Cathy Mandile will be leading us through an exercise in Mindfulness today. Cathy is a passionate advocate of people’s rights to receive support, hope and compassion through the darkest times in their lives. She is a professional counsellor currently working in the public mental health sector and has cared for many people with dual diagnoses of mental illness and substance abuse. Cathy is has been married for 31 years and has three adult children.
How many of us are stressed out?
Or maybe even experiencing intense anger, sadness, anxiety or fear? How about finding it hard to regulate our emotions at home, at work, in the supermarket or driving?? Tick!
We all can experience these at some stage in our lives.
Mindfulness simply means to choose and learn to control our focus of attention to the present moment without judgement. It does not conflict with any beliefs or traditions, whether religious, cultural or scientific.
It simply is a practical way to notice thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells– anything we might not normally notice. Mindfulness skills help us to focus our attention when we are overwhelmed by strong emotions. It can help with how we cope with everyday life or deal with tough times, and there are great benefits for our physical and mental health. Mindfulness can help us choose how we want to ‘respond’, rather than ‘impulsively react’ to situations.
We spend so much time thinking over stuff that has happened in the past, or worrying about things that may happen in the future, that often we actually forget to appreciate or enjoy the moment. Mindfulness is a way of bringing us back to experience life as it happens. When we’re mindful, it:
- helps clear our head
- helps us be more aware of our self, our body and the environment
- slows down our thoughts
- slows down our nervous system
- helps us to concentrate
- to relax
- can help us cope with stress.
- help manage depression and/or anxiety
- help us to be less angry or moody
- improve memory
- help us learn more easily
- help us to solve problems more easily
- make us happier
- help us to be more emotionally stable
- improve our breathing
- reduce our heart rate
- improve our circulation
- improve our immunity
- help us to cope with pain and
- helps to improve sleep.
How do we exercise mindfulness? The primary focus in Mindfulness is the breathing. However, the primary goal is a calm, non judging awareness, allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go without getting caught up in them. This creates calmness and acceptance. Mindful breathing:
- Sit comfortably, with your eyes closed and your spine reasonably straight.
- Direct your attention to your breathing.
- When thoughts, emotions, physical feelings or external sounds occur, simply accept them, giving them the space to come and go without judging or getting involved with them.
- When you notice that your attention has drifted off and is becoming caught up in thoughts or feelings, simply note that the attention has drifted and then gently bring the focus back to you breathing.
Colour breathing: This is one of my favourites. From these colours below, choose the colour relating to what you feel you need. You can name the colours anything you want but these are some examples.
Yellow – Peace.
Orange – Courage, Endurance and Strength.
Green – Hope.
Crimson – The presence of God, Love.
Brown – Humility.
Blue – Grace.
Purple – Forgiveness.
- Make yourself comfortable whether sitting or lying down.
- Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breathing.
- Anytime that other thoughts, images, sounds or sensations come to mind, just notice them and then gently bring your attention back to your breathing and your colour.
- Now visualise your colour. See it in front of you, over you, surrounding you. As you slowly breathe, become aware of breathing in your colour, into your nose, your throat, your chest and abdomen. Imagine now that colour spreading out within you and notice the effects that it has.
- Notice the sensations in your body as this colour flows into and spreads throughout your body.
- Anytime that your attention wanders, simply notice that it’s wandered, then gently bring your focus back to your colour.
- Whenever you are ready. Start to bring your attention back to the here and now, where you are. Open your eyes and look around noticing what you see and what you hear. Take a couple of breaths and notice the pleasing sensations that accompany this relaxing exercise.
You notice each gain of sand pass through your fingers.
You could smell the seaweed as it was washed up on the shore. Then, you looked at the beautiful sunset, the colour of the sky, noticing the clouds and how they seemed to shroud the sun as it went down.
You watched the waves come towards you noticing they get lost in the sand. You also felt the wind on your face and breathed in the coolness noticing your lungs being rejuvenated.
You may have thanked God for His creation and His marvellous works. You are relaxed and enjoying the present moment. Taking in deep wells of peace with each breath. Guess what …you just did an exercise in mindfulness. Using mindfulness to cope with negative experiences (thoughts, feelings, events). Examples of negative thoughts: I am hopeless; This is too hard; I am a failure; I need a hit. As we become more practiced at using mindfulness for breathing, body sensations and routine daily activities, we can then learn to be mindful of our thoughts and feelings, to become observers, and then more accepting of them. This results in less distressing feelings and increases our ability to enjoy our lives.
With mindfulness, even the most disturbing sensations, feelings, thoughts and experiences, can be viewed from a wider perspective as passing events in the mind, rather than as ‘us’, or as being necessarily true. ( Brantley 2003).
As we gain confidence in using mindfulness, we can use it even in times of intense distress, by becoming mindful of the actual experience as an observer, using mindful breathing and focussing our attention on the breathing, listening to the distressing negative thoughts mindfully, recognising them as mere thoughts, breathing with them, allowing them to happen without believing them or arguing with them.
Watch them lose their power as they fall away. If thoughts are too strong or loud, then we can move our attention to our breathing, or to sounds around us. Mindfulness takes practice, practice, practice.
Be creative with it!! Enjoy every moment you have, breathe and be thankful.
You will notice the difference!!!! Cathy….
Asylum Seekers: “Pastor, Shouldn’t We Celebrate Stopping the Boats?”
So far this year 38 Christian leaders have been arrested in a call for the release of these children in detention. And there are no signs of us pesky pastors letting up, with over a hundred Christian leaders on their way, willing to be carried off in paddy wagons. Evidently, this Love Makes A Way movement is just getting started.
Some of us have been trained by the civil rights leaders hand-picked by Martin Luther King to lead his movement. People like Dr. Vincent Harding, who told me, “Your work [with Love Makes A Way] is not only influenced by, but a continuation of, Martin [Luther] King’s Freedom Movement.”
And in the words of the Freedom Movement Song, “We who believe in freedom will not rest until it comes.”
Columnists – please do your homework. We are not the “loony left” (in fact, some of us are to the right). The rights of children and the rights of refugees we are convinced of are not about “right and left,” but rather “right and wrong.”
We are Pentecostal pastors in mega-churches and Catholic nuns.
We are Reformed Presbyterians and Anabaptist charismatics.
We are local Church of Christ worship leaders and national moderators of the Uniting Church.
We are tongue-talking, Vineyard ministers and contemplative Baptist reverends.
We are Perth Anglo-Catholic priests and Sydney Anglican evangelicals.
In short, it’s a miracle we agree on anything. But by the grace of God, we are all clear on this: As Christians, a “solution” that comes at the cost of the most vulnerable is no solution at all.
Children must be released from detention.
“But Pastor,” many say to us, “This is politics. Your talk of love is fine for the pulpit, but keep it out of the public square. Besides, shouldn’t we celebrate stopping the boats?”
Celebrating stopping the boats is like celebrating people not jumping from burning buildings because we’ve boarded up the windows.
I’ll let my good friends Akram Azimi and Mick Sheldrick extend my metaphor:
Imagine that you live in a building with 100 individual apartments – each housing a family. Suddenly, a fire engulfs the whole building, blocking the exit. You open your windows and call for help. The fire fighters come, but they only have one truck with only one ladder. This means that only one family can descend safely through their window via the lifesaving ladder. This leaves the other 99 families in an unenviable dilemma. Do they stay and wait for the fire to consume them or do they – knowing they have nothing to lose – risk it all by jumping out the window? What would you do?
This is the situation facing seeking asylum. Currently less than one per cent of all refugees are resettled through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). With no real choice at all for the remaining 99 percent, many jump and risk it all, not for a better life but for a chance at life.
People fleeing persecution get on boats for the same reason that people jump from burning buildings – if they stay, they will die. There is no other way. The Government’s “no way” campaign tells desperate people not to jump from burning buildings without providing safety from the flames.
That’s not humane, it’s horrific.
“Stopping the Boats” doesn’t save lives. Stopping the boats saves us from seeing the suffering of those running for their lives. Just because we can see people drowning here doesn’t mean they aren’t dying elsewhere. Shouldn’t we stop people from drowning? Of course! But saving lives is much harder than usstopping boats. It will mean us going to help. We must ask ourselves, as a nation, are we looking for a response that relieves our guilt or responds to the suffering of others?
“But Pastor,” many continue, “Are you saying we should open the borders? What is your solution?”
Of course this isn’t about “open borders.” This is about real leadership and safe, efficient processing. Before I suggest some possible responses, I want to name what I mean by “real leadership.”
Hillsong’s Senior Pastor Brian Houston earlier this week and at their annual Megaprayer Night, showed the real leadership that is lacking.
What we want to pray for is real human beings, real people who are in desperate straits, and are hurting, and are [in] so much pain, children in detention. All sorts of things, that I don’t even pretend to have the answers for or understand. But I tell you though; we have the power of prayer.
–Pastor Brian Houston
Why is this the real leadership that’s needed?
In the first instance, Pastor Brian Houston humanised those who are suffering without qualifiers. Daring not to refer to these desperate people as “queue jumpers” or “boat people” has become a radical thing. Pastor Brian asked us to open our heart without qualifications. He didn’t ask Hillsong to pray just for Christian refugees, or African refugees, or for heterosexual refugees but for all people – regardless of religion, race or orientation – because God loves them. While God’s love won’t be the reason for recognising the humanity of others shared by all, all real leadership insists that we fight to recover the humanity of vulnerable people in public debate and policy response.
Secondly, Pastor Brian also called us in prayer to stand with those who suffer. I realise many reading this might regard prayer as quaint, at best, (and completely daft, at worst,) but Pastor Brian asked us to emotionally and imaginatively empathise with those who are suffering to an extent that we could articulate their longings for freedom with them. If our atheist friends have practices that imitate this process, real leadership calls for us to practice them too, so we might respond to these people with the dignity we all deserve.
And finally, Pastor Brian humbly said he didn’t have the answers. This is what no politician has been willing to say – that there are no simple solutions to human suffering. The search for the simple solution (such as “stop the boats” as ex-One Nation’s Pauline Hanson first suggested and that has since been taken up by both major parties due to its popularity) has become part of the problem. As is the problem of fundamentalism of any form, a simple solution forces easy answers over the complexity of reality. In this case, the reality is that persecution and war are not going away any time soon, which means neither are the refugees running from those realities. Whilst Australia might be thoroughly secular, popular public opinion has fallen for a form of policy fundamentalism that wants quick fixes over complex long-term responses. But three-word phrases can’t deliver what has been asked of us. One hundred and forty characters can’t contain what our response needs to be. What’s been asked of us is a response to real and complex human suffering. Real leadership, the kind shown by Pastor Brian, has the humility to admit that we don’t have all the answers, but that our response must be one that connects to the suffering of others.
“So Pastor, you are saying you don’t have any answers?”
No. I am saying that I don’t have any easy answers. But I’m trying to “live” into some important questions.
For over two years my family of three have been living with 17 recently arrived refugees at First Home Project. Out of the daily reality of responding to recently arrived people, here are my questions – some of which we asked former-PM Kevin Rudd:
- Why couldn’t this government, like Fraser’s Liberal government in the 70s, lead a regional response that upholds international law written to say “never again” after the Holocaust? This would mean Australia becoming a regional leader in putting up more ladders out of the burning building.
- Why couldn’t Australia’s navy, like Italy’s, help asylum seekers find safe passage here and to other regional centres to be processed efficiently?
- Why couldn’t this government do what John Howard’s Liberal government did in 2005 and release all children and their families from detention to be processed in the community?
- Why couldn’t this government establish a more humane solution of community processing (that would also save $4.5 billion dollars a year) and boost regional economies by processing refugees in regional centres?
- Why couldn’t this government do more to address the flames of the building? We have just cut foreign aid, development and relief by $7.6 billion, whilst increasing the cost of imprisoning asylum seekers to $8.3 billion in the last budget. Increasing aid, increasing spending in peace building initiatives, rather than war machines, is what’s needed.
These are the questions I’m seeking to live. I find it unacceptable that the rhetoric of politicians reflects such a low opinion of the Australian public that it has lacked the creativity to live into these questions and respond to these vulnerable people with the dignity they deserve.
Australia could become a leader in a regional response by providing safe ladders out of these “burning buildings.”
Instead of saying “no way,” we must provide “safe ways” for people to seek asylum without risking their lives or being imprisoned for trying.
I believe love makes a way. Jarrod McKenna
Featured Images by Attila Shia: https://www.flickr.com/photos/77967821@N00/sets/
What is it like to be an Armenian, Palestinian Christian living in Jerusalem in 2014?
by Lisa Hunt-Wotton
Recently I attended a function to hear a gifted communicator talk about the plight of Palestinian Christians. Unfortunately for safety reasons I am unable to name this brave and compassionate speaker. Born and raised in Jerusalem, an ‘Armenian Palestinian Christian’. Armenians have a long, continuous presence in Jerusalem from the fourth century. Armenia was the first nation in 301 CE to adopt Christianity as its official faith . Here is some of what was shared at the event.
“Palestine, the word, the map, the people, they are all fragmented. They are a people who feel dispossessed, abandoned by the world and rejected from their own physical location. Disinherited”.
“Living in Jerusalem, every single day you feel conflict, heaviness and desperation. You feel very threatened and very alone. It takes a lot of energy to live in a place of conflict and it is a daily reflective process to make sure that you don’t become bitter”.
Most people when they talk about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict rarely talk about Christianity. It takes special reflection as a Christian to try to make sense of your role and identity and mission in the middle of a conflict. There are always other narratives involved. Each person tells you a different history and a different narrative.
There are many many sides to this story. There is a word in Hebrew for ‘face’ that is plural, in Hebrew you would say “How are your faces?” This is true of this area of the world, there are many faces to this story.
What is it like for a Palestinian Christian on a daily basis?
Well daily they are subjected to military checkpoints on the way to school and to work. Reality is the separation between members of the same family, making family life impossible. Religious liberty is severely restricted with millions forbidden to visit the holy sites. In 1948 when Palestinians were dispossessed of land, they were given refugee status. Today there are 7 million Palestinians who still live with refugee status, they have been waiting for the right of return generation after generation. They have no status, no passport, no birth date even though they have been born and raised in Palestine.
The citizens of East Jerusalem do not carry an Israeli passport and the papers that they do have are not recognized by any authority.
Then there are the 1.5 million Palestinians who remained in Jerusalem and who have Israeli citizenship are called the ‘demographic threat’ because they are perceived as a threat to Jewish control. Life here is still very complicated. For example, the speaker, who was born and raised in Jerusalem, needs to apply for a visa every 2 years just to remain in her own home.
“Israel is facing a serious demographic challenge that threatens its future as both a democratic and a Jewish state. There are moral, political, and strategic dangers in preserving the territorial status quo.
Israel cannot remain a majority Jewish, democratic state, by indefinitely controlling the Palestinian territories.” Only a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict can prevent this existential danger from becoming a reality” (Israels National Security Project – Sergio DellaPergola).
“The Palestinian territories or occupied Palestinian territories (OPT or oPt) comprise the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. The boundaries, subject to future negotiations, are generally regarded by the international community as being defined by the Green Line.
In 1980, Israel officially annexed East Jerusalem and considers the whole of Jerusalem to be its capital. The annexation was condemned internationally and declared “null and void” by the United Nations Security Council. The Palestinian National Authority, the United Nations, the international legal and humanitarian bodies and the international community” (Palestinian Territories Wikipedia).
In the West Bank, the disputed territories, 2.5 million Palestinians carry Palestinian passports. The fact that they live in the West Bank means that they cannot access the rest of the country. Israel is 10 minutes away but they are not permitted to travel there. They cannot even use the Tel Aviv airport, they have to travel to another country to catch a plane. They can see the beach from their houses but the will never be allowed to go to the beach.
This affects every aspect of someones life. Those living in Gaza, 1.6 million people, are land locked. Although they have a seacoast of their own, the continued delays in the construction of a seaport in Gaza have rendered it a de-facto land locked territory, isolated from global trade. They are not permitted to go anywhere. They cannot go to Israel or to any other country that surrounds them. All crossings into Gaza have been blocked off since 2007.
“In recent years, life in Gaza has been defined by the scarcity food, clothing, fuel and cargo. The markets are empty and there are fewer people and cars on the streets. many unemployed Gazans believe work in the tunnels is the only option available to them” Mohamed Harb.
That is why they dig tunnels. They dig tunnels to access supplies. Yes those tunnels are used to smuggle weapons and for warfare, but they are also used to smuggle lollies for their children, cows, nappies, bread, medicines, building materials and biscuits.
It is estimated that 7’000 Gazans scratch a living by working in the tunnels. There are thought to be around 1’000 tunnels running between Gaza and Egypt and Gaza and Israel, most of them dug by hand.
The Tunnels of Gaza is a brilliant short film which aired on Al Jazeera on April 20,2014. It highlights the daily hardship of life in the Gaza strip and the result of the crippling siege. Here is the link. http://youtu.be/v1uatEfM7Xw
For Palestinians there is also the ongoing humiliation of going from one check point to another. Just to go to university each day involves violence and humiliation. Arrest is a constant fear and the lack of safety is something that you fear on a day-to-day basis. To be a Palestinian today does not matter any more, it is all about where you are born in a certain time in history. You are defined by your birth date and where you were born during what occupation.
It is very important to Palestinians for others around the world to be interested in Palestinians and the stories of Palestine. It is very important to feel that their is a national and international solidarity. When people talk about the conflict they talk about the politics, instead we need to look at the people and understand how it affects there movements, relationships, education and way of life. It is not just political, it is personal. Each person has the right to access education, to water, to basic services and basic human rights. It can be simplistic to just talk about peace, we need to talk about peace and justice.
Pope Francis recently extended an invitation to Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and to Israeli President, Shimon Peres, to come to the Vatican and join him in praying to God for the gift of peace. He also said this:
“In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace”, said Pope Francis,” I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace. I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer.
All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers. All of us – especially those placed at the service of their respective people s – have the duty to become instruments and artisans of peace, especially by our prayers.
Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment.
The men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace” (2014-05-26 Vatican Radio).
At the end of this event we were given a thin A4 booklet called ‘Kairos Palestine – A Moment of Truth’. This is a work of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering. It is hoped that through this book the world will see and understand and suffering that is going on in Palestine and that Christians will unite and pray for peace and Justice for all in this part of the world. This is the opening paragraph.
Patriarchs and heads of churches Jerusalem
We hear the cry of our children.
We,the Patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem, hear the cry of hope that our children have launched in these difficult times that we still experience in this Holy Land. We support them and stand by them in their faith, their hope, their love and their vision for the future.
We also support the call to all our faithful as well as to the Israel and Palestinian Leaders, to the International Community and to the World Churches, in order to accelerate the achievement of justice, peace and reconciliation in this Holy land.
We ask God to bless all our children by giving them more power in order to contribute effectively in establishing and developing their community, while making it a community of love, trust, justice and peace.
Then it is signed by all of the heads of the churches. Greek Orthodox, Latin, Armenian Orthodox, Custodian of the Holy Land, Coptic, Syrian Orthodox, Maronite, Ethiopian, Greek Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Armenian Catholic. Dated Jerusalem December 15th 2009.
In this document these heads of the Church request the International community to stand by the Palestinian people who have faced ‘oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades. The suffering continues while the international community silently looks on at the occupying State, Israel… we call out to all the Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace in our region”.
This conflict has been going on for generations, it is complicated and it is often difficult to comprehend. However, one thing is simple. Each person on the planet deserves to be loved and deserves peace. Each person is valuable and should be treated with justice. We should all be advocates of peace in the Holy Land so that all people have an opportunity to live with dignity and justice. So that all people have the right of movement, the right of access, the right of education.
Let me finish with a scripture from the Holy Bible, Galatians 8:28-29
“In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female.
Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises”.
Please pray for all men women and children who suffer daily in this part of the world. They deserve peace, justice and freedom. Let us pray as Pope Francis indicated – “The men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace”.
Hi there my friends, I thought that I would start the first Monday’s post by outlining where I would like us to go in this new season for us all. Some of you may only touch base with me on a Monday which is perfectly fine. It will be our Monday community. I will design these Monday meditations to be: 1: a learning experience 2: a practical experience. I am also very mindful that many of you will be reading these at work so they will be designed in order for you to take the time that you need at your desk. Allow min 5 or max 10 min out of you day for this even if it’s just once a week to start with (include reading the post in this time). Like any exercise:
- You have to start somewhere
- Start small
- You need encouragement: let’s do this together.
- You need community: as we comment on the posts and give feedback we can encourage each other. No comment is too small or too silly. Lets be positive in the comments.
- You can do this at any time of the day or night
All of us are in a different phase and stage of life. I have friends who are walking through cancer, divorce, ill-health, some are first time parents, jobless and some are in careers that are crazy and booming. Wherever we are , we all need self-care and time to nurture our inner worlds. We will be looking at two distinct topics and putting them into practise. 1: Meditation 2: Prayer Next week I will post specifically on Meditation; what is it and why we should do it. The week after that will be a post on Prayer: how to get yourself out-of-the-way so that you can listen to your inner soul and to the Spirit of God. Following that will be posts with specific exercises for you to do around these two spiritual practices. Heads Up:
- Meditation is an ancient practise that has many documented health benefits. The main premise being that you take time to de-clutter your inner world and to make room for silence, space, peace and inner health. A well-known stress reliever.
- Prayer is the “act and presence of sending light out from the bountifulness of your love to other people to heal, free and bless them” (O’Donohue). Prayer is also friendship with God. Like any friendship, we speak and then we listen. Good friendship is more about listening and less about speaking. I find that most people treat God like Santa with endless ‘to do’ lists. Others just chat and speak and talk and talk. My hope, over the next months, is that you will begin to hear God speaking to you. He loves to talk, we just don’t often take the time to listen.
Make space in your day: Decide when you are going to read and practice Monday’s Meditations. If you are at work you may want to put on a pair of headphones when you take a break. At one time I shared an office space with four other creatives. I bought a large pair of Hot Pink headphones, when I put those on everyone knew that Lisa was in the “Don’t talk to me space”. Make sure you schedule a time in the day when you are able to have a break and would most likely not be interrupted. At home shut the door and turn your phone off. You may want to put some soft music on. If you only learn one thing this year it is that God is not ‘out there’, he is ‘right in here’. In our western dualistic thinking we have separated spirituality from our souls. Richard Rohr explains it much better than I ever could:
“I believe that God gives us our soul, our deepest identity, our True Self, our unique blueprint, at our ‘immaculate conception’. Our unique little bit of heaven is installed by the Manufacturer within the product, at the beginning! We are given a span of years to discover it, to choose it, and to live our own destiny to the full. If we do not, our True Self will never be offered again, in our own unique form….We do not make or create our souls, we grow into them….much of the job of spirituality is learning how to stay out-of-the-way of this rather natural growing and awakening”. Pg x Falling Upward by R. Rohr.
Whilst society preaches that life is all about addition. ie: what we obtain, what we get, what we can add to our lives. Spirituality is all about subtraction. The process of getting us out-of-the-way. Peeling back the layers, the hurts, the misconceptions and getting to know our ‘True Inner Selves’. We need to apply ourselves to do this. That is why spirituality is often linked with silence and solitude. Exercise: Breathing In the Hebrew culture the first word for God was YHVH, we know it today as YHWH or YAWHEY. Loosely it means “to be” or ‘to cause to exist’ or ‘to give life’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetragrammaton). The spirit of YHVH is YHVH Himself, meaning ‘breath’ of the spirit. Religiously observant Jews are not allowed to say the name of God. When you sound out YHWH out loud it sounds like you are expelling a breath. I love that. Try it….. The word “Ruah” means, breath, mind, or wind or some invisible moving force (“spirit”). One of the most ancient practises of meditation is to learn to control your breathing.
Breaths come in pairs. Breathing in and breathing out. When you are born you take your first breath. When you die you expel your last breath. Your breath is the life force within you. The breath of God is the life force of creation. So for a few min now; sit in a comfortable position, shut out the world, close your eyes and listen and focus on your breathing. Breathe in and then breathe out – several times. Slowly. Listen to your breath. Let oxygen fill your diaphragm, energise your blood stream. Take time to expel it slowly………….. After a couple of min of getting in the rhythm of this. Add thoughts to your breath. Expel all negative thoughts or words that you have spoken in the last 24 hours. Breathe IN hope, promise, life, peace. Breathe OUT – hmmm…….. I let go of that negative thought, I let go of any unforgiveness. I Breathe IN – forgiveness, I breath in good health, I breath in good thoughts about myself. I breathe OUT anger, frustration…….disappointment. I breathe IN love, light, peace. This is a powerful exercise. It will regulate your heart rate and blood pressure. It will bring calmness and peace wherever you are. Neurologically it actually helps to rewire your brain into good ways of thinking. Practice all the time whenever you are able. Like anything, the more you practice the deeper the benefit and the quicker the calming effect.
Fantastic if you suffer from anxiety.
Breath OUT all fear and anxiety.
Breathe IN love, safety, peace.
Focus on your breath, feel it move over your lips, listen to the sound of your breath. REPEAT.
If you suffer from anxiety you may just need to do just this bit for several minutes. If you practice this regularly then when you begin to have an anxiety attack you will be prepared to take control of you breathing and moderate the effects.
Let me know how you go. I’m busting to hear how you feel after doing this and if you continue to practise it through the week.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26 Bible
Bless you. May you find peace and rest this week. Love Lisa.
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdomby John O’Donohue I am absolutely besotted with this book. In Anam Cara, Gaelic for “soul friend,” the ancient teachings, stories, and blessings of Celtic wisdom provide such profound insights on the universal themes of friendship, solitude, love, and death as:
- Light is generous
- The human heart is never completely born
- Love as ancient recognition
Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Lifeby Richard Rohr
- A must for every book shelf
- Explains why the second half of life can and should be full of spiritual richness
- Offers a new view of how spiritual growth happens?loss is gain
Welcome to Sunday Everyday.
This is my first official post ahhhhhh…… faint. I hope you enjoy navigating the site. Have a look around and make yourself at home. By doing so you will understand a little more of how this is going to work. Its been a nail-biting 5 months for me personally for many reasons. One of them has been about me being brave enough to step out into the unknown and put this particular dream into action.
For the last 8 years the footnote of all of my emails has read:
“To live a creative life you must lose your fear of being wrong”
by Joseph Chilton Pearce
Which is quite hilarious really because the first email that I sent with this quote on it was actually spelled wrong. My dear friend and colleague Llewellyn Watterson, in his gracious and quiet manner, walked into my office and pointed out that I had spelt ‘LOOSE’ instead of ‘lose’. So I was wrong immediately. Story of my life. I guess what I’m trying to say is that being creative is risky, putting dreams into action takes courage. We all struggle with fear but it doesn’t have to rule us. I say this to myself as I launch this blog and hold my breath.
My story is complex and bumpy, hilarious and heart breaking. Those of you who don’t know me will catch glimpses of my journey in my writing. However, the primary reason for this blog is that it be a platform for conversation. It is also designed to be a platform for other writers. I’ve grown some wings and a voice in the last 15 years and there are some things that I want to say. There are some conversations that need to begin. I feel deeply and passionately that we need to hear other voices, other opinions, other ideas and visions. I’m an artist, a creative, a prophet. My primary obligation to this planet is to make people feel stretched, to make them think, to make them look. To move them out of their Comfort Zone.
Please don’t lock down your brains, or dig in your trenches. Please join the conversation.
There is a lovely story of the wolf-spider; it never builds its web between two hard objects like two stones. If it did this, it would be rent by the wind. Instinctively, it builds its web between two blades of grass. When the wind comes it is flexible, it moves and springs back up. I’m reminded of a verse in the bible that was given to me and my husband at my first marriage. Psalm 92:12
The Godly will flourish like a palm tree, they will be like the Cedars in Lebanon.
What this is saying is that these two trees have two distinct characteristics. You only have to observe a tropical storm to see that the palm tree is flexible, it bows low in the wind and then springs up again. The Cedar is very slow-growing and has an extensive root system, but once it is established at maturity it is immobile. I think that we need to be like this. Until we are in our old age, we should be flexible and pliable. Only as we reach the end of our lives and we are established in wisdom should we be more confident in our ways and thoughts.
‘We put terrible pressure on our minds when we tighten them or when we harden our views or beliefs; we lose all the softness and flexibility which makes for real shelter, belonging and protection’.
Creativity demands that we remain flexible, spontaneous. Like a Violin, if the strings are too tight they snap. We also need to be bridges. Being a bridge means we understand the people on each side of that bridge and that we hold the tension perfectly so that both sides feel loved, both feel understood and that we become the bridge that hearts and souls can cross to meet and to unite and to solve the issues of this grief filled planet. That is the definition of peace I believe.
So I encourage you to come on this journey with me. Lets start some conversations, lets hear from some bigger minds and deeper hearts. Lets gain some perspective as we hear the stories of our brothers and sisters. I couldn’t say this any better than Richard Rohr.
Get ready for some new freedom. Some dangerous permission, some hope from nowhere, some unexpected happiness, some stumbling stones, some radical grace, and some new and pressing responsibility for yourself and our suffering world.
With much love. Lisa.