So many are completely unaware of the battle Inner Angels and Enemies has been trying to expose over the past 5 years. We ignore the hidden stresses and insecurities that poison us from underneath a helmet of mindlessness. Our busy minds are bombarded by excess, alarmism and dysfunction, and most of us are just trying to cope, just barely holding it all together.
Often those who claim serenity, who claim to have a handle on stress, have actually withdrawn from life in some way. Refraining from deep relationships, avoiding every potential for suffering, disconnecting from the masses. Some have removed themselves from society, or simply live in a state of ignorance. And while I agree that we all need a break from time to time, I do not believe God intended us to live in a permanent state of disconnectedness, only to interact in short and occasional bursts, and then retreat away again. The scriptures say to be not of this world, but that does not mean we are to disconnect from it. We are given the powers of heaven to OVERCOME the dysfunctional patterns of the world. To still be able to interact and impact our communities positively, and have deep meaningful relationships. To not be governed by indulgence and addiction as the world encourages, but to defeat emotions grounded in selfishness, bitterness, fear, and pride…
Deuteronomy 14:2 “You have been set apart as holy to the LORD your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.” Those words ‘set apart‘ is translated from the Hebrew word Qadowsh, which actually means Holy and Sacred. This infers, not that we are separated in physicality or proximity, or even emotionally, but rather in morality!
In order to gain back some awareness of our thoughts and behaviours, psychologist have been using meditation and mindfulness to help manage some of the dysfunctional conditions which are becoming epidemic in our society. Conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD, panic attacks, mood disorders, addiction and more. Using techniques which decrease stress, slow the brainwaves and increase awareness, we are actually able to rewire our brains and alter these dysfunctional patterns we have adopted. This is wonderful news for those who are in the pursuit of wellness because it means we have access to healing without spending a fortune on pills and potions.
For those who are also in pursuit of faith as they strive toward wellness, the scriptures hold vital keys. These patterns of dysfunctional behaviours, become locked into our subconscious, and are identified as the ‘Sins of the flesh’ according to the Word of God. Mindlessness prevents us from recognising how deep we have gone. Therefore Self-Awareness is vital to recognise areas of our subconscious that require alteration, which you can read more about in this post. While meditating on the scriptures and absorbing the character of Christ, we can alter subconscious patterns to align with His perfect example. Replacing, selfish and unrighteous patterns with patience, gentleness, kindness, selflessness and LOVE.
This concept is the foundation for a calling God has placed on my heart, as mentioned in this previous post. Leading me to design a program that unites Self-awareness with Scripture Meditation. I can hardly wrap my head around the abundance of evidence God has guided me towards to support this program. It is founded in Science, Scripture and life Experience.
After so many years battling with all manner of dysfunction, mental illness, injury, and sickness I NOW UNDERSTAND WHAT GOD WAS DOING! He was using those situations to bring me to this place, a place where I can show others how to develop wellness and faith, and how to rewire their bodies and minds. It is a place where I can use my testimony to expose the enemy and to restore the reputation of the stunning and incredible Character of God!
God used my experiences to lead me to become the founder of a unique concept called Sanctuary Stretch.
I am amazed to tell you that while I was once unemployable, and even suicidal, I am now a certified Pilates Instructor and Meditation & Mindfulness Teacher, and have combined those two techniques with the Word of God to decrease stress, restore physical vitality and bring every thought into the captivity of Christ! You can read all about it on the Sanctuary Stretch Facebook Page or website. For those in the Sunshine State…South East Corner…Australia… I look forward to seeing you for your first FREE CLASS!
Don’t you deserve some time out to distress and rejuvenate mind, body and faith under the loving gaze of your Loving Heavenly Father? Of course you do.. WE ALL DO!
In western culture, obtaining wholeness of mind, body and spirit has been considered for many generations as an ancient ‘pagan’ practice. Aligned with Eastern Religion… Buddhist & Hindu beliefs, Chinese medicine, Japanese fitness, and so on. As a child growing up in the modern Christian community, I heard that wholeness (Oneness) practices were ‘New Age’, ‘Inviting in Evil’, “Anti-Christian’ and so on.
Have we become so crippled by fear of everything which is not completely understood, that we have learned to avoid exploring the various forgotten gifts that God has generously given us?
Just as the counterfeit tries to use our Godly gifts for evil, so we have authority in Christ to turn to all things beneficial to our Christian walk as God intended, with God’s guidance. Just as evil intended the internet to be used to fill the world with debauchery and all manner of deception, here I am using the internet to share my truth and the Good News of Christ…And here you are reading it. 🙂
Being present amidst rushing time, and finding stillness in God’s presence, is a most Christ-like quality, and the enemy knows this. So what if he took this gift, and corrupted the message of the One True God in the process, so that future generations of Christians would avoid all mediation and mindfulness practices?
This is not to say that all meditation practices or mindfulness techniques are completely trustworthy for Christians. If, during a guided mediation, the instructor starts asking you to connect to a spiritual system that is not congruent with the truths of the One True God, then a conscious decision to reject falsehood and reapplication of Godly armour is necessary, we then need to seek God’s guidance about continuing, or we may indeed leave ourselves exposed to unwanted spiritual activity. But that is true for ALL things under the sun, discernment is crucial.
Mindfulness gives us a chance to escape earthly bonds and quieten our endless mind-wandering so that we may become open to hear and understand the still small voice of God.
“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)
As God’s people we are inflicted with various conditions that we might lose confidence in the strength of our bodies and our self-reliance, that we may seek out and rely upon the Lord, so that He may receive ALL glory for our witness. Like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12: 7-9…
“Even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
My particular psychological condition, cyclothymia, has manic tendencies, which makes it extremely hard to focus and wait for the still small voice of God. I have an extremely fast nervous system as a result of increased adrenaline, which is common throughout our family’s bloodline. The speeds of the nervous system can affect numerous issues aside from a fast/easily distracted mind, such as heart issues, arrhythmia, mood disorders, digestive and hormonal issues, and so on. The fall out of these conditions usually swing us towards a Doctor’s office, followed by some form of medication to attempt to override symptoms, yet not addressing the problem of the speed within. I write more on this topic in a post to follow. My point is that, over the 10 years since being diagnosed with this condition, I have found that I can significantly slow my nervous system through relaxation and meditation techniques. Practicing mindfulness has become one of the most beneficial ways for me to connect with God and hand my speedy nervous system into His calming care.
“Be Still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
“Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.” (Psalm 104:3)
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
The scriptures guide us towards meditation, to focusing the mind, to take time to dwell on good things worthy of praise. There is so much new evidence coming to light regarding the healing benefits of mindfulness and alternative treatments, all which reflect Godly principles and scripture. I have come to depend on those moments of stillness in the presence of God, and I am so thankful for the revelation of it.
I never thought it could happen…… Not to me!
The first time it happened, I found I simply had nothing nice to say, everything seemed bleak and I didn’t want to drag down those around me. All my jokes, extended stories, quick comebacks, deep philosophies and laughter had left me. So rather than forcing out anything, just for the sake of speaking, I became quiet. Needless to say, everyone could tell something was wrong and hassled me relentlessly about my melancholy reservedness.
It has been many years since my deep depression, and with a lot of therapy and some big life changes, those faithful old friends ‘words’ came back with a vengeance. I sang them, I spoke them, I thought them, I wrote them, I kept them, I shared them….
“Welcome back wonderful words, how I missed you!” – I felt like ME again.
However, recently I have noticed moments of wordlessness appearing here and there.
I’ve forced out a few drafts of posts, but they simply don’t have that genuine passion resonating through them, so I have not been content enough to hit publish.
I haven’t touched my novel in months.
I have even found myself sitting in company, quietly, actually thinking to myself “come on, you must have something to say, think!”.
Have you guessed? I am not a fan of uncomfortable silences!
So I ask questions, to break the silence. I hear their stories, however long or short…
Am I becoming a listener?
It is something I have prayed for many years to become better at. It’s not that I don’t listen, I hear what is being said, but perhaps I don’t let others know, or feel, that I am truly listening. Maybe I am not patient enough to allow others get it all off their chest. I always have some response to share during their stories.
Some have complained that I talk too much, I admit that much of the time I do, and in the past I have become self-condemning about it. At times I have prayed, begged, pleaded for God to SHUT MY MOUTH! Even if a change came, it did not last for long, as soon as the darkness lifted, I felt like myself again and so did my overactive mouth. I dearly hope to find the ability to be in a really good mood and yet stay quiet..but it has eluded me for all my life.
What a strange change…
Perhaps this is just another episode? The low after many weeks of manic moods and excessive mind wandering? In any case I intend to use the quiet to my advantage. To pursue growth.
Has the Lord has opened up a space for meditation while in the company of others? Something I have not often felt able to practice in the past. Really being there and not lost in a sea of my own thoughts and words.
My therapist gave me some great pointers on how to experience deep listening. He based these tips around the mantra “to be present but without self“.
The first time we practiced this, I was surprised how much I had to concentrate on what was being said while shutting down my own thought reactions, reactions that related their story back to me and my feelings about it. To only try to understand their feelings and leave mine out of it.
This is pretty tough for me, my ego is quite a self-centred bully at times. However, I found this whole thing much easier once I understood what I needed to do in order to achieve deep listening skills. It will take effort, awareness and practice, but you know me, I am always up for a challenge of self (or lack of self as the case may be) 😉
So if things have been a little quiet around here lately, now you know why…
I’m here…. I’m listening….I’m growing…
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.
In a recent post, I wrote about the new found blessing of feeling more present. I finally got to enjoy the usually unpleasant, even dreaded (for me anyway) Christmas Season, by slowing down and staying in the moment.
Each year I take videos of the rituals and gatherings, and I take lots of photos, hoping to capture the joy of the season. I guess it’s ironic that this year I took no photos or videos of our Christmas traditions, and none of the many gatherings we attended. However, I felt like I was there more, as if I had longer in these moments. I could actually be joyful rather than look for joy to grasp onto.
I took time to be present. I watched my daughter’s fingers fumbling with the sticky tape as they opened their gifts, I tasted the wonderful food, I tried new flavours and turned them over in my mouth more consciously. I watched my family and friends more closely, and strangely, I watched myself watching them.
I am not one to make New Years Resolutions as there are always many things I hope to work on each day, let alone each year. However I feel this one may be important enough to make note of…. To infuse as a theme for the whole year.
My mind is fast, my therapist says its super fast, everything whizzes around in there at top speed (usually accompanied by my mouth). Therefore, I want to meditate and be present more, I would love to become good enough at meditating and slowing my thoughts, that I can become friends with that elusive gift of focus.
This year I have written some of my best work while attempting to meditate, this is the writing I am most happy with, the stuff I can’t wait to share with others. Ideas for the new chapters of my novel (which I usually find extremely difficult to write) have flowed fluently from a place of quiet mindfulness. During this state of meditation, I pray and ask for inspiration, and it usually comes, and if it doesn’t, I am relaxed and so not as worried about it.
Another element I am trying to apply to my life through meditation, is a calmer approach to parenting. While in a meditative state I imagine the day-to-day trials I face with my children and I imagine my meditated-self reacting in less anxious ways. It has helped me lessen my over-reactions to a certain degree and I am intent on developing this more.
I watched a TED talk recently (I know right, I’m addicted), the speaker gave some fabulous tips on what meditation actually is, and the reasons we should all try to adopt it into our lives. If you too want to be more present and stress free in your thought life, I recommend you watch the link below. Then grab a relaxation CD and keep practicing. It is hard at first (tears flowed during my first attempt because my mind just would not slow down at all, sometimes I played the CD 4 times in a row just to get closer to a relaxed state of mind) Like anything new, it takes practice, however the results are definitely worth it.
I pray the Lord helps me achieve more present mindfulness, so that I may write for Him, complete His book, and fulfill my role as a wife & mum as best I can. With Christ’s strength everything is possible…