Long distance learning

Over the past two years, my outlook on life has changed dramatically.

I used to live, like many people do, with fear of lack and limitation.  I worried about jinxing myself if I thought about something positive happening to me (I’m not kidding – I actually worried that thinking about a positive outcome would bring about a negative one).  I also had fiery and often uncontrollable temper.

My whole way of thinking changed when I stumbled upon a podcast by Reverend Patrick Cameron, the spiritual director and senior minister of The Centre for Spiritual Living, Edmonton.  I had been searching for entertainment to wile away the time, while I walked miles and miles to whittle away my baby-weight, and found a new way to look at life: New Thought.

Much of what I write about relates to what I’ve learned from New Thought, but I’ve never actually written about the man who introduced me to these ideas.  Without ever having met him, Reverend Cameron has become an inspiration in my life – a guide, and even a friend, of sorts.  I turn to his voice when I’m feeling lost.  And for all the times he’s helped me center myself, I am grateful beyond words.

The same boat

Before I discovered Reverend Cameron’s podcasts, I’d never heard of New Thought or the Science of Mind.  I strongly feel that one’s relationship with God is a personal matter, so it’s not at all like me to listen to sermons in person, or otherwise.  Had he been a different kind of minister, I probably would have been turned off right away.

I’m someone who finds it easier to learn from people to whom I can relate and Reverend Cameron is eminently relatable.  Immediately apparent is how genuine he is.  Ironically, he’s a former actor who, in no way, appears to be putting on an act.  He has a deep understanding of his material, but presents it from the perspective of a person who is figuring it all out as he goes along and still has some learning to do.  For me, this lends credibility to everything he has to say.  Listening to him give his Sunday sermon is like a jovial family brunch.   He includes everyone in his conversation and gets his points across with humor and authenticity.

To explain the lessons he wants to impart, Rev. Cameron draws heavily on the personal experiences of people he knows, authors he’s read and very often, himself.  He talks about his childhood, as part of a large Midwestern family and about some of the baggage he had from his own religious upbringing.  He talks about his experiences trying to make it as an actor before realizing that acting was his passion, but not his calling (a difficult admission for which I admire him).

Rev. Cameron’s life has not been entirely smooth and easy, but he knows that the challenges he faced helped him grow into the person he has become.  When he talks about his little irritations – like the story of his unruly tenant who had to be evicted, or the time his truck was broken into or when he missed a flight for his vacation – I feel how human he is.  He comes across as someone who’s in the same boat as the rest of us… someone who is using the teachings of New Thought to make the best of life and is sharing his experiences so we all might benefit.

Not the Sunday sermon of my youth…

I’m skeptical of religious and spiritual gurus who talk with certitude, seeming to conflate faith with fact.  Reverend Cameron’s sermons immediately appealed to me because he expresses humility and open-mindedness. “Here’s what I happen to believe,” he seems to say, “Take whatever works for you, or leave it, as you see fit.”

And if you don’t happen to like anything he says, Rev. Cameron isn’t offended.  He just thinks, “Some bless us by coming into our lives; some bless us by leaving.”  Fair enough!

There’s little pomp and formal ritual to the sermons, nor is there dogma one must accept.  Even little ceremonies are left to the individual’s discretion.  For example, Rev. Cameron likes to sing a song before he begins his speech, but I love that he introduces it by saying, “You’re welcome to stand and join in if you like, or don’t, if you prefer to stay seated.”

Rev. Cameron frequently says that New Thought isn’t about worshipping a particular figure, like Jesus, but about learning the lessons he taught.  And yet, it is by no means just a Christian organization.  New Thought respects all religious traditions and draws from each the most positive, helpful and loving messages.  Ministers are just as likely to quote from the Bible as they are from the Koran, or from Sufi mystics, or from Einstein, or from contemporary psychiatrists.

In his message to the public on the Centre for Spiritual Living, Edmonton’s website, Reverend Cameron writes:

Imagine a place that welcomes people of all races, religions, sexual orientations and social backgrounds in respect, dignity and love. A community that nurtures diversity and provides multitude of opportunities for anyone, at any stage of life, to grow spiritually.  Imagine a spiritual community that communicates and celebrates the positive aspects of humankind, the world around us, and our relationship to the Power within.  What would it be like to be part of a spiritual community that is practical and provides tangible steps and programs for individuals and families to change and apply spiritual principles in their lives immediately?

From what one can gleam through the podcasts, Rev. Cameron’s community is exactly as he describes – a positive, hopeful, kind, inclusive and loving group of people, who aren’t out to tell you that their way is right and your way is wrong.

 “New Thoughts” I owe to Rev. Cameron

So, now that I’ve gone on and on about Rev. Cameron, you may be wondering what I’ve actually learned from him.  I thought I’d list five specific ideas that have had a profound impact on my life, all of which I’ve written about either specifically or generally.

1)     “You are what you think about all day long.”  Emerson is among my favorite writers, so when Rev. Cameron quoted him, I was hooked.  Rev. Cameron made me stop and think about what Emerson was really trying to say and helped me realize that my thoughts are largely who I am.  If I focus on negative, fearful ideas, my life will seem negative and frightening.  When you’re driving, you tend to steer where you’re looking… the same is true with living.  If you’re thoughts are gloomy, you tend to steer yourself toward gloomy experiences.  If your outlook is optimistic, you lead yourself toward situations that make you happy.  Rev. Cameron has helped me take responsibility for what goes on within my brain.

2)    The Great Leap and Five Wishes.  Sometimes Rev. Cameron’s sermons take on the qualities of a spiritual book club, which I love.  He finds authors I would never have considered reading and talks extensively about their work.  In my writing, I’ve often referred to writers I found through Rev. Cameron, in particular, Gay Hendricks (who I wrote about here, here and here).  In The Great Leap, Hendricks describes how most of us have a subconscious limit on the amount of happiness and success we feel we deserve.  When we begin to reach that point, we sabotage ourselves.  If it hadn’t been for the Reverend, I would never have recognized my own “upper limit problem.”

3)    “Evolved people.”  Rev. Cameron often refers to the work of Michael Beckwith and I have written about him here and here.  Though I personally find Beckwith a bit difficult to read, I have tried to take to heart his contention that “Evolved people race to see who can forgive first.”  It’s helped me to let go of unproductive anger and hurt.

4)    When making up stories comes to no good.”  I owe this significant change in my psyche entirely to Rev. Cameron.  He told an instructive tale about moving into his new home and making friends with his neighbors.  One neighbor, however, seemed to be particularly unfriendly.  Rev. Cameron would wave from his driveway and the man just blatantly ignored him.  “Wonder what that guy’s problem is?” he thought, as he tried not to be offended.  Then, one day, the neighbor’s wife came around.  In the course of conversation, she mentioned that her husband is blind.  Aha – so that’s why he didn’t wave back!  Rev. Cameron’s imagination could have invented all kinds of reasons why his neighbor ignored him, but he never would have guessed the truth.  How often do we incorrectly assign a meaning to someone else’s words or actions?   How often do we unfairly assume a negative connotation that was never intended?  Of late, I have saved myself countless hours of angst by refusing to indulge in imaginary tales that do no one any good.

5)    Meditation.  Who was it that made me understand how vital meditation can be to one’s health and happiness?  You guessed it!  Meditation is a vital aspect of New Thought practice and I probably would never have given it a try if it hadn’t been for the Rev.  And as I’ve since learned, meditation isn’t just for one’s spiritual benefit; science is beginning to prove that meditation is beneficial for our health – it can actually change the structure of our brain (read more here).

This list of what Rev. Cameron and New Thought has taught me is by no means exhaustive – in fact, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Hopefully, the blog itself is testament to how helpful I’ve found this teaching and how much happier I am for it.

With that in mind, I wanted to express my appreciation and share the source of much of my inspiration with the hope that others might also find it valuable.

The podcasts to which I refer are available free through iTunes and from the Centre of Spiritual Livings’ website.  May your own lives be filled with “new thoughts” that help you become the best of who you are meant to be.

***  Due to time constraints and travel, the Temple will likely be very quiet over the summer.  Thank you to everyone for being so encouraging and supportive since I began writing.  Please peruse previous posts and join me again in a few months!


The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://meghanthompson.com/2011/06/13/long-distance-learning/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have really enjoyed all your posts – they are definitely very inspiring and extremely uplifting. They have been a real tonic for me since I discovered them and thank you for sharing your wise words. I am looking forward to reading more after your break. Don’t stay away too long, please.

  2. Lovely and meaningful — as always. Enjoy your summer!

  3. Meghan, you are amazing! I am looking forward to listening to his podcast. I consider myself a very happy person, but there is something missing and this may be it. I will definately miss your posts over the summer!

  4. Six Reasons Why Distance Learning Makes Sense…

    More and more people are finding that knowledge really is power, and achieve their goals online training. Best of all, the online students found that graduates of accredited colleges and universities and increase your earning potential, giving them mor…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: