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!

 

 

 

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02/02/2017

From Panic to Purpose!

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:52 pm by The Water Bearer

 

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Inner Angels and Enemies turns 5 in two short months! 5 Years! Wow, that is mind blowing!

As I look back over some old posts I realise just how far I have come, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your encouragement during those scary and dark years. You, my readers, have witnessed as I battled with enemies of panic and self-condemnation, held back from living life to the fullest, as I worked through every one of those toxic thoughts and behaviours, with a faithful God as my constant source of strength and refuge. I always wrote under the pseudonym ‘The Water Bearer’, because my anxiety made me feel far too vulnerable as I shared such private thoughts and intense struggles.

In my attempts to recover from my injuries from my car accident, and the psychological fall out from my nervous breakdown, God led me diligently through therapy and I began doing Pilates and Meditation exercises. After so many years trapped in dysfunctional subconscious patterns, I began to see some light at the end of the tunnel, but the panic attacks still remained. In this post I explained how a trip to Africa and a calling to jump off a bridge changed me and ended my panic attacks. Now don’t get me wrong I still get anxiety, it just no longer cripples me, or lasts very long. The theory God was guiding me to understand was that through it all He had hold of me, that I was safe, that I could face all fear head on, He was trustworthy to never let me go and would use my struggles to lead me towards my purpose. I just needed to believe and follow His guidance!

So I did as I was told….. You can watch my bridge jump here….

 

 

Since that amazing trip, now that fear no longer holds me back, I have had so many new and amazing experiences. I began playing keyboard and singing and wrote a few of my own songs and teamed up with friends to perform them. Through a happy turn of events I developed a friendship with my favourite singer/songwriter, who introduced me to a wonderful faith-based community church where I feel inspired and cherished. And just recently, God placed a calling on my life that has lead to the most incredible fulfilment and purpose!

Well now the tides have turned on this Water Bearer and I am stepping out in faith again, in order to use this blog to support my next endeavour, which I will give the details of in my next post. So watch this space! I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge how amazing and faithful Our Saviour is, to have led me through the deepest of valleys and brought me to a place where I sing His praises, not just in the storms, but also in the beautiful dazzling light of His Glory!

Blessings to you all!

– Claire Marie B

 

10/02/2015

Fear, Give Me More! I Can Take It!

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 3:40 pm by The Water Bearer

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You may read this post and not believe it. In fact I can hardly believe it myself but every word is true. The reason for such a lengthy gap between posts is because I was busy jumping off cliffs and bridges, flying in hot-air balloons and meeting the most amazing people and some incredible wildlife up close in Africa. ME? You ask? The one who writes about panic attacks and anxiety disorder! Yes ME!

I was invited to Africa on a family vacation, all expenses paid. Yep! So what do I say? Ummmm let me think about that while I swallow the lump of anxiety in my throat.. Of course not… I may have some crazy in my blood but I am not that crazy! I know an invitation into God’s will when I see one.

This is a trip my husband and MIL have wanted to take for as long as I have known them so it was always kind-of on the cards, but it’s not until you are actually applying for passports and getting your travel shots that you begin to accept the reality of such a task!

To cut a very long story short I had some Godly signs pointing to the bridge jump over the Zambezi river near Victoria Falls. I knew I would be walking distance from this death defying treat whilst in Africa and told myself I would always regret it if I didn’t do it. God had something in store, I knew it! So I went….praying my backside off mind you.

The guys asked me to speak into the video camera before I jumped the 111m toward the river below, so I spoke clearly “Goodbye Anxiety, Goodbye Fear, Goodbye Panic Attacks, Goodbye Control, GOD HAS GOT ME, One one one!” (111 is my special Godly number). I had a 10 seconds free-fall before the rope caught me and swung me out across the gorge, and let me tell you it was incredible, empowering, freeing, and freaking insane! As I swung at the bottom of that rope, surrounded by nothing else but God’s stunning artwork, I sang….. I sang my heart out! “I sing because I am happy, I sing because I’m free, His eye in on the sparrow and I know He watches over me!”

I cried….. Tears of gratitude and joy. Tears of Love for my Heavenly Father who gave me the courage to face myself and my fears, to give total control to Him…. Africa was all about this awesome sense of gratitude!

When I got home to Australia I was telling this story to a friend, and his son. It was the first time I had met the son who was in his early 20’s. He heard me mention panic attacks and told me he used to have 5 panic attacks per day and wouldn’t leave his house. He told me the only way he learned to prevent these attacks was to demand more. Sounds strange I know, but it makes sense. If a panic attack is caused by fear of fear then by facing the fear head on you have only fear, not the fear of fear. By telling fear you know your body can handle your heart pounding, your body can handle uncontrollable tears, your body can handle sweating and dizziness, you begin accepting the fear, and you can’t really be afraid of something that you accept, something you know you are equipped to handle even if you pass out. You will wake up. Even if you cry your eyes out, you will not die from crying. Even if you need to change your underwear afterwards. You have more clean underwear somewhere. Do you hear me out there?!?!

This is exactly what I was doing when I jumped off that bridge, when I agreed to go to Africa at all! I decided that I may feel fear but my body can handle it. God made humans the most adaptable species on the planet, if we can only learn to accept what is happening around us, instead of fighting against it.

So I have tried this new technique a few times since I’ve been home. I tried it when I got cut off in traffic and wanted to snap angrily but decided I can handle people who cut in. Bring it on! I tried it when I felt a painful twang in my stomach and difficult memories of IBS came flooding back. Bring it on I told myself. I can handle this, I have survived this for a long time. When I’m excited by a group of people and begin to ramble nervously, just go with it I said to myself you’re not hurting anyone. God watches over me! He has got me! I can tell you in all honesty it all just fades away. Like it was never there! Amen!

I am yet to try it as the passenger to my learner driving daughter but I am feeling the triumph building within and I am very curious to see if I can ask for more fear whilst driving with her. I must try to tell myself that I may have been in a bad car accident before, but I can handle it! Bring it on!

I am not a thrill seeker, my jump was never about chasing the thrill. It was a leap of faith, a test of my trust! I am not now looking for fear but I am aware that it lurks around me trying to trip me up and this concept is to remind myself that I can take it when it comes! To challenge it to try its best because God has got me!

There are so many things I learned about myself and God whilst on this trip and I look forward to sharing more on here soon. I’m just excited to go live with this new self and really enjoy the changes God has brought about in me. Blessings to you all!

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