in balance is vital to our well-being. Without
balance, much of the beauty and grandeur of our existence
is lost. But a balanced life doesn't just
happen. It is a state of grace we create by staying
connected with our thoughts and feelings and consciously
measuring what we do. Just as feeling fit and
flexible demands physical exercise, just as expanding your
mind requires intellectual effort, so bringing you life
into balance and maintaining your spiritual equilibrium
require focused awareness and daily retreat from the
stresses of the world.
The wisdom and strength you seek await you in the silence
within. Awakening to our deepest desires, to our
needs and to our truth requires reflection and inner
listening. We must create the space in our lives
where our physical self and our spiritual being can
meet. The more we nourish our internal world, the
more powerful we grow in the external world.
Retreating doesn't free us from the concerns of the
external world, but it delivers us from the pain of living
Look to the light within you. It's awaiting your
attention, longing for your return. You may have
lost sight of your inner radiance as you turned to look
outside yourself for validation and meaning. You may
have forgotten it as you gave authority not to your inner
voice, but to the dictates and opinions of others.
no matter how far you wander or how long you stay away,
the divine light never flickers or dims. You are
host to the eternal flame. It glows in the silence
of your being to illumine your life and light your
way. The tempests of the world can never eclipse or
snuff it out--just as you don't diminish the light of the
sun by pulling down the shades. The radiance within
us is always shining, and solitude opens wide the way.
We would probably be more zealous about retreating
from the world if it were a complicated task, requiring
great effort. But, in fact, the task could not be
simpler, because there is nowhere to go, nothing to
do. To retreat, you need only be.
How? By giving yourself to yourself before you give
yourself away. It's amazing how a simple fifteen
minutes or more of quiet inner listening each day creates
such abundant peace and joy. My life works
beautifully when I start each day in communion, when I
draw a warm bath, lace the water with fragrant
oils--frankincense, jasmine, lavender, or patchouli--light
a single candle and retreat. During this precious
time, the tiny bathroom in my small Manhattan apartment
becomes a grand and healing space for me.
Choose your place. Any place that's quiet and where
you feel completely comfortable--your bed, an easy chair,
a mat on the floor--will do. Stretch fully for a few
seconds from head to toe before you settle in.
Sitting or lying down, close your eyes gently. Allow
yourself to breathe slowly, deeply, exhaling longer than
you inhale. As you exhale, feel yourself letting
go. Consciously relax each part of your body
separately, starting with your feet. Tense and
tighten them as you inhale. Release and relax them
as you exhale. Continue to breathe deeply and fully
as you tense and tighten your calves, thighs, and
buttocks, then your torso, your arms, your shoulders and
face. Is there any tightness in the areas where
stress normally takes hold--your upper back and shoulders,
your neck and jaw? Breathe deeply into each of these
areas as you tighten and release those muscles
again. Let go completely.
Stay with your breath, breathing slowly, deeply and
rhythmically, consciously inhaling joy and peace and
exhaling stress and strain. Feel yourself descending
deeper and deeper into your breath. You are
completely at ease, your body limp and relaxed.
Listen to the rhythm of your breath whispering in the
stillness. This is the Holy Spirit, the breath of
life in you. You are now in touch with your inner
light. Feel the love, the peace at the center of
your being. Feel its healing light caressing you,
filling you, renewing you. Feel its glow enveloping
you and radiating from you. This is your own
loving-kindness, embracing and restoring you to wholeness.
Now is the time for asking questions of yourself--and for
listening for your deepest, most intuitive
response. You need only attune your ear.
There is no problem too trivial or concern too great to
bring to the spirit within. God resides within you
for this very purpose. In this place you can lay
your burdens down. So surrender your worries and
fears, releasing them into the care of your own inner
Continually questioning ourselves is essential to making
wise and conscious choices throughout the many stages of
our life's journey. We should periodically pause in
silence to ask: What is my purpose here? We
must answer this to stay true to our path. And there
are other questions: Who am I? Do I feel
happy, healthy, and whole? How can I expand the
promise of my life? Have I erected defenses and
barriers that are limiting my vision? Am I making
choices that encourage my growth? Am I kind to
myself? Am I loving to myself? Am I living my
truth? Some of the answers to your questions and
challenges will come swiftly; others are revealed over
time. But God will never fail to inspire and guide
you. Have faith and don't try to hurry spirit.
The answers always come at the right time.
When you are ready, open your eyes. Remain still for
a moment and experience how at peace you feel. You
may feel a smile from your very center. Try to hold
on to the tranquil point of light glowing within you as
you move through the day.
experiences and insights from her own life, Susan
Taylor explores the intimate themes and concerns
that have long been her unique territory:
self-empowerment, the exploration of love and
self-worth, issues of faith and commitment, the
celebration of the journey of life. As she
makes clear throughout her writings, life is not
easy: It is full of difficulties and
challenges. But it is through grappling with
the challenges that life presents that we are
given an opportunity to grow.