Tag Archives: “What is spiritual health?”

ABC’s for Mental and Spiritual Health

I didn’t get a chance to write a blog this weekend because I was writing a magazine article. So here are my ABC’s to a happier life.

Enjoy!

A  Accept what is — your reality won’t get better until you accept it–what you resist persists

B  Breathe–breathing meditation can change your life.

C  Choose to change your thoughts — Brain can only hold one conscious thought at a time

D  Vitamin D from sunshine makes everything feel better — 15 minutes of sun on a large area ( your hammock) will give you what you need.

E  Exercise is so important for circulation. Moving blood makes you healthy. Doing something you like is best, 20-30 minutes 5 days a week will make a difference.

F  Fun — especially if it’s active — is necessary and bonding. Maybe you think gardening is fun, maybe walking or tennis or running. But even if it’s sedentary, do something you like to do.

G  God is all about feeling good, but not cheap pretend feel-goods that make you feel worse afterward.

H  Health is happiness because when your body is happy, you are.

I   Interrupt negative habits and thought patterns.

J  Joy has been found to be the single best healer for trauma. What is it? Mostly it comes from God or acceptance–doing something for someone else–knowing you are loved.

K  Kindness makes you feel better. And if you give it, you are more likely to get it.

L  Love is of course one of the happy makers.  Focus on all the forms of love that are available to you. Don’t settle for counterfeits.

M  Meditation can be time with God just breathing, it calms and soothes, and the busier you are, the more you need it.

N  New–try new things, especially if they don’t cost money.

O  Openness — let people know who you are.

P  Play and pray  are both important activities for happiness.

Q  Quit things that hurt you and make your body feel bad.

R  Rest! Be sure you get at LEAST 6 hours of sleep at night–7.5 is better :).

S  Smile because it makes you feel better, and everyone around you. It communicates love and acceptance.

T  Trust people who are trustworthy. If you don’t have any in your life, get your trust issues healed, and then trust God until you can find some.

U  Use what you have.

V  Velcro your brain to hold good. It takes 10-30 seconds to anchor a thought. Notice and savor the good in your life–breezes, flavors, beauty, smells, sights, sounds…

W  Welcome God’s Spirit into your life every morning.

X  is for canceling negative thoughts.  One negative thought activates CRH which then activates ACTH. The first causes worry, the last causes fear.

Y  Yell on paper instead of at your kids or spouse etc.

Z  Zip your mouth shut when you want to be negative.

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Boundaries

So ISIS beheaded another 21 people–Egyptians–this week. In the name of God? I think not. The one before that was an American woman. Before that burning the Jordanian pilot. They are going for reaction and intimidation. Notice how tall their black-clad executioners are compared to their victims. They are going for fear. It brings up some important questions:

How could they possibly think a God who died for freedom would approve? Or is that why they hate Christians–because we believe in a God who died to guarantee our freedom? Are these guys so demented that they actually think God rules with force? The word demented has ties with “demon” –have they been so pounded on by people who were controlled by demons that their boundaries cracked and they allowed evil to take over?

Were they so powerless, so mistreated as children and became so angry or were so hurt that they chose evil in the form of revenge? They have attracted many such “demented” people. Do they all really think God is like them? Or is this just an excuse to act out their rage?

What caused them to feed such rage? Helplessness? Powerlessness?

Have they thrown off their ties to their own religion in order to vent their fury? Or are they really deluded into thinking they are acting righteously?

I’ve read their holy book, and it says over and over–more than anything else–that Allah is most gracious and most merciful! Where is their disconnect?

I love it when the things I’m thinking and the things I read converge.

I’ve been working on God’s conversation with Cain in Genesis 4 for weeks, and was thinking the above this morning, when I went to God Calling for today. It said to be more afraid of disturbance between God and us than anything.

“When you feel the absolute calm has been broken–away alone with Me until your heart sings, and all is strong and calm. These (disturbances) are the only times when evil can find an entrance. The forces of evil surround the city of man-soul, and are keenly alert for one such unguarded spot, through which an arrow can pierce and do havoc.”

He had my attention; this is just what He had said to Cain! Then He said something shocking! “Remember all that you have to do is to keep calm and happy. God does the rest.”

What? No word about choice? It is only implied, but what a choice it is! And I know you experience it–when someone treats you meanly or rudely, or worse, scares you to death. And you choose not to let their arrows, poisoned by the dark side, go in.

Is that even possible?

It is! Listen to the rest: “No evil force can hinder My Power–only you yourself have power to do that.”

I think the next words are going to be about choosing because that’s what He’s talking about. But no–the last line is, “Think when all God’s mighty forces are arrayed to aid you–and your poor, puny self impedes their onward march.” He’s talking about how our emotions like fear and hurt get triggered. grabbed, and we run away with the wolves instead of sounding the battle cry, “Onward! Fight!”

There is a fight, a holy war, going on, but it isn’t about us killing each other, it’s about us choosing calm or trust and letting God fight for us. God’s boundary is our freedom, our boundary is not hooking in, not letting ourselves get carried away by fear, or hurt, or desire for revenge  but knowing our Helper and choosing to use His forces.

Right after that I read Psalm 4 and it’s all about the same thing! Wow! The last line is “Now I will lie down in peace, and sleep; for thou alone, O Lord, makes me live unafraid.”

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Brain Robbers

I’m restless this afternoon–probably dehydrated, I reflect–could the news from my friend put me in this funk? Don’t I believe God is good? I say it enough…so I should just start thanking Him that He has this too. And I’m sure He does. So I drink two glasses of water and began to write here. That’s one of my best processing strategies.

Did you know stress doesn’t kill us? There is now a great body of research to show it (Cohen, 2006). It is the state your body is in when the stress hits. Are you healthy? What do you do with the fear that presents itself with bad news? What are your feedback systems? What are your patterns? How do you cope?

We are emotional creatures. There is no way around it. We’re built to feel. We have to have outlets for emotions and pain. Fear is real when you hear a good friend has just been exposed to Ebola. No the fear isn’t for me–he’s in another country. The fear is for him and his family. It’s worse than hearing someone here has cancer–and that is bad enough.

And no, I’m not afraid of death for people who know God, their pain is over. I feel for the people who are left. The ones who suffer. I’m not afraid his wife and three children will get the disease–they are here. But how awful it would be to go on without him–he’s so full of life and fun. Humor is his second nature, as is adventure, and faith.

Sooner or later everyone comes around to the question. Why do good people suffer? Or Why does God allow suffering? Does He cause it? Those two have made many atheists.

I’m clear on both. Why is there suffering? Freedom. And no, He doesn’t cause suffering. He has no evil. So what’s my problem?

Part of it is the pathways I have. Fear used to be second nature to me. That network–mostly dormant is still there–ready to be activated at any time. Another part is that I know God sees what we don’t, and sometimes He sees that it is better not to intervene. I admit that one still gets me nervous from time to time. Faithful suffering speaks.

So what is the real problem? Do I know Him well enough to ask Him and listen for His voice? Do I take my shocks and fears to Him? Can I trust that He really knows best if He doesn’t do what I think He should? I am shocked to realize that I haven’t talked to Him about this yet!

Why not? I got caught in feeling–in the awfulness and emotion of what happened. That is purely human. But I could have turned to him immediately instead of wallowing in feelings for two hours. Now that is crazy! 

One of my friends even said the right words, but they went by with my agreement but not my action–not connecting with Him about this.

I even talked to Him about something else! Wow! I’m amazed.

Fear does NOT come from God. But neither will He jerk it away from me. I have to want to give it up. Processing helps. Can I trust Him? His goodness? Really?

Yes! Will I? That is my choice.

 

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What is Spiritual Health?

As I thought about last week’s post, I realized I should have started with the spiritual, because once you “get” that, everything else is easier.

Two things get in your way, however: First is that we all want our own way. Even when we’ve realized that we make bad choices, if things go better for awhile we want to try it our way again. That’s because our whole point in growing up is to be autonomous. That is how we develop. We start out helpless and learn skills.

First skill is communication. Not very sophisticated, I’m hungry or uncomfortable, I cry. If someone comes, it works, and I repeat it. Later we learn recognition, and then interaction.

Language gives us a huge jump in communication and getting our needs met, and continually we are adding power year by year. But there is always a power struggle. Sometimes we want to feel taken care of and safe. Other times we fight for our independence.

My eight-year-old grandson said it well when he wasn’t listening and got in trouble. Big tears welled up in frustration as he wailed,  “When am I ever going to get to make my own decisions and do what I want?”

“Oh honey,” I said, “You’ve got ten years to go! But you can start practicing with the choices you are given, and as you make them well, you’ll get more.”

The thing is, we finally reach autonomy only to discover that there is always a boss or a government or somebody we have to listen to. And finally we grasp that there are laws which simply describe the way things work, and you can defy them, but they will break you. Like gravity. You can get mad at it or use it, it doesn’t care. It will still operate the same.

Then begins the real growth. How will I relate to this dilemma? Am I really free? Can I really do whatever I want?

And God says, “Yep. But you might want to know what the rules are.”

“Rules?” you say. “Then I’m not free! When will I be able to do what I want?”

He answers, “When your wants agree with how you were made. If you love living in love, no problem. You can do what you want. But if you prefer living in hate or fear, those laws will break you. Their nature is destruction. Just thought you might want to know that.”

“That’s not fair!” you rail. “What if I want to live in fear and hate?”

And God smiles sadly and says, “Sorry, that’s just the way life works. I love life and love. But you can still do it your way as long as you last.”

That takes us to the other problem– we don’t trust. And in tandem with that, for many of us, we don’t believe we are lovable, or at least don’t believe we are loved. Others believe they are loved but can’t feel it because they can’t receive.

It’s complicated–so much programming, so many words we heard that we took in and believed. Sometimes the words were even innocent, and we twisted them, hurting ourselves, like, “Oh what a beautiful baby!” And we are standing there thinking, “I must be ugly. That’s why nobody likes me anymore.”

Believe it or not, that sticks, and we build more lies on it and reinforce it, until we believe we aren’t possible to love.

If we are fortunate, we tell someone how we feel, and they don’t blow us off but lovingly help us get it straightened out.

If not, we may go through life emotionally crippled, unable to take in and believe God’s love, unable to experience it. We build up all kinds of defenses like walls around us trying to protect ourselves. We think we are keeping out hurt, and we do to an extent, but mostly we are keeping out love.

God says He is love, and He loves us wildly, enough to become human (That is HUGE!) and be treated like the worst human of all time! (more HUGE!)

But it won’t do us any good if we don’t believe and receive–live in it. He Helps. Just ask.

 

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