Saturday, May 22, 2010

“Things Are Going Great In My Absence: How To Let Go And Let The Divine Do The Heavy Lifting” by Lola Jones - book review

I recently read, “Things Are Going Great In My Absence: How To Let Go And Let The Divine Do The Heavy Lifting” by Lola Jones. Lola Jones is a spiritual teacher based in Austin Texas. She is known for a consciousness-raising modality called Divine Openings, which has roots out of the diksha process that comes from ancient traditions out of India. Divine Openings is a combination of a transmission of grace from a Divine Openings giver and the reading of this book, “Things Are Going Great In My Absence: How To Let Go And Let The Divine Do The Heavy Lifting”. Lola runs workshops and has online classes off her website. I read this book as part of my preparation for attending Lola Jones’ 5 Day Silent Retreat (more on that later). I am, in fact, now certified to offer Divine Openings to others (again, more on that later).

In general, this book is a wonderful read for anyone seeking an awakening of consciousness. It’s easy to read, and its down-to-earth tone is a refreshing change from many books on spirituality and consciousness. Lola talks about consciousness in a way that everyone can understand. For me, reading this book was like a taking a breath of fresh air. Many books on spirituality feel stuffy because they require so much mental work to try follow what the writers are trying to say. In contrast, this book is the total opposite in ease of readability. Lola emphasizes the need for more simplicity and plain speaking in spiritual development. On this, I whole heartedly agree, as it it has been my feeling for a while that the discourse in the metaphysical communities has gotten way too complicated. There are way too many complicated ideas out there, along with complex metaphysical processes and theories. And particularly, too many buzz words people throw about that no one really understands.

Lola is spot on when she emphasizes the importance of feelings, rather than focusing on the mental side of how the Divine is or is not. She is brilliant in the way she uses metaphors to explain things in a way everyone can understand. She makes lofty concepts like “enlightenment” and “Law of Attraction” simple and clear. Her emphasis on feeling one's feelings fully, ("diving in") is fantastic and very helpful. I definitely felt an uplifted, energized feeling of more grace when I read this book. Her emphasis on self-acceptance, that there is nothing wrong with any of us, is priceless. And yes absolutely, when we do learn to let go and go with the flow of the Divine, wonderful manifestations can happen in our lives. That is the main crux of many spiritual teachings, and Lola help make it easier to understand. Because of this, I’ve suggested this book to a few of my clients as interesting food for thought. For just the clear accessibility to some interesting ideas on spiritual development alone, this book is worth it.

However, with that said, this book does have a couple major flaws that undermine its basic message. My impression is that Lola holds some misunderstandings, even stereotypes, about the nature of healing and how seekers are on the spiritual path that are, at best, heavily exaggerated, and worse, simply inaccurate. I think that much of this is because Lola does not really understand healing. She has never been a healer, and in fact, seems to have only a rather cursory understanding about healing in general. Thus, as a healer reading this book, I wound up with the distinct feeling that she was writing about something which she did not really understand. Since she is primarily a teacher and not a healer, I would be OK with that, if she didn’t also put forth a rather distorted perception about the healing process in general. But instead, her message seems to be that working on yourself to heal things that are bothering you is now no longer necessary. All people have to do now to get enlightened is to get a Divine Opening from a Divine Opening giver and read her book. This is what she calls the “new paradigm” of spiritual development.

Furthermore, she hints that those who do not agree with her point of view are in “resistance” or unable to let go and let the Divine do the work for them. I think this is a misinterpretation on her part. There are other possible reasons why not everyone may agree with her perspective besides being in “resistance” of the Divine flow. This lack of appreciation that different paths work for different people is what kept this book from being even stronger and more impressive. People have different ways to get where they’re going. It has always been like that. This book seemed to imply that Divine Openings will work for everyone, if people just “do it right”. That’s a red flag for me. I’ve seen this before, when teachers feel that they have the one answer everyone is looking for. It’s well intentioned, of course. But to me, the Divine is simply too big to work only one way, through only one modality. I find it odd that this book somehow misses this point. Other modalities do not typically make an implied statement that they channel more grace than any others. But somehow this book does.

Simplicity is wonderful, and I really loved that this book tried to keep things as simple as possible. But I couldn’t help feeling that some important things got oversimplified. As a result, the book felt like a driving a brand new BMW that was also missing a gear in its transmission. I could see the beauty of the BMW, feel its potential power, and I felt like I was moving. But it also felt like something important under the hood got overlooked that would pull it all together.

Some things in the book that I did not agree with:

“Stop talking about what upsets you. It merely creates more of what you don’t want.”

I believe this is a spin-off of the Abraham-Hicks ideas of Law of Attraction that are so popular these days. Lola’s perspective is that when people focus their attention to talk about what upsets them, they enter the vibration of the problem and then, in effect, create more of what they don’t want.

I understand the idea here, but I disagree with the perspective. Certainly, we all know of people who are stuck in their stories and repeat them endlessly. More often, though, it is more a matter of people needing to share something, to be heard. How would it be any grace at all to tell them not to do so? If they could have moved past whatever is bothering them, they would have. I find it curiously lacking in compassion to tell people they need to stop talking and “get out of the story”. It’s a good metaphysical lecture to tell people this, and it may even be “right”, in the eyes of some. And for many people, the process of feeling the feeling and losing the story works beautifully. I have found it very helpful for myself. But I’m not sure I would say this is the way everyone should handle feelings, like this book suggests. In some people and in some situations, it would likely just push things down even further and cause more issues. What’s often needed, instead, is for a story to be fully told, fully felt, and fully met with grace. Presence, if you will. Upon this happening, the story often simply dissipates on its own. The idea that someone's story (aka "issue" or "what happened") should be blithely ignored and not even fully heard once because it is "negative" is, to me, going too far.

Indeed, humans have told their stories for thousands of years, around campfires, in counsel with elders, as well through in art, poetry and literature. I think it’s part of our psyche, our energetic DNA, of what it means to be human. It also happens to be the basis for the entire psychotherapy profession. To say that somehow the telling our story is dysfunctional and making people create more of what they don’t want is, to me, a bit misguided. I understand the metaphysical theory behind it, I just don’t agree with the resulting conclusion.

“Stop going to other people (therapists, healers, counselors, etc) to be “fixed” It just sets you up for an endless cycle of seeking.”

From a healer’s point of view, this is a a clear miss on Lola's part. Anyone who knows anything at all about healing knows that healers never “fix” anyone. That is not our job, nor is it even possible. I have never heard any teacher in any healing modality, including Reiki, qi gong EFT, shamanism or even standard psychotherapy, ever talk about a goal of “fixing” anyone. I've never heard even the most prominent energy medicine healers talk about"fixing" patients. I was disappointed that someone of Lola’s stature would have this distorted idea of what healers really do.

Certainly it might sometimes be true that sometimes people seek out therapy or healers because they think they need to be “fixed” of some sort of problem, but I would say it’s more accurate to say that most people seek out help when they are in pain and simply would like some support moving through it. They are not looking to be "fixed" by someone outside of themselves so much as merely more whole. True healing is merely being of service to help someone connect to more of themselves. It has nothing to do with “fixing” anyone, or even “moving their energy.”

Basically, my perspective towards clients has always been that "there is nothing wrong with you and it is ok to give things that are bothering you some needed attention." One perspective does not negate the other, like Lola seems to suggest. The specific way that people may choose to give things attention may be different, such as a specific modality. Different ways work differently for different people. But regardless of modality, the fundamental basics of grace and healing are the same. Conventional therapists talk about the importance of “unconditional regard” and to me, that’s just another term for the grace, which has been around forever. Divine Openings calls it the Presence but it is the same thing. There is grace in so many ways of healing and being. Whether it comes in silence, through nature, through music, or through a qualified therapist or energy healer, it is still Presence, aka “the-stuff-that-heals”. I do think it would be nice if Lola's book would trust that people know what is best for them, and in some cases, it may be Divine Openings, while in others, it might be something else, like confiding in a trusted friend. There's simply no need to look down at other modalities. There’s room for them all.

And I do not think spiritual inquiry and seeking healing sends anyone into an endless cycle of seeking. I am puzzled how and why Lola would arrive at this conclusion. The book seems to hold a viewpoint that spiritual seekers are caught in an loop of going to endless seminars, healers, trying endless modalities, etc. In fact, the tone of the book is quite disparaging on this. But I do not think this is an accurate portrayal of people on the spiritual path. Sure, it may happen that way for some people, but the book seems to state this as if it were a matter of fact of all seekers, and I simply do not agree. Maybe people do what they do out of curiousity, rather than feeling pathetically lost in life. The book clearly holds a stereotype, one that doesn’t recognize the uniqueness of individuals. People are looking for the Presence, and thte Presence speaks in many different ways and forms. I do not believe any modality, including Divine Openings, is the end-all be all for everyone. This is coming from someone who is now certified to do this modality.

“Don’t combine Divine Openings with other modalities, or you will get confused and all scrambled.”

This was, by far, the most puzzling and controversial claim in the book. The essence of Divine Openings is sheer grace, or the Presence, as I mentioned. And grace moves in everything. It always has and always will. There are a million ways to access grace and the Presence, not just through the Divine Openings modality. Divine Openings merely gives people a wonderful extra boost of this grace. But other healing modalities have always used grace as well, even if they call it something else or it happens a different ways.

Frankly, there is an obvious reason why there are many different healing modalities to begin with. It’s because different things work for different people. It’s that simple. And grace is why all of these different approaches exist to begin with. Most healers that work with different modalities have always known this. So I am puzzled how a spiritual teacher would insist that her modality should be more special than all others. Or that a modality of pure grace should not be mixed or combined with anything else, lest it ruin its “purity”. Divine Openings is all about the grace, the Presence all around us. And Presence is like oxygen. The Presence does not belong to Divine Openings exclusively. It is present everywhere and works in everything, including other modalities.

After I thought about it, I realized that it isn’t the hands-on giving of grace part of Divine Openings that would cause any confusion or “scrambling”. It’s Lola’s book that might confuse people, for the reasons I’ve mentioned here. Many of the ideas in the book are simply not compatible with other modalities. It does not mean the Presence available in Divine Openings is not compatible with other modalities. It only means that Lola’s interpretation of how healing should happen is not compatible with other modalities. The incompatibility issue is at the human level of interpreting how peoples’ spiritual evolvement “should” happen. Not in the power of the Presence itself.

I also noticed that the book makes a distinct separation between what’s needed for healing of the body and that of the emotions and spirit. As an energy healer, I fundamentally disagree with this approach. It’s a largely artificial distinction, since to me the two are very interrelated. But from the book’s point of view, if your body needs help, it would be fine to seek medical attention from a physician/chiropractic/etc. In contrast, if you had an emotional difficulty, you would avoid anything that involved working on yourself emotionally because that would be “old paradigm” and grace from Divine Openings would solve it better.

In discussion with other healers who have read this book, their consensus was the same as mine. People felt it was a good book, but also felt that Lola does not really understand healing. I also think Lola has assumed that what has worked for her on her journey should work for everyone else, and I simply don’t think that is true. Although in her book, Lola reports in her book that many people do experience wonderful shifts with Divine Openings and I think that is tremendous, I also suspect that Lola is not hearing the whole story from everyone on this.

In spite of these observations, I still recommend this book as a worthwhile read to anyone who is on the spiritual path. I enjoyed it, and I did get some good points out of it. I have recommended it to my clients who I felt would be appropriate, and am looking forward to hearing their reactions to it. I’ve also done some Divine Opening sessions to certain clients. It will be interesting to see how things unfold for them.

Next post, if I can get around to it, will be on the 5 Day Silent Retreat experience I had at Lola Jones' ranch. Stay tuned!

What do you think? I welcome your comments!

Before you go ... Would you like a great way to feel better fast when life gets tough and you're stressed?


Adele Wang
Certified energy healer and mentor, helping sensitive, spiritual, perfectionist women create happiness and success in an imperfect world!

Connect with me on:   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHTnQjQ47dZP3Fb9rgctM6Q http://www.facebook.com/SafeHavenHealing.net https://twitter.com/AdeleWang_

Copyright © 2010-2017. Adele Wang. All Rights Reserved

8 comments:

  1. Thanks Adele! I liked your post a lot, I share the same worldview in that different things work for different people and these different modalities are all from Spirit. Reading your post calmed me down bcuz I was freaking out reading the book when it said not to do other energy healing! I use Reiki and EFT and the emotion code so I'm glad to hear that you've used different modalities with the Divine Openings and havent been scrambled!

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  2. Hi Satish!

    Thanks for your feedback! Yes, I totally agree with you. I blend Divine Openings all the time with other modalities and it works absolutely wonderfully. Not sure why people get so worried about scrambling, lol. In my work, it's just made everything even better! :)

    Have a fabulous day!

    Adele

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  3. Hello Adele and thanks very much for this post. I've read the book three times now and done about eight Divine Openings but was having real trouble taking in what Lola said about not being able to give Reiki, EFT etc. I thought I was being 'resistant'. The thing is, when a client comes to me with a problem, what if Divine Openings is not the right answer for them? I would like to be 'attuned' to give Divine Openings but don't want to make it the be-all-and-end-all of my business and don't want to be told that I can't give Reiki etc. if I think that's what a client needs. Not everybody is open to DO yet. But I have received great benefits from it and would like to add it to my work. My thought is it should be another tool in my toolbox, not the whole toolbox! So how do we do that, without calling it 'Divine Openings' as Lola says on her site. I was getting very despondent and did 'ask' for some help with this question, so finding your post has been an inspiration to me. Thanks very much. Yvonne, Rainbows, rainbowsinbeverley.co.uk

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  4. Hi Yvonne,

    Sorry I missed your note earlier! I'm glad you found my article helpful. I totally agree with what you mean. I think the Divine Openings thing that it can't be combined with other stuff is limiting and confusing for people. I've had fabulus results blending for a year now. It's just another tool, a good one, but not the only one, and there is no reason to limit oneself from checking out other things also. Nothing blows up or scrambles if you do so. No worries.

    And then, of course, as you progress on your path, you can find your unique blend of the way you work! :)

    Thanks for your note!

    Adele

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  5. Hi Adele,
    Many pages of solid review. I thought it was a beauty. You spent so many fine words trying to punch holes in the book, took a swing at the auther that barely missed, and even used a left handed haymaker at the poor Hicks that certainly made them duck. I am proud of you, and of Satish and the rest of the xerox crew. Stif upper lip and keep up the good work. I never had so much fun as I did reading what you expers wrote. Thank you,
    Abe

    Abe

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  6. Hi Abe,

    Thanks for your thoughts, glad you enjoyed the piece!

    Joy and peace to you,

    Adele

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  7. Thank you for this post.
    A trusted healer recommended this book to me and I was stunned even before I got to the first divine opening. I think , and I’m sorry if im being too blunt, that her approach focuses too much on her being special and promoting her 5 day retreat. That felt too much like a marketing strategy. I stopped and continued with my soul searching in other modalities like eft but I kept having this guilt, like the feeling that I was ruining everything and that I was feeling bad because I needed to approach my issues. That’s how I found your post, I knew I couldn’t be the only one sensing huge contradictions in the book. I told the healer who recommended it at she said to just focus on the good stuff and give it another shot. So I will, and most importantly I will without the fear of doing things wrong. I think that’s the most alarming part or the book, you can’t offer healing and love conditionally. I was raised catholic and this felt an awful lot like the old church. The church that claimed to have the only truth and punishef those who disagreed with it. Thank you thank you thank you for this! -ED

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    1. Yep. Glad this was helpful. I agree that is kind of the tone of the book. It has some good things in it but by no means is it any more special than any other book. I think it is doing people a disservice to suggest that they could be doing something "wrong" in the way they feel inspired to move forward in their healing and/or spiritual growth. You're spot on with your intuition! I've gotten quite a few emails along these lines so you are not alone in how you feel on this. Thanks for your note! Adele

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