Yay for Boats in the Desert!

Reverend Janis described using a boat. She loves her boats. I love my boats. What we are referring to is the joke about the man stuck on his roof during a devastating flood. When a boat approaches, he declines help, saying that God will rescue him. A helicopter comes by to rescue him and he declines their help, explaining that God will rescue him. Then he drowns. When he gets to heaven, he asks God why God didn’t rescue him. God replies, “I sent a boat and a helicopter!” A boat refers to receiving help recognizing that, in unity, we are all one and that help received is the same as help given. And the awareness that the Divine will provide help to me through people.

My two most recent experiences of receiving help were from two of my coaches. I have a business coach and a Health and Wellness (H&W) coach. I also have a sponsor in the 12-step program to which I belong.

My H&W coach meets with me every 2-3 weeks. She is wonderful and helps me establish good health habits. We work on ways to deal with my feeling of panic that causes me to overeat. She helps me devise strategies that help me get to sleep as it often takes me 45-60 minutes to power down enough to fall asleep. I was explaining that I had stopped walking with my girlfriends because I was focusing on completing tax returns before the deadline. The problem was that I was not finding that I had any extra time as I gave up my movement. She advised me to start moving again. She has been working with me for about 1 year and commented on how important exercise is to me. And reminding me that I do better when I have a hard work out. That was on July 2. The next day I walked 21⁄2 miles with my friends. On July 4, I got up early and walked around Randolph Park from my house and back, a distance of 4.5+ miles. I have been doing that daily since and feel so much better. On rest days, I walk 3 miles because I need movement every day. My body expects it.

I meet with my business coach monthly. She is an integrative coach who believes that personal and business are the same. I receive guidance of a practical sense – she transformed my time management by helping me set up a hybrid system using a Google sheets list of tasks and a daily planner because she says that I have my long list and then every day I tend to work off a separate agenda. That is totally true. When I talked to her about needing to trust my ability to complete my work on time and relaxing instead of living in stress based on deadlines, she later said that she knew that I needed to increase my connection to Spirit.

Through her skillful questioning I was able to come back into knowing that my business success is Spirit-based and that I can rely on the Divine to ease my way with regard to deadlines and tasks that appear challenging. This is extra important as I am preparing for an audit with my largest client. Last year’s audit was very difficult and so my “triggers” are in full force. Using our Science of Mind philosophy, I remember I need to see through appearances to know the reality that all is perfect and whole. Applying SOM to my work means that even though I experience stress dealing with strong personalities and the appearance of authority, it is my job to look beyond appearances and know that my tasks are manageable and that I have the resources I need to complete the task. Talking with her re- centered me and I was able to discuss strategies to remind me of my connection with Spirit throughout my day. And like Science of Mind, I looked over at my windowsill and saw my little altar full of keepsakes that I created several years ago with friends. It’s in a repurposed Altoids tin. I closed it up and put it in my desk drawer and I intend to look at it daily.

I also poured pink Himalayan salt that my coach, Tabitha, said is very clearing spiritually into a singing bowl to keep by my computer screen. I can play with it while on Zoom calls. She suggested I purchase some palo santos sticks, which I did, to burn daily to spread peace and positivity. I grabbed my Angel Therapy oracle cards and fired up my essential oils diffuser. I feel totally blessed to receive help, guidance and support from my friends. Ha!

I do pay both of them and they are also clients of mine so we totally help each other out! And the fact that Tabitha supports my spirituality is an added bonus. It reminds me that I am loved and that the Divine does indeed provide what I need by giving me boats in the desert.

-Marya Wheeler

Living in “Interesting Times”

There’s an old Chinese curse about living in interesting times. It’s pretty clear that we are. Fear bubbles just below the surface for a lot of people. Those who have lost loved ones, who no longer have a stable source of income, or who are afraid and cut off from the comfort of being with other human beings are suffering. May each of us remember to use this opportunity as a wake up call to our shared humanity, our shared vulnerability, and to nourish our compassion and strengthen our communities.

Personally, it has presented me with the opportunity to go inward more deeply every day (thanks to the tricks I learned in Into the Magic Shop), which fold in so beautifully with our Science of Mind principles and techniques, allowing me to access a deeper awareness of Oneness. Life and Wholeness. I also have been watching Deepak Chopra’s morning talks on Instagram, which help me remember how to stay sane in an out of balance world. These have helped me stay grounded and centered.

So, what can we do?

Turn off the television newsfeed, and just ‘be’. News doesn’t change that fast. Listen to the birds sing. Enjoy the sun and the fresh air. Go for walks and appreciate the beauty of nature. Find things to be grateful for and really enjoy them. Do affirmative prayer and meditate. Read our Center’s (and other Centers’) materials. Attend our Zoom services, or services of other Centers and churches that feed and uplift us spiritually. Expand our spiritual practices. Know that, as they say in AA, “ This too shall pass”.

Arizona DES (directorblog.azdhs.gov) recognizes that individuals with chronic illnesses are more susceptible to this virus and that it is even more important, if we are experiencing that condition, that we, and those who live with us, take preventative measures: stay home, take extra care with handwashing and prevent spread of potential contamination, keep up with our medications, keep good records of daily health monitoring and keep any scheduled doctor’s appointments. In addition, AZ DES recommends social distancing, engaging in an enjoyable hobby (scanning Facebook feeds is not an enjoyable hobby), being moderately physically active, practicing mindfulness and meditation, connecting with friends and family over the phone and video-chats. Reach out if you are experiencing persistent sadness, fear or feeling of hopelessness. If you feel like you have no one to comfortably call, please reach out to the AZ DES Mental Health Line 800 -985-5990.

AZ DES has also shown a drop in the number of new cases of the virus this past week for the first time since our awareness of the virus in Pima County was noticed (March 1) from 209 new cases to 94. Also that numbers of infected persons are higher in the 20-44 year age range (181) than they are in the 65- and-older age range (165). Us ‘seniors’ are doing a better job of keeping ourselves safe!

It’s time to re-imagine a new world, to envision sharing our common humanity, to vision how we can live in the deepest, most beautiful way possible. Coming through this difficult time, what we intend and nurture, we can certainly do.

“This is a time of mystery and uncertainty. Take a breath. The veils of separation are parting and the reality of interconnection is apparent to everyone on earth. We have needed this pause, perhaps even needed our isolation to see how much we need one another”

— Quote from Lion’s Roar

–Namaste, Janie Hooper

Welcoming a Change in Perspective

What I so appreciate about the Science of Mind is the surprising resolution to situations that occur in my life when I apply the principal that “All is happening for my good and the good of all involved.” When I stop looking at my life through the eyes of a victim, I find peace and love replacing fear and anxiety.

I write about this and it sounds easy to me but, recently, I have been clenching my teeth a lot and feeling the weight of the world as I have been dealing with a family member’s drinking plus familiar tax season stress.

I looked forward to writing this article as a means to reframe my recent experience. I regularly read 365 Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes. The daily meditations are lovely and bring me into a space of gratitude, regardless of any outside events. I often share them with my husband over the phone or across the table. My daily writing includes a listing of 5 things for which I am grateful. I also write a spiritual mind treatment daily. Often during the step of Unification, I sense the Divine expressing life through me, grokking It as living in me, as me and for me. The following Realization step states my daily intentions, often to complete pending tax returns and to return phone calls. So that I don’t lock myself into my controlling view of what needs to happen today, I often declare my intention as the more generic, “I joyfully accomplish today’s work with ease”. Putting it on a sticky-note by my computer reminds me to take a breath and reconnect.

Additional ways I stay connected:

  •  Exchange a daily intention with my prayer partner.
  •  Employ the services of Shelley Dunn, our licensed practitioner, to write a spiritual mind treatment for me. I have a lovely, handwritten treatment that I read regularly. $200 well spent on a discovery session resulting in a treatment tailored to my concerns.
  •  Mastermind group with Pat Masters and other Prosperity Plus III participants. Similar to the Power of 8 groups CSLT hosted, we meet to share and ask for fellow members to hold an intention for us until our next meeting. To hold an intention for another means, to me, that I read it daily, sending out my good thoughts, feelings and energy to the stated goals.

My regular practices help me feel good. It is important that I practice them with mindfulness. Otherwise, my practice can become just one more task in my busy day. I do this because I sometimes think my normal is about 15% below baseline. Dealing with the effects of my trauma-filled childhood is a daily process, and requires intention and attention.

The way I have re-framed the two opportunities is this –

Scheduled meetings with two people about expanding my business, bringing in more help. This would happen either as employees or perhaps a partnership.

An encounter with the police and my family member last week led to an eye-opening realization that this is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with now through Intensive Outpatient treatment and daily attendance at 12-step meetings. Both are happening.

With gratitude I realize that Science of Mind deals in actualities, not just simple, nebulous, affirmations chanted to myself in the mirror, although that sometimes works too. After writing this, I am more at peace, truly understanding, just for now, that all happens for my good.

— Marya Wheeler

Be Still My Amygdala

We all know the common response types: flight or fight – or the less mentioned one “freezing like a deer in headlights”.

We all respond these ways based on instructions from the oldest part of our brain i.e. the Amygdala*. It is so old, it is still living in caves with fear of mastodons or of anything unknown and therefore potentially deadly. For a while in the long, long ago there were good reasons for that response pattern.

But today the percentage of time we need that “shoot or run” decision is pretty small. Yet, there it sits at the back of the brain calling the shots way too often.

And the bossy, bully Amygdala is pretty much frightened of its own shadow. Does it look different? Does it smell different? Does it sound different, etc.? … then it doesn’t want any of it, which means you don’t want any of it.

So how does that happen, we are literate, experienced people with a decent storehouse of knowledge and mental capacity. Yet this ancient residual part of our brain can quickly and quite efficiently take over how we behave in new circumstances. Before we actually know it, we’ve made a decision, called our choice and behaved as if we still had to worry about mastodons.

There is, of course, a way to circumvent the Amygdala — one need only to stop and breathe, and consider what is actually meaningful to someone living in the year 2020 and not 0020.

This stopping and breathing takes – you saw this coming – consistent persistent practice in the art of being still.

Quieting the noise our various internal voices create, especially when they get all incited by Amygdala and are rushing around to save us from the threat of something new, goes by many names and takes many forms in practice. Meditation is the one we know best, primarily because the people we know and respect keep telling us we ought to try it until we find a form that works for us.

There are literally dozens of ways to quiet our chaos. True sitting in the lotus position and counting breaths – I rarely can stay with this. One can walk with awareness, one can (as I do) journal from within, thousands of guided meditations, music to center by, and on and on. Brene’ Brown, an author both Rev. Janis and I read a lot, has written that she meditates on the treadmill. For real.

The objective is not to meet any one else’s definition of proper practice but to find something that quiets your mind.

Because taming your own mind goes a long way toward controlling the Amygdala, which means being present in the here and now, and spending less time freaking out about mastodons.

Life is filled with all sorts of amazing things, none of us need the threat of long extinct creatures, or even old habits that are familiar, but not the way we want to be now. So be still my Amygdala, and hello to Presence.

–Peace and stillness to you and yours, Mariann

*a•myg•da•la /əˈmiɡdələ/ noun: a roughly almond-shaped mass of gray matter inside each cerebral hemisphere, involved with the experiencing of emotions.

Put Your Own Mask On First

Ram Dass is reported to have said, “If you (mistakenly) think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family”. Those of us fortunate enough to still have family around, and visit them occasionally, get to be reminded of this great truth. Family dynamics are among the most soul challenging experiences any of us can have. This is especially true if we don’t see our family frequently. All of us change constantly; they still remember us as they knew us, or as they wish to remember us. Neuroscience tells us that what people experience of us is 10-20% what they perceive from the actual interaction, and 80-90% what they remember, or what they imagine. This is also true for each of us.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about expectations and disappointment and the scenarios we build in our minds about how things ‘should’ be. Especially around major holidays. And that thing Buddhists call attachment. Typically, we think of attachment to ‘stuff’, but it applies more to stories that people will behave a certain way, or respond to us like we want them to, or that things will be as they have always been, or that we can stop time, or that we can precisely control exact outcomes, or ….

All this backstory brings me to the statement made by flight attendants before every flight, and by self care gurus everywhere, reminding us that if we don’t “put our own (oxygen) masks on first…”, and take conscious note of our own needs, desires, intentions, stories, expectations, beliefs, boundaries, etc., we have stripped ourselves of our ability to respond to our life experiences, whatever they may be, in a supportive, affirming way. Any time we link our sense of wellbeing to our expectation that any other person will act a certain way, we have limited our ability to be present with what is actually happening and reduced our ability to decide how we choose to perceive and remember the events of our lives.

Then there are the predictably unexpected monkey wrenches. My sister had a serious medical emergency the weekend before I traveled to see family. During those last few pre-holiday days, she had planned to finish her last minute Christmas shopping and tie up loose ends. Instead she spent five days in a very good hospital, ultimately receiving three stents providing blood to her unhappy heart. The surgery was successful; she was home the afternoon of Christmas Eve. She was saddened that she wasn’t able to participate in the pre-holiday prep, buy presents for about half the family, or get any of her gifts wrapped. After she had handed out the few presents that she had acquired, she apologized to the rest of the family and said, “Well, I’m still here.” We all applauded and celebrated her presence.

Then there are the blended (and blended and blended) family issues, and the (control) games people do play. Without making anyone wrong, a challenge all by itself, there were opportunities to create some new and completely different rituals and practices over the holidaze. We decided not to let the grandstanding of a few individuals during the week spoil the quality of our appreciation of each other during the few days we had to spend together. That is not to say it was easy, but it was possible, since we kept our wits about us, mostly.

The practice of remembering that only we are in charge of our own experience, while unsettling or annoying at times, may be among our most powerful methods of sharpening our mental and spiritual tools in our toolkit of awakening. Putting our own oxygen masks on first, remembering what has actual importance for us and is in our control, remembering that everyone is doing the best they can all the time, given what they know and believe, including us, we can more easily remember that “We are just walking each other home.”

Blessings in this New Year.

–Rev Janis Farmer