From Anxiety to Peace

This week’s Agape Meditation newsletter, supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service, draws our attention to the anxiety and fear that are prevalent in our world and offers a simple remedy. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Twenty-seventh Sunday Ordinary Time

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

Scripture Reading:

Brothers and sisters: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Phil 4: 6-9

 

Additional Readings: 

Is 5: 1-7

Ps 80: 9, 12-16, 19-20

Mt 21: 33-43

 

When Anxious, Turn to God

We live in an anxious world. There is unrest, conflict, poverty, hunger, war. We worry about how our needs will be met from day to day. Paul acknowledges the anxiety that pervades the human condition and offers the remedy, and that remedy is GOD. Meditation, prayer, contemplation, being attentive to what in our lives we are grateful for, engaging in those activities which help us to feel fulfilled and which give our lives meaning, all work toward replacing our anxiety with peace.

 

Where in your life are you feeling anxious?

 

How are you using this anxiety as a cue to return your attention to God?

 

What practices do you have that help you to move from anxiety to peace?

 

 

Spiritual Practices – Engaging our Anxiety through Tonglen

Tonglen is a spiritual practice from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Tonglen is based on the Buddhist principle that “what we resist will persist.” Through Tonglen, instead of turning away from unpleasant feelings (resisting), we turn toward them so that they may be transformed. This week, you are invited to engage in the practice of Tonglen as a way of transforming your anxiety into peace.

  • When you find yourself feeling anxious (afraid, scared), instead of pushing it away or judging it as bad, allow yourself to FEEL the anxiety.
  • As you feel the anxiety, become aware of WHERE you are feeling it in your physical body. Some people feel anxiety in their gut, some in their heart, some in their neck and shoulders, perhaps it is in your left ankle.
  • Holding your awareness in the physical place where you are feeling anxiety, breath into it. Breathe the anxiety into the place you are feeling it.
  • From the physical sensation of anxiety, breathe out love.
  • Breathe into the anxiety, and breathe out love.
  • Continue this practice until you feel the anxiety shift into something else. Perhaps there will be a release through tears. Maybe it will shift from anxiety to anger. Maybe it will change from anxiety to peace.
  • Continue this practice throughout the week whenever you find yourself feeling anxious.

 

Authentic Freedom

FEAR/ANXIETY are the symptoms of humanity’s core spiritual wound. This core spiritual wound arises out of the false perception of separation from God, and is the natural consequence of choosing to experience the human condition. In choosing the human condition, we chose to temporarily forget our Oneness with God in love. The good news is that in allowing us the freedom to choose the human condition, God also planted within us the seed of remembrance so that somewhere deep inside us, we would always remember and be drawn toward our original nature as One with God. The path toward this remembering is what Jesus came to teach us. Through meditation, prayer, contemplation, and any experience that helps us to experience peace, love, joy and fulfillment, we have an opportunity to remember our Oneness with God and be restored to our original state of contentment and joy. The more we actively engage in these practices, the more we remember our Oneness with God and the more often we know peace.

 

How are you being invited to begin or deepen a daily spiritual practice? (hint, spiritual practice consists of anything that helps you to experience peace, joy, love or fulfillment).

 

 

Not My Fault

At the end of the day, all we really want as human beings is to know that we are love(d).  We will go to any lengths to insure that we are love(d) – including taking on the fears and unhealed wounds of another.  Today’s blog is about releasing ourselves from the burden of other people’s fear.

notmyfault

Natural Order

Contrary to the way our conflict and war-torn world might make us believe, human beings are naturally inclined to seek out harmony.   In fact, we are hardwired with a biological alert system which signals when we are involved in interactions that are not in support of harmony.  Human beings are also naturally inclined toward loving and peaceful actions.  It is only when we are afraid that these natural inclinations toward loving and peaceful actions in support of harmonious and loving human relations are thwarted.  The challenge is that until we learn how, we are mostly unaware of our fears.  When unaware of our own inner anxiety and fear, and without the tools to identify the source of these fears and strategies for coping with them, or even transcending them, our fears tend to come out sideways.

Fear Coming Out Sideways

In most cases, fear that is unacknowledged and unmanaged comes out sideways, typically in the form of blame.  We experience a state of unease and unaware of how to handle anxiety, we determine that it must be someone else’s fault.  I’m feeling anxious about a work deadline, but instead of identifying and working with my anxiety, I decide the unease is my boss’ fault for being such a hard-ass. Finances are a little tight and I feel anxious about this, but instead of identifying and managing my own anxiety, I lose my temper with my child when they show me they have outgrown all their clothes.  I feel burdened and stressed out by the tasks needed to get ready for my daughter’s graduation party.  My husband gets called in to work and I bite his head off.  It’s my boss’ fault, it is my child’s fault, it’s my husband’s fault.  Nope….it is nobody’s fault.  We simply feel anxious and we don’t know what to do with it.

Here’s Where it Gets Messy

It would be one thing if all we had to do was manage our own anxiety, but we are pack animals and live and work in proximity with other human beings.  Here is where things get messy.  Until OTHERS know better, they are just as likely to put their fears on us.  And until we are secure in the love that we are, we are likely to accept the blame for their fears in an effort to win their love.  We know when we are the one who is being blamed for someone else’s fear, because that biological alert system goes off and (until we know better), we feel shame, which we often quickly cover up with defensive anger.  This feeling of shame then triggers our fear of rejection. Somehow, somewhere, by some strange act of nature (or conditioning), we are SURE we are at fault – their anger, sadness, distress, etc. etc. etc. must somehow be our responsibility.  THEN we do everything we can do to please the other person in an attempt to earn back the love we are sure has now been denied us, including picking up their fear, etc. and carry it around, doing grave danger to ourselves either through self-punishing thoughts and behaviors or defensive rage.  The trick is, it is really not our fault, and the other person does not have the power to deny us of the love that is the very nature of our being.

It’s Not Our Fault

Unfortunately, the “it is not our fault” piece can’t happen until we get a handle on our own anxiety.  We can’t point out the splinter in our brother’s eye until we remove the plank from our own.  Once we understand how to identify and work with our own anxiety, then we can address the projected blame of others.  When another tries to make us responsible for their own anxiety, the first step is to do an inventory – did we actually do something wrong?  Did we make a mistake?  Did we inadvertently cause harm?  If so….immediately take responsibility for it, apologize if necessary, forgive ourselves, them move on.  If we have not done anything wrong, then the next step is to purge ourselves of the shame ignited by the other person’s fear and the resulting fear of rejection.  If we did nothing wrong….then it is not our fault, and it is not our job to carry around shame, neither is it our job to chase the other person around trying to make them happy.  Their anxiety, is their responsibility and their responsibility alone and love has nothing to do with it.  We may choose to be a source of support in helping them learn to manage their anxiety (when appropriate), but it is not our job to make them happy.  We need to be very clear on this piece.  In spite of the natural human inclination toward harmony and the resulting desire to be love(d), it is not our job to make other people happy, neither is it helpful for us to accept responsibility for their fears and other unhealed wounds.  In fact, this dynamic of projected blame and accepting this blame is a distortion of humanity’s natural desire for harmony and our natural propensity to love.  In truth, authentic harmony is not arrived at until we each take responsibility for our own fears, learn how to manage or heal them, and stop projecting them on to others.  Imagine what the world would be like if we all learned to manage our own fears, including the fear of rejection, and stopped taking on the burden of other people’s fears.

 

What is “Of God” and What is Not

This week’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service is LIVE.  The theme this week is discernment – opening to God’s truth for us and knowing how to determine if something is God’s truth or not.  Specifically, we explore the way God shows us truth through sensations in our physical bodies.  Participate in this week’s service HERE.

The Deadly Compulsion of Sloth – Virtual Church Supplement

The theme of this week’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church meditation newsletter is the spiritual compulsion of sloth.  When engaging in sloth, we refuse to use the brain God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth.  Learn more below:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Twenty-sixth Sunday Ordinary Time

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

 

Scripture Reading:

 

R/ (6a) Remember your mercies, O Lord. Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior. R/ Remember your mercies, O Lord. Remember that your compassion, O LORD, and your love are from of old. The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not; in your kindness remember me, because of your goodness, O LORD. R/ Remember your mercies, O Lord. Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, and teaches the humble his way. R/ Remember your mercies, O Lord.

 

Ps 25: 4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

 

Additional Readings:

 

Ez 18: 25-28

Phil 2: 1-11

Mt 21: 28-32

 

God is our Teacher

 

If we desire a life of peace and contentment where we experience meaning and our life has a sense of purpose, then we need go no further than to God. God is our teacher when we allow ourselves to turn from our own desires to control, to think we know the answers and to strive after what we want. God, on the other hand, knows what we need and knows the path that would be in our highest good – that which leads us to meaning, purpose and fulfillment. The answers are not in our minds, but are in the intimate connection between ourselves and God.

 

When are you tempted to believe you know what is best for you.

 

When are you tempted to strive after what you want instead of asking God for what you need?

 

Where are you turning to God for guidance and direction in your life?

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Practices – Turning to God for Answers

 

Lectio-Divina is a spiritual practice through which we allow ourselves to be open to God’s nourishment, support, guidance and inspiration in our lives. You are invited to apply Lectio-Divina to the above scripture as a way of opening yourself to God.

 

READ the above scripture slowly and prayerfully, looking for a word that jumps out at you. Receive that word or phrase as God’s guidance for you today.

 

MEDITATE on that word or phrase. Chew on it. Take it in. Reflect on what God might be saying to you through this word or phrase.

 

RESPOND to God’s guidance. Through either speaking or writing, express your thoughts and feelings about God’s guidance.

 

BE WITH your meditation experience. Either rest in silence and allow the meditation experience to find a deeper root within you, or carry it with you as you go about your day, allowing it to further inform your life.

 

 

 

Authentic Freedom

 

Sloth is the spiritual compulsion through which we refuse to use the brain God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth. Sloth arises out of the fear that we do not know our truth or our path and that we do not have access to knowledge of this truth. Sloth causes us to defer to outside perceived authorities/institutions for decisions in our lives and through sloth we are disempowered. Authentic Freedom reminds us that God alone is the foremost source of authority and that we have access to knowledge of our truth and our path through our intimate connection with God. To access knowledge of our truth and our path, we need only turn to God. believe what God is revealing to us, and then act accordingly. The key is remembering that God reveals our truth to us in the time that is in our highest good….and remembering that God’s time is not always our time.

 

Where are you tempted to defer to outside perceived authorities for guidance and direction?

 

When you do turn to God for guidance, what prevents you from acting on that guidance?

 

How can you risk believing what God is revealing to you for the sake of contentment and joy in your life?

 

 

Superhero Report – Shamanic Journey

shaman

Dear Superheroes,

We had a small group last night and it was just what they needed. We participated in a Shamanic Journey through which those in attendance had an opportunity to meet their “Power Animal.”  The Power Animal will later prove to be helpful in discerning Superpowers.

 

If you were unable to make last night’s session, know that you will have another chance. Next Monday, September 29th, we will do another journey.  Those who already met their Power Animal will take the next step by asking their Power Animal a question for discernment.  Those who have not met their  Power Animal, will take their first journey to do so.

 

Looking forward to seeing you all next Monday, September 29th at 6:30 for the Superhero Academy. Please note that a second weekly Superhero Gathering will begin on Tuesdays 9 am – 11 am starting October 7th.  Please share this with others you know who might be available and interested in a daytime gathering.  Please also note that if you have children at home, they are more than welcome to come along.

 

Love,

Lauri

To learn more about the Superhero Academy, click HERE. 

The Cost of Midlife

Reader, accountant and financial planner, Daisy Barton has been generous enough to share her resources with my readers.  Daisy developed an info-graphic on the cost of midlife.  Check it out here, http://www.accounting-degree.org/midlife-crisis/ and then please explore her other amazing services.  Thank you Daisy for sharing your wisdom with my readers!

Love,

Lauri