Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vary Your Diet

Reading: Jeremiah 23:23-24 "Am I only a God nearby,declares the Lord,  “and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord.  “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”declares the Lord.

We all have been told since we were kids that we should vary our diets. It's actually no healthier to eat only carrots every meal of the day everyday than it is to eat only a hamburger every meal of the day everyday. Besides, it's boring and we'd eventually just get tired of the whole idea of eating and keeping up our health.

I'm kind of this way in my spiritual path when it comes to religions. As a kid growing up, I was raised in one church and that was great--it gave me some really strong roots that have and will continue to guide me throughout life. When I became a teenager and started being with other kids more independent of parents, we had a little singing youth group that would go around to different churches to perform. We were made up of several different churches in our area. No one in our group was concerned that we were all coming from different religious backgrounds; in fact, it was pretty fascinating. Once I started college, my expanse widened. One of my good buddies was Jewish and he took me to his synagogue's Rosh Hashanah services--beautiful and interesting. At that time I was also friends with several Catholics and ended up with them at a mass more than once--beautiful and interesting as well. 

Now, well immersed into my "middle ages", my spiritual path has broadened from my early roots. It is remarkable to me how lives over thousands of years have molded into the various religious groups of today. On a somewhat related note, I also now love to cook. I especially enjoying cooking foods from different regions of the world; I enjoy how food is tied to peoples' history and their spiritual faiths and religions.

My mom taught me a long time ago that it's all about God--not about any specific rules or regulations that groups of people come up with. And like her, I believe that God is everywhere; even in the food we eat and in the ways we prepare it. 

Don't ever let your diet go stale. If you ever start feeling that you are less interested in your spiritual life because of something your particular church is or isn't doing, vary your diet a little. Because, as Kent M. Keith wrote in his Paradoxical Commandments: "You see, in the final analysis, it is all between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway".

Peace be with you.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Setting the Monkey (Mind) Free

Reading: Romans 12:2 "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

The topic of "monkey mind" has come up several times in reflexology sessions this past couple of weeks. I've read in several different books on meditation that "monkey mind" is what happens to us when we just can't turn off our thoughts at the end of the day or during any time we set aside for relaxation. Those who practice intense meditation work for long periods of time to free the monkey from the mind. It can be done, but those monkeys are a stubborn lot!

Continuous thoughts can fill up our heads, day and night, day in and day out. Ever go to sleep at night only to wake up with a start that you'd forgotten something earlier in the day or needed to remember something for tomorrow? Psychologists and numerous magazine article authors advise us to get up and write these things down; better yet, they say, keep a pad of paper and a pen by the bed to write down all these random thoughts that come about. Talk about "conformed to the world". Yikes.

All religions talk about becoming more spiritually in tune; Christianity has a very useful guideline as well; the reading from Romans 12:2 is a nice example and incredibly useful to us. Our need to conform to the world doesn't allow us the renewal of our minds--and a renewal of our minds is vital to living a full life. The monkey represents all that is of this materialistic and limited world, and, more often than not, it's on a rampage of some sort. Have trouble getting to sleep? Staying asleep? Staying focused during the day? The monkey is present. And let's face it--a mind full of monkey is never a good thing.

 Renewal of the mind comes from the ability to meditate throughout the day as well as enjoying restorative sleep at night. We don't get either of these as long as we limit our minds to the mundane. We need to remember at all times that we are spiritual bodies on a journey--this truly isn't all there is. When we limit ourselves to this small way of thinking, our problems seem bigger and many times insurmountable. And the monkey runs rampant.

We can, however, quiet the maddening monkey in our heads. Wayne Dyer, in his book There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem writes, "I simply do not know how to resolve this situation and I am turning it over to the same force that I turn my physical body over to every night when I go to sleep." Acknowledgement is the first step. If we can admit with conviction that our small, limited thinking of I can handle this on my own (aka ego) will not still the monkey but will only feed it, then we can open up our lives and our minds to a daily spiritual walk with God. It is the infinite power of God that will set the monkey (mind) free...and we will once again sleep and go throughout our days with great restoration of our minds and our bodies.

Peace be with you.