We are not trapped or locked up
in these bones.
No, no. We are free to change.
And, love changes us.
And if we can love one another,
we can break open the sky.
– Walter Mosley
Stephan Bauman, in Break Open The Sky encourages readers to choose faith over fear in daily life. Bringing relationship with God to the forefront, as the vehicle, to transform a fearful life to one of liberation, love and risk. He brings his personal experience of working with people from all over the world.
Difficulties and hardships due to health, finances, relationships can all be transformative when courage, indispensable faith, trust and love are put into action. Examples from modern day challenges and stories from the Bible, together provide a perspective on how to live a life that embodies grace.
We cannot be in the past or in the future, while genuinely being in the present. This book is a reminder to let go of fears and worries in exchange for unshakable faith.
“Peace is expensive. It requires risk taking. Its personal. It makes you vulnerable. And peace always involves action. Resistance is part of the calling.” ~ Stephan Bauman
I received this book from blogging for books. The book review is based on my genuine opinion.
“Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.”
Setting goals and taking steps to meet them requires confidence, perseverence, support, skills, flexibility and a myriad of other traits and characteristics that are unique to each individual. Being comfortable in not knowing how it will turn out is a lifelong practice for me and I know I am not alone in this practice. Meditation, gardening, reading and walks help to untie the internal knots and over the years they have become my anchors. Some internal knots are easier to unravel and others take a while. Regardless the opportunity, to practice, presents itself daily.
We all have the ability to point our inner compass to happiness. Once the compass is set to recognizing happy moments you still have the choice to appreciate those moments or let them slip by. In order to strengthen the habit of experiencing happy moments, recognition is important.
There are a lot of things, thoughts, ideas, perceptions that seemingly get in the way of happiness. One of them is what we term “failing” or “failure”
Pema Chodron says “We think of failure as something that happens to us. We either blame it on somebody else or some other organization — our boss, our partner, whatever,” she added. “Sometimes you experience it as heartbreak or disappointment. Sometimes it’s rage. But failure or things not working out doesn’t feel good. At that time, maybe instead of doing the habitual thing of labeling yourself a failure or a loser, you could get curious about what’s going on.”
This idea of being curious engages the observer mind where you observe what is going on with your emotions, thoughts and physically.
Pema Chodron goes on to say
“It’s a little hard to tell, actually, what’s a failure and what’s something that’s just shifted in your life in a new direction,”
Sometimes what we think is a failure actually turns out to be a blessing and other times what is seen as a success brings more challenges. However, when we choose to accept the experience without labeling it as success or failure, we give ourselves the time and space to recognize the treasures that align with inner happiness. Silent observation of the experience in itself can help us set and re-set our inner compass.
Some people look forward to the holiday season and others look forward to getting through the season quickly. Instead of joy, there is anxiety and sadness for some people. Maybe you are one of those who dreads this season, or you know someone who does.
Pema Chodron a buddhist teacher, talks about “having an itch, but not scratching it”. In times of great discomfort there are ways to develop self love, kindness to self and others. How you relate to the present sows the seeds for how you will relate to the future. In no way does this reduce the experience you are having and the reason for the experience, but brings it to the forefront for healing.
Plato used a phrase to explain what happens when something unpleasant happens. He explained it as “the fluttering of the soul”. The next step though after this emotional hit would be to stand back and determine what was going on. Based on that examination, making a decision that still aligns with ones values would have been this philosophers guidance.
Cultivating compassion towards yourself and others is possible.
Being present to feelings and doing things that proactively help you to get through the season is self nurturing.
Find ways to take care of yourself that sustains you in a healthy way.
Find a cause that you want to give to. Whether its your time or money find a way to share what aligns with your values even when you don’t feel like it.
Accept that not all moments are joyful and that is OK
Accept the anxiety provoking moments and let them go
Take some breathing spaces through the holidays. By that I mean, step away from your thoughts and emotions. Check in with yourself by focusing on your breath. Simply observe your breath as you inhale and exhale. Stay with your breath. Let your breath be your anchor.
A source of comfort and joy is a sense of connection to self and those close to us. Gifts of healing lie in deeper relationships with friends and family. A greater gift is given to us when we find a connection to what truly matters.
People with strong social networks live longer, are at reduced risk of coronary heart disease, are less likely to report being depressed, or to suffer a recurrence of cancer and are less susceptible to infectious illness than those who are isolated. This could also be for those who perceive they are isolated even though they might be among family and friends.
Being in relationship with others increases a persons chance to cope with stress.
How can you get more connected when stress, illness, and a busy lifestyle are the issues to overcome? Overcoming isolation requires effort. When one is feeling overwhelmed going through simple motions is difficult enough. So it is important to begin with simple ways of becoming involved and finding connections.
Spend time with people you love and who support you to live a healthy life.
Volunteer your time for a cause you care about. It has been noted that when people help others their own stress decreases and the joy created helps in fighting off illnesses
Humor is a wonderful stress reducer and sharing some laughter with a friend even for a few minutes will not only reduce your stress but will create a thread of bond with another
Maybe taking classes in a community center where yoga, walking groups, meditation are offered. An art class or some other form of self expression might make a huge contribution to your health.
Cultivating that connection to what truly matters begins with being present to ourselves and others.
These days I am more aware of structures and foundations. Although I value the architecture of a building, what I am more interested in is the purpose of the structure and the foundation necessary for the structure.
I am also noticing the similarities between laying a foundation and building life goals to building physical structures.
Each form of structure requires forethought, serves a purpose and fulfills a goal. Building structure prior to the creating a foundation would render the structure unsturdy. So it is with life goals. Planning and timing matter in moving ahead with life goals.
The foundation can be sturdy, immovable or depending on the purpose, perhaps it is flexible, allowing for growth and change. Preparation of the foundation brings the purpose of the structure to mind thereby keeping focus. Life goals require a focus and flexibility.
Given that the foundation of a life goal requires flexibility, we have to be focused on the goal and aware if the steps are taking us towards or away from the goal. The right materials and resources are necessary for setting an optimal foundation.
In most cases, a foundation remains unseen after the structure is built. As it is with life goals, a large part of the foundation remains unseen.
Tara Brach, a Clinical Psychologist teaches this simple yet profound way of stepping out of reactive mode and stepping into a place where life can be lived with a sense of compassion and safety that everyone is looking for.
R Recognize what is happening
A Allow life to be just as it is
I Investigate inner experience with kindness
N Non-Identification with the experience.
Meditation has been a technique for prevention and a tool to relieve several Emotional and Physical Conditions. Living with stress, anxiety, depression, and grief can take a toll on ones whole self.
Many times, when people are feeling overwhelmed they may be feeling alone and isolated.
Taking time to Meditate gives yourself space to observe what is coming up for you, what thoughts are you allowing, How are you responding to those thoughts and are you being your own best friend? Its a small step towards embracing yourself and finding the courage the make the changes you need to. With continuous small steps back toward your core self, you find there is support to help you move forward in your life and you are not alone in your challenges.
Do you Meditate? What gifts have you discovered with meditation?