Archive for the ‘Kay Stroud’ Tag

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  Although we’re currently experiencing challenging repercussions from the overturning of some outdated attitudes about ourselves and our environment, these guiding principles continue to be borne out in our acceptance and mutual respect for people of every race,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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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

Red Wine No Special Properties, but Spirituality Health-Promoting   Leave a comment

shutterstock_172479914 (1)Recently the Courier-Mail ran a story (Red repudiated to the last drop) quoting the national Alcohol Policy Coalition as challenging the ‘myth’ of the health benefits of drinking alcohol, and in particular red wine.

The chief executive of the Victorian Heart Foundation, Kathy Bell, said it did not recommend red wine or other alcoholic drinks to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease, cancer or liver cirrhosis.  “After reviewing all the scientific evidence, it appears any positive effects of alcohol in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease have been hugely overestimated,” she said. “In particular, red wine has no special protective qualities.” The coalition cites studies finding that the harms from alcohol are likely to outweigh any benefits.

Some people may be thinking that these sorts of results from current scientific research are slowly chipping away at hope of ever finding that ‘miracle’ chemical or food. And some who had supreme confidence in the revolutionary discoveries of science may also be feeling disappointed, as contradictory research findings about foods abound. While the use of alcohol can never be beneficial (from either a health or behavioural perspective), a normal healthy and balanced diet would seem to make sense.

Around 2,000 years ago Christ Jesus healed the sick without the use of hygiene or promoting the health-giving properties of food or drink. In direct contradiction to the standard practice of the Jews at that time, he told his disciples and the hundreds of bystanders “I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink;” (Luke 12:22)

But he didn’t leave it there. He suggested that they and we need to seek a more spiritual view (he called it the ‘kingdom of God’ where cooperation, gentleness, forgiveness and patience are demonstrated), and then we’d be assured of consistent and continuous provision of health.

I’ve found this realisation life-transforming through my study and practice of Christian Science; although at times, I must admit that I’ve felt a bit lonely holding these views and my change to better behaviours has often taken quite a bit of effort.

But now I find that scientific research is supporting these efforts, as discoveries are being published daily that show that spiritual qualities like forgiveness, hope, gratitude and optimism are what are really health-promoting. Check out this report on The ConversationBitterness makes the heart grow sicker.

Hey, it could be worth exchanging an intense focus on what you eat and drink to thinking more on the qualities of thought that promote health.

This article is by Kay Stroud. Kay is a health writer focussing on the leading edge of consciousness, spirituality and health. Contact her to learn more about it, including Christian Science, via www.health4thinkers.com.

Are we all now on the same mind, body, spirit page?   Leave a comment

$ dreamstime_5279920Recently, thousands of people attended the Mind Body Spirit Festival in Brisbane. I made my way there through the gloomy weather on Sunday, to find a really ‘happening’ event, a lot like the Health Harmony and Soul Expo held on the Gold Coast earlier in the year.

There were a surprising number of Millennials and Gen Ys amongst the Baby Boomers and Gen Xs in attendance, as ready to explore the ideas of philosophy and religion, as they were to try out the organic tea or get their ‘reading’.

I got the impression that there was general agreement between those on stands and within their vibrant audience that health is about very much more than treating a body.

Quite a few I spoke to had pondered the mental nature of health, had heard about the medical research into the effects of spiritual and religious sentiments such as forgiveness and gratitude.

Dozens were eager to add their contribution to the ‘gratitude tree’ by writing down what they were grateful for … and pinning it on the murraya bush in the Christian Science Reading Room stand.

Don’t get me wrong. The majority of these people harboured a healthy scepticism of anything nonsensical or obviously geared to a purely money-making concern.

The astounding thing is that these were your average Aussie ‘blokes’ and ‘sheilas’. Just like the lady I met today. While her job was in real estate, she confided when I mentioned that I was a health blogger, that she’d investigated kinesiology and other alternative therapies and knew how important her thoughts were to her wellbeing.

It’s not surprising to learn that two-thirds of Australians use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and many of these recognise the interconnectedness of our thoughts with our health.

Suddenly results from thought-based treatments such as placebos, epigenetics, psychotherapy and meditation are big news.

A medico who turned from Western medical treatments when they failed to help her, took matters into her own hands. Through her research, Dr Lissa Rankin discovered that traditional health care was missing a couple of crucial insights:

taking responsibility for your own wellbeing is essential; and that we need to care for the whole package – our mind, heart and soul.

Rankin’s book, Mind Over Medicine, advances understanding of the great conundrum of the past 150 years – how our mind, bodies and spirit interconnect.

She found that thoughts, feelings and beliefs can alter the body’s physiology, discerned that loneliness, pessimism, depression, fear and anxiety damage the body, while intimate relationships, gratitude, meditation and creativity turn on the body’s self-healing processes.

Theologian, author, and founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy wrote and taught about the mental nature of disease way back in the 19th century.

She proved that a Mind-based (or God-based) view of health and life leads to cures in both mind and body.

Eddy described some of the states of thought that might generate disease in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which endorses what many people like Rankin recognise as harmful to health today.

She wrote, “Hatred, envy, dishonesty, fear, and so forth, make a man sick, and neither material medicine nor Mind can help him permanently, even in body, unless it makes him better mentally, and so delivers him from his destroyers.”

For me, it’s imperative to recognise my spiritual identity, which Jesus exemplified and explained so well, and can be nurtured and discovered through daily prayer and meditation. I find that this also keeps the body healthy, as well as repairing and healing.

It looks like many are now ‘on the same page’, sharing the profound knowledge that happiness and health are dependent on a healthy mind, body and spirit.

This article by Kay Stroud, a health blogger who is interested in the mind-body connection, was  originally published on her blog, Spotlight on Spirituality and HealthIt was also published on these media websites:  Toowoomba Chronicle, Wanganui Chronicle, The Aucklander, Grafton Daily Examiner, Coffs Coast Advocate, Bay of Plenty Times.

Women opt to take a different sort of health pledge   Leave a comment

$ dreamstime_5547149Picture this. A young mum powering around the front lawn behind a lawn mower, baby in the pouch on her chest screaming his head off.

Reserve your judgement, because in a very short time he has calmed down owing to the monotonous noise and rhythm. The mother has used her wisdom, love and creativity to avert several hours of frustration for them both.

That mum was me over 30 years ago, and I found that parenting took the most energy, intelligence, selflessness, generosity, kindness, forgiveness, decisiveness, endurance, perseverance, enthusiasm, commitment, organisation and wisdom that I have ever needed to muster.

You’d have to agree that we need to be both mentally and physically fit and healthy to manage the complexities of raising a family.

Recently it was the inaugural, national Women’s Health Week, dedicated to improving the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of all Australian women right across the life span and addressing a range of women’s health issues holistically and to keep women well.

Taking time out for themselves, getting active, eating well and reaching out to family and friends are some of the pledges we’re being encouraged to make during this week.

Have a look at their website. There are the usual pledges to exercise more and eat a balanced diet, but it’s interesting to note that there are also a surprising number of pledges that acknowledge the importance of the quality of our thoughts to our health and wellbeing. For instance, “I pledge to be more grateful on a daily basis”, “I pledge to take better care of myself both physically and spirituality”, “I pledge to practise controlling my thoughts and focusing on the here and now”, “I pledge to love myself”.

All well and good you may say, but how can a spiritual viewpoint help with some of the critical mental challenges we experience when we become parents?

Experiencing post-natal depression after the birth of her eldest daughter well-known news presenter, author and columnist Jessica Rowe struggled with feelings of inadequacy, resentment, fear and shame. It was only when she summoned the courage to ask for help that the psychiatrist helped her to overcome these feelings.

I sought a similar, though different, sort of help as I dealt with the issues of isolation and uncertainty during the early years of child-rearing. I can truly say that it was my daily spiritual practice that developed a growing understanding of the divine Mind and maintained my mental health during this time. When I was ‘tuned in’, it brought moment-by-moment inspiration and answers about the how to, what, when, who and why of child rearing.

Explaining the benefits of ‘tuning in’ to the Divine, 19th century mind/body researcher and religious reformer Mary Baker Eddy, identified Moses’ unwilling acceptance of leadership and subsequent courageous nation-changing actions as such ‘tuning in’, “illustrat(ing) the grand human capacities of being bestowed by immortal Mind.”

“Australia has become increasingly secular over the years. Despite this, however, it is interesting to see a significant relationship between spiritual experiences and better mental health (lower depressive and anxiety symptoms)”, the conclusions of a recent study conducted by the School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Western Australia found.

As healthcare continues to evolve and provide more complete, holistic care for patients, the importance of religion and spirituality is increasingly being emphasised as a central determinant of quality of life and conferring positive benefits to mental health, even to coping with the distress of early motherhood.

Psychologists are now developing and evaluating a variety of spiritually integrated approaches to treatment, including: forgiveness programs to help divorced people come to terms with bitterness and anger; programs to help survivors of sexual abuse deal with their spiritual struggles; treatments for women with eating disorders that draw on their spiritual resources; and programs that help drug abusers re-connect to their higher selves”.

Pledges to develop our spirituality, by taking the time to be more grateful, love ourselves and others more, to be kind when someone is mean or thoughtless, to do a good deed each day and to forgive (even drivers who hog the inside lane) will bring not only increased mental health, but can also benefit us physically.

Along with women’s health, September offers many opportunities to consider a spiritual approach to dealing with mental health issues: RU OK Day, Exercise Your Mood Month and World Suicide Prevention Day.

Ladies, this week join the growing numbers of women choosing to adopt and benefit from a spiritual practice for all round wellbeing.

This article by Kay Stroud, a health blogger who is interested in the mind-body connection, was  originally published on her blog, Spotlight on Spirituality and Health.  It was also published  at The Toowoomba Chronicle, and on these other APN news sites: the Sunshine Coast Daily, the NSW Northern Star and the Mackay Daily Mercury.

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