by Julie Hoyle
Coral Beach, Grand Bahama Island
Early one Sunday morning in the early 1980′s, I was running up a steep hill on the Bahamian island of New Providence, in an area downtown, near the elegant Governor General’s house. It was a beautiful day in mid-January and cool enough to be able to run at 10 am. Along with forty or so members of a for-fun running club, I was racing along, intent on finding a trail laid out using flour.
To my left, was an old, gray, stone church. On the outside of the structure, were white, slatted windows that swung out and were held in place by support rods. As I pounded up and over the arc of the hill, I suddenly heard the refrain of a hymn carried by the breeze. It was unexpected and sung with such force, it flooded my senses, instantly carrying me to a place I seemed to recognize but had not visited for a long, long time. In that moment, my legs wobbled beneath me, my heart opened and I began to cry, wondering why the hymn would move me so and what this could mean.
In the Sufi tradition, a moment like this is called, “Dhikr,” the chanting or singing of Divine names in order to initiate remembrance of God. It is the practice of venturing away from worldly focus toward the inner call of the soul. Although I did not realize it at the time, the power of the congregants singing was a beautiful gift which invited a ‘turning of the heart’ toward God. It was here, in this profound moment that my spiritual journey began.
Looking back, I came to understand that this moment marked the opening of an inner doorway that could never be closed again. After that, my life suddenly began to take odd twists and turns until I was brought into the company of an Enlightened Master who gave Shaktipat initiation, the awakening of the spiritual energy.
Since then, there have been continuous turnings and openings of the heart which have had a three-fold effect: one an awakening to the awareness of the ‘Consciousness of Oneness’, two a deepening desire to do the inner work and three, a willingness to support and encourage others on their own inner journey.
Thich Nhat Hahn expresses this beautifully when he writes:
“You are me and I am you.
It is obvious that we are inter-are.
You cultivate the flower in yourself so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in my-self so that you do not have to suffer.
I support you, you support me.
I am here to bring you peace.
You are here to bring me joy.”
Knowing that we ‘inter-are’, there are simple Self Inquiry questions we can contemplate to connect us back to the heart, and back to the Truth of Oneness. Here are a selection:
1. Am I working with the energy of the heart or against it?
2. Am I trusting the wisdom of the heart? If not, why not?
3. What inspires me and opens my heart?
4. In this moment, how can I encourage and uplift my-self and others?
As you contemplate these questions, my wish for you is to continue to have the courage to do the inner work. This work is the doorway to moving completely into Unity Consciousness. It is deeply transformational and can grace each of us with the gift of being able to express the beauty and light of our hearts. Then, we are able to uplift, inspire and encourage everyone and everything in our world.
A natural intuitive, writer, artist and transpersonal hypnotherapist, Julie works internationally offering a transformational ‘Living in Alignment’ online course and shares the details of a powerful and life-changing spiritual awakening in her book: An Awakened Life- A Journey of Transformation. For details go to: An Awakened Life, Living in Alignment, and True Alignment.