Balance and Flow – Part 1

Ask most people, and they’ll agree: Enjoying everything in moderation and maintaining balance are fine ideals, though fairly challenging as a daily practice.  As with so much else in life, finding our ideal balance requires both patience and persistence.  It also empowers us to stop struggling with an Either/Or existence and embrace a Both/And perspective.  Most significantly, it brings us to a greater realization of God as an infinitely compassionate, unconditionally loving presence in our lives.

The key to finding and maintaining our balance is keeping our hearts (our spiritual and feeling natures) and our minds (our intellectual and thinking natures) aligned.  As spiritual beings living a human, earthly existence, we find life most fulfilling when our hearts and minds are balanced and in sync with one another.

Our hearts, the center of love and compassion, hold our sense of discernment, while our minds, the center of our intellect, help us explore, discover, learn and think.  If we’re too heart-centered, we can become overly sentimental about a long-gone past, hopelessly romantic about someone who doesn’t return our affections, or foolishly compassionate, doing for others what they need to do for themselves.  If we’re too mind-centered, we can become unnecessarily critical or analytical, as well as overwhelmed or fearful, worrying about situations and people we can’t control.

When we’re balanced in heart and mind, we live more fully in the flow of life, floating on our raft, gently down the stream, rather than trying to force the current to move the way we want.  This allows our spiritual nature and our intellectual nature to work in harmony and guide us on our journeys.

Please be aware, however: This is not in any way a passive activity.  In fact, at times it may require tremendous inner strength and spiritual understanding, especially when we face situations we don’t like and circumstances we can’t control.

Yet, as we strive for balance in the most emotionally healthy and spiritually mature ways, we can travel our journeys more comfortably and avoid leaning too much to one side or another.  As we continue our daily practice of aligning ourselves with God first, we find the currents easier to navigate, no matter where we are on our journey.

Our times of silence, prayer and meditation also allow us to reflect on which situations and circumstances we can change, which we cannot, and what course corrections might be necessary along the way.  And be assured, no matter where we are in our lives, we can find our ideal balance and continue forward in trust.

In Part 2, a story about a balanced heart and mind, and practical steps to discern our own divine balance.

 

© 2016 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.

Whose Rules? – Part 2

As we consider our Rules for Life, we realize what matters to us most.  We also discover greater appreciation for who we are and where we’ve been, so we can determine what our heart is calling us to contribute to the world.

Our mission at this point on the journey — even if we don’t have absolute clarity about our rules — is to connect with God, in whatever way we know God.  This way, we begin to find God in and through all — the thrills and joys, as well as the pain and discomfort.  We remember that God is our Source, first and foremost, for all we need.  Then we know who we are and what our calling is, just as Jesus did, and all spiritual masters and mystics do.

According to the Gospel Writer called John, Jesus explained this to the disciples who would later teach his ways of living.  Jesus said: “I have not spoken on my own authority, but God which sent me has given me a commandment — what to say and what to speak.” (12:49) Jesus continually connected with God first, so he could fulfill his true calling in service to others.

We, too, can discern how best to live and be.  Though, be prepared.  It’s usually an exercise in subtraction, rather than addition.   The practical part of this is deeply personal, so go slowly:

  • Determine when and where you’ll make time daily to connect with God through silence, prayer and meditation.
  • Keep some kind of journal, notebook or sketch pad so you can chronicle your feelings and thoughts, however scattered or random.
  • Find one trusted mental health or spiritual counselor, other than a dear friend or family member, who truly listens and can help you hear yourself.
  • Listen to your body. Notice what energizes you and what depletes you, as well as when, where and with whom your energy is strongest and weakest.
  • Consider your possessions, which you love and consider beautiful, and which have served their time and need to be released.
  • Discern whether the communities and/or people you follow share similar rules or whether you’re trying to fit square pegs into round holes.
  • Check your To-Do List. Consider what you truly need to do, what someone else can do, what can wait and what doesn’t actually need to be done.
  • Check your Bucket List or List of Dreams to see which are yours, which are someone else’s, and which you’ve put off because you’re doing something you don’t want to do.

Simple tasks, each one, though not always easy.  Yet, as we connect with God, we learn to trust our hearts and our rules become our way of life.

© 2016 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.

Whose Rules? – Part 1

Many years ago, I saw a poster which began: “With all your heart, say out loud, I want to live a happy life.  Listen to what you just said.”  I read each subsequent phrase to the end, which said: “Take chances.  Be real.”   Then, I cried.

In that moment, I knew.  Those colorfully designed phrases arranged by artist Julie Evans heralded the end of an old life.  My heart was calling me to something else, including the journey to follow something called Rules for Life.

I know many people bristle at the word rules.  They’re frightening because they might constrain us.  Yet, they’re also liberating.  Consider the expression: “When we know the rules, we’re free to live within them.”

When we know our own Rules for Life – the kind Jesus and all other spiritual masters and mystics lived by – we’re free to be our authentic, divine selves.  These rules are usually counter-cultural, because they put us and our relationship with God before anything else.  Ideally, they help us travel a continuously expansive, rich, joyful, fulfilling faith journey.   They invite us to go deep, as Jesus and all mystical masters have done before us.  So, we remember our divinity and our true calling.

Our rules keep us from chasing other people’s dreams, living by unattainable standards, saying things we don’t mean or believe, and buying things we don’t want.  Our rules inspire our authenticity, so we don’t live a lie.

That’s why I believe it’s important to remember that resurrection isn’t a one-time event.  And why some of us travel the faith-filled journey called Eastertide, the 50 days which led from Jesus’s resurrection to Pentecost, when his disciples and followers went forth — deeply grounded in spiritual power — to live their sacred calls.

This part of the journey invites us to choose which rules truly support us in growing more emotionally healthy and spiritually mature.  Slowly, step by step, we can do the inner work which nurtures the divinity we are.  So we live and express the truth of our being.

The process for determining which rules are ours is powerful — and sometimes painful.  As we journey, we discover that we have some flaws, just as the silkiest tapestries, finest crystals and rarest diamonds do.

Sometimes, the flaws show.  So, establishing our own rules requires tremendous faith and courage.  It also means we stop wasting our precious personal power pretending to fit in or make do with a life which saps our energy and stifles our creativity.  As the saying goes, We “get real!”

In Part 2, some practical steps we can take to be real and establish our own rules for life.

 

© 2016 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.

Say What?

Remember the old playground chant: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?  Some of us said this in reply to a taunt or tease we didn’t want to allow into our minds.  Sometimes we shouted it, as if the volume could drown the violent language meant to cut us down, rather than build us up.

I thought about this recently when I heard third-hand that someone was talking about me, though not to me, about something they believed I did.  For a while, I felt bad, wondering what was going on with them (whoever “they” are) that they chose not to speak to me directly.  I scoured my brain to imagine what I might have done, or didn’t do, to incur their disapproval.

I know I’m not alone in this experience.  For no matter where we live or work, we encounter those who want to exert their power by belittling, degrading and denigrating, rather than encouraging, nurturing and supporting.  We know and feel the words – especially as a clenched gut or pounding heart.  It doesn’t matter whether they’re expressed in person or via phone, text, e-mail or social media.  They often begin as “You” statements, and no matter how they’re expressed, they’re a form of violence.

Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, founder of the Center for Non-Violent [Compassionate] Communication, said: “While we may not consider the way we talk [or write] to be ‘violent,’ our words often lead to hurt and pain, whether for others or for ourselves.”  So, while the playground chant sounds fine in theory, it rarely rings true, because words can hurt much more than sticks or stones.

If we break a bone, we can rush to an Emergency Room for physical mending, but emotional healing in the Emergency Room for devastated spirits and broken hearts can be a slow, painful process.  Furthermore, the platitude not to take something personally may provide comfort later, though initially it spiritualizes away our true feelings and the pain the speaker doesn’t want to experience.

So, as we rise in faith, growing more emotionally healthy and spiritually mature, we discover: We get to choose our feelings — as well as our words.  Then, we begin to act, speak, think and write differently by using life-affirming vocabulary which includes abundance, compassion, ease, energy, fun, harmony, joy, laughter, love, mutuality, patience, peace, support, and trust.  We decide to nurture ourselves daily with silence, prayer and meditation.  We find ways to refresh and renew at the spiritual venue of our choice and/or with positive spiritual education.

Especially, we remember: We’re each Divine Creations of God, the One Divine Creator, Unconditionally Loving, Infinitely Compassionate, and our words reflect that awesome, powerful truth.

© 2016 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.