We don’t break…we MAKE!

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 by Rev. Rob Banaszak
Pastor, Institute for Spiritual Development
It doesn’t seem like we can bear much more, does it? Mother Earth and Her Children are shouldering so many burdens right now. We are confused, we are hurt, we are sad, we are EXHAUSTED.

But — decimated, or drowned, or burned, or worse — notice the healing process beings immediately, even from the worst devastation. Life can’t but help continue, for Life’s true nature is LIVING.

From the rubble, floodwaters, and ashes, we emerge.

We regroup. We restore. We rebuild.

Because it is our NATURE to create. It is in our very BEING to MAKE.

And that is what gives me hope, even when things seem hopeless. It is our nature to use all ingredients, components, materials we have at our disposal to MAKE something that is wholly greater than all of its individual components.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m with ya. I get anxious. I get scared. I despair. I’m human and becoming a minister does not mean I suddenly have bypassed these very human experiences and attained mastery over them. But as a minister it is my responsibility — my calling — to explore and encourage the ways we can most lovingly respond to these experiences with our very best self…our Divine Self.

Each time a circumstance, situation or experience challenges us, is a call to MAKE SOMETHING OF IT. To make something that is greater than any of the pain or despair or fear that it may cause.

And watch. It is happening and will happen. New, life-altering relationships and connections will form as a result of the Las Vegas massacre. Stronger communities will emerge from the collaborative responses to the fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural phenomena that have devastated so many around the world. And new voices will rise as to loudly proclaim our unwavering stand for the human rights and liberties we have fought for.

Because it is who we are. We live, so we will always MAKE our way back to LIFE!

And we don’t have to go it alone. We can connect, share, inspire and manifest with each other!

No one needs to make it on his or her own. Let’s MAKE OUR LIFE TOGETHER!

“ISD Is My Home”

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By Candace Ford

My name is Candace Ford. I am originally from Pensacola, FL and I am a veteran of the United States Army. I am the single parent of my one son Lanel, who also serves as an usher here at ISD from time to time.

I had my first exposure to psychic abilities when I was a little girl. My great aunt, who raised me until I was nine, had the ability to read playing cards. As I grew up, I went to Baptist and and Pentacostal churches. I always felt like there was something more, though. “Church people” all seemed to be intent on judging others and bashing them behind their back. I am not for bashing anyone for ANYTHING. I love EVERYONE. No matter what, I have always seen the good in, and loved others.

So by the time that I got stationed in Washington, D.C., I had absolutely no plans for joining a church. I began returning to my “psychic roots” and, when searching for places to buy sage, I discovered Sacred Circle bookstore in Old Town Alexandria. The store offered some classes that I was really interested in, and I ended up taking a psychic development class taught by longtime ISD member Lyriel Claire. She told me of several churches in the area, including ISD, that were from same spiritual perspective that I had begun to explore.

So I came to ISD for a Sunday Service, and never left! At ISD I felt the love, acceptance and warmth emanating throughout the building. ISD accepted me right away with twang, and all the “aint’s,” “cants,” ya’lls and everything else that comes with country me. I love you all and there is nothing you can do about it! If I am mad with you I still love you. If you call me I will come if you need me — I am there.

This is my first metaphysical experience and it is what I have been looking for all my life. ISD is my home. ISD is my family — I have my “mother,” “father,” “big brothers,” “aunts” and “cousins. I support ISD because it is my home. Just like when I think about keeping the lights on at my residence, I want make sure that the lights stay on in my spiritual home.

You will not find this knowledge and acceptance anywhere else, and I think that there needs to be an ISD in every city – like the WaWa convenience store on every corner!


The Magician

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Claudia and Dave

David Waite and his lovely wife Claudia at the 2016 Metaphysical Magic retreat

by David Waite

a poetic reflection on the Metaphysical Magic Retreat


Life is filled with

Events – each with a measure of energy.

Some, seem to be more important…

Others, not…

Who determines that???

Who, me? … … … me.


I’m the one always choosing events and their importance in my life…


Events…      have perspective-

They can be past, present, or future

Past events inform the new events

Present events are life unfolding (new)

Future events are the ideas yet to be…

All of this together is life being created.


Created…  Oh…

By my choices I am creating my reality

Each moment of each day.

Who am I…???   By my thoughts,

I am the one creating.

Therefore, I am the magician in this lifetime.


Clearly, this is who I was pretending not to be.



Life then is precious.

Each Life is sacred.

Each one of us is imbued with consciousness and desires

Gifted from God.

Moment to moment.

Our thoughts: a key to being…

Thoughts exist only in the present moment.


Gifted from God…


Other influences? Yes, there seem to be some of those.


Lessons to learn/experience…


Universe; Planets; Ecosystems;

As magicians, we interact daily with these –

Mostly, to understand them,

to learn from them;

to pay attention to them.

Ahh. Pay attention. How do we do that…?

Our thoughts…

are prayers.

Our prayers.

So much love from my Spiritual Family

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RevPatMakin_Instagramby Rev. Patricia Makin, Chair, ISD-DC Board of Directors

As many of you know, recently I spent about three weeks in two different hospitals after my “heart event,” which is what I have chosen to call my situation. I don’t like medical terminology because the words usually are what we have come to know as frightening words.

So after my “event,” my daughter (God bless her!) cut me off from the world, telling everyone I needed to rest. I did need to rest. And I am thankful that she cared for me by making sure I was focusing on ME.

But I had to find a way to connect to my very special ISD family! No where am I loved so deeply and completely as I am here at our Spiritual home. This is where I am accepted, cared for and truly loved unconditionally for who I am. Not for any other reason. I don’t have to do or say anything, just be who I am. It is so amazing and so welcomed. While I was in those hospitals, there was not a day that went by when I ever felt empty or unwanted or not cared for.

It was so powerful, and this it is why I am here at this computer today writing this note of unceasing gratitude. Even on days when I may feel a little scared, or wonder if something else might happen, I just stop and think about all that I have learned over these many years. I know that I am the creator of my own reality. I am so grateful for my many teachers who have taught me so much about my Divinity and the power that I have within me. I am so blessed to have walked into this magnificent place over 22 years ago and have never looked back.

After “the ban” was lifted  on contact with me, not only did I receive cards with “only words of love” and flowers, but so many loving phone calls from those whose love for me is unconditional. I wish everyone had this love in their own lives. It is beyond description, but when you get it, you cherish it because you know it is so special and genuine. It is “the real deal!”

Thank you to each and every one of you who loved me and healed me through this. I am so grateful.

“Why I’m Dedicated to ISD”

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As we approach Dedication Sunday 2015, both longtime and recent ISD members reflect on how ISD has impacted their lives.

Tom Landon

I believe that I am one of the longest termed members of ISD. I began attending ISD services at the request of my wife (ISD minister and former pastor Rev. Sue Landon) after she had a reading with Reverend Jim, and was seeking to expand her intuitive development. I was merely attempting to be a good husband, supportive of her favorite activities. But that shifted, and I began enjoying attending ISD services, message circles, and psychic fairs. The people here at ISD really made the difference for me, with abundant love, acceptance, and joy at every activity (even weeding the gardens!).

My life is grounded in service, so I naturally was inclined to take ownership of my membership in ISD. I participate as an usher, a service coordinator, I have been chair of the building and grounds committee and served on the board of directors for a number of years. I feel it is important to fully participate in all organizations that I care about. I love ISD and all the people who call it their spiritual home. With many new people attending activities and joining as new members over the last few years, I feel confident that ISD has a bright future.

Rod Hill

When thinking about my experiences at ISD, three questions came to mind. I’d like to share my thoughts with you on each, as they really sum up why Lydia and I became members of ISD.
1. What Brought Us To The Institute?
Lydia and I were attending mindfulness classes at a local church, which we enjoyed very much. What was missing for us, however, was a true community experience. After the classes, everyone went their separate ways until the same time the following week. We tried starting a Mindfulness Meetup in southwest DC, but that never took off. So we spent several months looking for a community of spiritually-focused, like-minded people that share their experiences in spirituality. Lydia found ISD on a Google search. It sounded interesting, so we decided to give it a try. That was last April, and we’ve been here ever since. And ISD came with a real bonus – the members of this community are also committed to supporting and nurturing each other in spiritual growth. And so are we!
2. What Do I see As My Place In ISD’s Growth?
This one is pretty simple for me. ISD has been my spiritual home, ever since the first day when I was welcomed that way (thank you, Rev. Rob!). Well, if this is my spiritual home, that means I accept my role in this place and it’s wonderful people as family, not merely as a guest. In families, I believe each member should make a commitment to to keep the family living, working and growing together, and that’s my commitment to ISD.
3. If I Could Design An ISD, What Would It Look Like?
When thinking about this, an image came to mind of the people of the world coming together as one human body. Each of us is similar to the individual blood cells that are so important for the body to thrive and grow. The heart would be ISD, our spiritual home, the place that draws in it the body’s life-sustaining blood, and then sends it forth to nourish the body. The oxygen from the lungs represents all of the ISD ministries and programs through which we receive the Divine gifts that energize and nourish us as we go out into the rest of the body, spreading that life-sustaining energy throughout the world body. Unlike a human body, where all of the blood cells are forced into the heart, lungs and other organs, the world body blood cells have FREE WILL. Only those who accept the heart’s invitation take the journey. In the world body, those who take the journey in turn share the message of Divine energy with others, inviting them to experience the joy and peace that come from accepting the heart’s invitation. Metaphysical teachings are not new; they have been with mankind for millennia. The ideal ISD is one that brings MANY into the joyous experience of Divine Light.


Reflections on the Re-Launch of the ISD Wellness Expo and Certification Program

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By Rose Stafiej, Co-Chair ISD Wellness Program


Rose Stafiej

Wow! What a fantastic re-launch of our Wellness Expo on Sunday. As always, the ISD community came together to create an amazing event. As co-chairs of the Institute’s Healing Committee, Rev. Kathy Gregg and I want to thank everyone who participated in our first Wellness Expo since 2012. With the help of our wonderful healers, we offered a number of services, including John of God Crystal Bed Therapy, Spiritual Response Therapy (SRT), Reiki, chakra balancing and aura clearing. With all of the healers working in the same room, the energy was palpable! What a great way to start the summer. You can see all of the photographs on ISD’s Facebook Page.

Prior to my arrival at ISD, I had some experience with spiritual healing. However, it is through ISD that my practice has blossomed. After attending the ISD Retreat in Spring 2009, I knew that I wanted to become an “ISD Healer” and took the intensive, multi-week Healing Certification course that summer. I made some major breakthroughs through the course, with help and loving guidance from our teachers, Revs. Sherry and Ken Foor. That growth has continued – sometimes in spurts and starts – as my involvement in the ISD community has deepened. As a community, we truly are greater than the sum of our parts.


Rev. Kathy Gregg

As Rev. Kathy and I continue to develop and nurture the Healing Program at ISD, I hope that others may have the opportunity to have similar experiences. One opportunity is coming up soon, as the ISD Healing Certification Course begins on July 7, 2015. This is a great course for individuals to explore and experience their own healing abilities. Rev. Kathy and I are so excited bring it back this summer.

Our next Wellness Expo will take place on Sunday, August 30, when we will welcome all of those who completed the Healing Certification Course to become healers at ISD. And keep an eye on the calendar for more opportunities to learn and receive healing.

If you were a healer or a participant at the Wellness Expo on June 7, we invite you to leave a comment below.

Love to all. Light to all. Peace to all.

My Journey to ISD: Arranged by the Universe!

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PRACTICAL REKI-ALICE LANGHOLTBy Alice Langholt, Reiki Master/Teacher

I’m thrilled to share the story of how I came to ISD, because it’s one of those obviously-arranged-by-the-Universe kinds of stories!

And it all started with a T-shirt.

In October of 2013, my family and I moved to Gaithersburg from Cleveland, Ohio. We knew no one except my sister, who lives in lives in DC. Two weeks later, my oldest daughter, Rayna, was wearing her Camp Wise tee-shirt to middle school gym class. Camp Wise is an overnight camp in the Cleveland area, where lots of kids go in the summer.

A classmate named Hannah noticed Rayna’s shirt, and asked her if she was from Cleveland. Turns out that Hannah moved to the area from Cleveland 10 years before!  Soon they were chatting up a storm about Cleveland, and Rayna was excited to come home and share her “coincidence” with me about her new friend.

Later that day after Rayna had gotten home from school, we got a call from the school saying that she had left her math binder in the Guidance Office. Since she needed it for her evening homework, Rayna dashed back on her bike and cajoled her sister Sari into coming with her.

It just so happens (here comes the flood)…that Hannah and her sisters and mom were at school when Rayna and Sari got there. They were all talking excitedly about Cleveland. When Hannah’s mom, Kelly, heard Rayna’s last name, she said she remembered my name from the same temple where I had worked in Cleveland, where she belonged before they moved here! Kelly gave Rayna and Sari a ride home with their bikes so she could say hi to me.

We all talked in my driveway, and Kelly invited my family to dinner the next Friday night. We happily accepted, of course! During the course of conversation that night at dinner, Kelly said that she loves and has been to the Spiritualist haven of Lily Dale, NY three times. I had taught in Lily Dale for the previous two summers. The odds that the first person I “randomly” meet from Maryland is into holistic/metaphysical stuff, and has been to Lily Dale, are rare enough, let alone that I was sitting having dinner with this same person, and she knows me from living in Cleveland, and we went to the same temple…I mean, these are lottery winner odds!

Here’s where ISD comes in.

Kelly also told me about a metaphysical church around here that’s having a healing service this Sunday, and I suggested that we go together. That Sunday, Kelly picked me up, and we went together. This was my first introduction to ISD, and I loved it right away.

After the service, I met Reverend Patricia Makin and told her that I’m looking for a place to be my “teaching home” in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. After some emails and conversations, I was teaching my first ISD class, Manifesting Made Simple.

I had  10 wonderful students in this class, and during one of our class discussions, I realized that one of the students, Laraine Lomberg, is also my neighbor from right down the street! She became one of my favorite people in the area, and here was just another way for Universe to give me a big, huge grin to remind me that I’m always in the right place, and I’ve found my home again.

Putting down roots in the “DMV, “ and joining the ISD community has been a wonderful blessing for me. I’m so thrilled to make ISD my teaching home. I love everyone I’ve met here, the energy, and I am so very aligned with the spirituality of ISD as well.

Thank you, ISD, for welcoming me home.

Alice will be teaching Practical Reiki Workshop Level Three Certification Class on Saturday, June 13. Click here for more information.

Make Yourself At Home

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Diane Johnsonby Diane Johnson

I was a bit surprised to be asked to write about my experiences and takeaways from my church participation at ISD. I’ve always been an irregularly regular attendee of ISD, and while that may speak to conflicting schedule demands and plain old laziness, it has little to do with my unwavering faith and trust in my spiritual life. From the first time I walked into ISD, I knew I had found other people who believed what I did—and then some. Over the years I would come to find that every service begins with the greeting, “Welcome home,” and that is how the people at ISD have always made me feel: welcome and at home.

I don’t remember exactly when I first came to ISD, though I have a Sunday service program from 2007, so it’s been at least eight years. The program had a message that particularly resonated with me and still does, which is why I’ve held onto it: “You see, in the final analysis, it is all between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.” That statement—and so many others over the years—reinforced my belief and empowered me in my spiritual journey.

I found ISD through an advertisement in Pathways magazine, but I can’t help believing if I hadn’t seen that ad I would have been guided to it in some other way. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences here over the years. It’s the cumulative effect of many that I’m taking with me as I move away from the DC area. Rev. DeBiasio’s inspiring wisdom (“The universe rewards action!”), the warm embraces, Rev. Ken Foor’s kundalini yoga class, the loving affirmations from spirit guides. These experiences are what make me sure that wherever I go, the people at ISD who touched me are in my heart.

One of the most significant experiences I’ve had over the years was bringing a friend who had never been to ISD before to Pastor Rob’s Principles of Metaphysics class. The information and lively discussions were always interesting and enlightening. I really enjoyed learning more about the people I’d seen in church over the years. Most importantly, I felt such gratitude to be able to share the ‘knowing’ with my friend that I’ve found here, as others have helped me along my way.

If you’re someone who’s interested in checking out ISD, you probably already have an open mind and an open heart. I’d encourage you to take at least one course that piques your interest—there are so many to choose from, you shouldn’t have a problem finding more than one you want to attend.

I’ve found them spiritually enhancing as well as a great way to get to know ISD members and other like-minded people in the area. There are also message circles, and I’ve enjoyed the seasonal services for the solstices and equinoxes. However you choose to participate, I know you’ll feel welcome and at home.

“You’re Welcome!”

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by Rev. Rob Banaszak, Pastor

In the first five minutes of ISD’s Sunday Service the minister says to the congregation, “The Institute for Spiritual Development is a God-centered, metaphysical community dedicated to our growing spiritual awareness in an atmosphere of unconditional love and acceptance. Welcome home.”

Those are powerful words. Welcome home.

When the minister said them at the first ISD service I ever attended, I knew at that moment that I was, in fact, home. After searching so long for a place to hang my spiritual hat, what a relief! And what an exciting new part of my spiritual journey I was about to embark on. A journey that would lead me to experience amazing new blessings and miracles, along with a family of fellow Lightbearers that support each other, encourage each other, and love each other!

“Welcome home.”

Because those words meant so much to me on that sunny summer morning, as Pastor, I am keenly aware of their power for others who may be joining us for the first time. Or who are regulars. Or who have found us again after some time away.

I am aware of what they might mean to YOU.

“Welcome home.”

My fellow ministers and I are steadfastly dedicated to the idea that you are home. For today, for a few weeks, for a few years, or forever. Naturally, we want you to feel so comfortable, loved and supported here that you do make ISD your permanent spiritual home. But no matter what, this is your home. For however long you choose to make it your home.

“Welcome home.”

We are here on this earth, at this time and on this plane, to remember our connection with each other and our connection to the Divine. We are here at ISD to help make remembering that connection an enriching, rewarding, significant and FUN experience for all of us who pass through the doors. We invite you to participate with all of your heart, and to engage in the way you feel the most comfortable. For here at ISD you are safe, and loved, and supported.

Welcome HOME!

BUDDHISM & ISD – “Softening” Part 2 of series

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To continue this exploration into things in common between ISD and Buddhism, today I have picked the concept of “softening.” Many spiritual disciplines, perhaps all, encourage the practice of spiritual principles. Beyond that, you can exercise practices that are tools to access your sense of higher spirit or your spirituality. At ISD, practices might be working with healing modalities, developing your intuitive sense through doing exercises, taking metaphysical classes, meditation, affirmation, etc. There are many tools for spiritual awareness. In Buddhism, there are some central practices. The purposes and approach to spiritual practice in Buddhism can be applied to any serious endeavor. They are directly relevant to spiritual practice at ISD also.

Meditation is one of the central practices in Buddhism. I explored the nature of some of the principles of practice in yoga at the same time as practicing Buddhist meditation, so I correlate the two and have a hard time separating them. So I will be treating yoga as if it were also a Buddhist practice in this writing, but yoga is not considered a Buddhist practice by everyone.

One of the first most useful aspects of meditation I discovered was the idea of “softening.” In yoga, this has to do with stretching. When you stretch forward into poses, you reach a point where the muscles tighten. You simply hold there, and in 30 seconds, the muscles will relax and release and sometimes you can stretch further. The hold is just a “being with” the tightness, holding it, paying attention to your body, and breathing into it, letting it soften and let go. The release that happens is relaxing. You let go of tightness that constrains you in favor of a flexibility that lets you flow, glow, grow and stretch into something bigger.

This softening can happen on a physical level, but also on an emotional or spiritual level, which also increases flexibility and expansion into a larger self. I’ve found meditation to be a helpful practice in softening emotionally. And eventually, the practice leads to an expansion of a universal sense of “loving kindness,” which is the soft spot on a spiritual level. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Many aspects of life are invitations for spiritual practice. I have found my teenage daughter provides lots of immediate motivation for spiritual practice. There have been plenty of tense emotional moments where I have found the practice of “softening” immensely helpful. When some issue comes up that brings up anger or annoyance or frustration, I can just hold the tension. I can just be with it, breathe deeply, and let it relax and release. Then it makes it much easier to be present and get down to a solution to whatever the problem is. It avoids a lot of yelling, which generally is not helpful to moving things forward.

This emotional “softening” is a great way to expand a sense of compassion. When someone does something that is “hurtful,” holding the hurt and breathing into it, rather than reacting (either by attacking back or withdrawing) gives you more space to be who you want to be in the situation. You can next choose forgiveness, which is another way to release the hurt and allow you to be present. The most powerful example of this is the prayer of Jesus on the cross to the Lord to “forgive them: they know not what they do.” Forgiveness is a powerful tool for softening, release, and accessing higher spirit. In our more mundane lives, this softening gives you the opportunity to choose your action, rather than acting out of reaction.

In meditation, you hold stillness like you might hold a yoga stretch. Meditation is the practice of getting quiet, calming and stilling the mind and all the thoughts whirling through it. (I read somewhere that we have 1,000 thoughts a second. That sounds about right to me.) When you sit in quiet meditation, you “anchor” in your body, often by focusing on your breathing. You explore your sense of yourself, moving through your body and sensing any places of tension and “softening” them by holding the tension, focusing on relaxing it and letting it go. So you can relax physical tension.

You can also relax your mind and emotions. As you sit quietly, you can let the thoughts go through and just watch them, observe what happens, let them go, and return to stillness. It is pretty interesting to watch your body react to thoughts, notice it, and then let it go. This practice, also, can be deeply relaxing, give you a greater ability to be present in any given moment, and give you some freedom from the play of emotions that allows you more choice. You can choose instead to connect with a sense of the divine, that universal consciousness, or feeling of loving kindness. At ISD you will often hear the mantra, “Let go and let God,” which comes down to the same thing. You let go of whatever drama is tangling you up, relax, release, and let in your higher nature, expand into your sense of larger spirituality.

All these practices are completely compatible with what we practice at ISD. Buddhism just provides another perspective and additional tools to achieve the same goals: freedom to choose how you want to be, greater access to and sense of higher spirit, expanding sense of loving kindness, and larger compassion for the self and others. After exercising spiritual discipline, it is much easier to practice what we preach at ISD, “Let only words of love be spoken here.”