Guilt: The Monster That Needs to be Vanquished

via Daily Prompt: guilty

Depression is like a water vortex. If you get too close to its edge, it spins you down with a violent rapidity that even the strongest of swimmers find difficult, nearly impossible, to fight against.

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The key is to not get too close to that edge.

Sounds easy, right? Not so. There are many anchors that we carry through our daily lives that weigh us down and remove that innate buoyancy that would keep us afloat and able to get away.

One of the most powerful anchors is guilt. It gains its power from having a grain of truth attached to it. It can manipulate that grain to seem so large and overpowering that it just propels us right up to that vortex edge.

What can we do about it? How can we overcome it? How can we lighten the load that guilt uses to weigh us down and push us right to that edge of oblivion?

I have been battling this monster, guilt, recently. We’ve waged war before and I’ve won many times. However, recently, it’s been grabbing at me with its teeth, pulling me ever closer to that vortex that is depression. I know the only way out is to fight. But it had me in a strong hold this time. My usual battle strategies were only minimally working. I needed something else, another plan of attack.

So I started scouring the internet for clues. For for anything that could help me combat it this time.

In my search for an answer, I came across a blog post. Its title sounded too good to be true: New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy. But, I read it anyway.

Well, what do you think the first step suggested in this blog post was?  It was to ask the question: What am I grateful for?

That question made me realize that this was the place that I was led to–that I was meant to find.

I’ve often said that the Attitude of Gratitude is powerful and it can help you steer towards good things. I practice it daily. This resonated with me so much that I read on.

The second step was to label negative feelings. Well, the next time that wave of sadness pushed me closer to that edge, I remembered that step and I called out the monster’s name defiantly. I mentally shouted, “You are just guilt. That’s all you are.” And, sure enough, I started to have a lightening in my heart.

This strategy started to work to help me feel better. So, I kept it up. I didn’t try to counsel myself out of the other negative emotions with reason and logic. I didn’t try to squash them after a good cry. This time instead, I labeled all the other negative emotions I was feeling that go hand-in-hand with guilt. I looked at them and called them out one by one.

It took a little while. And, slowly, that lightening increased. I started to think about all the good things in my life, all the good moments, the memories I was grateful for. And I was able to swim away from the edge of the vortex.

As those of you who fight against depression know the vortex doesn’t simply evaporate. However it does grow smaller with each successive win. So, it’s important to keep winning. To not let the vortex grab a hold of you. To not give up. Not ever.

The post New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy was based on a book by Alex Korb, PhD, titled The Upward Spiral. It’s written by a neuroscientist and outlines steps to take to battle depression. I fully intend to read it when it’s available from my library. It will definitely give me more tools that I can count on in my arsenal against depression.

The Daily Prompt is “Guilty.” Everyone has something they feel guilty about. It’s a part of life. But we shouldn’t let the monster, guilt, goad us into thinking that it’s more than it really is, that we are somehow less than who we are because of it. We should call it out by name, label it for what it is, take steps to see it and decide if it’s something we need to atone for or a monster that needs to be vanquished.

via Guilty

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Just for today, I will be thankful/grateful for my many blessings. As a perk for Patreon pledges, I’m offering a bullet journal page for recording daily Attitude of Gratitude moments. If you feel so inclined, Become a Patron!

Thank you ūüôā

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What we can gain from …

via Daily Prompt: Premonition

When I was growing up, I had a huge fascination with spirituality, in my religious beliefs as well as my collective consciousness beliefs.

I read, researched, attended masses all in the hopes of discovering the secrets of the universe. Ok, I was a very imaginative and curious child. I learned to pay attention to my world and with mindful attention, there were secrets to discover. I learned to allow those insights and hints from nature and the almighty to guide me pretty much wherever I needed to go. I put great faith in things happening for a reason and was willing to continue exploring how to make myself receptive to information most people ignore.

However, somewhere along the road, as I grew up, I became a skeptic. Sure, I knew that women’s intuition was spot-on at times and that the human brain can take in so much more information than we humans realize and are aware of. And I was certain that intuition could totally come from unseen brain processes. I let some of that mindfulness go in exchange for the work-a-day world’s necessary focus. I had responsibilities. I had to earn a living. I let go my exploration of “unexplained” phenomena. And life moved on.

One day last year, after driving my mom to the emergency room and helping her out of the car, she blurted out, “I had a premonition.” Immediately, I sighed and prepared myself for a recounting of one of her hallucinations.¬† She said, “They put something in my neck,” and she rubbed her neck to show me where it was. I told her that her neck looked ok to me and that there was nothing there. And, we let the conversation go.

At the time, I didn’t know that would be the last ER visit she would have. We all thought it was only a simple infection that would clear up with antibiotics. But, while she was there, it was apparent that her breathing wasn’t very good. The doctors wanted to start her on IV fluids and antibiotics. They searched for a vein in her good arm and couldn’t find one. They tried many times. Finally, a doctor came over and together with her attending physician, decided to do an EJ. I’d never heard of that medical term before. So I stood back and watched as they put in an IV into her jugular vein.

It was much later in the evening that I remembered my mom’s words, “They put something in my neck.” She had indeed had a premonition in the car that morning. And what was even more amazing is that it had been so very accurate.

We brought her home the next day on hospice after subsequent tests discovered that the cancer had “bloomed” in her lungs and the immuno hadn’t worked after all.

That day, and her premonition has stayed in my mind. I think about it practically every day. It’s something she wanted to share with me. Something I’ve only shared with my family until today. I probably never would have posted about it in this blog if it hadn’t been for today’s Daily Prompt: Premonition.

Sometimes, life gives you a wake up call, a reminder that there is more than just what we can see. My mom’s premonition has renewed my faith in nature and the higher power that guides us. Since her death, the reminder of her premonition has helped me to begin to restore the knowledge I had as a child–that with careful, mindful attention to the guidance that life gives us we can be led to where we need to be. What we can gain from listening to those cues is priceless. But first we have to be willing to listen and then to hear.

Premonition

All that is…

We as human beings seek to label and define things. It’s what we do. We can’t help ourselves.

knowledge

In our quest for knowledge and understanding, we name the things in our lives to derive meaning from them.

The Big Bang, the¬†Creator, G_d, Allah, the Father, Spirit and Holy Ghost, Jesus, Muhammad, the Powers that Be, the Aliens, the Universe, the Nothing, All That Is…. In our quest to define things so we can understand them, we’ve given names to the energy that created our world, ourselves and everything around us.

In this climate of mean-spiritedness, must we assert that our words, our labels are the only correct label and that everyone else is “wrong”? Can we not, instead, see how we as human beings are so very similar in our need to understand our world that we name things to gain understanding?

We are all humans, living and breathing, with hopes and desires and dreams, with concerns and fears, with a need to belong, to feel loved and to feel protected.

What if we could see that all these names and labels for the creator of the universe and all within as simply words of a different language, a dialect or colloquialism? Not one of them wrong, just different.

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Because after all, the energy of creation that was here before any of us existed is what it is and will always be what it is, regardless of whatever label we humans place on it. It’s not a matter of right and wrong, only different. Our labels don’t affect it in any way.

What if we embraced the differences, instead of calling them out and rallying against them? What if we could see and understand, that despite the names and labels we give things, that we are all human after all?

What if we all rebelled against this current climate of xenophobia, hatred and distrust and instead embraced the tenets of our collective faiths? What if we helped lift one another up, rather than knocking each other down? What if we truly treated one another as brothers and sisters in this journey of life together?

I can imagine a world where this would be true and it is not only beautiful, it is what we should have. It’s all that should be. And …

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Living in the moment means…

 

This morning, as I was bundled up in my comforter fast asleep, my beautiful dog came into the room. Concerned that I was still asleep (it was after 8am and she’s an early riser), she came over to the bed and gently pawed at my comforter revealing my hand. She put her paw into it and gently nudged me.

“Mom wake up,” she was whispering. “It’s a crisp clear day. You’re missing it. Come on!”

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OK, I know dogs don’t talk.

But what else could she have said? Little D is a dog, yes. And as all animals know, the place to be is in the here and now. It’s a beautiful day, she could be having breakfast, and going on her walk in the sunshine, sniffing the grass. She could be hearing the birds, searching for her nemeses in the trees (aka squirrels) and she felt the need to remind me that this precious moment was passing us both by.

To her, each moment is a moment of opportunity to be savored and sleeping it away is something she just doesn’t understand (unless of course she’s tired and wants to sleep :)).

This morning, my Little D was a reminder of how important it is to not only be in the moment but to live in it. To find joy, hope, beauty and adventure every day. It is there, however subtle it may appear to us humans, to be recognized, savored and reveled in.

So, after Little D put her paw into my hand, I smiled and joined her in reverie. After all, the sun was shining and it was the start of a beautiful, crisp winter day.

As naive as this sounds, you have to be willing to be receptive to the good around you. Living in the moment means being willing to shed the grumpiness, the preconceived notions of how things are supposed to be and to see the good that is around you, one moment at a time. Once you start being aware of the good things, more good things will follow. One after the other, after the other.

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The Outcome of the System of Reiki is …

In our society, many individuals feel that the reason for taking a course or attending a school is that ultimately it will provide you with either an increase in status or the knowledge necessary to further you in your career and, as a result, an increase in income.

 

Reiki is different. I’ve said before that the study of Reiki is a life path. It’s not a course to¬†complete¬†and be done with. It’s a continuing way of life that not only benefits the person studying it but the world around them as well.

 

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The tenets of Reiki bear a striking similarity to tenets of other spiritual paths in that they’re meant to further the evolution of the soul, to help one be the best person one can be.

While I was looking for some inspiration this morning, I looked to a source I could count on. Although I haven’t studied¬†with the founders of the International House of Reiki, I’ve found a wealth of information and inspiring articles on their site. When I found this wonderful reminder of why I began studying Reiki in the first place, I wanted to share the link to that article with you all.

So, without further ado:

The Outcome of the System of Reiki | International House of Reiki

Source: The Outcome of the System of Reiki | International House of Reiki

Professional Reiki training classes by Bronwen and Frans Stiene authors of The Reiki Sourcebook & founders of the International House of Reiki.

To keep sadness at bay …

(Note added later: This is a long post. I almost didn’t finish it but I decided to keep going, just in case anyone else was feeling the same way I was when I started it. I’m posting without checking for errors so please forgive those if you should find them.)

A while back, I wrote a post about imagination. And, it is true a good imagination can be a wonderful thing.

However, in the last few days my wonderful imaginative process has been bombarding me with many, many “what if” scenarios that are not very good or very nice.

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I probably should have prefaced this post by saying that I’m a recovered depressive. Recovered, because I have overcome what once was most likely severe clinical depression. It wasn’t easy, but I defeated the depression monster many years ago.

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However, even though I’ve filled in what were once the deep pits of despair with the fertile topsoil of hope¬†doesn’t mean that that monster doesn’t try to rear its ugly head now and again. Usually, I’m able to beat it back. But these last few days have been hard.

It doesn’t help that everywhere you look there are images of chaos. And, I could¬†feel¬†it trying to jab at my defenses. Except my defenses were down. And, that monster broke through, farther than I should have let it.

(OK, so the picture above is actually of a giant pile of manure. However the analogy isn’t lost on me so I’ll run¬†with it.)

What depression spews¬†at us is in reality a giant pile of manure. Yep. All of its little jabs and insults. All those images of bad things that could happen¬†that it throws at you–All of it–It’s cr*p.¬†How depression wins is to make you believe that it’s not cr*p so that it sticks with you and weighs you down.

And, I’m not saying that bad things can’t happen or that when they do it’s not real. Nor that one shouldn’t feel sadness when it’s warranted. I’m not saying that. Just that it’s the reaction to those things and events¬†that depression tries to make much worse in order to gain a foot-hold.

What set it off in me of late was that:

  1. I realized that my long-awaited and looked-forward-to travel plans might not actually materialize.
  2. I’ve been holding back¬†a storm of emotions as a result of the election, which¬†has¬†added to my disappointment and sadness.
  3. My ability to help my mom on a daily basis through her chemotherapy and fight with cancer is quickly coming to an end, since I have to go back to work to be able to pay the bills.
  4. There is so much uncertainty floating around the country, and now floating around my thoughts as well.

All of those things washed over me. I let my defenses down and spurred the monster of depression in to action. I allowed the ugly monster to sling manure once again.

And it stuck. It worked¬†… for too long a time. So much so, that I started and stopped this blog post several times.

And while I was looking for graphics to illustrate this post, I came across some that made me laugh and some that reminded me of a time in my life that was awesome. With that laughter, I also remembered my strategy for beating down the monster.

(And I remembered that I should¬†stop watching the news on TV, or any “breaking news” items that bombard me online. Too much of that negativity will mess you up.)

It helped. It helped me to put the monster back in its place.

In case you’re feeling down about the way things are too, I’ll share it with you.

One Good Thing.

Think of One Good Thing.

 

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Something that lightens your heart.

Something you’ve read.

A favorite book or poem.

Something you’ve seen or heard.

A favorite show or movie that makes you laugh.

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Something that makes you smile.

 

Something that inspires you.

A beautiful piece of art.

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Something in nature.

A kindness.  A hug.

A kiss.

 

Take that one good thing and embrace it. Feel how nice it makes (or made) you feel. Let it remind you that there are good things out there for you to experience. Let it remind you that you are worthy of feeling good and that you are a beautiful soul.

It might not be easy at first but try to find one good thing. And then another. And another. You can journal about it/them–write them down to help you remember them. Put them in a mental piggy bank full of good things as you gather them. It might take a while but don’t give up. Keep adding to that bank until it’s filled to overflowing.¬†word-cloud

At the same time, cross out each negative thought. Push negative thoughts slung at your by that depression monster out of your mind and replace them with one good thing after another.

That’s how I began my recovery from depression so long ago. And as I started feeling lighter, I made myself available to have experiences that were good and real. I ventured into real life looking for good things to hold on to. I made new friends who lifted me up. Read books that inspired me. Got interested in drawing and creating art. One good thing at a time.

And, by all means if this method doesn’t get you far enough, if you just can’t do it alone, please find someone to talk to. Professional help is out there if you are willing to reach out for it.¬†Although I battled my depression on my own, there have been times in my life when talking things out with a psychologist really helped me. I wouldn’t hesitate to seek out such help if I needed it again.

There are sites online that are free, if cost is an issue. And of course, if things are getting to be too overwhelming, get professional help quickly. If you feel like doing something extreme, please call the 24-hr National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. Or if you prefer, visit the website at http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/#

If you are a member of the LGBTQ community and need someone to talk with visit the website at http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ Or as the website says, “If you‚Äôre thinking about suicide, you deserve immediate help – please call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386.

Here’s another site that looks promising. I haven’t had any experience with it but I thought I’d include it here: 7 Cups https://www.7cups.com/

Whatever way you choose to battle depression, take the first step. Don’t let the depression monster win.

 

Wishing you light and love,

Lucinda

We Vanquish Hate With …

There have been many hateful ideas, words and acts infused into the 2016 presidential election. And not only have they come from the candidates, but the supporters that follow them as well.

Even the best of us have at one point felt the anger, fear, disgust and the hate while watching the drama unfold. We’re human. We feel these things. However….

How can we come back from this? How can we reclaim trust in not only the government but the world around us?

There have been some who have already offered us an answer.

Here’s one that’s been around for a long time:

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Hay Copy of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (Excerpt):

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal….

…It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us ‚ÄĒ that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion ‚Äď that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

(Sources: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm)

And another answer:

It’s not solely¬†the government’s responsibility to create the atmosphere of change, of unity. It’s up to each of us as well. Listen to the words. They’re a wake up call. Living them is a step toward healing. Living them is a step toward putting out the fire of hatred.

Quoting Michael Jackson: If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make that change.

Just because others aren’t there yet, doesn’t mean you can’t begin to make that change today.

(Sources:¬†YouTube, Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror. ¬© 1987 MJJ Productions Inc)

And still more answers:

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1 John 4:20 – 4:21

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

 

Mark 12:31

‚ÄúAnd the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.‚ÄĚ

1 John 4:18

‚ÄúThere is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.‚ÄĚ

(Sources: http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org (and http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/1-John-4-20/ and http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/1-John-4-21/))

And more:

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From the Tora

“Do not take revenge, do not bear a grudge against a member of your people, love thy neighbor like yourself.1“

1 Vayikra, Parshas Kedoshim, 19:18.

(Sources: http://torah.org/learning/jewish-values-love/)

 

Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)

Excerpt: …the Torah tells us “to walk in all God’s ways” (Deut. 11:22). Every human being is created in the image of God. That makes God our role model. We try to clone ourselves after the Almighty!

Practical Ways to Emulate God

In describing the mitzvah to walk in God’s ways, the Talmud says: “Just as He is merciful, so you be merciful. Just as He is kind, so you be kind.”

(Sources: http://www.aish.com/tp/b/sw/48966591.html#.WCS-P1XPnqk.link)

And another:

From the teachings of Islam

‚ÄúBut seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, The Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this World: but do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: For Allah loves not those who do mischief.‚ÄĚ (28:77)

“Allah forbids you not, With regard to those who Fight you not for (your) Faith Nor drive you out Of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. (60:8)”

(Sources: http://theislamiccenter.com/worship/understanding-the-meaning-of-the-basic-foundations-of-islam/)

So it is also that Reiki’s precepts have answers for us.

I will not worry.

Worry is a face of fear. And fear of the unknown, fear of others, fear of what hasn’t even happened yet fuels the fire of anger. Let it go or it will devour you.

I will not anger.

Although it can be useful to spur us to action, uncontrolled anger is useless and moves us further from any constructive, positive¬†results. Again, it will devour you if you don’t¬†transform it into positive channels.

I will be kind to my neighbor and all living things.

Sound familiar? Kindness is contagious. Sure, there will be some people you encounter who will not spread the kindness you offer them. But sowing the seeds of what you want to see in the world begins you.

I will be true to myself and to others. (Or, I will be honest in my work.)

Truthfulness, which apparently has been difficult of late for many, is crucial to building trust.

I will be thankful for my many blessings.

And yes, we do have a great deal to be thankful for. We are, after all, living in one of the greatest countries in the world where freedom reigns. Where else could a protester burn someone in effigy without being hauled off to be imprisoned, tortured or executed? This is FREEDOM.

We take it for granted because it’s part of American life. But there are so many other countries where even complaining about¬†the government would be a death sentence.

We don’t need to make America great again. It already is the greatest nation in the world. Can we make it better? Of course. But that feat begins with each one of us. Every action. Every day.

We owe it to our children, and our children’s children to be the role models of how we want things to be. We owe it to them to emulate the behavior we want to see in our country. Even if others can’t or won’t behave. We can.¬†

Let’s move forward. Let’s agree to disagree but disagree to hate. Let’s vanquish hatred by striving for¬†tolerance, understanding, compassion and love.

 

 

(Note: Updated to correct formatting errors and to include references.)