22/02/2013

Relaxed Mum, Happy Children*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:08 am by The Water Bearer

relaxed kids

Like many others, I always thought meditation required sitting in the lotus position or lying down, eyes closed, taking time to relax every muscle in your body, imagine your breath is like a river cleaning out your stress, stopping all thoughts, finding that illusive place of calm etc … Honestly, I find this quite difficult.

I have practiced and benefited from relaxation though. Before bed, when I am having trouble sleeping, or when I am really anxious about an upcoming event. But who are we kidding? If we had enough time to do this regularly, we wouldn’t be half as stressed in the first place. Most of the time I am too tired to try to focus for that long. Frustrating more than relaxing, right?

However, after a bit of research, and some great posts from fellow bloggers, I have discovered other concepts regarding meditation.

Simply put, meditation is practicing being present in the moment. That sounds easier said than done, so I will share a couple of my own tips.

The quickest way I find to center myself, is to imagine (in detail) the view God has looking down on me right now. I see what I am doing, where I am, what is around me, what face I am pulling, and how I am holding myself and so forth.

Then I go internal, I pay attention to what my body feels like, what I can hear, what thoughts and emotions I have in the forefront of my mind, what is the pace of my breathing, and then see if I can really slow it down.

I don’t deny or push away thoughts, I just accept them and look at them without judgement, which makes it easier to just let them go and go back to being present. Allowing myself a break from mind-wandering into the past or future.

As some may recall, I made a new years resolution and prayer in my post A Focused Mind. To attempt to become skilled in meditation in order to focus and reach my goals, to be inspired and more present, to relax and make room for my mind to process the changes I am working on as a mother. True to the Lords word He has already begun answering my prayer, I am definitely getting better at this. Showing my children how to learn to enjoy the present moment is becoming increasingly important to me. I believe a more ‘present’ relaxed Mum, means secure, happier children.

I have watched a few TED talks and Youtube Videos on meditation recently and learned more amazing benefits. “Meditating, it is like taking a magic pill that will lower anxiety, pain, depression and anger and will improve attention, immune system, self-control  and well-being.”

I want my children to experience these benefits too. Couldn’t we all do with this in our lives? Yet I bet, you can come up with a hundred excuses not to try this, starting with, “I don’t have enough spare time” or “I would forget to do it because I have too many other things to think about” (which is kind of the whole point).

There was a terrific idea on one of these videos.  The “Don’t wait… Meditate!” pledge.

Pretty simple really…

We all hate waiting because we are wasting precious time, but we all have to wait, on hold, in lines, at traffic lights, before appointments etc.

The pledge is to be present, to meditate while you are forced to wait. No extra time is required.

I meditate while driving to and from work, I do it when I am waiting to pick my girls up from school, or while someone I’m talking with has to take a phone call. I am learning to do it while I engage with people who I feel most sensitive around, I am noticing that this helps slow my defensive reactions so I can ease them somewhat.

Depending on Christ, along with analyzing and understanding my own behaviour, has been hugely responsible for why things are changing for the better around here. I am excited at the changes on the horizon.

The clip below was extremely valuable in helping me understand the why and how of meditation in more detail and I hope it blesses you all.

15/02/2013

You want me to drink that?*

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:52 pm by The Water Bearer

jug

I often go back and read my previous posts, I reflect on how I was feeling at the time I wrote them. I am reminded of little gems of inspiration that I may need to apply again and had forgotten. I sometimes think, “Man that’s quite an over-share! Why did I let those deep feelings slip out for all the world to see?”. I could get critical and think my more “needy” posts may appear like a slick of oil in my water jug, unappealing and in need of a rinse out (Not very refreshing Water Bearer!).

I realise my down times mar my usually positive nature. I am well practiced in trying to hide my imperfections behind a big smile and a bouncing dance-step. It certainly seems clear that some, who hope to interact with me closely, would rather the strong, faithful and fun Water Bearer, than the broken shell that’s left when my weakness is exposed (I know which one I like better!).

I have lost count of the times I got served a dish of criticism when I exposed my wounds to those who couldn’t handle the sight of me cowering in tears, or when I’ve been highly sensitive and reactive after an extended visit to, what felt like, the valley of the shadow of death. I see it in myself too, when I instinctively want to control and implode my children’s sadness. Wipe away the tears and sort them out, then and there.

My intention for my writing has always been to encourage, inspire and quench the thirst of doubt, however I believe honesty is more refreshing than constant optimism, and especially more so than denial. I am grateful for the opportunity to share with others what this life is teaching me. Sure, it would be less confronting without all the fear and desperation, lets be honest, but our Inner Angels are at war with our Inner Enemies, and that after all is the title of this blog.

Each and every one of us has thoughts we wish we didn’t have, not all are for sharing with every person we come across (a little appropriate timing and tact was a lesson I had to learn via the extended edition…with bonus tracks), yet many of us learn young that we shouldn’t think like this or that, and decide it is better to just pretend we didn’t.

Our truth is that, ours. If we hide our truth down deep and pretend it’s not there, never happened, not affecting us, we push it into a place where Inner Enemies have free reign. They fester in the dark, poisoning us from within.

However, when we have a place to share our truths, when we find the courage to let our weaknesses bathe in the light of honesty, we can remove the poison and begin to heal. The light is where our Inner Angels can work on our truths, our weakness, our fear.

So to all of you who have continued to drink from this here well, oil and all, I thank you. Your encouragement and prayers, your empathy and acceptance, are allowing my grin and groove to continue in my daily life outside the blogosphere. You are such a blessing to me!

08/02/2013

Spiritual Surgery*

Posted in Family, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:34 pm by The Water Bearer

scalpel

There are times when I get so frustrated at myself for my sins, when I drop to my knees and scream “I want to change more!”. The Lord has protected me, and been faithful to me, He suffered for me and forgives me. He has led me to grow through my life and I have changed in so many ways, but still I scream….

I am a Type A, Sanguine personality, we are naturally quite fiery and feisty, not placid and calm very often, being quiet is extremely hard for this personality type. Over the years the Lord has been working on me and we have made some progress in this area. However, I can still get going at times and once I am in full flight it can be nearly impossible to stop myself. In the worst episodes I can be cocky and arrogant, I can be condescending and self-righteous. I mentioned in a previous post that I was praying for the Lord to help me develop quiet confidence and this post seems to be an extension of that.

Many of us grew up answering back and yelling our way through, believing we have to prove we are right against anyone who questions or challenges us. This is usually directed at, but not limited to, other family members, who also yell to prove how right they are. I can say honestly that this can been an extremely hard habit to break, and I am still not completely there yet.

It seems absurd to me though, I am a child of God and desperately want to represent all the good He can bring about in a person who submits to Him. And yet, while trying to be seen as right, my actions can be so very wrong.

How can we be a good example of God’s grace if we are so busy being right, that we forget to be kind?

What is the point of convincing the whole world we are right about something, if we have lost the respect of those we love along the way? None at all!

In this way and others, my fear of mistakes has been showing it’s ugly head in more and more ways since my recent breakthrough. I pray this is the Lord purging it from my nature so I can finally treat others with the respect and kindness I would like to, without this subconscious fear poisoning my reactions. I have had some ridiculous fears in my lifetime, and as I have come to recognise each one in turn I have handed them over into God’s hands. I am so grateful that I can now recognise and confess this deep fear, because He has never let me down, He is faithful to destroy all fear!

I am looking at this fear as a giant boil that has been festering away, growing and infecting me for too long, and now that we have found it Christ can bring it to the surface and remove it from me, just as He has done with all the fears that came before this one.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
 
For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
 

Developing faith into every area of life is a gradual process. At the start of our walk with Him we may see many changes quite quickly, however over time I have noticed that it takes a fair bit of digging to get right down to those conditions we didn’t even know have been there all along, generational curses, soul ties, deeply buried pain, and other enemies we may have been exposed to during childhood.

I may have found and confessed my fear, I may be frustrated that it is still coming out of me in ways I don’t find very flattering. However I understand that Christ is the surgeon, if we put our lives and fears in His hands, we can watch as His precise scalpel removes each and every inner enemy, and there are always many of His amazing blessings to reap after recovering from the surgery! Amen!

Praise His Name, I am so grateful to know the love of the Lord!

fear nothing

04/02/2013

Fear of Mistakes*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:50 am by The Water Bearer

I have another confession to make…

Deep down I’m petrified!

anxiety

Of getting it WRONG!

Am I alone in this fear?  … I doubt it.

This has been a fear all of my life, although I am only just recently beginning to accept and understand it on a new level. I can get quite defensive if I am accused of doing something wrong, especially when I know I tried my best and someone else assumes I didn’t. I take it as a personal attack, an accusation that I didn’t care enough to try.

This is not to say that I won’t admit when I am wrong, if I see my error first I will be the first to announce it, in fact I run to apologise and correct my err. If I have ever consciously chosen to do the wrong thing I expect to feel remorse and will take my punishment on the chin.

My fear is more that I will be deemed unworthy because of my short-comings, shamed to the point of rejection, rejected to the point of depression. It is those times that come unexpected, those left field errors, the times you thought you got it right and it turns out you got it WRONG! When you realise you have been deceived, by yourself, or by your inner enemies. Times like these I feel the colour drain from my face, my stomach does a flip and heat rises up my neck like a flame, covering my face in beads of sweat. My mind becomes a chaos of thoughts of shame and self-condemnation, justifications and desperation. In some cases tears well in my eyes.

As I mentioned in my last post, somewhere along the road of life I have subconsciously attached being ‘Right’ with being ‘Happy’, and therefore if I am wrong I am doomed to be ashamed and unhappy. Yet most of us understand we must make mistakes in order to learn. I love to learn so I should love making mistakes. Right? Wrong again!

As I’ve gotten older I have made many efforts to tackle this fear, after my car accident I suffered tremendous attacks of anxiety which made my ability to concentrate extremely difficult, if not impossible. I spent 3 years after my car accident, off work and in therapy, trying to recover both physically and mentally. I felt useless, I couldn’t imagine how I could be of any use to an employer or to my family. I needed quite a bit of rehabilitation to help me feel capable of working again, anxiety had me in it’s tight grip and I was sure my constant lack of concentration and focus would cause me to be punished and looked down on, viewed as worthless and perhaps even fired. I couldn’t bare the thought of letting people down, especially not an employer or a loved one.

mistakes

Therapy and working since then has helped me accept that we all make mistakes, human errors are unavoidable, I needed to learn to give myself a break.

My first job after the accident was with my best friend, she was extremely understanding and supportive. The boss of our department did me the world of good, He never punished his staff for making mistakes, he never made us feel like we had let him down if we didn’t reach perfection, in fact the opposite. He made fun of us in a joking, sarcastic manner, like a friend would, and always took our side against cranky customers. He made us feel we were good enough, even if we had done nothing but make mistakes all day. Lets face it, we have all had days like that..Haven’t we?

My recent breakthrough in therapy, made me aware that I allow this fear to infiltrate my parenting techniques, and I have been making every attempt to undo some of the damage this may have had on my children. It is not easy, I am still afraid, I wonder if I will ever be able to let these attacks slide off my back like water off a duck. (There are some great tips in this post how to prevent a cycle of this fear passing onto our children, also Brené Brown has done some amazing research in this area.)

I thank God so much for the realisation of this deep fear, because it is only when we accept something that we can begin to change it, we can place our fears in His capable hands. Our children deserve to feel good enough even when they make mistakes. We deserve to feel good enough even when we are wrong. Yeshua/Jesus would not have needed to come and suffer such a horrendous ordeal if we were capable of being perfect on our own. Our true happiness doesn’t come from getting it right all the time, it comes from knowing we are always worthy to Him, that He will never reject us, and that we will always be loved by Him.

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