Heart & Spiritual Wellness, Inner Renovations

Engaging the 5 Senses to Overcome Eyewitness Overload

photo credit: mikedaledesign
photo credit: mikedaledesign

More is going on in the world than our brains can process in a sensible manner.  Opinions fill our minds, comparisons, contrasts, attempts to decipher the truth and other mental phenomena that have us dealing with fatigue just from a segment of the non-stop 24-hour sensationalized news.  And we won’t even get into the accompanying emotions – if they can even be called that anymore.  At this point, the emotions we are experiencing have become so consistent in their state that they can probably now be classified as full on conditions.  An extended state of worry is no longer just worry, but has progressed into being considered anxiety.  And prolonged anxiety eventually leads to those dreaded panic attacks. I’ll stop referring to it now because the very thought of those emotions sometimes evokes them and we have been triggered enough.

ENOUGH.  This is the keyword. The thought around which we build our next course of action.  ENOUGH.  It is time to create safer spaces within ourselves and to improve our own mental environments.  You have had ENOUGH accounts of negativity in the world – far and near – and have a general idea of what is going on around you and that is ENOUGH.  What deserves more of your attention at this time, is how are feeling?  How is your family feeling?  If you all are experiencing the stress and emotional fatigue that I suspect (because I myself have had to check in to make sure that I too am okay), then it is probably time to discover ways to RESTORE, BALANCE, and CONSERVE your precious energy.

                In this article, we will engage the 5 senses as a way of reconnecting with ourselves and bringing our attention away from the storms around us to connect with the peace and quiet that lives within us.  Using our senses as little guideposts to draw our attention gently back in is an easy mindfulness exercise that you can use right smack dab in the middle of anything and anywhere.  Choose whichever is easiest for you to accomplish at the time, or involve all of them in the same moment of You-Time that you create for yourself.

  • SIGHT: Find something beautiful to look at.  Nature is always a shoe in, but if that’s not possible at the moment – make sure you’re carrying a visually engaging photo, book, postcard or something that positively sparks your imagination or draws you into a serene scene
  • SOUND: Earbuds can be your bestfriend sometimes. With so many apps and mp3s of guided meditations or relaxing sounds, you can transport yourself into a calming space by closing your eyes and drifting into sonic bliss.
  • TOUCH: You know how good it feels when you put a warm blanket fresh out the dryer over you.  Or how good it feels to rub against something soft because touch is kind of a big deal.  Snuggle with a favorite blanket, wear a cozy sweater, get a little stuffed animal to rub – your brain will appreciate being to change the channel to a comforting sensation (even if someone does wonder why you’re rubbing a little furry keychain – don’t worry about that, it’s for your mental health!)
  • SMELL: Scents are powerful. So maybe you’re not ready to go full aroma-therapy yet, you can still find an oil, perfume, incense – or even a box of dryer sheets – that you decide to smell to shift your attention onto something pleasant. Our brains respond powerfully to smell, and if you inhale a scent while engaging in self-soothing thoughts, “I am relaxed, I am blessed today, these are the things I am grateful for,” while inhaling, eventually you’ll associate that scent with your peaceful moments.
  • TASTE: Ok so, we’re usually pretty good at this one. Especially us stress eaters.  So practicing this in a healthy way improves our responses to stress and emotional overwhelm in 2 ways.  To bring your attention to the present moment and give yourself something that you enjoy, feel free to taste the goodness of life.  Is that ice cream?  Is that a flavor of gum that you chew while having self-encouraging thoughts?  Is that a cup of tea that you sip as you read the promises of God?  Treat yourself when you need to, in a healthy way.

Remembering that the goal is to RESTORE, BALANCE, and CONSERVE our precious energy, we engage in these practices in a mindful way so that the effects we experience are positive, life-giving, and healthful.  Don’t overdo anything.  Do just enough to draw your attention back in to what is important, what deserves love, and what is the most meaningful in this moment.

~ CCB

Heart & Spiritual Wellness, Inner Renovations, Videos and Media

Personal Peace is a Super Power


There are a lot of things that we are taught during the early years of our lives under the guise that they are important to know for our success as human beings. However, I can’t remember the last time an algebraic formula saved my life. I would have appreciated a class on “How to Maintain Peace in the Face of Challenge,” or a cognitive-behavioral based course titled “You are Not Your Thoughts” offered around the 4th grade. A ‘How-To Survive Life with Your Sanity’ style curriculum starting in kindergarten would probably have reduced the individual instances of mental health conditions and contributed to a more stable society as a whole. Yes, I know… reading, writing and arithmetic – but that could’ve been covered in the span of a year with the remainder of our youth education being focused on life skills, interpersonal effectiveness, dealing with emotion, loving ourselves, and having a healthy relationship with God. But, dreams.

In reality, it takes for us to get to a certain point in life where we notice our own dysfunctional patterns and decide to do something about it. One of the main commodities that we reach for is peace. Which really isn’t a “commodity” at all but when we don’t experience it, we do view it as a thing to attain. The truth is, it’s really a state that exists within us that’s been there the entire time. And on an even deeper level, we realize that peace is our essential nature – supporting the inferences that everything we need is already inside of us and the “Kingdom of God is within” per Jesus.

Prayer, meditation, and visualization are means of moving into a state of consciousness that puts us more in tune with our source of peace. Prayer allows us to speak to God. Meditation allows us to hear from God. And visualization is how we co-create our experience which is a blend of our free will and God’s will for us (as a sidenote, we ultimately want to get to a place where we use our free will to stay in the will of God).

Our journey will have many challenges. We may create unnecessary complexities. Life will continue to throw intense situations our way. There may be unexpected circumstances beyond our control. What we can control is our approach. By taking an approach of peace – peace of mind and spirit which comes from trusting that all things have a purpose and somehow come together in mysterious ways for the glory of God – we are able to survive with our sanity, and actually enjoy this gift of life we’ve been given.

~ 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

Heart & Spiritual Wellness, Inner Renovations

What Have You Done For You Lately

first love yourselfWe work overtime for others ~ attending to their needs, paying attention to what is important to them, trying to figure out what we can do to make their worlds a better place to be. But when it comes to giving that same love, affection & attention to ourselves it is often put on the back-burner as we focus on so many things around us.

At what point do we stop to make ourselves the priority? Not in a self-centered, egocentric, selfish type of way; but in a self-preserving, accepting and nurturing kind of way. It’s time to do something important for yourself – turn up your self-care.

Become More Aware of Your Inner Dialogue

What are you saying to yourself? Are they self-encouraging thoughts that help you get through difficult times? Or are they self-defeating thoughts that make it difficult to love yourself? It’s time to start thinking in ways that give you that little extra push, like you have a personal life coach in your head encouraging you to move forward. This is a great way to start taking care of yourself. Communicating to yourself that you are:

* special

* worthy

* loved

* beautiful

* successful

* talented

* lovable

* and anything else you can think of to show love to yourself!

Check Your Credentials

Remember that you are no rookie to this life thing. You have earned a few stripes and deserve awards for the things you have already accomplished. Surely you recognize your own strength by now. Remind yourself of what you have already been through and how far you have come in life. There is nothing wrong with reviewing your list of accomplishments to serve as a little pick-me-up from time to time. As you set and reach new goals, make sure they are about what you want and not about what someone else wants for you. Be great for yourself!

Love Others Without Losing Yourself

There are very special people in our lives that we love, and we want them to be happy. That’s great! But there is someone else in each person’s life that deserves to be happy too… themselves! The same way we go out of our way to create beautiful moments and comfortable situations for the people we care about, we have to care enough about ourselves to do the same thing for us. Love, but not so hard that you disappear in the process. There’s a pattern to it that goes like this:

1. Love others

2. Love yourself

3. Love others

4. Love yourself

5. Love others

6. Love yourself

You get the picture.

Some people are really good at projecting an image of self-acceptance and confidence, but don’t actually feel the sense of love for who they are and what they’ve accomplished. Let it be real for you. Treat yourself with the sort of understanding and appreciation that you give to others.

Today, why not remind yourself that you have found the wisdom in mistakes that have been made; you accept the current circumstances as being yet another step moving you closer to your destiny; and you look forward to being a great support system for yourself – with unconditional love for YOU.

~ 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.

Christ-Centered Cognitions, Inner Renovations

Ending the Reign of Fear-Based Living

Things happen so quickly. The mind processes information and responds to stimuli at rates so fast we can’t even keep up with it. There’s no conscious participation in making the heart beat, causing the blood to circulate or sensing things in our environment. It occurs in all its complexity, guided by intelligence beyond our own and without our input; making us living and functioning Beings.

Why then, is it such a scary idea for us to trust that things will be okay? Even if we do not stress or obsess about it, it will be okay. Even if we do not divulge all of our fears and doubts to a listening ear, it will be okay. Why is it so hard to trust that once we’ve done everything we can do to resolve a situation, even if we put it down and walk away from it for a while, it will still be okay…

The problem is, we have Selective Faith. It’s like selective hearing when a person seems to only hear the bits and pieces they want to hear; or selective memory where an individual seems to only remember what’s convenient for them. Someone with Selective Faith is strong-minded and confident when they can see the solution in sight or a feasible plan in line to resolve a problem; but breaks down and moves into fear-based living when they don’t know how things are going to work out and haven’t yet seen any resolution on the horizon. These people often talk about how good and all-powerful God is in one breath, yet complain that they don’t see a way out of their problems in the next. Those who are not believers may still exhibit Selective Faith because even if they feel there is no God, they claim to believe in the power of themselves and their mind in one breath, yet express panic at the sight of oncoming trouble in the next.

Fact is, we’re still here. We’ve been face to face with death before (whether we know it or not), yet we’re still here. We’ve been terrified to the point that we thought the bottom would fall out of life at any moment, yet we’re still here. Many of us come from backgrounds and cultures where there were tremendous attempts in centuries past to extinguish the fires of future generations, yet, we are still here. Not because of our own doing; But because there is an Ever-Presence in our lives, the same that keeps the heart beating without our help, keeps blood flowing without our help. The same that was there for our ancestors and that will be there for the children that carry our DNA a thousand years from now.

Don’t let “Faith” become cliché to you. Don’t let the severe overuse of the word cause you to forget its essence. Always remember the reason that it should permanently, not selectively, be a part of your life experience. It is through the faith of those before us and their connection with Our Creator, that We are still here.

In a thousand years, we will be “The Ancestors.” Regardless of how many bills we have to pay, regardless of the pressure we are subjected to, regardless of the opinion of others; Let’s make sure we do our part by living consistently empowered lives so that our strength continues to be passed to the future as those in our past have done for us.

 ~ CCB