Pawsitively Tuesday – Kindness

No act of kindness,

no matter how small,

is ever wasted.

Aesop

Acts of Kindness by Peggy

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Pawsitively Tuesday – MAKE ME COFFEE, a Fable

A young woman went to her mother and complained about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first pot she placed a potato, in the second she placed an egg, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil. She didn’t say one word.

In twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished out the potato and placed it in a bowl. She pulled the egg out and placed it in a bowl. She ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked “Tell me what you see?” “A potato, an egg, and coffee,” the daughter answered.

Her mother asked her to feel the potato. She did and noted that it was soft. Her mother said to break the egg. She did and peeled off the shell and observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked her daughter to sip the coffee. She did and smiled as she tasted its rich aroma and flavor. The daughter asked “what does all this mean, Mom?”

Her mother explained that each object had faced the same adversity, boiling water. Each reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. After being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile with a thin outer shell that protected its liquid interior. After sitting in boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were different, they changed the water. “Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

When experiencing ‘adversity’:

  • Do you go soft and weak?
  • Are you fragile on the outside and hard in the centre?
  • Or do you change ‘the water’ (aka environment/situation) and effect positive change?

May God grant you enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to keep you content. The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the most of everything that comes along their way. You can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you are the one smiling and everyone around you is crying.

We’ll drink to that!

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Freddie Presents: Remington’s “Tail”

Dear Freddie Fans and other creatures,
 
Lyn is Remi’s human.  Because Remi is a very busy canine dog, helping Lyn (he even carries items to the laundry room and puts them in the hamper for her) and working at the senior center I asked Lyn to write this instead of Remi – who deserves some time off. 

Herrrrrrrrrrrrre’s the “tail” of Remington Royce Glover by his human Lyn

 “I had been “dogless” for a number of years due to my work schedule and life circumstances, but had always held on to my hope of one day having a therapy dog again.  In 2008, I found myself in a place where I could seriously consider finding a puppy that I could bring into my life with that goal in mind.”

All Grown Up

“Since I used to be an animal trainer and behaviorist, I had a very good idea of what breeds I thought would be the best fit as my companion and the best possibility of being certified as a Therapy Dog.  After months of searching and meeting lots of dogs, I was fortunate enough to find a woman who raised Goldendoodles (hybrid of Golden Retriever/Standard Poodle).  After meeting lots of her dogs I found what I felt would be the perfect new addition to my life.”

“Remi actually picked me more than my picking him ( I thought I would prefer a female, but Remi had other ideas.)   He stood out from all the other 18 puppies.   I was so impressed with his focus on me, his responses and his wanting to interact and figure out what I was doing with him from the minute we met.  Not to mention, he was absolutely adorable!!”

Remington Royce, 9 weeks old

“I brought Remi home when he was 9 weeks old and we began our life together.  He has, from the very beginning, been the most loving and devoted dog I have ever had the privilege of spending time with.”
 I named him
Remington Royce Glover 
(Remington – inspired by Frederic Remington, one of my favorite sculptors/illustrators). 
  • a name for a male, means sweet and caring. 
  • loyal person with a true heart, a royce loves with their whole heart not letting anything back
  • knows how to make people happy without knowing they’ve done so
  •  intelligent and a hard worker 
  • great charm, usually having beautiful eyes and a heart stopping smile 
  • the best thing that would happen to a person

He is amazingly smart, learns so quickly and absolutely loves everyone he meets.”
 
“In addition to all the basic obedience commands, Remi’s repertoire of behaviors include:
  • shake hands with his right paw
  • high-five with his left paw
  • bow to the Queen (me!)
  • do the hokey pokey (turns in a circle)
  • whisper
  • sneeze 
  • back up
  • “stop, drop and roll”
  • He knows most of his toys (and there are many) by name and can pick them out if asked – Caterpillar, gator, teddy, squirrel, snakey, piggy . . . .”
“When I launder his toys, he waits in the laundry room and watches for me put them in the dryer.  When the dryer buzzer sounds to let me know they’re dry, he runs back in and waits for me to open the door of the dryer so he can take them out.”

Remi & Catypillar

 He is “toy” obsessed and will do anything for a stuffed toy.  His favorite toy is his “caterpillar” which he carries everywhere, inside or out.  He has an abundance of toys and knows most of them by name, but his “Catypillar” is definitely the one he prefers. 

“Remi  knows three of our neighbors by name and where they live.  When we go outside, if I say, go see if “so and so” is home, Remi runs to their patio door and waits to see if they are there.  They all love him and if they’re home, they open the door and let him in – they don’t let me in, but …….. (just kidding)”

“Spending time with him and watching him learn and grow into the wonderful boy he is has been so rewarding for me.  As anyone who shares their life with animals can tell you, the unconditional love they offer is amazing. One of the best things about being with him and taking him anywhere is that no matter where we go or who we meet, he is always happy, smiling and excited to be there.”
“Whether we’re walking down the street, meeting children or visiting seniors at the care facility, people look at him and smile!!  Watching  people’s reactions to him is so heartwarming and satisfying.  He just makes people happy – and in a world so filled with fear, stress,  unhappiness  and conflict, I think that is just a wonderful gift for him to give.  I’m so proud of him and honored to be a part of it with him.”
Besides people, Remi has 3 cat siblings that he also loves –
playing with Dashiell, his favorite.

 Remi is certified by the AKC as a “Canine Good Citizen” and a Certified Therapy Dog

“Remi and I currently go to visit a Senior Care Facility every Friday morning – he absolutely loves it and the feedback we receive is that the residents just love seeing him and the other two smaller dogs that accompany us with their owner.  It is so gratifying to see the seniors “light up” and spend time with the dogs.  So many of them tell us stories of the dogs/pets they used to have and recall such lovely memories.”

Remi and his “visiting buddy”, Paulie, at the Senior Center, waiting for one of their favorite people to get to them!

“One resident was very disparaging when we first visited.  She had never been around dogs and had nothing good to say to us, but we’re slowly winning her over.  She now walks by and comments that the dogs are “very cute”.  She still won’t come too close and refuses our offers to have her pet them, but we’re optimistic that will happen!”

“We are hoping to find a way to work with disabled veterans who have served our country and offer them whatever help and joy we can by visiting them at their rehab facility – it’s an ongoing goal for us and one I hope I can find a way to make happen.”

“Watching him makes me want to follow his lead and try to focus on making others happy, rather than worrying about “stuff” in my life.”

“Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to share my wonderful boy with others.
It means more to me than you know.”

Hugs and love,

Lyn & Remi

If you have a pet whose “tail” you would like to share (even if  they don’t have a tail) email me at peggyjudytime@gmail.com. I have connections and editorial rights.

Frankly,

Freddie Parker Westerfield, Senior editor and correspondent for all things important

Faithfully Yours – Retrospective #3

Boundries, man & dog

“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”

The Baha’i World Faith

Earth by God.  Woofer by judy

“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”  

“One of the great reasons of separation is colour. Look how this prejudice has power in America, for instance. See how they hate one another! Animals do not quarrel because of their colour! Surely man who is so much higher in creation, should not be lower than the animals. Think over this. What ignorance exists! White doves do not quarrel with blue doves because of their colour, but white men fight with dark-coloured men. This racial prejudice is the worst of all.”

The Old Testament says that God created man like unto His own image; in the Qur’an it says: “There is no difference in the Creation of God!” Think well, God has created all, cares for all, and all are under His protection. The policy of God is better than our policy. We are not as wise as God”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith

http://bahaiteachings.org/

bahai-faithwww.bahai.org/

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“We must not only be patient with others, infinitely patient, but also with our own poor selves.”

‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith

Judgement by Peggy, originally published on Pawsitively Tuesday

A Tidbit 

The “Founder”, Bahá’u’lláh

(1817-1892)

Bahá’u’lláh—the “Glory of God”—is the Promised One foretold by . . . all of the Divine Messengers of the past. Bahá’u’lláh delivered a new Revelation from God to humanity. Thousands of verses, letters and books flowed from His pen. In His Writings, He outlined a framework for the development of a global civilization which takes into account both the spiritual and material dimensions of human life. For this, He endured 40 years of imprisonment, torture and exile.

http://bahaiteachings.org/

bahai-faithwww.bahai.org/

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FAITHfully Yours – Anne Frank & Reflection

 “One hour’s reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship

Baha’u’llah

“How noble and good everyone could be, if every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the while day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then, without realising it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time. Anyone can do this, it costs nothing and is certainly very helpful. Whoever doesn’t know it must learn and find by experience that: “A quiet conscience makes one strong!”

Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank: The Revised Critical Edition

Cat ‘n Mouse journaling by Peggy

“Prayer is like the spirit and material means are like the human hand. The spirit operateth through the instrumentality of the hand.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Baha’i World Faith

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Loving-Kindness

 “Be not content in showing friendship in words alone. Let your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who cross your path.”

Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith

Loving-kindness Treat ME, by Peggy

The conviction that we belong to one human family is at the heart of the Bahá’í Faith. The principle of the oneness of humankind is “the pivot round which the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve… 

One Human Family 

A Nosh of Baha’i

The Baha’i Faith is the world’s second-most widespread religion after Christianity, spanning the globe and working to unite it. Baha’is have no clergy or churches, gathering together in democratically-led communities and welcoming everyone.

The millions of Baha’is in the world come from every ethnicity, nationality, tribe, age, racial group, religious background and economic and social class. 

Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life.

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Independent Search for Truth

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” In other words, thoughts are most certainly things”

Gandhi

Food for Thought

Baha’is believe in the independent investigation of reality, and encourage everyone to question dogma, tradition and superstition by embarking on a personal search to discover the truth

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 “Be not content in showing friendship in words alone. Let your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who cross your path.”

Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith

Loving-kindness Treat ME, by Peggy

A Nosh of Baha’i

The Baha’i Faith is the world’s second-most widespread religion after Christianity, spanning the globe and working to unite it. Baha’is have no clergy or churches, gathering together in democratically-led communities and welcoming everyone.

The millions of Baha’is in the world come from every ethnicity, nationality, tribe, age, racial group, religious background and economic and social class. 

Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life.

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FAITHfully Yours – Sunday Retrospective #1

“If we take people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat them as if they were what they ought to be, we help them to become what they are capable of becoming”

Goethe 

A Baha’i Bit

Essentially a mystical Faith, the Baha’i teachings focus on the soul’s relationship with the eternal, unknowable essence of God, and recommend daily prayer and meditation to everyone. 

Baha’is believe that the human spirit lives eternally, and so endeavor to illumine their souls with spiritual attributes—kindness, generosity, integrity, truthfulness, humility and selfless service to others.

http://bahaiteachings.org/bahai-faith

www.bahai.org/

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“But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 

1 Corinthians 13:13

“Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul.” 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, (Baha’i World Faith)

Baha’is accept the validity of each of the founders and prophets of the major world religions, whose teachings have provided the basis for the advancement of civilization – Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, explained that the religions of the world come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.

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“Prayer need not be in words, but rather in thought and attitude… words without love mean nothing.”

Abdu’l-Bahá

Loving Touch by Peggy

Baha’i Tidbit

The Baha’i Faith, the world’s newest independent global belief system, teaches the oneness of God, the unity of humanity and the essential harmony of all religions.

http://bahaiteachings.org/

bahai-faithwww.bahai.org/

During the month of November, Baha’i Blogging is hosting a post-a-day-or-so something related to or inspired by Faith.  Because so many of you follow both this blog and CATNIPblog Peggy & I will post our “dailies” here and Sunday “retrospectives” on CATNIPblog.com

The hashtag is #bahaiblogging.

FAITHfully Yours – The Heart of it All

During the month of November, Baha’i Blogging is hosting a post-a-day related to or inspired by Baha’i Faith.  Because so many of you follow both this blog and Curious to the Max Peggy & I will post our “dailies” on CURIOUSblog and Sunday “retrospectives” on CATNIPblog.

We are late joining so here’s our first FAITHfully Yours posts, with “heart”.

“God does not look at colours; He looks at the hearts.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, (Baha’i World Faith)

Take Heart with Woofer-dog, Meowie-cat & Co 

 The hashtag is #bahaiblogging.

What is the Baha’i Faith?

The Baha’i Faith, the world’s newest independent global belief system, teaches the oneness of God, the unity of humanity and the essential harmony of all religions.

Baha’is accept the validity of each of the founders and prophets of the major world religions, whose teachings have provided the basis for the advancement of civilization – Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, explained that the religions of the world come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.

Basic to Baha’i belief are the tenants of:

  • Equality of the sexes 
  • Elimination of all prejudice and racism.
  • Peace
  • Justice
  • Love
  • Altruism 
  • Unity
  • Agreement of science and religion 

http://bahaiteachings.org/bahai-faith

www.bahai.org/

Pawsitively Tuesday-meaning and purpose

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The work of life is to develop it.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”

David Viscott

 

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Do you think you are open-minded? Take this quiz

First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. 

– Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird.

As therapists we walked a fine line between trying to understand and sympathize with clients’ points of view while not taking on their pain.  It taught us to be open-minded.

When I took this short quiz I realized that open-minded is not just defined by “understanding” but can also be about taking action on behalf of others.

 

Here’s the quiz to find out where you stand. Score each answer using a 3 for “often,” a 2 for “sometimes,” or a 1 for “rarely.” Add them up and see where you rank.

  1. I like trying new things, such as foods, restaurants, music, and activities.
  2. I like traveling to places I have never been.
  3. I’m comfortable meeting new people.
  4. If my parent/child wanted to marry someone outside of our race I would be supportive
  5. I’m respectful of people of different cultures, genders, races, sexual orientation and religions.
  6. I’m comfortable if I am the only person of my race in a large gathering.
  7. If someone is being bullied, I speak up for them
  8. I  listen patiently to another’s viewpoint, even when I disagree
  9. When I hear gossip, I get the facts and make up my own mind before making a decision
  10. When I hear racist comments, or see racial injustice, I speak up
  11. I treat everyone with equal respect
  12. I learn about world events and believe we are all connected to some degree
  13. I am open to new ideas

Scoring:

39-33:  Congratulations! You are a world citizen, with an open mind.

32-26:  You try to keep an open mind, but might consider expanding your horizons.

25-13:  You might be closing yourself off too much from the rest of the world.

There are some studies that indicate open-minded people tend to be happier, more successful, and more charismatic than those who close themselves off or isolate.

 

This quiz and the six suggestions below came from a Baha’i blog that I  read to help me think . . . and rethink . . . about my place in the world, my beliefs and whether I am behaving in accord with spiritual tenants.

woofer head:meowi body

Here are the author’s six suggestions:

1. Be more approachable

Being honest, vulnerable and authentic will facilitate more genuine and lasting friendships. Your body language can be an important factor, making you look closed off or open to others.” 

 

2. Let go of your preconceptions about other people and give them a chance

“We often surround ourselves with people like us, but there is a lot to gain from enlarging our social circle. Being respectful of others is the best way to receive it in return. 

3. See things from another perspective

“Walking in another person’s shoes helps to open our minds and makes us less likely to be critical. When we judge less, we are less likely to be judged.”

Meowi head:Woofer body

 

4. Be more flexible and curious

“By being more flexible we trust that we can handle new situations. Being flexible and curious are perfect opportunities for growth.”

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. – Albert Einstein

Be curious, not judgmental. – Walt Whitman

5. Be more trusting

“Human beings are all basically the same—in fact, we are far more alike than we are different. We share 99.9 % of our DNA. We all have insecurities, fears, talents and beauty. Focus on the positive in people and show them your best:”

 

O children of men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other.  – Baha’u’llahThe Hidden Words, p. 20.

6. Don’t make snap judgements, especially when it comes to people

“According to Business Insider, people typically form a first impression within 7 seconds of meeting someone new. Therefore it takes a conscious, concerted effort to not judge hastily. Try to see each person or situation with unbiased eyes—without letting prejudice, superstition or tradition get in the way. Make your own decisions rather than listening to other’s opinions. Trust yourself once you have investigated for yourself.”

“… every individual member of humankind is exhorted and commanded to set aside superstitious beliefs, traditions and blind imitation of ancestral forms in religion and investigate reality for himself. Inasmuch as the fundamental reality is one, all religions and nations of the world will become one through investigation of reality.”  Abdu’l-BahaThe Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 433.

 

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The HeART of Chronic Conditions (including life)

Curious to the Max blog has been the place where I’ve shared more of my personal journey.  CATNIPblog has largely been dedicated to information Peggy & I have accumulated on emotional & physical health and happiness. (wealth we leave to those who have experienced it!)

Today, I clicked on the blog of a new subscriber, Savannah’s  One Mountain at a Time .  What she shared about her journey with Lupus resonated:

“Though mine is said by my doctor to not be life threatening, my immune system is prone to attacking my healthy joint tissues systemically . . .  pain comes whenever it feels like it. Flares come and go, as do my exhausted days. Describing the pain is difficult but when a flare happens or I’m in pain, it feels like bruises anywhere inside my body, and someone is either jabbing needles in them or pressing them for long periods of time. . . . I take medications and go for jogs. I live a normal, active life despite pain.”

judy’s visual journal

Like Savannah my diagnosis is not life threatening, only life altering. Unlike Savannah, who was diagnosed at 23, I was blessed in my first forty plus years with relatively good health.  In 1995 that changed for me with the diagnosis of fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue.  I admit it’s been a struggle trying to ignore, over-ride or giving in to the daily fatigue, pain and various other “irritants”.  The older I get the harder it’s been.  The best I can describe is feeling like a sandy beach being worn away by unrelenting waves and occasional pounding storms.

In public I look fine and only those who intimately know me would know if I were feeling exhausted, in pain or depressed.  When I’m feeling particularly bad no one knows as I shelter in place – stay home and lick my wounds.  Any contact, even a phone call, can feel overwhelming.

collage by judy

CATNIPblog has been my in-home companion:  A way to connect to the world and my incredibly understanding friends while expending minimal energy;  posts that remind me to eat better, be grateful, and most of all Peggy and her delightful drawings that make me smile.  

Savannah’s faith, above all, is what seems to sustain her.  Me too.  Even on my worst days my question is never “Why me?”.  I ask God for guidance, the wisdom to understand that guidance and the where-with-all to carry it out . . . one day at a time . . . sometimes one hour at a time.

judy’s visual journal

Personally and professionally I learned early on that each of us, in ways large and small, carry physical or emotional pain.  Each of us searches, longs for answers, respite and meaning.  Savannah has found meaning at an early stage in her life.  I salute her.

https://pourforpoverty.wordpress.com/

Pour for Poverty: Savannah makes bags filled with sustainable essentials that she feels serve a beneficial purpose for people living in poverty filled with clothing, food, and hygiene products, written letters, prayers, bible verses and love. She distributes to the poor throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and occasionally other cities when traveling.

“Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity.

Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face.

Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 16, The Baha’i World Faith)

 

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Meditate with the Dalai Lama

Meditating is hard for me.  My monkey-mind jumps over and around what I’ve decided to focus on, climbs into places and spaces that have no bearing on anything  and swings from thought-branches I didn’t even know were there. 
 240_f_18373096_zlgbhf2cmavplmkx2hdkkqk4pq0wktsj
When I read this article written by Sanjay Gupta, MD and his invitation to meditate with the Dalai Lama himself I was a bit more reassured.  Here’s the part that caught my attention:  (jw)
“This is hard for me,” I said.
“Me, too!” he exclaimed. “After doing daily for 60 years, it is still hard.”
It was at once surprising and reassuring to hear him say this. The Dalai Lama, Buddhist monk and spiritual leader of Tibet, also has trouble meditating.”

‘”I think you will like analytical meditation,” he told me. Instead of focusing on a chosen object, as in single-point meditation, he suggested I think about a problem I was trying to solve, a topic I may have read about recently or one of the philosophical areas from the earlier sessions.”

“He wanted me to separate the problem or issue from everything else by placing it in a large, clear bubble. With my eyes closed, I thought of something nagging at me — something I couldn’t quite solve. As I placed the physical embodiment of this problem into the bubble, several things started to happen very naturally.”
“The problem was now directly in front of me, floating weightlessly. In my mind, I could rotate it, spin it or flip it upside-down. It was an exercise to develop hyper-focus.
Less intuitively, as the bubble was rising, it was also disentangling itself from any other attachments, such as subjective emotional considerations. I could visualize it, as the problem isolated itself, and came into a clear-eyed view.”
Too often, we allow unrelated emotional factors to blur the elegant and practical solutions right in front of us. It can be dispiriting and frustrating. Through analytical meditation, His Holiness told me, we can use logic and reason to more clearly identify the question at hand, separate it from irrelevant considerations, erase doubt and brightly illuminate the answers. It was simple and sensible. Most important, for me — it worked.”

Meditation for skeptics

“As a neuroscientist, I never expected that a Buddhist monk, even the Dalai Lama, would teach me how to better incorporate deduction and critical thinking to my life — but that is what happened.
It changed me. And I am better for it. I practice analytical meditation every day, usually early in the morning. The first two minutes are still the hardest, as I create my thought bubble and let it float above me. After that, I reach what can best be described as a “flow” state, in which 20 to 30 minutes pass easily.
I am more convinced than ever that even the most ardent skeptics could find success with analytical meditation.”
 
To read the entire article click here.

Pawsitively Tuesday – LIfe’s Lessons from Noah’s Ark

  1. Don’t miss the boat.

  2. Remember that we are all in the SAME boat.

  3. Plan ahead.  It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

  4. Stay fit.  When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something REALLY big.

  5. Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.

  6. Build your future on high ground.

  7. For safety sake, travel in pairs.

  8. Speed isn’t always an advantage.  The snails were on board with the cheetahs.

  9. When you’re stressed, float a while

  10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

  11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

However,

The woodpecker might have to go!

The HeART of Spirituality – Finding Balance

The unexamined life is not worth living – Socrates.

“One hour’s reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship”  

Baha’i World Faith

In several of the HeART workshops, held at Tapestry Unitarian, we’ve made collaged Contemplation Cards – if you’re familiar with tarot cards or vision boards these cards can be used in similar ways.  The power of the “home-made” cards is that you are not projecting your thoughts and feelings onto someone else images. All the images are your own and speak to you both consciously and unconsciously.  

The participants each made 2 cards – one that represents

spiritual balance and another that represents spiritual imbalance

Can you tell what each card represents?

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Here’s how to make your own Contemplation Cards and

How to use them

Materials:  Card stock or heavy paper such as bristol board or even large filing cards – approximately 8″ x 5″, glue sticks, scissors, magazines.

Focus on an attribute/theme or virtue (examples:  patience, honesty, love, compassion connection, detachment etc.)

  • Cut out images from magazines that catch your attention or appeal to you.    It’s often better not to think about it and trust that what you choose will inform you.  (In the workshop, to save time, I provide pre-cut images – LOTS of images to choose from.)
  • Cut away the background from the images. (Look at the images on the cards to see how the images have been cut out)
  • Arrange images on a card.  There is no right way – your intuition is your best guide – use some of your images, all of them or parts.
  • When you’re satisfied glue images down.
  • Write your focus on the back of the card.

How to use your Contemplation Cards:

In each of the options below pick one card, randomly or purposefully, on which to center your thoughts.

Using cards for Meditation or Prayer

  1. Sit in comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed
  2. Set a timer for 10 or 20 minutes
  3. Take in a few breaths to center yourself
  4. Lower your eyelids to soften your gaze
  5. Focus on an image(s) as you gaze at your card and let a virtue/feeling/word come to mind.
  6. You can also repeat a word, phrase or prayer that comes to mind (silently or out loud).
  7. When your mind wanders, and it will, simply bring it back and refocus on card.
  8. When the time is up you may wish to write down any thoughts, feelings or images that you experienced and/or answer the questions below.

Using cards for Contemplation or Journaling

  1. Sit in comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed
  2. Set a timer for 20 minutes
  3. Take in a few breaths to center yourself
  4. Focus on your card
  5. Write down phrases, words, images which spontaneously and intuitively come to mind or use the questions below as an entry into what you intuitively know.
  6. What meanings do the images hold for you today?

Jump-start questions to ask yourself or journal:

  • Are the images comforting, unsettling or puzzling? Why?
  • How did they inform your actions/behavior today, this week?
  • What was “sacred” today/in your life?
  • In what way were you blessed today/in your life by God (the universe, nature or fate)?

 Here are the wonderful ladies that participated in this HeART of Spirituality workshop and made amazing HeART.  

 

 

 

 

HeART of Spirituality – Healing

Once a month I facilitate a free, non-denominational HeART of Spirituality workshop. Tapestry Unitarian Congregation hosts it.  There’s a different theme each month.

For those of you who want to think about your own spirituality I’ll post the information and the exercises for you to do.  For those who just want a peek at the heART the participants create take a look!

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Healing was the focus at this HeART of Spirituality workshop. 

The medium used was journaling.

Synopsis of the Introduction:

Physically, biologically anger and fear create a neurochemical cascade from the brain to the body triggering powerful stress responses. These two emotions interfere with physical healing and are incompatible with spiritual healing.  

When everything is going well we try to maintain the status quo (for good reason!).  To change, learn and grow we all need an impetus.  The most powerful stimuli for change and growth are when we face pain or fear.    

In Buddhism there’s a distinction between pain and suffering:  Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.  Suffering is based on our perception and emotional response.

Basic to Baha’i beliefs:

  • We learn how to develop God’s virtues through pain and earthly trials & tribulation.
  • God does not want us to suffer, He wants us to learn.
  • Suffering comes from our distorted perspective of spirituality and our ego needs.
  • Praying for “healing” is first and foremost for spiritual growth, not physical remedy.

My personal experience with fibromyalgia and my belief is that ultimately all healing – physical, emotional, situational,  is spiritual.

Indeed, scientific research shows that what we think and believe impacts our emotional and physical well-being.  The power of the placebo is a small example.

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First exercise – “Stacked Writing”

Stacked writing is a great way to keep things confidential and not have to hide your journal under the mattress.  You can spill your thoughts & feelings out on paper and no one (including you) will be able to read what you wrote.

Workshop Materials: I pasted colored tissue paper on large sheets of paper for the participants to write on.  These sheets were later turned into mini 8-page journals.

Your Materials:  A journal or just a piece of paper will do.  A black marker or pen. A timer

Instructions:

  1.  Write, print, scribble your thoughts and feelings all over the paper, continue writing, turning the paper in many directions (sideways, upside down) and writing on top of what you’ve written.   If your mind goes blank, keep scribbling until another thought pops in.
  2. Write for a minimum of 20 minutes, non-stop (make sure you have an easy flowing marker or pen).  Setting a timer is best so you don’t distract yourself or interrupt your writing.
  3. Focus on releasing the emotions of anger and fear.   Fill the page with sentences, phrases, words on top of each other so that what was written becomes indecipherable.

 

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Second exercise – “Found Poetry”  

Materials:  Newspapers, sheet of blank paper, (we used black construction paper but a journal or any paper will do) glue sticks, scissors.

Instructions:

  1. Focusing on the theme of “healing” cut out approximately 20 words & phrases from the newspaper.  Use your intuition, what catches your eye to choose what you cut out.
  2.  Arrange your words & phrases on a piece of paper, creating a free verse poem*.
  3. Paste your poem down when it “feels finished”.

*“Free verse is an open form of poetry. It does not use consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or any other musical pattern. Many poems composed in free verse thus tend to follow the rhythm of natural speech.” Wikipedia

Here are the participants Healing Poems.  Take a look!

Poetry, ideally, is meant to be recited out loud.  Get your moneys-worth and orate!

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