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The best way to balance an object, or a life, is to find a center point. What can help me, in my "inner work," to find that center point?
Entrée: Everyday Grace: Starting the Day with Meditation by Marianne
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Our greatest weakness is the weakness of an undisciplined mind. We need not let fear steal the morning; we can consciously choose not to allow our minds to be programmed by the worldly viewpoint that dominates the earth. We can set our day upon another course. Each of us has an inner room where we can visit to be cleansed of fear-based thoughts and feelings. This room, the holy of holies, is a sanctuary of spiritual light. The light is not a metaphor, but rather an actual energy of mystical vibration. When we begin our morning within it, the mind receives a radiance that illumines our thinking as we go through our day.
Imagine yourself sitting in a perfect, comfortable spot for meditation. It might be a chair in your bedroom or living room. It is a place of relative quiet and calm, where you go on a regular basis to find the peace that only God can give. You have come to realize that this time of rest, in its stillness and peace, is beneficent to both your mind and body. Here you come to surrender to God, using a prayer or mantra to move beyond the frantic and overwhelming thoughts that stalk us night and day. You are making your daily pilgrimage home, where your life will be renewed.
While the power of such quiet time can be profoundly healing, we often resist it fiercely. We have scores of reasons why we don't have time to meditate: "The kids have to get off to school.... I have to go to work.... My partner wants to be with me.... I have early appointments...," and the list goes on. Yet none of those excuses would be used to avoid taking a shower or getting dressed. It would be ludicrous to say, "I'm too busy. I had to give up showers." And yet "busy-ness" is a common excuse for why we do not take the time, or give the time, to meet regularly with God.
Just think about it: We turn down the chance for a meeting with God. It's a meeting he is always available for, and perhaps that is why we fail to take full advantage of the opportunity. Perhaps it's hard for us to embrace what an astonishing gift is being offered. We figure if it's really that easy to do, then how could it be that powerful? That's how much we underestimate how important we are to God.
In choosing not to listen for Him, we are choosing not to hear Him. For God's voice is a whisper, not a shout... Certain insights come to us after five or ten or twenty minutes of meditation, which simply do not emerge from the shallow waters of normal waking consciousness. Setting our mental focus within deeper waters in the morning helps ensure that our mind will remain there throughout the day.
About the author:
Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed author and lecturer. She has published eight books, four of which have been #1 New York Times bestsellers. Ms. Williamson has been a popular guest on numerous television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and Charlie Rose. Ms. Williamson has lectured professionally since 1983. Please visit her website to order her outstanding books online.
Main Course: The Center of
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A reader of this newsletter exchanged a few thoughts with me this week, much more than the feedback section could hold. The opening portion of our email conversation is found in the Soup to Nuts section further on. Sometimes I have to stop and take an inventory of what's hanging around in my life and see if it is worth keeping, and our dialog prompted me to do just that this week. A little quiet time and introspection gave me some answers to Starduster's questions about my beliefs. What follows is a portion of what was shared with him, and now I share it with you:
I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person. I believe that he lived a human life just as you and I do, and that the 30 years of His growing into adulthood was marked by much the same experiences of his earthly peers, i.e., marriage and family, an apprenticeship and mastership as a carpenter, etc. I believe that the itinerant Rabbi we have come to know as the Christ is an ascended master, a "first among equals" of all created spirits, and that Lucifer was a rotten "little brother," a prince in his Father's house who was consumed by jealousy and fear because he perceived himself second in line of succession, and fulfilled the part of an exemplar of fear, as opposed to that of love found in the life and mission of Jesus. Fact is, we are all first in line of succession, because our Elder Brother was an exemplar, and all that Jesus spiritually attained, we may attain as well. The Mormons have a saying, "As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become." Pretty New-Age for the mid-1800's!
I believe that "God becomes flesh" in each of us. That we are of the very same substance as that which populates all of His Universe (carbon and higher elements) amply demonstrates that for me. As to a belief in God, mine is without question, and never has been doubted. Never, not once! Who, I ask, or what for that matter, could have created All That IS, if not one who reigns Supreme over it with an abundance of Love? All of Creation, including each person and bug and tree and molecule, is God - just as that which you create is an essence of who you are, especially when your thoughts become concrete and durable in the form of art, music, writing, architecture and so on. I am fascinated by an exploration of human creativity for this very reason - it is one of the ways in which we exercise our powers, given to us by an infinitely artistic Creator!
I find a great deal of sense in the explanation of mankind's existence that is found in the Edgar Cayce series on my website. Cayce was a deeply religious (Baptist, I believe) individual with a God-given gift of insight. Was he a prophet? Perhaps he was, but he was too humble to accept that as an official position, just as others have been over the centuries of mankind's history. But, there is so MUCH to our existence that we either don't understand, or don't want to explore - (I usually try to speak in the first person singular, but I am using "we" in a general sense here) - because we get wrapped up, busy toeing the line within our creed or dogma, without ever exploring it or asking why we believe this and not that, and it is hard enough just keeping track of what we have without taking responsibility for even more. Anyway, the Cayce thing is seriously good reading. Have a look if you wish.
I think that mere religions and doctrines and dogmas go only so far to explain the phenomena of existence, consciousness and our perceptions of reality, time, space, Deity, etc. I think there is more, a lot more, that organized religions simply ignore. I have read a greater part of the King James Version (some of the "filler" books got a passing glance) and have done some comparisons with the Revised Standard Version and the Joseph Smith annotated version of the Bible. I have read parts of the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita, and I have looked into the Essenes and their library, especially the apocryphal books of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as suggested by Cayce. And, more research and study, too. I have always wondered where we humans would be spiritually if the Great Library at Alexandria was not destroyed by fire and ignorance. I once read a book called The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Consciousness, which turned out to be a little off the beaten path of general thought, but it lead to further explorations. And the beat goes on. I should put up some suggested reading lists at the site sometime.
O.k., the bottom line: It's about love and relationships, two themes that I return to quite often. No matter how complicated explaining the basis of my belief system is, the very concepts of belief are, for me, pretty basic: With a belief in my Spiritual Creator, and that of my own spiritual "beingness," I will do good unto all (including myself), because of that belief. That basic concept, no matter how far afield I may get in my writing, is at the center.
Michael Rawls, Friday's Inspiration © 2004
Second Helping: Top Ten
Habits That Help You Manage Your Stress by Linda
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Today we have more stress in our lives than ever before – good stress, bad stress, red stress, blue stress (my little ode to Dr. Seuss). No matter what kind of stress it is, a real crisis or an imagined one, stress is incredibly harmful to our body, mind and soul.
Here are my favourite self-care habits for dealing with stress:
1. Get in the habit of noticing.
Take an inventory of all the things that just don't feel right in your life or that you know are causing you stress. For example, when you approach certain people, places or situations do you feel more stress and tension? Once you have your list in place, look at what you can change yourself, and do it. You can also use this list to predict stressful situations before they occur.
2. Get in the habit of asking for help.
For what you can't change yourself, you need a team. Build a team of experts to handle your list. A coach, at the top of the list, will help with the big picture and will keep you honest about your efforts. Other team members might be a family doctor who listens to you, a financial planner, a massage therapist and an exercise partner.
3. Get in the habit of bouncing back.
Think of Plan A as your basic self-care plan while stress is under control. Now imagine something happens and you are under stress. Instead of abandoning all self-care because you can't do it all, have a Plan B ready beforehand.
4. Get in the habit of relaxing.
If you practice relaxation techniques (breathing, meditation, imagery, music) every day, then when stressful situations come up you'll have the tools at your fingertips.
5. Get in the habit of gratitude.
Our attitude comes from our emotions and our emotions come from our thoughts. Thinking about what we're grateful for and what we're good at can keep things positive. It's not about shying away from what's challenging you – it's about approaching life from a place of strength and not as a victim.
6. Get in the habit of creating.
Experiment with a new recipe in the kitchen, write a poem, bang a drum, do a craft, take a dance class or do something else that feels creative to you.
7. Get in the habit of putting your stuff away.
Physical clutter can really impact on mental, emotional and physical health. Get rid of things that don't make you happy when you look at them. Organize your stuff. Find a place for everything and keep it there.
8. Get in the habit of breathing.
This is the simplest and quickest way to relax yourself in a stressful situation. The minute you focus on your breathing it automatically gets slower and deeper.
9. Get in the habit of daydreaming.
Take yourself away on an imaginary holiday. Just close your eyes and go! Picture somewhere you've been or somewhere you've dreamed of.
10. Get in the habit of giggling.
Laugh out loud every day.
Don't let your stress get the better of you! Which one of these strategies can you apply this week to manage your stress?
About the author:
Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach, helps hundreds of people every month improve their self-care and make healthier choices. To receive her free monthly newsletter, “Genuine Self-Care”, subscribe at http://www.genuinecoaching.com/newsletter.html
Soup to Nuts: From the feedback
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Starduster's first email, in a continuing dialog, asked of me the question, "Are you a Christian? In reading your article, I seem to think you might not be. Please advise. I seemed to sense something lacking in your spirituality. Hope I am wrong, of course."
Yes, I consider myself a Christian, but... perhaps some people's definition of "Christian" and mine are not the same. My belief system is a bit more broad than most people who consider themselves "Christian," but that is not to say that they are wrong, and I am right. I just don't limit myself to what is in the Bible. There is a great deal of Truth out there, and I intend to find as much of it as I can.
I was raised as an Episcopalian, and was an altar boy as well as earning the God and Country medal in the Boy Scouts. I "accepted Christ as a personal savior" around age 14 (my goodness! that was 40 years ago!!). I converted to the Mormon Church at age 20 and "officially" left the church at age 27. I became a Freemason in 1980, and have studied a great deal of its roots in ancient philosophies. At present, I occasionally attend the Unity (a Christian-based) Church in my quest for understanding my life and my purpose as a child of a Loving and Eternal Father.
I am always open to discussion on matters of belief and spirituality, but I will not argue religion with anyone (except my sisters), nor will I try to convert anyone to my way of thinking. I will not limit myself to another's definition of what I should believe, nor do I expect another to swallow whole what I believe. Each comes to an understanding of their belief as they choose.
Rather than having a lack of spirituality, I think I would describe myself as open to all that is spiritual.
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