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.”