Archive for the ‘Kay Stroud’ Category

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

Dramatic sky scenery with a mountain cross and a thinking person. A symbol of heavy inner struggles. Where to go? What do you say?We 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  Although we’re currently experiencing challenging repercussions from the overturning of some outdated attitudes about ourselves and our environment, these guiding principles continue to be borne out in our acceptance and mutual respect for people of every race,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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How to Achieve a Win-Win Election   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

Want to be Healthier? Say Thanks!   Leave a comment

shutterstock_100186745A special day for thanksgiving hasn’t really caught on in Australia yet, although other parts of the world celebrate it around this time of year. However, it may be time to consider its inclusion as part of a preventative approach to health care, because gratitude is so good for you.

In his inspiring book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, psychologist Robert Emmons cites research that found saying “thank you” measurably increases our happiness and health. He refers to an earlier study published in 2003 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that found that participants who kept weekly ‘gratitude journals’ felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the coming week. They also reported fewer physical symptoms, and lower levels of depression and stress than people who are not grateful.

I’ve noticed that gratitude is often the catalyst that brings healing into my life, too. For instance, stress and anxiety have lessened when I’ve changed a resentful attitude to being thankful for someone’s creativity, intelligence or community-mindedness; or when I’ve stopped belittling myself and been grateful instead for my unique abilities.

To feel thankful, you must consciously stop the insistent negative whirring in your head, be still and replace that negativity. 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, suggests spiritual thinker, Mary Baker Eddy in her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p261).

Like many others, I can relate to the connection between a grateful heart and a healthy body. But for me it goes even deeper than that.

As a practitioner of Christian Science, I’ve found that gratitude is more than now-and-then positive thinking or a verbal expression of thanks. To make a difference, it needs to be shown in greater patience, humility and good deeds.

As such, it forms part of a preventative approach to healthcare and becomes a natural, foundational part of life, inextricably linked to consistent health.

Could it be that we have more control over our health than previously thought? And, if so, are there other qualities of thought besides gratitude that we could and perhaps should be cultivating?

This article was contributed by Kay Stroud of Queensland. Kay is a freelance writer and researcher on the connection between spirituality and health. Her blog can be read at: http://www.health4thinkers.com/ .

If you are in Canberra on Thursday 19 November 2015 join us at 6.00 pm (corner of Macquarie and Bligh Streets, Barton) for our annual Thanksgiving Service.  Everyone is welcome.

The Essential Ingredient for Youth Mental Health   Leave a comment

$ dreamstime_5971679The years between 15-25 are frequently a time of questioning and great discovery, but like many others I found them difficult. I had to deal with chronic disease, failure in my chosen career, a persistent lack of self-worth along with indecision about an alternative career path, and loneliness.

Although never diagnosed, a psychologist would probably have called me depressed.

However, along the rugged path to recovering my childhood inner contentment I found that spiritual activities like prayer, research into some of the world’s most meaningful spiritual writings and participating in church were keeping me sane, mentally motivated, and connected to others in a nurturing environment.

The refocus on unselfish activities gave me a feeling of self-worth again and also contributed to a hopefulness that things would get better. In time, it opened up previously unknown pathways to fulfillment.

Rather than restricting me or quashing my critical thinking, my adolescent research into the spiritual nature of mental and physical health made me realise that what I needed all along was to put into daily practice a growing understanding of my radically awesome relationship to the Divine Being.

To the degree that I acknowledged it, I found that I could actually experience divine Love expressing kindness and unselfishness in me; the divine Mind reflecting intelligence and wisdom in me; the divine Life demonstrating health and wellbeing in me; and so on (ideas from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy).

Things started to go right for me again. You could say that I saw “the wilderness and desert begin to blossom as the rose”, an image so beautifully depicted in the Bible.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I ended up more consistently in the right head space with a much better view of myself – and was probably a lot more likeable, as well!

A 2008 study published in Australian Family Physician and written by Dr Craig Hassed, Faculty of Medicine at Monash University in Melbourne, reported that “Spirituality is an important determinant of physical, emotional and social health…”

When commenting on escalating trends in youth mental illness his study suggests that “there may be too little attention being given to the ‘protective factors’ against mental illness, of which, particularly for adolescents, are connectedness and having a spiritual or religious dimension to one’s life” (Hassed, The role of spirituality in medicine, 2008).

It’s heartening to learn that spirituality is acknowledged as central to youth mental health by a growing number of psychologists.

It seems to me that clinicians need to speak to the community more about the benefits of spirituality in the treatment of anxiety and depression, and not just in young people, but for everyone.

A spiritual dimension to life will undoubtedly assist you, whether you’re young or old, as you seek (and find) a better, healthier and happier you. That would be the real you!

This article, by Kay Stroud, has been published in the Sunshine Coast Daily, Lismore Northern Star and Bundaberg News Mail.  Kay is a freelance writer focussing on the undeniable connection between our thinking and our health. 

Can We Heal the Culture of Violence?   Leave a comment

$ dreamstime_6602712 - CopyThe issue of violence is prominent in our community conversations at the moment. Terrorism, drug-related violence, domestic and institutional abuse, and even road rage are insistently crying out for our attention and solutions.

Despite serious efforts over many years to prevent violence, to deal with its effects and to punish the perpetrators, there’s now general agreement that violence will continue to escalate and to propagate fear in the community until we find and treat the real causes.

Fundamental beliefs that underlie and perpetuate all kinds of violence are: that humans have an animal nature prone to competition, self-preservation and aggression; that certain brain-based dysfunctions may be the root of addiction and violence, aggravated by abuse or neglect during childhood; and that there are deeply rooted social and cultural patterns, leading to a distorted sense of manhood and womanhood, that may take generations to change.

However, there’s evidence that these beliefs may be just that …. either long-held or fairly recent beliefs that need to be revised.

Drugs and alcohol are often associated with violence. People working in the police and community services speak of how addiction and abuse reoccur from generation to generation, and there is now general realisation that special attention needs to be given to the families involved.

However, there is some progress as communities work together to fight apathy and educate each other that this cycle can indeed be broken.

A retired commanding officer in the police force shared one such approach: “…anytime I knew I was going to a call related to domestic conflict or violence I would pick up the local pastor.” Often they were able to provide a spiritual viewpoint and connection that would later solve the problem.

It is often acknowledged that recognising a man’s spiritual nature has a healing effect.

Significant psychological research studies find that spirituality is not only helpful to, but integral to mental health. This is an important point in considering individual and whole-society wellbeing.

We may need to adjust our thinking about our real nature.

Another long-held false belief will be overturned by realising that the spiritual qualities generally attributed to women – such as care for others, gentleness, forgiveness and patience – and those qualities attributed to men – such as wisdom, truthfulness, tenaciousness and strength – are innate in both men and women.

Jesus’ ability to express both the fatherhood and motherhood of the divine set the benchmark for us. And like him, we’re actually “tuned in” to hear spiritual intuitions that will prompt, direct and uplift thought, although we may choose not to listen.

Knowing that no-one can be excluded from hearing and acting on divine thoughts can help to overcome violent impulses and begin to heal the culture of violence.

A pioneer in investigating the effects of our thoughts on our health, Mary Baker Eddy, recognised this voice as the ever-appearing of “the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)

When Susannah (not her real name) moved out of home and obtained a copy of that book, she just loved the way the author described the divine power that governs the universe as Father-Mother.

Her family had suffered violence at the hand of her father for many years. To think her father could be capable of reflecting the gentle motherhood of God seemed absolutely impossible. However, she decided to stop wrestling with this idea and worked hard to try to see him as reflecting this tender divine nature; learning that he was meant to be nurturing, gentle, tender.

Susannah was listening for the divine message, which replaced the macho view of her father and other men, with this new view of men. Her thought and experiences gradually began to change.

As the weeks went by, she learned that her parents had not had a fight in months and her father was treating her mother and sister with new tenderness. Eight years on, this is still the case.

A scientific approach to thought and prayer in this way does not whitewash evil deeds; rather it exposes the mistaken beliefs and causes them to be discarded.

Further changes in thinking about her own spiritual nature, meant that Susannah no longer saw herself or her mother as survivors of mental, verbal or physical intimidation, but as well-adjusted and balanced individuals.

She had no lingering emotional scars, but had learned truly to love and see the undamageable good in herself and her mother.

As Australian of the Year and domestic violence survivor, Rosie Batty, advocates, Susannah truly took responsibility for her own life, bringing vital change to those around her in the process.

Such approaches hint at the possibilities for healing the culture of violence in ourselves and in the community.

This article was contributed by Kay Stroud, of Queensland.  Kay writes on the connection between spirituality and health.  This article has been published on 40 APN news sites, including: Sunshine Coast Daily, Toowoomba Chronicle, Lismore Northern Star, Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, Mackay Daily Mercury,Tweed Daily News, Bundaberg News Mail, Coffs Coast Advocate, Grafton Daily Examiner,Gladstone Observer, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Gympie Times, Caboolture News, Stanthorpe Border Post

Is there a daily diet that curbs perfectionism, eating disorders?   Leave a comment

 

shutterstock_125748860Four ‘trick or treaters’ knocked on our door on Halloween evening. Somewhat unprepared and surprised to experience this novelty in Australia I managed to locate a few sweet treats for each of them, and they left happily bubbling with excitement.

Was I frightened of their costumes or weird masks? Of course not. And I’m sure they didn’t believe for a moment that they’d suddenly morphed into ugly, wicked or ghoulish creatures, either.

Sometimes, though, people do put on an emotionally draining mask as they strive to feel accepted and loved. Over time they may come to accept the charade as part of themselves.

For instance, they may act out the role where they have to be the best … at everything. They can’t abide mistakes and feel it’s a badge of honour to say they’re a perfectionist. Ever in fear of failing, they may be chronic procrastinators. They don’t like themselves very much either, because they rarely live up to their own expectations.

They may be caught up in a warped view of the world that is commonly known as perfectionism.

Like many psychologists, Thomas Greenspon believes that perfectionism is more than pushing yourself to do your best to achieve a goal; it’s a reflection of an inner self mired in anxiety, where you constantly feel like an imposter. “Perfectionist people typically believe that they can never be good enough, that mistakes are signs of personal flaws, and that the only route to acceptability as a person is to be perfect,” he said.

Whatever the reason may be for that belief, at the heart of the often life-long anxiety to appear perfect is our adoption of the general belief that the human mind is full of good and bad emotions and beliefs, some of which are detrimental to mental and physical health.

However, what’s gaining wider acceptance in health research today is the degree to which the body is the servant of the mind.

Sometimes a simple shift in thought enables us to take off the imposter’s mask we may have been wearing and lift the mental weight.

Accepting a less human mind for a diviner nature that is more attuned to understanding, compassion and humility, brings with it greater confidence, better relationships and a selfless desire to contribute to the greater good.

It’s the daily diet of serene, spiritual thoughts that transforms our experience, gives us grace for each day and best feeds our famished affections, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, explains in a very practical elucidation of the Lord’s Prayer.

It’s interesting that current treatments for perfectionism are also moving to thought-based approaches such as acceptance and commitment therapy, meditation and mindfulness, even in the treatment of serious eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa that develop alongside the obsessive quest for the perfect body.

Reports estimate that 15% of Australian women between 12 and 30 years of age suffer from eating disorders at some stage in their lives. These young women (and men) who are crying out for love, acceptance and a better view of themselves, often cause untold anguish for themselves and their families, and sometimes even end their lives in the quest for the perfect body.

Julie Bell reached the point where hospitalisation for malnutrition seemed the only answer when the application of a distinctive thought-based, prayer-based approach, founded on recognition of her flawless, spiritual nature, proved “a glorious turning point”.

She experienced a shift in thought. She realised that she could take control of her own thinking, that her body was the servant and that “food did not have power to govern (her) life or (her) sense of a physical body”.

Not only healed of the eating disorder, she found that other obsessive habits that she hadn’t realised were abnormal completely fell away, as did her fear of going forward in the world.

If you’re tiring of the relentless obsessive or perfectionistic thinking about your body or successes, you may also be more than ready to focus less attention on what you eat or on your limited achievements and more on thinking outside the sensory box. Instead, pondering ideas that tenderly reassure you of your intrinsic value.

The mask of a limited, biophysical viewpoint can be frightening, but its removal will enable you to replace a daily diet of fear and anxiety with a moment-by-moment health-giving intake of love and respect for your perfect, beautiful, spiritual self. The difference will be remarkable.

This post was written by Kay Stroud who is a freelance writer focussing on the undeniable connection between our thinking and 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

Help to heal our world; conquer fanaticism   1 comment

shutterstock_111413969What I most love about my country is our general lack of fanaticism – a startling contrast to recent high-profile instances of it here and elsewhere. I started thinking about this subject before the terrorism events in Paris, but those events have made dealing with fanatical thinking seem even more imperative.

A fanatic expresses excessive, irrational zeal. Far from taking an intelligent and well-informed stance on an issue, their passion and manic obsession with a cause or way of doing things colour their decision-making ability negatively.

Fanaticism about a political or religious philosophy that makes us feel superior; holding obsessively to a non-proven hypothesis; belief that there is only one way to play football and there’s a single worthy team; prejudice about what foods we should eat and the best way to cultivate them; or uncompromising belief that we only need to attend to the physical body to be healthy, are all too common habits that lead us down a slippery slope of intolerance. Fanatical beliefs are nearly always built on fear.

A red flag should go up if we find ourselves extremely sensitive about our viewpoint or hating anyone who opposes it.

Alternatively, common sense based on a positive stance, sure of a solution becoming apparent that will be good for everyone, is a better viewpoint. This demeanour is not just a good-old Aussie “she’ll be right” attitude, but grows out of a well-informed and caring approach to the world.

This is a spiritual approach that begins with ourselves – that is, feeling and accepting the love that comes from our divine source. It’s so much easier to love, when we’re feeling loved.

What will help the world through this current fermentation is our individual commitment to choosing love and understanding over hate and apathy.

I find it’s useful to ask myself: could I be a little more thoughtful and kinder with my comments? I’d have to confess that the answer is usually, “well, maybe.”

Try this scenario. If you could go back in time, would you choose to continually belittle our ancestors’ beliefs about a flat earth? Wouldn’t you instead gently nurture and point out bridges of understanding to help them comprehend the reality?

American Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, president of the Minaret of Freedom Institute was interviewed about possible motives for the killings at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Married to a Christian, Mr Ahmad holds a unique perspective on cross-cultural understanding (or misunderstandings) between Muslims and non-Muslims. He pointed out, “…it is one thing to make a joke about a rich man or a powerful man who slips and falls. It is something entirely different and not funny to make a joke about your poor old grandmother slipping and falling. To the Muslim people, jokes and cartoons about the faith of an oppressed people are not funny. They hurt.”

We all know how humiliation hurts, and most of us at some time have been down the road of wanting to lash out at a perceived enemy.

So, if we can empathise, we can forgive and work towards healing our world.

Academics and experienced change-managers in the field of terrorism psychology are stepping forward this week to share with the world some common patterns for success in de-radicalising regimes and terrorists. (http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/0525/Are-terrorists-beyond-redemption)

Surprisingly, these don’t include retribution but active, solution-based change-management, such as recognizing the needs of jihadists; finding them vocational education, jobs and even wives; and, recognizing the importance of their social network (http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/11/05/the-3-step-guide-to-de-radicalizing-jihadists/)

Whether or not you have a direct hand in these compassionate measures, you can begin to make a difference in the health of our wonderfully promising world by de-radicalising your own thinking.

Utilise this good advice to start the healing movement within your own circle:
•  “Hate no one; for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and kills at last…
•  If you have been badly wronged, forgive and forget…
•  Never return evil for evil;
•  and, above all, do not fancy that you have been wronged when you have not been.” (Mary Baker Eddy)

None of us have all the answers to the world’s problems right now, but today you can at least be a law to yourself to give up any fanatical beliefs you may be harbouring. This self-regulating action is also good for your stress levels, heart, immune system and much more.

This article is by Kay Stroud.  Her articles on the link between consciousness, spirituality and health appear regularly in APN print and online publications. For more information on these trends or answers to questions about Christian Science visit www.health4thinkers.com

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