as the study and practice of Conscious Awakening.
The book is in fact based on an actual course facilitated by the authors themselves at the University of Santa Monica where they offer a master’s degree program.
This book gives us the experience of taking a seat in the class, with all the lessons, and the exercises and assignments that follow at the end of every chapter to assist us in living a Soul-Centered Life — an inspired life filled with love, meaning, and purpose.
The Line of Awakening
Due to our indoctrination into a Goal Line orientation to life, it’s tempting to think of the process of awakening as one of becoming more loving. Thus, we try to turn the process of spiritual awakening into a Goal Line project, which is one focusing on achievement. However, it is impossible for you to become a more loving person. You can’t become what you already are – a Divinely inspired loving being. So what can you do? You can become more and more aware of, and awake to, your inherent loving nature!
First off, the two lines of life: the Goal Line and the Soul Line
The Goal Line of Life refers to the physical world reality. We all know this stuff — set the goals; achieve the goals; succeed. There are opposite polarities (negative and positive) and we move towards the positive end. And as we’d like to perceive it, the more positive, the better and happier our life becomes.
On the other hand, The Soul Line of Life refers to the spiritual reality. As we can see, compared to the Goal Line, The Soul Line has no polarities. The only way is up. And that only way is Love. This is the Line of Awakening. In the spiritual context, we call this “ascension.”
What do we ascend to? Higher levels of Consciousness. In the Awakening process, we become more and more aware of our inherent nature — Love. (Mary and Ron specifically describe our essence as “Loving”)
So we don’t really need to set a goal to be more loving or more awesome because that’s who and what we already are. We only need to become more aware!
(See also insights from The Seat of the Soul, The Vertical Path)
It is empowering to clarify your intention. You not only begin to engage in actions that propel you forward in harmony with your intention, but you also experience the taking of dominion within your own consciousness, which results in inner and outer cooperation. In truth, in your world, your word is law. Thus, you experience the empowerment that comes from Clear, Positive Intention.
Because there are two lines of life, it is important to consider whether we are setting the intention for the Goal Line or the Soul Line.
Goal Line intentions are all about aligning our thoughts, behavior, and actions with regard to achieving tangible results in different areas of life — relationships, finance, health, career, etc.
Soul Line intentions, meanwhile, are more aspirational in nature. Here are some examples:
- My intention is to see myself, others, and the world through Soul-Centered eyes – the eyes of my Heart – aka “Seeing the Loving Essence” in Spiritual Psychology terminology.
- My intention is to fully participate in practices that foster and nurture my awakening
Mine, which I usually recite as a prayer of intention is “to become a channel of love and a beacon of light” in everything I do (goals).
Whatever you come up with, may it always be for the greater good!
What’s Stopping You
In our experience, fear of the unknown – be it expressed as comfort, security, control, or any other ego pattern – is the single dynamic that stops more people from moving ahead in their lives than any other factor. This is why it is so difficult for many people to break addictions and other habits that do not serve their aspirations. They are unwilling to be with their fear long enough to allow it to run its course. The familiarity of their habitual addictive behavior is stronger than their intention.
Fear of the unknown – the single dynamic that stops people
Let’s break it down to the major ego patterns that are causing it:
- Comfort – involves seeking to make choices that support familiarity; living a small life, refusing to shine your light, and sharing your gifts with the world
- Security – engaging in behavior that provides a sense of safety
- Control – the “master addiction,” which is based on ego’s search for security; staying in the comfort zone; maintaining the status quo, where it believes it knows how to win the game of life
Now, how do we break these patterns? We’ve got to face our fear.
Ron and Mary say that we must be willing to venture into the unknown and do whatever we’re afraid of doing. It is by going through the experience that we come to realize that there was really nothing to be afraid of in the first place.
In our experience, silence is a gateway to profound peace. It is also a doorway to your awakening and the revelation of your Authentic Self. In order to hear the deepest wisdom of the spiritual heart, it is necessary to give yourself time and space for contemplation, reverie and reflection. When you withhold the gift of silence from yourself, you are effectively blocking access to the wellspring of creativity within and the wisdom, inspiration and guidance of your soul.
Listening in the silence while attuning to K-LOVE invites your heart and its spiritual gifts to come forward. It’s a key to meditation and experiencing the inner communion, the oneness and Divine Love that you are.
What station are you listening to? Is it the loud, judgmental K-EGO station? Or is it the lovely music of inspiration, creativity, and wisdom of K-LOVE station broadcasting unconditional love 24/7?
By default, we find ourselves tuned in to K-EGO. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, we can make use of its rational perspective as we move along the Goal Line. In Mary and Ron’s words, the mind is a tool to be used in service to the heart.
So how do we switch our tuner to K-LOVE? We need to tune in to silence and cultivate the practice of what’s called “Heart-Centered Listening” in Spiritual Psychology. It is where we can hear the voice of Love — the small, still voice that operates in higher-vibrational frequency.
Perception Checking is versatile, practical and powerful. Performed in conjunction with Seeing the Loving Essence and Heart-Centered Listening, it results in clear understanding and greater intimacy in relationships. Remember, when people feel heard (which includes feeling understood), they feel loved.
Here comes our 3rd Soul-Centered skill: Perception Checking.
Mary and Ron describe it as a way of slooowing down a conversation and checking whether you really understood what has been said to you. It’s a skill of consciously checking the degree to which you accurately perceive what has been said up to that point in the conversation.
When you’re in a conversation with someone and the other person takes a pause, you may say, “I want to be sure I’m understanding what you’re sharing with me. What I heard you say is (x) and (y). Did I get it?”
If you didn’t, gently ask if they could share their message again, because you really want to hear and understand them.
How sweet it is to be really heard!
What do we mean by Neutral Observation? Let’s suppose that you enter into an experiment with a bias, holding fast to preconceived notions about how the experiment should go. If it doesn’t go that way, you may very well come away disappointed and frustrated, perceiving that it wasn’t a very good experiment. However, if you enter the experiment with no particular expectations, you’re free to neutrally observe and experience the results of the experiment based upon nothing but the what-is-ness of the outcome.
Ron shares his personal experience of the power of neutral observation. During his freshman year at college, in one lab experiment they conducted, they were asked to give their observations about the behavior of the rat in the cage.
The cage was set up in such a way that the rat had access to the lever. Small pieces of food would be automatically delivered through a small passage to the rat whenever it pressed the lever.
Their professor only mentioned that the rat has not been fed for three days. That was it and nothing more.
So Ron wrote in his observation that the hungry rat learned to press the lever to get some food.
To his surprise, when the paper was returned to him, the words hungry and learned were highlighted and next to them was written, “You did not observe this.”
Ha! Observation, not assumption.
A neutral observation would simply state that there was an increase in the amount of lever pressing of a rat that had not been fed for three days as a result of following each lever press with a pellet of food.
This is how the skill of neutral observation can assist us in the process of awakening. We learn to assume nothing. There is no right/wrong approach. We learn how to see from the perspective of our Authentic Self.
The Gateway to Freedom
Acceptance is the gateway to freedom. Believe it or not, you really do have the power to choose to move through this gateway by simply observing and neutrally acknowledging what is.
Ron and Mary’s definition of Acceptance is simply “truly being okay with what is.”
Easy? To understand, maybe. But to put it into practice is where it becomes challenging. And mastery of this skill is quite another thing.
Based on their observation, here are the 5 types of Acceptance that pose a challenge to people:
- Acceptance of What Is. Accepting what you observe without any emotional charge or judgment of whether it’s good or bad.
- Acceptance of Self. Accepting all of you — your humanness, as experienced through your personality or ego, and your Divinity, as experienced when you awaken to your Authentic Self.
- Acceptance of Others. Acceptance based on the understanding that in spiritual reality, everyone is a Divine Being having a human experience.
- Acceptance of the World Just as It Is. Accepting whatever happened and whatever is happening on our planet.
- Acceptance of God. Accepting the possibility that there is more going on in our lives than what we observe in physical world reality; that there is a purpose behind it all, regardless of our beliefs.
Ron and Mary affirm that coming from a place of Acceptance provides us great leverage. We can experience ourselves as calm, clear, and in balance, as we choose what our response will be and what action to take, without experiencing ourselves as upset or disturbed.
Reframing Issues as Blessings
Remember, how you relate to the issue is the issue. Or, said another way, how you relate to your Self while you go through the issue is the issue. Healing and Awakening begin here.
Did you know that the French word for “wound,” blessure, has the same root as “blessing”?
Enter our next Soul-Centered skill: Reframing Issues as Blessings.
Ron and Mary present us with a higher perspective of seeing life’s everyday challenges as opportunities that open the door to freedom. When we reframe our minds, our attitude automatically shifts from upset, judgment, powerlessness, and resistance to one of acceptance, compassion, and authentic empowerment.
Here’s a practice you can do: identify at least 3 challenging situations that trigger unpleasant emotions for you. Then, for each situation, ask yourself the following questions and write your responses in your journal:
- What learning opportunity might this situation be presenting to me now?
- What opportunity do I now have for awakening more fully into the awareness of the loving being that I am?
More than words, Compassionate Self-Forgiveness is a process of releasing judgments that naturally results in the experience of Loving. It is a process in harmony with Awakening and recognizes that we are humans really doing the best we know how to do in any given moment, even though our performance sometimes falls short of our aspirations. Compassionate Self-Forgiveness provides a way of distinguishing, affirming, and experiencing the Loving essence of who you are independent of your thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Compassion + Forgiveness. Does it sound like a powerful 1-2 punch combo to you? It does, and indeed it is! Only that it doesn’t knock you out. Instead, it awakens you.
Ron and Mary call it the “Cosmic Delete Button,” the antidote to the pain and suffering resulting from judgment.
“To err (judge) is human, to forgive is Divine.”
Forgiveness reminds us of our Divine essence — Loving. It makes us remember Who We Really Are — Love.
Why compassionate? Because compassion makes the process of forgiving easier. Compassion opens your heart, so you can see where you are wounded and heal it with forgiveness.
If you got a thorn in your hand from picking roses from a rose bush, would you be more concerned with blaming the rose bush or getting the thorn out of your hand?
Compassionate Self-Forgiveness is the process that releases the thorn from your hand.
Yes, it’s important to engage and participate in physical-world reality, as it is the stage upon which the game of life is played. Simultaneously, you become more aware of the deeper Spiritual longing, the yearning to answer the Calling of your own Heart, to Awaken into Spiritual Reality, and fulfill your entelechy – in other words, to Sing Your Soul’s Song.
New word: “Entelechy” – the actualization of potential
It means the full realization and expression of your Soul in human form.
For an acorn, its entelechy is to become an oak tree.
For us, Ron and Mary write two things: First, it’s our entelechy to realize that we are a pure emanation of Divine Love. Second, it’s our entelechy to stand up in our Authentic Self, sharing our gifts with the world.
How? Consider these 12 actionable keys offered by the Hulnicks:
- Set your intention to live a life of purpose and meaning, answering the calling of your heart.
- Ask for Divine guidance, “Given my experience, abilities, gifts and skills, please show me, in a way I can recognize and understand, how may I best serve?”
- Surrender your ego’s story of victimization, lack, and unworthiness.
- Choose to live in your new story of meaning and purpose. Do what you love.
- Let go of negative self-talk.
- Take time in the silence.
- Cultivate positive, supportive, and encouraging self-talk.
- Take one small step each day in service to answering the calling of your heart.
- Be willing to take risks.
- Cultivate a daily practice of gratitude.
- Reflect on your answers to these questions: What moves your heart and stirs your soul? What brings you alive?
- Commit to your awakening. When you awaken, your purpose will become self-evident.
Here’s to your Awakening to the Awesome Being that you are.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Drs. RON and MARY HULNICK are recognized worldwide as pioneers and leaders in the field of Spiritual Psychology™ and as Master Teachers and Facilitators of Awakening in Consciousness. As USM’s Founding Faculty and Co-Directors of the University of Santa Monica, they designed the University’s life-changing Programs, and they continue to serve as executive faculty.
Ron and Mary are both licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, and Mary is also a licensed Clinical Psychologist. They have been happily married for 38 years and reside with their beloved feline friends in the greater Los Angeles area.