Monday, July 18, 2016

Mindful Monday- The Spiritual Mind Thrives In Present Moment Awareness


Present Moment Awareness is a mindfulness term which means that we are aware of what is happening around us in the moment. 

No futurizing about events and no dredging up past issues to review. Here is where I believe the spiritual mind thrives. Here is where direction comes from the Holy Spirit most often. In comparison, the Natural Mind likes to review the past, keep score, and rationalize past behavior. It is at home in the future, as well. It dreams of better outcomes, more enjoyment without the hassles of the now, and an inflated, better self.

With our Spiritual Mind in Present Moment Awareness we.
"often have a sense that something is right or wrong for us to do-a sense, for example, that we should or shouldn't treat some person or living thing in a certain way. We have only to pay attention in our everyday experiences to notice ourselves having such feelings about how we should act."
C. Terry Warner, Bonds That Make Us Free 




   As long as we respond to these feelings we can stay aware. But, once we choose to ignore these feelings then a self-betrayal, of sorts, emerges and a series of mental gyrations take over. To make it okay within us to choose not to respond openheartedly, we must self-justify our actions.

"We cannot betray ourselves without setting into motion all manner of emotional trouble."

Take for instance the father who hears his baby crying at night and feels that he should see to her needs. He has a choice, respond to the inclination to help his child or ignore her and allow his wife to deal with her. If he ignores his child he will have to set in motion these stories to feel good about himself. He has to get up early and his wife stays home all day. He has an important meeting in the morning and needs his sleep. He handled the baby on the weekend, it is her turn. Justifications layer one self-deception upon another. 

These stories play in our minds outside of Present Moment Awareness and are orchestrated by The Natural Mind. They keep us from being wholehearted and responding to our Spiritual Mind.

So, I meditate every morning and evening in Present Moment Awareness to not only strengthen my ability to stabilize my mind but to develop courage and stamina to respond to others in the present moment as I am directed. Does this make sense?


 You can read more about my Year of Mindfulness here.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Create

    What we create reflects back what we believe


   Family reunion time is coming. This year I am gifting my brother a hardback version of my mother's life story, written by her, thirty years ago. Scouring my hard drive for pictures to go into the digital version was both delightful and painful. Delightful to peruse the pictures of her life in Germany and immigration to the United States, but painful to remember my father's death from cancer and her death at 92 years old. 


   I did some commenting, from time to time, on her story and used a different color text for those paragraphs. My favorite comment was a selection I came to of why she might have had such a long life.

    Watching you I have come to recognize the secrets to your long life; fresh air, a walk every day, fruits and vegetables in your diet, and a nap every afternoon. And, always have something creative to do.

The needlework above is just one example of her creative work. The evenness of her stitches remind me of the regularity and eveness of her daily life. This work hangs in my bedroom and each day I think of the work I plan to do that day and pray that I do it with grace and kindness.




   I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday Group for two years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share their work. Would you like to join? 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mindful Monday- Our Spirit Essence

"Made of light, truth, and intelligence, as well as the love inherent in that holy substance, we understand that at our deepest center there exists a reservoir of pure, selfless love which flows through each of us, like a hidden underground spring. We are love that does not yet perceive itself. The Natural Man has covered up the well and created a hard shell over the heart- but love is still there"
M.Catherine Thomas, Light In The Wilderness







   If I had a window to view my soul or my spiritual mind, what would I see or perceive?  Paul says, 'For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.....". If my spiritual mind is made of light, truth, intelligence, and all of these qualities are infused with love, what does that mean to me?
   I understand that light is energy. There is high energy and low energy. High energy makes  my spirit and body work together in synchronicity. It feels like the sensation I get when I am playing the piano and I am in complete alignment with the steady beat. There is a lightness and ease. Low energy, on the other hand, has a stumbling, heavy feeling. I invite low energy into my mind when I entertain negative thoughts, anger, fear, or any emotions that sap energy. 
    This then brings us to truth. My spirit mind is made of truth. I can understand that low energy thinking and activities obstruct truth.  Also, the natural mind can make the truth hazy due to experiences I have not dealt with. But, in my spirit essence there is capacity to embrace truth.


"for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really care, and of things as they really will be;"
                                                           Jacob 4:14 

              So what does it mean that our spirit is made of intelligence? Is it that I am smart? 


"Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence."
                                    Doctrine and Covenants 93:29

   The intelligence in my spirit has always existed. It is free to act. I can choose to resist being acted upon. I can choose to surround myself with energy of light. I can choose to understand truth. It may seem difficult through the eyes of my Natural Mind but I have power. So, where do I get that power? 


"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
                                                                                                          Genesis 2:7 

  I  was created in the image of God and it is with his love, light, truth, and intelligence that I exist. I am his daughter and out of supreme love, his Son, my Savior, made it possible for me to awaken to this fact and become purified to return to a state of innocence. Through the grace of Jesus Christ I can bask in this love, abide in it, and at some future time go home to be again in the presence of my Father.

I have attempted to answer some questions I posed last week. But what am I below, or perhaps, above these layers of the Natural Mind?  What does my Spiritual Mind understand? I still know so very little but I am learning.

             You can read more about my Year of Mindfulness here.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Build

    I was bicycling at my gym this morning listening to a Major General of our Armed Forces talk on a podcast about meditation. He was explaining how the military is incorporating meditation into their basic training of soldiers. The science behind mindfulness had convinced the military that their soldiers could make better decisions if they learn to respond not react. To respond rather than react could be the same as building not destroying. Reacting can tap places in the mind and heart that are angry or fearful and can bring up these emotions without forethought. Responding, on the other hand infers that some thought has proceeded the action. 



     While meditating, I can't tell you how hard it is to watch the feeling of an itch develop instead of reacting by scratching. It requires that I scan for sensations and register what I am feeling. My efforts at meditation can be a good foundation for building connections, while the opposite, reacting to to stimuli negatively, can destroy my relationships.

 I am hoping to build a less reactivate mind with Christ-like responses.


   I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday Group for two years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share their work. Would you like to join? 


Monday, July 4, 2016

Mindful Monday- What Is My Spirit Essence

       "The outer situation of your life, whatever happens there, is the surface of the lake. Sometimes calm, windy, rough according to the seasons. Deep down the lake is always undisturbed. Your inner peace does not depend on what happens on the surface."

This post begins the sixth month of exploring mindfulness. Everyday I look forward to learning more and there is so much more to learn. Looking back, I knew only that I had an unstable mind which often spaced out and which I wanted to control. 
You can read more about my Year of Mindfulness here.



   I believe we have a duality in our minds. At birth our spirits fresh from a pre-existent state with God entered our physical body. My spirit came with personality and gifts. Very quickly a veil of forgetfulness separated my spirit from memories of it's previous existence. Experiences throughout my life have layered over this spirit essence with misunderstood notions, protective defenses, and sticky deceptions about what I am. I call that view "The Natural Mind". But what am I below, or perhaps, above these layers?  What does my Spiritual Mind understand? How can I respond from that Spiritual Mind instead of react with my Natural Mind? These are questions I would like to explore this month.

Karen Davis explains it this way,

     "Who you are is a more vital teaching and a more powerful transformer than what you say and what you do. Being a light to the world happens when you are present now when you are operating from spirit because that is when you can look past forms and what is on the surface of others you come in contact with and connect with who they really are.


     I have always wanted to make a big difference in the world. Do something great...like traveling to another land and building an orphanage. Making a “huge” difference in life is found within myself! When I am operating from my spirit, I am PEACE, things still happen all the time on the surface but I can enjoy or observe them but not become identified and attached with them. Practicing this is what makes the HUGE ripple and impact on the world because if I can operate from my spirit, then I can see through all the surface and outward appearances of those I come in contact with. When I am conscious I can give birth to Christ consciousness in those around me. And that is what is impactful!"

M. Catherine Thomas 

  " In the early stages of spiritual development, we are really seduced by the low energy thought-world of the Natural Man. It comes through our magazines, our TV, our movies-it saturates our environment. If we entertain enough of the world mind by passively absorbing it from our environment, we will have limited powers of discernment, fragile faith in Jesus Christ, and weak energies to nourish us on our journey. "

  " While we consider changing energies, we do not think that we will force ourselves to feel love or to think happy thoughts; we do not have to pretend love. Rather, we find that quiet neutral place in our mind, our state of simple being, and there we set our gentle intentions to be compassionate to all--even when our our expectations are not met. "


 Find that quiet neutral place in our mind, our state of simple being.


  I hope to answer all these questions during my Mindful Monday posts. Wow! That is a big endeavor. My reading of the experience of others and my own experiences in meditation and prayer will hopefully enlighten me enough to make progress. I have come a long way in six months. From the woman who mindlessly ran a red light, and almost caused a car accident, to a daily meditator and excited learner, I take great courage that I am on a better road to happiness. 
                                      Join me on Mondays, if you wish.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Protect

    When I saw the Five Minute Friday word I pondered awhile before writing. What am I passionate about protecting? The obvious words came to mind, freedom, rights, civil liberty, but these words and concepts, while I believe should be protected,  did not stir me to write. One thought jumped forward and claimed preeminent space in my mind and heart.

                            Protect The Family





I know that within the walls of the family sublime things take place and also some really horrible and damaging things. But, in my experience, family is the laboratory of righteous living. 
My parents escaped as refugees from war-torn Germany in the forties. They talked of freedom and oppression when I was young. I was born after WWII so I didn't experience the hunger and destruction. I heard them talk of coercion and public oppression. The most important message I heard was "WE SAVED OUR FAMILY".  My mother prayed daily for the safe homecoming of my father from Russia. My aunt went across the border twice to bring her sister and nephew into the west. They sacrificed for big ideas, yes, but more blatantly, for the family they loved. I look at my family past on, and still here before me, and feel eternally grateful for all of us protecting my family.


   I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday Group for two years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share their work. Would you like to join? 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mindful Monday- Abigail In The Old Testament

     This month I have focused my mindfulness on my relationship to God. Meditative prayer has been my vehicle. I study a passage of scripture and then meditate for a time, not necessarily to review what I have read what to let what I learn from the spirit rise to my consciousness. Here is what 1 Samuel 25 teaches me.


                                   The Abigail story

Nabal- rich with possessions, important in the eyes of man, churlish-rude and rough (He railed, swooped down like a bird and attacked)

David- Someday to become a king. He is confident in the Lord and in the reputation of his men. In the previous chapter he spared King Saul's life even though the King Saul wanted him dead, He is quick and determined to defend against the offense given his men

Abigail- she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: (What kind of understanding? Her own, acquired from going through a tough life with her husband or higher understanding, acquired through the spirit of God? )




   David is in the wilderness and he and his large band of men need provisions. He sends ten of his men to ask for assistance from Nabal, thinking that they worked beside Nabal's men in good faith before, so he should want to assist him. They are rebuffed and swooped upon with force, 

1Samuel  25:10 ¶And Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master."

    When reporting this rebuff to David he is deeply offended at this reaction. He tells four hundred men to saddle their horses and ride to Carmel to confront Nabal and his household. Meanwhile, Nabal's servants overhear his response to David's men and they come to Abigail and tell her of their fears.

Free to Choose
 "As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation." Elder Bednar 2006

We can choose to act with the Natural Mind or with our Spiritual Mind.

Characteristics of our Natural Mind
    1- protects
    2- desires the good opinion of others
    3- it has many fears
    4- it harbors untruths
     5- it relies on its own strength 

Characteristics of the Spiritual Mind

  1- responds the power of the spirit
  2-it is awake to realities known only through the spirit
  3- it seeks the character of Jesus Christ

The Natural mind is strong and access to the Spiritual Mind comes through practice and humility.

How do we engage our SPIRITUAL MIND?

Here is what I learned from the Abigail story-

-Know (become aware)
-and consider what to do (pray and counsel with the Lord)
-make haste
-prepare to serve beyond what is expected
-don't talk with those who might feed your offense


  The servant speaking to Abigail is explaining what he thinks will happen.

1Samuel 25:16 They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.

18 ¶Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses. And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.


Abigail rides the road to Carmel to intercept David. If we see her through the Natural Mind we might assume she is going to go throw herself on the mercy of David and ask him to stop his revenge.

But Abigail comes with a Spiritual Mind. She is coming in humility and love but, is she coming to save her husband or is she coming for even a greater good?

1 Samuel 25:24 And (she) fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid.

25 Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.
26 Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the Lord hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.

Abigail sees her actions as an attempt to prevent revenge on her household but more importantly to stop David from shedding blood. With King Saul, David acted with a Spiritual Mind and refused to kill him. Now, he seems to be letting his emotions overcome his Spiritual Mind

1 Samuel 25:27 And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.

28 I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days.

Abigail is acting in similitude of the savior, Jesus. She will take upon herself her Husband's trespass to prevent David from committing sin. She is providing power to David. The power to act with his Spiritual Mind comes from her invitation. He receives this power as he realizes that she is innocent and he cannot let her take this sin. If he let her take this sin he would have to kill her which is unthinkable. His Spiritual Mind floods him with compassion and grace.



  "Through the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you and I can be blessed to avoid and triumph over offense. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165)."


June is a month to be more mindful of God.
You can read more about my Year of Mindfulness here.