January 22, 2018
Find tips and resources for self-care, material to assist you in providing pastoral care, and general information to help you in your practice of ministry. Information will be updated every two weeks concurrent with the East Ohio E-news. Archives Here ...
“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Way Forward and Disciples of Love
by Richard Rohr
“Putting on the mind of Christ” . . . [is] what we are actually supposed to be doing on this path: not just admiring Jesus, but acquiring his consciousness. —Cynthia Bourgeault
In my (Richard’s) view, we would do better if we had the faith of Jesus (open, humble, trusting toward God and reality) instead of simply having faith in Jesus (which history has shown usually becomes competitive and sectarian).
When we seek what is truest in our own tradition, we discover we are one with those who seek what is truest in their tradition. There is a point of convergence where we meet each other, and we recognize each other as seekers of awakening.
[Putting on the mind of Christ] is the truest depth of our Christian tradition, what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus. –James Finley
If we fully experienced the generosity of God loving us into existence, we would then bear witness to that realization by the way we treat ourselves, others, and all living things. We are already one.
Follow your stars?
by L. Roger Owens
After years of looking for his one true vocation, a seminary professor of Christian spirituality considers an alternative picture of vocation. What if it’s not a single star we should follow but a constellation?
I’m sometimes jealous of those star-following magi we call the wise men. They walk briefly onto the stage of history with one task: pay homage to a newborn king. They have found their vocation, and they pursue it single-mindedly. . .
They’ve discovered what they can do best.
They follow their star.
That’s the prevalent vocational advice we give to both leaders and organizations: Focus. Discover your passion. Live and work at that one intersection “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” as Frederick Buechner famously put it.
Because I know there are leaders who have heeded that advice and yet can’t wrestle their communities into committing to just One Big Thing. Their organizations simply won’t follow just one star. Their tentacles of service and commitment stretch too far.
And at 42, I look at all my efforts to find that one thing -- my one star -- and realize, sadly, that I’m running out of time. I’ll likely never develop a single expertise; my areas of gladness are too diverse for me to acquire complete mastery. I’m condemned to be a generalist, or (as I imagine others call me) a dilettante.
That is, until I consider this one liberating possibility: maybe vocation doesn’t have to be a single star. Maybe for some of us -- leaders and organizations -- vocation will be more like a constellation, several stars forming a coherent image, each star burning bright at different seasons of life.
How Knowing about the Brain Can Empower Your Life
by Dan Seigel
Watching the River Meditation
by Richard Rohr
To live in the present moment requires a change in our inner posture. Instead of expanding or shoring up our fortress of the small self—the ego—contemplation waits to discover who we truly are. Most people think they are their thinking. They don’t have a clue who they are apart from their thoughts. In contemplation, we move to a level beneath thoughts and sensations, the level of pure being and naked awareness.
In contemplative prayer, we calmly observe our own stream of consciousness and see its compulsive patterns. We wait in silence with an open heart and attuned body. It doesn’t take long for our usual patterns to assault us. Our habits of control, addiction, negativity, tension, anger, and fear assert themselves. When Jesus is “driven” by the Spirit into the wilderness, the first things that show up are “wild beasts” (Mark 1:13). Contemplation is not first of all consoling, which is why so many give up. Yes, the truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.
Many teachers insist on at least twenty minutes for a full contemplative “sit,” because you can assume that the first half (or more) of any contemplative prayer time is just letting go of those thoughts, judgments, fears, negations, and emotions that want to impose themselves. We become watchers and witnesses, stepping back and observing without judgment. Gradually we come to realize those thoughts and feelings are not “me.”
Thomas Keating teaches a beautifully simple exercise. Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. The river is your stream of consciousness. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling or thought. Don’t hate it, judge it, critique it, or move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. When another thought arises—as no doubt it will—welcome it and let it go, returning to your inner watch place on the bank of the river. [To further explore this centering prayer practice, see Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel (Continuum: 2006, ©1986), especially chapter 9.]
Five Ways to Find Time to Pause
by Janice Marturano
Feeling overwhelmed? Too busy to function? Here are five opportunities to pause, recharge your batteries, and stay on top of your game.
We all live tense, stress-filled lives packed with back-to-back meetings, appointments, and tasks…
To function with competence calls for perspective that’s hard to find when we’ve got our heads down, forging through a never-ending to-do list, hoping things will work out…
If we are able to take a break, a vacation, a retreat, or just spend some time in nature, we notice that we return replenished and ready to make a positive difference. But that feeling doesn’t last. And that kind of break is not usually on our schedules. What, then, can we do? One powerful tool is taking Purposeful Pauses, mini-breaks in the momentum and speed of our mind and our days.
A Purposeful Pause interrupts the fog that gathers when we’re on autopilot, pushing our way through the day. It’s not all that hard to bring about a break in the clouds and when we do, we can gain new perspective on each moment. Try experimenting with these five ideas, and see if your days begin to feel a little different.
The Healing Powers of Singing
by Kathryn Drury Wagner
Singing with a group relieves anxiety and depression, according to a new study.
The film “Pitch Perfect 3” has just opened in theatres, and even if you’re not a fan of hearing “Cake By the Ocean” a capella, you might want to still consider the joy of singing with a group. A new study from the University of East Anglia (UEA) suggests that people who took part in a community singing group either improved or maintained positive mental health. What’s the key? A magic mix singing and socializing.
The research, published in the journal Medical Humanities, was conducted by Tom Shakespeare, Ph.D., a professor at UEA’s Norwich Medical School, and Dr. Alice Whieldon. They teamed up with a Sing Your Heart Out (SYHO) project, which started out working with people with mental health conditions, as well as people suffering from mild dementia. (The group has since expanded out to the general population.) SYHO has free, weekly singing workshops, with a leader. They sing for a while, take a break for tea and cookies, then sing a little more.
Following a SYHO group for six months, researchers interviewed and did focus groups with singers, organizers and workshop leaders. “All of the participants we spoke to reported positive effects on their mental health as a direct result of taking part in the singing workshops,” wrote Shakespeare. “For some, it represented one component of a wider program of support. For others, it stood out as key to their recovery or maintenance of health.” Some even used terms like “lifesaving,” when they spoke of their feelings about attending the weekly singing sessions. The researchers attribute the positive effects to note that the combination of engagement and singing led to a sense of confidence and increased socialization that lasted a day or more per session.
Sing Your Heart Out differs from a choir, in “that anyone can join in, regardless of ability,” noted Shakespeare. Music is learned by hearing it, rather than having to know how to read notes. “There’s also very little pressure because the participants are not rehearsing towards a performance. It’s very inclusive and it’s just for fun.” And unlike standard therapy sessions, there is no cost associated or pressure for anyone to discuss their condition.
Want to start a similar group in your own community? Check out some of the SYHO documents. As Dr. Shakespeare notes, it’s a low-cost, low-commitment way for people to get healthier and feel well.
Monthly Live Online Spiritual Practice Groups are being provided by East Ohio United Methodist Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling using ZOOM. The ZOOM format is very easily used by just responding to an invitation email and following the links; no subscription or downloads needed. These groups will be limited to 8-10 participates and will be added as they are populated. Current groups are meeting 1st Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. and 2nd Thursdays at 2:00 p.m.
The purpose of these groups is to create space for our souls to be nurtured by exploring a variety of spiritual experiences, spending time in meditation and through the fellowship and encouragement of other sojourners. We use the term “Practice” to indicate that these are groups engaged in the practice of spiritual formation.Please contact the Office of Pastoral Care for any questions and to be added to one of the groups. Phone: 330-456-0486. Email: email@example.com
The Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling encourages the spiritual formation of our pastors believing a strong spiritual base is the greatest resource a church leader can possess. It helps us weather the many storms of ministry and deepens the incredible joys ministry provides. Following is a list of Spiritual Directors in our area. We encourage you to take advantage of this rich resource. This listing will appear in each edition of our bi-monthly webpage updates and new names and contact information will be provided as we learn of them and have permission to include them. If you are a director or know of a director that is not included here please let us know.
Debbie Baker - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Batchler-Glader – email@example.com
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Joyce Gordon - firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Hollingsworth - email@example.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hazel Partington – lakehavenministries.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – email@example.com
Judy Ringler -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – email@example.com
Valerie Stultz - firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Topping - email@example.com
Laura Tradowsky -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie Tucker - email@example.com
Train Your Brain to Calm the Inner Critic
by Kalia Kelmenson
Our ability to be resonant with ourselves is a key for bringing healing into our life.
“Why am I so stupid?” “I am such a loser.” “Why can’t I do anything right?” These are just some of the questions that many people have running through their mind sometimes without even realizing it. There is a way to heal this voice and cultivate more compassion for yourself.
We all have a deep desire to connect. As one of our basic human needs, we suffer when we are not connected to others, and—perhaps most importantly—to ourselves. When we feel attacked by ourselves, if our own inner self-talk is full of criticism and judgement, we can feel especially alienated and alone.
If you grew up in an environment where you were constantly criticized, or it was clear that nothing you did was ever quite enough, then you may have an inner dialogue that mirrors that experience. You may not know what it feels like to be welcomed with warmth and love, just for being who are—mistakes and all. Sarah Peyton, a specialist in Nonviolent Communication and neuroscience educator, teaches that the language we use, with others and with ourselves, plays a huge role in how we experience and interact with the world.
In Peyton’s book, Your Resonant Self, she describes resonance as “the experience of sensing that another being fully understands us and sees us with emotional warmth and generosity.” Resonance, unlike empathy, is something that is only possible when you are in direct relationship. Someone may feel empathy for you and you might never know, but with resonance, there is a clear connection and sense of warmth and appreciation. Peyton describes our ability to be resonant with ourselves as a key for bringing healing into our life. She writes, “to be resonant with yourself, you have to notice two different parts of yourself: your emotional self and your resonant self.” The emotional aspect is the part of you that notices how you are treating, and speaking, to yourself. With repeated practice, and activation of the reward centers of your brain, you can begin to rewire your brain so you are able to encourage and support yourself, rather than belittling and sabotaging your choices.
Peyton describes the inner critic as the default mode network (DMN). She suggests that if you have lived through trauma, or never felt a sense of resonance, than your DMN may have turned against you. The levels of criticism found in this voice varies depending on our experiences in the world. Peyton describes that our emotions are primarily right-hemisphere concepts, and that our left-hemisphere is responsible for taking “action based on what matters most to us, what we care most passionately about.” She describes nonviolent communication as a way to “awaken both hemispheres and help them work together.” In nonviolent communication, the needs that underlie feelings and behaviors are deeply examined and named.
Starting from Scratch: A Bold Way to Declutter
by Kathryn Drury Wagner
Sort it all out with a total reset.
One of the Four Noble Truths taught in the Buddhist tradition is that a cause of suffering is attachment. This can pertain to material things, as it can cause feelings of greed, desire and vanity. Not to mention, claustrophobia! At the new year, many of us feel a bit overwhelmed by our belongings, and desire to organize and pare down. But where to start? For this week’s Healthy Habit, let’s examine the Clean Sweep method.
Choose an area in your home—let’s say the kitchen cabinets or a desk. Remove every single item and pile it all up in another spot. An old sheet can be a nice dump-it-out zone. Prepare to be shocked how much has been jammed into a small space! Now, give the vacant area a wipe down with a fresh-smelling (ideally organic) cleaner, and start shopping your pile.
“Should I stay or should I go,” inspired by The Clash song is ideal to have in mind. What do you really need and want? “By focusing instead on the items that we use the most and adding only those back in it becomes easier to see the bigger picture and let go of what no longer fits in,” writes Kristin Wong on Apartment Therapy.
Place the must-keep items back into the area, assessing if you need organizational tools such as bins or shelving. Quickly, and I mean quickly, donate or toss the rest before you can become reattached to it.
A Clean Sweep of a space is intense—and a bit messy while in progress—so be kind to yourself and anyone who shares your space. Unlike 15-minute mini cleaning tasks, a full-on Sweep takes a lot of time, so set aside a couple of hours per space. Trying to do the whole house in one weekend isn’t realistic; tackling the pantry, on the other hand, is. Here are some zones to try:
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Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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