Stomach distress?

I’m noticing that many people right now are experiencing stomach distress.  They believe they have the flu or some virus.  I believe that their distress is unprocessed emotions related to the current political climate in the United States, which isn’t very “united” right now.

Many people were very surprised by the results of the election, and held out hopes that something unusual would happen to change it.  They waited until after the Electoral College voted to admit that their fears had been realized.  Now they are protesting everything that they are learning about.  People who were politically inactive before are now glued to whatever news they can get.

What you focus on expands.  What you think about, you are. If all you focus on is bad, that is all you will see.  Anger and fear leads to more of the same.

Life is all about choice.  You have a choice as to what you read or do or think, but first you must become aware.  You must become mindful of what is going on at the deepest level.

The stomach processes some of our most basic emotions – fear, anger, grief.  We feel things “at a gut level”.  We are “gutted” when something terrible happens.  Our stomach not just processes food, but feelings.  Our entire body is a sensory organ, and each unique organ receives and processes external stimuli in unique ways.  We accept that we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, but few people are yet able to understand that we have many other senses that are registered throughout the amazing gift of our corporeal forms.

When we are unable or unwilling to accept the reality of the messages that our bodies are sending us, we start to think that the messages ARE us.  We are able to understand that what we see through our eyes is simply a vision.  It is an observed phenomenon.  If we see a bird in flight, it does not mean that we are a bird.  Likewise, it is important to separate the sensations we experience through our other body parts from our selves, our being.  We do not have to be angry when we feel anger.  It is just a feeling, a sensation.

The purpose of being awakened isn’t to feel joyful all the time.  The purpose is to feel – everything – in a mindful and detached way.  You are not the feeling – you are feeling the feeling, just like you are seeing the birds fly above you.

It helps to be rooted in a faith that there is a guiding force that is over all things.  Having faith that the political leaders are not the true leaders is healthy and healing.

You must take care of your body in order to take care of your spirit.  There is nothing new here – diet and exercise count now more than ever.  Make healthy food choices.  Stress eating, eating “comfort food”, will bring your body and spirit down. Get regular exercise.  Just going for a short walk every day is excellent.  More is better.  Don’t overdo it, though, because that becomes a distraction.  It is important to be present.

Learn to be OK with sitting still in silence.  The need to constantly be busy is an addictive behavior the same as smoking cigarettes or drinking. Substance abuse isn’t just about drugs, but anything and everything. Doing anything mindlessly can be harmful to your body and spirit.

Having to check social media, read a book, or do chores can all be distractions.  Balance is what is necessary here. It is good to read a book – but if you feel anxiety if you are without one, then it is time to sit with that feeling and listen to it.  It is a sign that you feel a need to escape.  Use your feelings, regardless of what they are, to learn.  Do not run from “bad” feelings – they are trying to teach you that something is out of balance in your life.

Instead of protesting – of saying what you are against, spend your energy on building up.  What are you for?  What will bring healing to your community?  Who is hurting? Who is marginalized?  Go help them.  Go be a force for good.  Do what you can with what you have.  Your little efforts count.  Join with others to do more.  Don’t wait for the government to help – those times are over.  Be the change you wish to see.  Teach an immigrant child how to read and write.  Learn a foreign language.  Build a home for a homeless person. Teach a class on money management. Learn nonviolent conflict resolution.

Focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t.  Spend more time on figuring out how you can do something instead of coming up with excuses for why you can’t.  Don’t blame others for your own choices.

Some good things from the current US situation.

A friend posted about how the current President gets so upset about what he thinks of as “fake” news.”  I think it is important to state that I didn’t vote for him or Clinton – I voted a different party. That is the change we really need – to get past this divisive mentality embodied in the two-party system.  It sets up a no-win situation, where there is always a “loser”.  But I’m starting to see some good out of what has happened because people are starting to wake up and realize that the government cannot take care of them.  People are taking matters into their own hands in a healthy and healing way.

Here was my response to him –

“It all seems fake to him because he’s being fed lies by his cronies.   There is evidence that he not only does not, but cannot read.  This means he is incapable of getting first-hand information.  It is all pre-digested for him.   I no longer think of him as evil.  Just very sad and mislead.   Pray for him.”

One of his friends (unknown to me) was freaked out that I suggested we pray for him, saying that we all needed to be prayed for instead.  I replied that Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies.

While meditating on this, I read the Catholic readings for the day, and all three that were for the afternoon spoke to this.

Leviticus 19:17-18

17 “You must not harbor hatred against your brother. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him. 18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.

Matthew 5:38-48

38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

Another friend shared this, and there is a lot of truth to it. This is copied from a writer named Susan Keller. I have edited out the snarky bits.  What is left shows how much people are waking up.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it looks like Trump is actually making America great again. Just look at the progress made since the election:

– Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.
– Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to Google.
– Millions of Americans are exercising more. They’re holding signs and marching every week.
– The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.
– Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.
– Everyone knows more about the rise of Hitler than they did last year.
– Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.                                                                                                                                                                     – Marginalized groups are experiencing a surge in white allies.

– White people in record numbers have just learned that racism is not dead.
– “Mike Pence” has donated millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood since Nov. 9th.
– Travel ban protesters put $24 million into ACLU coffers in just 48 hours, enabling them to hire 200 more attorneys. Lawyers are now heroes.
– As people seek veracity in their news sources, respected news outlets are happily reporting a substantial increase in subscriptions, a boon to a struggling industry vital to our democracy.

– Live streaming court cases and congressional sessions are now popular.

– Massive cleanup of Facebook friend lists.

– People are reading classic literature again. Sales of George Orwell’s “1984” increased by 10,000% after the inauguration.

– More than ever before, Americans are aware that education is important.”

 

My take is that the best thing we can do is to pay attention to what is going on and be active. Not reactive – because to react is to let “them” set the pace.  Don’t let them rule the dance.  Look for what is broken, who is hurting.  Go help them.  We’ve long said that the government is too involved in our lives.  This is a great opportunity to take control back.  Instead of the government taking care of the sick, elderly, poor, homeless – we need to do this, through churches and other civic organizations.  Don’t worry about government funding for Planned Parenthood – make it private.  Then there will no longer be a debate from some that their money is going to something they don’t agree with. We need to decentralize everything.

Perhaps the nomination to be the Secretary of Education of a person who has nothing to do with public education is a good thing.  We have a broken system, with children who are not able to get a job or even think on their own.  Currently, children learn to read well enough to memorize test answers.  This leaves them unprepared for adult life. Parents who can afford to send their children to private schools because they are seen as better.  So why not take the template of the private schools and put it on the public one?  Now – and this is critical – it must not be religious-based (unless it covers all faiths).

Better than that – let’s start reading again.  I don’t mean current fiction.  I mean non-fiction, things that make us think.  We’ve spent too long escaping life and not facing it.  We’ve spent too long asleep.  Go to your local library and support it.  Get together with people and discuss what you are learning.

Worried about your health-care?  Go for a walk or to the gym.  Eat the healthiest food you can.  Learn to cook.

This entire debacle has caused us to stop thinking of the government as our savior.  This is a good thing.

——————–

 

(All Bible verses are HCSB)

Poem – to wander

To wander is to go forth,
eyes and heart open
into the unknown.
It doesn’t have to be in the wilderness.
It can be in the library.
It can be anywhere you have not explored.
To wander is to find yourself
in the middle of nowhere,
not lost
but awake and aware and curious.
To wander is to take the time
to appreciate the journey
instead of just the destination.
To wander is to venture forth
in body or mind
or both
with no goal other than to truly see
what you find
while out there.
There is danger in this
for you might get lost.
There is salvation in this
for you might find yourself.

The Horse, Hunter, and Stag

I was working on an art journal page recently and started digging through my paper collection.  I have some ephemera of my own, but I also have a stack that I’ve bought from a lady who meant to use the items for her own art. She soon realized that she had more ephemera than time for art. It turns out she has a great eye for things that spark creativity.  One of the pieces was a page from a book of fables – stories designed to teach us something.  I think this one is remarkably appropriate for what we are experiencing now.  The entire wording is contained between the lines below.  My comments will follow.

————–

A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter agreed, but said: “If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy.” The Horse agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him. Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said to the Hunter: “Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and back.”

“Not so fast, friend,” said the Hunter. “I have now got you under bit and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present.”

If you allow men to use you for your own purposes, they will use you for theirs.

—————

It is now time to be aware and awake to our divisiveness. Our lack of unity with each other and within ourselves allows us to be led astray by others.  It renders us passive and not active members of life, of community.

It is not time to worry or complain about those who seek to divide us – to put us into “us” and “them” categories, who want to bait us like fighting dogs.

To be against those who seek to use us for their own gain is to further be drawn into the spiral.  It is to become that which we are trying to be aware of.

 

The goal is to be aware of every time you are distracted.

Notice when you are being baited, being told that “they” – whoever “they” are – are the reason that you are down.

“They” aren’t the reason for why you feel the way you do.  “They” are the same as you.  They are struggling too.

It is easy for people to pick on those who are seen as weaker.  It is easy to scapegoat.  Don’t do it.  Rise above. Don’t be drawn into that game.  Turn it upside down.  Notice who you are being told to be afraid of, to hate and instead make friends with them.  Learn everything you can about them.  Join up with them for your common cause of working together.

Remember the old phrase – “United we stand, divided we fall.”

Remember the motto on the back of the US dollar bill – “E pluribus unum”.  It means “Out of many, one.”  It means we are stronger together.

It is time to stop being scattered and divided.  We allow others to use us when we are like that.

Begin again

When we are raised with abusive or neglectful parents, we learn maladaptive coping mechanisms. When we grow up, we often unconsciously continue those habits, reflexively acting, mindlessly being. With the new life that is offered to us through Jesus, we can begin again, with a new Parent in God, who loves us unconditionally and without measure. We can learn how to act in new healthy ways, rather than being stuck in our old mindless habits. Jesus calls us to a new life of being awake and fully alive and present in every moment. This is the promise of new life in Jesus – a slate wiped clean, a chance to start again. No longer are we slaves to our past. No longer are we consigned to repeat our actions, over and over, flinching from blows that no longer come.

Books that open your head

Alexander, Christopher W.  A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

Anderson, Walter Inglis   The Horn Island Logs of Walter Inglis Anderson
Arndt, Ingo      Animal Architecture

Bantock, Nick   Griffin and Sabine

Barklem, Jill       The Secret Staircase

Becker, Aaron      Journey

Bender, Tom      Silence Song and Shadows: Our Need for the Sacred in Our Surroundings

Berry, Jill K.      Map Art Lab: 52 Exciting Art Explorations in Mapmaking, Imagination, and Travel

Brown, Patricia D.       Paths to Prayer: Finding Your Own Way to the Presence of God

Brown, Peter         Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Cameron, Julia    The Complete Artist’s Way : Creativity as a Spiritual Practice

Castaneda, Carlos   The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

Chapin, Ross  Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small-Scale Community in a Large-Scale World

Cloud, Henry      Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

Collins, Ross     Doodleday

Dass, Ram     Be Here Now

Dick, Philip K.        Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Egan, Tim        The Pink Refrigerator

Elgin, Suzette Haden        Star-Anchored, Star-Angered

Ewing, Al     I, Zombie

Foster, Alan Dean      Cyber Way

Gaiman, Neil     The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes

Goldsworthy, Andy    Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature  (anything by him)

Hall, Michael     Red: A Crayon’s Story

Hallendy, Norman     Inuksuit: Silent Messengers of the Arctic

Hoff, Benjamin     The Tao of Pooh

Kalman, Maira        The Principles of Uncertainty

Lawhead, Stephen R.      The Skin Map (Bright Empires, #1)

L’Engle, Madeleine      A Wrinkle in Time

Lerner, Rokelle     Affirmations for the Inner Child

Lehman, Barbara    Museum Trip

MacBeth, Sybil       Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God

Martin, Bruce T.        Look Close, See Far: A Cultural Portrait of the Maya

Miles, Sara       Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion

Neeper, Cary      A Place Beyond Man: The Archives of Varok
Pohl, Frederik      A Plague of Pythons

Pratchett, Terry   Small Gods (Discworld, #13)

Rex, Adam      Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich

Roach, Mary       Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Rumi, Jalaluddin      The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems

Saltz, Ina      Body Type: Intimate Messages Etched in Flesh

Seuss, Dr.      Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

Skloot, Rebecca     The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Smith, Keri      Wreck This Journal

Snodgrass, Melinda M.      The Tears of the Singers

Spangler, Ann       Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith

Swift, Vivian      When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put

Tall, Stephen     The People Beyond the Wall

Tan, Shaun      The Arrival

Tolkein, J.R.R.      The Hobbit

Wiesner, David      Tuesday

Willems, Mo      You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons: The World on One Cartoon a Day

Zeff, Ted      The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide: Essential Skills for Living Well in an Overstimulating World

 

 

Many of these authors have other books – you are more than encouraged to explore them as well. Some of these books are fiction for adults, some are nonfiction, some are for children, and some are wordless, while some are just the beginning to a series that is just as interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

Be fierce (poem)

Owning your life
without fear
is a lot of work
for anybody.

It requires
a lot of energy
to get past
the immense gravity of
inertia.

But – the downside
of not living
an authentic life
(meaning the life You
were called to live,
not the one others
think you
should live)

is to slowly sink
into the morass
of an empty and
meaningless
existence.