Archive for January 2019

Spirituality in Daily Life: Choosing Nonviolent Activism ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Spirituality in Daily Life: Choosing Nonviolent Activism ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

From a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

He penned this on April 16, 1963, and would be assassinated five years later, on April 4, 1968.

Last week we honored his birth. His largeness overwhelms me—not his size, but his activism against injustices. And there are others: Mahatma Ghandi; Mother Teresa; Nelson Mandela; Gloria Steinem; Cesar Chavez; Rachel Carson and Steve Biko—to name only a few of the greats.

While working in Peshawar with Afghan refugees and the reconstruction efforts of their war-torn country after 10 years of fighting Soviet occupation, all my Afghan friends had plans for how I could help them rebuild their nation. The war had destroyed their nation’s infrastructure of bridges, roads, schools, and irrigation systems. My education and experience were in the architectural/engineering field and that’s where I focused my energy—an easy choice for me.

But life in the States today proffers a crush of struggles. My days in Peshawar didn’t include internet media depicting a global non-stop volley of suffering and grief.

“What can I do?” becomes our common cry. Paralysis slides in to protect us from so much angst and its accompanying stress.

We can fall back on a supportive quote attributed to Dr. King:

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

And just empathy—entering into another person’s pain—isn’t enough. It eventually extracts an emotional toll on our bodies. Compassion takes us to the next step: doing something.

We are back to spirituality in daily life. Can we—and should we—include activism as part of our spiritual path? Dr. King certainly believed so.

“Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest” (1).

All major religious traditions include acts of compassion in their practices; if we say we love, the suffering of others ought to move us to do something (2). Our souls/psyches/spirits do have the capacity to live with—and to a measure, move through grief—otherwise why do our greatest loves die and leave us physically? But we’re not made to carry as much grief as we’re bombarded with daily. I’ve become especially careful about pictures and videos imprinting themselves on my psyche through social media. I control how much grief enters my life.

How to start:

1.Choose your passion (see non-exhaustive list below). Where you will focus your attention? As I run through my never ending list of injustices that need righted, I listen to my deepest self. It becomes part of my spiritual practice, my spiritual discipline. Where shall I focus my attention, and hence my energy?

2. Know thyself—what are your strengths? Do you tend toward extroversion or introversion? Where do your gifts lie? Author Madeleine L’Engle tells the story how she was asked to make a cake for her young child’s school function. The cake flopped, and she told the teacher that while she couldn’t cook, she could write a play for the children to perform, and that’s what she did.

3. Recognize your commitments and/or limitations. Are you raising a young family and/or working full-time? A full-time student? A primary caretaker to an aging parent? Limited in physical mobility? Perhaps you can still make a few phone calls to your elected officials or write letters. As your children grow, include them as much as possible—be an example.

A partial list of injustices follows that we read about daily. Pay attention to what pings your spirit—and then write that down. If your list ends up too long, read that list also, and watch for greater movement within you for one or the other. Which sorrow marks your soul? Which one (or two) leaves a deeper and more painful impression?

It’s like going to the eye doctor: “Which one is clearer? Slide one or slide two?” “This one [pause] or this one?”

Watch for other ideas springing up from these words; these are clues, saying, “Walk this way.”

•Chemicals killing our bees.

•Pollutants in our freshwater supplies.

•Pollutants in our soil.

•Plastics and computers in the ocean.

•The dying off of insects due to chemicals.

•Our nation’s wealth inequalities.

•Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

•Women’s rights.

•Rights of children.

•LGBTQ+ rights.

•Our nation’s war machine.

•Melting polar caps.

•Corporations writing our nation’s laws, vs. elected representatives.

•Disenfranchised voters.

•Abused dogs.

•The international trade in endangered species.

•Unfettered access to weapons.

•Our nation’s lack of decent public transportation, forcing dependency on the automobile and oil and gas industry.

•Corporate greed and bullying for our nation’s natural resources, often at the expense of our nation’s natural heritage—our national, state, and county forests, parks, and reserves.

•The weakening of laws protecting our nation’s air, water, and ground supplies, thus threatening our children’s health.

•The anti-nuclear movement.

Keep in mind that just as life changes—the children grow, the aging relative passes on—so might your passions and giftings ebb and flow. Don’t let society or the status quo dictate to you what injustice you fight or what shape that battle takes. Let Dr. King be your example.

______

Notes & Sources:

1. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929-1968) Pastor, Civil Rights Activist, Morehouse College 1948. http://hbcustory.org/on-conviction-martin-luther-king-jr-morehouse-college-48/

2. Contemporary author on religion Karen Armstrong has written extensively on how compassion flows alongside the cruelties of fundamentalism which raises its head in all religions, through all the centuries. Les Miserable plays itself out continually in our societies through Victor’s Hugo’s character Inspector Javert, as we balance the God of Mercy with the God of Judgment.

3. https://charterforcompassion.org/ The mission of the Charter for Compassion: “To that end we support and work to achieve the seventeen sustainable goals of the United Nations.”

4.  https://www.thenation.com/article/fifty-most-influential-progressives-twentieth-century/


About the Author: Rev. Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Minister. A life-long student of spirituality, Mary spent almost 20 years living, working and sojourning abroad in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America before finding her People House “tribe” and completing its Ministerial Program. Past studies include postgraduate studies from the University of South Africa in Theological Ethics/Ecological Justice, focusing on the spiritual and physical interconnectedness of all things. With her MA in Environmental Studies from Boston University, abroad she worked and wrote on environmental sustainability issues at both global and local levels, in addition to working in refugee repatriation.

How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ll By Brenda Bomgardner

What’s It All About? – How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

By Brenda Bomgardner

 

If you’re like many people, you may have an inner voice telling you things like you’re worthless or that no one wants you. Every day, an exhausting battle may rage inside of you.

Sometimes you try to push back against all those negative thoughts, but they come crashing through anyways.

In fact, trying to counter your negative self-talk only seems to make things worse. Spiraling down quickly, it often feels like there’s no relief in sight.

Now, imagine that there’s a way to counter the effects of negative thinking without pushing back or repressing your thoughts.

That’s what acceptance and commitment therapy is all about.

What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Unlike other coping skills—where you try to avoid negative thoughts or drown them out—acceptance and commitment therapy involves shifting your thinking to more productive outcomes.

This is accomplished by:

• Becoming more aware of your actions
• Recognizing what you consider to be your own values
• Making a commitment to act

The idea behind acceptance and commitment therapy is to face those negative thoughts in a more productive way.

It can be very difficult to drown out or counter negative thoughts, especially if they have been deeply ingrained into your thinking. However, acceptance and commitment therapy empowers you to choose what to do about thoughts.

Decide on Acceptance and Take Action

When you practice acceptance and commitment therapy, you utilize a process to make decisions independent of your negative thoughts.

For example, let’s say that you struggle with feelings of low self-worth based on negative experiences in childhood. When you think “I am worthless” you suddenly now have a choice. You can decide whether to take action right now to address this negative thought and might enter into a battle with the thoughts. You might try to counter the negative thought with a positive thought. You can spend a lot of time and energy in the battle and feel like you’re spinning your wheels and the thought keeps coming back. Here’s the deal. You can battle with your thought or you can act on creating behaviors that infuse your life with meaningfulness and fulfillment. You can act independent of your thoughts and/or feelings. You can accept a thought or feeling as a process your mind does based on your learning history and work towards making behavior changes.

Make a Commitment

Another important part of this process is making a commitment not to push back against those emotions, thoughts, or feelings.

Often, what causes people emotional distress is their attempt to push back or fight thoughts or feelings they find distressful. However, this frequently only causes them even more unnecessary pain and suffering.

When you commit to stop pushing back, and begin to be willing to accept your feelings you can begin to approach these issues from a new perspective and make changes based on what you truly value.

Why Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Helpful?

Perhaps the biggest reason why acceptance and commitment therapy is helpful is that you are no longer trying to avoid painful thoughts or feelings.

If you have thoughts about your low self-worth, you may be tempted to “numb” those thoughts through drug or alcohol use. On the other hand, you may try to bottle those thoughts and feelings up inside. Any attempt to release them causes you loads of emotional pain.

Let’s face it, this may temporarily work for you. But avoidance doesn’t really solve the larger problem. You still carry uncomfortable and unwanted emotions around you, and eventually, it will come out one way or another. Acknowledging to yourself that you have and experience painful feelings and thoughts transform them.

How to Practice Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

To practice this technique, it’s helpful to work with a therapist who understands acceptance and commitment therapy.

While it may be hard to discuss painful memories and difficult emotions with anyone, a therapist will be able to support you through the process. They can also help you find alternatives for viewing these thoughts and emotions so that they need not be compounded by the fight against pain causing distress for you.

If negative thinking is an issue and fighting those thoughts is causing you problems, consider acceptance and commitment therapy. You’ll likely find that by finding acceptance and committing to changing your thinking based on your own personal values, you will find relief and peace of mind.


To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page

About the Author: Brenda Bomgardner is in her encore career. One of her greatest joys in her career is seeing people move beyond life’s roadblocks toward a fulfilling and meaningful life. She believes each person has a purpose in life waiting to be realized that evolves over a lifetime. And the path to reaching your life’s purpose is as unique as each individual. We all have dreams. Step by step she will walk with you on uncovering how to bring your dreams to fruition.  Brenda is a counselor, coach and clinical supervisor and specializes in practicing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which is a cutting edge evidenced-based processes. This means there is scientific research proven to show ACT works. Before becoming a therapist, she completed a successful 17 year career in Human Resources at a Fortune 500 company. On a personal note she loves the great outdoors, ATV riding, adventure travel and family.

To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page, https://brendabomgardner.com/brenda-bomgardner/

The Importance of Taking Care ll By Rich Brodt

The Importance of Taking Care

By Rich Brodt for People House Blogs

Folks in the helping professions tend to have pretty good awareness of the idea of self-care. However, that does not always mean we put it into practice. I regularly hear of helping professionals slipping into substance abuse, bad habits and unhealthy relationship patterns regardless of the fact that they are regularly able to help other individuals though the same issues. It is likely that they even talk about self-care with their clients, yet have a difficult time applying the principles to themselves.

Most of us in the helping professions are self-employed and run our own businesses. We tend to identify with our business and genuinely feel the ups and downs, and financial pressures that can lead us to poor self-care.

We will not take time off, because we need to get those appointments in, and meet our year-end goals.

We agonize over a tough case instead of coming home and transitioning out of work mode. We skip a workout to return a call or do some other inane task that will have negligible effect on our business. These things do not help us feel good, and these things do not make us better at our jobs. When we start to lose control of how we take care of ourselves, things become disorganized, jumbled and stressful. We lose track of the borders between our personal and professional lives. This can lead to a state of both exhaustion constant stress.

I believe that exhaustion, stress and anxiety are all made much worse by a lack of boundaries. The boundaries may be absent in one’s work life, one’s home life, or both.

In my experience, if a person has poor boundaries, they usually apply those poor boundaries to all aspects of their lives.

By definition, boundaries are intended to mark limits. Without them, we constantly push past our limits and have little left for ourselves. Since most helping professionals have a tendency to be on the more empathic side, this can have really negative consequences. If we are constantly pushed past our limits, we have a very difficult time trying to regain our center.

When you mention boundaries to a client, they often react with fear at having to set and maintain boundaries. After all, it is not uncommon for the setting of limits to be met with conflict. When you mention them to other professionals they react in much the same way. They do not want to leave their clients high and dry during difficult times.

The desire to help comes from a good place, but often leaves the helper feeling exhausted.

When we lose track of our boundaries we have a hard time differentiating between our own feelings and the feelings of others. This can lead to some difficult situations if we are not careful. If we consistently maintained poor boundaries, we’d all run into an ethical problem eventually.

As far as I am concerned, the first step in taking care of oneself is identifying and setting boundaries. Once we gain more control over our time, we are able to focus on our own needs. My next entry will continue on this topic, focusing on ways to identify and meet our own needs.


 

I provide therapy and counseling for individuals. My style integrates various techniques, but I tailor my approach to each client’s unique needs. I am committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.

2727 Bryant Street Suite 550 Denver, CO 80211

People House Denver, 3035 W. 25th Ave, Denver, CO 80211

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth