My Living Values Home Study Group Experience by Paula Bendel

Ah-ha Moments

As a group we had many ah-ha moments as a result of doing the Home Study program, so I’ve written about the three most powerful ones.  The first one is the groups ah-ha, the second one is mine and the third one is collective.

This first ah-ha moment belongs to the group.  While we were exploring the value of simplicity and discussing the reflection points, we arrived at the subject of mindfulness, one of my favourite subjects and as a group I felt that our consciousness was raised to a point where we really threw away those masks, we meant business.  We were talking about how we have read all the books, gone to all the metaphysical mastery courses, been attuned to this that and the other but all agreed that NOW was the time to be completely serious about the application of that knowledge.  Yes, knowledge is power but not if you don’t do anything about it.  We all agreed that we are at a critical juncture of life on this planet.  It seems to us that the world is on fire and so are the hearts of men, inflamed with fear and uncertainty because we find it so difficult to stay in the now.  As the refection point reads:

Simplicity is staying in the present and not making things complicated.

What an absolute gem of a statement and so powerful.  Being human we always have a choice in this regard.  We can be either passively carried along by forces and habits that remain stubbornly unexamined and imprison us by distorting our dreams and becoming potential nightmares.  Or we can engage in our life by waking up to them and participating fully in there unfolding whether we like it or not, it’s only when we wake up and stay in the present that we can address whatever is happening in our lives.  Only when we wake up do our lives become real and have the chance of being liberated by our own individual and collective delusions, diseases and suffering. 

How we see ourselves in the world at this juncture will make a huge impact in the way things unfold, what emerges for us as individuals and as a society for future moments will be shaped and measured on how we make use of our innate capacity for awareness in this moment.  It will be shaped by what we choose to do.

Living Values and the Home Study and that particular discussion on staying in the present to create simplicity brought awareness to how Living Values gain access to those dimensions that are presently hidden from us because we are not present, because we are seduced, trained, mesmerised and frightened into the future and into the past.  We allow ourselves to be carried along in the stream of events and the weather patterns of our own reactions and numbness, we obsess about what we artificially deem urgent and lose touch at the same time with what is actually important, what is vital for own wellbeing, for our sanity and for our very survival.  We have made absorption in the past and in the future such an overriding habit that much of the time we have no awareness of the present moment at all and thus feel that we have very little control over it.

 We all felt liberated after exploring the value of simplicity and discussing its benefits.  A new mindset unfolded as we released holding onto what was so we could be present for what is.

The Second ah-ha is mine. 

Continuing on with the week and immersing myself in the value of simplicity I sank deeper and deeper into the value, I don’t really think of having favourite values because clearly they all interact and all are equally important but having said that I have to say I love the value of simplicity.  As I mentioned earlier in the first ah-ha the group really got into a great in depth discussion on simplicity and arrived at some powerful revelations, we discussed how critical it is right now for us to take action on what is important to us and how basically we are sleep walking and how now is the time to wake up.  We talked about the choices we have and how mindfulness can help us to slow down and be present, thus choosing more creatively between a stimulus and a response.  And here's my ah-ha.  While I was thinking deeply on this I realised that when you truly are present, you can sense a witness, a sense that you are being watched, when you slow down, when you stop, relax and breathe you connect with your Creator, call it what you want, the God Force, the Universe or God, what you have connected with is love and when you connect to love you become love and therefore there is no need to even choose between the stimulus and the response because you have connected to love and what would love do, it would only ever do what love does, love.  That’s all it knows. I was excited to share this with my group the next week, a couple connected, the other two not so much but as a facilitator it was important to appreciate that everyone is where they are and it is all perfect no matter what.

The Third ah-ha was one we all connected with. 

We were discussing the value of responsibility and while we were defining the meaning as a group we discussed how we felt when we pulled a card with the word responsibility on it when we chose from the destiny cards.  (Cards that we all have.)  We all agreed that our energy sank because of the meaning that we had previously ascribed to it. So we took a few moments, closed our eyes and went inside to discover what responsibility really meant because if the value of responsibility is innate it should not have that kind of energy.  What we arrived at was a complete turnaround; we all came up with a new meaning for responsibility, all with different words and labels but all with the same feeling for the word.  We all felt that being responsible was an absolute gift because when you are responsible your focus involves others so you are more connected and united, and as human beings are social creatures that’s nice to know, nothing much surpasses the feeling of being connected to someone else.  We also all felt that when you are being responsible you are genuine and to be genuine you can’t really be wearing those hideous masks.  So being responsible really is an ally in removing the masks and a sneaky one at that.  We loved it.

Just Something I Want to Share With You

After exploring the value of Simplicity as many times as I have now, I have a more direct and impactful purpose for my life. I believe that the purpose of my life is to experience peace and my mission to accomplish this is to connect and share with people my message of creating more peace in the world.  I achieve this by continually educating myself, practicing mindfulness and raising my awareness to BE the change I want to see.

So it’s no accident that the Living Values Education program showed up right on cue for me.  Diving timing, I felt peace as a result of attending the program, Living Values give you the permission to be who you really are, to discover and explore your love and light, to step out of the illusion and gently remove your masks.

Then embarking upon the Living Values Home Study Program I experienced this peace week by week by exploring each value on a deeper level and striking a greater balance of bliss within my own life.  Each week I looked forward with excitement to find what other keys there were to unlock more peace and balance.

The real gift was experiencing the facilitation process of the Home Study with my group.  The program is about the participant and as the facilitator I had the privilege of witnessing the uncovering of the values to reveal the truth and beauty inside of everyone and it was a magical experience.  My Home Study Group incorporated games, metaphors, artwork, group discussions, visualisations and song and while I found that the games brought the most happiness and balance almost instantly, all the other means of exploring the values had their own way of seeping into the consciousness of the group both collectively and individually.  For example, when discussing the definition of a value the group always arrived at the feeling of the value, the very essence of the value, what it meant to each other when discussed using labels and words led to a more in depth realisation at the end of the discussion allowing that feeling of the value to be tangible.  As the facilitator I often witnessed the group like a verbal mind map, all the banter and bouncing around of an idea, some pondering, some thinking deeply, and being part of the group myself and experiencing the level of trust growing all attributed to the group feeling more peaceful, balanced and complete.  Like we are allowed to take up space here on earth and more than that make the most of the space we have while we still have our lives to live.

While I was preparing for the week ahead and going through what I would present, I always found an interesting story to go with the value.  I loved this one, I’ve only just found it and wanted to share it with you, I’m listening to Mindfulness and the Brain by Jack Kornfield, and Daniel J Siegel.  The last value as you know is Unity.

Fran and activist and friend of Jack Kornfield writes, I was walking through the Stanford university campus when I saw a crowd of people with cameras and video equipment on a hillside, they were clustered around a pair of chimpanzees, a male running loose and a female on a chain about 25 feet long.  The male was from Marine World Africa a park up there and the female was being studied for something at Stanford.  And who I thought were the spectators were actually scientists and publicity people trying to get them to mate.  The male was eager, you know how they can be, he grunted and grabbed at the females chain and tugged, she whimpered and backed away, he pulled again she pulled back.  Watching the chimp’s faces I began to feel sympathy for the female.  Suddenly the female chimp yanked her chain out of the males grasp and to my amazement she walked through the crowd straight over to me and took my hand, then she led me across the circle to the only other two women in the crowd and we joined hands in a circle of four.  The four of us stood together and I remember the feeling of that rough little palm against mine.  The little chimp has recognised us and reached out across all the years of evolution to form her own support group.

What Worked

At the first Study group I decided to go with something that I had done at other times and that was to have each participant light a candle and set an intention, I also asked them to invite in any form of energy if they wished.  Not exactly LVE but it could be.  An intention as you know is a force in nature and having the group put it out there just seemed right.  You know, just something along the lines of, it’s my intention this evening to focus and find peace.  Each week I cleared the room with incense, gridded the room with crystals and drew symbols in that represented courage, balance and whatever I thought pertained to the particular value on the night, part of the Energy Artistry that I do.  I believe they work very well together.  And surprisingly or not so surprisingly, I’d have the group share if they wished on occasions and when they did probably seven times out of ten the intention they set coincided with the value for the evening.  That magic never ceases to amaze me.  As a group we also cleared the space when we set the ground rules, it worked well, clearing the space simply means voicing anything that has the capacity to take you away from the present moment by voicing it briefly you bring yourself back into the present and into a positive frame of mind.

What Else? 

The stories as you are aware are always insightful and very powerful.  Knowing that a story or a metaphor is the best way to lead someone to an ah-ha, doing it in an inductive way as opposed to just flat out telling them or explaining something was great.  There are some powerful stories in the LVE books and Home Study, yes children’s and as a facilitator I saw what characters they connected to for the lessons they needed.   And as the group was small only four participants I could remember certain things about a previous group discussion around a story or metaphor and it gave me the opportunity to connect the previous value into the current value.  One of the examples was while we were doing Cooperation I read the story of the Giant Turnip, it was suggested in one of the LVE books and the connection that one of the participants made was also very relevant when we came to do Responsibility and I could tie it all in and I believe the light to the dark place was all the brighter for that participant.

I never said anything about most of the stories being children’s but I did preframe by explaining Dr Morris Masseys’ development stages.  0-7 years old: the imprint period, 7-14 years old: the modelling period, 14-21 years old: the socialisation period and 21 to 35 the development of the business persona and how when you are stressed or afraid you slip back into these stages and react as you would when you were that age as a result of conditioning and events during that period.  I also mentioned the stages of adult evolution to assist as well.

What do you tell your group if you are challenged as to why we read children’s stories? 

At the completion of each value, at the end of each week, I set homeplay for the group, the evaluation questions at the end of each value in the Home Study Program.  I suppose I had a 75% average success rate with them on that.  Sometimes all of them didn’t do their homeplay citing being too busy as the excuse.  So I suggested that they take one of the questions each morning and ponder throughout the day upon the meaning it holds for them and it would be easier to write about it or to comment on it when next at the group.  Some found that advice useful.

Starting at Peace and ending with Unity definitely had a natural flow, all the other values tired in perfectly in the middle.  Towards the end the group had a real feel for peace and balance which is what I believe LVE is all about.  They would make statements throughout the programme such as, that’s a lot like the value of Humility or didn’t we discuss that when we did Respect?   As a facilitator I thought that was great because I knew we hadn’t discussed that specifically, I knew what they were referring to with regards to the other values and could sense that they were eliciting the feeling of the value and had gone deep enough to feel that the values at their deepest level pretty much had the same feeling. 

Testimony

Prior to completing the Living Values Education Program, the Home Study and the facilitation of my Study Group I felt that I didn’t have the time to do all the things that I needed to let alone do the things that I wanted to so I felt time poor.  I also felt that I had so many choices, so much information all extremely good as I have immersed myself in personal development and spirituality forever but I was overwhelmed by which direction was the best direction for me to take.  Which direction was best for my life’s purpose, which direction was going to illuminate my path?  I knew that I wanted peace and balance and I was on a mission to find the best way to achieve that.

During the Home Study and the facilitation of my Study Group I discovered and felt at a much deeper level what the value of Simplicity can really mean.  I think in a nutshell I would have to quote ‘the real question has been said, it’s not the future of humanity but the presence of eternity.’  And thought the exercises, metaphors and group discussions on the subject of Simplicity the depths that we reached as a group and the importance of it shifted my consciousness to a brighter place.  I was able to remove the masks that I so diligently wear and be myself with confidence, peace and balance.  It’s not until I did the program that I realised how many masks I was wearing and to find out that I don’t have to wear them is empowering to say the least.  Not only is it empowering I realised how hideous some of them were.  I was somehow given permission to be who I really am.

My biggest Ah ha was to just slow down, ironically I now know to get things done I must slow down.  I wrote this little poem as a reminder.

You Are Enough

Enough

Stop

Relax

Breathe

Take off your masks

Oh weary child

Show them your light

Go on...

You are enough

You are Love

You are Loved

 

When I’m in a place of balance I have so much more energy and clarity and doing the Home Study and facilitating my Study Group allowed me to find that balance.  I had so many break through moments far too many to share here, there are twelve values in the Living Values Program and I’m only addressing two of them.  I want to mention Responsibility here because I wonder how many people know that their rights actually come with responsibilities and I wonder how many people feel their energy sink at the mere mention of the word.  I know mine did until I investigated what Responsibility really meant to me and found out how what a gift Responsibility really is.  It is my intention that as many people as possible receive this gift.

So as a result of completing the Home Study and facilitating my Study Group I feel peaceful, balanced and on purpose.  I am waking from a convenient and familiar slumber, I am no longer on auto pilot, and I no longer flit from task to task without being mindful.  I practise mindfulness and live the values.  What an honour to have this information.   I still haven’t caught up but I have make peace with that as I know that I’ll never get it done and I’ll never get it right or wrong thus is the nature of our ever expanding universe.   I know on a deeper level that everything is indeed happening at the right time and in the right place and to quote again, this time from T S Elliot; 

‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the very first time.’

 

Paula Bendel

Living Values Facilitator, Brisbane

Australia

 

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