Spiritual Enrichment Courses

Ongoing spiritual education is provided through our Spiritual Enrichment Courses suitable for those students who love learning and yet do not currently include in their plans becoming a Licensed Prayer Practitioner. Our Spiritual Enrichment Courses are designed to be short (three to five weeks long) and practical. There are no prerequisites.

We offer at least two courses per trimester. Consult the Class Schedule to see what courses are currently being offered. Pre-registration is encouraged so we may prepare materials and seating for you. 

Affirmations

Everyone talks to themselves all of the time. We talk to ourselves with silent words, sometimes we verbalize them, sometimes the things we say to ourselves have been said so many times that they have become a feeling, or a mental image like a memory that keeps reoccurring. The longer we think a thought, the more likely it is to have become automatic and the truer it seems. It seems, too, that people tend to speak to themselves in predominantly negative ways; that is, until they wake up to what is going on and retrain themselves to speak more kindly. This class is designed to help you become aware of your affirmations in thought, words, action, and feelings.

Anger: A Spiritual Perspective

This is a three-week course developed by Rabbi George Gittleman of Shomrei Torah and Rev. Edward Viljoen of the Center for Spiritual Living. These two teachers collaborated on creating a class that explores such questions as “Does God have an anger management problem?” and “What spiritual practices can I engage in that will improve my relationship to anger?” By looking at stories from the Hebrew spiritual tradition, Science of Mind, and contemporary experts on stress, the class offers a spiritual perspective on a very human experience.

Beginner’s Mind and Spiritual Study

Spiritual Study is the intentional exploration of the thoughts, beliefs, and ideas of others in order to clarify our understanding, expand our awareness, and deepen personal meaning of the Divine.

Beginner’s Mind is a teaching of Zen Buddhism which points to the mind of a beginner as the most in touch with awakening.  “In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind, there are few.”

In this class we will practice developing our skills of attention and focus so that we can explore and develop each student’s experience of the Divine found in any subject  through spiritual study.

Being Before Doing:  A Spiritual Approach To Getting Things Done

How can we bring more joy into even the most mundane of daily tasks? Is there a way to experience more peace when carrying out stress-inducing activities? These are exactly the kinds of situations where the spiritual practice of “seva” — self-less  service — can assist. Often associated with giving service to others, an attitude of seva can uplift you anywhere, anytime, alone or with others. Come be with us, so we can do this together. 

The Bhagavad Gita for Beginners

This is a three-week introduction to the world of Hindu spirituality taught by Dr. Edward Viljoen. The class includes an introduction to basic Hindu spiritual terminology, an in-class read-through of a paraphrased version of the Gita, and an introduction to some of the better known deities of the Hindu faith.

Buddhism: The Awakened Mind

What does it mean to be awake? How does one wake up? What is there to wake up from? Turning to thoughts from Buddhism the students in this four-week class explore what awakening means and how the teaching from the Center offers specific consciousness-raising methods that anyone can practice.

Textbook: Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

Christian Mystics

Join our ministers as they share some inspiration from their favorite mystics. From the 13th century to the 20th century, these men and women shared a common direct experience of the One. Each one recognized the human world even as they saw through to their deeper Reality, providing everyday access to their and OUR own divine nature. Get a unique glimpse into the beauty, poetry and spiritual practices of Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Genoa, Meister Eckhart and Teilhard de Chardin. Revs. Ruth Barnhart, Joyce Duffala, Tara Steele and Kim Kaiser will also present their spiritual practices and invite you to explore the practices for your own spiritual journey.

Circulation: Joining the Dance

The spiritual practice of circulation requires you to balance the outward movement of giving with the inward movement of receiving, the outer activity of asking with the inner activity of forgiving, all held in the grateful attitude of giving thanks. It is important to understand, examine, and develop all of these areas, in order to create balance among them. For example, to some people giving is as natural as breathing. They may have difficulties with receiving or asking for what they want, but they have no problem with giving. Other people find it quite easy to receive but difficult to give. A truly well-balanced relationship to the world around you requires that all of the spokes in the wheel – giving, receiving, asking, forgiving, and gratitude – share the responsibility for carrying the vehicle. Just reading these words may already give you a hint about an area where you need to put your attention in order to create more balance.

Textbook: The Prosperous Life Journal, Second Edition by Chris Michaels and Edward Viljoen

Consciousness:  Key to Personal Spiritual Growth

An excellent introduction to our teachings, this class also offers those more familiar with Science of Mind the opportunity to dive more deeply into their own spiritual journey, the heart of their path, and their relationship with the Divine. It combines the wisdom of ancient teachings with the ideas of contemporary spiritual leaders, drawing on their written and video materials. The 9-week schedule gives participants the opportunity to share their experiences, insights, and questions in circle together. 

A Deeper Dive Into Affirmative Prayer

Dr. Edward will unpack each of the five steps of spiritual mind treatment in this five-week class on Science of Mind’s approach to affirmative prayer.  This class is suitable for students who already have some knowledge of spiritual mind treatment and want to take their practice deeper.  Dr. Edward will go beyond the basics of spiritual mind treatment into each step’s purpose and function, unlocking the heart’s connection to the mind’s treatment and bringing new life to our prayer practice. 

Embracing Change

People wish to be settled, wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “but only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.” Is there a spiritual response to the world of continual change that we live in that will allow us to embrace change without fear, without being unsettled? This class explores our world of continual change from a Science of Mind perspective. “We should never be afraid of change, never fearful of what will come. Instead, we should bring to bear on each new event the influence of the creative nature of our thought—an influence that is founded on an inward calm, a sense of certainty and peace, which will reflect in the changing scene of our everyday lives.

Emma Curtis Hopkins: Teacher of Teachers

Listen to these words from Emma Curtis Hopkins: “It is the nameless expectation of my soul that it shall love its life entirely.”  

For many, these words reach directly into our hearts and identify what we are always calling for in everything we do. Emma (as I like to call her) was the “teacher of teachers” in our New Thought spiritual tradition and in our class we will experience her ability to speak within us as well as to us. This 4 night class will use her book “Scientific Christian Mental Practice” (from the Roots of Science of Mind class) as a guide as we explore more deeply teachings from this and other writings by her and how they apply to our daily lives.

Textbook: Scientific Christian Mental Practice by Emma Curtis Hopkins

Forgiveness and Revealing the Divine Within

Learn the Hawaiian Forgiveness technique Ho’o pono pono that is practiced around the world.  Forgiveness creates new freedom, peace, and happiness to reveal  a richer, deeper awareness of the Divine already present in you.

A Fresh Look At Affirmations

“Words are vibrations of thought. Thoughts are vibrations of power and energy. Strong words or commands, such as “Wake up,” uttered feebly without the background of latent vigorous force, are meaningless. Hence, when you mechanically affirm, “I am prosperous,” but in the background of your mind, you think, “I am always poor, and I am going to remain so. What is the use of prosperity affirmations anyway?” then, of course, no results will be forthcoming.”              Yogananda 

In this class, Dr. Edward will explore:

  • What an affirmation is and what it is not.
  • What you say to yourself, and if your inner dialogue working for or against you.
  • What affirmations do to your deeper mind.
  • How to say what you mean and mean what you say in affirmations.
  • Three powerful ways to make affirmations work.
  • How to convert your affirmations to action.

Giving Voice to Our Souls

This five-week book study is an opportunity to experience the gift of seeing ourselves and others more clearly. This circle is not about fixing, saving, advising, or setting each other straight. We will learn to speak our own truth; listen receptively to the truth of others; ask honest, open questions of each other; and offer the healing and empowering gifts of silence and laughter. Based on Parker J Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life.

Heart Coherence:  Engaging the Heart for Peace and Well-being

Did you know the coherent heart creates an electromagnetic field 5000 times more powerful than the brain’s? This class reviews research from the HeartMath Institute, which reveals the heart is more than a pump and more than sentimentality. When we feel positive emotion, the heart becomes coherent and produces many benefits for our health, perception and well being. We will discuss these benefits, learn a technique to create heart coherence and experience a group heart coherence meditation in each class. Practiced consistently, heart coherence can facilitate opening the heart, responding more frequently with compassion, and greater awareness of intuition, inspiration and creativity. Also, if you have trouble quieting your mind in traditional meditation, heart coherence may be your answer to peace and relaxation.

How to Find Your Hidden Beliefs (and What To Do When You Find Them)

Most of what we believe has been given to us and not chosen by us. We are products of our culture, families, education, and much more. We experience our world and everyone in it in the light of beliefs that were unconsciously accepted without examination or evaluation. Some beliefs serve us very well, and many do not. This course uses science, psychology, and metaphysics to teach us how to identify, modify and release hidden beliefs that no longer serve us. We will explore some specific, practical methods for “What To Do When You Find Them.”

Recommended reading: Make Your Brain Smarter by Sandra Chapman

In the Footsteps of St. Francis: Living on the Earth

Saint Francis may be the most recognized of the Catholic saints. Most of us know the lovely prayer of St. Francis which begins “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.” Some of us have statues of St. Francis in our gardens. He lived for only forty-four years, dedicated to living in the example of Jesus. Though we are unlikely to walk barefoot in humble surrender to the Divine as Francis did, there is much to be gleaned from his life and words. In this four-week class, we’ll breathe into the images in the Canticle of the Creatures and we’ll explore Care for Creation, the Franciscan approach to healing our earth. We’ll also share our thoughts on how such a man might inspire us as we walk the earth, most likely in shoes.

Jesus: Divine Ideal, Divine Sacrifice

Rev. Tara Steele invites us into contemplation of what, if anything, Jesus represents in our life. What does Thomas Troward mean by pointing to Jesus as the Divine Ideal? What is the meaning of the death of Jesus? There will be readings from Troward, Ernest Holmes, and possibly others as well as much lively discussion.

Jesus in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration of the Man and His Teachings

This course invites you to an exploration of Jesus—in history, in religion, and in consciousness. We examine what we know about the first-century rabbi, his transmogrification from Jew to an emerging Christian philosopher, and the relevance of his consciousness and teachings today. Most important to the class is your willingness to explore your feelings, thoughts, and experience around Jesus. There will be readings, writings, conversation, and more, focused on learning about Jesus and his role, if any, in our own spiritual journeys. You will leave this class with more information on who Jesus was, how you relate to his teachings and a deeper understanding of what we believe about the “Christ Consciousness” in New Thought.

There has been much debate in Science of Mind (Religious Science) about whether we are a Christian denomination. Whether or not the term “denomination” is accurate, the founder of Religious Science, Ernest Holmes, was inspired by the teachings of Jesus as a mainstay of his philosophy. Arguably, many “non-Christians” (as well as devotees) continue to study and embrace Jesus in daily spiritual practice. Many Religious Scientists learned about Jesus by reading Ernest Holmes. This course welcomes you, wherever you are on the spectrum.

No required textbooks; however, participants will receive an annotated bibliography as well as selected readings distributed during class.

Ladder of Consciousness: Building Your Relationship with the Divine

You can have direct, immediate intuitive knowledge of the Divine through your own personal experience.  In this class, Rev. Siota Belle uses sacred spiritual exercises, mystical writings of Ernest Holmes and others, meditation, and both large and small group discussions to enrich and empower your conscious connection with Spirit.

Life Goes On: The Wisdom of Howard Thurman

Born just before the turn of the 20th century, Howard Thurman was a philosopher, a minister, an academic leader, an activist, a richly human mystic. Our conversation begins with Dr. Thurman’s early life and unfolding ministry, followed by his bringing Gandhi’s philosophy from India to civil rights leaders. Later Thurman co-founded The Church of All Peoples, this country’s first interracial, interfaith church, which continues to this day. Join Rev Tara and Lawrence Edwards as they celebrate the life and teachings of this remarkable man.

Textbook: For the Inward Journey by Howard Thurman

Lifting Each Other Up: Spiritual Community as Spiritual Practice

How important is the spiritual community to living a spiritual life? In Buddhism, spiritual community (“Sangha”) is co-equal and synonymous with Buddha (Awakened Mind)  and Dharma (Buddhist teaching and practice). 

In the language of Science of Mind, this roughly means Spirit, spiritual practice and living, and the spiritual community are the same thing. On the one hand, this makes sense according to our philosophy which considers Spirit to be in, through, and as everything and everyone. On the other hand, many of us Science of Mind types are individualistic, perhaps even sometimes viewing other people as a distraction to the spiritual life. 

So how can we make sense of the idea of “being community” as a spiritual practice which is an essential ingredient for the path of spiritual living? How does interrelating with people of a similar spiritual focus enhance and uplift each of us? This class considers these and other questions concerning our spiritual interdependence,      

Living the Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
One of the purposes of this class is to look at the Serenity Prayer through new eyes, taking it to an even deeper level. As we think about the meaning of each word – and participate in that meaning – we begin to take responsibility for our lives in a way we may not have done before. We find the courage to change because we realize we are not alone; the greatest Love of all is always with us. Even on days when we have said and done things we regret, the Beloved thinks we are nothing short of magnificent! Little by little, one step at a time, we come to understand that we are truly loveable; we are God’s gift.

This class seeks to deepen our relationship with the God of our understanding until we have a personal relationship with him/her/it that makes our God real to us. It is the experience of God that changes our life. Living the Serenity Prayer can bring us to that experience.
Recommended reading: “25 Words- How the Serenity Prayer Can Save Your Life” – by Barb Rogers

Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene: Two Expressions of the Divine Feminine

Mary, mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene, one of his followers, expressed the Divine Feminine in different ways. Some might put them at opposite ends of a spectrum. In this three-week course we will explore their lives as examples and archetypes. Open to everyone intrigued by the Marys as well as by the Divine Feminine and Its expression within. Reading from scripture, fiction, and academe will enrich the conversation.

Origins and Ancestry of Science of Mind

Our teaching, The Science of Mind, was put together in a time of great cultural creativity, an era of chaos and change as new ways of knowing and living life were happening. From the Transcendentalists in Concord to the Spiritualists holding seances in the White House, it was a time of experimentation and openness to ways of knowing the Divine.  This course is about that time of cultural and personal ferment, similar to the times we are living in now, and the people who found in it new and practical ways to live the spiritual truths which transformed their lives.

Open At The Top…

Ernest Holmes never stopped learning. He said his spiritual practice was always “ ‘open at the top ‘ for new insights, and for fresh and invigorating ways to present spiritual information.”  Some of his students reported that he also said, “if in 50 years you’re teaching only the same things I taught, then you’re not teaching Science of Mind.” This is a  course that looks at several new and radically different ways of seeing self, others, and the world that have come from religion, philosophy, and science and that can add to a deeper understanding and practice of Science of Mind.  We’ll look at Buddhism, the philosophy of pragmatism, new scientific world views, and begin it all with reading passages from This Thing Called You* anew.

Textbook:  This Thing Called You, by Ernest Holmes

The Power of Meditation

Establishing a meditation practice can be daunting when going it alone. When practiced as a group, meditation can be a powerful experience that leads to new insights and discoveries.  Each week we will experience meditation together with time to mindfully listen and share with other spiritual seekers. Meditation offers a way to gain more emotional and mental control of daily life. This class provides a safe refuge for self-care in this busy world.

Textbook: The Power of Meditation, by Edward Viljoen

Radical Self Love

Self Love is our natural state. It is where we began at birth. Self love is maybe the most important or certainly the first and biggest ingredient in a recipe for a world that works for everyone. Radical self love means becoming a safe place for ALL of me, a soft place to land, to love without walls of protection, to know and love myself so well that I can let “you” see me without fear of shame or judgement. SELF love because I want to be the most complete embodiment of love that I can; that every cell within me is free to radiate Love. In this class you will develop and begin your own personal Radical Self Love Practice.

“Our greatest ability as humans is not to change the world; but to change ourselves.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Rumi, Hafez, and Friends

The poetry of Rumi, Hafez, and others greatly inspire and liberate the reader. There are great spiritual teachings in these works and there is also great love to be known and felt through hearing them. In this four-part course, we will meet the poets personally and receive the mystical teachings they have prepared for each one of us.

Recommended reading:
Love Poems from God, translated by Daniel Ladinsky
The Essential Rumi, translations by Coleman Barks

The Science and Spirit of Ecology

Emerson wrote: There is no place where you end and God begins, and no place God ends and you begin. Ecology is the science and philosophy of the truth that all things physical, mental, and spiritual are connected, and in truth never separated. The spiritual and practical applications of this intertwining are endless. There is a growing need to acknowledge and act on the truth that all being is part of one being. This class will look at some of the scientific, philosophical and spiritual practices that follow from this realization that we are all one.

Textbook:  The Ecology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained by DK

The Science of Mind and Spirit for Beginners: An Easy Read-Through Based on the Classic by Ernest Holmes

Ernest Holmes’ classic work The Science of Mind is the reference book for most classes taught at Centers for Spiritual Living, and frankly, it’s not that easy to read. When people find the Center, often they ask about a good book to read to learn more about the teaching studied at the Center and I find myself hesitating to recommend this text. In part, it’s because the book was written so long ago in a style that, compared to contemporary texts, is difficult to take in. Also, the text, I am told, consists of compilations of talk Ernest Holmes gave and as a result, the chapters don’t fully stick to the subjects suggested by the titles.

So I set about writing a beginner’s guide, reducing complex sentences into manageable ideas. I built a class around the text The Science of Mind and Spirit for Beginners: Four Chapters in Simplified Prose. Although you can purchase the eBook from the link above, the text is contained in the student handbook for the class with fill in the blank exercises completed in class. 

The five-week class is a great introduction to this classic work for beginners and I believe it will also be an entertaining refresher for those familiar with Ernest Holmes’ writings.

There are no required texts for the class, although students will be invited to read each of the four chapters in the original text at the same time as the paraphrased version. We’ll take time to explore the sources Ernest Holmes refers to (often he doesn’t attribute his material, making it a fun treasure hunt) and talk about the major themes present in these first four chapters.

Spiritual Mind Treatment: A Way to Pray

Centers for Spiritual Living are part of the contemporary metaphysical movement and of all the practices that we share in common with other faith traditions (service, meditation, study, devotion, etc.) Spiritual Mind Treatment may be the cornerstone of our unique approach to Divinity. In this course, students will look at the logic behind the steps of Spiritual Mind Treatment, compare them to the practice of our founder, Ernest Holmes, and explore how language can either solidify a sense of separation from God or lead us deeper into the awareness of our unity with All That Is.

Ten Effortless Spiritual Practices

An old Native American story concerns a person who wants to become a shaman, a healer, for the tribe. They would approach an experienced shaman and ask to be trained. The shaman would not say yes or no but first gave the applicant a test: “Show me ten beautiful and amazing things first and then I will train you in healing.” If the applicant made the effort to take one step away to look for these ten amazing things, they would immediately fail the test. This course is about finding the miraculous and mystical right where you are, effortlessly. We will study the many effortless practices given by spiritual traditions to make us aware of where we are always, in the presence of Spirit.

This Thing Called You

“You, like all others, are seeking the joy of living. You wish to be needed, to be loved, to be included in the great drama of life.” So begins Ernest Holmes’ short, easy-to-read book, This Thing Called You. Let’s explore who we really are using this book as a guide. We’ll look at our core beliefs, intuitive living, and explore who we really are: divine beings capable of co-creating with the Infinite to live more freely and more fearlessly.

The Undiscovered Country: Revealing Our Eternal Self

How can we reveal our immortal life while understanding the certainty of human death? Insights from the Bhagavad Gita, Buddhism, Sufi masters, and the great mystical saints illuminate this journey of the human soul. In this three-week class we will explore an eight-step plan to realize our immortality here and now.

Vajra Guru Mantra: Removing the Blocks of Anger, Pride, Attachment, and Envy

The Vajra Guru Mantra is associated with Padmasambhava, or Guru Rinpoche, the revered spiritual master of the Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan.  In an ancient text, known as the syllable by syllable commentary, Guru Rinpoche explains the chant’s many layers of meaning in a conversation with his spiritual companion, Yeshe Tsogyal.

For our class, we are focusing on only one of the explanations from the syllable by syllable commentary which explains how each word of the chant removes the blocks of desire, aversion, anger, pride, attachment, and envy.

In class study: each week, the class will meet for one hour to discuss concepts from our Science of Mind teaching related to removing blocks in consciousness.

*Home study: each week will be to view a video by Dr. Edward discussing concepts from our Science of Mind teaching related to removing blocks in consciousness (30 – 60 minutes weekly).  At home practice will include reciting the mantra 108 times (30 min daily). A recording by Dr. Edward reciting the chant will be made available to guide students.

*Students must be able to commit to a daily 30-minute practice of chanting. Students are encouraged to keep a journal of thoughts and feelings that arise and share them in the weekly class discussion.

What’s Your Story

As glimpses into our lives, stories highlight people and events, the themes, the villains, and heroes.  They may become vehicles of hope and healing as we shift our perspective and open to the richness and vitality of our lives. Sometimes we forget to update the stories. As we notice the ways we have changed and grown, we rewrite our life stories, perhaps adding color, joy, wonder, or gratitude. The power of the Divine living in, through, and as ourselves shines forth. Join Rev. Tara Steele to explore the twists and turns, the infinite imaginings and possibilities, the power of story, from stormy first draft to the present and forward. We’ll explore stories in different ways, writing them, telling them, playing with them, and more.

William James and the Stream of Consciousness

William James is possibly America’s most important thinker of the nineteenth century. He is known as the father of psychology in the United States, one of the founders of the pragmatic school of philosophy, and the thinker who initiated the academic study of religious experience. In addition, he was an influential supporter of New Thought teachings who stopped the New York state legislature from banning the public teaching of our movement. This course focuses on James’ classic essay, “The Stream of Consciousness” and his book “The Varieties of Religious Experience”. It also explores subsequent developments that have emerged in the wake of James’ pioneering work – including applications in social activism, hypnosis, psychotherapy, psychic healing, and consciousness research.

This is a shorter and less intense version of a required class that all ministerial students take at Holmes Institute, School of Consciousness Studies.

Textbook: The Varietes of Religious Experience, by William James

World Mysticism: Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian Mystics

The mystics of these major spiritual traditions have taught the same thing, that anyone can have a direct experience of the Ultimate Reality, whether it is called God, Allah, Buddha, or Brahma. This class will trace the paths they recommended to all who would listen. Students will learn how each religious tradition had its own path to directly experiencing the Ultimate Reality. Through experiential practices in class and individual practice between classes, students will taste the unique flavor of each spiritual tradition. And by the end, each student will have a greater understanding of how different pathways can lead to the Ultimate but also have a new sense of their own pathway to the One.

Writing Affirmative Prayers

Have you wondered why some prayers move you deeply and seem to reach into your very essence? In this course we will explore writing affirmative prayers as a way to access and nourish our connection to Spirit. We will discover how to access our own inner wisdom and the words that open our heart and mind to our own personal and unique expression of spiritual truth. We will practice writing prayers for ourselves and others and engage in nourishing feedback. Discover, re-discover and deepen the power of affirmative prayer as a tool in your spiritual practice.

Recommended reading “5 Steps to Freedom, an Introduction to Spiritual Mind Treatment” by John Waterhouse

Your Authentic and Innate Goodness

There is a light in the soul, Meister Eckhart wrote – a light that is uncreated and that cannot be created. I call that light “ordinary goodness” and I believe that the ultimate goal of life, if there is such a thing, is to express that goodness by letting it come alive in us. However, goodness, like love, makes us exposed and vulnerable. Yet we can no more withdraw from our natural-born goodness than we can withdraw from our inclination to love – not if we expect to live a life of meaning and worth.

In this three-week class, you will explore what it means to live a life guided and inspired by your authentic and innate sense of goodness by

  • Creating a personal pledge of spiritual allegiance
  • Creating your own “I believe” statement
  • Creating a list of personal values

The class is based on exercises from the book Ordinary Goodness: The Surprisingly Effortless Path to Creating a Life of Meaning and Beauty, by Edward Viljoen. Although the book is not required to take the course, it is strongly recommended that students read the entire book for the background and context of the lessons.

Recommended Reading: Ordinary Goodness by Edward Viljoen