Practicing Gratitude Increases Well Being

This month’s theme is Gratitude 360. All month long we have been exploring gratitude. The Sunday talks from Rev. Janis have embraced this theme. There are two ongoing Zoom opportunities to further explore this topic. And tomorrow is a whole day devoted to giving thanks

Exploring gratitude practices on the internet, I found two articles from government agencies, the NIH and the VA, that relate how research has shown that a regular gratitude practice increases your well-being. (Links to these articles listed below.) They list several benefits that researchers have identified to be linked to gratitude including recovering more quickly from illness, enjoying more robust physical health and improvements in sleep and energy.

One article states that “Gratitude is both an attitude and a practice.” To experience these
positive health results, gratitude must be practiced regularly on a daily or weekly basis. I found it interesting that at least one study showed that journaling just once a week produced better results than daily writing. The key factor being the “will” behind the action. In other words, putting real intention into the gesture, not just doing it by habit.

Both articles included several ideas of ways to practice and suggested switching it up to keep your practice fresh. A few that were new to me were:

●  Imagine your life without the good things in it, so as not to take things for granted.
●  Setting checkpoints throughout the day to reflect on positive things that have happened that day.
●  Create a gratitude jar to collect pieces of paper on which you write things you’re thankful for and literally “count your blessings.”

 

 

 

I have an empty jar on my desk and found some strips of paper already cut that I’m going to use to implement that last one right now!

 

 

Whatever way you choose to give thanks, do it regularly with a grateful heart and increase your heart health.

Creating a Gratitude Practice – Whole Health Library (va.gov)
Practicing Gratitude | NIH News in Health

–Janet Salese

You don’t have squat! But let me tell you, I do!

I haven’t always had squat. There was a time I didn’t have diddly squat. Squat (short for squatter) is the newest addition to our family. He picked up residence under my shipping container one day. After an extensive search for a lost cat turned unsuccessful, a health check and vaccination appointment were in order. With a clean bill of health, he moved into our home, just before the weather turned cold.

The intelligence in an animal which directs its actions and tells it where to go to find food and shelter, we call instinct. It is really Omniscience in the animal. The same quality, more highly developed, makes a conscious appearance in man and is what we call intuition. Intuition is God in man, reveling to him the Realities of Being; and just as instinct guides the animal, so would intuition guide man, if he would allow it to do so.  – Ernest Holmes. The Science of Mind. 342.2

The cat followed his intuition and relied on his instincts to find our home. He found a comfort & solace within us. To him, there was

Something Quite Unique About This.”

I’ve learned from THIS experience that in the future whenever I find such a comfort…I’m going to just squat too.

Madeline Pallanes

On the Road With….

I recently drove across country by myself. I do like driving, but this was way out of my comfort zone. My fear would rise, what if I get a flat tire (I know how to change a flat tire and even have an extra length of pipe to put on my lug wrench to give me the leverage to loosen the lug nuts), and what if something happens to my car (which only had 30,000 miles and have kept it maintained), and what if…… And I’m not fond of expressway driving, going 70 miles per hour with lots of cars around me. More what ifs.

I printed out a recent favorite Holmes quote and took it with me.

Divine Wisdom within me guides every act, directs everything in my life, toward happiness, toward peace, toward power; and being the Spirit of Love, It surrounds me with beauty, with friendship and with joy. Being the Giver of Life, every day I receive that which is perfect, abundant, happy, joyful and free. Being that Divine Thing, which individualizes in me, It is entirely individual, personal and unique. I am the expression of my own complete self, and there is no barrier or bar to that self-expression. Being the Spirit of Substance, that Spirit within me is my Source of Supply, and It brings to me everything necessary to my unfoldment, and keeps me in the wisdom through which It governs me now and forever. (Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 564.3)

For the first couple of days I took state routes and enjoyed a leisurely pace, drinking in the landscape of acres and acres of corn fields, baled hay. I would have breakfast in diners to get a feel of the community, and spend time with the people that grow the crops that feed me. And I wondered about their faith, faith in rain, and sun, limited pests. Their livelihood dependent on some conditions that are beyond their control. I felt a gratitude for the work they do.

After a few days I could no longer avoid the interstate highways. I finally got on I-70 in Kansas and drove to and around Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Columbus, thankfully not all in one day. When I would feel my fear arise, usually with the traffic whizzing by me at a much greater speed than was posted, I would repeat my mantra, “Divine Wisdom within me guides every act. Divine Wisdom within me guides every act…” and I would calm down.

It was a comfort to know God was my copilot.

–Maria

MONEY – CREATION IN ACTION

The book The Money Keys has been the subject of one of the latest classes offered by CSLT. I really enjoy the subject of money. Money is like the flow of creation. When it is circulating it is creation in action.

Combined with gratitude, it can work wonders in my life.

While attending this book study I was reflecting on another money related course called “Prosperity Plus” as taught by Mary Morrissey. During this course we were challenged to visualize a dream or goal that was out of reach at the time.

Someone in our class said she wanted to write, produce, and sing her own music. This allowed me to remember that I too had musical aspirations.

We were encouraged to share our thoughts, so I expressed my dream of playing music professionally. Not long after admitting to the “world” my dream intentions. The need for a backup drummer at CSLT arose.

Also, I was prompted by a friend to call a number on a bulletin board at a music store. Both opportunities materialized. I played downtown during “Downtown Saturday Night” for several years and I continue to play music at CSLT.

Occasionally this can be difficult when old thoughts challenge my justification and abilities. This is when I remind myself using terminology that I have learned through CSLT and many classes.

Affirmations like: I am rich with unlimited possibilities; I am not at the mercy of fate. Instead, I create my experience by what I choose to think and believe, and I feel grateful; or Change my thinking Change my life.

The Truth is I am rich with unlimited possibilities.

–Chris Wheeler

Imperfectly Perfect by Rev Janis Farmer

In a recent Saturday’s daily morning practice, we got another opportunity to look at, remember, and celebrate, that every individual human, including ourselves, is an individualized personification of the Oneness, as we understand, and experience, it in this moment. And that no matter how badly we fail, or we think someone else has failed, there is no failure. Every bit of that experience is simply the perfect expression of the imperfectly perfect human life.

In a recent daily missive, Fr Richard Rohr used this quote from Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection:
“It is in the process of embracing our imperfections that we find our truest gifts: courage, compassion, and connection. … When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. …

“There is a line from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” that serves as a reminder to me when … I’m trying to control everything and make it perfect. The line is, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” … This line helps me remember the beauty of the cracks (and the messy house and the imperfect manuscript and the too-tight jeans). It reminds me that our imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together. Imperfectly, but together.”

One of the sweet spots for me is in remembering that every time I feel judgmental, or judged, it is an opportunity to practice clear seeing, compassion and forgiveness. And every time I feel triggered by something that happens around me, or even something that seems to be happening to me, it’s not the thing that happens in this world of form that I need to fix, correct or change — it’s the way I perceive the situation. This doesn’t mean I always manage to remember any of this stuff in that moment, but I get back to that awareness as soon as I am able.

In working on this past week’s talk, I felt drawn to re-read Ernest Holmes’ ‘Final Conclusions’ in the Science of Mind. You can read them in their entirety on page 423. The sentence that jumped out at me the most was this one, from the second paragraph, “To hold one’s thought steadfastly to the constructive, to that which endures, and to the Truth, may not be easy in a rapidly changing world, but to the one who makes the attempt, much is guaranteed.”

I love that, because it doesn’t mean that if I haven’t succeeded at staying focused on the constructive, I have failed. The notion of ‘doing it right’ is a story that I make up, and that each one of us probably interprets differently. Further, there’s no way to actually get it right, since there is no definitive thing called ‘right’. (I realize there are people who disagree with me about that. And that’s okay too.) What it does mean is that, if I want to play, I have to stay in the game and continue to participate as best as I know how in the moment. And by making the attempt, ‘much is guaranteed’. I can make the attempt, even if I get to begin again a hundred times a day.

As we move into our month of gratitude and gratefulness, and into this period of mid-term elections, it serves me to remember to be grateful for it all, and know that every single one of us is exactly in the right place, at the right time, being beautifully, magnificently, imperfectly perfect.

Got Moves? by Madeline Pallanes

I do. Those of you who know me in the most recent years, probably find that surprising. I haven’t always been weighted down as I am now.

Many years ago, on the encouragement of my brother (who has always been quite health conscious) I signed up for a yoga class offered at a local yoga studio. I had never done yoga. The closest involvement I ever had with yoga was delivering their mail to the studio. To be properly prepared, I bought a yoga mat at our local sporting goods store and a cute yoga
outfit. I was ready to start my new yoga practice.

I showed up for my first class, late. I know you find that surprising too. I wasn’t that late but late enough that all heads turned to me in complete silence. Everyone was already in their first pose.

I smiled. “Hi! I’m Madeline. I’m here to learn yoga.” The teacher glanced over at the clock and stated the time class starts. That was the start of my yoga practice.

My practice continued for quite a few years centering primarily around breathing, meditation, and relaxation. I loved my yoga practice. It helped me to physically feel better, reduce stress and clear my mind. Eventually the local yoga studio closed and so did my practice. Over the years, I have thought about picking it back up again. Recently, it has been on my mind quite a lot. I really liked the moves. I liked how it made me feel.

I have done and heard of many types of yoga. You can imagine my excitement when Reverend Karen Russo said she was going to teach us “wealth yoga”. Wealth yoga? This was a new one for me! How exciting! I knew I loved yoga, and I knew I loved the thought of being wealthy. I’ve made a lot of yoga moves and a lot of financial moves, just never together. It has to be better together! Wow. I’m back & eager to continue my yoga practice. This time I won’t show up late!

Report from our October 2 2022 Annual Meeting by Rev Janis

Apologies to the 6 folks, and any others, who tried to join on zoom. The sound was working when we tested it, so I don’t know what happened after that. Nothing changed, and apparently, something changed.

We had 14 people in the room. Maria ran the meeting. Each board member talked about their area of specific connection to our greater community. More on each group, team, and topic, are included in our Annual Report, which is linked elsewhere in this newsletter; specific details are shared in the monthly Board minutes. Board minutes are included in our weekly newsletter a couple weeks after each board meeting, and are made available on the website, under About Us, under Organizational Documents.

One question was raised about the number of major donors we have. Janet’s answer was a good one. We track that information by quarter, and report it to the Board, without attaching any names to the donation amounts. The information is also recorded and presented in the Board minutes. For the second quarter of 2022, we had 14 contributors who donated 80% of the monies that came in to our center. During the first quarter of the year, 80% of our donations came from 18 contributors. These are considered our ‘major donors’ and we especially celebrate them. We also acknowledge and celebrate all contributions of time, talent and/or treasure, in whatever form they occur. Generosity abounds. And as Rev Karen said last Sunday morning, “Money loves rhythm, … and flow.”

When I spoke about last January’s Community Envisioning, I mentioned that one of the desires of the community was to have more social activities. I reiterated that suggested social activities must arise from within our community. Board members can suggest activities, but they are not the only source of potential fun things we can do. These can be formal activities that take a bit of preparation and planning (see the next paragraph for how to do that), or more casual activities, such as going to Willcox to pick fruit, caravanning down to see the sandhill cranes, enjoying music and a meal at the lavender farms, or going for a hike or bike ride, or getting together to see a play at LTW, live music or a sporting event. Examples of other fun classes we have held in the past, tangentially related to learning, had to do with folding peace cranes, and coloring mandalas. Both of these are sneaky ways to expand each individual’s repertoire of meditation practices.

I didn’t mention it at the meeting, but we have an event proposal form on our website (under Organizational Documents). If someone were interested in proposing a big event, such as having a booth at the Tucson Pride Festival that happened this past weekend, this would be how they would do that. In the past, we’ve had a booth at the Tucson Festival of Books. There may be other events in town where we could have an identifiable presence. What are they?

In addition to the classes that I’ll be teaching, some of which will be certificated, Noreen Poli intends to offer an in-person, Wednesday afternoon book study on Emmett Fox’s Sermon on the Mount in January. You may remember when Noreen offered this book study four or five years ago when our office was still on E. River Rd. Also, Ethel Lee-Taylor intends to offer a book study on Brene’ Brown’s Braving the Wilderness in February. More book studies and assorted classes will arise, as other facilitators step up.

The last thing on the agenda was electing new board members. We had two seats available that had remained unfilled during the Covid years. No one rotated off the board this year. Linda Bullock expressed an interest in serving on the Board, meets the qualifications (as specified in our bylaws), and attended a board meeting to see what she was agreeing to. She spoke a few minutes to those assembled in the room, and was unanimously elected with cheers, and thanks.

We remain grateful to every single individual who participates with, and supports, this center. It is your active participation and engagement, as well as in the sharing of your time, talents and treasures that we become a more effective place of learning and growth, connection and community. We are grateful for you all.

Mental Equivalents II by Maria Schuchardt, RScP

Last blog I spoke about equivalents, how I have an overarching desire for a “rich and full life.” A few more thoughts have come up.

We must sense the embodiment of that which we wish to experience… the whole
problem is not one of creation, but one of direction, and there is no direction unless there is first an embodiment. Let us try this in our meditation. We know that we reflect the Divine Perfection and that there is an intuition within us which guides us. We know that all the power there is and all presence there is, is this perfect Spirit, this Divine Reality, which is around us and through us and in us. — Ernest Holmes

And also:
“You must have some kind of vision for your life, even if you don’t have a plan, you should have a direction in which you choose to go. I never was the kind of a woman who liked to get in the car and just go for a ride…. Do we have a destination? Do we have a plan? Or are we just riding? You have to be in the driver’s seat of your life because if you are not, life will drive you.” — Oprah

I was on the UA campus one day and I saw Dr. Marcia Rieke the principal investigator for the near-infrared camera on the James Webb Space Telescope. “How are things going?” I asked. “Much better than we could have even imagined.” She replied. I smiled. This is not the first time I have heard that statement. That the desired outcome, mental equivalent, was much more than the original idea. That the One Mind, hears our claim, and adds a touch of magic. One of my practitioner studies classmates said the same thing when she spoke about creating a studio space for herself.

Both Dr. Rieke and my classmate had a specific direction, a specific goal they wanted to manifest. A lot of my life, I have been a wanderer. I wrote these words in sometime in the 1970’s.

Skipping stones into the sunset.
Watching waves caress the rocks
Soothing sharp edges
Into sensuous curves – Voices far away and melted.
The sun is a hazy circle
Descending upon the water
And I, I am a wanderer
In search of peace.
And my direction, my direction is to be my authentic self, that knows that God is my Source, and in that, I have found my peace.

Moving Forward

My journey at CSL Tucson started around my relationship with money. My wife and I were taking Mary Morrissey’s Prosperity Plus course at the office. That experience changed from the focus on money into ‘What does it mean to be prosperous?’

My wife was attending CSLT and I reluctantly agreed to show up at a service. I continued showing up on Sundays to hear the messages. Hearing the reminder reassured me. The talking points were relatable and fit with many of my conclusions about reality and the universe as I perceived it. Wanting to have a deeper understanding, I took “Foundations,” then “Visioning” and “Power of Your Word.” The classes made me uncomfortable. And I was encouraged to stay engaged and participate. I continued because I wanted a better understanding.

It was becoming clear to me that I was able to apply the ideas and get results. The ideas presented made it possible for me to expand past my old comfort zones and understand that my thinking influenced my reality more than I had realized. I have since come to embrace this teaching and follow it to the best of my ability.

So why don’t I see more of the world seeking to become enlightened? We have regular gatherings to explore, consider and gain new and exciting insights into the spiritual world. We have opportunities to progress — expanding the exciting possibilities of the human condition.

Humans have evolved to fulfill certain conditions for our survival. The chemical cocktail that is our physical feedback system is understood to the degree that we know that feedback loops have evolved to keep us safe, satisfied and alive.

It is natural for us to want to stay in our comfort zone. And in our present world we have a multitude of distractions that stimulate other chemical feedback loops that keep us satiated — whether that satiation is productive or not. Humans are physically wired to interact with the world in groups, we have evolved this way to insure our survival.

Rev Janis asked some specific and pointed questions on Sunday.

  • How do we encourage participation in our center?
  • Do I want to continue with the method I use?
  • Is gathering old fashioned? What are the benefits of gathering?

Some of my thoughts are:
Tell people
Attract people
Excite people
Visualize people
The reality we live in is our creation.
Involve people
Solve your problems
New world view
Connect people
Connect with G0D
Two heads are better than one.

These ideas have been repeated over and over for thousands of years
People, as mirrors, give us a reflection of ourselves. We gain clarity when we see that.

What thoughts do you have about how we might encourage more participation?

–Chris Wheeler

How Do We…?

“Continuing to do pioneering sacred work in a world as crazy and painful as ours without constantly grounding yourself in a sacred practice would be like running into a forest fire dressed only in a paper tutu.” — Marion Woodman
The world of our experience can certainly seem topsy-turvy right now, and it seems like just one thing after another continues to pop up and challenge us to retain our center, and our balance, and remember what’s ours to control, revisit, and reimagine, and then act accordingly.
And there’s another thing we need to add to this already quite messy mix, which is the desire to pretend that everything’s working out just fine, when that’s a mental wish we have but not something we actually believe & embody in our lives. I want to use today’s blogpost to write about both these things.
When we pretend that everything is okay in our world, but if we check in with our physical experience (our body, and our true mental state), we discover that we don’t truly believe it, that avoidance behavior is called a ‘bypass’. Sometimes bypasses are necessary in the short term, to get us through particularly hard times, but they are not a great place to try to live.
I don’t know anyone who enjoys difficult conversations. I do know folks who are pretty good at having them. When we use bypass to avoid discomfort during difficult conversations, we avoid solving the challenges, so they don’t go away.
I have some home repairs that I’ve been avoiding, because I just don’t want to have to deal with problems that I took on when I bought my little house. I don’t want to deal with the financial expense of making it right. I don’t want to deal with my own internal dialog (again) about how I listened to the realtor and fooled myself into thinking this house was wonderful and perfect, without flaws, just as it was. All the repairs I’ve gotten to pay for have made it more ‘like it was supposed to be’. It is a wonderful and perfect house – the size I wanted, with the amount of upkeep I wanted, in the part of town I wanted, and it’s giving me the opportunity to see where I’ve pretended that things were great when they weren’t.
So how do we do the spiritual work that we need to do in order to keep ourselves grounded, in integrity, in our bodies, congruent with our beliefs, and remembering those things that are within our control? Yes, I realize that’s a tall order. If we don’t do these things, it is, as Marion Woodman suggested in that opening quote, like running into a forest fire wearing a paper tutu.
We can pretend that catching our tutu on fire is part of the program, which it is, if we don’t choose differently in our daily spiritual practice. What do I mean by daily spiritual practice? It’s what you do every single day to keep yourself centered and grounded in your Oneness with all Life. Like what, you might ask? (I hope not but you might.) Meditation, journaling, reading spiritual materials, singing, walking in nature, moving, praying loving others in your world, affirmations, peaceful breathing, generosity… What are these practices for you?
–Rev Janis Farmer
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