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!

17/07/2016

Faithful Meditation

Posted in Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , at 10:15 am by The Water Bearer

yoga 2

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. ūüôā

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, ‚ÄúMy grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.‚ÄĚ 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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