Archive for the ‘Emotional pain’ Category

Spiritual practices can “brain wash” us.

I was once warned to be careful, that religion or spiritual people could “brain wash” me.  This proved to be true but in a surprising way. My mind desperately needed cleaning. The filth of misery—resentment, anger, worry, fear, jealousy, envy, low-self-worth, and a myriad of others—stained and soiled most of my thoughts; this mental muck and mire prevented any chance for peace or happiness. My mind had to be cleansed before I had any hope of a better life.

An act of surrender starts this spiritual cleaning cycle: we must fully accept that we have problems that keep us from being the best version of our self and that we cannot solve these without help. Action follows this giving up: We start the day with prayer and meditation as we sit in silence and feel the presence of divinity; we seek guidance, strength, and wisdom and ask to be made aware of any opportunity to serve and help a fellow traveler. Then, we pause for a few minutes throughout the day to stay consciously aware of our divine birthright; we strive to be loving, tolerant, and gentle. We spend a few minutes in quiet review each night to see what we could have done better, to identify areas for improvement and acknowledge the growth and blessing of this day. Since new dirt and muck can stain our lives each day, we must make this a daily practice; we need a continuous cycle of “brain washing.”

Prayer:  My loving spirit, I have allowed my self-driven will to pollute this blessing I call my mind. Please cleanse it; wash away my pride, prejudice, anger, fear, and all misery; purify my thoughts and sanctify my motives.

We can only see what is in front of our eyes; we cannot see the history.

We see anger but not the earlier years of abuse or fear

  • We see selfishness but not the previous poverty of love
  • We see self-centeredness and self-righteousness but not the low self-esteem or the despair of self-loathing.
  • We see the inability to engage in healthy relationships but not the absence of spiritual core with lack of healthy self-love.

Yes, each person is accountable for their current actions; each person is responsible to recognize their mistakes and shortcomings that interfere with their lives; each will be offered multiple opportunities to choose change. However, the unfortunate may lack the necessary humility to admit their deficiencies, the desire or the courage to change, or not have a guide and viable process for change; they may reject a spiritual solution for living problems; or they may just be having a bad moment or terrible day.

Whenever we encounter such objectionable conduct, it is our choice how we allow it to affect us. Do we share the light to provide illumination or contribute to the darkness? Let us show:

  • tolerance, not anger
  • patience, not a quick response
  • love of the hard-to-love, not retaliation
  • the willingness to walk away, not to engage in pointless conflict
  • the power and beauty of a sprit-led life, not the desperate charade of self-driven will

If we are among the fortunate; we must be an expression of truth.

Prayer:  Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

The only fights I truly win are the ones I walk away from.

How important is it to prove we are right? We must not react while controlled by anger, guilt, self-pity, fear or other symptoms of misery. If we cannot respond with dignity, poise and love, we must walk away.

This doesn’t mean that we allow other people to trample our dignity or diminish our self-respect, but we must find an elevated response. We pause, take three relaxation breaths, and access our spiritual center. We ask this divine source and power to quiet our immediate emotional reaction, to remove any thought or feeling that prevents us from feeling peace and to help us see the situation with a spiritual insight.

Acting lovingly when someone is attacking us is a practical way of returning good for evil. It’s hard to do but really works. We may not win the argument but we feel better (sometimes they are so surprised that the argument just dies). Besides, we don’t always benefit by winning; today’s unimportant triumph may generate animosity that causes future problems. Spiritual growth is always more beneficial than winning trivial disagreements.

The serenity prayer: Dear God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; pause for a few minutes in silence.

Our mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy.

Our mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy.

The power and influence of our mind has been long recognized. Over 2500 years ago, The Dhammapada noted: Hard it is to train the mind which goes where it likes and does as it wants; but a trained mind brings health and happiness.

Our mind generates thoughts that yield happiness, mediocrity or misery. The choice depends on how we use our mind—the way we think. Something happens; we react with an instantaneous thought or feeling. The thought-feeling generates more thoughts that focus on the problem; the feelings gain strength and become entrenched. We are in the cycle of misery. Our mind seems to have a mind of its own.  The self-directed mind cannot solve problems started and exacerbated by that very same mind.

Breaking this addictive mental cycle requires that we control our mind.  If all else fails, we can pause, access our inner spiritual power and ask for help to direct our mind; this practice start training this mental machine. This transforming influence, an actual additional energy, provides the power to break the shackles binding us to certain thoughts and to re-direct our thinking. The spirit-directed mind sees a different view, a more balanced and truer perspective and becomes our best friend.

Prayer: My loving divine source and indwelling spirit please quiet my mind and ease my emotions; elevate my thoughts to be conscious of and to reflect your will in my life; grant me a new perspective that I may see the truth; guide my mind to awareness of my blessings; make me aware of simple actions I may take that will shift my thoughts. Help my mind be a benefit instead of a liability, to bring me happiness instead of misery.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; pause for a few minutes in silence

If our day is dark, we can we can curse the darkness or we can seek illumination. One focuses on the problem; the other, the solution.

Adversity, grief, and challenges will darken every life. They may range from a shadow to the obliteration of all light, the terrible dark night of the soul from which relief seems impossible. But we always have a choice—do we stay in the darkness or do we move toward the light? Do we depend solely on our human resources or do we seek spiritual help? Do we stay mired in misery or do we access our inner spiritual power to transcend to the heights of human/divine potential?

Focusing on the problem, the darkness, keeps us in continuing misery. Our thoughts obsess on the immediate quandary and we are pulled deeper into the problem; we cannot see the solution because our attention is on the problem.  We find that sometimes we cannot break free from the dilemma using only our mind and will power. As children of a loving divine parent, we are gifted with an inner reservoir of clarity, a spiritual energy that can quiet our mental upheaval. We pause, take a deep breath, and exhale slowly; then, we repeat this three times. Be still and ask your inner source for peace and guidance.

Prayer: My precious and loving inner spirit, please quiet my mind; remove contention and indecision; bring peace to my emotions; help me to sit in stillness. Illuminate my choice with wisdom; give me strength to overcome these adversities and guide me to the best solution to my challenges. 

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

Whenever I am upset, there is something wrong with ME.

I must be responsible for all my feelings or forever feel un-peaceful. Yes, bad things happen; people inflict real or imagined wrongs, life is hectic and I get frustrated when people or events do not meet my expectations. I cannot control other people but I can choose how I react. I must slow down, take three deep breaths, and ask my inner spirit to help me understand why I am reacting this way and lead me to a better response:

  • Have I lost my connection to my spiritual source? Do I truly feel that spiritual presence?
  • Am I making myself—something I want or expect—or someone else—more important than the spiritual purpose, values, and direction that must be my foundation?
  • Is my mind spiritually directed or I am reacting on self-will?
  • Am I allowing my perceptions, expectations, other people’s opinions, or temporary events to erode my security, dignity, poise, or self-worth?
  • How important is it really? Is it an immediate problem that threatens my well-being? Is it really any of my business?

Prayer: I am disturbed; I have lost my sense of well-being and know that you, my inner spiritual source will help restore my peace. I ask that you quiet my mind, heal my emotions, and spread your infinite love throughout my soul and to every fiber of my being. Let me feel your presence in my life this moment; guide my thoughts to reflect on the blessings in my life; help me to understand that disappointment, loss, rejection, and adversity are opportunities for growth, chances for me to deepen this relationship that is the true power of my existence.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence

Much of our misery results from unconscious decisions.

We seldom make a conscious choice to worry or get angry or engage in many other emotional upsets. An event happens; we automatically react; we experience thoughts, feelings, and possibly take action without making a conscious decision; then, our mind justifies and reinforces our response. Past reactions to similar situations have become so deeply ingrained that they have formed an emotional reflex action—we react without thought or consideration and create problems for our self. If we want a great life, we must change our automatic unconscious choices into conscious, aware decisions.

 Each time we find our self starting to react, when we feel the rush of anger, worry, anxiety, of guilt and remorse, we pause, take three relaxation breaths and ask our inner spiritual force to:

    • remove the contentious feeling
    • alter our thoughts; let them reflect we are a child of God
    • make us more aware of these automatic reactions that cause us turmoil and give us the strength to break these patterns
    • grant us the wisdom and maturity to make a conscious choices that benefit our life.

 Prayer: My inner bastion of power, my spirit guide, help not to participate in reactions that are not good for me; to realize when I am in the midst of engaging in emotional turmoil simply because it is the way I have previously responded. Give me the power, the strength, and the will to disregard these reflex emotions and make conscious choices that align with your will for me which will always result in my ultimate benefit.  

 Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence

Shed the darkness of religious lethargy; Enjoy the amazing adventure of personally experiencing divine power

Religion without a vibrant, personal spiritual connection to the divine source is like the reflection of a flame in a mirror; it contains no heat. Some discover an exciting, intimate association with God through religious participation. Others may use such involvement as a substitute; they assume that attending church and participating in ritual constitutes a spiritual life. But half-hearted spirituality produces few results in daily living.

The personal spiritual quest is not dull, boring and glum; it’s an exciting adventure of discovering an indwelling source of power and guidance and finding solutions that actually solve the problems of life. This journey unleashes the additional source of spiritual energy that makes possible the greatest transformations possible in this life: this power moves us from addiction to freedom; from fear, anxiety, and anger to courage, peace, love, and tolerance; from weak and undirected drifting—blown hither and yon by the winds of life—to strength of character, certainty of purpose and unquestioned principles. This quest finds and welcomes the shift in attitude that views adversity as challenges, triumphs over overwhelming difficulties, and is willing to reach out the hand of love and compassion to the less fortunate.

Prayer: Dear God, break my shackles of lethargy, apathy and rebellion; grant me the willingness to launch a new life, to have the courage to explore and find all that I might be. Guide my efforts to find you, to feel and experience the inner spirit you so graciously gave me. Grant me the wisdom to allow this spirit to transform my life.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

The value of a vessel is its emptiness.

Clay is formed into a vessel.

The emptiness bounded by the clay creates the usefulness of the vessel.

Walls, windows, and doors make boundaries of a room.

The value is its emptiness, not the boundaries.

— Verse 11, Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu

If I have a pitcher of dirty water and want to fill it with clean water, the vessel has to be emptied. The vessel has no value or capacity to carry the desired contents as long as it is full of something else.

The walls of the pitcher define its shape. These physical boundaries are what we see and identify as “the pitcher.” However, the attribute that makes this vessel worth having exists inside its walls. Its value lies in the emptiness. It must be empty before it can hold something more valuable. Likewise, we can never receive the new while we are full of the old. If I am full of ME, I have no room for others—including God.

  • If I am full of knowing, I cannot learn.
  • If I am full of physical things, I cannot receive spiritual insight or power.
  • If I am full of misery, I cannot accept happiness.
  • If I am full of myself, there is no room for others.
  • I can be filled with knowledge but void of wisdom.
  • I can be filled with facts but not know truth.
  • I can be filled with action but empty of results.
  • I can be filled with doing and miss being.

Prayer: Please remove from me any thoughts, opinions, preconceptions, or understanding that stands in the way of my peace and happiness; empty me of anything that impedes my usefulness to you or my fellows; make me receptive to any fragrance of truth, beauty, and goodness. Fill me with wisdom, peace, and an active love for all I meet this day.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

Love people; use things. Don’t use people and love things

Our world focuses on “things.” We are bombarded with the concept that our life will be better if we just get this “thing”; we are told that we will experience love and exquisite bliss if we just buy this certain object. And it’s a lie. “Things” can make our life easier or more enjoyable; using them may add to our pleasure but can never be the source of deep and lasting happiness.  

Loving other people and being able to receive love are essential in fulfilling our human potential. Loving relationships are the heartbeat of our very existence, a vital need to every individual. Love flows from the eternal source but must move through us to others to become a part of our own experience. Love is “an active and healthy concern for a person’s well-being” and not a desire for, or an affection of, a thing.

Prayer: Infinite source and my indwelling connection to God, help me open my heart, mind and soul to become more aware of the divine flow of your love; grant me understanding, compassion, and tolerance to bestow this gift to all I meet this day—especially to any that may offend or hurt me. Let me appreciate the material blessings, the “things” of life, but not be overly concerned with any of them.

Take three relaxing breaths; ask your inner spirit to guide your meditation; reflect on the content, pausing for a few minutes in silence.

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