Saturday, February 27, 2016

C'mon God!

There are some people who look at all the problems in the world and ask God, What's going on?

In truth, God is probably looking down at all the people on earth and says Why aren't all of you doing something?

Maybe the best way to approach these problems is to invite God into our lives and ask him for advice.

When we invite God into our lives, we get his peace and wisdom. Sometimes, it's subtle, sometimes profound. Either way, we get transformation.

Approaching problems this way makes for a productive day. God will tell you what problems to tackle and HOW to do it. If you're stuck, trust that he'll bring others into your life for help!

Start today by opening the door to God and his wisdom. Watch how your day and life changes!

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Know Your Breath (Part 1)

Sooner or later, you will feel depressed or anxious. You know what “tired” feels like. There are many ways of treating these feelings, from exercise to meditation to a long vacation on the beach. You may not realize that you have an inexpensive remedy in your own hands. It’s your breath.
Your breath has amazing power. Every time you slow it down, you calm and soothe your nervous system.
How does slower breathing help? In stressful times, you breathe too rapidly. This leads to a build up of oxygen in your blood and a decrease in carbon dioxide. This imbalance causes a change in your blood’s pH level. When this occurs, your body can exhibit muscle twitching, nausea, irritability, lightheadedness, confusion and anxiety.

Your breath can be a powerful ally in coping with temporary physical and emotional states -- whether you’re sad over an argument with a friend, apprehensive about an upcoming job interview or exhausted after a tough day at work.

Each of these conditions responds best to a “special breath.” To calm anxiety, you can lengthen your exhalations. To alleviate fatigue, lengthen your inhalations. To lift yourself out of an emotional pit, it’s most effective to equalize the lengths of your inhalations and exhalations.

If you want your breath to work for you, it’s a good idea to practice. Spend some time with your breath (when you’re in a funk). Learn to watch its movements and tendencies.

When you first try to look at your breath, it will feel odd. Your breathing is so habitual that you’ve probably never given it much attention, and therefore you have a little sense of the subtle and not-so-subtle ways it can change. If you continue to watch it, you will begin to notice many different dimensions to the feeling of it.

You’ll probably notice that watching the breath immediately initiates a chain of changes.

First, it slows down. As it smoothes out, the space in the body increases.

When you breathe, you expand only a portion of your belly/diaphragm. Often, breathing is restricted and shallow. It should be deep and full.

To experiment with “breath,” do the following: lie on your back on the floor. Put your fingertips on your lower belly and try to direct a few inhalations into that space. You want to expand your belly each time you do this. Do this a couple of times to get in practice.

Sometimes, just watching and expanding your breath can have a positive influence on your energy level or mood.

How will you know if you’re overdoing it? If you’re feeling pain -- STOP; that’s your cue. Your breath possesses an innate intelligence. Learn to trust its message and all will be well.

Once you're settled, you’re ready to try one of the specific exercises to counteract anxiety, fatigue or depression.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

A Divine Connection

I need help with public speaking. I have to give the toast at my daughter’s wedding. My dad died over a year ago and I was asked to get up and do a eulogy. I didn’t do it because I was afraid, and thought people would laugh at me. I can’t do this to my daughter. I love her too much. Will you help me?

Jim (not his real name) came into my life a number of years ago. He found me from the phone book. I could never  have imagined how we would change each other. On our first meeting, I took a brief history to make him comfortable. I asked him to bring a picture of his daughter so that we could start right away. While we were getting to know each other, he mentioned that his girlfriend (of over 5 years) was in the final stages of ovarian cancer.

The first session went well. That all changed on the 2nd meeting. I wonder if we could put my daughter’s speech on hold for  a while. I have something else I need help with.

What’s that? I asked.

I need you to help me write my girlfriend’s eulogy. I don’t know how much longer she’s got. Will you help me?

As I said “yes,” I prayed hard. God help me with this. I have never had to help someone in this way. This man has no experience with public speaking. He is in a grief stage and I don’t want to tip the balance. Please Lord, guide me!

And He did!

Step by step I asked him about how his girlfriend touched his life. What he learned from her and what he wanted others to know about the glorious, loving and compassionate person she was. Some days were better than others. Jim had a number of emotional blocks. He was raised in an environment where boy’s didn’t cry. He was also in the Marines for a number of years. As we developed the eulogy (and his daughter’s wedding toast), he developed an observable way of avoiding his emotions. EVERY time he got to a passage where an emotion was triggered, he would crack a joke.

I explained how it was necessary to let his emotions show. While the speeches were diametrically opposite from  each other, there was a common element to both of them; namely vulnerability. I explained that if he chose to crack a joke with either speech, he would be avoiding his emotions (which were essential to maintaining the truth), and he’d be insulting the nature of both women.

In our time together, I found a number of DIVINE connections. He needed help with public speaking, I had done it for years. He was hearing impaired, I was a speech therapist. He had undiagnosed ADD, I worked with kids who had this same condition. He grew up on the south side of Chicago, so did I. I found it amazing that with all his needs, I was the perfect teacher for him. God had brought us together in a perfect way!

One of the things he didn’t know was that I had never  had the satisfaction in seeing any of my students come full circle. As a special needs teacher, I worked primarily with early childhood. As soon as they turned 5, they went on to another program. Consequently, I never saw their full potential.

This changed with Jim because I saw the beginning, middle and end. I saw him give his daughter’s toast. The moment filled me up! It took me days to come down from everything I saw at the wedding.

A couple of days after the wedding, he called and asked me out to lunch. During our time, he grilled me on how I thought he did. I told him that his speech was perfect. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I went on to tell him how proud I was to have taught him. I gave him everything I knew, to insure his success.

At one point we both watched his speech on a DVD. It was emotional for me because I saw so many parts to him. He was strong, loving, compassionate, kind and vulnerable. All the parts that I developed, came together in truth. I told him that whenever he was unsure of whether he could do this again, that he could just watch the video and he would see another side to him. 

How did you know how to get ALL of this out of me? he said.

I didn’t. I just gave you everything I had and prayed for guidance! I said.

About 6 months later, he came back for more help. Hey Bob, tanks!

Tanks for what? I  said.

I had a chance to see other people give toasts, and they don’t compare to what you helped me accomplish. I’m glad you taught me.

I’m glad you came into my life, I  told him.

Question for you: Have you ever had a “moment” that was so DIVINELY guided that it took your breath away?
Focus: Friendship, gratitude, spirit