mental / emotional / spiritual health

We talk about having a “go-bag” for natural disasters. How about having a plan in place for mental / emotional / spiritual problems? Do you have a daily practice that keeps you grounded and stable? What can you share of that to help others? Many of you know that I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for nearly 20 years. I have committed myself twice, and am in recovery. That being said – I have also been married for 14 years, held the same job for 17 years, and have excellent credit and health. All of that happened after my diagnosis. There is a LOT that I do to keep myself sober – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Mental/emotional/spiritual health is an inside job and requires as much work as physical health – if not more so, because our society doesn’t value it. Perhaps it is time to. We have lost too many people to suicide, to substance abuse, to mass murder. We have a mental-health epidemic going on. Sanity starts with each person, making tiny daily steps on a consistent basis, towards getting stronger. It isn’t easy, but it is essential.

Things I do –
No substance abuse – this includes the usual suspects but also I severely limit caffeine and sugar of all sorts.
Daily exercise.
Reading the Bible.
Making art.
Doing worksheets for my emotional health.
Doing family of origin work.

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How Jesus heals

Jesus heals by taking your burden from you, or carrying it with you. Just like how we can hand him our worries, we can hand him our diseases.

Because they are the same.

Diseases are worries that have grown because they were not addressed early on. Worry, fear, and doubt if not dealt with early on become cancer and addiction.

For instance, your liver does not fail on its own. It grows weak because of your drinking, which you did as a flawed coping mechanism for stress.

Disease is the result of you carrying a burden that you aren’t made to.

Give it Over and Up to Jesus – that thing you are worried about. That thing you are trying to control.
Don’t let the world become your worry. Don’t let the world become your idol – the thing that controls you. Put your faith back into the hands of God.

The room of abandonment (prose poem)

What does it look like?
Invite Jesus in, so you aren’t exploring this scary room alone.
What is in there?

Silence
Alone
No tools or toys

The walls are light blue, robin’s egg. There is a handmade wooden chair in the center. And a green fuzzy shawl, a gift from Jesus There is no door, but there is plenty of sunlight from the windows.

What situations, people are the cause of this room?
Why did I have to build it?

I must practice Self care to heal
be my own Shaman
Exercise food sleep, you know the drill.

What happens before the anger? Anger is a response, a protective thing. It shields from grief. Dig down to find the truth.

Don’t make God an afterthought. Make God the base of the building, of the life.

Anger comes from grief, a sense of loss, any loss. It is an unwillingness to accept change. That is also an unwillingness to accept things as they are. It is a desire to shape the world to fit me.

So roll with the punches. Accept, in a fluid way. Don’t resist. Turn the other cheek to stop that same one from getting too bruised.

(This is from an exercise I did with my first spiritual director, probably around 2013.)

You can’t wish depression away.

This is a conversation I had online about how to cure depression. I read something in a group I belong to that I felt needed some comments from someone who had been there. However, it was a waste of my time to even try.

You can’t wave the victim flag and the victor flag at the same time. As long as people are stuck in the same old broken story that people’s mental health is entirely due to their attitude, they will continue to be sick. This is victim blaming at its finest. We don’t blame people who have diabetes for their bodies not working properly.  So why do we blame people with depression for their minds not working properly?  We must get over the idea that body and mind are separate in order to heal.

The Original post – “This is a special request that only a true friend can give and I appreciate all you Beautiful people out there,so I post this- I have a Beautiful Friend called Ruth who fights depression every day,She has an Absolute heart of Gold so I thought what better way than to show how much she is loved by others.Would you be so kind as to post a lovely heart or picture that you have done so I can save it to show she has support and well wishes because she just could do with that extra boost that she can’t do for herself right now!!! Thank you kindly and I can’t wait to share with her your Beautiful posts and love- God bless you All.”

I waited for a few hours before replying.  It was a knee-jerk response, and I wanted to cool down first.

I replied – “From personal experience – take her for a walk outside. Take her out for lunch and feed her healthy food. Depression is fed by inactivity and junk food – fried foods, few vegetables, too much carbs, too much sugar. It is something that can be overcome. It requires a lot of work, but the results are worth it. Pretty pictures will not do it.”

One person commented – “Anything done with love is a great idea. Maybe it isn’t a solution. But, it may put a smile on her face. Or even stop the tears. And that is positive.”

My reply – “Yes, love and positivity are good. However, I’m aiming for something more permanent than a quick fix. It requires a lot of self-discipline, which is super hard when you are depressed. It is like pushing a heavy ball up a muddy slope. But – the view from the top is so much better than the one at the bottom. We don’t treat diabetes and heart disease by kind thoughts. They require complete lifestyle changes. Depression is the same. Full disclosure- I am bipolar and have hospitalized myself twice. I take medicine daily. But the best medicine I take is self-care. Journaling is part of that. So is eating well and getting regular exercise.”

Another person replied – “Art journaling would be a great thing for Ruth – Art heals, for sure.”

By this point I was getting frustrated.  Nobody was listening.

The original poster said  – “I appreciate your comments and Ruth does try very hard with diet but its abuse from others that causes alot of her depression its not just from not trying other methods because she does really try,she just needed to know people love with a genuine love right now xxx”

 

Silence and stillness and stuff

When I read this verse “He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic…'” (Luke 9:3) I think I’m doing retreats entirely wrong. I take a lot of “stuff” so I won’t get bored. Perhaps it isn’t the silence that is the issue – but the fear of really being alone with God. Making art, writing, reading books – all of that can be noise. Maybe “silence” for me is more about “stillness”.

rock 5

The rock garden at St. Meinrad used to be my favorite place. Now it is full of “stuff”

I feel that the garden needs some editing. Like the “stuff” needs to be rotated out, like an art display. How much is “whimsy” and how much is “crazy”?

Yes – you need to slow down and really look here. That is part of the point. To get you to see things that are small or hidden.

You will never see this rock unless you crouch down.  It is at most five inches high.

rock 2

How are you to hear God’s voice amidst a lot of noise?  Noise isn’t just sound – it can also be visual clutter, or too many things to do.

rock 1

God didn’t start speaking to Moses from the bush until Moses stopped – turned around – and came back to look at it. He almost walked by. He almost didn’t get the order to lead Israel out of slavery.  What are we missing being freed from – and leading others out of their slavery (to false gods, to addiction, to worry) by failing to take the time to really notice God’s messages to us?

This was in another courtyard, but I have seen the same thing in the rock garden.

This is a daylily –

rock 6

While this is a seed pod – brown and decaying.

rock 7

There is a lot of this decay in the garden.  And yet – this is beautiful.  I’d never see this shape if it had been taken away in a need to keep everything tidy.  Sometimes “clutter” is helpful.

Dis-Ease message

It has come to me that the cigarettes didn’t kill my parents. It was the Stuff that they didn’t deal with – what they pushed down inside themselves instead of getting out. Whatever that they were dealing with didn’t get out, because they didn’t do the work necessary to process it.

A healthy life isn’t about avoiding bad things. It is about learning from them, and letting them shape you into a stronger person. It is about becoming resilient and flexible to events, and letting them go through you.

The message that I’m getting is that diseases are the result of unresolved trauma – not bad lifestyle choices. It is tied together however.
A difficult event happens.
It needs to be dealt with.
You don’t know how, so you reach for a substance – cigarettes, food, alcohol, drugs.
The disease (dis-ease, a sense of not being at ease) is the manifestation of the unresolved trauma – not the result of the substance abuse, however.

There are examples of people who exercise, eat right, meditate and STILL get cancer, heart disease, or other chronic illnesses.
There are examples of people who smoke and drink every day and they live to be very old with no ill effects.

Jesus said to his disciples that if they were acting in accord with the will of God, they could handle snakes and drink poison and they would not be harmed. Now, the mountain folk who take that seriously and test it out in their worship services are of the opinion that if you die, you are making life easier – why live if you are not living for God?

This is a work in progress – a different way of viewing things. I don’t have all the information yet. But I know there is something here, because this message keeps coming to me. Please think about it. I will add more when it comes. If you have any input into this, please feel free to add a comment.

Redeemer

Stephen Gaskin was the founder of The Farm, an intentional community near Summertown, Tennessee. Before the commune was settled, he embarked on a speaking tour of America to talk about peace. His goal was to wake people up to a healthier way to be together as a society, a nation, and a global community.
He regularly allowed people to ask questions as part of the talks. Occasionally, some of the questioners had issue with him referring to Jesus. Most people who are considered countercultural don’t talk about Jesus at all, and Stephen did. He said that the Sermon on the Mount was the finest example of a guideline for how people can live together in harmony.
In his book “The Caravan”, he talks about Jesus as the Redeemer. In the usual Christian sense, this means that Jesus covers your sins for you. He pays that bill, so you don’t have to. But Stephen took it in a different direction. He said that in order to have a Redeemer, you have to have a Deemer. A Deemer is someone who deems – who makes a judgment as to whether something is good or not. Deemers separate and divide.
A Redeemer comes after that and makes things right. Redeemers make things whole again, by showing the value in all people. Redeemers point out that God made everyone, and God made everyone good. Redeemers reset us by seeing us as we were originally designed to be – whole, complete, and pure.
Additionally – not something said by Stephen but an extension of this thought – this is how Jesus was able to heal people instantly. He saw them as they were designed to be, before they were damaged by the world. Instead of seeing people as sinners, he saw them as Children of God. He didn’t heal them through any special power. He healed them by unlocking the power that God had put in them from the very beginning. He unlocked it by reminding them of it when he saw through their mask of sin to the person beneath.
The most radical part of this is that Jesus tells us that we have this same ability. We can heal the world by choosing to see people as Children of God. No longer dividing them into “good” and “bad” – but simply as people. We too can redeem the world, with Jesus’ help.