Wendy in Raleigh, North Carolina, coined the phrase I now consider a theme song for soul vows: “Before Soul Vows, Wendy 1.0; After Soul Vows, Wendy 2.0.” But when you hear her story, I think you’ll agree with me that she’s becoming something more like Wendy 9.0.
Wendy came to the very first Soul Vows class in 2011. At the time, she said she wanted to answer her number one burning question, “Who is my authentic self?” and she felt soul vows would be an integral part of the answer. Here are Wendy’s vows:
- Breathe Deeply.
- Live in the Now.
- Walk in Joy and Happiness Daily.
- Love Unconditionally.
Living in an Experience of Expansion and Joy
I asked Wendy what it’s like to live her soul vows. With glee, she said,
“I continuously live in this experience of expansion and joy. I invoke divine order in my day every day, and then I say, ‘OK heaven, let’s go!’ And no matter what happens, I trust my intuition. I know when people are lying. I just know. I know when things are going to happen long before they happen, and then when they happen, I don’t get upset. I just look at what’s happening and say ‘Oh that’s interesting! What’s next?’”
Knowing how important authenticity is to Wendy, I asked if her perception and awareness of her self has changed. She laughed again.
“If you are really going to take this in, you cannot help but evolve, because you are bringing yourself closer and closer to your true authentic self, which is divinity,” she said. “You realize there is no separation between you and anyone or anything else. All you can do is walk in kindness and love, do the things that Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad all asked us to do—be who you were made to be. You must embrace the mystic that you are.”
And with Wendy, I bow to the profound truth, “All you can do is walk in kindness and love, do the things that Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad all asked us to do—be who you were made to be. You must embrace the mystic that you are.”
Trust the Dance & Be Who You Were Made To Be
What keeps us from reaching that state of continuous expansion and joy? What stands in the way of experiencing that place of no separation? What gets in the way of experiencing ourselves filled with light? What stops us from living life with gales of laughter? What keeps us from knowing—and knowing that what we know is true? Or as Wendy put it, what prevents us from being the mystics we were made to be?
I think the answer is simple. It’s trust. Before the knowing comes trust in the knowing. Before the miracle comes trust in the miracle. You can hear that trust flowing through Wendy’s story and all the stories in this book. But trust is evident not only in people who have been living their soul vows for a few years; you can see it in yourself, too.
Trust Is Important As You Live Your Soul Vows
Trust is important, because right about now you’re probably wondering what will happen as you live your soul vows. Will everything be pretty and safe from this moment on? In a way, yes, but in a word, no. It’s that paradox thing again. Your soul vows are not castle walls that keep out the hordes of loss. Despite the proclamations of hundreds of self-help programs, there actually are no such walls.
In a videotaped conversation, David Whyte said in a matter-of-fact tone, “There is no competency that can protect you from life’s losses.” I stopped the video and played that line again. And again. And again. I spoke it aloud: “There is no competency that can protect you from life’s losses.” I sensed this was an essential truth, and I wanted to memorize it by heart.
Now, many people might hear this and be terrified. “What! There’s nothing I can do to keep pain away? But I’m working so hard to do just that!” But I find this fact comforting at the deepest level.
Relax and Dance the Divine Guide-Dance
If there really is nothing I can do—no career I can build, no title I can hold, no degree I can earn, no amount of money I can save, no perfect relationship I can find, no perfect body I can build. If there really is nothing I can do to prevent the natural erosions that come with time and life, then, hooray, I can relax!
Instead of striving ceaselessly to build hopelessly porous fortifications, I can simply open the door and welcome life in with open arms, saying, “Come dance with me! Come dance!”
Why? Because I can trust that this dance with life is a dance of divine guide-dance. God is the guide, and together, we are the dance. Even when the dance gets a bit wild, as it often does; or I can’t quite hear the music, which happens sometimes; or the lights get low, and I can’t see where we’re headed on this tilted dance floor, I can still trust the dance.
My Seven Soul Vows
I can’t see the whole picture, it’s true, but I do know my seven little steps:
Step One: Unite to Create Good
No matter what’s happening, I continue to unite with people to create good in this world. And I always find them—or rather, they always find me. Together, we do something that matters, something that helps, something that heals. This is my job description, and it’s a great one. In fact, I think it calls for a little hop and skip step right now.
Step Two: Live in Partnership
I treat everyone as a partner. We’re all in this dance together. Someone at the counter in the airport may be my partner for five minutes, someone else for five years, a precious few for life, but with this soul vow I know we are all partners. In fact, I have so many partners that I think this step looks like Dances of Universal Peace with all of us, hundreds really, moving in gentle circles bending together to the music of the soul. Aaah, what a sweet dance move this one is.
Step Three: Honor Myself
I honor the Self in me. And because I honor the Self in me, I honor the Self in you, and the Self in her, and the Self in him, and the Self in them, and the Self in the grasses and the flowers and the trees. I can feel this soul vow in my body. It is a bow—a quiet slow and holy bow.
Step Four: Come From Love
I never forget that I come from love and love is a balm to be shared. It’s not mine to horde; it’s mine to spread. And oh how it spreads, even over my enemies. The federal judge who put my Jerry in prison taught me that. I know that I come from love and I will return to love, and in the meantime I get to spread love. This step feels like a waltz glide.
Step Five: Surrender. There is no Path But God's
I surrender! This is my starting point and my ending point. I always surrender because—surprise!—there actually is no path but God’s. I am on that path. You are on that path. We are all on that path. There is no other path. I love this step. Surrender feels like a divine tango to me. And to think I fought the word surrender for years. Now surrender is my most holy companion.
Step Six: Seek Truth
I keep seeking Truth, and I know Truth keeps seeking me. Truth and I are friends. She dances me to places I’d never find on my own. So perhaps this is a jazz move with no planned choreography, just the intoxicating call of a saxophone in the distance. I follow where Truth beckons.
Step Seven: Pray Always
My last dance step is a gentle sway. I pray. I’m praying right now as I write this, and I know you’re praying right now as you read it. My life is a swaying prayer.
I love my seven little dance moves. When I dance the dance of my soul vows, I can trust that Presence is moving in me and through me into the world. When I twirl, I can trust that light is spinning off me to bless someone, even if I never know who or where or how. When I know, I can trust that I know, and I can follow intuition where she leads. When I dance the steps that are mine to dance, life can walk in the door with one of her crazy surprises or strange gifts, and I can dance in response.
Oh, and laugh. I mustn’t forget laughter. That’s what Hafiz recommends.
Tell me, love, what I need right now so that
I might sing, and be alive, as my every cell craves.
Tell me, dear, what I need right now, but
in a manner I won’t soon forget.
Then the world began to sway, its hips
invited my arms, its feet placed mine upon
them, that made all my effort easy.
A father’s toes lifting a child’s in dance caused
God to pull out a drum.
The Beloved belted out a tune, that went,
“Nothing to follow . . . for I will move you.
You need not do a damn thing . . . just laugh.”
-- Hafiz, “In a Manner I Won’t Forget,”
from 'A Year with Hafiz',
translation by Daniel Ladinsky
©2015 by Janet Conner. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.
Soul Vows: Gathering the Presence of the Divine In You, Through You, and As You
by Janet Conner.
If you long to know your soul's purpose, Soul Vows is an ideal place to begin. Your soul vows describe how you choose to walk this earth, in every moment of every day. They are how you receive and spread grace. As you live your soul vows, you become a fertile container in which your purpose can take root and prosper.
With her characteristic blend of personal story, love of paradox, expansive inquiry into the heart of diverse spiritual wisdom and traditions, and confidence in the power of deep soul writing to elicit personal divine love and guidance, Janet Conner, spiritual speaker and author of Writing Down Your Soul, leads us through a groundbreaking application of the ancient chakra system to discover our own unique soul vows.
About the Author
Janet Conner is a writer, speaker, teacher, retreat guide, and radio show host with one compelling message: what you seek is inside. She is the author of Writing Down Your Soul and The Lotus and the Lily. She created The Soul-Directed Life radio show for Unity Online Radio.
Visit her at www.janetconner.com.