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

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!

Bells of Mindfulness

September’s Sacred Cinema movie is Walk With Me, a documentary about Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community. You are invited to attend the Sacred Cinema Zoom meeting this Sunday, September 18 at 3pm (contact office for Zoom link). Even if you don’t watch the movie, come discuss a favorite quote or teaching from the Master.

Watching the movie, there were two things that made a lasting impact on me. The first is Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice to a little girl whose dog recently died. You can watch the except
here: ‘Walk With Me’ Documentary film clip – Thich Nhat Hanh on dog dying.

The second was the “Bells of Mindfulness”. The movie shows that at Plum Village, every 15 minutes a bell will ring. Attendees stop whatever they are doing – talking, eating, walking, working – for a few breaths as a reminder to return to being mindful, mindful of what they are doing, saying, thinking, feeling. I wondered what that would be like. I wanted to experience this.

I was trying to figure out how to do this at home. That’s when I discovered a free app provided by Plum Village that includes the Bells of Meditation. You can get the app here: Mindfulness Apps | Plum Village

I had a free morning at home so I downloaded the app and enabled the bell. It starts you out with a 2-hour session with the bell ringing every 15 minutes. I started it and went about my day. Every 15 minutes when I heard the bell, I would stop what I was doing, take a long slow breath and check in with how I was feeling, what I was doing. Was I mindfully (or mindlessly) doing my tasks? Was I connected to my body? Was I aware of my surroundings? It did make me more aware of what I was doing, seeing, and feeling. But I actually found it distracting, taking me off task.

I decided to go another couple hours, but at a 30 minute interval. At this interval I found myself anticipating the bells. I would wait to start a task until the half hour was up or find a task, I thought would be completed in 30 minutes. I was being “mindful” in a way that didn’t serve me well.

The next day I decided to try again, but at a random 23 minutes. This way, I would not be sure when the bell would go off if I happened to look at a clock. This worked well for me. I was able to get things accomplished without being concerned about time or when the bell would ring. The bell at indiscriminate times brought me back to mindfulness, deciding if what I was doing at that time was what I should be doing.

When I find myself mindlessly going through my day, I now have another tool in my toolbox to bring me back to the present moment. “…we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.

–Janet Salese

Visioning

Of the four spiritual practices used in Science of Mind (Affirmations, Spiritual Mind Treatment, Meditation, Visioning), Visioning was the one I had worked with and understood the least. I was delighted that enough people joined me in making this class, which recently concluded, happen.

I had in the past used visualization, such as making a vision board or seeing myself succeed at a task. Maybe even wanting this class to occur now, I helped to manifest it. This is different from Visioning. As the class’ student guide puts it, “It is the difference between directing Spirit to have our way (visualization) and allowing Spirit to have Its way (visioning).”

I had practiced visioning a little as part of a class or in a group visioning for the highest for CSLT. The practice has usually been to center in Oneness, then open to the vision by asking a series of questions: 1-What is your highest vision or ideal for ____? 2- What changes, evolves or becomes as this highest vision comes into existence?

3-Is there anything else which wants to be known, understood or realized? We write down any images, feelings, sounds, etc. that come to/through mind. The leader will then gather these from all the individuals and compile a list, which is then distributed back to the individuals. This has been where I have usually stopped with the practice.

This class taught and allowed me to practice the next step which is that, in identifying themes, you articulate the vision through spiritual discernment. It is fascinating to see what comes through during the visioning process, but what do all these seemingly random ideas mean? What could Spirit be trying to tell me through images of: Dogs barking happily, blue jeans, plaid shirt, playful winged insects, beach, chair on a cloud? Could it be, as one of my classmates suggested, to loosen up, dress down, be happy and relax?

The full title of the class was Visioning: A Way of Life! So, after we figured out what our visioning session was telling us, we were asked to develop a Vision Statement which we make a commitment to become. When you embody the vision, you attune to Spirit and allow Spirit to show you how it wants to express itself through you to bring forth your highest and best experience of life. Bring on the happy, relaxed, casual Life!

Now that I have finally taken this class, I look forward to joining the Vision Core which meets on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30pm on the Sunday Zoom channel. If you have taken the Visioning class, recently or before, you are welcomed to join in also.

–Janet Salese

The Experience of Evil

All misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune. — Henry David Thoreau

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. – Richard Bach

The origin of evil is in the human mind, and the belief in the devil, hell, & purgatory has its origin in the human mind, and nowhere else. This belief must be erased from the mind. We must come to know that there can be no Ultimate evil. We must have an assurance that evil will disappear from our experience in such degree as we no longer feed it with our imagination, or through our acts create situations that encourage it.

Dr Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind 354.6-355.1.

Each one of us gets to wrestle with the big challenge, “Is there evil in the world?” in our

From Not So Big Life by Sarah Susanka

own minds. At first blush, and according to the point of view of the collective unconscious,
the answer has to be “Of course there is! Just look at all the harm humans do to each other, and to the planet.”

Therein lies the rock and the hard place.

Is there one power in the world, or are there two? Is there a unity, or a duality? What do you honestly and actually-factually believe?

We know what the world thinks, we get to see and experience that on a regular basis. How do we see our life experiences with new eyes and remember that the Universe is for us, and everything we experience and observe is for our awakening in consciousness?

For me, one of the keys that helps me remember is that everyone is already, and perpetually, an eternal being, and these years spent in ‘earth school’ don’t encompass all of our lives. It’s just a chapter. In this chapter, we may choose to experience hardship, or difficulty. We may choose to live in, and from, our zone of genius, or we may choose to spend it as a victim. We may choose to overcome the difficulty and become stronger as a result, or we may be toppled by it. No matter what, how we play the cards we have in this life is not the whole story of who we are. It doesn’t ultimately impact us negatively. This human life is for gathering experiences.

Rev Steph Amand wrote in her March 19 daily reading in the Science of Mind Magazine “I trust the universe to provide all the substance to carve, all the tools to use and all the people to share it with. I embrace that the silver lining of every experience is made known to me with ease and graceful awareness. I am the silver lining experiencing and expressing the divine. I am the infinite sparkle within all things.”

This is a chewy and challenging idea worthy of a deeper dive. I’m available to discuss this topic next Sunday (March 27th) at 1pm (AZ time) for an hour or so, on the Sunday morning zoom link with anyone who chooses to drop in. Join me.

–Rev Janis Farmer

 

 

 

Got Cash?

I have hesitated on writing about this topic for quite some time. It can be a touchy personal topic for some, and for others almost taboo to talk about. Money. I think to myself, ‘who am I to write about money especially since no one is even asking?’ I answer myself, ‘My name is Madeline Pallanes and I am a woman of power.’ (I learned that affirmation from Edwene Gaines.) Sometimes I believe it, sometimes I don’t. ‘Money flows to me easily & freely.’ I’ve been repeating that affirmation for probably 20 years. I always believe it.

Today, I have a loving healthy relationship with my money. It hasn’t always been that way. Yes, it’s a relationship. A relationship that has had its ups and downs over the years. I wanted a healthy relationship with money. I have made many blunders with my money and when I did, I later sought out help.

I attended Dave Ramsey’s University of Financial Peace.

Stacy Johnson with Money Talks News is also one of my sought-out helpers.

I have taken many Prosperity classes offered though CSL. Edwene Gaines, “The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity” is probably the one I have absorbed the teachings and practice the most. One of the Laws is tithing and giving. Through the years, whenever I would show up at a church (CSL or any other one I may have stopped into) I had a standard amount of cash I would donate to the church for the service. If I couldn’t donate that amount, I wouldn’t go. That was my tithing practice. That was how I thought one tithes. It was also standard practice for me to donate to many non-profit organizations. I have always been generous with donations. If I had it, I gave it and if I didn’t have it, I didn’t give it.

A few years ago, an interesting thing happened. I learned the definition of tithing. Tithing is giving 10% of your income to where you receive your spiritual guidance. That really made me think. Was I actually tithing? Tithing 10% of my income to where I receive my spiritual guidance? It probably totaled up to 10% with church and other non-profit donations, but I know I wasn’t receiving spiritual guidance from Salvation Army, the local food bank, or local animal shelters. I made a decision right then and there, to give 10% of my income to where I receive my spiritual guidance. In addition, I give 5% of my income to charitable giving. Later, I also decided to save 10% of my income. This loving relationship practice I have with my money continues to grow stronger and healthier each day.

Recently over the past couple months, I decided instead of tithing 10% of what I received, I would tithe 10% of what I want to receive for the month. I’m tithing in advance knowing this increased income is coming to me easily and freely. “My income is constantly increasing.” (Yet another affirmation I frequently say.)

This year I decided to start a “Five & Dime savings account” and I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’m not spending any 5-dollar bills that flow through my hands. I put the $5 bill into a zip lock bag and put it in my underwear drawer. I’m also not spending dimes. I have a dime bag sitting on my dresser. That is my Five & Dime savings account. Currently I have already saved $120 in 5’s, along with 32 dimes. Cha Ching!

The idea for the $5 savings plan came from a friend who saved every $5 she received for a year. This is what she had saved at the end of the year, without any hardship.

And this is my dime bag. 🙂

If having a healthier relationship with your money interests you, I know you can have it! Start with where ever you are now. For me, starting with tithing 10% of my income to where I receive my spiritual guidance, was my biggest jumpstart to access my prosperity & abundance.

–Madeline

Wait! What Was I Thinking?

I love how efficient the Universe is at showing us what we believe. I’ve had so many examples of this in the past couple weeks, I probably can’t even count them all. Mostly, I’m just glad I notice I’ve been thinking, and believing, and have a chance to change my mind about my experiences.

Last Thursday, I got my booster shot up at the Tucson Convention Center. It was the first day they were open and they had all three of the options. I had a preference, and so I had avoided getting ‘boosted’. I was cracking jokes in line with the couple standing behind me. Of course, he had heard that people who hadn’t gotten ill from the previous shots were laid low by this one. I’d heard that too, but I didn’t pay it a lot of attention. Friday, I woke up feeling a little bit achy, and my arm was sore. Friday’s usually my day off, and I thought I’d just take it easy because I’d been pushing pretty hard for a while. No biggie.

I opened The Science of Mind Friday night to do my daily evening practice, which is to consider the reading for the day (252.2-5) that Dr Edward Viljoen picked out when he was in ministerial school over thirty years ago. Friday’s reading was about how we can choose to think about Colds, Influenza and Grippe. (I don’t even know what grippe is.) I had to laugh out loud at myself. How is it possible that I needed to be reminded of this exact thought form on this day, so I could notice what I was thinking?

What I noticed was that I had two competing thoughts in my mind. As a biologist, I knew that when the body’s defenses were activated, they would kick up a little bit of a fuss, and the body would prefer to have a low-key, restful day so that the internal reinforcements of health could gather the troops, and nothing further would be needed. As a Religious Scientist, I knew that we believe in the healing of the sick and the control of conditions through the power of this Mind, and so I didn’t have to experience those achy sensations. I also knew that it is done unto us as we believe. If my belief in the mechanics of human physiology was stronger than my belief in what we teach and practice, then I was going to get to have that experience.

Well, duh. Of course, I did a treatment. Friday night I slept, unbothered. By morning, I was back to normal.

Saturday, I was running errands in town and noticed the clouds gathering. There were even a few raindrops on my car’s windshield, not enough to turn the wipers on, but it was still rain. Part of me delights in the clouds gathering, because I very much appreciate the soft, gentle winter rains. And if they happened to start early this year, I’d be quite okay with that. But the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association was doing a stargazing party in Tucson Mountain Park, near where I live, and I had a ticket to go Saturday night. I was looking forward to it. I did my ‘standard weather treatment’ that I used to do when I lived in Arizona City and drove to Tucson multiple times a week for certificated classes. I didn’t have a problem with rain, or dust storms, for two years.

Astronomers aren’t generally as happy about overcast skies as the rest of us desert dwellers are, and the club cancelled the viewing if they thought the skies wouldn’t be cooperative. Over Tucson Mountain Park, the skies stayed relatively clear, so I drove over just after sunset to look through the two telescopes and ‘ooh and ahh’ at the planets and galaxies with about 15 other people. I’ve seen Venus, Jupiter and Saturn before, but I’d not seen Neptune or Uranus. The two amateur astronomers had great telescopes and great skill in using them, so we could even see multiple moons around several of the distant planets. We do get to experience what we believe. How marvelous is that?

–Rev Janis Farmer

Beyond Beyond Gratitude

Rev. Janis just concluded her Beyond Gratitude class this week. The homework for week 1 included doing a gratitude practice of listing three things you were grateful for each day. “Okay,” I said to myself. “I’ll start a new journal. Again.”

Like many of you, I have started such a practice many times. I keep it up for a few weeks or months, then record less frequently until I stop altogether. I think of 3 things I’m grateful for and list them, trying not to repeat myself. Once again, I began making my list of three things that I noticed each day for which I am thankful.

On Veteran’s Day, I thought I should put veterans on my list, but I had already recorded three things. I looked at the three items to decide which one to take off and substitute with veterans. I didn’t want to replace any of the items with veterans. This made me look at why I included items on my list. Each of the items I included made me feel something. That day I wasn’t feeling any particular emotion related to any veteran in particular or veterans in general, so they didn’t make it to the list. The next day I meditated on what it was about veterans that I was grateful for. Now I had a feeling to go with the thought and veterans made it on the list that day.

Instead of just making a list I’m currently keeping an actual gratitude journal. I write down three things, one at a time. Then I write down why I’m grateful for each one and how each makes me feel. This has given my gratitude practice more meaning.

Also during that week 1 class, Rev. Janis suggested we include things from three different categories:

1 – tangibles. (what you can see, touch, taste, smell, hear)
2 – invisibles, but tangibles (like oxygen/air, lungs/breath, kidneys, spleen…)
3 – intangibles (like safety, contentment, creativity…)

Previously, the things that made it to my list were mostly from the first category. Thinking about and including things from the other two categories has broadened my practice in another way.

As suggested by Dr. Karmen Smith and reiterated by Rev. Janis, to take my gratitude practice to an even higher level I reflect on difficult experiences and try to find a reason to be grateful. Knowing that all happens for my good, I ask to be shown the good. Often this is not possible to see while experiencing the situation, but recalling events from the past that are over and done with I am usually able to find something there to be grateful for if only that it is in the past.

Taking this class has allowed me to take my gratitude practice beyond anything I have done in the past. I think I will stick with this practice longer this time around because of this.

I love that our Center offers a variety of classes on a regular basis. Participating in the classes, I always discover something that I can incorporate into my daily life to make it fuller, deeper, bigger, etc. If you haven’t taken a class lately, I encourage you to do so. Allow yourself to go beyond.

–Janet Salese

Hide The Ball

I don’t know if you remember that old magician’s trick with the usually three upturned cups and the ball that seems to magically move from cup to cup, and the observer never quite knows where the ball is, or how it got there. In one of our Practitioner classes years ago, a dear friend said, “I play hide the ball with myself all the time, and it frustrates me!” When she said it, I realized I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate way to describe how we keep ourselves from knowing ‘stuff’ that we claim we want to know. Most of us do this, at least sometimes. This is not a criticism. I think it’s an aspect of being human.

I’ve been using this pandemic cloistering period to work on my writing practice in a world-wide community of writers. The way this program is set up, everyone has a page of their own as a place to show their work. It’s a little cumbersome until you get the hang of it (like most things are when they are new), but it’s really not hard to find your own page. I’m watching one of my writing friends do his darnedest to keep himself from writing, and letting himself acknowledge that he actually writes well and beautifully. He’s a smart guy. He’s got a successful day job. And he’s got this other side that’s creative, poetic, profound and astoundingly lyrical in its beauty and depth.

This morning I noticed that he’d written an extraordinary piece of incredibly touching poetry on someone else’s ‘page’, and sheepishly admitted that he didn’t know how to find his own page. We’ve been in this writing program for five months. Twice I’ve offered to zoom with him on his computer to show him how to find his own page. I know of two other people, moderators of the writing program, who have also offered to assist him. Someone even made him a ‘how to’ sheet of directions, and he persists in hiding the ball from himself. I just wanted to cry when I saw his commentary this morning.

If we, or someone else, don’t want to know something, there is nothing that can be done to force them or us to see, and know. It’s not like having a puppy and rubbing their noses in it when we catch them peeing in the house. We don’t learn that way. Once we finally do wake up to the game and see though, and are willing to own our own ability, agency, autonomy, authority, responsibility and power, there’s nothing that stands in our way.

Being part of a world-wide writing community is both exciting and terrifying. I was telling one of my artist friends about it, and she was horrified at the idea of showing her work to others as it was in process, specifically so that other people could comment on it. I told her it was really quite fabulous, because one of the rules of engagement in this group was that commenters were required to be constructive, and kind. Early on when I joined this online writers’ group, I noticed the moderators, quickly and decisively, removed two people who didn’t know how to be constructive and kind.

It serves each of us to have a small group of supportive friends, who we trust and who actually have our best interests in mind and heart, and who will help us see our blind spots. Without that, it’s easy to just keep playing ‘hide the ball’, and we don’t learn and grow.

–Rev Janis Farmer

“And It Was Good”

As a spark of God, I am illumined by the Spirit of Wisdom. I am free from the bondage of all false beliefs. The Spirit of Wisdom enables me to see all others as they are in reality — perfect expressions of God. — Ernest Holmes, 365 Science of Mind 156.2

Above is one of the thoughts read at a daily practice. The line that resonated with many of the participants was, “The Spirit of Wisdom enables me to see all others (I added “and myself”) as they are in reality — perfect expressions of God.” I had shared during the last Spiritual Practitioner Class for the first year, we shared our final projects reflecting what we learned, how we grew in our first year. People shared amazing drawings, poems, songs, video presentations. I was in awe. Afterwards, I started comparing my project to what others did and felt less than.

Someone else in the zoom room shared an experience “comparing” themselves with others. We realized comparison brought out judgment, feelings of less than or perhaps even better than someone else. Judgment leads to a sense of separation, that I don’t belong. It’s a feeling I am not a part of the whole.

I put myself in bondage, a lack of freedom, when I compare and make judgments. This is a pattern of behavior that is not conducive to living a joyful life, to letting my light shine. One of Rev. Janis’ reminders was about memories, how old stories can keep me stuck or propel me into a higher level of consciousness. I (’m going to) choose to believe that my presentation has value, that I share my individualization of Spirit. “And it was Good.”

The Divine Plan is one of freedom; bondage is not God-ordained. Freedom is the birthright of every living soul.
Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 25.3

I think of the phrase “And it was good,” found in Genesis after God brought light into existence, then created night, separated land and water, created plant life. It wasn’t the most awesome, spectacular, out of sight thing (although it was). It was just a solid recognition of a day’s work, no comparison to yesterday, no thought of tomorrow, just now. How freeing!

(No wonder God gets so much done!)

— Maria

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