Category Archives: Spiritual Exercises

It’s Time For You to ‘Give it a Rest’

I had never quite sensed that feeling of release before.

That feeling of letting it all go and handing it on to someone else. I had been in ministry for 13 years serving as a Pastor/ Chaplain to people who struggled with ‘Normal Church’, mostly due to Mental Illness. It had been a time of growth and challenge where I along with a team of volunteers developed a mid week church service, ran camps and all the other stuff pastors do.

It was a load though, it was a responsibility, and now Continue reading

5 Keys To Maintaining Your Creative Rhythm

Guest Post from Marc Shaw

After several years as an English teacher at an inner city school my creative life had become dry as dust.

I had published poems and recorded albums, but all I seemed to have time and energy enough to do now was plan, teach, grade, eat, sleep, rinse and repeat. I was caught in an unhealthy rhythm without integrating any life giving creative activities.

For many of us, the demands of life can seem to take over and drown out our creative pursuits. The substance of what makes life worthwhile becomes out of reach. Continue reading

Do You Have A Rhythm of Alignment?

The steering wheel was dancing around in hands like it seemed it had a mind of its own.

Vibrating in little jolts, this way then that, I knew exactly what the problem was. My steering wheels were out of alignment. It was like one wheel wanted to go one way whilst the other wheel wanted the car to go in another direction.

Back and forth the battle continued until I limped into the tyre shop for a wheel alignment.

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Are You In Sync With The Rhythm?

I’m not a dancer, but I am a musician. I believe that our Mental Health is closely linked to the rhythms we keep.

I have played guitar since I was thirteen and one of the little practice exercises I used to do in the early days was to play a piece of music either really slow or really fast, but it had to make sense.

As I progressed on in my learning I began to join with others.

I quickly learnt that if I was going to part of some ‘good music happening’ then I needed to learn the rhythm of not just the music, but the people as well.

Continue reading

How Relinquishing The Need To Control Can Give Us Freedom From Anxiety

Guest post from Cyndy Lavoie

Years ago I was struggling with anxiety.

It had come on so fast (within just a few months), and so strong that I was seriously considering going to the doctor for some medication to help.

 

When I am anxious I feel it in the middle of my back. My muscles lock down and it feels as though a band is constricting my torso. The rest of my body feels wired up and ready for an emergency; my fight or flight mode kicks into high gear.

Prior to this I had never been prone to anxiety but life had become exceptionally stressful due to a primary relationship that was becoming increasingly unsafe both emotionally and psychologically and which was leaving my future very uncertain.

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How Joy Comes From An Unexpected Place.

I’ve had a taste and now I want more. I’m not being greedy or demanding or ‘push in line’ about it. It’s just that I have had a taste and I long for more.

There are wafts of joy coming from the kitchen. There is a party going on and I can hear music, and the delight of dance. I’m invited, actually I’m their special guest.

It’s a serious party, in the meaning that this is the total focus of all that they do.

Joy is the serious business of heaven C.S Lewis          Click to Tweet

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Step 11 Is A Step You May Either Love Or Hate

Step 11 in the 12 Step Recovery tradition brings some challenges.

For many people who try to follow the 12 Steps, Step 11 is a step they either love or hate:

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Perhaps “hate” is a particularly strong word; yet some followers of the Recovery program have some difficulty getting in touch with the spiritual side of Recovery. Continue reading

On Being A Weathervane

I loved to watch planes as a child.

On Being a weathevane

On the farm in which I grew up on we would often get fertilizer spread by aeroplane. It was exciting to see that noisy plane swoop low over the fields and hills and see trails of white powder spreading over the landscape.

I suppose it was those planes that gave me the idea to build a weathervane in the shape of a plane. I loved building plastic Spitfire and Hurricanes, but this plane needed to be built of hard-wearing material. No little fiddly pieces and ‘get a headache/ high glue’.

So out of some wood in the workshop I crafted a plane.

I can’t remember what colour I painted it but I do remember putting a plastic propeller on the front. Through the centre of the plane a nail was used as a kind of axle for the plane to spin around upon.

It worked extremely well. With every little shift of wind direction the plane would move straight into a place of least resistance. That propeller would whirr around and fill the air with hum.

It worked perfectly well for the first year, but then under the heat of the sun and the rigours of winter storms the paint started to blister and peel. The plastic propeller got worn and started to wobble on that nail.

The plane still swung around on its pivot, but now the hole seemed honed out. The plane didn’t swivel so freely.

The next wild storm blew in and the propeller broke right off.

What was needed was a rest in the carpenter’s shop. I time to clean off some of the grime, a new paint job, a repairing of the damage and a new propeller.

I tell you this story because I think it is like many of us, if not all.

We head out into life with brightness and purpose. We angle ourselves into the wind of resistance and move ahead. Little shifts of wind and we adapt. Storms come and go, rain, hail, and hot beating sun, we weather it all.

Over time we get worn out without us ever realising the change. We think we are better than we really are. We are star struck by the over achievers so we go on, until we breakdown, burnout, and collapse.

Time for the care of a carpenter. Time for care from others whom the carpenter sends to help.

We all need time for rest and refreshing. For rejuvenation.

This is a serious question.

Are you ok with being loved?
Are you ok with being cared for?
Are you ok with being told ‘You need to rest’.

The very nature of facing into the wind takes its toll on the fabric of your being.

I remember listening to a pastor who was going through basically a power battle between himself and a couple of church members. He was broke. I simply asked ‘How is it with your soul’?

The question cut right through the normal bravado to a place of personal soul weariness. He had run on the fumes of an empty tank for too long.

Is this resonating with you?

It’s ok to rest and restore, and its ok to have others feed into you dollops of goodness, truth and love.

Barry Pearman

Image by Aquilatin

7 Steps to Help Those who Ruminate.

Sometimes I think I am like a cow. I ruminate over things.

7 Steps to Help Those who Ruminate

 

Much of my life I have spent time working on farms, I even have a University degree in agriculture. I humorously call this my degree in pastoral care.

Cows sit out in the field and chew the cud. With their mouth’s moving from side to side they chew food that has already eaten. Cows and sheep are ruminants and have 4 stomachs, so they eat their fill then they chew it later, colloquially known as ‘Chewing the cud’.

Rumination according to Wiki is defined in this way

Rumination is the compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions. Rumination is similar to worry except rumination focuses on bad feelings and experiences from the past, whereas worry is concerned with potential bad events in the future. Both rumination and worry are associated with anxiety and other negative emotional states.

Do you ruminate?

I know you don’t re chew your food, well at least I hope you don’t, but do you go over and over issues all the time?

What I had been taught all my life was not true: experience is not the best teacher! It’s what you do with that experience that matters. John Maxwell

I think we all have a tendency to do this, some more than others, but if you are always looking back then you are going to stumble in any efforts to going forward.

It’s like we chew over things. Round and around and around. ‘Woulda’, ‘coulda’ and ‘shoulda’ are echoed self talk sound bites leaving you malnourished of hope.

Why do we ruminate?

  1. To feel like we are doing something about the problem. We want to change a situation, so we keep going over and over and over it, looking for a solution. This feeling of doing something can just be a subtle downward delusional spiral to the depressing reality is that there is nothing you can do. The brain, in trying to resolve its tension, looks for the answer. Any activity, including rumination, feels good. We hate ambiguity, that sense of uncertainty and lacking of clarity. We want to solve the mystery.  So like a good detective on T.V. we hunt out the clues to solve the murder and eliminate the mystery. Know that you will never know everything and chasing the past for purpose is like chasing the clouds for pleasure. It will leave you exhausted and lost.
  2. To Self deprecate. Perhaps it is a way of punishing ourselves. That below the surface of our thinking there is a deeper trail of chewing. ‘I did those things, so now I have to punish myself’… ‘This is the consequence of my actions’ … ‘This is the reaping of what has been sown’. So we stew in this cud as punishment. Any sense of forgiveness, grace or loving fathers embrace (Story of Loving father – Prodigal son) is not allowed to touch our lips.
  3.  To potentially learn. We chew over the situation to glean some wisdom from the situation. We consider experience is the best teacher yet only considered experience teaches us wisdom. Rumination can be helpful, as long as it leads to action and not just stewing and

So what are you going to do with that experience.

Are you just going to keep ruminating on it forever?

7 steps to Help those who Ruminate.

  1. Write it out. Get what you’re ruminating in your mind out of the head and on to some paper. I think writing in a journal is one of the most powerful of all mental health disciplines you can have. Here is a link to some a post I have written on journaling.

    Learning to write is learning to think. You don’t know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing. S.I. Hayakawa

  2. Problem solve it. This where writing it down comes in really helpful. Get together with someone you trust and talk about what you have written down.Tease it out to find the problem. Find one concrete solution you can (not should, could or would) do to overcome what you are ruminating about.
  3. Engage in activities that promote the positive. What activities fill your mind with other thoughts preferably positive thoughts. Hobbies, mediation, reading, running, cooking. The main point is to get your mind out of the rumination rut for a while.
  4. Can them.  Get yourself a tin can, and as the questions come up write them down on a piece of paper and prayerfully place them in the can. Imagine yourself placing them in Gods hand to hold them for you. God has big hands! Place the can up on a shelf and leave it there. After a while take that can off the shelf and see if any of your questions have been answered in the intervening time. Add more questions when they come up. see more here
  5. Schedule them. Tell your brain this ‘I do not have time to think about that at this moment. I will think about it tomorrow at 3pm’. Its telling your brain that yes what you are presenting to me is worthy of time and thought so I therefore will make space for it. If you remember to think about at 3 pm so be it, but I have found quite often that this little technique will slowly deflate the rumination balloon of any sense of self-importance
  6. Place them. Do you have a place where rumination is worse? Look for patterns of where your rumination seems to occur more frequently and/ or more powerfully. ‘When I found a place to think my thoughts my thoughts found a place in me.’ John Maxwell
  7. Displace them. I often use truth coaches to get my thinking back on track. These are little powerful insights, quotes, verses that speak truth into my thinking. Find out more here.

Remember this. Whatever you dwell on, it will get you, in the end.

It will create thinking tracks in your brain the size of the grand canyon where every situational event will tumble into.

Quotes to consider and share
  • Monitor your thinking and deliberately dwell on the virtues of your difficult friend, or negative feelings will surely follow. David Riddell
  • What you focus on gets you. Focus on the negatives/ challenges will always take you down. Focus on the positive/ good things will always give me hope.
  • I choose to ruminate, ponder and toss over in my mind good things.
  • Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips. Dawson Trotman
  • The thoughts I indulge grow stronger. The thoughts I acknowledge and put in their place lose their power to discourage me
  • The tricky thing about rumination is that it feels like it’s helpful, but there’s no action taken, and you don’t move forward to some sort of solution. Carla Grayson
  • He who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality. Anwar Sadat
  •  To change your emotions, first get control of your thoughts. Ruts of the mind become moods of the heart. David Riddell
  •  To achieve radical change, I need to call some of my feelings ‘liars’ and choose to side with truth, against my own emotions, until my feelings come around. David Riddell
  • I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse Philippians 4:8 (The Message)

 

Exercises
  1. Use a journal to write out what you’re ruminating on. Share it with a trusted friend, counsellor or pastor and problem solve anything that needs addressing
  2. Find some truth coaches and write them out in an easily accessible place such as a small notebook you can carry at all times. When you feel the ruminations coming on, spend time reading your truth coaches.
  3. Get yourself a tin can and can the questions you are ruminating over.

Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: bogers via Compfight cc

p.s. what did you think about this post! Leave me a comment or tweet me at @barrypearman 

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