Category Archives: Thought Life

Questions and Answers about Mindfulness

Recently I have been reading and practising Mindfulness. I have found it very helpful, so I thought it would be good to get some advice and guidance around Mindfulness. I tracked down Richard Johnston who has a website dedicated to Christian Mindfulness.

So I sent him some questions.

1. What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is our universal human capacity for attention and awareness. All people have the capacity to pay attention and to develop greater awareness regardless of faith. Continue reading

Jonah and the … Negativity Bias

I have always marvelled at the skill of those who played the sport of Lawn Bowls.

In this very English game, a small heavy ball is bowled down a perfectly flat green lawn at such a pace that it will come to rest next to a smaller white ball. Rather than following a straight line, the ball takes a long slow gentle curve to reach its destination.

One of the sides of the ball is slighter heavier than the other, it has bias so that as the ball slows down there is a pull towards that side. The ball literally curves around until it comes to a stop.  

“You can take yourself down with your thoughts faster than any enemy can” Ilene Gregorian US Special Forces Trainer 

Why am I telling you about Lawn Bowls?

I believe that we all have a bias in our thinking that always has a pull on us. It’s that track or rut in our thinking that is all too familiar. A negativity bias that has been formed and reformed through thousands of negative experiences.

Continue reading

Can You Can Your Questions?

It all happened like a kind of slow motion movie.

I was driving home the other day and as I approaching a corner, one that I have driven around probably thousands of times, I saw a white car take it way too fast. It lost control, came across the middle line and ploughed into a large 4wd. The white car literally bounced off the 4wd and spun around back on to its correct side of the road and then into a ditch. Continue reading

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

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

Continue reading

On Being A Weathervane

I loved to watch planes as a child.

On-Being-a-weathevane On Being A Weathervane

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.

15248194507_2995f253e1_o-1 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 

Oh, yeah don’t forget to share it with fellow ruminators using one of handy little icons below. HIT them



8 Steps To Discovering Wellness Through Knowing Your Early Warning Signs

Often I travel over some sharp twisty roads. One of these roads has a large hill and just on the other side there is a beautiful view with a fence that has been driven through.

There are signs to tell drivers to slow down, but for this driver the signs were ignored, boundaries were crossed and lives put in danger. If you know the signs then you can avoid the catastrophe. Continue reading

5 Overlooked Ingredients for Sunflower Brilliance

They grab your attention don’t they. Big, bright, and tall, they stand out and call for your attention. You come to a sunflower and take in the brilliant freshness of colour.

IMG_20150106_074408-2-1024x1024 5 Overlooked Ingredients for Sunflower Brilliance

 

There is something however that is generally over looked. We don’t give it careful attention, yet without it there would be no flower, no glory, and no future.

Its all the other components of the sunflower.

The roots all unseen feeding and anchoring that skyscraper stem against wind and rain. Milllions and millions of microscopically fine hairlike roots all gathering moisture to feed the plant.

The stalk rising fast and strong bearing large sunlight collecting leaves.

IMG_20150106_074408-2-1024x1024 5 Overlooked Ingredients for Sunflower Brilliance

No Stalk, No Glorious Flower

A lot of attention is given to that flower, yet underneath there is a system, a chemical pathway, a division of cells.

For all the glory, praise, and brilliance offered in this world there is a undergirding of struggle and growth. Of a laying down of foundations, of working hard, building the habits of growth.

To have the glorious flower there has to be a struggle.

Some of the most beautiful impacting people I have encountered are those that others overlook. They aren’t beautiful in the way they would be on the front cover of the glossy fashion magazine. They haven’t achieved in terms that would place them on any man made honors list.

They are beautiful and honorable because of some inner life changing ‘nose to the grindstone’ experience.

Jesus was one that could see the beauty and honour in those others despised. He ate and partied with the not so ‘rich and famous’.

You see Jesus had a compelling vision for them all. A vision of sunflower glory, but in order to get there some hard realities needed to be faced.

5 Overlooked Ingredients for Sunflower Brilliance

1. Patience. It would be pretty amazing if suddenly the change you wanted miraculously happened. It doesn’t though, you have to be patient and wait. For all the self help gurus, the bling laden hype heroes, you still have to wait for good things to happen. I know, you want it now, now, now, but there are many lessons to be learnt just through the practice of patience.

2. Consistency. The cells of a growing plant consistently, day in day out, keep on laying the foundations of growth. The have a God designed habit of multiplication. Its a consistent habit of showing up and putting in the hard yards.

I have learned one thing. As Woody [Allen] says, ‘Showing up is 80 percent of life.’ Sometimes it’s easier to hide home in bed. I’ve done both. Marshall Brickman

3. An acceptance of the mundane. Its not all razzle dazzle. The mundane boring grind of life is part of the journey. Accepting it and knowing that it has a place will bring secure stability to your life. Jesus walked on water but mostly he walked on dirt.

4. The nurturing of the unseen. The powerful roots of a sunflower need the focus of the gardener. Water, compost, mulch, protection, all for that which is unseen. Much of life is intangible. It can’t be held, measured or grasped. Many of our questions will never be answered. For me the nurturing of the unseen is learning to be quiet and still, to listen and meditate on maybe just a few scriptures then seeing what grows out of this moist rich soil.

5. That life begins with a death. The seed has to die. The seed in its expression of smallness, yet laden with potent power, has to lose its shape, its shell and husk. It surrenders itself to the soil around it. If I want to see change in my life, to heal, recover then something has to die. A stubborn proud self reliance will never reap the harvest the seed was designed for.

Glory without grit is shallow and shabby. 

What does your growth look like?

Its growing a life mini habit by mini habit. Its putting in the hard yards, its the struggle and the strain. Its the daily choices to build our sunflower stalk cell by cell.

What choices are you making today to grow?

Quotes to Consider

The secret of your success is hidden in your daily habits. Mike Murdock

Before the reward there must be labor. You plant before you harvest. You sow in tears before you reap joy. Ralph Ransom

Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown. Soren Kierkegaard

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson

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Barry Pearman

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How Photos Can Help Your Mental Health

20140823_124108-2-1024x694 How Photos Can Help Your Mental Health

Over the past week I have noticed in this end of the year period a new Facebook type of post – ‘My Year’. In this post the Facebook friend has selected highlights and photos from the years journey to tell the story of ‘My Year’

I have looked at some of these. One of them tells the story of how a friend was able to have a Kidney Transplant. This was a joyous occasion for him, his family and our Church family. Looking at the photos my mind was immediately jogged back to the time I heard the great news.

Photos have a way of doing this.

I remember as a child we used to get our holiday snaps put on to little slides. Dad would borrow the slide projector from Church and a sheet would be pinned to the wall. Then for the next hour or two we would look at family photos of being at the beach or exploring the Waitomo caves.

20140823_124108-2-1024x694 How Photos Can Help Your Mental Health

Photo Credit: Jason B. via Compfight cc

Images transport us out of the now, into the past, then influence our present.

 

An Occupational Therapist once told me about the importance of photos for the recovery from Mental Illness. Images of celebrations, activities, friends, family all combine to taking the mind out of the present struggle and into a time where things were different.

Photos also tell us that life is a journey. That we aren’t stuck in one place. That change happens over the years.
That some of those experiences that we enjoyed back then can be repeated. That walk on the beach was great and can be done again today. That we are not stuck in this moment and that we can choose to make those moments again.

When you have a mental illness you can so often live in the here and now. The focus of the thoughts is the present issues faced. Progress is not accounted for and you can become bogged down and stuck in the moment.

It is very easy today to take photos, as virtually everyone with a phone has a camera built in. The best phone is the one in your pocket. You now have a camera immediately available to capture experiences.

A photo tells me that the feelings experienced at that time can be repeated because they did actually happen.

What photos should you take

  • Challenges overcome
  • Events
  • Goals reached
  • People special to you
  • Results
  • Fun times
  • Seasonal activities – the beach, winter fires, spring flowers …
  • Really just about anything

Remember photo record is personal to you. You don’t have to share it with anyone else.

Here are a few of my photos from the year. This year I started a new business and one of my opportunitues was to create a vegetable garden for a school. Come and check out my Gumboot Gardening Facebook page.

20140823_124108-2-1024x694 How Photos Can Help Your Mental Health

School Garden September 2014

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School Garden December 2014

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Children planting at School Garden

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Drawf Beans December 2014

20140823_124108-2-1024x694 How Photos Can Help Your Mental Health

Our Dog Tyler in my new Truck

20140823_124108-2-1024x694 How Photos Can Help Your Mental Health

A weekend in Wellington and the Cable Car

20140823_124108-2-1024x694 How Photos Can Help Your Mental Health

A weekend in Wellington and a Visit to Weta Workshop to make new friends

 

So have you got some great images form the last year?

Barry Pearman

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