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Mindfulness & Meditation: Resting in Stillness

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Meditation womanI’ve written much about the benefits of meditation, from stress management to mood stability, from increased creativity to breakthroughs in psychotherapy.

Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation are all the rage right now, and they seem the therapy of choice for many of our ills.

But it’s a lot of work.

The Spiritual Crisis Underlying American Politics

Monday, October 14th, 2013

exit from crisis signAmerica is a very religious nation. But sadly, we’re not a very spiritual one. Mother Teresa’s disquieting words resonate throughout the land: “You in the West have the spiritually poorest of the poor. . . . I find it easy to give a plate of rice to a hungry person . . . but to console or to remove the bitterness, anger, and loneliness that comes from being spiritually deprived, that takes a long time.”[i]

While it is obvious to anyone who graduated from sixth grade that America is reeling from a chronic political crisis, it may not be as apparent that the disabling political warfare is fueled by an underlying spiritual crisis. Disconnected from our human and spiritual roots, we flail around in a world that is oblivious to the suffering of others. Lacking a gentle mindfulness toward our own feelings and vulnerability, we quickly look away from those who are suffering or the environmental havoc we’re creating.

The Lesson that Transformed My Meditation Practice

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

The Lesson that Transformed My Meditation PracticeWhew. This morning’s meditation session was a hard-fought grudge match between peace of mind and monkey mind.

I’ve been trying to establish a regular meditation practice, 20 minutes a day, with the same approach I bring to exercising: Suit up and show up. Every morning, I sit on my pillow, queue up a favorite guided meditation app, and do my best. Sometimes my mind cooperates; sometimes the monkey runs the show.

There have been times when my monkey has been so persistent, I’ve found myself leaping up and running from the effort before even realizing what I was doing. One minute I’m sitting quietly, the next I’m on my feet, in a pointless panic.

But recently, in a beginners’ class at a local meditation center, I learned something that changed everything.

Reincarnation or Just Ancestral Facets?

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Reincarnation or Just Ancestral Facets? Ever wonder, as I have, how people who believe in reincarnation reconcile the individuality of every person, the uniqueness of the spirit?

I have nothing against those who believe. Really. But I just never could quite feel that within one’s person there might be spirits of a distinctly different one.

Now, I am sure I got that a little wrong, my understanding and defining of actual reincarnation. But no matter, as I’ll never quite be able to believe that I was once of another time and place completely unrelated to my own genetic material.

Fresh Perspectives from Shambhala

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Fresh Perspectives from ShambhalaOne of my treasured books from favorite author Linda Schierse Leonard, “The Wounded Woman,” had the most beautiful, sacred, royal-looking design on a deep purple cardstock page insert, simply announcing the name of the publishing company, Shambhala.  That card, alone, I remember, was as fascinating to me as the book’s title and the mysterious, wise teachings of Carl Jung, brought to life by the woman author devoted to sharing archetypal insights.  (“The Call to Create” and “Creativity & the Veil of Addiction” are just two others Schierse-Leonard penned.)

Back in the ‘80s — before the age of websites — I filled out the card and sent it in to receive their catalog of books and see what else they had up their sleeve.  Over the years, it seemed I’d only sporadically receive a brochure (as fits and starts to publishing houses’ marketing efforts came into the digital age). 

Having the same effect as the cardstock insert, though, as soon as the first one arrived some 20-plus years ago, I was captivated anew.

3 Creative Ways to Bring Comfort & Connect to Your Spirituality

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

3 Creative Ways to Bring Comfort & Connect to Your Spirituality According to interfaith minister and author Rev. Maggie Oman Shannon, when we immerse ourselves in creative acts, we can quiet the noises around us from our “wild and wired world,” and truly calm ourselves. With these creative acts, we also can cultivate a spiritual practice.

In her book Crafting Calm: Projects and Practices for Creativity and Contemplation, Oman Shannon quotes the 20th-century Catholic priest Henri Nouwen, who said, “Through the spiritual life we gradually move from the house of fear to the house of love.”

Oman Shannon believes the same can be said about the creative life. Through creating, she writes, “we can enter the stillness that characterizes prayer and the ‘house of love.’ We can open ourselves and experience spaciousness.”

Introducing Divine Intuition

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Introducing Divine IntuitionWe all have intuition, but we may not all recognize it — some may be …

Connecting to Your Intuition to Enhance Your Life

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Connecting to Your Intuition to Enhance Your LifeEveryone has intuition, a “wise inner guiding system,” according to Lynn A. Robinson, M.Ed., an international expert on intuition, and author of six books on the topic, including her latest book Divine Intuition: Your Inner Guide to Purpose, Peace and Prosperity.

And everyone can develop their intuition and use it to navigate their daily lives, make fulfilling decisions and discover and realize their dreams.

That’s because “when we pay attention to our intuition, it points us in the right direction.” Intuition “provides an additional level of information that does not come from the analytical, logical, and rational side of the brain,” Robinson writes in Divine Intuition. She describes intuition as “a way of knowing, of sensing the truth without explanations.”

Intuition can take many forms. According to Robinson, it might be an image, feeling or physical sensation, like goose bumps. Or it might arrive in a dream. Also, “Some people say they just know the answer.”

Introducing Amazed by Grace

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Introducing Amazed by GraceSo many turn to faith and their religion when beset by mental illness. Sometimes, though, it’s not faith that fails us, but the people who are our fellow believers. There are still too many who have misconceptions about mental illness, and what it means to have it.

That’s why I’m proud to welcome Julie Fidler and her blog, Amazed by Grace, which will be a blog about faith and mental illness, including concerns such as bipolar disorder and depression.

Julie’s writing a new book about this very issue: “The idea for the new book was inspired by the many negative and judgmental reactions I got from my fellow church members and other Christians. Many believers mean well, but [...] they too often believe that mental illness is little more than a personality flaw or spiritual weakness.”

Interview with Heather King on Happiness, Spirituality

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Interview with Heather King on Happiness, SpiritualityHappiness interview: Heather King.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Heather King’s new book, Shirt of Flame: A Year With Saint Therese of Lisieux. I’m fascinated with anything about St. Therese; she’s my spiritual master and I’m always trying to find new material to read, so Heather King’s book was just my kind of thing.

I was also very interested to hear what Heather King had to say specifically on the subject of happiness.

What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?

Prayer. “Simple,” yet it requires my whole mind, strength, body, heart, soul. For me, prayer is not so much an activity as a way of being; a stance toward life — and death.

Finding Time for Truly Nurturing Yourself

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Finding Time for Truly Nurturing Yourself How often do you do something fun? How often do you meditate, get a manicure, hang with loved ones, journal, read, work out or do anything else that brings you joy?

If the answer is not often, I bet it’s because you don’t have the time.

One of the biggest reasons people don’t practice self-care is time. In fact, it might even be the most common excuse we give. That, and the false belief that self-care is a selfish luxury.

But “relaxation is not a treat, it is necessary for your physical and emotional health,” writes Jennifer Louden in her wise and practical book The Woman’s Comfort Book: A Self-Nurturing Guide for Restoring Balance in Your Life. She features clever ideas for creating more time for yourself – and dealing with the tasks you’d rather knock off your to-do list.

Below, you’ll find her valuable suggestions from The Woman’s Comfort Book.

Diagnosis Day, Part One: A Lesson in Gratitude

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Diagnosis Day, Part One:  A Lesson in GratitudeNo one wants to be told he or she has cancer.  The initial lack of control and feelings of helplessness are often traumatic experiences. The usual reactions are anger, depression and terror-laced anxiety.

While survival rates for many cancers have improved, there are quality of life issues following the diagnosis, including the emotional difficulty of coping with the anniversary date.  Survival rates are measured in 1-, 5- and 10-year markers.  This often creates an emotional conflict as the diagnosis date approaches.  Each year provides a measure both of success and trepidation.  Diagnosis day is when the war on cancer begins in your body.  It is sometimes shortened to military lingo for the day an attack or operation is launched: D-Day.

As with most traumas, people can tell you the vivid details of their diagnosis. They remember the time, what was said, what they did, and what they felt.  D-day is etched in their psyche, and as the anniversary date approaches, so does the anxiety.

But one woman, Jen Cunningham Butler, has done something different. In honor of breast cancer awareness month I wanted to tell you her story.

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