Archive for the ‘Kay Stroud’ Category

You can support diversity without fear   Leave a comment

“Scientists have made a powerful discovery that appears able to improve everyone’s life. Reports indicate it works on individuals, families, communities, economies, and nations. Interestingly, it appears that too little of this substance may explain the coarsening of language and the hardening of hearts so evident in politics and the media. Lack of it also might be responsible for everything from substance abuse to the anxiety many people say they feel despite the unprecedented security, better health, and affluence the world is experiencing. And here’s the kicker: It’s free, it’s abundant, and you can’t overdose on it.” (John Yemma, Christian Science Monitor)

And the often disregarded, but indispensable substance?

Brotherly love!

Evidence of this love is discovered in quiet acts of empathy and encouragement demonstrated by caring people from all walks of life. For instance, the mature gent in the queue at the supermarket checkout who steps up to pay the balance for the mother of two pre-schoolers who is caught short. Or the young female social media whiz who creates social change through her dedication to affirming the good while gently dismantling prejudice.

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Then there’s the hospice chaplain offering simple words of comfort and walking a patient or family member through a process that aims to help them find meaning according to their own faith, or no faith.

Brotherly love, you could say, is at the heart of chaplaincy, pastoral care and spiritual services. But chaplains are not alone in wondering how extensively they need to demonstrate that care.

That was the question asked at last year’s Spiritual Care Australia Conference. Practitioners representing the world’s major faith traditions, as well as many others, who work at the coalface in hospitals, hospices and prisons came together to grow in their understanding of how best to meet the needs of the diverse groups of people they encounter day-to-day, and to better relate to them and celebrate them.

Just as the broader community are questioning stereotypes and thinking differently about ethnicity, culture, faith, race, nationality, skin colour, age, sexuality and gender, spiritual carers are also challenged by new paradigms. Armed with a similar acknowledgement of a higher power as man’s common source, these carers have something in their toolbox that can help them prayerfully reconsider sincerely held beliefs that might prevent them from embracing diversity wholeheartedly.

In the Christian faith, diversity is championed by its followers. “Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:” (I Corinthians, The Message)

Hearing the heart-felt stories of individuals representing the transgender, LGBTI community, as well as Multifaith and multicultural communities, greatly enhanced my empathy and compassion for those in the community who have different stories to tell.

In the wider community we may well seem to be different—by reason of race, gender, culture, nationality. But this is a limited view of how to see ourselves and others, when we judge identity from a predominantly material perspective. Beyond that, I’ve learned, we each have a spiritual sense through which we can more deeply feel and experience kinship with others as the offspring of the multifaceted, divine Spirit, and not formed after the pattern of mortal personality, passion and tribalism (as explained in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures).

Divine qualities and ideas are as infinite as their divine Source and so it stands to reason that they can be expressed in an endless variety of ways; yet never deviating from Spirit’s pure and good nature. In fact, we can’t help but express kindness, forgiveness and respect to everyone, as we learn that each individual uniquely reflects divine Love itself. And governed by this Love, we aren’t just safe in relation to one another; we can welcome ever more constructive and beautiful relationships with a broader array of fellow citizens.

The brotherly regard that can be offered at the supermarket, on social media or in the sickroom might best follow the principles of interfaith dialogue: to love our neighbor, regardless of their faith…culture… race…gender practices, and to build not just tolerant relationships, but respectful ones.

The writer of this article, Kay Stroud is working for the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Northern-Eastern Australia. More from this writer: www.health4thinkers.com

This article was first published on the Sunshine Coast Daily.

Easter Reminds Us that Religious Values Can Benefit Society in More Ways than Have Yet Been Explored   Leave a comment

shutterstock_72790753We love to celebrate Easter.  And it’s not just the chocolate eggs, feasting and four-day weekend many of us enjoy.  There’s a national feeling of entitlement about this holiday.  Taking quality time to enjoy our “promised land” is as much a part of our collective psyche as is our propensity to forthrightness and our “she’ll be right” attitude.

Quaint as this may sound, the sense of being part of this wonderful country, which has historically upheld democracy, law and order, freedom of speech and religion, and equal access to opportunity, is integral to who we are.  Although we’re currently experiencing challenging repercussions from the overturning of some outdated attitudes about ourselves and our environment, these guiding principles continue to be borne out in our acceptance and mutual respect for people of every race, culture and religion.

To illustrate how this is evolving, a few weeks ago I sat at a table between an old friend, who is a Buddhist nun, and a Muslim Imam, who became a new friend.  Around the table were also Christians of several denominations, and men and women from the Jewish, Hindu and Baha’i faith communities.  We had come together at Parliament House, Sydney, under the auspices of APRO (the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations), which comprises national representatives from the various faith communities in Australia, to discuss the benefits of religion and its key values to secular society.

We’d been set the task to identify shared values or ideals embraced by our own faith traditions, which, if employed more widely by individuals, groups and governments to tackle issues, could have a real bearing on the progress of society in measurable ways and help heal its divisions.

We discussed how these spiritual values profoundly influence and enter the minutiae of the lives of people of faith.

For instance, participants told of how they feel compelled to practise honesty and equity over seeking unfair business or personal profits as they obey the Golden Rule, doing unto others as they would want others to do to them.  They shared how religious values teach non-partisanship rather than taking sides; how their beliefs give them strength to more often choose spirituality over sensuality, brotherly love over self-interest, and humility over self-promotion.  We found we each had experienced more peace in our lives as an open-minded approach that trusts in a higher power was adopted, rather than letting fear or outrage manipulate our actions.  And we collectively acknowledged that when we cherish the value of forgiveness, we promote healing.

While these values can’t be co-opted by any one group, religious or not, there is tremendous consequence in championing their utilisation by society in general.

Consider how these kinds of spiritual values could practically assist construction of the budget, social services policy or our asylum-seeker program.

The forum identified the need for increased interfaith dialogue and willingness to engage with secular society and institutions.  Many of us went away with a deep desire to examine our own faith traditions and practices, and to root out evidence of intolerance, discrimination or prejudice.

My Christian faith reveals that the overarching need for individuals and for societies is “the fruit of the Spirit” found in “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” as St Paul discovered.  When we seek these first, ideas that meet our current need will be revealed, as my recent experience illustrates.

After weeks of searching, I’d settled on the perfect new home; it ticked all the boxes.  The thing was, it would cost every dollar we had and much more, so my husband was not keen to proceed.  Tension was escalating between us, as circumstances dictated that a decision be made over the upcoming weekend.  Taking a moment to acknowledge a higher power as governing, it struck me that a solution that benefitted us both equally could only appear as I ditched the general belief in conflicting minds and personal agendas.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Christian reformer, Mary Baker Eddy, explains the science of this changed perspective: “When we realize that there is one Mind, the divine law of loving our neighbor as ourselves is unfolded; whereas a belief in many ruling minds hinders man’s normal drift towards the one Mind, one God, and leads human thought into opposite channels where selfishness reigns.”

Previous experiences I’d had where solutions resulted from a similar spiritual approach meant that I was not really surprised when a new home came on the market that day in the right area and at the right price. The agent met us there within the hour.  My husband and I were both moved – as if we had one Mind – to decide there and then to purchase it.  I was in awe of the power of humility and patience.

As a Christian Scientist, Easter speaks to me of Jesus, our great example; of a life that expresses God and enfolds everyone in honesty, love, humility, patience, healing.

This article was contributed by Kay Stroud who writes about the connection between consciousness, spirituality and health, and trends in that field.  She practices Christian Science healing www.health4thinkers.com

 

Clearing up “fake news” on every front   Leave a comment

fake newsThe recent disclosures about “fake news” in the media illustrate that we need to be more alert than ever to discern if what’s being said is fact or fiction.

We’re actively seeking truth, rather than blindly accepting everything we hear or read as fact. Even in the smallest of affairs, the power and effect of honesty are felt and appreciated.

Honesty is not only desirable in our dealings, it’s also linked to better health. Research* suggests that frequent lying, deceit, fabrication, or misrepresentation of the truth in our lives or in our conversations – or even accepting “fake news” as truth – can have unexpected ramifications, leading to stress and chronic pessimism.

One study at a university found that lying and cheating were common and even became quite acceptable as fellow-students were also seen to be lying and cheating. Furthermore, behavioural scientist, Professor Dan Ariely from Duke University, postulates* that we all lie to some degree, with rationalisations for our actions including the desire to look clever or cooler to others (to be the person we wish we were) or to obtain some reward.

However, in the study, cheating decreased dramatically when participants were asked to swear on the Bible or sign an honour code, or try to list the Ten Commandments before the test. Then, not one cheated!

The results suggest that, when the presence of a higher power is brought to bear on the situation, it spurs us to identify ourselves with the truthful behaviours we associate with divinity. And, this, lifts us out of poor behaviours.

Our better nature is evidently detectable despite the “alternative facts” arguing how flawed we are. When reminded of our diviner nature, our innate honesty and goodness quite naturally take precedence.

The “fake news” phenomenon is not unique to this period in history. The practice of accepting those “alternative facts,” and acting on them to our detriment, has been around since before the Adam and Eve story was first conceived; and, some surmise, is the basis for it. The allegory presents man “as mutable and mortal, – as having broken away from Deity and as revolving in an orbit of his own,” explains Christian reformer, Mary Baker Eddy.

“Spiritually followed, the book of Genesis is the history of the untrue image of God, named a sinful mortal. This deflection of being, rightly viewed, serves to suggest the proper reflection of God and the spiritual actuality of man, as given in the first chapter of Genesis.” Eddy saw that identifying the true record of creation is paramount to understanding our real nature. “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good…”; it was honest and upright.

Having their origin in God, in Truth itself, these attributes are beyond human goodness. When claimed as ours, they give us dominion and heal what is not true or good in our lives – our poor behaviours, as well as our sick bodies.

When problems seem insurmountable, we’re basing our assessment on the fable that we can be separated from good, or God. That belief is literally and figuratively “post-truth.”

There was a time when I faced what seemed to be an insurmountable problem at work. I was appointed to a new role with managerial responsibilities in a large organisation, which also included working on a project with a team of other managers. Unhappily for me, one of them treated me with utter contempt in this new role, as she believed I was less than qualified and the appointment process had lacked integrity.

Feeling resentful wasn’t helping me or the situation, nor were efforts to try to prove myself. Events compelled me to turn from the Adam-dream outlook: meaning that every time I saw her or thought about her I worked hard to identify her divine nature; her honesty, integrity and kindness. It became no longer credible that meanness or prejudice could be part of this lady, or that I could be a victim of misunderstanding.

Gradually, she responded to my quiet effort to “see” what was true about us: her behaviour towards me changed so that there was no more friction, and we ended up having a respectful and harmonious working relationship over several years.

If we each learn how to be more spiritually discerning, we can prevent a loss of trust in the wider society. We won’t buy into fake news or images about colleagues, family, journalists and politicians; or, be tempted to copy them.

Research into lying: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/08/20/how-lying-affects-your-health

Video: (Dis)honesty-the truth about lies: http://netflixaustralia.org/movies/dishonesty-the-truth-about-lies/

This article was contributed by Kay Stroud, a life-long Christian Scientist, who is a freelance writer focussing on the undeniable connection between our thinking and our experience including our health.  She writes for metropolitan and regional news media throughout Australia and beyond, and is a regular contributor to Australia’s national forum, Online Opinion, and the APN regional network in Northern NSW and Queensland.

You can follow her blog at www.health4thinkers.com

or follow her on twitter:  www.twitter.com/KayJStroud

Posted March 29, 2017 by cscanberra in Kay Stroud, Thought, Values

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Your 12 Steps to a Stress-Free Christmas   1 comment

dreamstime_3642401. Start with stillness.  There is always so much to be done before Christmas, so before starting go somewhere quiet to gain a sense of poise.  It might be your greatest gift to family and friends, as well as fellow workers, shoppers and shop assistants.  “Be the calm you want to see!”

2. Let love lead you.  Take opportunities to spread seasonal “peace and goodwill”.  Reordering priorities to do everything with intentional love can bring a sense of calmness and control, allowing you to get everything done more smoothly.

3. Value family and friends.  As you sign, seal and send your Christmas cards (via email or snail-mail) treat each one as an opportunity to value the person you are sending it to.

4. Be kind to yourself and others.  Research shows kindness is good for your health.  So saying sorry, no matter who causes the collision, might be the way to negotiate crowded streets, transport and busy shopping centres.

5. Shop ethically.  “Treat others as you would like to be treated” (the Golden Rule) could translate to “love the Christmas crowds as you would want them to love you.”

6. Embrace spontaneity.  The need to balance work, domestic duties and social activities is always more acute at Christmas time.  Keeping an open mind and making room for flexibility as each day unfolds reduces stress and increases joy.

7. Be grateful.  Scientists are accumulating evidence which verifies what spiritual thinkers would affirm from experience: a gratitude attitude can reduce anxiety and depression.

8. Enjoy yourself.  If you’re full of gratitude and exuding calmness and kindness why shouldn’t you cruise happily towards the kind of Christmas you enjoy?  Appreciate the festive lights.  Share in the growing anticipation of your children.  Meditate on the Christmas story and let the message inspire you.

9. But don’t forget others.  For some reason the season of goodwill seems to bring out the worst in many people’s experience.  Loneliness feels more lonely.  Alcoholism seems to be more obvious.  Domestic tensions can spiral.  Spare a prayer for those in need and, when you can, make a difference in practical ways.  The message of Christmas is that peace and goodwill are good for your health.

10. Peace interludes.  Pausing for moments of mental stillness can make all the difference, even transform your day.  Be honestly aware of your thoughts and when they start going round in circles or racing in a wrong direction steer them back to that place of spiritual poise.  “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.” (Mary Baker Eddy)

11. Forgive even if you can’t forget.  It’s amazing how long family feuds and broken friendships can last if we’re not careful.  The run-up to Christmas offers an opportunity to review and revise our mental list of grievances before they ruin our holiday break or, even worse, our health.  The Mayo Clinic reports that forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.  We can’t always change others.  But we can change how we think about them and act towards them.

12. Give beyond the gifts.  And finally it’s Christmas day.  Does it need to be religious?  Not necessarily.  But there is a reason to celebrate Jesus.  One way to look at his life is that he showed us how the qualities we choose to express can improve our experience and touch our loved ones and neighbours.

This article is shared by local writer and practitioner of Christian Science, Kay Stroud, who teams with Tony Lobl for this Christmas inspiration. Kay blogs for APN about the relationship between thought, spirituality and health, and trends in that field www.health4thinkers.com

How to Achieve a Win-Win Election 2016   Leave a comment

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There are complaints that the campaigns of the leaders of the two major parties in our upcoming Australian federal election have been downright dull.

But could that be something to be grateful for?

While there have been some negative comments towards other’s policies, let’s hope that every candidate keeps the negativity to a minimum, especially personal criticisms.

Perhaps surprisingly, that’s not only good for the sake of civil discourse, science says it’s also good for the candidates.

study published in The Journal of Politics notes that “there is no consistent evidence in the research literature that negative political campaigning ‘works.’”  The report goes on to say, “While attacks probably do undermine evaluations of the candidates they target…they usually bring evaluations of the attackers down even more.”  A lose-lose situation for all concerned.

The mood of the public always dips during negative political campaigns.  Normal people with the best of motives can get caught up in the anxiety and anger of opposing sides.

There’s substantial research that suggests political sledging and nastiness can cause emotional extremes and unpleasant physical symptoms.   And the worse the negative campaign becomes, the more anxiety and illness may be experienced.

It seems that a more effective political campaign is built on honesty.  Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and a leading thinker on the connection between spirituality and experience wrote in her primary work, Science and Health: “Honesty is spiritual power,” a viewpoint that brings health and harmony to all aspects of our lives and the world around us.  “Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help” (p453) – forfeits success, peace and happiness.

Irrespective of our beliefs, most of us seek morally upright and harmonious government.

Apart from the obvious benefits to the electorate of honest politicians, another research study discovered that honesty is good for the politician too – the less people lie, the better they feel, both mentally and physically.

The constant barrage of human opinions also seems to play an exaggerated role during the lead up to an election.  We’d be better off if we rejected the kind of thinking that takes offense at harsh opinions or perspectives, or reacts in fear that they can harm us or our country.

Disciplining our own thought, refusing to dwell on another’s personality or personal opinions and their amplification in the media, is possible and will add to our continued wellbeing.

A spirit of fair play suggests that we give candidates space to have their say, and then it’s our task to discern their motives and look at their record.

For me, as a Christian, that means prayerfully listening for and being guided by universal, divine intelligence and wisdom that discerns the very contents of each heart.

I’d have to say that I’ve found it to be quite a challenge to set aside my past allegiances or political inclinations and to open-mindedly vote, according to the above guidelines, for the individual who I feel will do the most good for the electorate at any particular time.

As a Christian Scientist, specifically, I think we can aim for a win-win result in the 2016 elections, whatever our political stance, by considering this view expounded by Eddy:

“We should remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills, opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves; that each person has a different history, constitution, culture, character, from all the rest; that human life is the work, the play, the ceaseless action and reaction upon each other of these different atoms. Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not wear upon our sensibilities; with an equanimity so settled that no passing breath nor accidental disturbance shall agitate or ruffle it; with a charity broad enough to cover the whole world’s evil, and sweet enough to neutralize what is bitter in it…” (Miscellaneous Writings p224, Mary Baker Eddy).

This article was contributed by Kay Stroud, a life-long Christian Scientist, who is a freelance writer focussing on the undeniable connection between our thinking and our experience including our health.  She writes for metropolitan and regional news media throughout Australia and beyond, and is a regular contributor to Australia’s national forum, Online Opinion, and the APN regional network in Northern NSW and Queensland.

You can follow her blog at www.health4thinkers.com

or follow her on twitter:  www.twitter.com/KayJStroud

Why We Need to Rethink Ageing   Leave a comment

shutterstock_174024581Today’s shift in thought concerning seniors’ capabilities was pre-empted by spiritual thinker, Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote more than a century ago about “the everlasting grandeur and immortality of development, power, and prestige” which are part of our spiritual being.

These days we hear of Australians in their 80s and older, who compete in major sports events.  And many who are still working into their 70s, 80s and 90s, their occupations varying from cloakroom attendant to running a cancer research centre.

It’s almost as if they think they might live forever!

And why not!  Laugh if you will, but this idea of the impact of what we expect bears a little more consideration It was found in a study that “how we think about ageing” has a greater impact on our longevity than do gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness or how healthy we are.

It couldn’t be a better time for all generations to think more deeply about how perceptions of ageing can have an impact on their health and longevity.  Too many jokes about granny and her walker might just shorten your own life span.

Perhaps we should instead celebrate senior achievers and champion both their accomplishments and the qualities they express.  This may lengthen our lives by planting the idea that their victories over age will be just as attainable for ourselves!

A Journal of Physiology study found, “positive self-perceptions can prolong life expectancy.  Expectations about the inevitability of physical decline with advancing years may be incorrect and that how we age is, to a large degree, up to us.”

If it’s up to us, why not envisage for your older self a life of volunteering or enthusiastic service, increased tolerance and humour, a wealth of experience and the wisdom to tackle any problem.  Cherishing this hope at all ages will tend to lessen any inclination to belittle the elderly.

And understanding why we have grounds for such hope can help avert the wave of panic that might otherwise threaten to wash over us in our 40s or 50s in response to the threat of ageing, or when we come face to face with our own mortality as a result of the loss of a close loved one.

Neurologist Dr Peter Whitehouse, author of the thought-provoking book The Myth of Alzheimer’s,” adds a frequently overlooked aspect to successful ageing.  He describes ageing as our “unique ability to grow spiritually and mentally.”

The way I see it, such spiritual growth is key.  I’ve found that a developing consciousness of our present spiritual nature – made in the “image and likeness of God”, as the Bible puts it – helps to extinguish fears about ageing that grow out of a more material sense of ourselves.

I like how the Bible corroborates the scientific approach of needing to change our expectations, but points to a deeper means for doing so than positive thinking.  It says, “The Spirit alone gives eternal life.  Human effort accomplishes nothing.” (John 6:63)

As we understand this, we might be less enticed by the latest body-focussed fads to reverse the ageing process.

Eddy’s summation in Science and Health gives practical advice, “Life and goodness are immortal.  Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight.”

Time to review your expectations for the future?

This article was submitted by Kay Stroud who is a life-long Christian Scientist and a writer drawing connections between consciousness, spirituality and health, and trends in that field. 

Follow her blog at www.health4thinkers.com

or follow her on twitter at:  www.twitter.com/KayJStroud

 

The Secret to Trouble-Free Travel   Leave a comment

$ dreamstime_3175501The Festive Season is kicking in once again and many are anticipating travelling for Christmas holidays and to visit family.

But it won’t always be plain sailing! Whether it’s by coach, train, plane or car we are affected by the actions of others.

I’ve had my fair share of travel difficulties over the years, missing interstate meetings because of flight delays, standing in long queues, losing luggage, battling with tired children, being stuck in traffic jams and losing my patience on more than one occasion.

However, although travelling can be frustrating at times, I’m finding there are always affirmative, upbeat things to notice: the excited faces of children, the courtesy of others, the patience of parents and travel staff.

And I’m increasingly realising that the presence of good in human affairs is not something that happens by mere accident, in a universe of chance. It is actually evidence that the underlying power that governs the universe is Love.

On a recent interstate short-break I was delighted and thankful not to experience a single hold-up, flight delay, argument or problem of any description.

Had I done something differently?

Yes, I feel I had. The truth is that I’m learning the more I consciously acknowledge the power of divine Love, governing me and everyone, the more harmony I experience. And that is what I had been doing on this trip – acknowledging and understanding that good governs in my life – not because of any personal entitlement, but because of the availability of that same abundant good for everyone.

I have also been learning that whenever we glimpse the truth about man’s divine nature, we have, in effect felt the Christ – “the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men…” – as spiritual thought-leader Mary Baker Eddy defines the Christ in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

That voice speaks to everyone, and at all times of the year. When we have done the right thing instead of the wrong, we have been directed by the Christ. When we have been patient instead of irritable, we have conceded to the dynamism of the Christ. When we have made a sound choice among several tempting options we have listened to the Christ and we have seen the true love that’s characteristic of Christianity in action. (See The love and dynamism of the Christ, by Geoffrey Barratt.)

During the Christmas Season many of us revisit the life of Jesus, who so perfectly demonstrated this power of the Christ to bring out harmony in our lives. The wonder of his virgin birth was not an isolated miracle but evidence of a spiritual law in operation that was confirmed by the healing works that animated his adult life. Today, more and more people are recognising that his life, although unique and especially blessed, points to a way of living and thinking that’s actually available to each of us.

Truly supranational, the message of the Christ in Jesus’ words was to be “of one mind,” “love your enemies,” “bless them that curse you,” and realise “the kingdom of God is within you” and within all.

From this viewpoint, we can claim that spiritual nature Jesus showed us as our own true nature, and that of every man, woman and child that we meet in our travels this Christmas.

There’s actually no secret to trouble-free travel. It may largely depend on how we think of ourselves and others.

 

This article was submitted by Kay Stroud who is a health writer drawing connections between consciousness, spirituality and health, and trends in that field. Blogs at www.health4thinkers.com

FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER www.twitter.com/KayJStroud

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