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Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality and Health’

We all have an address, whether it is a physical address that the snail mail gets delivered to or a heart address where you and others connect at the deepest levels. It’s a place to land and without a place to call home our lives can be teetering on the edge.

If you think about a home (whether you have one or not) you know a home is made up of rooms. Each room in a house has a purpose or special meaning (just ask all the realtors helping families where the man of the house wants a “mancave”.) Perhaps you want a library to spark your intellectual curiosity, a craft room to express yourself, or a meditation room to seek a sense of peace. The truth is that rooms have emotional energy as well and for some the place they live in is fear.

Fear is powerful and prevents many of us from accomplishing our life’s mission. It holds us back from completing our life assignment. It tricks us into a state of confusion. When our address is fear what scares us knows exactly where to find us. It’s like we’re a magnet and those things that scare us are drawn to that location like a moth to a flame.

The great poet Hafiz shared his belief on fear, “Fear is the cheapest room in the house; I’d like to see you in better living conditions.” Wouldn’t it be great if Hafiz were your emotional and spiritual realtor? Imagine having someone who knows, believes, and encourages you to change your life’s state-of-affairs. The great things about being an emotional and spiritual realtor is your license never expires and we’re all free to gain insight by his lessons.

How will you change the room you live in? First you have to want to abandon the fear that keeps you locked in a particular room. It requires you to redecorate your surroundings with positive thoughts, rational thoughts, and clear and present action. We give fear too much power; let’s strip it of its power. Let’s tell fear to find a new address with no forwarding address.

If you evict irrational fear (we all have rational fears like starting treatment for a health condition or overwhelming debt from the loss of a job) from your life you’ll be able to take strides to health and healing. You’ll give your body, mind, and spirit the resources it needs to face challenges with determination, endurance, and perseverance.

Want to evict fear?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Fear can be released through art.  To find out how visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

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I’ve been watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, watching some amazing interviews.  Watching these interviews begins to engage my inquisitive mind and I begin to think about our relationship to others and ourselves.  We’re complex beings and we all have gifts and talents that allow us to live successful lives, and contribute to the Universe.

I guess the big question that comes up is, “How conditional is your relationship to your gifts and talents?”  I ask that question because for many of us have to squelch our gifts and talents to make it day-to-day in our jobs and everyday life.  We engage our gifts and talents when we have “free time” or in times of crisis.  Is that any way to treat your gifts and talents?

Which of your gifts and/or talents would you like to explore further?  What benefits do you derive when you engage in activities that utilize your gifts and talents?  Do you find that when you engage your gifts and talents there is a positive impact on your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being?

Illness is just one of the many transitions we may experience in life.  During these times of transitions, obviously filled with stress and anxiety, there is a need to utilize all the resources, inner and outer, that are available to you.  Your gifts and talents don’t only have to be a well you go to when you’re thirsty.  Your gifts and talents can be a mainstay of your physical, emotional, and spiritual life.  They can be the nourishment you need to survive and thrive.

These are troubling times, even without an illness.  However, a diagnosis obviously complicates matters.  I’m amazed each and every time I engage someone in a conversation and they share their gifts and talents.  They’re face lights up so bright that it’s like looking into an eclipse; it’s blinding.  This is the exuberance that allows us to create a healing environment within our bodies, and in our interactions with others.

What gifts and or talents will you summon today and how will you infuse your day with possibility?

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It has been almost five months since I last wrote, but I’m back to share my experiences, thoughts, and questions I’ve developed over that period of time.  The last 6 months of 2012 was spent completing my doctoral dissertation, and the first five months of this year I have been in rural western Tennessee for work.

I had the enormous pleasure and honor of interviewing artists with chronic and life-threatening illnesses for my dissertation.  I completed my dissertation the end of July and successfully defended my dissertation the end of March.  I have to share that being called Doctor is a bit surreal, but still pretty cool.  It has been a long journey, six years to complete this accomplishment.

What have I learned from the dissertation journey?  I learned that when you are totally engaged in a process the time flies.  I learned that being of service to others is a blessing.  I learned that it’s never to late to begin a journey that fills your soul.  The completion of the dissertation was a huge accomplishment.  However, the oral defense was a spiritual experience.  Having three examiners share some special time, ask provoking questions, and request that I delve deeper into the subject I spent over two years exploring was uplifting, exhilarating, and terrifying.

The last part of the dissertation process took place while I was working in rural western Tennessee.  I spent over four months in a farming community.  It was a close-knit community and somewhat isolated from things I take for granted like cultural centers and a bookstore.  However, I did learn about living in community, knowing everything about most of the people in a town, and how to thrive in a new environment.

I’m back at home and getting ready to travel to San Francisco for graduation.  This will be the culmination of my educational career (at least I say that for right now).  I’ll spend some time with my friends who took the dissertation journey with me and also received their PhD.  I’ll be honored by the faculty for this glorious accomplishment, and celebrate the result of perseverance, tenacity, and love of a subject.

Where will I go from here?  I want to begin sharing my background in art and healing.  I’d love to come to a state, city, town near you and share the impact of your personal narrative on how you share your autobiography and its impact on meaning making.  We all have a story that needs to be shared.  Our culture requires that we share our stories so that we create a cosmic gestalt.

I look forward to sharing this next part of my journey.  I hope you’ll join me!

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I listen to a lot of music and when I find something that speaks to me I listen to it over and over again.  One of the things I look for is to find music that has a message.  I like to be able to reinforce my thoughts and beliefs with music because the words and melody continue to play in my head.

Over the summer I rented the movie “Joyful Noise”.  The movie stars two music greats, Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton.  It focuses on a small town’s church choir and their desire to win a singing competition.  One of the subplots is between Queen Latifah’s character and her daughter.  A scene shows Queen Latifah’s character in the church playing the piano and singing a song titled, “Fix Me”.  She’s praying through song.  She’s hoping to appeal to her God to mend fences and show her a path that is healing.

It got me thinking about how many times do we ask/pray to be fixed.  Following the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness sparks internal conflict and potentially even conflict within their spiritual/religious life.  It’s not a surprise that we want to be “fixed” because they went of course.  We never know what causes illness, because some who have identical lifestyles never see a day of sickness.  So why do we really feel we need to be “fixed”.

One possibility is that we feel that our lives have been lacking some essential ingredient.  If that’s the case then instead of “fix me”, maybe we can shift to “fulfill me”.  The idea of finding what’s missing and making changes improves our health in body, mind, and spirit.

Another possible explanation would be that we haven’t met our potential.  If that’s the case then maybe it’s not “fix me”, but “extend me”.  Allow me to stretch and reach new heights, allowing me to reach my highest good.

“Fix me” makes me think I’m broken and I don’t believe that about anyone.  Facing a health challenge isn’t about being broken; it’s about being challenged.  It’s about being sent on a journey, not of your own choosing, pushing you to go within to new and deeper levels.  It’s not necessarily joyful until you get to your destination, but the journey to health and healing can have some amazing outcomes.

How would you like to shift the notion of “fix me”?

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I’m one of those people who daydream quite often.  Between daydreaming and doodling in all of my notebooks, it’s a wonder that I get anything done, but it does serve a purpose.  Those moments allow me to incubate thoughts and ideas I have about my life and the experiences I have daily.

As I began to construct this post I had a dozen or so thoughts run through my head, but one image seemed to stand out to me.  It’s the visual of the new glass lookout at The Grand Canyon.  This look out allows you to step over the edge of the canyon (fully supported) and not only look out, but also look down.  For many it’s one of the scariest experiences of their lives (obviously those folks have never been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness).

The actual lookout is not the focus this morning, but what it represents.  When you step out on the lookout you can see through to the bottom, you don’t fall through, so in essence you’re saved.  In our world, during one of the scariest times in our lives, you’re supported even though simultaneously terrified.  You have the benefit of transparency, but not the risk.  It’s this experience that many with a health challenge embrace.  There is an adventure like quality to the experience, but it has very high stakes.  Do you feel supported while stepping out on an emotional or spiritual see through ledge?  Who’s providing you with that support and is it enough?

If your soul had a lookout point, where would it be?  What is it that you can see from this lookout point?  Is what you see scary or comforting?  What’s it like to have the illusion of doom, but the reality of safety?  These are the questions that arise when I begin one of these explorations.  My world is all about dangling the carrot that keeps me asking questions.  These questions propel me forward on my own journey to health and healing.

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It’s getting cooler as we move through the fall season.  Unfortunately, as the months go by we know that winter can’t be far behind.  One of the things that happen when it gets cold is that everything contracts.  You might notice your rings getting loose around the cooler weather and expanding during the summer when you’re warm.  It’s amazing how physical aspects of science, expanding and contracting, represent the emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives.

The diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness can be like the cold of winter, giving you’re the experience of your life contracting.  It’s not unusual to feel that your life gets smaller following the diagnosis of a health challenge.  You may go through transitions that limit your activities or ability to concentrate.   Many people start to experience anxiety and depression when their life contracts, so there’s only one solution…make it expand.

You may be wondering how in the midst of chaos you can expand your life.  First ask yourself how you want to expand your life.  What do you want to be able to do that you feel is slipping away from you.  Please realize that depending on the diagnosis there may need to be alterations to the plan because there may actually be limitations to your physical abilities.  Find out what you can do and continue doing it!

On the emotional level expand your life by expressing yourself authentically and creatively.  Explore ways sharing your story.  Seek opportunities to find aspects of your story in the Universe.  I had this experience a few months ago.  I decided to go to the movies and I went to see “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.  The movie was outstanding, but a sleeper at the box office.  I left the theater feeling exhilarated and inspired to explore what possibilities exist in my life.  The movie serves as a catalyst to seek a lifetime adventure that I know is part of my journey.

When it comes to your spiritual life, expansion comes from questions.  It comes from transitions your life from wondering “If Only” to “What Next”.  It requires that you go deep within the well in your soul to seek what has meaning for you and what you would like to explore on the journey to health and healing.  Reflection is an important part of this part of your life expansion.  This is a time to find the lessons learned in each and every experience.

How will you expand your life if it has been contracting?  What moves your body, mind, and spirit to find those expansion opportunities?

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I love watching dancers dance; I think it’s magical.  “So You Think You Can Dance” is heading into its last few weeks and the competition is tough.  As part of the programming last night they did spotlight segments allowing the audience to get to know each dancer a bit better.

One of my favorite dancers, Will, who unfortunately was eliminated last night, had some amazing insights about his life.  He shared about how difficult his life had been growing up.  He felt a bit like an outsiders, wasn’t always doing great in school, and then at the age of 11 he started dancing.

He credits dancing with “saving his life”.  Once he started dancing he had found his place in the world.  He developed new levels of self-confidence.  His true personality, his soulful self was allowed to emerge.  He became the person he was meant to become.  When you watch Will dance you can see the joy, the essence of his being, and has the perseverance to move forward with his life and his career.

So what is it that will save your life?  After being diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness that question comes up all the time.  Let me be clear; I’m not discussing what will save your physical life, although I believe that’s an outcome of your emotional and spiritual life jacket.

We all need something that gives us meaning in our lives.  We need to know that we made an impact in this world.  Erik Erickson, noted developmental psychologist, one of the stages of adult development is generativity vs. despair.  Generativity is the idea that you’re life will have an impact on the future generations.  This is why people get buildings named after them, become benefactors, and start charities.

In my life, creativity is that life jacket.  As a textile artist I get to play with color and texture all the time.  I often follow the piece with writing about it as part of the multidimensional extension of the work.  It allows me to live my life in the mode of ultimate self-expression.

I connected deeply with Will when he talked about dancing saving his life.  I don’t know what my life would have been like without my creative outlets.  It’s truly an extension of me.  What’s your emotional and spiritual life jacket?  How does it impact your life?

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