From Fear to Love
an Online Spiritual Retreat with Paul Ferrini
of Spiritual Practice
Why are there 31 Teachings and Practices in this Online Retreat? Because each month has a maximum of 31 days and so there is a Teaching and a Practice for every day of the month.
Think of your first month of practice as a 31-day spiritual retreat. Of course, you don’t have to travel to a monastery or retreat center. You don’t need to leave your home or your job. You just need to create time and space within your life to focus on the Teaching and Practice for that day.
Read the Teaching and the Practice when you get up in the morning. Consider how the Teaching applies to your life now and in the past. Pay attention to the Opposite States of Consciousness listed. You may experience one or more these during the day, and they will point you clearly toward the correction that needs to be made.
Ponder the teaching throughout the day, using every opportunity to engage in the practice for that day. If you have time, write your reflections in your journal at the end of the day.
Each day of practice will bring its own unique insight. Yet there is a cumulative effect. Every day of practice creates momentum and results in a deeper and more profound experience. If you can stay with this process for 31 days, you may be pleasantly surprised at the results.
if you miss a day, don’t worry or beat yourself up. Just pick up the thread on the next day.
Daily Vs. Weekly Practice
Once you have experienced the intensive 31 Day Retreat, a weekly approach to practice can be very helpful, allowing you to explore each teaching and practice more deeply and giving you additional time for integration. This weekly structure also lends itself to group classes and discussions.
A Glance at the Teaching and Practice for Each Day
The following brief descriptions of the Teaching and Practice for each day can provide you with a overview of the course and help you decide which course units you wish to purchase if you are not purchasing the entire course. Each unit can be purchased for $9.99 and comes with comprehensive text and video instruction by Paul Ferrini.
Acceptance is a state of consciousness. We cultivate acceptance when we accept life as it is and people as they are. We don’t have to like something to accept it. The more we accept life as it unfolds with all its polarities – light and dark, good and bad, up and down, persona and shadow – the more we begin to create integration and cohesion within the psyche.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Rejection, Denial, Resistance, Projection. When you reject something, react in fear, or project your thoughts and feelings onto others, you create division in the psyche and conflict in the world.
Forgiveness is a state of consciousness. We cultivate forgiveness when we forgive ourselves and others. We all know that we are supposed to forgive, and we may even be willing, but we cannot forgive until we are ready. Forgiveness is a process that takes time and often happens over months and years, not over days or weeks. Learning to forgive requires that we see and dissolve the blocks to forgiveness in our hearts and minds. There is always a payback for not forgiving others or ourselves. We need to see what they payback is and to realize that it is holding us back from healing and taking back our power.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Blaming, Shaming, Retaliating, or Holding a Grudge/Grievance against others. Not forgiving others means living as a victim and giving our power away. It prevents us from healing. Feeling guilt for our words/actions and blaming/shaming ourselves is also a major block to our healing. Punishing ourselves does not help us learn from our mistakes and bring correction. It just keeps our wounds alive.
Humility is a state of consciousness. We cultivate humility when we emphasize our equality with others, refuse to puff ourselves up, inflate our abilities or accomplishments, and allow others to share in the credit we receive for our creative endeavors. Because we step back and appreciate what others bring to the table, people feel connected to us and happy to cooperate with us. By letting others go first, we are treated with deference and respect. Because we do not call attention to ourselves, ask for favors or special treatment, others sing our praises and invite us to come forward and lead.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Hubris, Narcissism, Arrogance, Self-importance, Excessive pride, Asking for special treatment, Puffing ourselves up at the expense of others, Needing to be the star of the show and the center of attention. When this occurs, we need to step back and let others go first, let them share the spotlight, the praise, the credit and the attention. There is enough here for everyone. We don’t have to claim it all for ourselves.
Patience is a state of consciousness. We cultivate patience when we refuse to put pressure on ourselves or others and allow life to unfold organically in its own time and space. We put our ego agenda aside and pay attention to the signs and clues that suggest the best direction for our energies. The more patient we are the more progress we make on our spiritual path, because we stop swimming against the tide, exhausting our energy. Instead we wait to catch the wave so that the momentum is on our side and we can move forward without contention or struggle.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Impatience, Anxiety, Rushing, Forcing, Putting pressure on ourselves or others. When this occurs, it is time to slow down, drop our ego agenda, revise our expectations, come into our hearts, and become present emotionally with life as it is. As A Course in Miracles says, “Only Infinite patience brings immediate results.”
Gentleness is a state of consciousness. We cultivate gentleness when we refuse to beat ourselves up or to be harsh with others. When we are gentle we accept our humanness. We know that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. So when errors are made, we try to learn from them and we do not blame and shame ourselves or others. The more gentle we are, the more understanding and forgiveness we experience in our lives, and the easier it is to acknowledge and correct our mistakes.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Perfectionism, pressure, harshness, criticism. Intolerance, punishment, lack of forgiveness. When we see that we are being hard on ourselves and others, we need to recognize our human imperfection and bring compassion instead of shame and blame. We need soften, open our hearts, and be gentle with ourselves and others.
Honesty is a state of consciousness. We cultivate honesty when we tell the truth even when it is difficult. Of course, to tell the truth to others, we must first know it for ourselves, so honesty begins in our own consciousness and then extends to others. By being honest with others, we encourage them to be honest with us.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Lying, Deception, Fabricating, Hiding, Denying or Obscuring the truth. When we recognize that we are not telling the truth, we need to acknowledge it to ourselves and then to others. If we are not sure what is true, we have to be willing to admit that.
Generosity is a state of consciousness. We cultivate it by being generous to others, by being willing to share our resources, instead of hoarding them or keeping them to ourselves. By giving to others, we help them to be productive and this benefits the community in which we live. In time, what we have given returns to us in full measure, whether it be through the gratitude and appreciation of others, or through the actual flow of resources back to us.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Hoarding, Stinginess, Being Cheap or Miserly, Stealing, Scamming, Cheating or misappropriating the resources of others. When we recognize that we have more than we need and are withholding resources that others need, it is time to open our hearts and give what is needed. As we give, we open ourselves to receive and energy is re-circulated.
Compassion is a state of consciousness. We cultivate compassion when we can put ourselves in someone else’s situation and understand their thoughts, feelings and behavior. Our compassion helps us refrain from judgment and give others the benefit of the doubt. Even when they are expressing some strong emotion like anger, grief or jealousy, we can relate to them because we are human and have also had these feelings. Understanding and compassion go hand in hand.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Blaming, Shaming Judging, Finding Fault with others. Inability to understand and accept the human frailties of other people, Callousness and Rejection, Unwillingness to offer help and encouragement. Objectifying and dehumanizing others so that we feel justified in ignoring their rights and their needs.
Detachment is a state of consciousness. We cultivate detachment when release our attachment to someone or something that is preventing us from growing and moving forward in our lives. Detachment helps to free us from unhealthy relationships, delusional beliefs and dysfunctional behavior patterns. While emotional attachment is part of the process of learning and growing, there comes a time when we must let go to free up our energy to create something new and better in our life.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Attachment, Dependence or Co-dependence, Fixation, Identification, Merging, Submission, Obsession with people or ideas, Giving up our power to others.
Trust is a state of consciousness. We cultivate trust when we feel safe with a person or a situation. Then we can relax and let things unfold. Trust enables life to move forward. It is like grease on the axle of a car. All the parts move better when they are lubricated. Without trust, the parts begin to chafe and grind against each other. There is more friction, more resistance, less productivity. Trust in ourselves, trust in each other, and trust in the universe allows us to move out of struggle into grace.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Distrust, Suspicion, Resistance, Lack of confidence in self and others, Over-analysis or deliberation, Unwillingness to take a risk or let go of an unneeded restraint or protection. When we experience distrust, we need to look at the blocks to love within our own hearts. We need to understand the fear that makes us freeze up emotionally and dig our heals in, preventing change and new energy from coming in.
Optimism is a state of consciousness. We cultivate optimism when we see things in the most positive light. Even when life seems grim, we do our best to find the silver lining. We look beyond appearances to see the wisdom and the truth that can be found in each experience. We keep hope alive even when things appear to be hopeless. If the glass is empty we know it will soon be filled up. Highs always follow lows. We just have to be patient. Without optimism, we see through a glass darkly, adding our own darkness and despair to the collective fear that is rising. Optimism helps us to keep our own consciousness free of judgment and fear and contributes to the health and well being of our people and our planet.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Pessimism, Negative thinking, Apocalypticism, Conspiracy theories, Hopelessness, Despair. When we realize that we are being negative and seeing life through a glass darkly, we need to realize that we may be making things worse and take the dark glasses off. Pessimism can poison our own consciousness and lead to depression and despair. Awareness of our negativity is essential if we are going to cultivate a spiritual vision for life.
Perseverance is a state of consciousness. We cultivate perseverance when we are committed to our cause even when we face major resistance or obstacles. We refuse to be deterred or beaten back. We stand our ground. We stand up for what we believe to be true and right. Perseverance enables us to overcome prejudice, falsehood and deception. It helps us challenge injustice and be a thorn in the side of people and institutions that oppress others and deny their existential and constitutional rights.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Timidity, weakness, spinelessness, cowardice, giving up in the face of difficulty. When we find ourselves shrinking back or being intimidated by those who wield money, power or influence, it is time for us to take a stand for what we know and believe is fair and right.
Faith is a state of consciousness. We cultivate faith when we trust in the basic goodness of human beings and the universe in which we live. Even when bad things happen, when other human beings disappoint or betray us, we don’t give up our hope and optimism. Even when we live through a natural disaster or other catastrophic event, we don’t blame God or believe we are being punished. We know from deep within that we are loved and blessed and we trust that, even when we don’t understand what is happening right now, in time God’s plan will be revealed to us. Our faith enables us to weather the times of crisis in our lives and to emerge safely from the fire and fury around us.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Lack of faith, Despair, Inability to find purpose and meaning for our lives, Lack of emotional resilience due a disconnection from our Core Self, Distrust and inability to perceive goodness in ourselves, others and the universe in which we live, Our myopic vision and self-absorption make it difficult for us to see the big picture or to feel that a higher power or a force for the good is active in our lives. When our vision narrows and we can’t see the forest for the trees, it is time to climb to higher ground so that we have a longer and wider view. It is time to get out of our heads and into our hearts, where we can connect with love and regain our faith.
Gratitude is a state of consciousness. We cultivate gratitude when we feel grateful for the gift of life and appreciate all the good things that people do for us. We do not take what we have for granted, but value all the ways that the universe supports us and insures that our needs are met. Gratitude leads to abundance.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Lack of gratitude, greed, wanting more, feeling that we do not have enough, focusing on what is missing instead of what we have, poverty consciousness, bitterness or jealousy toward others who have more than we do. Lack of appreciation keeps scarcity alive.
Tolerance is a state of consciousness. We cultivate tolerance when we accept the differences between us and respect each person’s background and experience. People often have differing racial, cultural or religious backgrounds. They often have different political beliefs or personality traits. While we usually feel safer when we are around people who look and talk like us, we are all challenged to open our hearts and minds to people who don’t fit that mold.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Intolerance, prejudice, narrow-mindedness, racism/sexism/homophobia, lack of acceptance or condemnation of others who are different from us.
Courage is a state of consciousness. We cultivate courage when we step forward to protect others. We do not cower in the shadows and hide from danger to save ourselves, but we lead the charge and meet any threat to our safety or freedom head on. Parents protect their children, first responders put themselves in harm’s way to save the lives of others. We spontaneously step forward when others need our help, even if we put our own lives at risk. When we consistently exhibit courage, others look to us for direction and leadership.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Cowardice, Weakness, Timidity, Avoidance of responsibility, Making excuses or running away when our help is needed, Betraying or abandoning others.
Integrity is a state of consciousness. We cultivate integrity when we remain true to our values and keep our commitments. Our behavior is consistent for it stems from an inner coherence. The left hand knows what the right hand is doing. We have made an integration of different aspects of our personality with the resulting wholeness. The spiritual adult is holding hands with the wounded child. High and low, light and dark, left and right hemispheres are connected. We don’t make promises that we can’t keep or act in an ambivalent way with others. People feel that we are present for them and that they can rely on us to do what we say we are going to do.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Lack of integrity, Inner conflict and incoherence in the psyche lead to ambivalent or contradictory behavior. Flip flopping, frequent changing of mind, bi-polar mood swings result. There is a split in the psyche in which different aspects of personality compete for prominence and control, resulting in inconsistent words and actions, swings of energy and attention. People cannot rely on us. They never know which one of us is going to show up. Will it be the light side or the dark side, the spiritual adult or the wounded child?
Equality is a state of consciousness. We cultivate equality when we see each person we meet as an equal brother or sister. That means that we do don’t feel better than others and look down on them, nor do we feel inferior and put others up on a pedestal. Each person has the same existential worth and deserves the same rights and respect that we do. In order to cultivate equality we must overcome our own shame so that we do not project it onto others. When we see others as guilty or “less worthy,” we are betraying our own guilt and unworthiness. We see in others only what we believe about ourselves. We are mirrors for one another.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Inequality, feeling “greater than” or “less than” others. Judging or despising some and worshipping others, believing that some people are better or more spiritual than others, some people will be saved and others will suffer in hell. When there is lack of equality there is injustice. We objectify others and rationalize our attempts to attack, condemn or oppress them. People are brutalized and crimes are committed in the name or God or country.
Creativity is a state of consciousness. We cultivate creativity when we suspend our routines and automatic patterns of thinking and try new approaches to solving the problems and challenges of life. Sometimes our lives become too predictable and there Is no room for growth and transformation. We need to switch off the cruise control or the automatic pilot so that we can respond spontaneously to opportunities that arise. When the old energy field around us is no longer held in place by habitual patterns, new doors open and we can walk through them. This enables us to be more playful and engage in activities that bring greater joy to ourselves and others.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Living on automatic pilot, habitual or rote behavior and patterns of thinking, being stuck in unhealthy energetic patterns that emphasize duty and predictability over joy and spontaneity. Our routines are inflexible, our roles rigid, and our time highly pressured or conscribed, sabotaging our energy so that we are unable to take risks and grow beyond our fear-based limits.
Peace is a state of consciousness. We cultivate peace when we stay in our hearts and connect with our Core Self. We do not get lost in the drama of life with its push and pull, attack and defense, blame and shame. By resting in our hearts we avoid unnecessary struggle and contention with others. When fear arises and we feel anxious, we know that we have moved up into our heads and it is time to re-center. So we refrain from saying or doing anything that will intensify our fear or that of others, and we focus on connecting with the love in our hearts.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Inner conflict, contention with others, trying to manipulate or control when it is time to submit and let go. We lose our peace when we Identify with fear- driven thoughts and emotions or with ego agendas that put pressure on ourselves and others. When this happens, we need to get out of our heads and back into our hearts. Then, we can re-connect with love and trust in the flow of life.
Fidelity is a state of consciousness. We cultivate fidelity when we are faithful to the people we love and to the values and ideals we hold dear. Fidelity requires consistency and discipline in thought and emotion. We value and respect those people and principles on an ongoing basis. We may be tempted to betray others by offers of money, status or sex, but we resist the temptations and remain true to our commitments.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Infidelity, Betrayal or abandonment of people and ideals we have committed to, lack of emotional allegiance, promiscuity, inability to remain true to ourselves or others, erratic behavior patterns that undermine the trust that others have for us.
Moderation is a state of consciousness. We cultivate moderation when we avoid extremes in our thoughts, feelings and actions. A moderate person is not driven by uncontrollable urges, phobias, fetishes, obsessions, or addictions. S/he does not give credence to conspiracy theories, rigid or authoritarian ideas, or extreme religious or political beliefs. S/he seeks to find a balance is all areas of life. S/he does not live on the edges of life but seeks the middle, invites compromise and cooperation and tries to find common ground.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Immoderation, extreme ideas or beliefs, uncontrollable feelings, addictive or obsessive actions. A person who lacks moderation may experience bi-polar swings of emotion, and various types of phobias or obsessions. S/he may exhibit grandiosity, megalomania, narcissism, sado-masochism, and other personality disorders. S/he may be drawn to cults or fringe groups that demand obedience to some cause or charismatic leader. A person who lacks moderation Is emotionally unstable and lacks an ability to center and find balance in life.
Ecstasy is a state of consciousness. We cultivate ecstasy when our hearts are open and we allow ourselves to be infused and supported by the energy of unconditional love. We move beyond our ego needs and our struggle for survival into a psychological state of transcendence in which we trust the universe to support us and guide our activities. We joyfully and willing answer the call for love without fear and so become an empty vessel through which the divine can reach to earth. As love flows through us our hearts go on fire, our spirit rises up and we radiate light to all around us.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Solemnity, Brooding, Gloominess, Heaviness, Density, Depression, Lack of trust. In this state, we are preoccupied with meeting survival needs, the mind is anxious and defensive, the heart is distrustful and we begin to shut down emotionally. Energy does not flow in our bodies, muscles begin to atrophy, movement becomes painful and limited. Without faith in something larger than us, we are dispirited and do not have the will to care for ourselves or to engage in a healthy way with others.
Nurturing is a state of consciousness. We cultivate nurturing when we care for others who need our support. This may be our children, our parents, the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, or those with life threatening illnesses. Nurturing others is an expression of the Divine Mother energy of unconditional love, acceptance, and support. Even in the animal kingdom, mothers put the needs of their offspring above their own needs. They feed their children and protect them from predators. They are gentle with their offspring, but fierce with those who would hurt them or compromise their safety.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Not nurturing, Selfishness, Putting our own needs in front of those of our children or others who are vulnerable and need our support and protection. Being emotionally distant, unable to express caring or affection, abandoning or betraying those we have a responsibility to love and protect.
Wisdom is a state of consciousness. We cultivate wisdom when we study and internalize the teachings of the great sages of the past and apply them to the challenges of today. We also deepen our spiritual understanding by learning the lessons that have come to us in our lives. To be wise is not just to be smart.
It is to understand the inner nature of things, to look beyond appearances, to expose falsehood and discern truth, to discriminate between illusion and reality.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Naivety, Gullibility, Foolishness, Superficiality, Lack of discernment, Being swayed by appearances or popular beliefs and not looking at the underlying truth, Holding narrow opinions, Prejudice, Mindlessness, Stupidity, Irrationality, Having delusions or hallucinations, Inability to distinguish truth from falsehood.
Authenticity is a state of consciousness. We cultivate authenticity when we are not afraid to be ourselves and embrace our own experience. This often requires that we heal our childhood trauma and the reverse the patterns of self-betrayal that arise from it. Having the courage to be ourselves means that we see and accept our talents and gifts, even though they may not have been seen or encouraged by parents and other authority figures. It means that we learn to believe in ourselves and trust in our own guidance. In order to manifest our unique inner blueprint, we often must risk rejection from others who don’t really see or understand who we are.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Self-Betrayal, Search for approval from parents, siblings, teachers, or peers. A strong need to fit in and be accepted by others leads to a pattern of showing up to meet their needs at the expense of our own, or to the opposite pattern of withdrawing from others so that we won’t experience rejection.
Abundance is a state of consciousness. We cultivate abundance when we are grateful for what we have and consume only what we need. This keeps the energy moving so that our supply constantly renews itself and we always have enough. When more resources than we need flow to us, we gladly share our bounty with others. We stay in the flow by not holding on to more resources than we can use productively and not piling up possessions. Having more toys does not make us happier. It can even undermine our happiness because we take what we have for granted and cease to value it. What we don’t value, celebrate or appreciate will not prosper and grow. It will become a burden that we carry.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Lack, Scarcity, Poverty, Envy of others, Lack of appreciation for what we have, Selfishness, Stinginess, Hoarding, Not sharing our resources with others, Having too little or too much.
Innocence is a state of consciousness. We cultivate innocence when we connect to our Core Self and the Core Self in others. The Core Self is our essence. It is that existential state of being that is pure and undefiled. It is not twisted by experience for it is the state prior to experience in this world. It is the original blessing given to all beings by God, who created us in His own image. This blessing was given before wrong doing, trespass or error was possible. It is the State of Heaven or Paradise before the choice to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. It is therefore an “a priori” state, before free will or choice came into play. When we see and affirm our own innocence and that of others we are acknowledging our spiritual origin and equality.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Trespass, Fear, Shame, Guilt, Judgment, Condemnation, Crime and Punishment, Sin. This is the state of being disconnected from our Core Self and that of others. It leads to various forms of attack and defense, dehumanizing and objectifying others, imprisonment, brutality, torture, and genocide.
Grace is a state of consciousness. We cultivate grace when we surrender to the flow of life and no longer seek to control what happens. We put our own plans aside and let God lead; we are content to be an instrument of the divine will. Grace enables us to move easily and elegantly in the direction that is for our highest good and the highest good of all.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Awkwardness, Interfering in the flow of life, Ego-agendas based on fear and lack of trust. Getting in the way, Trying to manipulate or control, Resisting or complaining about what happens, Lack of faith in and surrender to a higher power, Swimming against the tide or floundering in life like a fish out of water.
Harmony is a state of consciousness. We cultivate harmony when we embrace a common vision, when we cooperate and support each other, when our thoughts, feelings, and values are reciprocal. Harmony is a resonance of the parts with each other and with the whole. In music harmony is created through the creation of chords where notes played together augment each other and progress together. When we are in harmony with each other, there is cohesion, coherence, congruence, balance, reciprocity, and symmetry in our expression.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Discord, Cacophony, Dissonance, Noise, Fragmentation, Tumult, Incoherence, Disturbance, Asymmetry, Lack of connection of the parts to each other and to the whole, Inability to support or complement each other, Conflict, Argument, Disagreement, Stalemate, Deadlock, Polarization. Individuals either complete with each other for control or go their own way. Disconnection, Separation, and Divorce result.
Stewardship a state of consciousness. We cultivate stewardship when we care for and responsibly manage the resources that have been entrusted to us. That means not being self-indulgent or short sighted in the way that we spend our money or our time. Gambling away last week’s pay is not good stewardship. Running up huge debt on our credit cards or going on a shopping spree is not good stewardship. Good stewards are responsible for themselves and for the people who depend on them. They are also responsible for the care and protection of the community and the environment.
Opposite States of Consciousness: Exploitation of others and the environment, careless management of resources, recklessness, greed, waste, expediency, lack of responsibility, inability to pay one’s debts, squandering resources that are needed by our dependents or the next generation, ignoring our fiduciary duties, stealing or defrauding others, preying upon the young, the elderly or others who are innocent and cannot defend themselves.