These are my happy trees for the holidays. The drawing came to me while I was talking on the phone with a good friend. I often draw while I am in long conversations on the phone. If the topics are lighter, it helps me connect with the energy flow of the conversation more than the ego parts of the conversation. When I got off the phone I looked at the line drawing and thought – wow, I think I have my Christmas Card! To me the drawing is about diversity and oneness. May peace and ease fill your holiday season!  Love,  Jody     12 2018

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It is important that we hold an image of a healthy-climate-balanced-earth in our consciousness. If the only image we create with our minds is destructive-climate-change, then what takes hold of us is that image.

It is rather like the anti-war movement. Just that phrase – “anti-war” -brings up war. Mother Teresa said she would not attend anti-war rallies, but she would come to a peace rally.

So, daily in my prayer and meditation I have added images of Planet Earth where I see, feel, find words for imagining all living creatures and nature in physical/spiritual balance with each other, as per the laws of inevitable evolutionary progress. Please join me.

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Happy Spring to all.  My book –  Spirituality of Illness: A Heart/Intuitive Centered Approach is getting closer to being published!!  Here is a preview —  The Preface – designed to introduce this new concept and talk about what I will be doing in the book.

Happy creating to all –    Jody


The congregation’s coffee hour was held in a large space at the heart of the building. One side of the large space held the kitchen, where, this morning, like all Sunday mornings, the window sliding doors were pushed back and you could see the volunteers. Four women were tending the hot drinks and snacks, visiting with people as they came through the line. Art covered hallways wound away from the open space to other parts of the building. Christine and I stood near one of those hallways, waiting for her 10 year-old grandson. She and I were catching up on each other’s lives. I told her the title of my work in progress – this book – The Spirituality of Illness.

“Those two things don’t go together, “ she said.

“Which two things?”

“Spirituality and illness,” she said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“My mother had mental illness,” she said, her voice raising a pitch, “One of those things was here,” and she gestured to the right of her body, and, then, she gestured to the left of her body said,  “And, one of them was here.  They were not together.”

I didn’t know what to say to her. I understood why she felt that way. My mother suffered with mental illness. I know, as a child, one feels abandoned. Finding faith or sustenance in spirituality, or religion, isn’t likely for a child in pain. The arrival of Christine’s grandson ended our conversation. We focused on him.  A few weeks later, we did finish. She apologized, feeling she had attacked me, but I hadn’t taken it that way, and told her it was a common feeling, not at all surprising.  She understood what I meant after we told her what I will say in this book.  Illness and spirituality are bound together, like the warp and woof of any fabric.

Intertwined cross fibers hold cloth together.  One side of the fabric is exposed to the world, and the other side is not. The human self is similar – we have an outside and an inside.  The outside is the seen part, and gives us definition, in our eyes and in the eyes of others. Our inside life is unseen, and there lives our spirituality. Both worlds require the individual to make choices. We are more familiar with developing our outer life – jobs, family, projects.  The unseen inner life of spirituality is private.  We might choose a religion or worldview to reflect our spirituality.  We do not have to. Nature, compassion, or simple principles of kindness and honesty might define our spirituality. We might close the door to awareness, choosing numbness or uncaring deeds. In any case, mysteriously, whether we pay attention to it or not, our inner choices will define our outer lives. As we craft a living, find a place in society and strive to anchor ourselves with family & friends, our spirituality will interact with our feelings to set the rudder of our ship.

Illness indicates imbalance in the body. And, you may not agree with what I am about to say next, which is fine, we all have important points of view and the contrast with each other is valuable – our diversity is a great attribute of humanity. I am offering you my view. My belief is that illness is a message from your inner being of spirit, reflected through your physical body. It follows that you will find relief and increased wellness from illness (not necessarily cure, but not excluding cure) by being in alignment and communication with your inner being. The inner being will guide you to multiple harbors. There is no right way. The range goes from traditional medicine, holistic medicine, complementary medicine, to sometimes long walks in the country, humorous movies and wild activities. I call this territory the spirituality of illness and I have named a three stage rudder that defines the stages of the process of gaining relief from illness. I call the three stages: 1) cracking open, 2) accelerated learning, and 3) coming home. I will describe, tell stories and provide tools about each stage.

Choosing the heart-centered intuitive way is to guide your voyage with the most superior compass. As you travel through the feelings in your heart, intuition and body, you will chart a course that only can be found with your inner wisdom.

In light and love,


Madison, WI, 2018

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Jan 2018 – “Does this make me feel happy?” – Transforming Your New Year

Imagine if the way to know what to do in our lives was inside us.

Imagine that our feelings are the divine guidance we need to decide.

Imagine if the most important question to answer YES to, and the only one to take action on was, “Does this make me feel happy?”

How would that change your life?

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October 2017 Podcast on the Heart as Society’s Rudder

The spiritual-heart essence of humanity is often excluded from the world discussion on our problems today. This is a grave error. Historically this essence has been expressed though the religions of the world.  Also, in modern days the conduit for this aspect of human life comes though the consciousness movement, unity body practices like yoga and tai-chi, noetic sciences and holistic medicine and healing.  Without factoring in this spiritual-heart aspect of being  human, society will certainly corrode. It will be without a rudder to steer through the rough waters. Why? Because the human society without an emphasis on the essence of being human – the spirit-heart – will collapse into itself. Society cannot exist without the core capacity of being human, reflected through the human heart, any more that the solar system can exist without gravity.

See my discussion on this idea and many others on this podcast with Prashant Noel of Imaginally.com – New Thought Website.  Recorded August 2017.


Art from Wonder Woman movie, 2017 – great message on why humanity is worth saving and claiming our power.







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June 2017, Breakthrough on Climate Consciousness

I am realizing that it is important that we hold the image of a healthy-climate-balanced-earth in our consciousness, as we act on the problems. If the only image we create with our minds is destructive-climate-change, then that image takes hold of us.

It is rather like the anti-war movement. Just that thought of “anti-war” brings up war. Mother Teresa used to say she would not attend anti-war rallies, but she would come to a peace rally.

So, daily in my prayer and meditation I have added images of planet earth where I am seeing, feeling, finding words for imagining all its living creatures and nature in healthy physical/spiritual balance with each other, as per the laws of evolutionary progress and health.

The event of my life that fits in this category is the fall of Berlin Wall. I grew up with the sense that the Wall was as inevitable as the Rocky Mountains. When it fell, it was miraculous to me. It still is.

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April 2017, The EASTER Lesson – For Believer and Non-Believer Alike

The Easter Season gives us – for believer and non-believer alike – the story of a man who lived a human life at the highest plane of consciousness. Jesus lived both in time and in the flow of heaven’s grace. We have this same opportunity. We can choose to live at the highest level of consciousness we can access, every day, every step. Relieve yourself of the tedium of time. Live in the flow of divine grace and oneness. Live joy as you fulfill your earthly life.

This blog is written in the tradition of the painter Matisse, who did his artistic problem-solving on the canvas, reworking the painting over and over. The wording will change during the month as I rework it. This entry has the discipline of seven sentences to reflect one idea. Jody

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FEB 2017, Counselor for Individual Work – Moving Through Illness and Into Life Beyond

Moving Through Illness and Into Life Beyond: a Holistic Approach

My Individual Work:

I work with people who seek empowerment as they move through illness or health conditions. I am passionate about supporting people to believe they know the way, intuitively, through the difficult terrain of illness. I can teach you how to use your heart-intelligence and intuitive-reasoning to find the right path for you. Only you have access to this wisdom. Working together, you and your professional health care providers can walk, arm-in-arm, towards your healing. This approach is compatible with any religion or philosophy.

My work is grounded in my original model, The Spirituality of Illness: Cracking Open, Accelerated Learning with Heart & Head, and Into Life Beyond. In addition to individual work, I conduct presentations on this model for organizations. These presentations go from 30 minutes to 3 hours and include the model description, stories, tools, and interactions with participants. My book, Spirituality of Illness, will be out soon.

As a nationally board certified hospital chaplain with 15 years of experience, a Unitarian-Universalist minister, and a former psychotherapist, I am uniquely qualified for this work. Please contact me any time to have a conversation on how I might serve you. I currently serve as a Night Chaplain at UnityPoint/Meriter Hospital, Madison, WI.

I see caregivers, family members, or providers. I can be reached at 608-286-5287 (cell) or jody@jodywhelden.com. My website is www.jodywhelden.com. I see people at my office at The Quarry Arts Building, 715 Hill Street, Madison, WI.


*Board Certified Chaplain, Association of Professional Chaplains, Chicago; Association of Spiritual Caregivers, Madison, WI; Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, Boston, Mass;
Unitarian Universalist Community Ministers Association;
Volunteer, Faith Against Domestic Violence Task Force of the Dane    County Domestic Violence Coordinated Committee (DVCCR)

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OCT 2016, SPIRITUAL COURAGE in 21st CENTURY: Heart Centered Living

sand-sunset-ocean-bestphoto-24-copyCourage, spirituality and the 21st century. What do we have when these three collide & morph into coherent engagement? Let’s go back to the beginning of the last century – 1900. In that year – Frank Baum, published The Wizard of Oz. In the OZ story, the famous tin-man, who thinks he is lacking a heart, requests one from the Wizard – (who we eventually know is a fake wizard, but, we might concede, a wise man.)

The wizard says (movie version):“You have a heart, tin man, – where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds…their hearts are no bigger than yours. They have one thing you do not have, a testimonial. Therefore, in consideration of your kindness, I have the pleasure of awarding you with a- small-token-of-our-affection medal…”and he presents the Tin Man with a ticking- heart-clock-medal.

I love the WIZARD’s message. He reminds us what it is to be human and to value the heart. So, how do we find our courage and our heart and engage in the 21st century with clarity and inspired hope? We are battling such difficult conditions. It is easy to be discouraged.

I believe the way is through the heart. It is that simple. But, to be honest, it is not easy. It requires living your truth from your heart not your head – and living through challenges. Let’s remember Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach for a moment – one of popular cultures most iconic “get-up-and-go” stories. Jonathan was a seagull that wanted to fly higher, faster, more than the prescribed limits of seagulls. In his story he proceeds with his heart’s desire – and gets thrown out of his flock for it. He wanders in the wilderness, lonely and confused. He perseveres and eventually finds a new tribe of gulls, who lead their lives from their hearts, as well. Eventually he returns to his childhood flock to show other gulls the way to live their dreams from their hearts. He was more at peace at the end of the story, than he ever imagined possible.

I am inspired by these fictional stories of the heart-lived life. This intuitive-heart-centered approach to life has always been my way. And, I have searched for people — politicians, scientists and religious leaders — whose vision would resonate with mine.

One is politician and poet Viktor Havel, former Pres. of the Czechoslovakia Republic. In 1990 he addressed a joint session of the US Congress:
“We are still under the sway of the destructive and thoroughly vain belief that man is the pinnacle of creation and not just a part of it, and that therefore everything is permitted to him…We are still destroying the planet that was entrusted to us. We still close our eyes to the growing social, ethnic, and cultural conflicts in the world…the salvation this human world lies nowhere else than the human heart…”

Another is The Dalia Lama, Leader of Tibetan Buddhism, He says,
“Never give up, No matter what is going on, Never give up, Develop the heart, Too much energy on your country is spent developing the mind instead of the heart. Develop the heart. Be compassionate. Not just to your friends but to everyone…Be compassionate! Work for peace in your heart and in the world…NEVER GIVE UP!…”

I agree. We must develop our capacity to live from our heart-wisdom, not from our heads. The new paradigm is – the heart leads. That is what I stand for. I believe that, together, the intelligence of the heart and the intellect of the mind can be the fulcrum to leverage life in this world to its proper balance. The domination of the scientific, rational era must end and the life lived from the spirit-body-heart in accord with the great Source (the interdependent web, God, nature – however you want to say it) must lead the future. Without heart-wisdom, we are doomed.

So, what can this mean for us as individuals? How do we use our heart? So, what can this mean for us as individuals? How do we use our heart? This does not have to be complicated – really, it is as simple as the Wizard of Oz suggests – we must remember that we have a heart and practice using it. This will mean feeling your body and learning how to manage receiving your own wisdom through your heart and then, living it onto the world. Don’t worry – your head will be very helpful at bringing you reasoned thought when you need it.

To practice —
1. Notice your thinking in your head (forehead) – and, or, touch your head with your hands.

2. Find your heart (upper chest) and move your awareness there – touch it with your hands to help yourself do this – You need to feel your body to do this – feel your torso – your arms, your legs – be present in this moment –
Are you expanding or contracting? If you are contracting – you are using your thinking and trying too hard. Release that and place someone or something you love in your heart and feel what happens. To enhance the experience, pretend you can breath with your heart – breathe into and out of your heart — receive the feeling. Do you feel the expansion? Practice going back and forth.

Advanced practicing being heart-centered is a lot of fun. You are ready now!! Advanced practice is in real situations. It can make a difference. Examples of situations are your partner and you are arguing; a work colleague is being frustrating; your child is being difficult. Really – anywhere. I use it in the grocery line, when I have a car accident, (that just happened! The other driver thanked me for being so calm. ), when I take a walk with myself and nature. If you don’t feel ready (except, please believe you are ready – it is a natural state for humans.), you can pretend you are in the situation and practice. Do this with a friend.

  1. Decide, in the situation, to practice choosing being heart-centered.
  2. Be aware of yourself thinking about the situation in your head…you will find judgments, rational arguments, critical thinking dominating your thought.
  3. Switch your awareness from your head into your body and heart (REMEMBER THE TIPS: touch your heart to help you get there, or breath in and out of your heart, or imagine your loved one in your heart. Be patient – wait for the feeling of expansion. You can feel it through the whole front and back of your upper body – and on through to your whole body.)
  4. Take time to do this – it won’t be fast at first. Your consciousness must feel the body, be in the body, soften. Your mind may want to leap back to your head. That is okay – that is your habit. Gently reconnect with your heart and body. Be patient with yourself.
  5. Now, speak and act from this place of heart-centered consciousness.
  6. Notice the effect and ponder it, write about it, observe how it changes things between you and them, and in you.

Later, anytime you want, practice going back and forth between heart and head until you can make the choice for the transition easily.

Spiritual Courage in the 21st Century is not a luxury. It is necessary. Let your heart lead you – put your thinking, rational mind in service to your heart. The heart will not be linear, and it will seem counter-intuitive sometimes. But, the truth in your heart is set in accord to the universal rhythm and will not lead you astray –

As the great mystic Ralph Waldo Emerson said –
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

Love, Jody

by Jody Whelden, website, ww.jodywhelden.com  Oct 2016

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