Heart & Spiritual Wellness, Inner Renovations

Don’t Tell Me to BREATHE

Breathe

My life was so busy, that I was forgetting to breathe. I was doing more of a low-grade hyperventilation as my stress and anxiety were propelling my legs and flailing my arms in whatever direction it seemed would alleviate the moment’s tension. That’s not living. Unless you’re a chicken with her head cut off. And then, I guess that chicken isn’t really living either.

Something had to change. If I didn’t want to age 20 years in the next 20 minutes, then I would have to find a way to connect with the moment in a healthy and meaningful way. I would have to learn how to stop and feel the sun, experience the rain, accept the love, and truly live. I wanted to do more than just exist.

And so, I did the opposite of what it means to die. In death, there is the absence of breath – and so I invited in that which must be life. I started to BREATHE.


Are you too complex and sophisticated to accept an instruction that is so simple? BREATHE.

Does it seem too elementary to truly be an answer to the collegiate-level problems in your life? BREATHE.

Is it insulting to think that you have invested so much time, money, and energy into finding solutions and it is being suggested that said solution starts when you simply BREATHE?

I only ask because I thought myself to be too complex (and my issues too advanced) to trifle with such diminutive suggestions as “BREATHE.” It was insulting, and in fact nothing would get me more enraged than when I was already at the edge of panic (if not in full-blown) and someone dared make such a barbarous suggestion to me as BREATHE!


Fast forward to NOW. Find us in the moment. Here, in the present I have the deepest appreciation for the healing qualities of a DEEP BREATH. See, we’re not just talking about that shallow breathing that happens as we’re flying through our day, sometimes not even noticing that we’re holding our breath waiting for the next ball to drop. BREATHE is an invitation to engage in slower, deeper, more life giving, breathing. It is the entrance to clarity in the mind, to interrupt the run-on sentences in your mind that disguise themselves as meaningful thoughts – when really they’re just run-on sentences. To BREATHE, in a conscious and purposeful way is to become a part of the process to connect your heart, with your spirit, with your mind and to literally gather yourself – get yourself together, to start moving towards the hottest commodity of all… PEACE.

Isn’t that what we all want: PEACE? And what if someone told you that the first step towards experiencing peace starts with something so simple: BREATHE. Would you keep hyperventilating your way through life? Or perhaps you would seek to experience the essence of life in a more spirit-led way, allowing yourself to take in a certain healing elixir that can only enter your being as you slow down, become present in the moment, aware of the Great I Am Presence: as you BREATHE.

~ CCB

Inner Renovations, Therapeutic Yoga

Off The Mat Into The Fiery World

yoga elements

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is better to do something, anything – take some action, any action, rather than do nothing at all for too long. Yes, there are times when we need to listen to that inner voice and simply be still. But if we’re still all the time then we won’t get anything done. Let’s not allow our zen to highjack the work we must do to accomplish our destiny. It is so attractive to roll out the mat day after day, stretching and releasing the tension and just allowing ourselves to escape the drama of the day by sinking deeply into our space of personal peace and connection to All That Is. “Just leave me alone in my little world. Let me stay in my quietude in the private corners of my life – undisturbed by you.” But if that is ALL we do, we are quite literally defeating our own purpose.

What we learn on the mat, and in meditation we must take off the mat and into the world to put our wisdom to use. The peace that we’ve cultivated isn’t simply so that we can drift off into our private heavens while ignoring our reality, but to go out and be able to face the challenges of our reality while using our skill to work through the tension and return to harmony.

I only write things that I have to remind myself of. As a counselor, I do have the opportunity to share with others insights and skills developed, not only through clinical training, but also through the intuition and increased awareness that comes in meditation as you learn to listen to the voice within and experience the multiple ways that people communicate with each other – even when they’re not talking. I remind myself that all of our wisdom and understanding is only of use if we are contributing to the progress of our spirits and healing of hearts as a human family. I hope that you remind yourself of this too. To close the books sometimes and take what you’ve learned and teach someone. And to come out of your sanctuary and go into the streets to share what the Lord has been speaking to you. It is so attractive to stay comfortable in our personal spaces, experiencing the peace and balance that often comes with solitude, but the real test of our growth and balance is when we can maintain that state while interacting with our brothers and sisters in this fiery world.

~ CCB

Christ-Centered Cognitions, Inner Renovations

Important Components to Discovering Our Purpose and Self

Who Am I

Wouldn’t we like to be at a place in our development where no matter what happens around us we are able to maintain a state of peace and balance? This is a possibility for us, through knowing who we are, what we are capable of and devoting ourselves to a daily practice of prayer and meditation.

Prayer is necessary because it changes the conversations in our heads. We go from obsessing about our relationships with others, to nurturing our relationship with God to discover who we truly are as children of the Most High. Our prayer life helps us to strengthen the connection and dialogue with the One from whom our wisdom and direction comes. If we spend more time in commune with that which created us, knows us, and loves us, we are able to stay in a healthier frame of mind. Our sense of personal security and power is strong and the ability to overcome challenges also strengthens as we are in constant remembrance that what is in us is far greater than what is around us. Knowing yourself, is knowing your power, and knowing where that power comes from.

It has been said that prayer is talking to God, and meditation is opening ourselves to hear from God. In meditation, instead of doing something we allow ourselves to “undo.” We take a load off. We stop asking. We stop processing information for a moment. Stop analyzing, planning, scheming, chattering, remembering, and all of those other things our mind is in the habit of doing. Give yourself permission to let everything go for a moment (at least as much as you can), as you sit quietly and feel your natural flow for awhile. We allow ourselves to just be.

It has been said that prayer is talking to God, and meditation is opening ourselves to hear from God.

Be present in the moment, sensing our own heartbeat, becoming aware of what is happening in our minds as if we are watching a movie, unmoved and unphased by what may be coming up inside of us at that time. We give ourselves permission to be aware of any emotions and thoughts, but we do not follow them or continue to give energy to them at this time. Slowly but surely we begin to notice the noise in our heads quieting down and we start getting subtle nudges to relax, have faith, and experience a quiet confidence that we are getting closer to who we are truly created to be.

I write only what I have to remind myself of on a constant basis. It is so easy to get swept up in the responsibilities of the day, the bills to be paid, the people that get on our nerves, the deadlines, the hassle of everyday life. We have to see through all of the distractions and listen beyond all of the noise to reconnect with the truth of who we are and what we are here to do.

The only way to receive the message of what our purpose is and to discover who we truly are, is to ask (pray), and then listen (meditate) – becoming stronger in our prayer life and spiritual relationship, striving daily for peaceful inner confidence and atonement (At-One-ment). At one with God, ourselves, and others – finally understanding who we are, who we all are.

~ CCB

Christ-Centered Cognitions, Inner Renovations

Holding the Keys to Your Own Happiness

HappinessWaiting for someone else to make you happy is like waiting for someone to feed you. As an adult, there are just some things we have to take responsibility for ourselves. It is a myth that someone outside of us has the ability to meet our every needs, create joy for us, and keep us inspired. Even if that person existed, why would we want to put that sort of responsibility on someone else anyway?

It’s challenging enough keeping ourselves happy, it’s pretty selfish to put the burden on another to do it for us.  But that is often what our expectations are. That’s what mine were anyway. To have the people around me cater to my needs, tend to my feelings, and figure out what to do to keep me in a happy place. And when they didn’t, I acted like they failed me – as if they owed me something.

No one owes us anything. In fact, we only owe it to ourselves and to God to make the most of the life that we’ve been given. We owe it to ourselves to be happy with who we are and what we’ve got.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 says,

“I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.”

The key concepts that jump out at me are:

*BE JOYFUL*

*DO GOOD*

*EAT, DRINK, & TAKE PLEASURE EVEN IN TOIL*

*APPRECIATE GOD’S GIFT TO MAN/WOMAN*

Is it possible that within that verse we are given keys to how to maintain our own happiness?

Being joyful is something that comes from within us – whether or not other people are involved. We can experience joy by being appreciative of the things we normally don’t think about, like how good it feels to be able to breathe on our own and that we woke up this morning and that we can see the beautiful sky and feel the sun against our skin – and a million other things to be joyful about.

Doing good is self-explanatory. Anytime we get caught in the quicksand of our own emotions and start feeling like the world isn’t giving us enough, we can pick ourselves up and get a burst of hope and inspiration by doing something good for someone else. Volunteer at a shelter, donate some clothes and resources to people who need it, call somebody and share some encouraging words, show a stranger some love – do some good in the world. And if you don’t feel like doing something good for someone else, do something good for yourself. Go for a run, take a relaxing bath, do some stretches, set some new goals, join a Bible study or meditation group. Participate in activities that will improve yours or others’ lives.

Eat, drink, and take pleasure in life even when it’s hard. Maybe we have it all wrong – we pull away when times get hard and maybe we should lean in. I know my tendency when things aren’t going well is to isolate myself – I don’t want to be bothered and I don’t want to bother anyone else. I don’t want to go out, my eating habits nosedive, and having a good time is nowhere on my agenda. Good times and depression usually aren’t found in the same room. But Scripture instructs us that even as we toil – while we work hard and face challenges – to eat, drink, and be merry!

Appreciating God’s gifts to us is a key to our personal happiness. If we would just look at what we’ve already been blessed with instead of looking for others to do more for us, we would realize our own ability to experience a self-perpetuating joy, a self-sustaining happiness. The beautiful thing about being happy within yourself is that it gives you something to share with someone else. When you connect with others, no longer will you be the needy one looking to be filled; you’ll be the one with the wellspring of joy that can refresh others.

When we realize we hold our own keys to happiness, we won’t try to borrow someone else’s.

~ CCB.