11/10/2019

Balancing Bipolar

Posted in Encouragement, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:21 am by The Water Bearer

Getting diagnosed with Bipolar can be a bittersweet experience. Part of you is relieved to finally have a reason for the strange cycles in your mood and behaviour that causes instability in your life, while another part feels broken, ashamed, angry and even helpless.

But having a mood disorder is a pretty common occurrence in today’s age, and it’s no wonder really. Our lifestyle is highly stimulated and reactive, self-regulation has decreased since the idea of indulgence became humanities priority, our culture’s lean away from family stability, and the impact of spiritual influences increases as time winds up. I’m surprised any of us are actually sane!

There are some simple things we can all do to manage our mood swings and balance out our behaviour. So let’s ditch the stigma and face the situation with hope and these helpful tips.

1. Get Informed

Your moods, your behaviour and your diagnoses are your responsibility, they are not the responsibility of your parents, or your Doctor, or your spouse or your friends. We can gain support from these sources but ultimately any issue that comes up in our lives is an opportunity for growth in our understanding. So educate yourself. We live in the Information Age, and if you’re suffering from any condition and haven’t armed yourself with knowledge about it, then you aren’t really participating in life, are you? You’ve checked out, feeling sorry for yourself, denying the struggles of life in the hope they will just magically disappear. That my friend is a recipe destined for Hell on Earth!

2. Seek Truth

There is a LOT of bullshit information out there, and lots of amazing genuine stuff too. Its your job to be realistic about this when gathering research about your conditions. If one article says to sleep more during a depressed episode, look for any articles that promote exercise during depression. Or if one article says you must take prescription medications, look for ones that explain the side-effects and offer natural options, and always use some good old fashioned common sense before doing anything radical. Opposing views aren’t the enemy, they are the way to see the whole picture of your condition without someone’s biased agenda misleading you and wasting your time. Get honest with yourself too, about how your condition impacts your life and the lives of your loved ones. Rather than getting overwhelmed by ALL the issues you’re facing, just pick the most important one to you, and focus on that until you feel you have a good grasp of what you’re dealing with before expanding to a new topic.

3. Self Care

Some simple daily practices can settle your focus and level out the reactivity of your moods. Having a routine filled with self care is vital if you want to take back control of your life and not be at the mercy of whatever ‘wobbly’ your condition throws your way. Things like a morning ritual of stretching, meditation, journaling, and prayer are wonderful ways to start the day inspired and balanced. Peaceful time out away from screens, errands, chores and work is imperitive to reset and restore your body and mind. A few hours on a blanket in the sun, a long slow walk, a massage, or an art project can bring a sense of control back to our minds. Preparing and eating healthy non-processed foods will make a huge difference to the spikes of sugar levels, while avoiding caffeine and alcohol will calm the nervous system and rejuvenate your natural motivation. Of course no self care practice would be complete without a regular sleep cycle. Going to bed and rising early every day has an amazing impact on our neurotransmitters (brain chemistry). If you struggle to fall asleep, use a screen filter on your phone to remove the blue light after 7pm, avoid screens all together 30 mins before sleep, and a simple cup of chamomile tea never goes astray.

4. Choose your influencers

Influencers are all the rage on social media, and what we read, listen to and engage with has a massive effect on our own patterns of mood and behaviour. If you pay close attention to what you’re feeding your soul with and who you spend your time with, you may realise where you need to trim back on what influences your life. Not just what you follow on social media or watch on Netflix, but also your friends, family and co-workers. Learning to set up some boundaries to protect yourself from impulsive, irresponsible or toxic influences can bring a whole new level of peace to your life than you ever thought possible!

5. Acceptance 

Pretending you don’t have Bipolar or any other condition is not going to help you achieve peace and victory in life, and neither is resisting it. Life would be dull and boring-as-bat-shit if we didn’t have struggles and challenges to test our resilience and strengthen our character. So its time to get over the self-pity and recognise that EVERYONE has their cross to bear, their battle to face, this just happens to be yours. There are plenty of things to be grateful for, at least you’re living in a time of compassion and understanding around these issues and not being burned at the stake for being weird. Acceptance and gratitude play a big part in how well you manage your condition, and that’s not to say you’ll never have a breakdown or a blow out pity-party from time to time, but your attitude of acceptance can be an anchor to come back to whenever the wheels do come off.

6. Keep the Faith

Despite the suckiness of your diagnoses, God is trustworthy, He can turn your trials into triumphs, and your tests into testimonies. But its important to remember that the spiritual realm has to be balanced too. So for all the curses you may be battling, there are blessings scattered amongst them, especially if you plant the seeds of faith during life’s storms. King David who wrote the Psalms, had some serious mood swings and behavioural disorders to contend with, and reading his stories can bring much comfort as he pours faith into each tumultuous circumstance. For all the good God can and will do in your life, the enemy is here to level the playing field, so keeping an eye on his schemes is vital to keep a clear perspective on what you deal with day-in and day-out, and where to channel your energy in fighting against him. If you want to read more on this, this blog is filled with heaps of ways to refocus your faith and defeat the enemy, victory is certain!

 

 

 

 

10/10/2019

Waking Up

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , at 5:36 am by The Water Bearer

two images

 

The tightness in my chest was beyond belief, I could hardly breathe, my throat closed up… I couldn’t swallow. That old familiar feeling was taking me over yet again. My heart thumped loudly behind my breastbone. I needed to do SOMETHING! ANYTHING to stop this feeling. Quick as lightening my mind began scrolling through all the well worn escape plans of the past, as my ego tried to make a selection. Its like a game of Russian Roulette, spinning a wheel of options, hoping the one your autopilot chooses won’t blow up in your face.

Will I let out my fear in anger and yell or cry, force an explanation, shut down, walk away?

This happens mostly when I feel misunderstood or criticised, thanks to a backstory of emotional threats and volatile accusations.

As a highly sensitive person (HSP), being on guard for these types of attacks has made my sensitivities and the activity in my nervous system painfully obvious. For the first twenty years on this earth, extreme emotional outbursts were just a common part of my daily life (especially around people I cared about the most). That was until I got so sick of feeling miserable and complaining about all the drama in my life. Instead I withdrew, I cut ties, I figured life was much safer without these painful emotions or the people who triggered them. I would be much better on my own.

or so I thought…

Loneliness is not a nice place to visit, but moving in there is diabolical for a being designed for social connection.

Whether it was from loneliness or desperation, I went in search of some stability, and found it in the form of my Dad. After 13 years without him in my life, he began to teach me how to fight back… but not in the ways I had been fighting back my whole life.

First I had to WAKE UP and actually see where the fight really was.

Rather than fighting back against those around me, who instigated these attacks, Dad showed me how to recognise my extreme emotions, he taught me to dig into my own heart until I discovered the source of these emotions, and how to use Scripture to help me identify them and gain control over them. God Rest His Soul my Dad’s teachings changed EVERYTHING! My self-awareness, my reactions, my relationships, my faith, my drama, my decisions, my habits, even my nerves.

Gaining emotional control sure feels like wrestling a monster, maybe that’s just me? But I doubt it, I see people all around me day in day out, struggling to wrestle the emotions that so often rise up and cause problems. If we’re honest, if we’re awake, we’re very much aware of the monster within.

Maybe there’s more than one? But at least the monsters within are ones you have a chance of winning against… We are powerless against the monsters around us, (I leave those to the Lord Almighty) but we absolutely can win battles when we see the monsters within!!

For over 7 years this blog has been dedicated to showing you how.

So if you too are sick of feeling the extremes of your emotions, if your tired of the loneliness, if you’ve had enough with the drama and dysfunction in your relationships, and fed up with the problems your emotional decisions create, perhaps its your time to wake up?

Maybe that’s why you’re reading this blog? Maybe, just maybe you’re ready!

17/06/2019

Catching Zzzz’s & Escape plans

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 2:41 pm by The Water Bearer

Loud snores rattle out across the room, as the group lay on their Pilates mats in astronaut’s rest pose, trying to stay focused on the guided relaxation portion of the class.

This is a common occupational hazard if you’re a meditation instructor.

Its hard for clients to direct their attention to the “sounds around them” without bursting into laughter at the chainsaw buzzing from someone’s nasal cavity. :o)

I’ve been told that having the ability to put someone to sleep (especially at their first class) is a unique gift I have. I must admit, it is sweet that they are so comfortable in my class that sleep is easy to find.

However, jokes aside, there is something about it that highlights the necessity for increased mindfulness practice in today’s world.

While I’m flattered that some find my voice and relaxation techniques so relaxing that they drift off to slumber, this is not exactly what Sanctuary Stretch is aiming for. If we are on auto-pilot hour after hour and mind-wandering is our mind’s default setting, then trying to slow thoughts and focus them is extremely difficult at first. The mind simply looks for an escape, because focused attention for that long at that slow pace is like lifting weights for our concentration. Falling asleep is a common and initial phase when practicing mindfulness meditation, but its not helpful if we are still falling asleep regularly after a few months of practice.

Many of my clients come to Sanctuary Stretch to help with mental health struggles, as well as seeking flexibility and physical wellbeing. When reality is a place of emotional upheaval, or fear, or pain, or lack of hope, its common for a client to be searching for an ESCAPE.

Peace is certainly a state we are aiming for, however escaping reality to find peace is not a healthy long-term solution. I try to encourage my clients to practice staying awake, staying with me, and watching out for the mind’s escape plans.

You may be asking.. “What’s so wrong with falling asleep during meditation?” (Aside from the obvious snoring that is!)

One of the reasons I believe in the practice of Sanctuary Stretch so deeply, is because it is a carefully considered strategy to combat the struggles of life. That’s right I said combat! Because Combat reminds us of what’s at stake.

I understand the desire to want to escape, to wish you could give up, to feel the pressure is just too much sometimes, I honestly do, just read this post to see for yourself. But I know you are capable of much more than you give yourself credit for, and there are resources that can fill up your arsenal so that rather than looking for an escape, you are more likely to step forward to the front line of the war for your soul and feel competent because you have on your armour, you have your weapons, and your know how to use them.

Its pretty clear to me, that having the confidence to face life’s trials is far more realistic and beneficial than trying to avoid them. Our Inner Enemies of doubt and fear are hell-bent on depleting our confidence and faith, they want us to feel helpless in the face of struggles and trauma. But let’s not fall for the lie that Life is meant to be easy! Its not! Falling for this lie only leads to self-limiting beliefs and bitterness. The friction and contention we come up against in life has a very specific purpose – To prepare us, to mature us, to show us what we are capable of, and to help us reach our highest potential.

Without these things we become atrophic, useless, and defeated, when we didn’t even accept or realise that we are in a war.

So next time you practice mindfulness meditation, catch yourself before your mind escapes, and use your intention to strengthen the muscles of the mind, to get familiar and skillful at wielding the weapons of faith and self-awareness so that you may claim your victory, rather than your retreat!

03/09/2018

Accepting All the Seasons of You

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:52 am by The Water Bearer

I tend to think of moods and emotions as patterns. Perhaps this comes from my Cyclothymia diagnosis (a mood disorder under the banner of Bipolar). Those cyclic patterns of highs and lows are something I’ve trained myself to understand and watch for. The hardest part was learning to accept them and not resist them or be ashamed of them. These emotional patterns remind me of the seasons.

Our Father Creator knew exactly what He was doing when He created the seasonal patterns that encompass our lives on this planet. The earth bursts with life in times of productivity, and growth, we might think of these seasons in our own lives as basking in sunshine, but just like the earth, parts of us at times die off, we lose hope, and retreat behind the doors of our souls.  

People often call me Claire-Bear, which is pretty funny around winter, cause just like a bear I tend to hibernate. I find it so hard to be my best self in Winter. I’m more irritable, less motivated, unsure of myself and feel sadness easily. So I withdraw, stay inside, have early nights, limited social calls and have to work harder on my self-care… I’m so glad that Winter here in Australia is over!

How about you? Everyone is different. Some of you get more irritable in the summer heat, looking for any escape. Thank God for air-conditioning right! We all accept our seasonal physical life, but why do we struggle so much to accept the seasonal patterns woven throughout our emotional landscape?

We are all guilty of trying to “Cheer up” a loved one or acquaintance who’s voicing unpleasant emotions. It seems no one likes to be around a misery-guts. Fair enough if they do nothing else but stay miserable and don’t want to recognise it or deal with it, yes that sux to be around! My Lord! But it seems ALL periods of negative emotion have become stigmatised.

I know this all too well. It happened to me just after my car accident, when I experienced my first of many severe depressive episodes. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone tried to change me, or took offense to my low mood. So few people recognise the value of our low times. We tend to avoid them, supress them, numb them and hide them behind a veil of unhealthy denial, just to save face. Although, I found tremendous value from those lowest moments. Now please understand me, I’m not suggesting the low times should be our aim, not at all, but they are a season that is there for good reason and we need to stop trying to avoid that reality. We need to change the way we speak around those who are going through a low mood. We need to stop jumping to conclusions that those experiencing periods of unhappiness are guilty of failing at life or faith!

Sure of course it’s so nice to see those we love happy and bursting with motivation, but usually the best motivation and long-lasting mature faith is born from the seasons of emotional winter in our lives. Its time to change this stigma. Its time we accepted these patterns of life as the nothing more than reality and stopped placing unnecessary expectations on ourselves and others. We don’t look at the winter months and decide its a sign that the earth is doomed, or is less of a planet than Mercury which is always in sunshine. Remember that nothing grows on Mercury! We know that the seasons all have their purpose and we accept each season for what it is, temporary.

The most severe episodes I have been through over the past decade or so were pretty clear cut transformations. The person who went into them was changed for the better on the way out. I’ve killed off things like co-dependence, emotional manipulation, low self-worth, toxic relationships, limiting beliefs, generational curses and so much more! Our God knows what parts of us are ready to die off, and these emotional winters are just the catalyst for that purging.

I hope you accept whichever season you are in and not allow what’s meant to be temporary to become a permanent condition. Learn to ride it out, to trust God with it, gleaning the lessons, and benefitting from the death of the unhealthiest parts of your soul so you can burst with life once again, even better and brighter than before!


28/08/2018

How Healthy is Your Mind?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:16 pm by The Water Bearer

I often wonder why some people aren’t as concerned about their mental health as others. It seems to me in this current age of high stress and constant busyness, more of us would be vigilant at ensuring the healthy condition of our minds.

I’ve seen too many people out there wondering why they are trapped in an unhealthy and unhappy life, who avoid assessing their mental health for fear of the stigma attached. I was one of those myself until my car accident forced me to take a closer look at the way my mind works and why.

That old saying comes to mind “Talking to yourself is the first sign of madness.” I actually believe the opposite is true. If we don’t ask ourselves questions we believe the first thing that comes to mind and stay the same without growth or reaching our potential.

Over the past decade or so I have noticed people tend to fall into one of the following three common categories when it comes to mind health. I wonder if you recognise these traits?

Group 1 – IGNORE their Mental Health

This category contains those who take no time to be curious about the motives of their hearts. They don’t ask “why did I do that or say that?” even if they are abusive and dysfunctional, because they seem to believe the first excuse that comes to mind. They choose not to investigate the condition of their emotional health. They never ask themselves “what is the universe or God trying to purge from the selfish core of my soul?” They ignore or deny the feedback they receive from the social cues of the world. Rather than wondering how they can change themselves to adapt to their world, they waste copious amounts of effort and emotion on fighting against it. I’ve come to notice the fear that controls this group. They are afraid of facing their flaws, everyone else is the problem, even God’s plan is wrong (in some way or another). They often hate silence and can’t stand to be still or alone. They are likely to fight against a sleepless night rather than accept the words of that still small voice within.

Category 2 – BLAME their Mental Health

This group are the ones who know that life is unfair and yet use it to their own reward. Having a diagnosis of mental health, physical pain or grief often becomes a label used to avoid getting healthy and happy. Its far easier to get sympathy and sidestep the difficult challenges and responsibility of getting back on track after each trial. This group self-sabotage, finding excuses to stay miserable, usually thriving on drama and stress and become addicted to contributing negativity to the world. Blaming the reality of life and God for their discontent comes naturally, rather than seeking to discover the hope, growth and fortitude that is born from trials. They may ask for help and yet follow none of the advice given. I’ve noticed the bitterness that drives this group. It is deep seated and poisonous to their souls and ours if we stay around them too long.

You may know someone who fits into one or both of the above categories, you may even be one yourself, I wouldn’t be surprised. I have been there too….. In fact they’re easy to waver in and out from time to time.

It takes wisdom to see that giving sympathy and attention as rewards is actually enabling these groups to stay miserable. Yet our culture has somehow forgotten how to voice the truth with tact and honesty, and so we choose not to say anything at all, while our loved ones stay trapped in their misery.

And yet let’s not lose all hope, for we still have the third group to go. These people are actually more common than we might think, they just don’t broadcast their self-care.

Category 3 – NURTURE their Mental Health

This group of people understand the difficulties of life, they take the hits, go through moments of weakness and low periods. Some have been diagnosed with a mental illness, some have not. The things they have in common are self-awareness, self-responsibility, and trust. They make no excuses for their mistakes and struggles, they focus on the lessons. They accept the dark times as opportunities to see the light again one day. Faith gives them hope and courage to push on. They direct their efforts to caring for and protecting their mental health by setting up certain guidelines to follow that won’t lead them into a pit of self-pity. They practice letting go of control and being grateful, they practice being still and appreciate silence. They aim for a good sleeping routine and have very few unhealthy indulgences. They choose wisely who they spend time with. They pay attention to their own emotional stability and listen to sound advice in order to arrange themselves in a way that steers their course closer to the person they hope to be. They are committed to learning the truth about themselves, and the impact they can have on those they come into contact with. They are humble enough to admit when they are wrong and assertive enough to stand up for their truth.

As I look out into the faces of Sanctuary Stretch clients I see these qualities being nurtured. Some have only just begun their journey and others are well and truly reaping the benefits after committing to the practice.

Perhaps like me, you realise you are ready to change groups? I did it, and you can too.

 

15/04/2018

Are You Getting in the Way of Your Own Serenity?

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:44 am by The Water Bearer

Why is it that some people are able to take their suffering and turn it into something positive and amazing, while others go backwards towards a more negative and unhappy life?

I think it all has something to do with the level of respect each of us has for our thoughts.

Respecting your thoughts might be a strange concept, especially in our current ‘mindless’ culture, simply because many of us are still not aware of just how powerful the thought life is. Just ask Dr Leaf.

Yet if we fail to respect our thoughts, we fail to see how they can steer our lives towards more good and fulfilment, or towards more dysfunction and disappointment. Just as we understand that we must have a foundation of respect before we can negotiate with a hostile person, we must use this principle in order to negotiate our hostile thoughts.

RESPECTING YOUR THOUGHTS

In the last post we talked about renewing the mind, and how the first step is to dig deeply into understanding the fear and selfishness beneath our survival instincts, and beneath our unhealthy thoughts, emotions and behaviours. It really isn’t a one off practice, more like a life-long journey in search of truth.

This journey takes a certain type of awareness, an awareness that overrides our naïve thinking that our subtle negative self-talk is trivial, and has little to no effect on the course of our personal lives, let alone the world.

On the contrary, the power of one small thought can create a whole actual physical mechanism in your brain! Each mechanism dictates your goals and influences how you respond to various aspects of life. Every word, every decision has a significant ripple effect on your own happiness and peace. Which in turn effects those in your family, your workplace, and the world!

The awareness of this has to have enough seriousness to not be taken lightly, and enough humility to cut through the ‘good only’ persona we try to present to the world, but end up believing ourselves. Its time to take inventory of our thoughts, to assess them and recognise how much damage we are actually capable of. Then we must take responsibility for that!

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ― C.G. Jung

GETTING OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!

Perhaps its time to ask yourself, Am I unconsciously or subconsciously sabotaging my own serenity?

Because those who are willing to excavate their thoughts and alter them towards increased serenity, will have a far better outcome than those who choose ignorance, or stubborn naivety. 

Are you ready to choose determination instead of defeat, to choose betterment over bitterness, to choose self-worth over self-condemnation, to choose to be a victor rather than a victim? Are you ready to turn your struggles into the very platform from which to build your purpose? Because in order to find serenity you must discover your purpose, and all that fuel that once empowered your pain, can now become the passion to drive you in a completely opposite direction.

Only then can you get out of your own way and chose to aim for serenity with far more success!

DON’T BE FOOLED

As a final point, if you are one of those who is convinced that you have no evil motives within, or that they are all behind you, then think again. Even Christ spent time listening to the evil within. In the wilderness we hear of how He became aware of the evil thoughts that offered him satisfaction for a selfish hunger that fed only His own body. He struggled with His identity in submission to God the Father, had to fight against the desire to take his own life. And He had to hold fast to His purpose despite the urges within to gain an easier tyrannical position over the universe instead of a painfully humble one.

Christ knew that before He could fulfil His purpose He must first spend time with His Inner Enemies, and learn how to transform them into fuel to push forward with the most precious and most unbearable purpose. So that, even at the very end when He wanted desperately to give up, HE SUCCEEDED! YEEEEEW! And aren’t we extremely grateful He did!! AMEN!!!

 

 

09/04/2018

Renewing the Mind

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:59 am by The Water Bearer

In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us to “Be not conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind.”

So what exactly is the pattern of this world that lures you into conformity?

You don’t have to look far to find a number of behavioural patterns to avoid. Things like violence, manipulation, bitterness, abuse, deception, control, addiction, greed, and unpleasant emotions like loneliness, nervousness, disappointment and depression.

Yet when we strip back all these superficial traits, get curious about their origins, and delve a little deeper into the caverns of the human heart, two very prominent patterns are revealed.

Fear & Selfishness

Foolishly we have convinced ourselves that if we were actually selfish and afraid, then we would be running around screaming in terror and telling people we don’t care what they think or what they want (probably with our hands on our hips!). But that’s merely evidence of fear and selfishness in it’s most immature state. All of us have seen children behave like this. Yet, despite our assumption, we don’t actually outgrow these traits as we age, we just learn to hide them better. We hide them beneath other “grown up” characteristics, like those mentioned above, and we convince ourselves that our ‘good deeds’ are proof that we aren’t selfish at heart.

Fear and selfishness in their most comprehensive form, are attributes of “SURVIVAL” – The instinct to protect ones self at all costs. This is the way the human brain was designed, to ensure the survival of our species. When we understand that the most prominent dangers of our current society are loneliness, criticism and rejection, it can be easy to see why we develop such drastic ways to control others, build and defend our reputation, and avoid scrutiny of any kind.

Here’s a little exercise to try for yourself. Think of a behavior that you would like to change within yourself. It could be anything. Name it. (e.g. Yelling)

Now ask yourself what situations tend to spark that trait in you. Get really specific. (e.g When blamed, misunderstood or ignored)

Then identify the most obvious emotion that those situations evoke within you and any physical sensations you may experience. (Anger and desperation/clenched jaw, flared nostrils and shallow breathing)

Once you spend a moment pondering the sensation and the emotion, lean into it rather than avoiding it. Now its time to ask the most important question. What am I afraid of here (worst case scenario) and is there a self orientated motive? (e.g Afraid of not being good enough, of being rejected and not being loved / demanding that I deserve to be loved!)

Sadly these patterns are all too common and can escalate to far more serious outcomes. Seeing as we have become a species that is comfort orientated, we avoid any discomfort like the plague. This includes emotional discomfort. When we experience the usual fight, flight or freeze response to normal unpleasant emotions we fail to learn what they are teaching us. So let’s not waste the opportunity to purge some of these unhealthy patterns.

Now that we have identified the patterns of this world, lets look at how to renew your mind.

Our brains may be designed with survival mode deeply ingrained, and neural patterns as the default for many of our behaviours, but thankfully they are also malleable, which means they can change!! YEEEEW!

Now I’m no neuroscientist, but even the most prominent in their field will agree that we know very little about how amazing our brains actually are. There are new discoveries all the time which drive this exciting conversation. That being said, there are some interesting breakthroughs within neuro-psychology that recognise mindfulness and meditation as accessing the brains malleability.

So this time, when doing the exercise above, try adding another element to it. Scripture Meditation.

Locate a suitable scripture or two, by either searching online or reading your Bible. Find one that re-frames the fear and survival urge and gives an alternate, Christ-like way of responding to the situation.

(E.g. Behold  what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1 & Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.)

Using usual relaxation techniques like slow breathing, being present in the moment and focusing the mind on simple stimulants such as noise, taste, smell, feel etc, allow your thoughts to settle and become quiet. Once you feel calmer, begin the exercise above again. Picture the usual situation that triggers the default pattern you wish to address and recognise the physical and emotional responses. Then ponder your scripture for a few moments, if your mind wanders just guide it gently back to the scripture, over time, the more you do this, the more chance that you will remember this scripture in those trigger situations.

The pattern has been slowed down and re-framed so that you have a moment to choose a new response.

Isn’t that amazing!

It doesn’t demand anything you can’t afford to give, it just takes the urge to be transformed, diligence, and conviction to trust the promises of God.

For those who have trouble settling their mind more than they like, adding the element of conscious slow movement helps override the wound up patterns, and increases the chance to develop self-awareness. This is why Sanctuary Stretch Classes are so multi-layered with benefits.

The trick is to understand that you can’t change anything in yourself without self-awareness. You can’t alter something you can’t admit. You can’t overcome something you can’t recognise and name.

So, what are you waiting for?

Your renewed mind is waiting for you to step up and claim it! Yeeeeew!

 

 

 

21/01/2018

Therapy & An Unexpected Result

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:22 am by The Water Bearer

One of my clients asked me the other day, “What was the most valuable thing you gained from going to therapy?”

For those of you who don’t know my story, let me just say that I never thought I needed therapy. I thought I could trust my instinctive reactions and emotions, I valued my knowledge and principles. It was only when I had the car accident that my lawyers suggested I go to therapy, to help me regain my confidence on the road as panic attacks had begun to consume my time in the car.

That initial, seemingly isolated prompt, unearthed a deep curiosity, which led to over a decade of therapy. I found so many different perspectives to myself that I had never considered previously, and gained something new from each of a few different therapists.

So when my client asked me this question, in an attempt to better understand her own journey of self-discovery, I didn’t want to be rash, taking a moment to ponder. I have gained so many valuable things from therapy, if you break it all down into each break-through and each level of growth. But the stand out for me personally was so surprising!

Over time, therapy gave me the ability to value my own truth, regardless of how others see it. It gave me sense of belonging to myself that I never expected.. Something Dr Brene Brown talks about often in her research.

Before therapy I had very little tolerance for my own flaws, or the flaws in others. I had developed a system of manipulating myself and my surroundings, to protect myself from a world I had deemed unsafe since childhood. This meant, I not only manipulated others, but I had also managed to deceived myself in the process. The dangers of the world that I wrestled to avoid, were grounded in criticisms and rejections of people who I thought loved each other. I somehow managed to become a chameleon, adapting myself to whoever I was hoping to impress, as a way to protect myself from all possible and painful rejection.

Fear, hidden fear, can pollute our behaviour in so many ways that we are often, completely unaware of. It can cause us to not even know ourselves at all. We’ve all heard that we ‘can not truly love others until we love ourselves’, but how can we love ourselves if we don’t even know ourselves?

I was completely unaware that all these toxic fears and behaviours were hiding inside myself.

Therapy helped me ask myself some tough but honest questions. I began to build a relationship with my true self.

Therapy helped me figure out what was most important to me, which turned out to be, the ability to depend upon the unpolluted Love of my Saviour.  Also, to give more value to how God sees me, than how the world sees me. If it wasn’t for this epiphany, I would not be able to handle the constant stream of misunderstanding and rejection that goes hand in hand with creating anything, presenting it to the world, and realising how little some people actually care about the things that matter most to me.

Sadly attending therapy still carries a stigma, perhaps in my former uneducated days I too thought only “crazy” people needed therapy. But thankfully my understanding has grown, actually so much to the point that I believe therapy should be mandatory for everyone. At least once or twice per year to check-in with yourself. It is far too easy to convince ourselves that we must remain where we are, that needing help of any kind is weakness. My friend, be assured there was nothing weak about my therapy sessions. They were ballsy, vulnerable, courageous, honest, challenging and above all healing! Doing nothing to change an unhealthy or unfulfilled life, looks far more like weakness to me. 

The painful criticisms and disappointments, that come from all human relationships, never lost their sting, but they certainly lost their ability to steer my life towards more dysfunction and self-condemnation. Best of all , when we understand our fears we can overcome them, so that they no longer hold us back from fulfilling our dreams!

 

07/10/2017

A Culture Dependant on Pills and Potions (part 2 )

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 7:40 am by The Water Bearer

drugs

Our world has fallen under an onslaught of drugs…. Both illegal and legal we are drowning in them!

The reason we have become such a drug focused planet is because Inner Enemies are out to prevent us from gaining the permanent healthy mind, body and spirit that God has in store for us. Creating ‘easier’ ways to imitate the types of unity, contentment, confidence, joy, purpose, intimacy, that God offers through trials and growth in faith.

See we take Cocaine to give temporary carefree confidence, Ecstasy to imitate unity and euphoria, Heroin to numb emotions and concerns. We take Prozac to try to control our minds and our moods. We take Methamphetamine to give bursts of energy and purpose. We take Ritalin and lithium to quieten and dumb down the busyness of a creative mind. We indulge in alcohol and marijuana to drown out our sorrows and stresses, and to hide from our weaknesses.

Can’t we see how this is all an attempt at emotional crisis control!!!???

In a previous post, I focused on the medical and pharmaceutical industry, and in this post I want to talk more about recreational drugs. This is a very tough post to write because perspectives can come under much scrutiny, when discussing such a controversial topic. I only hope to offer a guide to self-awareness and shine a light on all things that Inner Enemies use to pollute truth.

As I mentioned in that last post, Big Pharma claim to have all the answers to our mental health crisis, watch this link to see how they are cashing in on the truth that the basic human experience is filled with unwanted emotions. They claim it is unhealthy to feel any negative emotions or any pain, rather than looking at life and health through God’s eyes. They have taught us to Band-aid our pain and hide our secret emotional trauma, while skipping the work to discover its origin and lesson.

While the money hungry are cashing in on our desire to avoid suffering. The true path to healing comes from investigating, understanding, and addressing all issues with Godly guidance through personal development and scripture. 

God knew in His wisdom when creating the earth that our bodies would require assistance from external sources to aid us in our earthly walk, and He provided for our every need.

 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

He cause the grass to grow for the cattle and herb for the service of man:  that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that make glad the heart of man and oil to make his face to shine. (Psalm 104:14-15)

Yet recognising the weaknesses in our flesh, the problem is that we tend to abuse the things God gave us to use. The key is to use all things with guidance from His spirit…..

Due to the indulgence of drug use in our current culture, it can be easy to label drugs and alcohol as ‘evil’, and for those who have been held in captivity with drug and alcohol abuse, for them the thing is in fact an access point of evil. But for those who have managed to gain and execute self-control will testify that the thing itself is not the evil, it is a test.

Heroine was originally a legal pain reliever, ‘Meth’ was prescribed to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. Alcohol has wide spread uses and benefits, and we are only just beginning to discover the amazing beneficial properties of organic cannabis.

Just as with food or medicine, if indulged upon outside of moderate and reasonable use, the thing that was intended for good and health can actually cause countless issues and become an emotional crutch. 

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of Itself: but to him that esteem anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Paul: Romans 14:2,3,13,14,17)

Identify an Emotional Crutch

Those who don’t have moderate control over each tonic/food/medicine/addiction may try to deny its hold, but deep down they know.

  • They know if it is the cause of financial strain.
  • They know if it is the cause of relational issues.
  • They know if it the cause of health problems.
  • They know if it is the thing they turn to instead of God in times of distress or trial.
  • Most importantly they know if they are using it with Godly guidance, or if it is an indulgent way to silence the hidden Enemies within.

It has become so easy to blame anything else, rather than accepting the weakness of our own flesh.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

God does not encourage us to live in fear of things, He has tasked us with development of character, by overcoming all that temps us, all that attempts to draw us away from relationship with Him.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38)

I heard an intriguing quote recently, when one character refused an alcoholic drink offered by the man playing the role of Pastor. The Pastor said:

“Its noble to not drink for sure, but then I never did trust a man who couldn’t trust himself with a drink in his hand.”

This quote beautifully identifies the weakness of the human condition and the power temptation has over us.

If we refuse pain relief during a genuine emergency, because we can not trust ourselves to stop taking the pain relief when we no longer need it, does that mean that the medicine is the problem?

If we refuse to attend a wedding or celebration because we know alcohol will be drank and we can’t trust ourselves not to get plastered, is alcohol the problem?

I am not found in the camp supporting our cultures relationship with alcohol, nor am I found opposing and condemning all alcohol use…. I am saying USE is not always ABUSE.

It is, at the core, a show of the weaknesses in our character when we can’t be trusted to gain relief from tonics in appropriate times. It is a show of weakness in character if we refuse all tonics because we blame them for our lack of control.

Lets look at some of the places where drinking wine and spirits in merriment and for medical reasons is supported in the scriptures….. Id like to think we can do so without losing context..

“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7)

Once again I reiterate, self-awareness lets us know if we use anything in accordance with God’s guidance, or if we are not trustworthy. Keeping in mind how easily we can deceive ourselves. 

Paul guided Timothy to ease his stomach issues and I can testify that God has given me the same instructions and the same relief. Now this is not suggesting to go drink two bottles and get plastered, but a little certainly helped. Praise Him He knows!

“Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:23)

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy 4:4)

And as you can see they are not only given as guidance for medicine…..

This following scripture relates to a time of celebration after bringing tithe and offering to God, after obeying Him and being blessed abundantly……

“Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.” (Deuteronomy 14:26)

This might be tough, but ask yourself… Are your celebrations are about rejoicing under the righteous gaze of God’s presence? Ask… Are there are parts of your celebrations that may offend Him?

Suffer Along Side Your Brother in Christ

Any abuse is toxic and has toxic results. We must learn to identify where using is not the same as abusing. We must seek Strength from our Saviour and not allow ourselves to be deceived by our inner enemies excuses. 

For those with the faith to understand these things, it is vital when in the company of those who feel it is a sin, to support them. It would be irresponsible to partake in anything in the company of someone who finds it as a personal weakness. Evidence of your strength of faith in that area may cause them to become relaxed about their weakness.

In other words- If you are spending time with someone who has an eating disorder, common sense would advise not to order the double choc cream doughnut and a can of coke and proceed to consume it in front of them. Just because the law dictates that genetically modified foods, saturated in sugar, and other toxic chemicals are permitted, doesn’t mean that these are in alignment with the nourishment God intended.

Therefore we can abstain from these things if they are to cause a sibling to stumble and sin….. 

If refusing tonics helps a companion avoid behaviours they are attempting to overcome, then in support we too avoid tonics while in their company. In the hope that they may find faith and develop character. For our freedom over addiction and freedom above the weakness of the tonic, is not reason to encourage another to feel free in this before they have developed the level of faith to overcome these things.

Be careful, however, that your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9)

 It is extremely precarious to manage these issues in context, making sure that nothing else may take His rightful place on the thrones of our hearts.

God gave us the intelligence and awareness to work out how these things effect us for good and bad, and Inner Enemies have used this knowledge to hide the true purpose of all things. Its vital to dig deeply into the painful depths within us and ask ourselves what am I running from? What character flaw can I face and overcome? What promises am I not living in? Let us not be deceived, the evil is not in the ‘things’ of this world… the evil is in us.

29/09/2017

Pressure Building & Perfecting

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:50 pm by The Water Bearer

I’m not gonna lie, finding my feet as a wellness instructor/entrepreneur on top of mother/wife/employee/friend, is proving to be quite the challenge. I am a girl who loves and thrives in a routine. I form patterns quickly and use scheduled habits as my default setting to help my thoughts cope with all the new responsibilities that threaten to murder my creative mind-wandering.

Funnily enough, lately, no matter how ‘responsible’ I try to be or how many to-do lists I write, there is no routine in sight! So many new (exciting) roads are forming ahead of me and I feel my feet lifting off the asphalt. I hate this feeling, it feels like spinning. I need grounding and I know it. One part of me says ‘STOP’ Do nothing, rest, throw away the to-do list and just BE! Another part of me says  “Ooh look at that bright shiny new client who needs all my focus”, or “Gee that is a great idea for a new book I could start to write” or “Wow a Sanctuary Stretch retreat would be awesome”. Then I remember how easily empathy adds more weight to my shoulders, and my other 4 unfinished books, plus the amount of work a retreat would take to set up properly. I want to cry at my lack of discipline and the idea that there is a graveyard somewhere where all my ideas and passions go to die!

Ok so it’s not quite that dramatic today!…. but don’t get comfortable, it could form into a melt down at any moment.

Running regular classes for movement and mindfulness is such a blessing! What an awesome job, right! And yet as things get busier over here, I am feeling the pressure building. Pressure of any sort immediately conjures up memories of past struggles. I am reminded that I am never my best self under pressure. I become manic easily, trying to combat and control the struggle. And yet I am also comforted by the understanding that each time I have been under pressure, I have come out a little better on the other side.

Perhaps you can relate?

Look back across your life and identify some past pressures. At the time, you may have felt overwhelmed in your lack of understanding, you would surely have felt discomfort, as your natural instincts to resist suffering kicks in. Now, see if you can identify a change in yourself resulting from that pressure. Did you change for the better or for worse?

In my own life I see the times I refused to accept the lesson, and how it led me to an even darker place. I also see the times I accepted the lesson, and saw my own personal prayers answered in subtle increments. We never really see the change happening at the time, it’s only when we look back and think ‘Woah, I am really different!’

So this time I am stepping into the pressure with a little more anticipation than ever before. I am hopeful and expectant of the miraculous changes to appear in my life, once the dust has settled.

Grounding has always been difficult for me, without routine, so then perhaps I am now transitioning into a place where I can learn to be grounded amidst a lack of routine? That idea thrills my heart!

I may not be ‘perfect’ throughout this period, I may melt down occasionally as I adjust to the newness of life, still won’t you join me? In the perfecting process? Push on through seeking the lesson, the transformation. It just may be the answer to your prayers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next page

%d bloggers like this: