Tuesday, March 1, 2016


by Mary Elizabeth Raines

Many years ago I knew a woman who was recovering from breast cancer. She said something to me that I have never forgotten: Be careful who you ask to pray for you. 

I asked why she said that. She replied that most people feel that they are doing the right thing by worrying about someone who is sick or otherwise having problems. They believe that worry and hand-wringing shows how compassionate and caring they are.
Worry, however, is far from helpful. This wise woman shared with me that all of our thoughts about others enter the continuum and create energetic patterns. If a person prays for healing for a friend for a few minutes, and then spends the rest of the day imagining that their friend is going to suffer pain or die prematurely, think about the kind of energy they are projecting!

Experiments have shown that when a group of people think disparaging and critical thoughts about another, the object of their negativity literally loses physical strength, and winds up feeling depressed and sad. Similarly, when people bombard another with loving, healing, positive thoughts, that individual responds with surprisingly greater strength, health, and happiness. 

Quakers believe that every single thought that passes through our minds is a prayer...including our thoughts about others. And prayer (which some may prefer to define as strong intent) is always answered. 

When we stress and worry about or criticize someone, think of this as a form of prayer. If we become mentally agitated about bad things that may happen, we are literally projecting negative energy towards that individual and helping to manifest troubling circumstances.

The very best you can do for your loved ones, when they are sick or in trouble, is to hold them in the most positive, loving light possible. If you choose to be extremely bold, you might even considering doing this for those with whom you are in strong opposition, such as those who have hurt you in some way, or even politicians with whom you disagree.

Thus, when someone is ill or troubled, worry is not only unnecessary; it is the equivalent of a curse. Instead, choose to imagine them healthy, healed, and happy! And if you find yourself in sickness or difficult circumstances, be selective about those you ask to pray for you.

© 2016, M. E. Raines

Monday, September 28, 2015


Note: In this blog, there are references to God. My concept of God is not that of an old man in the sky, but rather the all-encompassing world of spirit with a larger intelligence and plan than that of which we, in our limited human forms, are consciously aware. 

Growing up in a traditional Christian household, because of various oppressions linked with the name “God,” I used to find the very word distasteful. I would speak of the Universe, or Source, or the Higher Self. 

Then I heard a friend with rather unorthodox beliefs use the word God. I asked her why she used that term. Her reply was, “Because that’s the word we have for it.” This made beautiful, simple sense to me. So in my writing, God it is. Please interpret the word God in any way that works for you.

by Mary Elizabeth Raines

Noticing a garden gate had been left open, with other plans for my morning today, I went outdoors to close the gate. I wound up spending a half an hour harvesting dried beans. In the process, my pants and shirt got covered with a great many very sharp burrs called goatheads. It took five minutes and a number of ouches just to pull the goatheads off my clothing. Soon I will sit at my kitchen table and shell the beans, a painstaking process that will take another half an hour.

The end result? An hour's work for about 70 cents worth of beans.

I had more satisfaction and pleasure with those beans than I've had in some sessions I conduct where, in the same amount of time, I've earned a couple of hundred dollars.

Many people in contemporary society mistakenly attach price tags or popularity to success. This includes not only business people, but artists, musicians, and writers. It is especially prevalent, weirdly, in the so-called New Age, where some of those who are healers or helpers, such as massage therapists or hypnotists, believe that a certain income must be attached to the good work they do. If a reasonable amount of money is not forthcoming, these people believe that they have failed. If they cannot make a living doing what they love, they are crushed.

Newsflash: God does not care whether or not you make money! There are plans for you to use your gifts and they have absolutely nothing to do with income.

Think of God as this large omnipotent guy in the sky (which I do not believe, but bear with me here). I can see him scratching his head at the despair and pleading prayers streaming up from those of us on earth. This God would say, “Why are they so miserable? Why can’t they just use their gifts and do what I ask them to do? What does money have to do with anything?” 

Many give up when they can't make a living by following their dream. They not not realize that money is a man-made commodity. It has nothing whatsoever to do with success or failure. Money is inconsequential in the eyes of the Universe. In fact, some people might even wind up having to pay out of their own pockets to pursue their dreams. That has zero bearing on whether or not they should follow their dream. Success or failure, likewise, is not measured by the number of people we reach when we use our gifts.

Suppose a man has a startling vision where he is guided to become a Reiki practitioner. After going through the various levels of training and dedicating himself whole-heartedly to this work, at most he ends up seeing just one client a week. He feels defeated and beaten. This is because he mistakenly supposed that his vision meant he was going to earn his living doing Reiki, when it really just meant that he was supposed to practice Reiki because there would be people who would need what he had to offer.

An artist lives in despair because she has only sold one painting. Since childhood, she had always believed that she was supposed to paint. The money she has invested in oils and canvas alone, however, has turned out to be far more than she may ever get back. That one painting she sold? It is hanging in a house where a little girl stares at it in rapture for hours on end, and who will, as a result, wind up leading an inspired life. Another little girl somewhere else is still waiting for the painting to be created that will likewise inspire her. What a shame it would be if the artist decides to stop painting because she cannot make a full-time living in art, or because only a few people buy her work!

A man who sets up a little shop has a stimulating time learning about buying and selling. He enjoys every aspect of the business, until it fails financially. He winds up crushed with depression, feeling like a loser, instead of looking back happily on the many pleasant experiences he had in the process. He does not even recognize that rather than being depressed, he could have chosen to view his shop as a wonderful success.

A poet publishes his book of poems on Kindle, with high hopes for prosperity. He is crestfallen by the low sales of his book, and he gives up writing, taking his book off the market--not realizing that among those who bought his poetry was an old man who had been suffering, and who had received a few magnificent hours of respite and peace by reading his poems.

A woman prays about what to do with her life and has the dream of becoming a healer. She is disheartened and loses faith when she is unable to earn a living as a healer. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to her, her life's purpose was to work in a community where those requiring healing did not have the financial resources to pay. 

Yes, the Reiki practitioner, the artist, the shop keeper, the poet, and the healer will all have to receive their income in other ways. That doesn’t mean that they should give up, stop using their gifts, and deny themselves the pleasure of the process. 

Whether or not we earn money doing what we are meant to do in life is not even remotely related to success. God doesn’t care!

What matters is that our gifts be used fully and that we live every aspect of our lives, whether it is harvesting 70 cents' worth of beans or painting a picture from our heart that is intended for just one little girl to see. That is the success!

Article and artwork © Laughing Cherub, 2015
Reproducing or copying in any form prohibited.
Please feel free, however, to link to this article!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


by Mary Elizabeth Raines, (c) 2014

We are all cities.

We have downtowns with amazing and unique architecture. 
Our friends are invited to ride down classy, tree-lined streets lined with the gorgeous homes of the rich.
The gardens in our cities are lush and well tended, impressive places of shade and rest and loveliness.
There are cops to keep us safe, and huge banks to protect our wealth.
We have art galleries spilling with color, stalwart stone museums that organize and record our fragile history, and fascinating restaurants brimming with heady scents and tastes to nurture us. 
Sometimes we string festive lights on our trees and streets and throw parties.
These are the parts of us that we tend to show to others. Especially prospective lovers.
Visitors are very impressed.

There are other places in our cities, thoughhidden, crumbling, and even shameful spots. Nobody is immune. Nobody’s city is entirely beautiful and entirely safe. 
All of us have pockets of crime. 
Rats in the subway. 
Roofs caving in.
There are corners where drug dealers and psychopaths lurk, and unsafe neighborhoods, and here and there, leaking sewage spewing disease. 
Somewhere in everyone is a derelict pushing a rusty shopping cart who curses at all the passers-by.

Yup, that’s part of who we are as well.

Not one soul on earth has a perfect city. 
Not one person exists without a street they would prefer to hide. 

Nor is anyone’s city entirely evil.
Does not the most hardened criminal soften like a little boy when he eats an ice cream cone, or weep at his grandmother’s funeral? May not the drunken prostitute may pause and look in rapture and longing at the full moon?

Do not love only the pretty parts of the city that that is another, or is you. See it all and embrace the totality—the complex miracle of all that we are. For we are all cities.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


by Mary Elizabeth Raines, (c) 2014

Bashing others and tearing them down has become very popular in today's society. 

Criticism, however, whether spoken or silent, never achieves positive results. Every single time we think a critical thought about someone, whether it’s a close friend or a distant politician, whether it’s a family member or a movie star, on some level we are diminishing their soul.

Chances are the individual being criticized will never be able to identify what is wrong, or even know that someone is projecting negative vibrations their way. Instead, on some level they will wind up feeling dispirited, ill, uneasy, sad, or depressed without knowing why.

Nonetheless, we often feel justified when we are criticizing someone. Being judgmental temporarily boosts us! We get a little rush when we put someone down. Unfortunately, this rush comes about because we are actually stealing life-force energy from our personal reservoir, and the price is steep; ultimately, our bodies or emotional systems will pay for this robbery. 

Imagine it like this: we have a water tank that has exactly the right amount of water to keep us healthy and clean. Criticism is like overfilling a swimming pool, and then letting the tap run for endless hours. While it may seem to be fun, later on there might not be enough water to drink when we are thirsty. (Author Carolyn Myss writes expertly about this in Why People Don't Heal and How They Can.)

Even beyond what it does to us on a personal level, criticism is one of the most sutbly destructive vibrations and dark energies on the planet. It locks both the critic and the victim into an inescapable grid of negativity.

While the critic might actually enjoy the idea of the suffering his thoughts have created, the end result on the person being criticized does not reap good results. When someone feels dispirited, they instinctively move into defensiveness, and they become incapable of acting in the highest ways or making wise choices. The politician who is perceived as hard-hearted will grow even harder of heart; the family member whose habits are perceived as destructive will become even more destructive; the movie star who is perceived as being arrogant will become even more arrogant.

Even so, it's really easy and, because of the stolen energy, temporarily very satisfying to be critical and self-righteous. Changing our thoughts to those of a higher vibration is certainly not easy, but if we want to create a better world, both for ourselves personally, for those we are judging, and on a planetary scale, criticism has to end.

Here is an experiment: try holding the person you have been criticizing in complete nonjudgmental love. Discard the dangerous need to be the one who is right, and release any agenda to need to change others. 

This new way of thinking isn’t about Prayer Wars, where we pray for another to come around to our superior way of thinking. Rather, the goal is simply to project love and acceptance towards that individual just as they are, be it a friend, a family member, a movie star or a politician. (Remember that we are not projecting love towards their behavior. Thinking about whether their behavior is right or wrong is actually off-limits in this process. Rather, we are looking at their soul.)

The Quakers have an excellent term for this that can be used as a visual or visceral aid. They call it “holding someone in the Light.” 

Receiving a vibration of love will enrich the soul of anyone who is on the receiving end, no matter how destructively we may think that person has behaved.  When a soul feels loved, it is able to make wiser decisions. A soul that is not threatened and locked into defensiveness can open into greater kindness and generosity. Imagine how the leaders of countries throughout the world would respond if we held all of them in love instead of judgment!

Being a loving person feels a lot better than being a critical person, even though it's not as easy, and the resultant good feelings are genuine, for instead of robbing us of life-force energy, such love generates even more positive energy. 

Thoughts are powerful, and if enough people are willing to lift their thoughts into a higher vibration, we will begin to see miracles on this Earth.

"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." --Jesus
“Hatred will not cease by hatred, but by love alone. This is the ancient law.”   --Buddha

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Saturday, August 31, 2013


Headlines blaring bad news? Too much information too fast? Pressured and tense, or just sad?

Good news! It is possible for you to have a mini-vacation now, even in the few seconds it takes to read this.

Turn inward, think about your breathing, and slow it down. Breathe peace into your core. You can do this right now no matter what is happening in your life and no matter how you are feeling. You don’t even have to close your eyes to do it.

Exhale any busy-ness, any tension, or any feeling that is less than relaxed. Allow a sensation of peace to flood through you right now with each inhalation.  Stretch out your inhalations. 
This doesn’t need to be a perfect sensation…just something a little gentler, a little quieter, a little calmer, a little lighter. 

Maybe you enjoy imagining this peace as a soothing color, or tasting it like a healing fruit, or feeling it as a tender caress, or hearing it like a sweet chime of music, or even breathing it in as a smell, like the smell of being by the sea or in a deep still forest. 

However you like to perceive it, flow this peace to key areas in your body: 
your belly, 
your shoulders, 
your heart, 
your knees, 
the soles of your feet. 
What would your jaw feel like if you sent it a bit of peace just now? Send a wave of relief to your busy brain. Breathe this peace right into your spine and feel your back soften and widen, as if you had wings and they were unfolding and delighting in these relaxing sensations.

Have fun with it! Peace doesn’t have to be so serious. 
Flow peace into your rear end...and smile! If that smile were to fill with peace, would it change? 
Now let peace fill your fancy…wherever you fancy your fancy to be!

That feels much better, doesn’t it? 

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Want to change from feeling like a victim to feeling empowered? Want to stop a treacherous habit like smoking or drinking? Want to get over the poison of jealousy? Want to forgive someone who has cruelly wronged you? Want to evolve? 

Then get ready to "do your pain." And a word of warning: the hardest task in the world is doing your pain! 

The opportunities to change our patterns and knee-jerk responses never seem to arrive when we are feeling strong and enlightened. Instead, they pop up at the most difficult and unfair moments--times when we are exhausted and beaten down by life.

Take jealousy as an example. Here's the way it goes: we find ourselves full of jealousy and have the sudden realization that we no longer want to be jealous. We want to make a better, more tolerant choice, one that serves both us and the Universe. 

Wow, does it ever take effort to choose not to be jealous! It is incredibly unappealing. In fact, it can be frightening. Wallowing in the old misery is so much more familiar and strangely comforting. And news alert: learning a new way of responding to the situation that caused jealousy will be painful. This is where "doing your pain" comes in.

If you think about it, most of the damage that we do to one another and to ourselves stems from our aversion to doing our pain. We squirm and wiggle and rationalize and try every escape possible so as not to have to be in pain. 

A drug addict would rather rob an old man than do the pain involved in becoming clean and sober. People die prematurely every day who could not do the pain of stopping smoking or overeating. Others spend their days in monotony and live without color because they will not "do the pain" of stepping through their fear and entering a new, more vibrant way of being--for any change we choose to make has some pain attached to the decision. And back to jealousy: murders have been committed by people who would rather end someone's life than do the pain that accompanies getting over jealousy.

Not only does doing your pain hurt; there's even more bad news! Once we have decided to making a positive change, even after we have taken the huge step of willingness and done our very best to reverse old patterns, chances are that for a while, it won't even feel as though it has worked! As we turn our hearts toward the positive and away from the old negativity, whatever that may be, it will initially seem as though we are receiving no reward whatsoever. Instead, we seemingly get more misery. Here's why we are not going to feel all the positive effects of our new choices for a while. 

It takes time for this new way of responding to situations to register emotionally. It also takes time for our spirits and bodies to adjust to it. Part of this period of adjustment may be so that our souls can make sure that this is what we really want. During that time, it often feels as though we are still in the vibration of the old. Thus, the drug addict and the chain smoker will feel withdrawal and cravings. The jealous person will still have tinges of jealousy and rejection. 

Changing is like practicing the piano. You don’t learn to play a Bach fugue in the first lesson. No, instead you learn “Jingle Bells,” it will take immense effort, and you will probably play it badly!

For those are ready to make a big change in their patterns and responses to life, here's how to go about it: persist, ask for spiritual help, and hold yourself in willingness. Imagine, feel, envision and hear that old pattern being handed over to the Divine, who is  raising it to the highest possible vibration.

Trust that with your willingness, the new will eventually replace the old, and it may happen sooner than you think if you are faithful to your new way of being. It may be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life, but provided you are willing to do your pain, you will eventually come out the other side and finally become the person you have always been meant to be!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Human beings have certain universal core values, like truth and peace and wisdom and courage. These values are very pure strands of energy. Some liken them to rays of beautiful, clear light.

People have instinctively honored these core values since the beginning of recorded history. The early gods and goddesses in ancient cultures were often representations of these energy strands; putting them into form as humans or animals made them easier to understand and to access.

Unfortunately, these values became trapped in statues and temples. Myths and belief systems sprang up around them. Those myths were appealing, and grew to such an extent that they often overshadowed the value itself. The original meaning of the energy strand was corrupted. Because of this, some of the core universal values once available to us now seem distasteful, because they have been polluted for so long, and are in danger of being forgotten.

FAITH is one of those pure energy strands that has lost its original meaning. People now associate faith with various religions and spiritual figures, not all of them pleasant, and tend to shrug off the word, rather than seeing the pure essence of what it really means and how huge and rich it could be to embrace faith in our lives.

A NECESSARY ASIDE: People have an enormous need to know. We require reasons and answers. One of the greatest areas of mental discomfort for human beings is the state of not knowing.

Think about it like this: you find yourself driving on a road. You have to have a reason for driving, even if the reason is, “I’m driving for no particular reason.” If you can’t find any reason for why you are out on the road driving, you might easily go insane. We latch onto reasons, often with desperation. Our minds just have to know.

Here’s something curious. Whether we arrive at reasons that are true or not doesn’t matter! All that matters is to get out of the place of unknowingness as fast as possible. Brain scientists recognize that we are hard-wired to find reasons, regardless of how rational they are, and to latch onto them, believing them wholeheartedly. All of us do it. (To observe this hard-wiring in action, just think about people with political beliefs that are opposite your own!)

Parents of children who were abducted frequently say that the worst part of the ordeal for them was not knowing. Many have reported feeling a sense of relief when they finally found out what actually happened to their child, even though what they heard may have been very sad. It was not their choice to feel that way. It is part of being a human.

Faith can, for some, mean relying on that which we call God. That isn’t the pure meaning of faith, however.

Faith, in its purest definition, simply means permitting ourselves to be comfortable in unknowingness.

Article and illustrations (c) 2012, Mary Elizabeth Raines and Laughing Cherub Unlimited
All rights reserved.
Please do not copy or reproduce in whole or in part; links to this post, however, are welcome!

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy reading Mary Elizabeth Raines' whimsical look at the New Age and the coming transformations, TRANSITIONS, TREES AND COTTAGE CHEESE, now available for Kindle or for download on Amazon.com.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


The next time you find yourself lying awake in bed unable to sleep, you might enjoy doing this:

Use that time to bring to mind every single person, from close friends to politicians, to whom you want to send love. It may be only one person, or it may be a long, long list! Anything goes.

Imagine that you are opening your heart. Some people say it is easy to see or feel a glow in the center of their chest in the area near the actual heart. Enhance that glow with every breath in and every breath out. Some people prefer to experience this region like a bell or note of music. Others just have the intention without seeing or feeling or hearing anything, and that is okay, too.

Now, one at a time bring to mind those to whom you wish to send love, and hold them in sacred tenderness or prayer. If you are visual, you might imagine your heart center projecting a glowing light that completely envelops them. Think positive thoughts about them and their best qualities. See them softening and smiling.

Their souls will recognize on some level that love is being sent to them, although they might not know what that pleasant feeling is. Remember, too, that this is nonjudgmental love. We do not send love to a person with the intent of changing them, but simply to make their journey a little bit easier and a little bit brighter.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Some believe that the only thing our souls carry after we leave the body is the love we have given while we were in human form.

They are not referring to romantic love, or to syrupy gushy sentiment, but instead to agape: the love that, according to some, is the very essence of the divine. The Quakers believe that there is Light (or some of God) within every person, and it is that Light that is honored when we extend love towards another.

Here is an interesting challenge:

Take a quiet moment to reflect on your lifetime only in terms of the love you have generated so far. 

Then, if you feel especially brave, take a look at the love you could have generated, but chose to resist.

Once I had the pleasure of knowing a woman with a very pure soul. Her work took her to foreign countries where she interfaced with people in high places.

She told me about attending a political event in an unnamed country where she was among the dignitaries who sat on a podium. They were forced to listen to the speech of a powerful, important leader. Everyone pretended to applaud him; to have done otherwise would have serious consequences in that particular country. The speechmaker, was, however, a cruel man who was guilty of heinous, abominable tortures and terrible crimes of the worst sort.

As she listened to him speak, rather than hold him in judgment, she decided to open her heart and extend agape love to this unlovable man. What she realized surprised her. When she softened her heart, she saw clearly that he was a man of immense gifts. The extent of his gifts amazed her. She also recognized that in his lifetime he had seriously misused these gifts.

Rather than hold him in judgment for his behavior, however, she felt a rush of God-love for this man, and sent him blessings.

While she will never know what effect, if any, her love may have had on the man, we do know that when we send thoughts of opposition to others, it makes them even more defensive. Attack and angry words create mean, stubborn resistance, while love opens doors to transformation.

Miraculous results can occur if even a few people send unconditional love to an individual rather than condemnation.

The catch is that the love we generate can't be about who is right and who is wrong. We don't send love to someone in the hopes that they will see things our way! Agape love puts us all on an equal playing field.

Think about the politicians you dislike. In today’s world, nearly all of us have politicians with whom we disagree. Sadly, our disagreements are becoming increasingly vehement, and are frequently accompanied by name-calling and character assassination.

What if we were to open our hearts and hold those politicians with whom we disagree in the energy of love rather than condemnation? What gifts would we see in them? (Please note that this does not mean becoming deluded or accepting unacceptable behavior, nor does it mean becoming a rabid fan. It means looking beyond someone’s acts to the light within that we all possess.)

If, after looking at your life and assessing the amount of love you have generated, you find that you have fallen a little short, don’t worry. Fresh chances abound!

Opportunities to enter into love are with us every moment, regardless of how poorly or smoothly our lives are going.

Every single person who comes into our conscious thoughts, and even every living organism we encounter, can offer us a new start: the chance to enter into the consciousness of love.  

(c) M. E. Raines, 2012
While copying this article is prohibited, please feel free to link to it.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy the whimsical short story Transitions, Trees, and Cottage Cheese by Mary Elizabeth Raines, now available on Amazon for Kindle or for downloading.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Want to radiate love into the world? Want to broadcast peace? Want to heal others in need?

There’s a fantastic place to do this. The location is more ideal than a meditation room. Or a sacred garden. Or Sedona.

There is a catch about this place, though. It’s not as easy to radiate love there as it is in a meditation room. Or a sacred garden. Or Sedona. But it’s one of the places on the planet that needs our love more than anywhere else.

It’s on the highway.

Whether driving to the grocery store or making a cross-country trip, it’s almost impossible these days not to encounter some kind of incident caused by another driver that provokes a negative reaction in us--a reaction that can range from a little bit of irritation to utter fury.

Today’s highways have spun a new and unique set of emotions unknown to generations past:
  • Everyone knows how ugly it feels to be tail-gated or cut off by someone who is putting out a hostile, angry vibe.
  • Everyone knows how unfair it feels spending long minutes merging courteously in a traffic jam, only to have someone zoom past on the shoulder of the highway with a me-first sense of entitlement, and rudely cut in front of those who waited their fair turn.
  • Everyone knows how aggravating it is to see someone talking on a cell phone or texting while whizzing past recklessly.
  • Everyone knows how frustrating it feels to be late for something important and encountering a fellow traveler blithely traveling slower than the posted speed limit, without offering any opportunities to be passed.
  • Everyone knows how shocking it is to be having a stressful day, and suddenly hear pounding from a vehicle next to us with agonizingly loud subwoofers that make our poor heads feel as though they've gotten stuck in a cement mixer. 
It’s normal, especially when engaged in one of the above scenarios, to carry mental images of the other drivers on the road as raging drug-crazed maniacs, idiots, selfish meanies, or stupid heartless low-lifes. Naturally, when we go into a turnpike rest stop, we see that those sharing the highway with us do not look like glaring devils with horns or drooling morons. Instead, what we see are normal, average-looking people who could be members of our own family or our neighbors down the street.

A friend who teaches classes that are mandated for bad drivers who have accumulated too many tickets claims that her students are actually delightful, normal people. She says they almost always have a reason for their recklessness, and it’s usually something sad or depressing. Perhaps they’ve just been fired, or lost a loved one. Maybe they’ve been bullied and this is their way of getting even. It could be that they simply feel unliked and unloved, and are desperate to gain a few inches on the highway as a substitute for approval.

Even those who drive in a rude or aggressive way because they are addicts or selfish jerks have a reason for being that way.

Here’s the challenge:

The next time you’re on the highway in one of these unhappy situations, stop before allowing yourself to slip into a negative reaction, and instead, imagine broadcasting goodwill and love to all the cars you see. It doesn’t matter how you do it—whether you sent light, or say a prayer, or sing, or channel positive energy through your chakras. Pile on the blessings instead of the curses! Cast love as best you can onto every vehicle, every driver, every passenger, even every mile of pavement you see.

Doing this is a wonderful spiritual discipline, and the good news is that the opportunities to practice are nearly unlimited! Rather than being stressed at the end of a drive, you may discover that you feel restored and happier than you were before your trip began. You will be amazed at how this practice will open the your heart, and shift you from being a victim to being an empowered soul.

Even better, some of your blessings will absolutely spill over onto those who were behaving poorly, and their lives might begin feeling a little brighter, which eventually may manifest as more courteous driving habits. If only a handful of people choose to suspend judgment and instead begin broadcasting love whenever they are on the road, eventually we might discover that our highways have turned into places of peace, sharing and goodwill!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Throughout time, clashes over spiritual beliefs have been responsible for more cruelty, suffering and murder than anything else. It is baffling that people are willing to hurt and butcher one another simply to prove that their concept of God is the right one!

I used to think that I was different, and always considered myself to be a tolerant and fair person who was above such nonsense...until last week, when I found myself swept up into a disagreement with a friend about some differences in our spiritual beliefs and practices. We argued via email. It was a sad and stupid disagreement that probably destroyed a beautiful friendship.

Curiously, my friend and I actually hold spiritual beliefs that are nearly identical. It turns out that this isn't unusual.

The folks we love to hate in the name of God are often those who have beliefs that are close to our own. For the most part, we don't waste our time rampaging against people with religious views that are alien and weird compared to ours. No suicide bomber is going to try to prove his point by blowing himself up in the marketplace of an obscure New Guinea tribe who worships tree gods.

No, we turn to our neighbors when we want to wage religious wars. The most horrific acts of violence are inflicted upon people who almost believe the same things we do. That's when we really get upset. Look at the conflicts between the Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle East, or the bloodshed throughout European history between Protestants and Catholics. Christians, Jews and Muslims, who have battled one another for centuries, share many core beliefs and even honor some of the same spiritual figures, like Abraham and Moses.

Back to my friend: I was furious that something as sacred as my connection to that which I choose to call God had been judged and found lacking. Even after our e-conversation ended, my mental chatter continued. Loudly. A tape-loop in my mind replayed the specifics of our differences over and over again. I defended myself mentally against what I perceived as his attack and, in my imagination, let him know, point by point, precisely how wrong he was. How dare he criticize my relationship to the divine??!!??

I was the one who was RIGHT, doggone it! My thoughts churned faster and faster with all the reasons I was right. My spinning mind kept me awake that night, and continued pestering me the following day, driving me to distraction. 

And then I remembered a little saying I heard once:

The mental hospitals are full of people who were RIGHT!

Oh. Oops. Wait a minute.

There seems to be something inbred that demands that we win at all costs, especially when it concerns our spiritual beliefs; perhaps it's a survival technique dating back to our hominid days on the savannahs, or a way of determining who is the alpha of the pack. Hoping, however, to be vindicated and proven right is definitely not a path that leads to security or peace of mind in today's world

One of my friends has a motto. She used to be a long-distance truck driver, and she learned this on the highway. She is an amazing, loving person who lives by her motto. 

It is a great motto. Think of the suffering, both on an international and a personal level, that could be escaped by adopting it:

I would rather be kind than be right.

     (c) 2011, Mary Elizabeth Raines

See Mary Elizabeth Raines' newest novel, UNA, available in paperback or Kindle.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Do you believe that the energy of your thoughts and emotions have power?

Many of us mistakenly believe that certain circumstances warrant being filled with misery, anxiety and worry--that these sodden emotions are the best way to show compassion.

If you were gravely ill, however, who would you rather have at your bedside: someone who stood wringing their hands and crying about the devastation of your illness, or someone who chose to smile and laugh as they projected positive healing energy around you?

Being positive doesn't mean stuffing our negative emotions or going into denial. It is not just wise, but necessary, to acknowledge and feel pain. When sad feelings have been honored, however, we then have a choice. We can perpetuate the misery by hosting thoughts filled with worry and fear, or we can move into happier states.

I used to fret about the sad state of the natural world--the plants and animals that had no ability to protect themselves against the destructive forces of humankind. A wise friend suggested that my fretting was only adding to the layers of despair and pain surrounding the planet, and recommended that the best way I could help, at least on an energetic and emotional level, would be to find more opportunities to experience joy in my life! I loved that message!

Another wise person, an older Quaker woman, told me that prayer is not just those times we set apart to converse with the Divine. 

"Our connection to God doesn't stop when we say amen," she said. "It's not just those few short minutes that count. Every thought we think, every feeling we have, and every word we say is a prayer. Our very lives are the prayer. And God answers prayer!"

"If you really want to help the miserable of the world, don't be one of them." Sonia Choquette, Author

See Mary Elizabeth Raines' newest novel, UNA, available in paperback or Kindle.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011



Last night I awoke in the middle of the night and went to my window. A gentle late-summer rain was falling in the darkness.

I live on a lake where, to the chagrin of some of my neighbors, I have restored both the natural shoreline and a small patch of woods, and have allowed much of the property to be returned to the wild. My half-acre is thick and lush with life.

The sounds and smells of the rain outside my window were ancient, familiar and magical. I heard plops of water, some expansive, some subtle and skittering, as the raindrops fell on all sizes of leaves and foliage. The scent of the damp woods was startling in its intensity. I realized that I hadn’t smelled woods like that since camping in a tent decades ago as a child with my family.

It was profoundly healing.

Eventually, however, I chose to return to my bed. Despite an open window, the scents and sounds disappeared, swallowed by the civilized atmosphere of my bedroom.

As I lay in my bed, I was struck with the kind of clarity that only comes in the middle of the night. I realized how profoundly ridiculous our human lives have become and how miserable we have made ourselves in our attempts to better our lives. We have managed to become the only species of animal that cannot survive if we are turned out naked, on our own, in the wild. Even the lowliest insects and the smallest minnows retain the gift for figuring out basics like what to eat and where to go, a gift that we have lost.

There was an indescribable comfort in the sounds that I heard and the air that I breathed as I stood at my open window. This soothing balm was better than any pill, any drug, any escape. And I saw clearly that the natural world, which was originally intended as our home, cannot help but bring forth joy and comfort and magic of more depth and in more abundance than we can imagine. We’ve forsaken this joy and comfort and magic. We have replaced them with concrete and loudspeakers and computer screens.

In my moment of clarity, I saw that we had originally been created (or evolved, or what-have-you) to go to sleep to the hum of crickets and awaken to the songs of birds, not to the roars of vehicles rumbling on pavement and the inescapable merciless screams of digital alarm clocks. We were created to breathe in layer upon delicious layer of scents of earth and flower and rock and water and other creatures as they come and go, not the throttling chemicals of air “fresheners” and fuel exhaust and fabric softeners.

We rush to civilize the few remaining primitive tribes who live close to nature, plying them with polyester shirts and plastic bags, while ignoring the fact that, by and large, their lives are happier than ours. We smirk at their nakedness. Meanwhile, our most important men tie cloth nooses around their necks, and our most desirable women encase the flesh of their breasts and legs in unnatural fabrics while balancing on precariously awkward footgear, and not only do we take ourselves seriously costumed like this; in such absurd garb, we decide the very fate of our planet. Smug and patronizing, we grimly carve our way through the blasphemous stink and wretched shrieks of the inescapable trap we have built of our lives.

And we wonder why we are unhappy.

The best therapy on the planet does not involve blotting out one’s emotions by taking a pill or buying more stuff or droning on and on about one’s problems to someone who has been paid to pretend to care. No, the best therapy on the planet is to listen to a cricket.

(c) 2011, M. E. Raines
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About Me

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Mary Elizabeth (Leach) Raines is the author of the novel, UNA, as well as several other books, short stories and plays. Many of these can be found on Amazon.com. She is also a hypnosis instructor, the director of the Academy for Professional Hypnosis Training. She is a columnist for an international hypnosis magazine, and she teaches qualified individuals in past-life regression and guided imagery. Mary Elizabeth attended New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she was a piano performance major. She has also pursued independent film studies at UW-Oshkosh. She has won awards for a short film she directed and wrote, a screenplay, and a stage play. She is the creator of the popular Laughing Cherub hypnosis CDs. In her free time, Mary Elizabeth creates fractal art, cooks, paints, dabbles with computers, gardens organically, and keeps bees.