Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Embrace life changes! It’s good for your health.   Leave a comment

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Like the weather, some changes in life are unpredictable. They can be surprising, unforeseen – like suddenly being promoted at work, or becoming a parent for the first time. While a life-changing event can be exciting, others can be hard to cope with – especially if they’re unexpectedly thrust upon you. One way to deal with stormy life-changing events, is to change up one’s thinking, take positive action and embrace life changes! Doing so is good for your health.

EMBRACE CHANGE

When something you’ve loved is snatched away, feelings of hurt and disappointment can rain down upon you. You wonder how to carry on. When this happens, it’s time to use the umbrella of spiritual-type thinking to shelter your heart, restore peace of mind and move you forward to happiness and healing.

TIPS:

Rather than standing under the grey clouds of disappointment and discouragement, lift up your thinking. Have courage. Embrace the change. Open your heart and welcome the good that lies ahead.

– Don’t begrudge the experience of a life change. Instead, focus on what you’ve gained, rather than what you’ve been forced to give up.

– Remember with thankfulness all that you’ve achieved, and what you can still do, and be.

– Realize that change doesn’t end things. Look past any unhappiness to the new opportunities that lie ahead. Change can be a stepping-stone to fresh prospects.

– Weather a stormy life-change. Be brave. Work on, and await the outcome. You can “steer safely amid the storm”. Mary Baker Eddy – Science and Health p.67

– Be encouraged, strengthened and reassured. You have within you the spiritual qualities of buoyancy, adaptability, and resilience. You will bounce back. You’ve been created to be mentally and emotionally strong. You can handle changed circumstances with grace and poise, and be triumphant.

– Let this poem comfort and help you embrace life changes. You’ll find it’s good for your health.

“In heavenly Love abiding, No change my heart shall fear; And safe is such confiding, For nothing changes here. The storm may roar without me, My heart may low be laid; But God [divine Love] is round about me, And can I be dismayed?

Green pastures are before me, Which yet I have not seen; Bright skies will soon be o’er me, Where darkest clouds have been. My hope I cannot measure, My path in life is free; My Father has my treasure, And He will walk with me.” Anna L. WaringIn heavenly love abiding.

 

ABOUT THE EXPERT:

Beverly Goldsmith writes on the connection between spirituality and health and is a Practitioner and Teacher of Christian Science healing. Twitter: @GoldsmithBev

Free from Anxiety   Leave a comment

Young Woman Reading and Studying.The Christian Science Church – a part of the Canberra community.  Members share testimonies and talk about their lives as Christian Scientists. 

This article, Free from Anxiety, is by Jen who is a member of the Christian Science Church in Canberra.  She describes how a change of thinking freed her from constant anxiety and gave her a sense of peace and harmony.

I love being a Christian Scientist, and diving deep into health, spirituality and identity, but it can be hard challenging ideas that are accepted as fact by the wider community.  Spiritual healing is seen as impractical and ineffective, and it is rare that I tell people that I rely on prayer when I am ill or injured. This is because it is assumed that I pray to a God who would create me capable of being in pain and then sometimes decides to award me a miracle and heal me.

For me, God is a creative, spiritual force that is completely good.   As Christian Scientists, we strive to look past sin, suffering and disease, and understand ourselves as primarily spiritual- as the representation of a higher creative power.  In asserting our spiritual identities, and understanding a higher creation, we unburden ourselves of thoughts that limit us to be inherently flawed and suffering.  As Mary Baker Eddy puts it, ‘Christian Science is the law of Truth, that heals the sick on the basis of the One Mind, Or God’ (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 482).  Instead of accepting that there is something ‘wrong’ with me, I turn my mind to spiritual truths, namely that I am primarily spiritual and free from ideas of pain or suffering.

I was healed from anxiety this year, and have felt a lightness and freedom.  I had accepted a very limited view of myself – I focused on the negatives in my life, and tried to physically control the environment around me to feel safe and secure in myself.  This started with my tendency to hide parts of myself that I feared other people would reject, and did everything I could to meet the expectations of those around me in school, during my gap year and later at university.  This obsession with control intensified when I lived in Indonesia, where I was constantly harassed by men in the streets and was actually assaulted at one point during my time there.  I learned to prepare for the worst case scenario, and was uptight and fearful.  This affected my personal life – I was scared that people would find out things about me that they might disapprove of, and I was very distrustful of new people, especially men.

I had a healing when I realised that the opposite of anxiety is to expect good.  This did not mean putting my head in the sand and pretending that nothing was wrong, but rather turning away from a limited understanding of myself and the world and focusing on spiritual facts.  A God that is all good could not create me fearful and vulnerable, and has not assigned me a future of fear and negativity in order to ‘test’ me.  Slowly, I concentrated on correcting fearful thoughts with an expectation of good, and gauging whether ideas coming to me were affirming my identity as a spiritual being or sending me into a negative spiral.  The strength I gained by trusting God has led me to be more open with friends and family, to forgive the men in Indonesia who seemed to threaten my safety, and to be relaxed in accepting opportunities that have opened up a whole new world for me.  I am so grateful for my background in Christian Science, and have used it as a practical tool in gaining peace and harmony in my everyday life.

To read more testimonies of healing shared by members of the Christian Science Church in Canberra click on the archive headings on the left for May and June 2016.

What it Means to Me to be a Christian Scientist   Leave a comment

The Christian Science Church – a part of the Canberra community.  Members share testimonies and talk about their lives as Christian Scientists. 

Playing GuitarMy name is Jen and I am a member of the Christian Science Church in Canberra.  I love learning about other people’s religions – I hope that some of you will love learning about mine.

Although Christian Science is very much based on what Jesus taught us, I often describe it to atheist and agnostic friends as a blend of Buddhism and Quantum Physics.  This is because it has a focus on overcoming a material view of the world, and understanding God as a spiritual life force.  It also presents us with a set of rules that we can use to understand God and His relation to man:  spiritual laws that are the basis of reality.

So what does this mean for me, as a Christian Scientist?  It means that I work every day to bring spirituality into my experience, and have seen healing as a result.  I lived in Indonesia for a year and attracted a lot of attention as a fair-haired, blue-eyed foreigner.  I developed anxiety during my time there due to the constant staring, catcalling and sexual harassment.  When I came home to Australia, I struggled to shake the anxiety, which made me incredibly tense, neurotic and irritable.  It took me a couple of years of prayer to overcome my anxiety:  it was clear that I was safe, but I was facing mental suggestions that I should hold onto fear to protect myself.

I had the choice of turning to a powerful God who created me free of fear, to a God who made me feel unsafe and fearful, or to no God at all.  I chose the first, as praying to know that I am the spiritual creation of a loving God has brought me healing in the past.  I had a major light-bulb moment in this case when I realized that the opposite of anxiety is expecting good.  I replaced thoughts of fear and anxiety with thoughts of safety and optimism, knowing that an All-Powerful God would always protect His creation.  This allowed me to free my thought from fear, and I have felt relaxed and protected ever since.

This is a testimony of how I understand God and myself, and also of how I use Christian Science prayer in facing the challenges in my life.  I use the laws that Jesus taught us to overcome limited views of myself, and rid myself of fear in living a peaceful life.

Peace of Mind Restored   Leave a comment

The Christian Science Church – a part of the Canberra community.  Members share testimonies and talk about their lives as Christian Scientists. 

$ dreamstime_6359829This article, Peace of Mind Restored, is shared anonymously by a member of the Christian Science Church in Canberra.  In it the writer tells of his triumph over a debilitating medically diagnosed mental health condition.

As with many others it has been a journey for me to find, accept and gain an understanding of Christian Science.

For almost ten years I have relied entirely on Christian Science to overcome all medical problems. No pills, medicines or drugs of any kind – purely and only Christian Science.

All my life prior to this period I had relied on traditional medicines and doctors.  I had been diagnosed with manic depression and mild schizophrenia with associated suicidal thoughts and tendencies.  General practitioners, psychiatrists and psychologists had been consulted.  I had close to two decades of changing medications and altering dosages, and yet nothing really changed.  Homeopathy and hypnosis had even been tried.  I just thought this was the way it was and would continue to be.

After an attempted suicide (obviously unsuccessful) I had a stint in hospital and it was there that an event occurred that changed my life:  The psychiatrist at the hospital told my wife, ‘there is nothing we can do to stop the suicide attempts; he will do it again; one day he will succeed’.  This was the turning point in my life.  I knew I had few options so I turned to Christian Science and found a firm fundamental premise upon which to expand my life.

Since turning to Christian Science and studying the text Science and Health with key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy I have been healthier both physically and mentally.  My family report that I am calmer, happier and kinder.  I can truly agree with Timothy in the Bible when he says: God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (II Timothy 1: 7).

As I said previously:  no medicines, formulas or pills for almost ten years.  The constant in this time has been Christian Science and the text, Science and Health with key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.  It was a journey to get to that point and the time was right for me.

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

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