Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Transcend Problems Spiritually

I have lots of problems. They make me cry. If I tell you all about them, you might respond in one of two ways: empathy and understanding or the “suck-it-up” mentality which is to say, “no whining.” Your response doesn’t matter. I can detach from how you respond to me. What matters is my response.

This post is about using spiritual eyes to transcend problems.

I just learned this, so if you’ve never heard me talk about this, it’s because I didn’t know it until now. Spirituality can supply the tools for going two dimensions past any problem to where the problem isn’t the reality. Here’s how it works:

For any problem add a statement of faith and to go to the next dimension add a statement of vision. In math that would look like this:

Problem + faith + vision = something dimensionally different than the original problem

So how would a statement of faith affect a problem? Well first of all, a real problem is going to feel very permanent, unchangeable, impossible and stagnant. A statement of faith acknowledges that the problem is 99% unlikely to budge but focuses on the slim chance or 1% possibility of escape.

Take any problem and describe it. Say, “I see this problem (describe it)” then add something like
  1. I’m making it one day at a time
  2. I’m staying calm
  3. I’m good 
  4. I’m cool under pressure
  5. There’s a chance this will resolve in time
  6. There’s hope 
  7. I’m not afraid of this problem

A statement of faith takes a negative and turns it positive. It doesn’t negate the problem. It just doesn’t emphasize the problem. A statement of faith is not a solution. There may or may not be a solution. This is not about finding a solution only about transcending the problem. Now take the problem with one of the above statements of faith (or one of your own) and add a statement of vision.

A statement of vision is going to describe the potential or the goal for the present reality. So if I’m having trouble with a teenager now, my statement of vision would focus on the potential of that teenager. A statement of vision can describe the desired state or the imagined state of happiness. A statement of vision allows the problem to be while at the same time looking forward to a state without the problem. A statement of vision can give you “positive stamina.” It means that the problem is not permanent and impossible. It says, there is some other state that is possible. I am going there.

My response to problems can be negative and depressing or positive and courageous. My response is what matters. My happiness is tied to my response not your response. I take responsibility for responding with my spiritual eyes. I’m going to hit that third dimension one more time. You can too.

If you liked this post you might also like The Battle of Jericho Revisited.

All images in public domain

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Miracles are any unusual occurrence or coincidence that can be explained as resulting from Divine Providence. Jesus did many miracles but not all who were there believed. For example it says in Mark 6:52 that when the people in the ship saw him walking on water, they were amazed and wondered (not believing) because their hearts were hardened.

When a miracle occurs in your life, a skeptical reaction comes from a hard (or injured) heart. Skepticism is a reaction that contains doubt.

Miracles don’t result in faith or belief. Faith must precede a miracle.

To demonstrate that your faith must precede a miracle, let me describe two miracles and you gauge your reaction.

Miracle 1
During the American Revolution, the soldiers were struggling to survive one particularly harsh winter. Early that Spring on February 23, 1778, a miracle occurred. Shad, a type of Herring that lives in the Atlantic Ocean, came up Schuylkill River that runs through Valley Forge. They normally arrive in peak numbers in late April to early May. If you are skeptical that Shad coming to spawn is evidence of Divine Providence, you join with others who claim that George Washington, an experienced fisherman, knew Shad came up that river and that is why he picked it. It is considered a miracle because their early arrival saved the soldiers from certain death, and thus the American's fight for freedom.

Miracle 2
During the summer of 1848 in Salt Lake City, just as grains began to ripen, thousands of crickets came down from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and began eating the crops. The people looked with horror at these insects because the loss of crops meant starvation that winter. They tried to fight off the crickets with brooms, shovels, water and even fire. In desperation, they had a special fast to petition God for help with this problem. To confirm their faith, thousands of seagulls arrived on the scene.  The seagulls ate the crickets, but they did more than eat them. They ate crickets until they were full, then flew to the nearest stream, took a sip of water and spat out what they had eaten.  They did this for three weeks until all the crickets were gone. The fact that seagulls eat crickets is not surprising. The unusual behavior of the seagulls in this particular instance was deemed a miracle by those who asked God for help. If you are skeptical that this can be explained as evidence of Divine Providence, you are not alone.

Miracles that occurred in the past do not require faith because we know that they occurred and we have no need of faith. This is explained by Alma when he says

“Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” (Alma 32:17-18)

When faith precedes a miracle, then the miracle confirms the faith and the faith becomes stronger and more resistant to doubt. Consider these two examples of faith that preceded a miracle. 

Miracle 3
A man was caught by surprise when a magnitude - 7.5 earthquake occurred near his home in Argentina. After assessing the damages, he quickly rode a bicycle to the house of his mother who lived nearby. She was ok, but her house was destroyed. She asked her son to save a few items that were in the rubble and while doing so, he discovered two glass bottles of fresh water that were undamaged. His mother had heard the prophet Spencer W Kimball counsel members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to store food and water in preparation for future emergencies. She believed and acted without knowing when the next emergency would occur.  When the earthquake occurred a few months later, her faith was confirmed. The miracle was in the coincidental safety of a glass item in the midst of total destruction. (Source Ensign Magazine August 2016, p. 74)

Miracle 4
Second, A man came to an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and requested a blessing for his son. His son was born blind, deaf, and dumb with no coordination in his muscles such that he could not even crawl by the time he was five years old. The apostle, Matthew Cowley (1897-1953) blessed the child according to the will of the Lord. Within a few weeks he received a letter thanking him because the child was crawling after a ball and could both see and hear. (Source Ensign Magazine August 2016, p. 80)

In both cases, the person(s) had faith first and then witnessed a miracle second.

The result is an increase of faith. God is willing to manifest himself to those who believe. A little bit of faith is often rewarded by small coincidences and sometimes miracles.

Moroni said, “faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:6) A witness may be in any form from a feeling of comfort to a display of Divine Providence.

I know that God lives because of the many witnesses that I have received confirming my faith. These things may seem small and inconsequential to a skeptic, but to me, they provide a strong defense against the doubts that I occasionally have. I encourage you to nourish your faith.  Miracles will follow.

Images used by permission
updated 8/14/16

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

On the Path to Emotional Freedom

The longer I live, the more I realize that the reality of who I am is much less than who I could be.  I have quirks, hang-ups, idiosyncrasies and neuroses that prevent me from being true to the ideal that Jesus inspires. In Romans it says “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”  

The death of God’s son guarantees that I will return to God’s presence.  I can accept the reality of myself including my weaknesses and show up at his gate with all of them in tow — or I can be “saved by his life.”  By that phrase I mean, that if I implement the pattern of his life into my own life, I will be empowered to rise above the craziness and the dross of my neuroses will be burned away through the fire of repentance.

My last post about breaking bonds focused on the service and fellowship that is required to be freed from some of those bonds. In addition to that, I must study and gain knowledge.  The first kind of knowledge is self-awareness.  I have to become aware of my hang-ups if I am to choose the path that leads to another reality. 

I have spent a good part of my life trying to achieve emotional freedom.  This post will point you to resources that I have used and some that I hope to dig into in the future.  The emphasis on this is that studying a problem is essential to solving it.  In spiritual things, we sometimes mistakenly think that God will answer our prayers just because it says in the Bible that he will. In D&C 9:7 it says, “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.”  The thinking that goes beyond asking is the knowledge that we must gain.  God can give us knowledge but he knows how much we benefit when we work to understand a subject. He has our best interest at heart when he doesn’t just hand us the answer. I encourage you to pray, study, and dig deeper with faith and not give up. You can be free.

Principles on the Path to Freedom
  1. Gain physical strength for the journey by taking nutritional supplements to support my pancreas and immune system. (Book: Food is Your Best Medicine by Henry Bieler)
  2. Utilize the services of a BodyTalk professional healer.
  3. Read Books (See list below)
  4. Go on a Vision Quest (book: Grandfather by Tom Brown Jr)
  5. Journal in a place where all emotional tension can be explored without fear as it arises: Stop running from pain
  6. Draw with the left hand in a sketchbook (book: Recovery of Your Inner Child: The Highly Acclaimed Method for Liberating Your Inner Self)
  7. Write goals for 10 years, 5 years and 1 year (describe in the present tense as if they are already a reality)
  8. Build self esteem by exploring personal strengths, accomplishments, values, describe self
  9. Ask for insight from God for understanding problems and finding solutions, put faith in His all-seeing eye
  10. Rely on Jesus Christ’s atonement to repent of false beliefs, misdeeds, and to forgive others
The Steps to Healing 
  1. Recognition and realization
  2. Remove myself from situations that hurt and don’t take personally the other person’s disorder / no blame
  3. Moving forward, not sitting back and accepting the way things are
  4. Think about boundaries (what are my needs and rights?)
  5. Processing emotions through verbalizing, drawing, journaling - being honest
  6. Organize and make sense of my trauma/trials
  7. Open up to learning and the work that leads to growth
  8. Unconditionally love myself (self esteem)
  9. Being in the present and creating a new future (goal setting with near term benchmarks)
  10. Realizing the importance of support (counseling, friends, relatives)
  11. Regaining control of my emotional stability, thoughts, actions
  12. Centering the responsibility within myself for my actions and emotions
Reading List

Happiness Books
The Bible, Psalm 23
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson
The Heart’s Key to Health, Happiness, and Success by Steven H Horne
*Living Beautifully: With Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron
Seasons of a Woman’s Life by Daniel J Levinson (He also wrote Seasons of a Man’s Life)
Love 2.0 by Barbara L Fredrickson
*Authentic Happiness by Martin E P Seligman

What is the Happiness Advantage?

Love / Marriage Books
The Road Less Traveled by Scott M Peck
Communication Miracles for Couples by Jonathan Robinson
And They Were Not Ashamed by Laura M Brotherson (religious)
Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M Gottman
Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson
Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix
Love and War by John Eldredge
Hiding From Love by John Townsend
The Hedgehog and the Fox by Isaiah Berlin

On Transformation
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
The 8th Habit by Stephen R Covey
The Jackrabbit Factor by Leslie Householder
(On the Law of the Wall) Student Whisperer by Oliver DeMille and Tiffany Earl
*The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
*The Inside-Out Revolution By Michael Neill
*Willpower by Roy F Baumeister
*Focal Point by Brian Tracy

On Being Honest
Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton
The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford

Debbie Ford: Light Up Your Life from Within

On Abandonment, Idolizing, Abuse, Grief, Attachment
The Journey from Heartbreak to Connection
Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst
Adult Attachment and Couple Psychotherapy:  The ‘secure base’ in Practice and Research by Christopher Clulow
*Healing the Tiger By Peter Levine

On Being Yourself and Rejection of Self
Appelemando’s Dream by Patricia Polacco
*Marianne Williamson on Self-Esteem by Marianne Williamson
*Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss by Habib Sadeghi
The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle
Being Enough By Chieko Okasaki (religious)

Chieko Okazaki speech "Rowing Your Boat"
On Anger
Good and Angry by Joanne Miller
*The Surprising Purpose of Anger by Marshall B Rosenberg

On Mother Wounds
Mothering Ourselves by Evelyn S Bassoff
Children of the Self-Absorbed by Nina W Brown
Emotionally Absent Mother by Jasmin Lee Cori
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John M Gottman
*The Mom Factor by Henry Cloud
On Healing Emotional Wounds
Growing Beyond Emotional Pain by John D Preston
(Especially Negativity)  Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff

Dr Judith Orloff 1 of 6 videos

Treating Intimacy Issues of Traumatized People by Patricia L Sheehan (Source: my personal files)

* indicates that I have not yet read this book

All images used with permission