Sunday, January 17, 2010

Let There BE

How many of you, in the past, made New Year’s resolutions? How many times have you heard others tell you about their New Year’s resolutions? Have you ever noticed that in the later months of the year we rarely hear people exclaming about how they fulfilled the resolutions. Or how making that resolution changed their lives.

I think the statistics say that most resolutions last about 6 weeks.

If we do continue past the average 6 weeks it is often due to our forcing ourselves even after our desire has disappeared. We press on even after we have no energy for it. It can bring about results but you may have noticed they are rarely lasting or satisfying. Forcing ourselves means we are overriding our natural inclination. We are ignoring how we are really feeling. This, over time, is counter-productive. Damaging even. We train ourselves not to listen to or honour our feelings. If we do succeed - the victory is flat. There is little sense of accomplishment – only relief that it is finished.

You would think that we would just give up on New Year’s resolutions – and I think quite a few people have. Why? Because they do not produce results we are looking for. And what it can actually do is build in us is a sense of failure, lack of self discipline, unwillingness to commit to something. It leads to self recrimination and condemnation. Wow. It is actually better for us if we don’t enter into that kind of activity at all, if those are the results.

Does this mean we don’t have goals – look forward? Does this mean we stand still and not take action?

We live in an evolving changing world. If we are not evolving and changing, we are moving backwards. Bob Dylan has this great line in one of his songs: if you’re not busy livin’, you're busy dyin’”.

Yes, of course we can look forward, we can desire to make changes in our lives – but there are different approaches – and the way – how - we enter into ‘change’ will make all the difference in the results.

Often our New Year’s resolutions are looking for what is wrong in our lives and deciding how we are going to ‘fix’ it. If we think we are alone too much we resolve to get out three times a week and see someone. If we think we are out of shape, we resolve to go to the gym and work out. If we think we need more income we resolve to go out and get a part-time job. All of these resolutions start with the idea that there is something missing or wrong. That something needs to be fixed – there is a problem. That we need to make do something to have a better life.

Listen to these two statements: I don’t have enough so I need to get more. I am grateful for the good I have and I invite more into my life.

There is a big difference in the feeling of those two statements, isn’t there?

Think of our thoughts as being like those big heavy gym balls. If you think one is going in the wrong direction and want to turn it around and get it to roll in the opposite direction – it will take a lot of energy. However, if you think of the ball is rolling – even slowly, even slightly – in the right direction, and you want to get it to change it even slightly – this is much easier.

Making a ball – or our lives – roll in a different direction can be a big task when we are coming from a place of questions like these: how did I get here? Who can I blame for this situation I am in? Why does this always happen to me? I hate this.

This is a huge energy to overcome – first this energy has to be brought into a place of neutrality before it can be used to move us forward in a new direction. Like driving – if we think our lives are going backwards – first we have to shift into neutral before we can shift into first and go in the direction we wish.

It’s all how we look at it. Someone else in the exact same situation can ask these questions: what can I give thanks for right now? What part of this situation is working well? What are the things that have helped me along the way? What is the next step to move forward?

The same situation. But can you see the difference in the perspective?

As human beings we can only focus on one thing at a time. This is scientifically proven. We can be looking out the window – our eyes are directed outside – but we don’t really see anything because our focus is somewhere else. Perhaps we are thinking about what we are going to have for dinner tonight. Or about an argument with a friend. We don’t really notice the trees and sky. Our attention in elsewhere.

This is the same when we think about ourselves. When we are focused on what went wrong, how did I get here, if only that person didn’t do that – that’s what we will get more of. Energy flows where attention goes.

We cannot make a change in our lives when we are looking backwards. It’s like walking down a path backwards. We are looking at where we have been – and guess what? Chances are we will trip and fall again and again.

Yes we have learned from the past. We will not forget those experiences. And …we do not need to keep re-living and remembering them. We do not need to keep blaming and judging.

Have you ever told your story of something unfair or hurtful? Pay attention to your energy. We usually end up feeling bad all over again, even getting angry again, blaming others for what they did, being critical. Feeling hurt or undeserving. We have the ability to re-create that same situation and all its feelings, over and over and over. As much as we like. It doesn’t matter if it happened 20 years ago, we can feel it all over again.

It’s our choice. Is this how we want to live – re-living the disappointments or pain of the past – and thereby bringing them back to life in this ‘now’ moment? Or choosing to put our attention on something better, healthier for ourselves?

It’s our choice. We can live our lives as problem fixers – focused on the problems. I would hazard a guess that when we stay focused on the problems that we will always have problems to solve.

Or, for another approach, we can look at the life of Jesus. If you read the stories of the healings that Jesus was involved in (not ‘did’) you will notice something. Listen to how he approaches the person or situation.

John 5:7 Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “stand up, take your mat and walk."
Matthew 12:13 Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch out your hand.”
Mark 5:31 Jesus came to the child and said, “little girl, get up”.
Mark 7:32 They bought him a deaf man and Jesus said, “Be opened.”
Mark 1:41 A leper came to him, Jesus said, “Be made clean”.
Do you notice something? He never asked the person – what disease do you have? How long have you had it? Where did you get it? Never.

He always directs their attention to their faith, to their intention to create wholeness in themselves. “be made clean” “stretch our your hand” “get up and walk”.

Jesus is not solving problems – he is not fixing things. Perhaps there is another way. Instead of being a fixer – we could be a creator .

We have a powerful example of how to be a creator in Genesis. Chapter 1, Verse 3 “let there be light…” verse 6 “let there be a dome in the midst of the waters…” Verse 9 “let the waters under the sky be gathered…” verse 11 “let the earth put forth vegetation…” Every step of creation starts with ‘let there be…’

God didn’t say – gosh – it’s awfully dark – I better make some Light. Or - hmmm there is a problem here - no land, I better make some land”, or there is no life, better fix that’. Each step of creation starts with ‘let there be…’

And each step of creation finishes with the words……. “and it was good”.

God does not create from what’s wrong or missing. God is always starting with good and creating more good. It’s always already good.

We, as creations of this Creator, have the same ability. To see what is good and invite more good. Let’s use our God-given powers in the highest and best way we can imagine.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Self Value - Self Care

When I was first had a place where I could have houseplants - I was very excited and bought a lot of them. All different kinds - and I placed them all over the apartment. And it took a while to learn how to take care of them - how much water they needed, when how much light etc. A lot of them died. Oftentimes I would notice - oh my gosh this plant is looking droopy - I bet it is dry and I would water it. Or I would see the leaves were brown and burned from being too close to a hot window. So I would move it. Only when there was a noticeable problem would I remember to do something for them. I brought them back from the brink of death over and over again.

At some point I started being more attuned to them - and noticed the subtle signs of needing a drink, or food or light. I would take steps to strengthen them and help them grow strong -instead of waiting until they were on death’s door.

I wonder sometimes if we do the same thing to ourselves. How many of us only notice our physical needs when we are hurting? When we are in pain or discomfort. Then we think - oh I should do something about this. And as soon as we feel ok again we totally ignore our physical needs. What about our emotional needs? Do we only notice when we are in emotional stress to look at and reflect what we might do.

We may take our bodies, minds and souls for granted - never giving them a thought until there is a problem. Until something draws our attention to what is missing.

What if we were to shift our perspective and instead of reacting to the pain and discomfort - to do something pro-active - to become attuned and sensitive - to our needs? We could nurture and feed ourselves - instead of rescuing and taking extreme measures to bring us back to health or wholeness.

This life - this precious human life - is what we have right now.

Do we really know and understand the value of our ‘precious human life”?

If we did, could we treat it as we do?

Self care is linked to self worth. We don’t care for things we do not value - including ourselves.

We take care of what we really value. Perhaps we have some special belonging - a teacup from a special friend, a painting of a special place, a gift that we have kept for many years because of the joy it brings us. We take care of them - when we move, we pack them carefully to protect them.

We value our belongings - how would we rate the value of ourselves on a scale of 1 – 10?

I remember watching a little boy finger paint and I said wow - you’re doing a great job - and he looked at me and said - “I know!” with a big smile. “And I am a good singer too!”

Totally unself conscious - not bragging - just reveling in his own goodness.

What happened to that self worth we were born with?

There was a time in our lives when we did know that we were great. And somewhere along the way that self concept of our greatness - of our worthiness, started to erode.

We probably picked up messages from our upbringing, our culture, our churches. To not think of ourselves - but to think of others first. To not be selfish. Anybody heard any of these messages? We start looking at ourselves in a different light - that our needs are not important - that to look after ourselves is selfish.

Over time we too may start telling ourselves the same thing. We notice our shortcomings instead of our successes. We remember all the mistakes - the times we goofed up.

AND - this is really important -we start to mix up what we do with who we are.

We forget that there are things we did or said and then there is who we are - and these are 2 different things.

We have experiences - and we are not our experiences. The same way we have hands and feet - they are ours - but they are not who we are.

Our experiences are important - this is not to diminish that. Those experiences that we see as mistakes or failures might be the very stuff that gives us strength or compassion that we will use in the future. There is no shame in failure.

In the confusion about what we have done and who we are - we may lose touch with our sense of self worth.

We may think we are what we have done and said.

We may lose that deep knowing that as a divine creation we are worthy of care and love and attention.

We cannot be separate from our divine nature, from wholeness. And everything that God is - love, strength, wisdom, energy - is ours. God does not dole it out. God does not wait until we are ready - we are ready right now.

All that I have is yours - this is God’s promise to us. Let’s care for what we have been given - this precious life and all its promise.