Tag Archives: Living Well Classes

A Living Sacrifice: Biblical Principles for “Self” Care

It was on fire, but not consumed...

 

I have the privilege of routinely teaching a local or teleclass version of  A Living Sacrifice: Biblical Principles for “Self” Care.  Lay leaders and clergy from across the country have continued to shape this and bless it greatly through their own stories and wisdom.

After four years of teaching this course, I am still deeply moved by the Word’s promise and by the hope it stirs in attendees.  While the class in rooted in reflections on Romans 12 (especially vs. 1-2), the image of a “living sacrifice” or of a life aflame with love BUT NOT EXTINGUISHED have often led us to meditate on Moses and his encounter with the burning bush in Exodus 3.  Encounter with the Holy, with a new call, with a fiery vision that claimed Moses for work he could not imagine himself to be up for.  And we linger with the feeling of awe passed down through the ages: the attention-getting “I am who I am” is alive with creative Exodusing.  Then and now.  Beyond what and who we can imagine.  Alive with possibility.  A sustained and sustaining message.

This is what my clients and students want for their lives.  And what I want for mine.  Lives ablaze, lived fully and generously with grace.  Given to others and yet replenished by the enlivening Spirit.  Biblical PRINCIPLES help us to make choices which cultivate space for Divine renewal.  If this sounds like something you’d like support for in 2013, we’d love to have you join us on the “living well” journey.  Sign-up for the January 2013 class (Fridays at 8am) here.

 

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Love from the Center of Who You are…

“Love from the Center of Who You are.”   That’s Eugene Peterson’s marvelous paraphrase of Romans 12:9a in The Message. 

How do you hear this invitation in your season of life?

I hear it as a beacon of wisdom for conversations about “self” care.

My clients and I often reflect on natural connections between this great invitation and the wisdom of Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements. Indirectly, these great themes from TFA often show up on this Biblical “self” care series:

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

In my own life, I have discovered that if my current load of commitments, or my mindframe or approach to them, are hindrances to the above agreements, then I am in danger of damaging my “self”, relationships or commitments.

None of us are –or are called to be — PERFECT.  Yet we are invited to a quality of peace and integrity and abundance in our living and serving that I so often find sadly lacking in the realm of those of us called to serve.   Perhaps you have seen this too… there is so much suffering of anxiety, frustration, resentments and fear that accumulate if we are compulsively accruing the responsibilities we carry.  One way to relieve this suffering is to explore whether we have discerned well, or chosen freely, that which is on our plate.

My clients and students at Living Well Ministries, where I offer spiritual life coaching, are signing on to make shifts out of current unsustainable lives for the sake of “living well.”If you would like support for your reflections and actions for “self” care, we invite you to join this November teleclass. You will take away fresh insights and tools for making choices of sustainability (“a living sacrifice.”)
Registration cost of $85 includes one 30-minute coaching session. Order tickets via Eventbrite:
http://alivingsacrifice1112-efbevent.eventbrite.com/. Deadline: November 2.

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Work and Meditation… Not Opposite?

I have been challenged and nourished by Osho’s teaching for nearly a decade.  I have especially appreciated his books Intelligence and Creativity.  I find this excerpt below about a false dichotomy between work and rest challenging to my life experience and the kinds of support I offer clients and students.  So many laborers of love long for a restoration of rhythm in their life.  And, yes, I do find it helpful to encourage distinctions between work and rest in our efforts to craft sustainable lives.  That said, I do find this teaching of Osho’s below compelling.  I will be meditating on it further this Fall as I prepare for the next Biblical “self” care class called “A Living Sacrifice” (Tuesdays in October).

What are your thoughts?

Click the pictures below to visit Osho’s website.

Pune, India     Osho Meditation Resort


 

“People need to change the attitude that exists about work, particularly in the Western mind. Meditation should be part of the work, not separate from it.

“Work and relaxation are not contradictory. In fact, the more you put yourself into work the deeper you can go into relaxation. So both are important. The harder you work the deeper you can relax. Work is valuable. It will bring humbleness and silence. People should feel that their work is something very special, and that whatever work they do is respectable.”

“The emphasis should be on full-time work. 6 hours a day is perfectly okay. Work is part of the whole program – when you work, work as if it were a group therapy. Call it “work meditation”. If you really want to meditate and get into yourself, at least 6 hours work is a necessity – is part of the whole change in your energy. It is scientific. For 6 hours you should forget everything else – forget the whole world, forget your problems – whatever work it is, be total in it. Then something is possible.”

On another occasion Osho explains his radical approach:

“It is a very western idea of having a separation between the work and enjoyment; it is a very Christian idea – that God worked for 6 days and on the seventh he rested. But my vision is totally against this whole idea from the past. I am giving you a totally new vision, a totally new man who is not split into work and rest. For me relaxation and work are not opposite. I am not at all in favor of people feeling they work too hard and they need a rest or a break to relax and that they have to go somewhere away, away from the work. My vision is that you enjoy totally whatever you are doing, I am not against swimming or against fresh air, or against lakes. It is the split that I am against, the separation that this is work and this is enjoyment, the idea that I need to go to the lake for a break, to relax, to get away from the work.”

Source:  http://www.osho.com

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What is Scripture Inspiring in You?

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.  – 2 Tim. 3:16-17

I stand with this ancient letter penned by Paul or a devoted follower.    (Let us note that in the author’s day, our final collection of the canon — what’s in and what’s out — HAD NOT BEEN DETERMINED YET. It is very likely his use of the term Scripture refers widely to the writings of the faithful he knew, perhaps including “scriptures” lost to us or later rejected.)  Big topic. Different post.

As a Christian, it is with the heart and eyes of Jesus Christ that I seek to understand and be inspired by the lessons of Scripture.  And, I count in that the wise teachings of the ages and the contributions of many of God’s seeking children beyond the Jewish and Christian traditions.

All Scripture is inspired and USEFUL… for the ultimate goal of being proficient and equipped for every good work.  This seems a richer, deeper commitment to make than to a simplistic literalistic obedience.  In fact, the authors of Scripture certainly did NOT have in mind the approach to literal dispensational reading that many American Protestants have been steeped in, as it actually did not exist as a package until the 1800s.  If the Divine goal is shaping us for good works in the tradition of Jesus, then I must be as willing to  wrestle, grieve and argue with the “inspired” texts of the ages as I am willing to submit to their wisdom.  And then there are questions of transmission and translation. Big topics. Different post.

We are not called to a robotic faith or to pass along the prejudices and partial understandings of past.  We are called to wrestle, to pray, and to discern what really represents the HEART of the Creator today. It is clear that the Holy Spirit has worked within and outside of tradition to enlarge our perspective on true holiness and justice.  On gender equality, abolition of slavery, rejection of genocide, creation of civil pluralistic societies we have had to say “No” to some historical belief or circumstance pictured in Scripture, for the sake of living out more consistently a deeper principle of God’s will.

Today, many of the loudest voices professing Christian biblical principles are those whose image of God and God’s will is consistent with the violence, enmity and cultural superiority depicted in the Scriptures.   Others side with the voices of the prophets of justice, inclusion and an expanding sense of peoplehood because we find in those texts the same wisdom which animated Jesus.

The Holy Spirit which advances his work in and through us is at ever at work revealing our thoughts, our prejudices, and our idolatries.  One way to receive the full inspiration of Scripture is to simply acknowledge and confess it for what it is: a partial collection of the glorious activities of God and God’s people, and an honest representation of the sins, hopes and evolution of various ways of human relating to God.  It IS inspired and certainly profitable for our spiritual development to understand it and evaluate it through the lens of Good News.

If we are to grow up into a mature faith, we must remember that Jesus calls us friends, not servants.  With him, we must fulfill our destinies in this hour, and like him we must work out the core of our faith and obligations in the face of tradition’s shortcomings.

“By their fruit, ye shall know them” says Jesus.  (This has been an absolutely central principle in my faith journey and my support of LGBT people of faith through spiritual coaching and classes.)  Perhaps we could say that inspiration is REALLY happening when our lives look like his, and that Scriptural attachments which do NOT produce such an ever-maturing fruit are not inspired by God.

What is Scripture inspiring in you?

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Daily Tasks & Divine Intention

Do you ever feel like you’re swimming upstream in the course of your day, your lists and your chaotic mind?

Me too!  Drowning, actually, would describe how I used to feel A LOT.  Just occasionally now.

Thanks to much practice and support for my own Living Well, I know what a different space feels like.  This space is far from perfection, but it does have more of a center and sense of discipline and power in the face of huge commitments.  In the upcoming Biblical “self” care class (Tuesdays in October), we’ll go into this in a little more depth.

Here is a hand-out I’ve designed to share with my students.  I’m glad to pass on this copy to you in hopes that it might provoke some of your own resonance and/or creative ideas.  In a nutshell, these are ways I’ve learned to GROUND myself and keep moving forward in days that could be overwhelming.  They are methods for remembering the Sacred in my day.  I pray a blessing on your own journeys to do likewise!

MOMENT MARKING:

PRACTICES FOR REORIENTING FOCUS AND FEELINGS

Lighting Candles: before or after an experience that needs blessing or boundaries… when I need to focus on a stressful assignment;  before I write out today’s ‘to do” list; when I’m turning to a task that’s late – perhaps with some guilt; before an important and vulnerable conversation; when I don’t know how to offer an intercessory prayer…

Lighting Incense:  before or after an experience that needs blessing or boundaries… all of the above apply

Playing a Favorite Song:  before/during breakfast, to start the day out right; before/during meditation; before bedtime

Rearranging Piles of Papers:   to demonstrate “enough done” for today… “I’m done” or “I’m leaving” or “this can wait” etc.  It helps to let a long slow breathe out!

Making and spending time at an “altar” space:   pausing before a display of special photos, quotes, keepsakes that embody my loyalties, blessings and intentions

Meal Blessings:  to claim not only the gratitude we associate with these, but also a boundary around conversation, for instance dedicating the time to fellowship and re-connection, rather than  problem-solving or task management.

Coffee Cup Blessings:  Intentionally not multi-tasking with the divinely-favored beverage of  choice; using the enjoyment of it to mark a “non-task” moment before I dig in to first project.

Devotional Readings:  Returning to a favorite passage or setting time aside for brief reading of a new one; naming this time (3 minutes, 5 or more) as a threshold moment that is wrapping up or beginning a new task or experience

Pausing to REALLY LOOK at Sun, Lake, Birds, etc. : Building in the time to pause on walk to el or somewhere else, sometimes the same place on the established walk; allowing this visual banquet to encourage and strengthen me with God’s providence  and wisdom.

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Forgiveness Changes Reality

“As I strove to forgive everyone involved, I could see the evidence of the injury receding.” –Sarah G. Hyatt in “The Science of Seeing the Real You” (Christian Science Sentinel, May 5, 2008)

What could this possibly mean?

It reminds me of the teachings in The Course in Miracles about forgiveness REALLY and ACTUALLY reversing the cause and effect scripts in our mind.

What could this possibly mean?

Sensitive stuff, and I don’t want to overstate it. If it’s a new concept to you, I really want to share the GIFT in the insight.  So if it’s challenging language, let’s take it slowly.

Basically, in my very very ACIM layperson’s terms:

Forgiveness is what enables us to live in the PRESENT.  As we proceed on the forgiving spiritual path, we grow in our ability to resist attributing our present well-being chiefly to the PAST choices we’ve made or others have made (a decade or a minute ago).

It’s in this way, that we mean that evidence of injury can recede.  I do NOT mean that we are not changed and shaped by the nexus of choices and experiences that we and others make.  Like Jacob limping away from a Divine battle or Jesus, after the resurrection, showing his scars… we may be very aware of the ways today that our thoughts and  habits reflect past experiences.  Indeed, we are embedded and interconnected with one another.  That’s the beauty of being this amazing complex and wabi sabi world of which we are a part.  Our unique present constitution is what helps us have experiences of being distinct and in process!

So, it’s not that we are not influenced but it IS about experiencing healing —  a sense of release of the ego’s lies about cause and effect.  “The evidence of injury that recedes” is simply that script about being the injured one, the victim, if that script clings mercilessly to blame and judgement about the causes and causers.  It is not the scars that go away, but our fixation on them.

Attendees of the upcoming Forgive for Life Institute (Winter 2013) will go more deeply into the Course’s teachings about forgiveness.  My current clients and students are developing more and more life-giving Energy Leadership skills.  We uncover new joys every day as we work with each other on discovering true healing and true power.  And, we are changing the “realities” of selfish scarcity, excuses, blame, and deferment which keep so many of us from our passion and our present.

Interested in more for your life?  Check out upcoming events or coaching at Living Well Ministries.  I serve people around the country who are ready to leave behind the beliefs and habits which keep them from living well in the present.  Together, we discover the Living Well that nourishes us as we “love from the Center of who we are” (Romans 12:9a).

 

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To Love Our Neighbors as Ourselves

Here’s a real golden nugget, I think, from Emanuel Swedenborg’True Christianity:

We read that we are to love the Lord God above all things, and our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27).  To love our neighbor as ourselves means not despising our neighbors in comparison with ourselves.  It means treating them justly and not judging them wrongfully.  The law of goodwill pronounced and given by the Lord himself is this:  

“Whatever you want people to do for you, do likewise for them.  This is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31,32)

This is how people who love heaven love their neighbor.  People who love the world, however, love their neighbor on a worldly basis for a worldly benefit.  People who love themselves love their neighbor in a selfish way for a selfish benefit.

Wow!  Think about the entrenched ugliness of our unresolved pain and violence in this world.  Is it not much about comparing and competing, treating folks unjustly or allowing injustice, and judging wrongfully?

I am really savoring this collection of Emanuel Swedenborg’s writings, including the parts of it that are a bit strange metaphysically.  I love to learn about innovative ideas and experiences others have had (or thought they had), and to ponder what it might reveal about God’s reality.  One does not have to be hopelessly relativist to be committed to appreciating at face value the potential gift that others are bringing.  To listen and to understand does not mean to give over all discriminating faculties!  (Unfortunately, the sort of fundamentalism and evangelicalism that formed my early life would indeed have us fearfully separate ourselves from such encounters, rather than seek in them the practice of neighborly love and intellectual humility).

I especially love to read things outside the mainstream of acceptance (or, shall I say invisible histories/herstories and even “heresy”).  It is a spiritual practice — studying the breadth and spirit of experience, testimony and communal ethics that have been born amid human grappling with the presence and expectations of God.  And, striving to encounter these things with the heart, not just the endlessly dissecting intellectual impulse.  Swedenborg called these  “sense-oriented” and I associate them with negative Ego grasping which other traditions name as our snare.

My coaching clients and students see this loving neighbors and self thing is the heart of the matter.  So, in fact did Jesus.  Swedenborg has some truly innovative ways of picturing and teaching this.  Tomorrow’s post will be especially interesting for those working on the spiritual projects of forgiveness and biblical self-care.

Maybe a Lenten practice that would be good Christian contribution to public discourse this election season:

To not despise our neighbor in comparison with ourselves.

To treat others justly.

To not judge wrongfully.

To do unto others as we’d like done unto us…

“The Law of Goodwill.”

 

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I Don’t Need to Suffer to Be of Service

The following italicized excerpt is from Micheal Neill, one of the coaching mentors I most treasure, and taken from his February 13, 2012 newsletter.

I can see that life was unfolding before I was born and will continue to do so long after I’m gone. And that while I have a role to play, I’m not the star of this particular movie. Which is a huge and blessed relief, because it means I can just relax and enjoy my life as best I know how to do.

I don’t need to suffer to be of service – in fact, over time it’s the one thing sure to stop me. Suffer long enough and you begin to shield your eyes from the suffering of others. 

In fact, the simple but paradoxical rule of thumb seems to be this:

The more I enjoy my life, the more compassion I feel for the suffering of others.

Have fun, learn heaps, and be kind – to yourself and to everyone else!

Read more at Micheal Neill’s website.

The above letter provokes me into thought, prayer and conversation about a theme that I am working out “with fear and trembling” (that’s old-fashioned King James biblical language, not literal fear).  The crux of the complicated wrestling:

How can it be that so much of Christian thought and effort seems to be attached to suffering and sacrifice?

Where is this damaging preoccupation manifest today among conservative AND liberal notions of bearing the cross?

What does it look like to prosper in joyful growth, service and community with the humility of the Gospel (laid out in the Sermon on the Mount)?

My clients, students and I are working this out together.  Because the notion that enjoying this life is a betrayal of the Gospel or necessarily a block to the outpouring of compassion and justice has damaged countless precious lives and distorted the integrity of our worshipful offerings.  The cost, in terms of Biblical self-care, is that we risk false and prideful sacrifice rather than the “living sacrifice” which we see in Romans 12.  And, that we fail to make “every thought captive to Christ” by savoring the gifts of this world: loving relationships with self and others, nature, collaborations of all kinds, music and art and all sensory embodied experiences.  Being with others’ joy and pain in graced silence.  And so much more.  And, the time to truly know all these.

Thanks for being on this journey with me, and with provocative mentors and conversations like Michael.

Peace and love,

Jacki

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Joining with God in Expressing Love for the World

The Holy One is with us in all of life. Our purpose for opening the door inward is to help us know and claim who we are so we can more completely join with God in expressing this love in every part of our external world.

— Joyce Rupp

Open the Door: A Journey to the True Self

 

“Love from the Center of Who You are” is how Paul puts it (via Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase) in Romans 12:9a.   My clients and students at Living Well Ministries are creating and recreating lives with a passion for such a life.  We look inward not in selfishness or escapism, but in order to truly feel and act from the grace which we profess to be God’s.  We boldly explore our present energy blocks, the ideas and habits which get in our way as we aspire to live generously and sustainably in this world.  We dare to look at lifestyle habits of greed, gluttony and compulsion in which we trade spaciousness and receptivity for endless tasks.  In the reality of experienced brokenness, we are learning how to rest in what Parker Palmer calls “a hidden wholeness.”

As I prepare to teach next month’s class on biblical self-care, I am reminded of Coach Cheryl Richardson’s wise challenge.  How can we be truly follow our God’s guidance if we do not make time and room to get to know and listen to our True Self?

Joyce Rupp shares this passion, and I am grateful for the privilege of sharing her work as an invitation for fellowship and discernment among a sacred group of sisters in ministry this year.  We call care so much about following our Lord in a calling to love the world. Really and materially.  It’s my hope that this is a year for all of us of deepening that “Living Well” from which we can do so with joy.

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The Friend Who Can Be Silent With Us…

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
― Henri J.M. NouwenI, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey

 

Oh, how wise and wonderful are Nouwen’s words.  As a “recovering” extravert, I can confess that the capacity to hold such silence has been something I’ve been slow to learn.  But it holds so much reward, both for my friends and clients as well as for myself.  It’s truly a spiritual discipline to practice such stillness, and to be reminded over and over again how Present God is.  This God cannot be reduced to Expert, Fixer, Preacher, or even Knower.  Thanks, again, to Nouwen for giving us words for this grace.  It empowers my imagination about the truly HOLY interplay of silence and proclamation…

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