Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Prayers of Thankfulness

For Example:

Higher Power - Thank you for being one with me. For bringing me love, peace, joy, beauty, freedom, wisdom, and so much more. Thank you for the realization that all things happen in you, through you, as you. Thank you that I can be still and know, that I can pray without ceasing so my life becomes an ever present state of reverence, communion, blessing, and grace. Thank you for being available anytime, anywhere. You never leave me, even though I sometimes think I have left you. Within and without, you are always here, all present, all power, all knowledge, all love. Thank you for stilling my fears as you take me in your everlasting love.

Partner - Thank you for such a wonderful mate, she is an awesome blessing for myself and so many others in so many ways – mental, physical, spiritual, and so on. We share so much in common and yet have enough differences to make life interesting and adventurous. I am so glad to have a partner on this journey to support and care for me and me her. We have our problems and issues but all the more reason for this relationship, for ever increasing awareness of myself and others. I remember that you make this three into one.

Family/Friends - Thank you for my family and family of friends and communities I am blessed to enjoy. They are wise and wonderful people, so loving, caring, and kind. We share much joy, sorrow, healing and history that we can be truly of help, and healing to each other. We have our challenges and difficulties, but I choose to connect with and relate to those that support and nurture me as I do them. We are all growing at our own pace, and I honor who and what they are at this time. I do what I can to help them grow and mature just as they do for me. I will keep in mind that you are the head of this family, the ever loving Father and Mother.

Career – Thank you for helping and teaching me so that I can be of best use in this world. I know you are guiding me in a God given career whether through my present work or another. Whatever is best, I know you are leading me there. Thank you for giving me the energy and wisdom to be truly helpful and put everything I have into my work each day. These are your hands, your feet, your words, and your work, whatever I say & do. 

Service – Thank you that I can help and inspire others, that they see your works and your light through me and seek it for themselves, That I can help others find it, nurture it, and realize it in ever expanding awareness. Whenever I fall into unhappiness and fear all I need do is find a way to reach out and help, to truly be of service that my worries and fears melt away. Thank you that through giving I am fulfilled.

Awareness – Thank you for the wisdom and understanding that liberates me from the misery, the ignorance, confusion and doubt of this world. That through your loving guidance I have true freedom to see clearly and gain true knowledge and faith. Thank you that I can step back from selfish concerns and focus to find communion with you and all others, all of creation.

Health – Thank you for such wonderful health, that although it may not be perfect, not all I might wish it to be, it is still an awesome and precious gift. Thank you for sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing, as well as functions such as balance, digestion, elimination, and healing that go on within this body as the incredibly complex, diverse, and finely tuned organism it is. Its abilities, agilities, and longevity are truly wondrous. 

Life - Thank you for this amazing gift of life, not only for myself, but my family, friends, acquaintances, all people, animals, plants, and life. Thank you not only for the life we have here and now, but all life through-out the creation past, present, and future. 

Community - Thank you for our circle of loved ones be they people, plants, animals, or things, our companions along the road of life, all you, all me, all one. Thank you that I have others who I can share this life with, that are understanding, caring, and kind. 

Blessings – Thank you for all the gifts you bestow upon us, the air, water, earth, light and warmth of the sun, as well as this wonderful body, my family and friends, all plants, animals, all things, and all of creation that is basically good and hospitable to us now. Your abundant giving flows in an unrelenting stream through-out the world, creation, and time. I review my blessings list regularly to remind me of your overflowing goodness.

Prayer and Mediation – Thank you that I can commune with you in intimate conscious contact. That I can spend time in the circle of your grace free of the concerns of this world. Thank you that I can speak to you and with you that I may find your truth in mind and heart, what is really best for myself and others. 

Attitude – Thank you that awareness allows an attitude of gratitude and basic goodness. My life may seem small and suffering at times, perhaps often, but I try to see the bigger picture and know the abundance of your blessings reach so far that to me they are nothing short of infinite. I will strive to keep a positive attitude, accept what is, and be content in this knowing to be of light and service in this life.

Blessed or Cursed?

Ask yourself...

heavy hearted or light hearted ?

moving in the right direction or falling deeper into the rabbit hole ?

working on yourself or letting it slide ?

are you losing it or gaining ground ?

doomed or saved ?

in the dark or enlightened?

lost or found ?

trapped or free ?

lost, stolen, sick or recovering?

neglected and abused or loved?

sinner or forgiven ?

fear or hope and faith?

cursed or blessed ?

death hate sorrow ugliness chaos or life love joy beauty peace? 

do you feel lucky ?

is it worth it ?

are you worth it ?

frantic stressed anxious victim loser pawn fool?

hell, pain, suffering or Kingdom of Heaven, Pure Land, Promised Land ? 

feeling like a victim or glad you have choices ?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Relationships-Love and Belonging

This is where each of our stories start and play out over a lifetime. Relationships are our connections to everyone and everything, however functional or dysfunctional. I dare to say it is relationships, our connection to others and things that give our life purpose and meaning. I first realized the profound value of relationships when I read Love and Survival by Dr. Dean Ornish. In it he shows how relationships to our community make a huge difference in our health and welfare.

Even people who engage in unhealthy behaviors like drinking, smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise can live long and healthy lives, apparently due to the support of their intimates and community. Amazing! On the other hand, those who have little support encounter a host of health and life difficulties and live shorter lives. In one study orphan babies who were denied human touch due to a epidemic scare all died Are we, and more importantly, do we feel, part of, or apart from our Higher Power, ourselves, others, and all life and creation? 

One of my favorite models of how we develop for better or worse is Erik Erikson's eight stages. From this we can see how we may gain basic trust, autonomy, initiative, identity, intimacy, generativity and integrity, and conversely, mistrust, shame, doubt, guilt, inferiority, role confusion, isolation, stagnation, and despair. My guess is most everyone has some of each to some extent, small or large. Personally, I recall my formative years as isolated and confusing, and so have struggled with intimacy and self esteem issues most of my life.

I consider myself fortunate at that as many of my friends were actively abused either verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually, or spiritually, some receiving many, perhaps all of these. Even those from highly functional homes have suffered and carry wounds. In twelve step programs we acknowledge this entity as our wounded inner child. The difficulties we faced often were so common in our daily lives we came to see them as normal and internalized them deep within.

These forces often found a voice in our heads as a critical inner parent, a malevolent energy telling us how bad and worthless we are. To me, the saddest news is that without enlightenment of these dark forces, we are doomed to create and live through a false self and try to recreate and correct the problems of our youth with the people, places, and things least likely to achieve it. All is not lost however, for if we can find the strength to remove the years of bandages and armor we have built up to protect these wounds and endure the pain and suffering of cleaning and dressing them, we can heal. I am living proof. Only then can we find the voice of our own loving inner parent to rediscover, experience and enjoy our inner wonder child and live from our true self.

One of the best descriptions of Co-dependency is others first, ourselves second and Higher Power last. What really works best is H.P. first, ourselves second, then others. Why? Because Higher Power always knows best. A healthy Higher Power is infinite power, presence, our true parent, source and supply after all.  All too often we forget and listen to the louder and more insistent voice of ego, ours or others. Do others really have our best interests at heart? Perhaps not, and even if they do, they could be wrong. This is also why Jung said that most of our problems are of a spiritual nature.

We have become cut off from our true source so have spent our lives lost and wandering for our real home. Another reason Higher Power comes first is because it is our connection to life, love, and all creation. Buddhism calls this Indras net, an infinite web with dew drops on every intersection reflecting every other forever. John Muir said "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe" Also, "There is not a fragment in all of nature, for every relative fragment of one thing is a full harmonious unit in itself."

Thich Nhat Hanh calls this "Interbeing" and tells how a piece of paper contains the sunshine, rain, earth, and logger in its essence. In Star Wars Yoda says "My ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. It is what gives a Jedi his power. It is the energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us. It binds the universe together." 

Even the American government gives in to Higher Power and prints on every bill "IN GOD WE TRUST."

Next we trust ourselves and our own experience.
Buddha said " Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who said it unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense." Emerson said "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself" as the summation of his excellent essay; Self Reliance. Einstein that "Never do anything against conscience, even if the state demands it," and "Few are those who  see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts."

When we come to others, we again connect to the whole through a higher law, a higher calling to selfless service, through communing with others in community. Yet we must avoid over dependence on others; co-dependency. Twelve steppers say "My Higher Power doesn't have two legs" because we have learned how others have gained power over us and we are working to be free. Before recovery we let others dictate what clothes we wore, foods we ate, friends and hobbies we had, on and on.

The classic example is when a codependent dies, someone else's life passes before them! This is a connection gone bad, one we learn to overcome and take responsibility and control of our own lives, of our own wants and needs. For a commentary of ego versus true self see my workshop "Happiness." Also if you would like to see what it might be like to recapture your wonder child (children actually), see my story "Homecoming."

In conclusion, I must say again, the quality of our relationships all come down to our feeling, our experience. Do we really feel and experience ourselves as part of, or apart from our Higher Power, ourselves, others, and all life and creation? It is so very important as this is what most often determines if we find happiness, purpose, and meaning in our lives.

Copyrights 11/17

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Triune Brain

In his book "The Joy of Living", Yongey Mingyer Rinpoche tells us how "The billions of neurons in the human brain are grouped by function into three different layers. First and oldest is the brain stem, the most primal "reptilian brain". It's primary purpose is to regulate basic involuntary functions like breathing, metabolism, heartbeat, and circulation. It also controls the fight or flight, the "startle response". It unconsciously starts adrenaline coursing through the body and causes rapid heartbeat and muscle tension. This is why reptiles tend to be combative rather than cooperative. 

With the evolution of vertebrates such as birds and mammals a startling development in the brain occurred. A second layer of the brain evolved. This is referred as to the limbic region and surrounds the brain stem like a helmet and includes a series of programmed neural connections that stimulate the impulse to nurture, provide food and protection, and teach essential survival skills through play and other means. 

Mammals distinguish between the sounds of their young and the types of sounds they make such as distress, pleasure, hunger, and so on. In addition the limbic region can read the intentions of others through posture, movements, facial expressions, the eyes, and even subtle scents of pheromones. Mammals and birds adapt flexibly to changing circumstances, laying the groundwork for learning and memory.

Adrenaline and other hormones create extremely powerful emotional memories and patterns. Because these are so powerful they can be triggered by events with even slight resemblance to the original memory. This offers important survival benefits but can cloud or distort perceptions of ordinary experiences. For example children who were humiliated and criticized experience inappropriately strong feelings of fear, resentment, and other emotions when dealing with authority figures later in life. One significant element in a present situation similar to the past can stimulate a whole range of thoughts, emotions, and hormonal, and muscular responses. 

The limbic system is the emotional brain and is balanced by the third layer of the neocortex. It is specific to mammals and provides the capacity for reasoning, forming concepts, planning, and fine-tuning emotional responses. The neocortex gives us the capacity for imagination, creation, and for understanding and manipulating symbols. It gives us language, writing, mathematics, music, and art. It is the seat of rational activities such as problem-solving, analysis, judgment, impulse control, the ability to organize information, learn from the past, and empathize with others. Every thought requires a series of complex interactions among all three layers of the brain."

If you look at the work of Dr. Alan Watson's Complete Coherence, or the HeartMath Institute you find that when we are stressed our cognitive ability takes a dive, and we go into fight, flight, or freeze modes. We don't hear or see as well, and as Dr. Watson says, it creates "A do it yourself lobotomy". So where does our energy go in these situations? To our "lizard brain"? 

The fact is this entity actually does have many other "higher" capabilities, but many, perhaps most of its functioning is primarily instinctual rather than rational. We react first, and then reason it out as we reach for safety. Why is this awareness so vitally important? Because it is so very easy for us to believe we have little or no choice in stressful situations because we react so quickly and strongly.

Yes, we can "lose our minds" at these times, but that is only the beginning, not the end of the story. We do have choices and can train ourselves not to be quite so reactive. In fact some "super meditators" that have thousands of hours of training have overcome the startle response to an unexpected, sudden, loud noise, a feat researches previously didn't believe possible. 

Unfortunately, stress also appears to cause us to skip over our nurturing, protective, and playful mammalian brain as well. One part may remain active; the feeling part that leaves us feeling trapped, alone, and frightened. This is a very important awareness also, so that we may care for ourselves in hard and trying times with all the loving kindness we can muster. 

Through focus and concentration on our inner and outer world, we can reach understanding, and through these eventually wisdom and transformation. We can become masters of our fate, and live from the inside out for perhaps the first time in our life. We find we actually have many, many choices, and that the world is bountiful and beautiful if we can see it, choose it, and live it. We can now know,  life is what you make it!

Related Websites:

Don't Listen to your Lizard Brain.

Five Powerful Reptilian Brain Hacks to Get More Control Over Your Life.

How Your Reptilian Brain Controls Your Behavior.

How to Beat Your Lizard Brain.

Also a YouTube: Overpowering Your Lizard Brain