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How to Give Thanks
By J. Sig Paulson
Expressing gratitude through praise and thanksgiving can start in any area of our lives and bring immediate results.
In the Image and Likeness of God
According to the Bible, all of us are made in the image of God. Our exercise in gratitude will begin with these words: I praise and give thanks for God’s image in me.
You cannot repeat these words sincerely for long without feeling a flow of energy that lifts your whole being. And perhaps for the first time, you will begin to appreciate who and what you are. Although you may have buried your real self, your identity, in the mire of condemnation and ingratitude, it will soon respond to your words, thoughts and feelings of gratitude expressed through praise and thanksgiving.
For a refreshing approach to praying for others, use the same gratitude exercise in this way: I praise and give thanks for God’s image in you.
The finest help we can give another human being is to recognize gratefully his or her true identity. This exercise in gratitude, performed silently and sincerely, will often change another’s life for the better.
Jesus said that we are the light of the world. Try this exercise: I praise and give thanks for the light of the world that I am and for my expanding ability to let this light shine.
Consistent practice of this exercise will erase darkness from mind, heart, body and affairs and fill your whole being and world with light. It will be easy for you to rephrase this so that you can help in letting light into someone else’s life.
The apostle Paul told us that after we discover our real identity, we stop letting ourselves be pushed around by the world of appearances and become a life-giving spirit.
Here is an affirmation with which to begin: As a life-giving spirit, I praise and give thanks for the power to stimulate all the life and health-distributing centers of my mind, heart and body.
Or: As a life-giving spirit, I praise and give thanks for the power to release this vitalizing energy of eternal life into all that concerns me. I joyously charge mind, heart, body, work, relationships with other people, and my whole world with the refreshing life current I distribute.
And don’t stop with yourself: As a life-giving spirit, you can send a current of energizing life into another’s experience.
How to Cultivate Serenity
By Victor M. Parachin
Each day brings opportunities to take action, build resources and develop strategies for cultivating serenity and peace. Here are eight serenity suggestions:
1. Remember one of Jesus’ great promises: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (Jn. 14:27). The peace he leaves with us is the peace of experiencing God’s presence. No matter what your circumstances are, claim that gift through prayer by daily affirming the peace and serenity of Christ in your life.
When challenges and traumas emerge, be encouraged by this observation from New Testament scholar Dr. William Barclay, who says that the peace of Christ does not mean the absence of trouble. He writes in his book on the Gospel of John, “The peace which Jesus offers us is the peace of conquest. No experience of life can ever take it from us, and no sorrow, no danger, no suffering can ever make it less. It is independent of outward circumstances.”
2. Pay careful attention to your mental and spiritual attitudes. Are you being guided by fear or by faith? We are what we think. The mind is like a garden, and thoughts produce fruit. Abundant thoughts produce plentiful fruit; meager thoughts produce poor fruit. Review your thinking to be certain that the focus is upon faith and triumph, not despair and defeat.
3. Use the power of music. Back in the eighteenth century, German author Johann Paul Friedrich Richter noted “Music is the moonlight in the gloomy night of life.” Today there is scientific evidence that music can soothe frayed nerves.
At Baltimore’s St. Agnes Hospital, classical music was provided in the intensive care units. “Half an hour of music produced the same effect as ten milligrams of Valium,” says Dr. Raymond Bahr, head of the coronary-care unit. “Some patients who had been awake for three or four straight days were able to go into a deep sleep.” Other studies show that music can lower blood pressure, basal metabolism and respiration rates, thereby lessening physiological responses to stress. To increase serenity during times of high stress, make a point of listening to music that you truly enjoy.
4. Employ the therapy of laughter. “A cheerful heart is a good medicine,” declares the writer of Proverbs (17:22). That biblical wisdom is now confirmed by science. According to W. F. Fry, M.D., a psychiatrist and associate clinical professor emeritus at Stanford University Medical School, humor is a “direct antagonist to the three major negative emotions—anger, fear and depression.” There are times when we should just laugh at problems. Purposely taking time out to watch a television or film comedy not only helps us laugh but helps us look at our challenges from a different perspective.
5. Don’t expect perfection from yourself. Remind yourself that being human means making mistakes. If you make a mistake, forgive yourself and take the necessary steps to reclaim your life. Tone down negative and harsh thoughts of yourself by recalling how God views you: “You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you” (Isa. 43:4).
6. Live one day at a time. Many people are deprived of peace of mind because they live with anxiety over the past and with fear of the future. The way to eliminate such anxiety and fear is to take one step after another and live one day at a time.
7. Take care of your soul. Ultimately, serenity and peace are gifts from God. “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people ... to those who turn to him in their hearts” (Ps. 85:8). Today an increasing number of psychologists are noting the positive correlation between a person’s faith and his or her serenity. Tapping into faith produces spiritual and emotional benefits.
8. Practice the art of taking a minibreak. Life must never be reduced to movement from one appointment to another and from task to task. Jesus is a good example. After a day full of ministry, he instructed his disciples: “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while” (Mk. 6:31). The daily grind of life should be broken by periodically doing something different and pleasant. Go for a bike ride on a quiet road, play a favorite childhood game, visit a local tourist site, or spend a few hours on a beach.
How to Recognize God’s Voice
By Ellen Debenport
Imagine your spouse walks into the kitchen one day and says, “Honey, I’m going to the lumber store. God told me to build an ark.”
Imagine the day Zipporah was cooking over the campfire, and her husband Moses ambles in from the wilderness. “Listen, I was out with the sheep today when I saw this burning bush,” he begins. “So pack up the kids. We’re heading to Egypt so I can lead the Hebrews out of slavery.”
“Sure, Moses! Get washed up for supper.”
Now that thousands of years have passed, it’s easy to believe that God really spoke to the famous characters of the Bible, instructing them step-by-step through the course of ancient history. We don’t question that they heard the voice of God.
But someone making that claim today may be laughed at or locked up. In countless news stories, people have sworn that God told them to perform some ridiculous stunt or even commit a heinous crime.
So we may feel a little uncomfortable telling our friends we are guided by the voice of God, even in these days when stories of angels and near-death visions reach the mass market. We are likely to doubt our own experience of God.
How Do We Know When It’s Really God?
Mahatma Gandhi said, “God speaks to us every day only we don’t know how to listen.”
The Bible makes it sound so easy! Moses had his burning bush. Adam and Eve met God strolling through the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening. Isaiah had visions, and Samuel heard God calling his name in the middle of the night. Paul was struck blind and heard a voice from the heavens.
Jesus taught that God is within, always present. Clearly, the Bible’s vivid descriptions of hearing God’s voice represent intuition. Moses, Paul and the others might also have had dramatic mystical experiences, but they certainly had an inner knowing, an inner voice.
Yet so many inner voices demand our attention! How do we know which one is God and which are the old tapes? Fear? Ego? Anger? The lonely child?
Mary Manin Morrissey, in her book Building Your Field of Dreams, says we can learn to recognize God’s voice the way we would a good friend’s on the telephone, with the first “hello.”
Here are some ways to test whether our impulses are really divine:
• God never asks us to harm anyone. The results are win-win for everyone, working for the highest good of all, even if that isn’t immediately evident. Relationships, jobs and lifestyles may change radically as we follow God’s guidance, but we trust that God wants only good for us and our loved ones.
• Everything falls into place. Doors open miraculously. There is no struggle: the universe rushes to support us. This doesn’t mean we’ll see the big picture. Often, the lantern of faith shines only a few feet ahead on the path. But with each trusting step, we can see a little farther.
• This may not be our idea at all! Sometimes guidance feels like an assignment, not an option, and many people argue with God. Remember Moses? Who shall I say sent me? What if they don’t believe me? I’ve never been an eloquent speaker!
• Conversely, we may find ourselves suddenly wanting to do something we never dreamed of. We are more surprised than anyone by where we end up and how much we enjoy it. Paul, who had persecuted Christians, later read the message of Jesus with the zeal of a convert.
• We may even be guided to fulfill a lifelong desire, something we never thought possible.
• We experience love, joy and Truth. The path may be difficult—we may wonder whether God is still with us at times—but we experience an inner satisfaction and certainty.
• We finally stop asking whether we truly heard God’s voice. The question no longer has meaning for us, because we simply know, even if those around us think we’re nuts.
You Can’t Escape It!
Some people are able to start at this point. Their deep inner knowing, their communion with God, steers them through life, and they trust it completely.
Others experience more doubt and struggle, questioning whether they’re on the right path, whether they’ve heard God correctly. They don’t yet feel the resonance of God’s voice as distinct from all the others.
But here’s the good news: God won’t give up. If we are destined to carry out some divine idea, we won’t be able to shrug it off.
For me, God doesn’t just whisper within. If I’m supposed to get a message, I start to see it and hear it everywhere— books, sermons, television shows, conversations with friends.
I’ve never seen a burning bush, but I believe God communicates through nature too. I have been greatly comforted by sunrises and exhilarated by thunderstorms. Who does not feel hope at the sight of a rainbow?
There’s no escaping divine instructions. We can ignore them, laugh at them or argue with them—maybe for years. But I believe God will nudge us until we build that ark or get those slaves out of Egypt.
In the end, the only choice is to trust. God’s voice may speak to us in a garden, thunder at us on a mountaintop call our names in the night, or whisper from within. But God won’t go away. And hearing the voice is useless unless we heed it, trust it and step out in faith.
How to Use Affirmations in Daily Life
By Marge Brown
Affirmations focus our attention so that our thoughts and actions reflect our attention, our mindfulness. Disciplining our minds enables us to become masters of our lives.
Try these affirmations, or design your own!
- On awakening: Thank You, Creator, for this day. Guide me in all my activities.
- When showering: Let me flow with the energy of this day.
- On seeing your reflection in the mirror: I am a perfect child of God. May I see all others in this light.
- When putting on your shoes: I step into this day confidently understanding my purpose.
- When opening doors: Thank You, God, for the surprises, joys and miracles today.
- When traveling: God is protecting and watching over me and all travelers.
- When eating: Thank You, God, for this food. I honor all who have helped bring it to my table. May my body be completely nourished by it.
- When stopped at red lights: Pray for someone.
- When checking the time: Take time and connect with God, if only for a moment.
- When relating to the people in your life: Tell them often that you love them.
- When exchanging money: Let go freely and lovingly, knowing God is your source.
- When enjoying the outdoors: Give thanks for the sun, moon, stars, wind, water and the Earth.
How to Attract the Right Relationship
By Debbie Johnson
“YOU CAN’T GIVE FROM AN EMPTY BUCKET,” a wise woman once told me. That pearl of wisdom changed my life. It hit me like a ton of bricks that I had been trying for years to give without receiving, to give without filling my own love bucket, as so many of us compulsive givers do.
Once I realized I had been doing all the giving, refusing to receive, I turned that around. It took quite some time, but the results were dramatic. … I honestly believe with all my heart that if you feel filled with love and surrounded by love, you will attract love.
...With the foundations of honoring your true Self, believing and accepting more love in your life, the following steps will work well for you. Follow them to create a loving relationship that is the highest and best it can be for you.
Step One: Decide what you really want in a mate. In order to find someone who has the qualities you desire, of course, you must know what those qualities are. Perhaps you envision a kind, caring person. Later you think about communication, then fun and playfulness. Think about what’s most important to you. Write down every single quality you desire in a mate. There is no limit. I wrote 156 on my list!
Step Two: Create a key image. What I call a “key image” is a specific scene, taken from your perfect fantasy for your ideal mate. To develop a key image, think of a scene that fits your image of the right relationship [such as] a toast at your 25th wedding anniversary party. I used this key image before I met my husband, because I wanted a lifelong marriage and realized I would have to do better than just imagining myself getting married. I’d done that once already, and it hadn’t lasted long. I wanted to stay married.
Step Three: Be grateful. When I’ve been grateful for any amount of love in my life, even though it seemed very little at the time, I always got more. Being grateful works to keep us on top of life because it helps us stay focused on the positive. Whatever we focus upon is what we receive, so a focus on lack creates more lack.
Step Four: Pretend you are in love. I remember when I was younger feeling as though [love] would never happen, could never happen. Then when I did finally fall in love, I would think, “This can’t really be happening to me; it feels too good to be true.” So, of course, it went away. Until we can spiritually, mentally and emotionally accept a solid, healthy, steadfast love, it will never stay. Imagining you are in love will help it stick when it does come, because you will have gotten used to the feeling.
Step Five: Take action. If you haven’t already done everything you can think of to meet a kindred soul, why not have fun exploring the possibilities? Clubs and organizations, hobby classes, spiritual-growth seminars, dating services, volunteer work and many other options exist for your discovery.
Step Six: Let go and surrender the outcome to God. I had to be willing to face my greatest fear—being alone the rest of my life. Once I could finally face it, it wasn’t so bad. After all, who wants to be with someone just to be with someone?
When you are creating your ideal relationship, remember to look forward with a positive attitude to the growing experiences you will have. When the time is perfect for you to be in love, you will be.
Adapted from Think Yourself Loved by Debbie Johnson, published by Unity Books®.
How to Put a Positive Spin on Failure
By Eric Butterworth
In the game of life, the winner is the one who always remembers that we don’t have to let people or conditions determine how we are going to think or feel or act. We take responsibility for our own life, choosing always to respond to things from the highest and most positive perspective.
You may have set out to build a small business. Somehow it never worked out, and you had to accept foreclosure. This has all the makings of a dark experience, leaving you with scars that may keep you from trying again to succeed for fear of failing. It could leave you enchained to a poor self-image. But this need not be the result. You can put a positive spin on the occurrence. You always have a choice. You can determine that the apparent failure was an important part of your growth, an important learning experience.
Is Failure Really Failure?
Failure is not necessarily a bad thing. Thomas Edison failed hundreds of times. He was a researcher, and failure is what it is all about. In fact, research is the art of successful failure. With every failed experiment, Edison knew he was that much closer to the test that would succeed in revealing a new process, such as the incandescent light bulb.
You may have terminated your marriage of many years through the failure of two people to find communication and reconciliation. You may feel that you are a failure, especially after going into the relationship with such great expectations. Again the principle is that no experience is good or bad; what counts is how you view it.
It has been said that marriage is an important opportunity to grow. And you will grow, unless you permit the experience to form a block in your consciousness.
Turning Tombstones Into Signposts
Now, you may say that is all well and good for the present, but what of the failures and losses and heartaches of the years? “The past is beyond control,” you say.
The occurrences of yesteryear or even of yesterday are history. No matter how much you desire it or how hard you try, you can’t have them back to live over again. But your thoughts and memories of them are in the present and very much transformable.
The road from your past may be strewn with scores of tombstones, such as, “Here lie my greatest hopes that were dashed in this tragic occurrence,” or “Here lies my enthusiasm for life which was shattered by what he (or she) did to me.” And you may add, “So you see, the history of my life is set in stone, and there is nothing I can do about it now.” Of course, you cannot alter what is buried there, but you can change the writing on the tombstone, reshaping it into a signpost.
The prophet Joel said, “I will restore to you the years which the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). He is not saying that you can have the years back to live over again. But you can alter your thoughts about them.
Make a point of analyzing all these tombstones of the mind. Admit that the basic problem is not what happened, but what you did or did not do about it. The years referred to by the prophet Joel can be restored, not by living them over again, but through revising their place and power in your life history.
What is required of you is simply that with which you are entirely finished. As the butterfly gives up its cocoon, you must let go. This can be done by changing your thought now about what happened “back there.” Put a new spin on what happened; see it all in the bright light of your present spiritual awareness of the omnipresence of good. Soon all the tombstones along the way will be altered to read, “I came, I experienced, I grew, I let go, and I have pushed on to the high calling of God.”
With a newly formed vision of what life is and can be, get on with it. Oh, there may still be those times when you are not fulfilling your potential. Just remember, no matter what happens in you or to you, you can always put the right spin on everything. And this means that you are finally taking charge of your life.
Adapted from the article “Be Your Own Spin-Doctor” by Eric Butterworth that originally appeared in Unity Magazine®.
How to Invite Health in 11 Steps
By Susan Smith Jones, Ph.D.
Sometimes we just need gentle guidance and daily reminders about how to invite more vibrancy in to our bodies and lives. Here, at a glance, are 11 key suggestions that will make a mighty difference when you incorporate them into your life. See which ones you can embrace today.
1. Take time to nourish your body and soul with a balanced diet of wholesome, natural foods. Choose from a wide variety of colorful foods as close to the way nature made them as possible. Vary your diet daily and strive for at least 50 percent fresh, raw foods. Living foods increase energy, restore youthful vitality, and promote radiant health.
2. Drink at least eight glasses of water daily. A lack of moisture in skin creates wrinkles the way lack of moisture in grapes creates raisins. Drinking ample water is necessary to lubricate your joints, feed your cells, and keep your skin—that constantly loses moisture to the environment—clear, soft, and youthful. Pure water fosters vitality.
3. Eat only as much as needed and not much after nightfall (two to three hours before sleep). Grazing on small meals more frequently throughout the day—every three to four hours—stokes metabolism, stabilizes blood sugar, and helps reduce cholesterol and unhealthy habits of overeating. It’s important to plan your meals so you won’t feel famished.
4. Exercise regularly. Find a balance of strengthening, stretching, and aerobic activities. Make your program a top priority in your life—a nonnegotiable activity, and then stay committed to it! There is nothing that will benefit you more in terms of being happy, disease-free, vibrantly youthful, and energetic than a regular fitness program. Whenever possible, exercise outside in a natural, beautiful environment.
5. Sleep well. Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep nightly. Consistent lack of sleep leads to many health problems, including wrinkles, depression, weight gain and aging, low or no libido, toxic buildup, irritability and impatience, memory loss, lethargy, relationship problems, and accidents. Refrain from watching bedtime TV news. Make your bedroom an exquisite, peaceful sanctuary. Put three drops of lavender oil on your nighttime pillow.
6. Simplify your life. By doing so, you will increase your joy and zest for living. Simplification is a powerful process. Simplifying doesn’t necessarily mean restricting activities, but it does mean “uncluttering” your life. Put all your energy into activities you really care about and enjoy. Activities, material things, and relationships are all time and energy consumers. Take inventory. … Being simple with life—not naïve, but clear—allows you to experience the present fully and deeply.
7. Live in the present. Don’t spend time comparing the present with the past. Every new step you take is upon sacred ground. Every moment is imbued with wonder and miracles. When you’re trapped in the past, it’s impossible to be fully present and pay attention to what’s happening around you. Rather than living with continual five- or 10-year plans, concentrate on living one day at a time. Be out in nature as much as possible to help feed your soul. … Look for miracles each day.
8. Encourage the child in you to come out and play. So many of us are searching for the “fountain of youth,” the secret that will enable us to live long and healthy lives. Although special diets, supplements, and exercise are important and have their place in rejuvenating body, mind, and spirit, it is my belief that the real secret to living a quality life, full of vitality and aliveness, comes from ... our attitudes, thoughts, and how we view ourselves and the world around us. … Moment by moment, choose to be aware of everything around you. Pay attention. Participate in life fully. Maintain a childlike enthusiasm for everyday chores.
9. Communicate thoughts and feelings clearly with coworkers, friends, and loved ones. Remember that we all desire the same thing—respect, kindness, appreciation, validation, and love. Keep the Golden Rule as your default position in life and treat others the way you would like to be treated. Silently bless everyone in your life each day.
10. Lift your attitude UP. See the best in everyone and everything. If you are facing a challenge, handle it with vigor and poise and, at the same time, find opportunities to laugh and smile often. Both of these healthful activities firm your facial muscles and reduce stress. Laughter is life’s elixir and our soul’s smile. Cultivate a joyful attitude of gratitude. … One of my favorite ways to maintain an upbeat attitude is by reading Daily Word® each day. It’s been a sacred practice of mine for more than 40 years.
11. Love yourself and live peacefully. What better evidence of spiritual strength could we have than a peaceful mind and a loving heart? … Create an empowered presence and invite joy, love, and peace into your life. Dream abundantly! Say yes to living your highest vision. Know that you deserve the very best—life’s richest blessings. Celebrate yourself and life.
How to Forgive Yourself
By Alan Cohen
I signed up with a trash removal service that requires rural customers to mark their addresses on their garbage cans. I took a can of white spray paint and etched my street number on one of the brown rubber cans. I set the can in the back of my SUV, drove it to the end of my road, and left the garbage in the appropriate spot. When I returned to my garage, I was irked to notice that some of the white paint had rubbed off on the back of my seat; apparently, it had not fully dried on the can. But it did dry on my car. I tried to remove the paint, but by that time it was stuck fast.
Over the next weeks and months, every time I noticed the paint marks on the back of the seat, I felt foolish; a stream of judgment chided me: “If you had paid closer attention and left more time for the paint to dry, this wouldn’t have happened. Now you have ruined your car seat, and every time you look at it, you are to be reminded of your carelessness.” (Do you know that voice?)
Then one day I accompanied a friend to the local hardware store to find some paint. On a shelf I noticed a small can called Goof Off®—a remover of paint and other hard-to-get-out stains. I grabbed a can, took it home, and applied it to the defiant stain. To my delight, the paint disappeared instantly!
I now see this product—especially its name—as symbolic of forgiveness. The name acknowledges that you made a mistake (“goof”)—but it also acknowledges that it can be undone (“off”). If you are subject to the tyranny of guilt, this name offers an especially important teaching: Any sin is forgivable. Any error is correctable. Nothing is etched in stone. You always have another chance.
A Course in Miracles distinguishes between a sin and an error: a sin requires punishment, but an error simply requires correction. The Course goes on to tell us that we have made many errors, but we have never sinned. All our sins (“self-inflicted nonsense”) are undone the moment we bring our judgmental thoughts into the healing light of love.
The story is told about a Filipino woman named Josephine who claimed to have daily conversations with Jesus. A cynical priest heard about Josephine and sought to debunk her. He went to her and asked, “Is it true that you talk to Jesus every day?”
“Yes, I do,” she answered.
“Then the next time you talk to Jesus, would you ask him what sin I committed when I was in the seminary?” the priest asked smugly. Then he walked away proudly, certain he had cornered the charlatan and would soon expose her.
A week later the priest returned to Josephine and asked her, “Did you ask Jesus what my sin was?”
“Yes, I did,” she answered.
“And what did he say?” asked the priest.
“He said, ‘I forgot.’”
There is no sin so heinous that it cannot be undone by reframing it in compassion. Love has no consciousness of our sins; God sees us only as pure and innocent. It is we who have fabricated the concept of sin and crushed our life force under it. A Course in Miracles also tells us, “God does not forgive because He never has condemned.” In the inspiring movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon, the Pope tells St. Francis, “In our obsession with Original Sin, we have overlooked Original Innocence.”
All self-judgment can be undone by recognizing that we have never committed a crime against God. I met a man who, during his senior year in college, was walking past the college bookstore where he saw a large display of yearbooks on the sidewalk outside. Since this fellow had no money, he grabbed a book and kept walking. Over the next few days he began to feel guilty about his theft, and he decided to return the book and confess. He went to the bookstore manager and guiltily admitted, “I stole this book.”
The manager told him, “Come with me.” Then he led the student to the yearbook display and pointed to a sign the young man had not seen: “Free—Please take one.”
I am not suggesting you go out and steal anything or hurt anyone. This true story serves as a metaphor: For every sin you can find in your life, God can find a way to forgive it. For every way you have separated yourself from love, higher consciousness reminds you that you have never for a moment been outside of grace. And for every paint stain you berate yourself for leaving, there is a can of Goof Off to remove it.
Adapted from Looking In for Number One: Adventures in Uncommon Sense, published by Unity Books.
How to Grow Young
By Martha Smock
I remember my mother once saying to me: “I don’t feel old! I don’t feel any different inside!”
… We may fear old age. We may dread the thought of being limited in activity; we may dread the thought of becoming a burden to our family and friends or having to depend on society for our care and welfare. If we think along these lines, we can build up a bleak picture …
The number of years lived brings many changes, but years in themselves do not age us nor do they change us. It is how we live our years that makes the difference. Our growing is from within; our progress is marked by inward steps in consciousness, not by dates on the calendar.
All of us have the inner feeling that we are capable of much more than we have yet expressed, and this feeling is not a mistaken one. At any age, how ageless is our vision, how ageless are our dreams!
With the passing of years, changes take place in our bodies, in our circumstances; life moves on and we move with it. But with childlike faith and in a childlike spirit, at any age we can find joy in living and we can keep alive the feeling of youth, of agelessness. It is our secret weapon against belief in old age. We can refuse to equate the number of years we have lived with ill health, with faults and failings and despair. We can remind ourselves that we are beloved children of God, now and forever.
We are spiritual beings, here for a purpose, and we are needed and important, whatever our age. Best of all, we have a youthful spirit that is irrepressible, that time cannot quench, that the passing of years cannot touch.
How to Change Your Life
By Charles Roth
Sometime, someplace, each of us must come to a point where we say, “I’ve had enough of this kind of life. I want to change. There must be more to life than I am experiencing.”
A spiritual approach to life holds the answer. In the world of effects, we may seem to be merely ants, computers, objects to be used. But in the inner world, the spiritual universe, we are individuals; we are points of expression of a miracle power. You have meaning and purpose because you are part of a spiritual whole—just as the smallest part of your body is important to the normal and perfect functioning of the whole body.
You can begin today, right where you are, with the knowledge and understanding you presently have.
Get Away From It All
Take time to go apart and sit quietly. Get away from all the distractions that clutter your consciousness so that you cannot focus your attention on the outer universe; avoid the distraction of television, newspapers, books (even Truth books).
Then as you sit quietly in meditation, gently ease all distracting thoughts from your field of consciousness. Don’t hurry them, don’t force them to go; simply become aware of them, bless them and invite them to go. This may take more than a couple of minutes, for your outer-oriented ego with its go-go need for continuous outer distractions may say, “Let’s get it over with. Hurry up! You’ve been sitting here long enough. Let’s do something useful!”
But if you are serious about changing your life and the direction in which you are headed, let something deeper than your personal ego take charge. This something cannot easily be described or labeled, but it can be experienced. We can call it the super-ego, the indwelling Christ, or the basic I AM of you.
Living in the Now
The way to become excited or energized, or to feel fully and completely alive, is to look to and depend upon our inner contact with that inner energy field we call God, or the kingdom of God. This does not mean that we do not play golf, or bowl, or enjoy relaxation in many outer ways. The point is that we do not need these things in order to be happy. We are not slaves to outer things—we are free souls!
Here are two suggestions for a start: first, make more than a halfhearted attempt to meditate; second, live deeply in the present moment. If you are going to work on the premise that real energy, real excitement (by which we mean that feeling of being fully and enthusiastically alive) comes from a source within you, then it follows that you have to spend some time getting acquainted, being at home in those far reaches of inner space.
Exploring Inner Space
Once you are launched on a program of inner space exploration and discovery— once you taste, experience, make a part of yourself that inner atmosphere of peace and wonder and humility—you will find a new quality in your consciousness. You find that you look forward to living deeply in the present moment. This happens not just in your meditation times but as you live the hours and days of your entire life.
Become self-energized by the power of God within you. You can live a truly wonderful life in the present moment. Gradually the light of the I AM suffuses your consciousness, spreading like the light of dawn.
Gradually you change. Your habits change, your values change, your circumstances change and your life changes. You are no longer utterly and hopelessly dependent on other people and outer conditions to make you feel right or good or secure.
Peace is power, for out of stillness, strength is born, and out of inner harmony, productivity flourishes. Rest in that inner peace.
Adapted from Mind: The Master Power, published by Unity Books.
By Mary-Alice and Richard Jafolla
A cosmic intelligence in you responds when you acknowledge it. You communicate with this intelligence through an inner awareness, and probably the best way to establish this communication is by sitting calmly and opening yourself to the wisdom of this intelligence. The most common name for this activity is meditation, but don’t let the word scare you—there’s really nothing strange about it.
Meditation is the conscious direction of one’s attention to the inner self. It allows you to get in touch with that wisdom deep within you that can always be relied upon to let you know what to do. Because it is the quickest and surest way to increase your awareness, regular meditation should be an important part of your daily activity.
To become aware of your soul’s needs, set aside time each day for regular, quiet meditation. …
Find a comfortable chair in a quiet spot, close your eyes, and sit in silence. Don’t try to think of anything, but if a thought floats through your mind, simply observe it. Do not analyze it or try to get rid of it.
One good meditative technique and one that works for most people is to simply observe your breathing. That’s all. Simply become consciously aware of your breathing. As you do this, keep breathing naturally. In ... and out. In ... and out. In ... and out. Don’t change the rhythm in any way. Merely be aware of your breathing. Concentrate on it. Actually experience it. This works well to keep idle thoughts at bay.
For the first week or so it may be difficult to sit quietly for even a brief time. Your mind, like an inquisitive monkey, may jump from thought to thought, rebelling at the unfamiliar stillness. But keep at it. It won’t be long before the hyperactive monkey settles down and you are savoring this quiet time.
Begin with one five-minute session in the morning and another at night. Eventually you can increase these sessions to 20 minutes or as many minutes as you feel comfortable with. In time, the right answers and the right direction for you will come forth from your own inner spirit, for it is most assuredly there waiting to help you.
Adapted from Turn-Around: When Your Life Is In Crisis, © 2002, available at www.jafolla.com. Used with permission of the authors.
How to Live Your Dreams
By Jim Rosemergy
You have a singular purpose—to know God, to discover what you are. It is a shared purpose, for it is my purpose too. You have a mission. It can be described in many ways, but the simplest is “love.” You are to live your life as if you were united with everyone and everything, because you are. You are to be a blessing to this world, and because of the life you live, you will be blessed. I have the same mission and quest.
To assist you in living and enable you to fulfill your mission, you have been given a gift. If you have not yet found your gift, now is the time to begin to seek it earnestly. Not only will you find happiness and joy in sharing your gift, but your Creator will find an avenue of expression into the world. …
It’s Time to Dream Again
Through the course of your life, many “hints” have been given about your talent or skill. What can you do and lose all sense of time in the doing? For me it is writing. I can begin to write late in the evening and fail to realize that the sun is rising. What have you wanted to do since you were a child? Maybe you were encouraged to put aside this foolish dream, because people said no one makes a decent living doing that! Now is the time to dream again.
When are you most joyful? Do you enjoy being with people or are you most at ease when you are alone? What are your current hobbies? Perhaps they tell you of the natural inclinations that Spirit has planted like a seed within you. Do you receive your greatest sense of accomplishments in helping others? What could you be happy doing all day?
Spirit in Expression
Questions such as these loosen the soil of our souls, so seeds planted long ago can sprout and grow. Once, a woman told me that her life was changed when she heard a minister talk about hidden talents. She recalled how much she enjoyed painting, even though she had not lifted a brush for years. When she returned home, she took out her art supplies and began to paint. Today, watercolor is an important part of her life; she experiences joy in losing herself in painting, and others experience beauty because of her special gift.
I suspect this story can be repeated again and again. Of course, many of us have not developed the talents that rest within us, but we can begin. It is never too late. ... Remember, the gift is an avenue of Spirit’s expression.
I heard a story of a woman who earned a six-figure income in international business, but she gave it up to ride a bicycle in the Olympics. It seems absurd, but her story was an inspiration to those who are tempted to be “foolish.” I don’t know how skillful she was as a racer, but as a liver of life, she was a champion. You see, it is not always about winning, for being number one is a human dream. The key is attunement to the divine intent. This oneness allows the divine message to be given. In the case of the Olympic cyclist, the message is not to abandon our jobs and ride into the sunset; it is to have the courage to follow an inner voice.
The Gift of Those in Need
Perhaps you persist in insisting that you have no special gift or skill. Maybe you are thinking about those people who are handicapped or born with disabilities. How can someone lying comatose in a hospital become an avenue of God’s expression?
The Truth is that people who appear to have little or are unable to speak or move have a great gift to give. Their gift is their need. Wherever there is a need—a person lying comatose in the hospital or those dying of famine in distant lands—a gift is being given that calls us to compassion and asks us to help. The tragedy is that we often fail to realize the wonder of this gift. We lose an opportunity for the Presence to be made manifest as love and caring. However, when we receive the gift of need and answer with compassion, soothing words, and helpful actions, the divine intent is fulfilled. God’s joy is evident, people are helped, the human family is more unified and feels once more the thrill of the expression of God’s presence.
Adapted from The Quest for Meaning: Living a Life of Purpose by Jim Rosemergy, published by Unity Books.
How to Slow Down and Enjoy Life
By Susan Smith Jones, Ph.D.
Follow these motivational tips for slowing down and enjoying each day, brought to you by Unity. Adapted from "How to Slow Down and Enjoy Life" by Susan Smith Jones, Ph.D.
What causes our need to rush? It’s easy to assume that the cause is economic: We must make enough money to pay for our chosen lifestyles. Sometimes we feel that something is wrong when we are not busy.
But the real cause for our need to rush is a lifestyle that leaves certain basic needs unfulfilled.
By crowding our schedules with “more”—more socializing, more eating, more work, more activity, more appointments—we may be trying to fill the emptiness we feel within.
When you direct your attention and energies outward, you lose a sense of the wonder, beauty, and magnificence within yourself—where true happiness, joy, and peace originate. By slowing down and redirecting your energies inward, you will not only train your brain to relax, but fill that feeling of emptiness with a new sense of yourself which can ultimately change your life.
One of the world’s leading experts on the brain is Herbert Benson, M.D., author of The Relaxation Response and Your Maximum Mind. He developed relaxation techniques that have improved the lives of countless people.
What Benson calls “the relaxation response” is the body’s ability to enter into a state characterized by an overall reduction of the metabolic rate and a lowered heart rate.
According to Benson, this state of relaxation also acts as a door to a renewed mind and a changed life, a feeling of awareness.
Physiological changes occur when you are relaxed; there is harmonizing or increased communication between the two sides of the brain, resulting in feelings often described as well-being, unboundedness, infinite connection, and peak experience.
Begin the Practice of Relaxation
1. Visualize yourself feeling relaxed and peaceful.
2. Progressively relax your body, beginning with your toes and ending with your head. Breathe slowly and deeply and totally relax each part of your body. As you go along, say to yourself, “My toes, feet, legs, and so on are relaxed,” until you have gone through your entire body. Then rest for a while in the quiet and silence. Listening to a relaxation or meditation tape also may help you relax.
3. Create a sanctuary within yourself where you can go at any time, just by closing your eyes and desiring to be there. Your sanctuary is your ideal place of relaxation, tranquility, beauty, safety, and calmness. Visit your inner sanctuary several times a week, for just a few minutes, and come back more relaxed and peaceful.
4. Look at a picture of a beautiful landscape.
5. Conscious breathing. This is something that the great spiritual teacher and founder of Self-Realization Fellowship, Paramhansa Yogananda, emphasized in all of his books and home study lessons. He encouraged taking a few minutes, several times a day, to breathe slowly and deeply, focusing on your breath. This will calm and soothe you and help you to slow down and get centered.
6. Recite your favorite inspirational quote, passage, or affirmation a few times, slowly and deliberately, while giving it your total attention. One of my favorite affirmations is: This day I choose to live in perfect peace.
Although you are taking positive steps to relax, do not feel that you must live your life in slow motion. Your goal is to touch your inner fountain of calmness and bring that calmness to everything you do. This focused calmness will bring clarity, richness, and new energy to your life.
I know of no more effective way of bringing about relaxation, calmness, and a slower pace than through meditation—turning within in silence and contemplating your true nature as God created you. The calmness you feel during this daily practice will stay with you in everything you do.
Take time to nurture and protect that calmness by meditating regularly. You’ll find that your life will become more rewarding, you’ll get more accomplished, and you’ll have more fun. Paradoxically, you will have more time to celebrate life when you incorporate meditation into your daily lifestyle.
Take time every day to cultivate calmness, and offer that calmness to everyone you meet. What a wonderful gift to give!
How to Create Affirmations
By Brenda S. Ehret
Many years ago I began a practice of affirming prosperity in my life. For years I affirmed abundance while experiencing no change in my financial affairs. Ultimately, I came to realize that all the while I was avidly affirming prosperity, I was firmly holding the belief that there is not enough money to go around.
When we embark on the affirmation adventure, it is important to shine some light on our core beliefs. In order to actually manifest or actualize our highest good, our core beliefs must be in alignment with the affirmation.
For instance, if I am affirming that I choose prosperity for myself and gladly accept all the good that comes to me, I must be willing to implicitly trust that God is my source and is indeed providing all that I desire in order to manifest prosperity in my life. Only when I changed my mind and released my belief that “there’s never enough” did I begin to experience true prosperity!
The practice of affirmations comes out of a deep desire for change in our lives. When we truly are ready and willing to do what it takes to create change, we are ready to set the affirmation process into motion.
In order to do this, we use a divine law called the “law of attraction.” Basically, this law states that we attract into our lives whatever we focus our attention and energy on.
Typically, an affirmation is geared toward something we want to create in our lives—a circumstance that does not currently exist. A key to creating an affirmation is to begin by claiming the condition in the present tense. For example, if I desire to create better health for myself, I might affirm: I am in perfect health. I choose to exercise daily and to eat nutritiously. It is imperative to begin the affirmation with “I.”
It can be tempting to unwittingly add a future tense to the affirmation. This sets up an unconscious belief that the desired circumstance will indeed remain forever in the future. Note, in the previous affirmation there is no “I am going to” or “I will.” Affirmations are stated in the present tense.
If daily prayer or meditation is a commitment you are willing to make, you can build an affirmation around that desire. I set aside 30 minutes daily for communion with God. Another example might be: Through daily prayer time, I deepen my spiritual life.
Once you’ve created the affirmation that is perfect for you, it is important to instill it in your consciousness daily. A daily walk or daily drive is an opportune time to repeat your affirmations.
If you’re willing to see how affirmations can change your life, commit to practicing affirmations for a minimum of 30 days. I bring about change in my life through practicing affirmations for the next 30 days. Give it a try—you could change your life!
How to Create a Treasure Map
By Mary Katherine MacDougall
It may seem a little far-fetched to think that cutting out pictures and pasting them on heavy paper or cardboard can bring good to us or change our lives. But treasure mapping is a deliberate choosing and working toward good.
There are many kinds of maps. They can be any shape or size. Large ones are easy to see from a distance; small ones can be placed inconspicuously.
Begin your map by making a decision: What is this map for? If you have many desires, choose the most important one—your first good. Approach mapping with pleasure and with humility, for you are using your inner power to think, to decide, to image, to believe, to accept.
All maps should be as simple as possible—with clear, vivid pictures, preferably in color.
Maps need words, for there is power in words— thought, spoken and written. Strong affirmations give strength to expectancy of the pictured good. Biblical promises remind you that you have a rich heritage from God.
Always use a symbol for God—a Bible or a church or whatever signifies to you that God is the one and only source of your good.
Do not forget to add money to your map in some form, if the desired good requires financing. This can be in the form of checks written out in full, or “play” money can be attached to the map to symbolize that all money needed will be provided.
Let God help you all the way through. Pray for help in deciding on the desire. Thank God continually for bringing about the good you want. Show your cooperation by listening and heeding any direction you receive.
After you have made your map, expect it to work. While you affirm and picture the good you want to experience, thank God that the good is already created: Thank You, God, for answered prayer. I now accept this or something better for the good of all concerned. This good now comes to me perfectly, completely and in peace.
Picturing an Abundant Life
A treasure map pictures what we want. It has been called “pictured prayer.” Just as a road map indicates the way to a planned destination, a treasure map helps us get what we desire—healing, supply, a job, possessions, happiness. Physically, it is a piece of paper on which we have placed pictures of what we want with statements of faith.
We think, and we form our world after the pattern of our thinking. A map helps us think right so that we can and do create what we want to experience. It keeps us close to God. It reminds us every time we look at it that we are one with God and divine abundance.
Color helps you focus and remember. Use pink when mapping for health, deeper pink or red for love, “money” green for wealth—bringing gold for prosperity, orange for energy, heavenly blue or clear yellow for spiritual unfoldment, lavender for service. Often color pictures are more effective against a neutral or white background.
How to Discover Your Worth
By Coach Felicia
Originally appeared in Daily Word®
My future was bright … if one were to judge my life by the socially imposed checklists by which we usually measure success. I was popular in school. I was an honors student from a good home. But at the age of 16, I found myself spiraling into a hopeless seven-year dark night of the soul.
As I headed to college, I masked my depression and medicated my pain with cold medicine—and other sleep-inducing medications. Ages 16-23 are a painful blur. I only remember the hollowness of my soul impaled by deep despair.
After graduation, I felt more confused and alone! I battled suicidal thoughts but my faith in God kept a small flicker of hope burning. Deep down, underneath my heartbreak, I still believed that my life could change.
I remember the night it did. It was a Saturday evening and my sister was out with her new boyfriend. She’d scored tickets to a movie premiere I wanted to attend. When she told me she only had two tickets and one was for him, I felt so lost and left behind. I cried for hours until I felt my heart would break. Suddenly, I heard my grandma’s voice tell me “Get up. Heartbreak can kill a person.” Although she was miles away, she seemed to be right in the room. And the words that I’d once heard her utter in my childhood came back to save me.
My tears turned into a prayer. I asked God for the strength and wisdom to change. I got up from my knees determined to fight for my emotional health. My change was gradual and often painful. I read my Bible and listened to sermons—searching for hope and purpose. But I knew I had to do more than read and be inspired, because transformation is the result of taking action.
Over time, I realized that many factors fed into my depression. One of the primary culprits was that I had fallen into the trap of living up to images. I was more invested in what others thought of me than I was in being me. Social pressure can make it hard to honor your own voice, but I learned there are three things we must speak up for:
The first is our truths. We can heal and thrive when we refuse to remain captive to others’ perceptions. The extent to which we can be transparent and open determines the freedom and self-acceptance we are able to enjoy. Opting for pretense instead of reality results in emotional imprisonment.
We must also speak up for our boundaries. The word no is a complete sentence. Knowing when and how to draw lines in our relationships helps us to avoid unnecessary stress and becoming overwhelmed. Our “nos” create the boundaries that are critical to helping us establish and maintain our identity.
Finally, we must stand up for our feelings. We have to work with and through our feelings in order to maintain a healthy outlook and attitude. Denial used to be my default for handling intense emotions. If someone hurt me, rather than face the pain and confront them, I would minimize the impact on my feelings. I became so numb that I found it difficult to connect with myself.
Are you living in an image trap? Throughout the next week, pay special attention to how you show up in different social settings. Note the moments you feel uncomfortable or inadequate. How do you handle those times?
Define your wealth! Affirm aloud “God wants to use me just as I am to change the world!” Practice journaling to help increase your self-awareness. Being clear on your identity will help you live with freedom and passion. It’s time for you to live your worth!
How to Pray
How to Pray
Prayer is connecting with God. In prayer, you create a sacred space in which you commune with God. Unity teaches the following Five-Step Prayer Process to deepen one’s connection with God and to heighten one’s awareness of God within:
Set aside time each day for prayer. Begin your quiet time by relaxing your body and opening your mind to an awareness of God. Breathe deeply, knowing that you are in the presence of God and the presence of God is within you. Let go of your concerns and know that all is well.
As you close your eyes and release any thought of the world around you, begin to think about God … about God’s presence in your life. Focus your mind on a single thought or idea or scripture that resonates with you. Repeat this idea over and over, either silently or aloud until it becomes your only thought.
Allow this focused state of mind to move you into a deeper awareness of God. “Be still … and know that I am God.” Be still as you connect with this divine presence within you.
From the depth of your being, know that you are one with God. This knowing, this realization as you experience God’s holy presence is “silent soul communion.” In this receptive state of mind and heart, listen for the inspiration of God, the answers to your prayers.
Let gratitude be your heart’s joyous response to this experience of communion with God and with God’s infinite goodness. Give thanks for blessings to come, ready to receive your good.
How to Accept Yourself
By Robert Brumet
Originally appeared in Daily Word®
At the beginning of each year, we put great effort into making resolutions and trying to change ourselves in order to be happy. We tell ourselves that if only we were thinner or looked younger, smarter, nicer, or prettier, we would be loved, worthy, and would fit in society. We may have never thought that accepting who we truly are, and all of our human experience, is the greatest gift and the surest route to happiness.
We all yearn to be loved just as we are. Love that is “earned” feels hollow and does not truly satisfy us. We want to be loved unconditionally. The way to experience total acceptance of our self is to open our hearts to the Divine Love already within us in the present moment.
The deepest desire of our hearts is to experience the fullness of God’s love, which is freely given. But because we are conditioned from birth to believe that the love we seek must come from someone, or something outside us, we think it must be earned. We go through life seeking deep satisfaction from people, places, or things. Our very identity forms around the strategies we adopt to get the love we seek. Only when we let go of the attachment to our own ego—our personal sense of self or concept of “me”—do we fully experience God’s love.
Our personal concept of self is based on time: what happened to us in the past or our plans for the future. Nothing that is based upon the concept of time—people, places, or things—will bring the satisfaction we seek. The only way to perceive Divine Love is to be fully open and present to this moment; fully accepting our experience of life right now. This is the practice of Radical Self-Acceptance.
God’s love is always available in the present moment—but most of the time, we aren’t! Divine Love hasn’t left us, but we leave it every time we abandon the present moment. We seek self-acceptance and love as if they were commodities that can be acquired, like a car, a degree, or the house of our dreams. But this desperate seeking separates us from fully accepting our self in the present moment. Right here, right now is the only place where we can find what we desire most.
Radical acceptance of the here and now is a form of Divine Love—the most transformative power there is. The practice of Radical Self-Acceptance begins when we stop looking for love in the future and accept our experience of life in this very moment. We fully accept each life experience without resistance, analysis, interpretation, manipulation, or control. We experience each sensation, emotion, and thought completely, without judgment, and then we let it go. If it is difficult to accept what is, we can accept our own resistance to that situation. With deep acceptance, we will see that the part of us that is aware of our resistance is itself free of resistance.
Radical Self-Acceptance does not mean we enjoy every experience that arises. Acceptance is not the same as liking something. It also means that, while I accept my present internal experience completely, I act ethically and responsibly in the world.
The word “radical” is derived from the word “root.” We can find the love we seek at the very root of every experience. That which is true can be found only in the present moment. As we bring awareness, acceptance, and open-hearted kindness to each present moment experience, the quality of that experience begins to change inside us: love takes root and begins to blossom from within us. As we accept our self, we begin to see we are the love we
We find it easier to share the love we are with others. In fact, we find great joy in doing so. Just as a mother loves her newborn child, we find it natural and deeply satisfying to love others. We feel gratitude for the opportunity to share with others the love arising from deep within us. Eventually, we see that it is not “our” love at all, but Universal Love, inseparable from life itself, that moves through us.
As we bring awareness, acceptance, and kindness into every experience of our lives, we find ourselves becoming joy-filled channels of the ever-present love; this is the experience of Radical Self-Acceptance.
How to Meditate
By Martha Giudici
Relaxing the mind and body, going within, finding our spiritual center, achieving a sense of oneness, and bringing that sense of oneness into the outer world—this is the process of meditation. This is the process that can put us back in touch with Spirit.
Guided and Nonguided Meditation
There are two primary ways of meditating—guided and nonguided.
In guided meditation, the leader speaks positive, uplifting words or intones sound. As meditators, we let our minds flow with the sound or word in quiet repose to the one source, God.
In nonguided meditation, we allow our thoughts to flow freely with one particular idea to reach new levels of awareness. This is a state where we receive new input about the word or idea without any sense of direction. Another type of nonguided meditation is allowing our minds to flow freely without a thought or an idea being first introduced.
In nonguided meditation, we often use symbols—words, ideas, pictures, or phrases—as starting points for directing our minds. When we flow with such symbols, our minds reveal new input from sources deep within us.
Steps of Meditation
Everyone who meditates uses some essential steps in preparing for the meditative process. They are:
Relaxation—breathing, exercise, imagery, and relaxation for meditation exercises.
Concentration—focus the mind. To concentrate, we can use words, mental imagery, or pictured imagery.
Meditation—when we let our minds flow free, we can let them flow free on different ideas, symbols, colors, or spoken words. We can even sing affirmative thoughts.
Realization—oneness in the quiet. This is the time of oneness with the Spirit within us. In Unity, we call this time the Silence, but we have also named the process that achieves the silence, the Silence.
Thanksgiving—acceptance of that which has occurred in the Silence. At the close of each experience, we take time to give thanks for that which has come to us in renewal, in healing, in guidance, and in a new awareness.
Tips to Help You Get Started
1. Do not be anxious or concerned about anything that comes to you. If imagery comes, do not repress it. Observe and release it. If you have a hard time concentrating, don’t strain or criticize yourself, but woo your wandering thoughts back to your spiritual center.
2. It is good to spend at least 20 minutes each day in meditation. You may want to begin your day with a short meditation and then take more time in the Silence later on. Do not try to meditate close to mealtimes or after eating, because the meditation process and the digestion process interfere with one another.
3. Find a quiet place to sit in a comfortable position. Your spine should be erect but not stiff.
4. If you are sitting in a chair, place both feet flat on the floor. It is best not to cross your legs; if you do, you may find after a time you become uncomfortable.
5. Where you place your hands is a matter of personal preference. Some people sit with their hands upturned so that they feel as if they are in a state of receptivity. Others sit with their hands turned down on their knees. Find the position that works for you.
6. Close your eyes to help quiet your mind. After you have become a practiced meditator, you can have your eyes open or closed and it will make no difference.
7. Once you are seated with your spine erect but not stiff, your feet on the floor, your hands in the most comfortable position, and your eyes closed, take a deep breath, and then let it out slowly.
8. Feel all tension flowing out with your breath, then resume normal breathing. Let your breathing go in and out very naturally, very slowly. Become aware of your breathing, and feel relaxed with it.
9. Take another deep breath. With this breath, relax even more as you exhale. Let all tension, all care flow out and away from you, then resume normal breathing as you continue relaxing your whole body. Use the process that is most helpful to you to further relax and begin your meditative experience.
Your meditation should be a creative experience. What works for one person may not work for another. You alone will find that which is best for you.
There is much to be gained and much to be learned in the world of meditation, including inner peace, freedom from stress, and a renewed joy for living. Be prepared now for a journey into a world that may be entirely new but a world that is creative and fruitful in many ways.
How to Use the Golden Key
By Emmet Fox
Scientific prayer will enable you to get yourself, or anyone else, out of any difficulty. It is the golden key to harmony and happiness.
To those who have no acquaintance with the mightiest power in existence, this may appear to be a rash claim, but it needs only a fair trial to prove that, without a shadow of doubt, it is a just one. You need take no one’s word for it, and you should not. Simply try it for yourself.
God is omnipotent, and we are God’s image and likeness and have dominion over all things. This is the inspired teaching, and it is intended to be taken literally, at its face value. The ability to draw on this power is not the special prerogative of the mystic or the saint, as is so often supposed, or even of the highly trained practitioner. Everyone has this ability. Whoever you are, wherever you may be, the golden key to harmony is in your hand now. This is because in scientific prayer it is God who works, and not you, and so your particular limitations or weaknesses are of no account in the process. You are only the channel through which the divine action takes place, and your treatment will be just the getting of yourself out of the way. Beginners often get startling results the first time, for all that is essential is to have an open mind and sufficient faith to try the experiment. Apart from that, you may hold any views on religion, or none.
As for the actual method of working, like all fundamental things, it is simplicity itself. All you have to do is this: Stop thinking about the difficulty, whatever it is, and think about God instead. This is the complete rule, and if only you will do this, the trouble, whatever it is, will disappear. It makes no difference what kind of trouble it is. It may be a big thing or a little thing; it may concern health, finance, a lawsuit, a quarrel, an accident, or anything else conceivable; but whatever it is, stop thinking about it and think of God instead—that is all you have to do.
It could not be simpler, could it? God could scarcely have made it simpler, and yet it never fails to work when given a fair trial.
Do not try to form a picture of God, which is impossible. Work by rehearsing anything or everything that you know about God. God is wisdom, truth, inconceivable love. God is present everywhere, has infinite power, knows everything, and so on. It matters not how well you may think you understand these things; go over them repeatedly.
But you must stop thinking of the trouble, whatever it is. The rule is to think about God. If you are thinking about your difficulty, you are not thinking about God. To be continually glancing over your shoulder in order to see how matters are progressing is fatal, because it is thinking of the trouble, and you must think of God and nothing else. Your object is to drive the thought of the difficulty out of your consciousness, for a few moments at least, substituting for it the thought of God.
… If you are very frightened or worried, at first it may be difficult to get your thoughts away from material things. But by constantly repeating a statement of absolute Truth, such as: There is no power but God; I am a child of God, filled and surrounded by the perfect peace of God; God is love; God is guiding me now; or, perhaps best and simplest of all, God is with me—however mechanical or trite it may seem—you will soon find that ... your mind is clearing. Do not struggle violently; be quiet, but insistent. Each time you find your attention wandering, switch it back to God.
Do not try to think in advance what the solution to your difficulty will be. … Leave the question of ways and means to God. You want to get out of your difficulty—that is sufficient. You do your half, and God will never fail to do God’s.
Adapted from The Golden Key by Emmet Fox.
How to Have a Conversation With God
By Janet Conner
Originally appeared in Daily Word®
During my first careers as teacher, recruiter, and consultant, if someone had said, “You’re going to write a spiritual book,” I’d have burst out laughing. Little did I know that my invitation from Spirit was coming. It came in the form of a brutal divorce.
One morning, out of sheer desperation, I scribbled “Dear God,” across the top of a journal page. As I made the comma, a torrent of angry, frightened words piled up inside my pen. My story poured itself onto page after page. Venting felt good, so the next day, I wrote another diatribe to “Dear God.” After several days of barking at God, I wrote a question—a question I didn’t even know was inside me: “How did this happen? What have I been unwilling to see?” With these questions my monologue ended and a divine dialogue began.
For three years, I wrote to Dear God every day. I noticed something. If I asked for guidance, guidance came. If I asked for insight, insight came. When I asked for comfort, I was comforted. When I asked for protection, my son and I were safe. When I needed financial help, it came. I talked with Dear God about everything in my life—big and small.
Does that sound miraculous? It is. It’s miraculous how soul writing activates the voice of Spirit. But it’s a miracle you can do. Here’s how.
Set your intention to connect with Spirit. Write by hand. (The computer keeps you in conscious mind and you want to get out of your stress-filled conscious mind.) Write directly to Spirit using your favorite name. Speak from the heart. Write fast. Writing fast gets you out of the way so Spirit can break through. Ask questions. Open-ended questions are the magic that activates the Voice. As your conversation for the day ends, say thank you. Be grateful for the experience.
New soul writers always ask me: Am I talking to God or to myself? Eyebrows sometimes scrunch when they hear my answer: The Voice is that which is inside you that is greater than you. But, they press, is that Spirit? Yes, I smile, it’s Spirit. It is the limitless source of wisdom, creativity, guidance, and grace. But, please understand, it is also you. The Voice is Spirit in you.
That answer provokes my favorite question: How will I recognize the Voice? I love this question because it gives me the opportunity to watch people’s faces as they hear the sweet sound of the Voice, perhaps for the first time.
I recognize the Voice on my own pages when a new thought, idea, or question I haven’t considered tumbles out or when the pen gleefully flies over the paper. Other soul writers see shifts in their handwriting, feel tingles in their hands, or a sensation of warmth in their heart. But we all agree on one thing: The Voice is unmistakable because it speaks its own language—the language of unconditional love.
Let me give you one example. Jody, a 36-year-old woman in Florida, was with her mother every day of a nine-year struggle with cancer. Jody said they were more than mother and daughter; they were best friends and soul mates. When her mother died, Jody felt lost. She came to my workshop hoping to find some peace. In her very first 10-minute writing experience, the Voice burst through her confusion and tears to say in distinctive capital letters, “I AM UNBREAKABLY YOURS.” After everyone left, Jody showed me the page. In tears, she said, “This is the Voice, isn’t it?” “Oh yes,” I sighed, “this is the unmistakable sound of the voice of Love.”
Would you like to hear that sweet voice of Love? Pick up a pen and say, “I’m here.” The Voice will find you. “Hello, beloved,” it will say. Welcome to the conversation that never ends—it just goes deeper and deeper to your whole, authentic, holy self. “I’m so glad you’re here. Let’s talk.”
How to Raise Your Gratitude Quotient
By Charline E. Manuel
Originally appeared in Daily Word®
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.—1 Thessalonians 5:18
Some folks seem to be naturally grateful in all circumstances. I was in awe of the attitude of a young man I met years ago, who at the age of 25 had been in a car accident leaving him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. He always had a smile on his face; he was polite to others; he was grateful for whoever picked him up for church and saw that he was returned home; he loved to sing and always had something fun and funny to say. He was truly a unique example of being grateful in all circumstances.
However, for some of us an attitude of gratitude must be cultivated. Once we begin to let ourselves practice being grateful, it grows on us and in us. We make a discovery about gratitude that we would not otherwise know: Gratitude is magnetic. A grateful heart and mind become a mighty magnet drawing to itself more to be grateful for.
I’ve kept a gratitude journal for many years. When I finish one, I start another. I list what I am grateful for, and most days I list 10 things. Other days I list just a few. Gratitude is a part of my regular prayer practice, and it is a must for anyone who has a commitment to ongoing spiritual growth. We literally raise our gratitude quotient when we develop an attitude to “give thanks in all circumstances.” The higher our gratitude quotient, the more magnetized we are for the gifts of health, happiness, joy, peace, love, and prosperity.
The fact that it helps us see ourselves and others in a more compassionate way is another added bonus. When I am grateful as our prayer anchor says, “in all circumstances,” I find something to be grateful about in whatever I am facing. If I am in a difference of opinion with someone, I find it easier to forgive myself and them if I focus on finding something to be grateful for in the experience.
An attitude of gratitude can be developed over time if practiced sincerely and on a regular basis. When we pray, remembering to be grateful, we develop gratitude as a habit and thereby establish it as a way of life.
When I was a child, my mother often had to coerce us kids to eat our vegetables at mealtime. She would make us “say grace” over our meal and tell us to be grateful for whatever food was before us. She instructed us to eat what was in front of us even if we didn’t like it. She told us it would still nourish our bodies even if we didn’t like the taste of it, and for that nourishment we should be grateful. So we ate the carrots, broccoli, string beans, and all the vegetables Mom placed before us, not for the taste, but for the nourishment (and because Mom said so). It was always a great joy on some occasions that for eating all of our vegetables Mom would reward us with dessert. To eat my Mom’s peach cobbler or her homemade ice cream was more than worth eating a few carrots and string beans. It was that good! So we learned to eat our carrots, broccoli, and whatever Mom placed before us in the hope and expectation that if we expressed our gratitude, something delicious would surely follow. We learned that good things follow the heart-felt expression of gratitude “in all circumstances”—and that includes eating our vegetables.
When you pray, start your prayers with a statement of gratitude. For example, “I am grateful for all God’s blessings in my life” or “Thank you God for my life, and all the good that continually flows to me for my use and enjoyment” or “Gratitude fills my mind and heart.”’ Make your own statement, but do make gratitude part of your prayer.
When we are thankful, even before the outer demonstration, it is an indication of an attitude of gratitude. Praying with gratitude as a theme will help in expanding your consciousness toward greater blessings. You’ll discover that you have much more to be grateful for. Your level of inner confidence will allow you to trust that you can overcome whatever experiences come your way. You’ll know that you won’t face any situation alone. God is love, and we live in that love. “... for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
End your prayers with statements of gratitude. Also, you may vary your methods by making your whole prayer a series of gratitude statements. Express your heartfelt gratitude for the good you are now demonstrating and the good you expect to demonstrate.
How to Be Honest When the Truth May Hurt
By Joan Gattuso
According to an ancient Hindu teaching, if you can only speak the truth and tell no lies—either miniscule or outrageous— for 12 consecutive years, you can attain enlightenment. This is no easy assignment.
Most of us perceive ourselves to be honest and forthright, never intentionally lying, but most of us have been taught through life’s experiences to mask our true thoughts, pad our words, or simply avoid a response. We attempt to convince ourselves that a “little white lie” doesn’t matter.
The spiritual truth is: Everything matters.
A friend was recently sharing how her single sister had traveled to Europe alone and was emailing photos back regularly. These two are 10 years apart in age, live on opposite coasts, and see each other once every two or three years at most.
As the younger one who was the traveler sent photos with herself in them, she would regularly ask, “How do I look?” My friend chuckled as she told me that she thought her sister looked way too skinny and had way too many lines in her face. That was the truth as she saw it. But what she wrote back was, “In each picture you look like you are having the time of your life. I am so happy to see you looking so happy.” That was the truth also, although a kinder expression of the truth.
Many people, however, are unclear as to what the truth is, because they haven’t told the truth to themselves for so long that they no longer recognize what the truth is. They say it doesn’t matter when it does, convincing themselves that no one will notice or everyone cheats just a little. All such justifications are ignoble thoughts and behaviors.
A spiritual principle I have taught and know to always be true is: The truth will always emerge. And when you tell the truth, there is a whole lot less to remember.
A noble being will always tell the truth. Do you? Begin now with the first step of simply noticing if you do tell the truth immediately, or if your first instinct is to pad or alter the facts a bit.
If you notice you are regularly withholding the complete truth, resolve to be honest with yourself and others starting today. Know it is safe to be truthful. Like many lifestyle changes, resolve to tell the truth one day at a time.
And after 4,383 days you just may become enlightened.
This article originally appeared in Joan Gattuso’s Unity Magazine® column “Living a Noble Life.”
How to Move Through Grief
By Philip White
Find solace in this serene meditation on grief from the Silent Unity Prayer Ministry, 24/7 prayer support.
Most of us will experience the death of one we love. From that moment forward our lives will be changed. We may continue doing the same things we did before, but if we are like most people, when the presence of those who trod with us along the path of everyday living has passed beyond our sight, the path we trod together no longer glows with the same promise and joy. We deal with feelings of emptiness and hopelessness, but the rest of the world goes on quite well around us. Our tradition keeps grief sequestered, getting us through it before anyone knows we’ve had it. And the soul of our loss goes incognito through the public square. …
The Mending Spirit
In every relationship is a spirit of mending. It is one of the great powers of human nurture and of the spirit. We hold our love for another in our hearts and nurture that love in the circle of our relationship. Within this circle of love, what needs fixing, we fix. We repaint the house and repair the broken gutter. When conflict comes, we apologize and bring flowers. Skinned knees get bandages, and our bodies even repair themselves throughout our lives.
But then we come face-to-face with what we cannot fix. The death of the other we cannot fix. And so in death the mending spirit seems helpless. …
A Love Story
The details are simple enough. In 1934 James Dillet Freeman married Lucy Katherine Veronica Gilwee. They lived and worked in Kansas City for Unity. Then in 1947 Katherine became ill and was diagnosed with an advanced malignancy. After 10 months of decline, she passed away.
“When she died,” Jim wrote, “my first thought was to run away. The house was so full of her.”
Yet he did not run away. He put pen to paper and wrote it all down. He wrote it from his heart as he experienced his wife Katherine’s illness and death. And in his writing, the mending spirit returns—throwing off its helplessness, seeking a larger circle of love and discovering death’s own limitation.
In Katherine, Jim saw the faith he knew he wanted. In her response to illness, she became his teacher. His faith, he said, “was fugitive,” in comparison to hers. “My faith,” he wrote, “was no more than an infant’s cry, hoping to whine its way out of the pain; she saw life in a larger frame than I, saw us against eternity.”
And so the mending spirit worked in him to gradually enlarge the circle created by his relationship with Katherine. “We must go forward on faith,” he wrote, “for this I know, that faith is life and prayer is life.”
Love’s Larger Circle
From an experience that would ordinarily narrow our heart’s capacity came vision of Love’s larger circle—a circle that, in the end, reveals death’s weakness. …
In the end it is death’s failure that stands out. It is death’s limitation that stands revealed. Death may take away the circle that once was our love, but it cannot remove Love’s larger circle into which it must finally be drawn.
Pain may torment this finity of flesh
And death may turn this quick to quiet dust.
Yet death cannot make love’s perfection less;
Pain cannot alter love’s unchanging trust
That there is meaning where no meanings show
And purpose though no purposes shine through,
That life and death are but the ebb and flow
Of being toward the beautiful and true ...
So great is love that but by loving we
Turn death’s defeat into love’s victory.
When loss comes, let Spirit lead you gently into Love’s larger circle. The acceptance of the death of a loved one changes everything. We will either grow bitter at life’s pain, or we will love. And I suspect that those who have passed on before us would be the first to rejoice at the widening of Love’s circle in us. So that in the end, says the poet:
Love will rise weeping from its knees
And raise a world beyond the reach of room,
That will survive even our unbelief.
Adapted from Love Is Strong As Death by James Dillet Freeman, published by Unity Books.
How to Handle Change
By Robert R. Barth
There is a mighty work to be done by you! Whatever it is, this work will require change. It is said that change is the essence of life. If we don’t move with it, change will happen in spite of us.
One way to work with change is found in Exodus 14:13-15. Here we find several steps that we can take to resolve any conflict, remove any obstacle, or help us adjust to any change. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord. … Tell the people … to go forward” (RSV).
The first step is: DON’T PANIC. As the author of the Book of Exodus says, “Fear not,” experience will work out. Know that a day from now, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, this will all be behind you. The real reason not to panic is: God is in charge.
So, second: PUT GOD FIRST. Relax. “Stand firm,” knowing that with God in charge, all will work out for the highest and best good of all concerned. “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still” (Ex. 14:14 RSV).
How do you put God first? By seeing “the salvation of the Lord,” by knowing the truth in the situation. Let go of your Red Sea. Define the obstacle, then look beyond the obstacle.
Enter into a time of gentle stillness where you can know God, where you trust in the one Presence and one Power at work in your life. Enter into that place where you can listen to the “still, small voice.” Then listen to the truth of your being.
Is your promised land, your goal, perfect health? As you listen to the Lord of your being, you will know that perfect health is yours to claim. God is the perfect life-energy flowing through every atom and cell of your being. Wholeness is being manifested in you, right now.
Are you seeking prosperity? As you sit in the stillness, you will be assured that God is the source of all of your good. As you put your good. As you put your faith in God, your supply will be guaranteed. Prosperity will flow to you in many ways, through many channels.
Are you seeking harmony in relationships? God’s love is working through you and through all of your relationships. Love is cleansing any past hurts. Love is actively at work in and through you and in and through others.
Whatever you are seeking, you will find an answer. As you sit in the Silence, there will come a moment when God speaks to you, when God guides you. But even this is not enough. There is one more step you must take.
And that is: ACTION. You need to move ahead. You have placed God first. You have prayed, meditated, and known the truth. Now it is time to move ahead. There is a right and perfect step to take. Down deep you will know what to do. Do it. “Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go on dry ground through the sea” (Ex. 14:16 RSV). Do as you are guided, and the obstacle will disappear. You will be able to walk right through it.
How to Find Freedom in Forgiveness
By Richard Smoley
Originally appeared in Daily Word®
Think of forgiveness like housecleaning. When clutter builds up in your house, you throw or give away things you no longer need. Forgiveness is essentially the same process. When you carry grievances and grudges, you have a lot of things going on inside that are not doing you any good. In fact, they are poisoning you. Make a point to release grievances and grudges. Getting rid of the mind’s clutter and filth will lead you to greater happiness.
Granted, forgiveness can be tough. Sometimes, holding grudges becomes an unconscious habit. You may clutch on to your grievances because you think you can’t live any other way.
Grievances may be personal: you remember what someone did to you in the past and can’t let it go. Other times, you may feel collective grievances as you dwell on the injustices suffered by your people. This suffering is part of your identity.
In fact, people sometimes refuse to forgive because, at a deep level, they don’t know who they would be without their grievances. Their grievances have become who they are—or who they think they are.
Often the first step to forgiveness is to become aware you’re holding grievances and realize you want to let them go. It’s important, too, to remember that you are not your grievances.
The world’s spiritual traditions lead us to connect with a deeper, truer Self beyond our thoughts, emotions, and sensations. In meditation, watch your thoughts and feelings as if you’re watching a film. The more you can identify with this Self, the easier forgiveness will be.
Over time, the grievances and grudges will release their hold. Until this happens, refuse to get angry with yourself because you haven’t forgiven the right way or you haven’t done it completely.
Little by little, you will release your grievances and experience forgiveness and greater personal freedom.
How to Pray for Others
By Mary-Alice and Richard Jafolla
Most of us have found ourselves wanting to help someone through prayer. This is understandable, for it is natural, since love and caring are built into our hearts, to want to help those who appear to be going through a difficult time in their lives. But how do we do this?
While things such as “being there” for others in whatever ways are appropriate can certainly be important, we are limited to the human level of help we can give to others by our talents, our time, and our finances. But there is a higher level we can step up to. When living God-centered lives, our help is unlimited because we lift others by our mere presence. We [see] the sacred Light in everyone and every circumstance. …Praying for others, therefore, becomes a matter of releasing those people to the activity of God and continually strengthening our own awareness of this activity in them.
Some “How-To” Ideas
Change your thinking. We have to recognize that each soul needs to experience whatever it requires for its own enlightenment, its own growth. There’s no way any of us can possibly ever know the soul needs of another person, no matter how close that person is to us. … Worrying about another person, adding our own fears, only attaches our own negative energies to the situation, which can make it worse.
Let go and let God. This means letting go of the person’s problem—and even letting go again and again if it tries to overtake us. This is crucial to our being of help because we can only lift others to our own level. When someone is drowning in the water, it’s easier to pull them out if we are in a boat floating on the water. Thus we can only help them by being on a higher level ourselves.
Send loving thoughts. One extremely powerful and effective way to begin to help another is to send loving thoughts, rather than thoughts of worry or concern. Thoughts are palpable. They are real. … The presence of love is a healing presence … that allows the activity of God to flow in its natural way. Our own loving thoughts and emotions are dynamic agents for transformation and healing and should never be underestimated.
Help them to see the presence of God in themselves and in their circumstances.
This sounds fine in theory. But when someone we care about is in a dire situation, it takes patience and persistence and great trust on our part to help this individual begin to get a sense that God is always present—even in the midst of his or her challenge! The tricky part is that this cannot take place until we ourselves have a sense that God is always present.
Pray. When we pray for a person, we pray not to God, but from a consciousness of God. In this consciousness, we see the wholeness and beauty and blessings already available to the person and we use our prayers to affirm and to acknowledge and give thanks for this Truth about the situation.
Sometimes we pray for others because we think we know what’s best for them. Too often our prayers are plans that we present to God to be fulfilled. But we never can be sure we know what’s best for another person. All we can know is that God knows best and that we can trust God’s plan.
Adapted from The Quest by Mary-Alice and Richard Jafolla, published by Unity Books.
How to Say Goodbye
By Dianne B. Camp
Whether we find ourselves aligned with those who welcome the change an ending can bring or with those who find it difficult to let go, there is a way of saying goodbye that can be positive. It can even be transformative.
There are five aspects of change that lend themselves to successful and comfortable change. If we choose to embrace these five aspects, the transition brought forth by an ending can be smoother, include less suffering, and move us forward in more comfort, even joy.
The first aspect is realization. We need to know an ending is a change. Realization includes the recognition that a change has occurred. It requires our looking at what has ended and at the necessity of letting go of what has passed.
The perception of an ending as a change is more comfortable than anticipating and expecting to experience it as a loss. Realization is the awareness that something is complete, even if it is unfinished in the way we would have liked or was not our choice.
The second aspect of a successful ending is acceptance. Acceptance is a choice. We can know that change is born of endings and that growth is born of change. When we really know this, we are at a place in consciousness where we can accept, as opposed to denying or resisting. We may see the potential good in the change an ending can bring.
The third aspect of a successful ending is nonresistance. Nonresistance allows us to say “Thy will be done” in God’s perfect wisdom, God’s perfect timing, God’s perfect order. Nonresistance allows us to say, “Into Thy hands I commit the outcome of the ending before me, for I know that God is only good and that God is active in my life.” Nonresistance is a beautiful expression of our trust, our faith, and our spiritual strength.
Just like realization and acceptance, nonresistance is a choice. It is a particularly wise choice when the ending we face is inevitable. Not choosing nonresistance is an automatic choice for struggle, disappointment, or pain.
It is possible to acquire nonresistance even if it is not a familiar response. We have to be willing to practice it. We don’t have to be experts to begin. Through the practice of nonresistance, we can move more smoothly through change. We don’t have to be rushed into what will be or be forced or yanked or catapulted into what lies ahead.
The fourth part of a positive ending is forgiveness. Real forgiveness has very little to do with the person, relationship, or situation being forgiven. It has everything to do with the peace we ultimately find in whatever ending is before us. Forgiveness sets us free from the bondage of circumstance. It allows us to release what has occurred, rather than hold it, and its pain, to us. Forgiveness allows us to try again, to believe again, and to love again.
The process of forgiveness is often ongoing rather than a single isolated event. We may discover that it needs to continue well beyond an ending and after goodbyes. As long as we have begun and as long as we are willing to pursue it, forgiveness can provide a peace that endures.
Gratitude is the fifth aspect of a successful ending. Gratitude is also a choice. We can feel gratitude even when what has ended was not something that we chose to lose or leave. We can experience gratitude, even at those times we don’t want to say goodbye. True gratitude does not have conditions nor does it ask for promises and guarantees. It is a natural expression of one of our innate spiritual gifts. Gratitude is the offspring of love.
We do not have to feel gratitude in order to choose it. Sometimes we must wait to feel it until after we have consciously chosen it. Gratitude lifts us, empowers us, frees us, and (I believe) has the potential to heal us.
How to Surrender to Heal
By Judith Orloff, M.D.
Originally appeared in Daily Word®
As a physician, I see people ill or in pain manifest fear, self-loathing, and negative self-talk. This creates stress hormones that impair the defense systems in their bodies.
What helps us to heal is to surrender our fears and negative patterns. Relax through meditation, prayer, and tuning in to the body. This helps increase endorphins—the blissful neurochemicals that promote healing.
Many patients are suddenly put in a situation in which they’re forced to listen to their inner wisdom, and that is amazingly positive. This is sometimes the lesson of illness.
Instead of raging at our situation, we bring ourselves back to the present moment and ask, What can I do today to improve my situation? How can I enjoy my life just as it is?
We surrender to the idea that everything we’re given is part of our spiritual journey, including difficult passages such as illness or pain. We learn that when we are ill, we haven’t done anything wrong. It is just a very intense spiritual challenge. That is how our hearts grow and we become more loving.
A friend whose husband went through a very big health challenge told me: “We’re coming up the icy cliff, but I can still see little red flowers.” We have to search for those tiny flowers when we are ill. We have to find the beauty even in the pain.
If the situation is too difficult, we can let go to the healing power of tears and release the tension. It also helps to have loving people around us who can mirror love back to us when we can’t find it. We allow ourselves to be loved by a positive circle of support and let go of those who drain our energy.
My mother went through a terrible disease and was in extraordinary pain. Even though she always had religious faith, she said to me then: “I don’t believe in God anymore because no God would allow me to be in this much pain. You have to hold the faith for me.” I was able to do that for my mother.
Sometimes the healing journey takes us to a place where we must surrender our body and move on to our next stage in evolution. This is a surrender none of us can avoid.
Dying is not a failure—it just means it is our time to go. When we let go of our bodies, we do not want fearful health care professionals looking at us as if we are a medical failure because we couldn’t be kept alive. We want to have positive, smiling people around us as we are making our transition.
As we surrender to the positive parts of our healing process, we open to the growth of our souls. We flourish in compassion, wisdom, and love.
How to Apply Jesus’ Teachings to Everyday Life
By Allen Liles
Practical Christianity as taught and practiced in Unity has been described as “the teachings of Jesus Christ applied to everyday life.” During his brief ministry, Jesus taught eternal values that still serve today as a practical guide for living. His timeless instructions offer helpful insight for any situation that might confront us.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus counseled his listeners about worry. He advised: “Do not worry about your life ... Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? ... Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow” (Mt. 6:25, 27, 32-34).
Jesus knew that worry saps the energy of even the strongest person. For example, our economic worries can often seem overwhelming. Most of us have, at some time, been distressed about the lack of a job or job security as well as about rising debts, future retirement, or the need for financial support for ourselves or others.
Yet Jesus promised that God can be trusted to furnish what we need. Perhaps we will not receive everything we want, but God always supplies what we need. Jesus told us not to worry about things, such as food, drink, and clothes. He also gave us the secret to not letting worry consume our thoughts and immobilize us so that we fail to take positive action to improve our lives. He did this by reminding us to be free of anxiety about tomorrow—simply to live one day at a time.
Many people live in a world beset with critical voices. Surrounded by so much criticism in the media and in our daily lives, we allow conflict to become a way of life. Jesus focused on the negative results that come when we dwell on tearing down other people.
Again, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us a wise bit of practical advice: “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged” (Mt. 7:1). Or do not criticize and you will not set yourself up to be criticized in turn. Jesus taught us to first focus on our own shortcomings before we take the inventory of others. By honestly assessing our own lives, we often find the traits we dislike in others mirrored in ourselves. Accepting our own humanness brings us a less judgmental attitude toward others.
We make dozens of decisions every day. In his teachings, Jesus used parables, miracles, precepts, and actions to give us clear direction on how to shape our daily choices.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the younger son disregarded his father’s authority. He took his share of the family wealth and left home. Soon his money was gone. Poor choices had caused him to hit bottom—a reality that many of us may confront at some point in our lives. Yet the pain that comes with bad decisions often acts as a catalyst for change, and in this parable the son decided to return home and admit his failings. The father faced a decision when he saw his son approaching. He could have turned him away with an “I told you so!” Instead, he rushed out to greet his son with a kiss and warm embrace. The father’s choice demonstrated love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and understanding.
In considering the daily decisions that influence our lives, choosing these everlasting values can help keep us on track. As we set about to consciously apply the concept of practical Christianity to making choices, we first turn to the presence of God that dwells within each of us. When we go to God in prayer and meditation, we discover the divine guidance that lights the path to a correct and beneficial decision.
Today’s hectic pace of life has produced a high stress level that touches almost every person. Stress can produce serious health problems and personal unhappiness.
Jesus Christ also faced incredible stress. He dealt with ridicule, rejection, and misunderstanding by his closest friends. He endured persecution, trial, and crucifixion. How was he able to cope and move forward with an incomparable mission that would forever shape and uplift humankind?
Jesus knew who he was. He was confident of his divine assignment. He believed in his role as teacher, healer, comforter, Way Shower, and instrument of God’s grace. Although he was in a stressful world, he was not of it. He was able to detach himself from the pressures and personalities around him and focus on his true destiny. In John 10:30, Jesus said, “The Father and I are one.” He sought always to dwell in a consciousness of pure harmony with Spirit, and in this state of oneness with God, the stress of human life was powerless to deter him from his mission.
By constantly affirming God’s presence and power in our lives, we, too, can experience “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).
Almost all of us have taken a deep breath or said a prayer before receiving the results of a medical examination or test. What pragmatic advice do Jesus’ teachings offer us about our health concerns?
Jesus Christ sought to attune us to the healing power within. He taught that the true source of all healing flows from God. He demonstrated his divine power by raising people from sickness and death. Jesus brought the light and love of God to heal, cure, and bless.
In healing the man blind from birth, Jesus told the disciples, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn. 9:5). The healing light that shines within us to counter any health problem originates from God. But the mending of our physical minds and bodies can also come from God’s reflection—through doctors, nurses, proper medications, and state-of-the-art medical procedures and technology. When faith and confidence in our divine connection to the source of all life are united with the spiritual power of prayer, any healing is possible.
Jesus taught his practical methods for living in a loving, direct manner. The mark of any great teacher lies in the ability to inspire his or her students to realize their own divine potential. Jesus Christ succeeded by leaving us a priceless legacy: practical Christianity.