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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Living Our Beliefs: Energizing the Soul

            In the previous post, we explored some religious definitions and I wrote about the connections between our spiritual beliefs, our thinking, and science. Today I will show how science / energy, works in our lives. First, it may help us understand the role science plays if we get to know the ego more intimately.
            Take a moment to read the photo to the left. It perfectly shows the difference between ego and soul. Knowing when we are acting from ego and when we are acting from our soul is essential when living our beliefs. In my last post, I showed, with the help of Jack Kornfield, that the early Christians thought of the various aspects of the ego as demons. Eckhart Tolle, author of many books including The Power of Now and A New Earth, calls it the voice in the head; Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul, refers to it as your roommate that is your constant companion; Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, calls it the inner Judge; and finally, Dr. Phillip McGraw, psychologist, author, and host of The Dr. Phil Show, refers to it as your internal dialogue. It can be thought of as the dark side of human beings or even the devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear. It is easy to think of the ego as a bad thing, but it is really just part of our humanness. When we realize how it works, we can use it to our advantage, turning it into a transmitter of light and love, helping us to live the life we have always wanted. 
            In the last post, I wrote about repenting and understanding it means to change your thinking. Changing your thinking is how you get control of your ego, but first you must begin to recognize it when it brings thoughts into your mind. You do that by being consciously aware that you are thinking. You notice an emotion you are having then you observe the thought that created that emotion. At that moment you can choose to let the thought go, to create a new thought, or agree with it and feed it with more thoughts. Feeding it with more thoughts energizes the thought and the emotion. This is the way most people live most of the time because it never occurs to them to control their own thoughts. An angry, sad, or happy thought comes in, they feel angry, sad, or happy as a result and they run with it; feeding it more thoughts, agreeing with it, labeling, and making assumptions while the conversation with their ‘self’ continues in their head without their realizing it. The next step is to challenge the thought that created the emotion, asking, is this true? Am I making an assumption that I don’t really know to be true? The answer is always, always, always, no, it is not true and yes, I am making an assumption that I don’t really know to be true. You have to be super honest, though, because if you are looking for evidence that it is true, or if you want it to be true, you won’t be able to change the thought because your mind is closed to new ideas. Then ask yourself, how would I feel if it weren’t true? How would I feel without that thought? Spiritual teacher, Byron Katie, says that asking those questions allows our minds to return to their true, peaceful nature. 

            Don Miguel Ruiz urges us to never make assumptions about anything, but our egos love to make them. The absolute truth is that we don’t know the reasons for anyone else’s judgments or actions. We can’t know because we are not inside their head. The assumptions we make come from our own reality, which is created by our own thoughts, and it is not anyone else’s version of reality. We make an observation and place a judgment on it based on our thoughts, feelings, desires, outlook on the world, etc. These ideas come from within us and are a product of the environment in which we live. For example, some people like sports, others do not. Your feelings about sports depend on the experiences you have and are shaped by your environment. There is no right or wrong way to feel about sports because we all have different experiences. This is true for every judgment we have. Our judgments are not right or wrong, but they are not true, either. They only appear true to us because of our previous experience and the feelings surrounding them. You might say they are true for us, but only for us. When we apply this change of thought to our big problems it can change our lives for the better. We begin to see the world and the people around us differently and begin to truly live our beliefs. It is easier to start with the little things, however. Changing our thoughts about the little annoyances gives us practice for remaining aware when something big happens to disrupt our lives.
            To better understand how our thoughts affect our problems, we can look to our feelings about our children’s disabilities.  Are you sad about your child’s disability because you are making assumptions about their future, or about the way things ‘should be?’ Do you assume others are judging your child’s behavior? Do you want a different reality than the one you have? What emotions are created in you when you think this way? The cue for you to question these thoughts is the emotion that arose when you thought them. A negative thought that causes you to suffer does not have to remain part of your life for long periods of time. Question the validity of your thoughts and see what you come up with. It may take several tries and many weeks or months before you are ready to accept that you can choose to feel differently about your child’s disability.
Disabilities and illnesses are very hard to accept. It feels like you are settling for less than you want, or like you are betraying your child by accepting it. You may feel that it is your motivation for helping your child and that, without the feeling, you won’t strive to make changes. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Your power for change is strengthened when you react from your soul rather than your ego. You want the best for the people you love, but your desire and judgment about what is ‘best’ is the source of your suffering. You are arguing with reality. You may be stressing yourself out trying to change reality like I did. Or, you may sink into a depression because you know you're not in control, but you want to be in control. I have found that gaining wisdom about the forces in the universe has helped me to accept God’s mystery.
            God works in mysterious ways, but when a problem comes into our life, we want to solve the mystery. We want to know why God gives hardships to us and especially to our children. I believe our soul is our connection to God and it longs to help us discover joy and peace. It attracts situations into our life to help us shed the things that are blocking us from profound joy and peace. These situations are meant to teach us the serenity of accepting the things we cannot change; the courage to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference. That’s all well and good, but how can there ever be peace when my child is suffering? How can there ever be peace when our lives are so different from the way they are supposed to be? How can accepting this bring me joy and peace when my child will not be healed? 
            It may help to understand that God – the Creative Force, Soul, Energy – whatever name you want to apply to It, is always guiding us towards living with purpose and on purpose. Most people sleepwalk through their lives, never even knowing they are asleep, as I spoke of earlier. Our problems are supposed to wake us up, but without some knowledge of this wisdom, we react to people and situations with a negative ego. We resist, complain, become depressed, and are hopeless about the future. These reactions will do nothing to heal the problem and they create more turmoil in our lives. Our actions and reactions affect our future and the future of the people we are interacting with. We can’t know what the effect will be, but once we understand the connection between our ego and our soul, we know without a shadow of a doubt that there will be an effect. For a clear example of this, you can read my post on KarmaIn that post, I show how my past actions in a particular situation may have impacted my life and my child’s life. I cannot know for sure if those actions are linked with my child’s disability, but I believe in karma. I believe that my child is in my life to teach me things I need to learn. I do not believe in a punishing god, but I do believe in a Creative Force that gives us whatever experience we need to grow into joy, peace, and courage. If you are of a science mind, you probably think this is all airy-fairy, spiritual nonsense, right? Sit tight. These are the things religion is meant to teach us, but believing in God is not essential to creating a wonderful life as long as we understand the science. If we don’t understand the ego and the energy that is created by our thoughts and actions it is much more difficult to make conscious choices. We must remain aware of the karmic consequences at all times because it is through karma that we create our lives.
            Now I want to take a look at various cultural references to karma including references to it in the bible. Most people understand karma in terms of acting badly towards someone and later something bad happens to you. That is what it is, but there is also good karma. Jesus speaks of karma in the language of his time when he speaks of reaping what you sow, getting back what you gave, and judging not lest we be judged. Those who classify themselves as spiritual but not religious understand karma as the Law of Attraction. Science minded people understand karma as the law of cause and effect. See, Science People, I finally got there! These are the different cultural terms we use for the same universal law, what I call the Creative Force of Love. These laws are written throughout the bible, but they are masked by our limited understanding of the language used in the bible. Understanding karma helps us to live our beliefs by reminding us to treat others the way we want to be treated.            
              Karma works through the energy frequencies of our actions, thoughts, and words. For instance, what do we generally think of when we think of words? Usually, we think that they are language and communication. We don’t think of words as a force. Not only are they a force, they are the Creative Force. 
“Your word is the power that you have to create. Your word is the gift that comes directly from God. The Gospel of John in the bible, speaking of the creation of the universe, says, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the Word is God.” Through the word, you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest everything.”
~ Don Miguel Ruiz
             Thoughts and words are creative energy in motion which creates emotion in us and in others. Some words, spoken or thought, are of a higher frequency than others. The higher energy frequencies create loving, happy emotions while the lower frequencies create hateful, unhappy emotions. The thoughts you think and the actions you take go out as waves of energy vibrating at a certain frequency and they come back as an energy wave of the same frequency. The intention behind our thoughts and actions determines the frequency of the energy. Einstein showed that energy (ethereal) and mass (solid) are equal; that energy can become mass and mass can become energy. The energy frequency of our words and actions along with the resulting effects are things we can observe in our lives if we look for it. To look for it, we must be aware of our attitudes, thoughts, actions, and spoken words in combination with what is present in our lives. Are we more often negative or positive? What is present; turmoil, problems, fear, and lack; or cooperation, ease, courage, and abundance? Whatever you struggle with is your cue to change your thinking, attitude, and actions because you are creating / attracting these into your life. Think of your life as a university; each struggle is a lesson in the classroom of life, designed to teach you something that will bring you closer to joy, peace, and fulfillment. Understanding this wisdom has brought me joy and peace without changing my son’s diagnosis. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. God is love and lovingly mirrors us. What you seek you will find. Seek love, joy, peace, cooperation.
            What we now know about the ego, some early Christian definitions, and science shows us that the Creative Force of Love works through our Soul in tandem with our ego, not outside of us. The Creative Force of Love cooperates with whatever we want, non-judgmentally. Our thoughts, actions, and intentions bring forth the energy of God, giving us whatever we choose. This is the reason that choosing consciously – living your life on purpose, repenting – can change your life for the better. It’s not rocket science, but it is spiritual science showing us how to live our beliefs.
            I sincerely hope this has helped you in some way. Next time I will discuss in more detail the ways in which our intentions impact our relationships on a more personal level. I look forward to it! Take care.

Check out my recommended reading list below the menu.

I have a Facebook page called Love Button Worthy! It features photos, blogs, quotes, and other content full of positivity and inspiration. Click here to check it out. Please like the page if it suits you and don’t forget to invite your friends to like it, too.  

Books I recommend are here. I hope this blog helps you to create a more peaceful life. Keep in touch by the following methods: Use the links under the archive menu to subscribe or follow by e-mail. Help me get this message out by sharing it with your friends on social media! If you enjoyed it and were helped by it, they will, too! Comment by using the comment link below or write to me with your comments and questions at mindchange4all@gmail.com  I look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Living Our Beliefs: Renewing Our Understanding

            I am starting a series of posts; each one dealing with a different topic on living our beliefs. My purpose for this series is not to change anyone’s beliefs. My plan is to give you my view of ways we can begin to live our beliefs on a daily basis, but to do that I need to discuss religion, spirituality, and science as that is where our beliefs come from. Beliefs guide our lives whether we believe in God or not, and they impact our happiness and our ability to deal with life. I am not advocating being a believer / nonbeliever, any particular religion, or putting your faith in science; I simply want to point out the connection between our various belief systems and how they relate to our psychology. This series is written from the perspective of my beliefs which may challenge some of your beliefs, so you may not always agree with me, but you may be able to see my points from a perspective of your own beliefs. Additionally, you may be wondering how our beliefs relate to this blog about raising a child with special needs. Here’s how: this blog is about my new understanding of my relationship with my child, but this understanding extends to every area of my life and to every relationship I have. I choose to write about my relationship with my son, not because it is the only thing that has changed, but because it is the only thing I can share without invading the privacy of other people. My son’s disabilities are the examples I use in writing, but this blog is about me changing my thinking and to help you change your thinking, when appropriate, to make changes in our lives where we see fit. I hope you will join me on this quest with an open mind and heart.

“The basic principle of spiritual life is that our problems become the very place to discover wisdom and love.” ~ Jack Kornfield, Buddhist Teacher

            Our spiritual beliefs and the principles of science greatly impact our lives in every area; likewise, our thinking plays a critical role in our psychological health. These areas – spiritual beliefs, thinking, and science – are always connected, but many people tend to rely on them separately in different situations. I believe spirituality and religion are intended to help our souls and our mental health. In addition to that, science helps us to understand our universe and the way it works. Forces of energy (science) are intimately connected to our spirituality, our psychology, and the way our lives play out. Ancient people knew this, but somewhere along the way this connection became blurred. We began to see science and religion as separate belief systems. When something big happens, like having a child with special needs, losing someone we rely on, having marital problems, or [insert your problem here], some people turn to their religion for comfort and guidance. Most people do not turn to science, understandably, except in the form of getting on medication for anxiety or depression, but that is not what I am referring to here. If there is no particular belief system in our lives or we find that what we believe no longer works for us, we have no place to turn for guidance or understanding. This can be heart wrenching and can lead to long-term depression.
            Turning to religion can be extremely helpful when the person turning to religion understands what it is meant for; when they see the wisdom in the teachings. Other people begin to question their religion in times of crisis. I believe people do this because they do not understand the basic wisdom that religion is intended to convey. This is what I experienced in my own life. My child was diagnosed with disabilities and I turned to religion only to find it hurtful, so I began to question it and eventually turned away from it. I know others who have done the same thing in times of crisis. They ask - where is God, why is He doing this to me, why does He hurt good people? When no clear, believable answer comes from their clergy, family, and friends, or when a hurtful answer comes, they begin to question everything they have learned and turn away from their lifelong beliefs. This happens when our beliefs are filled with the judgments of the ego. Turning away can be a good thing! It was for me. I explain why in my posts, Fear of God, Part One: Confusion, and Fear of God, Part Two: Healing Revelations
            Even when nothing big has happened, in many daily instances we act with our ego, completely ignoring our spiritual beliefs and science because we do not understand the impact they have on our thoughts. The way I think about, feel about, and react to my life now is vastly different from the way I used to. This would not have happened if I had not dropped my old beliefs, along with the judgments they contained, and then begun to learn from other faiths, psychology, and science things that are part of Christianity, but that were not taught to me. I did not believe in God for quite a few years and yet I overcame my depression by changing my thinking while still not believing in God. It is possible to gain a new outlook and perspective without religion. It wasn't until I was much more knowledgeable about other religions, other teachings, and science that I began to see the wisdom in Christianity. What do I mean by wisdom? I am talking about the universal truths about the way the world works, which can heal us and every problem in the world. To get to those truths we must adjust our definitions and our interpretations from our modern world view to the view of our ancient past and we must learn some basic physics. (Don’t worry; physics – the basic principals I am going to discuss – is not as mind boggling as you think!) In religion, we must re-translate some of the things we have learned. For example, growing up, I learned to be God fearing. With my new knowledge, fearing God seems absurd to me. When you learn to fear God, you learn to fear life and it is psychologically damaging.
            When I read about sin and damnation in the Bible I have to constantly remind myself that it was written by people – not gods, people. I had to take these people down from the pedestal that I had placed them on. These people had fear and opinions, just like we do. These people were flawed, just like we are, and these people had different ways of speaking than we do. When I read the Bible, I have to remind myself of the original, 2000-year-old definitions of sin, eternity, the devil, and even God, which I now refer to as the Creative Force of Love. When I do that, I get so much more out of it! It becomes a beautiful book, full of wisdom and truth, help and hope. The warnings they give us about sin and hell are wise if we understand their original meanings. Here is an excerpt from Jack Kornfield’s book, A Path with Heart, to show how our definition of the word demon has changed:

Every spiritual path has a language for the common difficulties we encounter. The Sufis call them Nafs. The Christian Desert Fathers, who practiced nearly 2000 years ago in the deserts of Egypt and Syria, called them demons. One of their masters, Evagrius, left a Latin text of instructions for those who meditate in the wilderness: “Stay watchful of gluttony and desire,” he warned, “and the demons of irritation and fear as well. The noonday demon of laziness and sleep will come after lunch each day, and the demon of pride will sneak up only when you have vanquished the other demons.”

Gluttony, desire, irritation, fear, laziness, and pride are the ways the ego controls and manipulates us, but these early Christians called them demons. Christians recognize some, possibly all, of these things as sins.
            The word repent is a religious word and its meaning has never changed, but how much do we really understand the word? Here are some definitions:
            To feel remorse or regret;
            To feel or express sincere remorse or regret about one’s wrongdoing or sin;
            To view or think of with deep regret or remorse
So, basically, it is feeling bad about something you did or did not do. In religious terms, it suggests we turn away from a life of sin. Very recently, in fact, while I was in the midst of writing this post, author and former pastor Brian McLaren gave me a new way to see the word, repent. What if we looked at it as a change in thinking? You did something with a certain mindset, you feel bad about it; your thoughts have now changed to a different mindset, hence your bad feeling. You now regret having done it because you are thinking differently about it, maybe even questioning why you thought that way in the first place. With your new way of thinking you see why it was wrong and wish to change it. Here are some more definitions, as Mr. McLaren pointed out:
             A sincere turning away, in both the mind and heart, from self to God
            To change one’s mind;
            To think differently
Seeing the word repent this way brings a broader implication to it. We can change our thinking in every area that needs changing before we make a mistake. Turning away from a life of sin might come to mean turning away from our old way of thinking which will prevent future regrets. To repent is not just something to do as an afterthought; it now becomes a way of life. A true and complete change of mind will naturally result in a change in our actions. Isn't that what Jesus wants for us; to change our thoughts from judgment to kinship, from hatred to love, and to see our various groups as one human family? I will talk more about changing our thinking in the next post.
            The warnings of sin and repentance in the Bible are also found in all other religions and spiritual teachings using the language of their own cultures. Cultural definitions matter. If we understood the definitions of each culture we would see that they are all sharing the same wisdom, explained in different ways. Our modern definition of a demon or a devil is vastly different from 2000 years ago. When we understand the words used by Christian writers and what those words meant to them, we see that the definitions we give to those words today are different than were intended when they were written. As the Kornfield excerpt shows, the demons of yesterday are the egos of today. Understanding the ego is what brings a loving transformation to the bible for me now. To understand the wisdom in the bible we must first understand the ego – what it is and the huge role it plays in our thinking – so we will explore that in the next post, along with the role of science. Throughout this series, I will continue to share my new definitions as they arise.
            I hope you are still with me, Friends! Until next time, I wish peace for you all.

Check out my recommended reading list below the menu.

I have a Facebook page called Love Button Worthy! It features photos, blogs, quotes, and other content full of positivity and inspiration. Please like the page if it suits you and don’t forget to invite your friends to like it, too.  

Click here for books I recommend. I hope this blog helps you to create a more peaceful life. Keep in touch by the following methods: Use the links under the archive menu to subscribe or follow by e-mail. Help me get this message out by sharing it with your friends on social media! If you enjoyed it and were helped by it, they will, too! Comment by using the comment link below or write to me with your comments and questions at mindchange4all@gmail.com  I look forward to hearing from you!