Friday, March 19, 2010


Over the last several weeks I have been taking time to read my own book, Moments.  I started reading parts as a review.  I imagined how a reader might experience what I had written.   I thought about how they might come to a better understanding of some part of their lives, perhaps finding a thought that became the key to free them from some limitation.  After several reading sessions I decided to start at the beginning and read it through.  I discovered that “speaking to myself” through the pages strengthened my own resolve to focus on the positive elements of my life.

Much of the book is drawn from articles I have written through the years.  They were written as a way for me to work through some of my own challenges, but with a thought that some insight may strike a resonant chord in others as they read.  I wanted to share my own journey, dealing with disappointments and frustration, as well as the successes and satisfaction of meeting some challenge.  Sometimes all a person needs in order to begin to turn his/her life around is an appropriate word, positive encouragement, and to know that someone else facing similar challenges was able to work through them to a successful conclusion.

I am still learning and still growing.  I find in my book reminders to keep working on whatever challenges remain unresolved, and to rejoice in those in which I have found success and satisfaction.  I hope you, too, if you read the book, will also find a pathway to your own sense of fulfillment.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Monkey On Your Back

Over the several years I have written articles for this blog I have mentioned more than once how it seems we often get to a point in our lives where we have finally resolved some issue.  Then it pops up again, perhaps with a new face, or a new situation, but the same elements of stress, discomfort and perhaps fear.  What brought this to my attention was the proverbial email from a friend that included the following quote she had come across in a book she was reading.

"....even though you get the monkey off your back, the circus never really leaves town." 

I suppose finding these “old issues” popping up now and again could be likened to an athletic coach providing repeated situations to a team member so he/she could learn to react in the most effective manner.  Certainly, there is much to be said for practicing in order to gain better presentation of our efforts.  However, it is not simply practicing that “makes perfect.”  So-called perfection requires practicing properly, following certain steps designed to move you forward toward your best results.  For example, if you continue to find yourself behind in payment of your bills, you may have practiced with poor priorities in the use of your money.  If certain health conditions keep nagging at your sense of well-being, you may not have changed your practice around your diet, exercise or proper rest.

So even though we get “caught up” on paying bills once in awhile, old habits of spending more than we earn shows us the “circus never really leaves town.”  What this indicates is that we have not finished our work with whatever the challenge may be that haunts us.  The temptation to fall back into unproductive thinking and behavior is like visiting the circus again, with all its fakery and tricks for the gullible spectators.  To get the circus out of town we need to consciously develop new ways of doing things.  We need new ways of thinking.  Most of all we need new habits geared toward the practice of behaviors that replace unproductive ones.

Thomas M. Sterner, in the introduction to his powerful book, The Practicing Mind,[1]  states,

Of all the riches available to us in life, self-discipline is surely one of, if not the most valuable.  All things worth achieving can be accomplished with the power of self-discipline.  With it we are masters of the energy we expend in life.  Without it we are victims of our own unfocused and constantly changing efforts, desires and directions.

Mr. Sterner goes on in his book to talk about the importance of practice.  We all practice a variety of things every day.  This is not just in regard to learning to play an instrument, but touches everything we do.  Each routine we develop in our day’s activities is a practice of behavior.  Soon the routine is done with little or no thought.  Our practice builds habits and habits become the way we think, feel and act in response to life.  Changing from unproductive practices requires discipline and patience.

A paradox of life:  The problem with patience and discipline is that it requires both of them to develop each of them.[2]

How, then, do we build a practicing mind in regard to correcting our actions, for example, in our relationships?  What can I do to get not only the monkey off my back, but also send the circus packing?  In making any change in our life, we have to begin where we are.  It is necessary to recognize that how we interact with others is not producing the loving, joyful connections we want to experience.  When we begin to notice how easily we criticize others, we have our first recognition that we have developed a habit that is unproductive.  Now, we can catch ourselves when such criticism begins to well up in our thoughts.  The next step is to consciously speak well of others.  If we are not at a point where we can speak kindly about someone, at least we can be quiet and not hold in our thoughts the negative criticism.

No matter what issues and conditions continue to resurface in your life, change the way you think and talk about them and you will change the kinds of experiences you have.  Then you can finally wave happily as the circus leaves town!

[1] The Practicing Mind, Mountain Sage Publishing
[2] Ibid,, page 12

Saturday, March 6, 2010

When Others Are In Pain

We all have our painful times, whether physical pain or emotional pain.  We do our best to work through those times in order to return to a sense of well-being and harmony.  The natural state of being is health of mind and body and harmony in our worldly interactions.  Like a well-tuned instrument the melody of our lives sounds a true tone when we find ways to believe in our true state of Being.  Discord and inharmony in our life and affairs temporarily express when we lose our sense of centeredness in Spirit.  We are not always aware of the specifics of how we came to experience pain, but regaining our belief in our natural state will begin the process of healing.

Dealing with our own pain is one thing.  Dealing with the pain and suffering of friends and those we love is yet another.  We may feel helpless and impotent, not knowing how to be of assistance.  I have a friend going through chemotherapy right now.  It’s a tough haul for her.  What I feel I can do is to assure her of my caring and support the spark of healing life that I know is within her.  My daughter has dealt with several serious conditions over the years that have been painful and that sap her energy. Fortunately, she has been brought up to believe in her inner Spirit as a healing presence.  I know that has strengthened her in many ways as she deals with the conditions.

In our caring for others and wanting to assist them in their healing we need to “keep the high watch.”  For me this means seeing them as fully functioning, perfectly whole in mind and body and in harmony with the world around them and the people in it.  Too often we may feel caught up in sadness or fear about the conditions our friends and loved ones face because of the names we have attributed to those conditions. Naming a condition makes it appear even more powerful.

I remember years ago as a worker in Silent Unity, the 24-hour prayer department of Unity in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, when the Cancer Society started promotions highlighting the “seven danger signals of cancer.”  Once those promotions aired on TV, Silent Unity was flooded with prayer requests from people who feared they had one or more of those signs.  This is just one example of how fear can override our otherwise positive outlook on life.

We may never know the why we face suffering.  I do believe, however, that whatever conditions may come our way our indomitable spirit urges us forward, always toward life and wholeness.  Each step we take believing in that wholeness moves us closer to the full measure of its expression in mind, body and affairs.  This is how I choose to view my friends and loved ones always, not simply when they are in pain and suffering.  I support their faith in healing.  I encourage the innate healing urges within every cell of their bodies.  I believe, “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 9:22)