To Parents

Train up a child in the way that he should go and, when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

I think one of the most difficult things we do as parents is, remembering what it was like to be younger. At some point, as adults we seem to develop amnesia, as well as begin to wear glasses that color who we were before we became ‘responsible adults’. We acknowledge our right to the choices we made, but feel that our children should not enjoy that same right.  We believe that we were much more mature and ready to take on the world. Often, we don’t acknowledge our mistakes: we act as if we never drank, never had sex. We didn’t do drug. We never fell in with the wrong crowd, or made any bad choices.

I admit, some of us didn’t do some, or even any of those things mentioned; but, if you’re among those who didn’t,  ask yourself why you didn’t. Were you just so much smarter than all those around you who did do those things, or were you blessed to be guided away from those things? Or was seeing the consequences of the actions of others enough to deter you from their path?

Let’s be honest. How many of us are leading the lives our parents chose for us? Did you marry who your mother wanted you to? Did you choose the career that your father felt would suit you best? If so, are you still in those situations or did time reveal to that you needed something different?

Guiding your child, teaching him how to decide not what to decide is the key to preparing him for future success.  It is also possibly the hardest thing we have to do as parents. It feels like it would just be so much easier if they would just do as we tell them and never deviate.  The problems with that are many. One day they will have to stand alone and if not prepared to do so, the outcome will be far worse than anything we have in our minds as the consequences for not listening to us. One day you may begin to feel the burden of carrying your child, making all his decisions, cleaning up all his messes and the fall out of his inability to function as an adult; you may resent it.

Look at the proverb above. There’s a lot of time between ‘child’ and ‘old’; give your children the space to learn what they want. Give them the opportunity to gain life experience and come to an understanding of the lessons you’ve tried to impart. Love them enough to recognize that the bumps and bruises they may acquire on the road to adulthood are as necessary as the ones you acquired on your journey.

We all want the best for our children. None of us want them to go through the trials we did in life, but that may be necessary.  Love your children, but remember all the times you had to ‘let go’ in order for them to accomplish: you had to ‘let go’ when they learned to walk; you had to ‘let go’ when they learned to ride a bike, when they learned to cross the street, walk to school.

‘Let go’, but don’t throw your children away because they choose a path with which you don’t agree. Love them enough to trust that the training they’ve received from you will kick in at the appropriate time. Love them enough to be there to answer questions, bounce ideas off of; assist don’t insist.

Love your children enough to recognize that the mission they have been given, the purpose they are meant to serve in this life can only be discovered by them and that only by discovering that purpose can they ever feel accomplished in this life. So, ‘let go’ and allow them to ‘let God’.

Handling Grief

When an extremely good person dies tragically and/or suddenly, it is only normal to ask the question: “Why?”  We look around and see people who are far less deserving, (in our minds) living long lives, apparently prosperous, healthy, happy yet they are often rotten to the core.

The Creator doesn’t let bad things happen to good people; people cause bad things to happen to people. We can’t have it both ways: either we want the freedom (and the responsibility) that Choice involves or we want to be controlled/ruled over by a god who has no regard for free will.

Remember when you were a child and all your actions were scripted, dictated by your parents? Is that the way you would prefer the Creator rule the world? Could He ever truly trust that we were made in His image if He had to dictate our every action/thought?

Only once did He exert His will on mankind and, that ended with Him destroying the world by flood!

When someone young/good/innocent dies, I believe that it serves as a warning to humanity that we are treading the wrong path. The death of someone we felt deserved to die would not send such a powerful message. To the contrary: in such a death, we might find too much satisfaction, thereby, losing the Creator’s message that life is the way.

There is a sort of arrogance that leads many of us to believe that we are already the height of His creation. When He chose to make us in His image, that image was not flesh, blood, skin and eye color. It was, and is, our spiritual essence, the purity of our consciousness. I believe that His ultimate goal is to have all of us rejoined with Him, outstripping this transient form. I believe that we are here to begin the journey of how to be in His image.

I am comforted when I lose the physical presence of someone I love and admire by what I prefer to believe about life and living.

  • I prefer to believe that this incarnation is a training ground and that we are here to learn in certain measure what it takes to be ‘like’ Him.
  • I prefer to believe that when you master the lessons of this level, there is no further reason to be here, and you are allowed to leave this body in preparation for your next realm of divinity.
  • I prefer to believe that how you leave is dictated by the reason you were placed in the lives of those who know you: e.g., are you to serve as a reminder, a role model, a wake up call for them to push through to meet their destiny?
  • I prefer to believe that sometimes, all it takes to reach completion on this level is that you be conceived and carried in a righteous womb. (Which leads me to believe that this is why some infants and fetuses may not become full term or may not live long after birth).
  • I prefer to believe that we don’t remember our other incarnations so that we might work more honestly through whatever our ‘karma’ deems necessary.
  • I prefer to believe that because He is a ‘jealous god’, and truly wants us with Him, He allows us to send ourselves through pain, sorrow, deprivation – whatever it takes, whatever we choose to endure to get the lesson completed.
  • I prefer to believe that ultimately we are all returned to Him to be part of Him in an Eternal One-ness that none of us can truly even imagine.
  • I prefer to believe that those who have left my physical world far too early and in ways that cause me to ask “Why?” are rapt in the next realm of their progress toward that One-ness.
  • I prefer to believe they passed the test.

A Responsibility of Parenting

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. (copied from Wikipedia)

The above is a textbook definition of the substance that is common to the creation of us all. While this definition is accurate, it does not speak to the greater truth about the ways in which we as humans are connected to our parents. DNA does not bind the animal kingdom together in the same way it does humanity. While many animals are independent in a year or less, we remain physically dependent upon our parents for nearly two decades and emotionally invested with them forever. This investment colors how we view ourselves and others; it often determines our ability to lead stable lives.

Watch the way a new infant follows his mother around the room. He is bonding to her in a way that no other creature does. He depends on her for sustenance, for training, for entertaining. She is the god in his life. Fathers who choose to be active in the lives of their infant children have the same effect. Parents must take this “godship” seriously.  How we use this adoration, inherent in a child’s interaction with parents, will determine his view of the world, how well or ill prepared he is for what the world will show him.

A child is created using an equal number of chromosomes from his parents: 23 pairs from each. This creates a love from the cellular level. When ignored, mistreated, abused, etc. the love can slowly become hatred at the cellular level. The dilemma then is, that such disdain is tantamount to self-hatred. When one loves one part and hates the other part of himself, a “schizophrenia” of sorts develops: the child cannot truly love himself, yet, he cannot truly hate himself. This internal confusion causes the child to “act out”. The onset of symptoms often go unnoticed by family until they manifest in some self destructive way such as some form of addiction, aggression, perversion, etc. Adolescence and early adulthood, (critical years in social and vocational development) are peak periods for the onset of this ‘schizophrenia’.

Girls often choose men to love based on the relationships they’ve had with their fathers.  Men often base their choice of woman on what their mother was like. Too often in today’s society the dysfunctional nature of families causes young people to turn to the wrong type of person for love.   Children look to parents to help them formulate their views of life and love. It is our responsibility to develop/research/seek out ways to assist our children in making better choices.

For me, the first step on this journey has been to reflect on my childhood, to admit the anger that I once had at my father who refused to support me either financially or emotionally. To come to terms with the frustration and anger  my mother often aimed at me because she didn’t know what else to do with it. I began a process of objectively looking at my feelings toward both of them, and how those feelings mis-shaped me.  I looked at how my search for validation, my need to be worthy of love led me to make unwise choices in who to placed my trust in, who I “loved”.

I’ve come to realize that I can love my father, with all his faults, because he helped to create me; I can forgive him his shortcomings, without making excuses for him or enabling his continuation of the addictions he chooses to live with. He is who he is.  I’ve learned that I don’t have to react in the ways that my mother taught me through example.  She is who she is; those were her issues, I don’t have to carry them as my continued inheritance, I can make new choices.   I’ve also learned to talk openly and honestly with my children and any other young people who seek me out for guidance. I don’t sugar coat my life, I admit to fear, confusion, and the mistakes I’ve made. I’m learning patience and how to listen to their opinions, concerns and ask questions rather than make demands.

I believe that we have to teach our children how to think not what to think. Living is a SKILL and that skill develops over time. Just as with any other skill acquisition, there is a learning curve, not everyone will make the same grade. But as parents, we must guide our children to make the best, most informed decisions they can,  and to accept the consequences of those decisions. We do this by example, by interaction with them and by loving them enough to chastise when necessary, then forgive and lend assistance/support.

Becoming a Master Weaver

In the beginning, God created us in His image and afforded us the opportunity to be like Him.

He gave us power to create, endowed us with dominion. By virtue of our thoughts, we could choose to manifest perfection. Seeds of righteous, harmonious, eternal life lay planted abundantly in the fertile soil of our mind.

A Master Weaver, our Creator gave us a mind that could fashion a spiritual structure (character) and then dress it in an outer garment (circumstance), the composition of which is the result of the spirit that designs it. In other words, the materials used to build the structure are not dependent upon the garment worn. Quite the contrary, the structure(character) is the loom upon which the garment (circumstance) is crafted.

We are intended to become Master Weavers. We create our world with the thoughts we choose.  By virtue of the thoughts we choose and sew into the fabric of our lives, (character), the outer garments (circumstances) woven work in concert to define/manifest who we are.

We must work diligently, mindful of the nature of our thoughts, in order to weave a stronger cloth. If previously thoughts steeped in ignorance, envy, greed, malice and strife spun a ‘synthetic’ garment woven of  ignorance, poverty, lack, despair,  we must effect change in our thinking before genuine change can occur. Genuine change will cause the ill-fitting garment crafted from destructive thinking to fall away.

Only then can the Master Weaver (a mind formed by creative thoughts) fashion a garment of enlightenment, contentment, acceptance and joy.

Underaged Drinking: The Affects of Females

Recently I’ve become concerned about our young daughters and the increasing consumption of alcohol and the decreasing age of the consumers.

Issues more often associated with girls such as decreased self-confidence, depression, early puberty and low self-esteem can lead to drug and/or alcohol abuse therefore, I’d like to present a few facts about what alcohol consumption does to the female body. Please don’t get the impression that I am unconcerned about my sons, certainly I am. But, the truth is that the effects of alcohol consumption occurs faster and with more devastating results for girls!

Adolescents who drink heavily may experience problems with liver, bone and endocrine development; liver damage is higher in adolescents with alcohol use disorders. Drinking alcohol lowers estrogen levels in adolescent girls and lowers luteinizing hormone and testosterone levels in adolescent boys. Simply put: alcohol lowers the levels of growth and sex hormones in both adolescent boys and girls.

In other words, alcohol consumption by our children is putting our future at risk!

Alcohol related diseases develop in females in a much shorter time than they do in males and after drinking less; what alcohol will do to a man in 10 years, it will do to a woman in 5 years!

Female drinkers reach higher blood alcohol levels (BAL’s) faster because we have less water and more fat in our bodies and because of differences in digestive enzymes. We develop alcohol-related disorders like brain damage, cirrhosis and cancers while drinking much less than men.

Any consumption of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer, and the degree of risk rises as the level of consumption increases. Women who drink during pregnancy risk the development of both mental and physical defects in their children.

The menstrual cycle affects alcohol metabolism in women. We can develop our highest BAL’s immediately before menstruating, and our lowest on the first day of menstruation. This can be related to hormone level shifts. Evidence shows that premenstrual syndrome, with its emotional and physical discomfort and de-stabilized blood-sugar levels, can trigger excessive drinking by some women.

So, imagine you are a pre-teen or teenage female with problems relating to your home life, self-image issues and you feel there is no one you can talk to, nowhere to turn…..alcohol can make it go away, at least for a while.

Our daughters are at risk and we need to develop methods for identifying and assisting them. Recognition of those who are more often at risk is the first, most critical step. After that, getting her to open up and talk, helping her learn to value herself and lastly, replacing the desire to mask the pain by drinking with the determination to live beyond pain into a greater more positive reality.

Let’s talk about programs that may already exist in your area or how we can help to develop them where they don’t exist.

Being Self-Absorbed

As women, we spend so much of our time caring for the needs of others. If you are a mother, sister, aunt or wife, you know what I mean.

The innate nature of a woman is to give her all to those that she loves. Studies show that women suffer sleep deprivation more often then men; that’s from listening out for the sounds of hungry or wet infants, frightened or sick children, and waiting for teens and adults to return home from their late night junkets or jobs.

When was the last time that you did something just for you? When was the last time you chose to be completely self-absorbed? Have you taken the time to read a book that wasn’t required reading? Have you meditated recently? Have you eased down into a tub of warm bubbles with headphones and your favorite beverage?

Make a commitment to yourself: “Today I will____________ just for me”

Here’s mine: Today I’ll close my bedroom door, take 30 minutes alone with a cup of Chai with soymilk, and my favorite music, just for me.

Don’t just say it; DO IT!

Write me and tell me what you did.

How I Resolved My Anger Issues

For many years, anger seemed to be something I could not escape. No matter how big or small the situation, my response was inappropriately angry. This situation had a negative affect on the relationship between me and my family.  My husband and my sons walked on eggshells, never knowing what they might say or do to incite an angry tirade. I was miserable and often felt I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. I recognized that they weren’t the problem. I wasn’t sure what the source of the anger was nor how to fix it. Too often, I saw the frustration and sadness in my children’s eyes when I began yelling at them.

While attending a seminar on conflict resolution, as conceptualized by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I learned that violence is not only physically lashing out, nor is the violence only directed at other people but can be both self inflicted and mental. It was then that I realized I had suffered from mentally abusive behavior directed at me, by me for many years. I came to understand, in that instant, that the angry words and the harsh criticisms my family suffered at my hand, was actually a spillover from what I was inflicting upon myself constantly.

Dr. King set forth six principles of nonviolence. Principle five states: “Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence.” (LaFayette/Jehnsen, p 17).  By modifying the Six Steps of Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation, (La Fayette/Jehnsen, p 20) I have developed a method that helped me discover how I could gain control of my anger. Following the principle of “Information Gathering”, I began to research methods of anger management. One of the potential methods my research suggested might be effective was Vipassana meditation.

According to S. N. Goenka’s official website, Vipassana (which means to see things as they really are) is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. It involves observance of how the body feels at any given moment. The principles of this technique teach you to understand that everything is temporary; the only constant in life is that nothing will ever remain exactly the same. Knowing this allows one to accept the fact that whatever you are experiencing will change and therefore, there is no reason for undue attachment to the emotion(s) that attempt to accompany the event.

I attended a ten day training course where I learned to recognize the signals my body gives off in situations where anger is about to flare up. I also learned how to “observe” the feeling rather than wallow in, or be controlled by the emotion it elicited. For me, this observation resulted in dredging up old hurts, real and imagined, in an atmosphere of objectivity, which allowed me to accept the events as the past and made it easier to move on with my life.

Is Vipassana meditation the answer to all your problems? Will it fix everything for everybody? Certainly not; perhaps your situation requires more professional avenues. But, for many just taking the time to stop, in a non-threatening environment, in a place where there are no outside interruptions allowed, will provide the opportunity to face yourself and actually deal with what “ails you”.

Often now, I begin my day with an hour of meditation. Since I have been meditating, my anger has subsided considerably. My children and my husband enjoy being around me and I am at peace with myself. I have let go of the things that mired me in anger previously and I am living a happy, healthy, more balanced and productive life.

 References

 

 LaFayette, Jr. Berdnard and Jehnsen, David C. The Nonviolence Briefing Booklet, 2005

Vipassana website:  http://www.dhamma.org/

Bad Relationship = Brain Damage?

“Too many women stay in a bad relationship until they have brain damage.” – from the movie “Diary of a Tired Black Man”

I think this is a fair assessment of some of the problems many of us experience in our relationships. Often we start out wanting to stick with a relationship, even one that we feel is potentially unhealthy. Why? Maybe we are tired of starting and ending relationships, maybe we don’t think we’ll find another man, maybe we believe that the reasons it’s bad are all our fault. The end result is that we become “brain damaged”. A person with brain damage has little chance of knowingly making good decisions and therefore lands in a cycle of bad decisions creating bad relationships.

Spiritual brain surgery is required to repair such damage and then intense spiritual therapy over long periods, perhaps for the rest of your life.

What are your thoughts?

Have you suffered some level of “brain damage”?

Criminal Behavior

Criminal Behavior

By Mileah

“Each day women commit crimes against themselves…” Iyanla Vanzant

It’s difficult to think of a culture in which women do not typically value others more than they value themselves. As women, we place our children above ourselves, we often think our husbands work is more important than our own; we buy less for ourselves and remember what’s important to everyone else. Studies show that women more frequently suffer sleep deprivation than do men.

 

There are so many ways in which women are abused, mistreated and dishonored. The list seems endless and crosses all cultural, ethnic, racial and religious barriers. While it is horrible to see how men dishonor women, it is so much more devastating to see how we dishonor ourselves.

 

Why does this happen?

 

How Love Conquers Hate

How Love Conquers Hate

 By: Mileah

Hate is a virus that emits from a host body. In order to harm others, it must cause a reaction in the person it seeks to infect. If you react (i.e., show anger, hurt, confusion), you give it a “port of entry” and it can begin its incubation process.

 It incubates as resentment.

 This negativity then attacks the weakest parts of the body and becomes disease (i.e., in the brain = depression; in ovaries, cervix, breasts= cancer).

 However, love (which is doing the right things to and for one another – including self!) conquers hate because it is not a reactionary emotion; doing the right thing is not dependent upon or determined by the actions of those around you. IT IS NOT PERSONAL; IT IS DIVINE. We do the right thing because it pleases God.

So, what happens to the hate emanating from the host body?

 When it finds no quarter externally, it festers and begins to destroy the host! As long as it can throw off its poison to others, it can allow the host to live apparently unaffected by its presence. (Note: there is definitely an effect on the host, but it can take longer to affect and destroy the host since it is killing others.) Once there are no reactive agents to accept its emissions, it must turn on its host and feed until it breeds disease, and potentially, death in its host. For, death is the inevitable end, unless love is used in overwhelming quantities by the host in ample time to destroy hate.

 This is a difficult task for a host, because they are blind to their part in hosting hate. If their eyes are not opened to their part in the transmission of hate/disease, they must become Hate’s ultimate victim!

Love calls out to the “God” in another person. If you are “of God” then evil/hate cannot hold you. Over time, (and man/woman cannot determine the course of time) as the love emitting from those around you, (especially from those to whom you emit hate), as love continues to call out to love, change will occur. The key is that the love emitted by others must be unconditional and continual in spite of how it is received. That love must never succumb to the temptation to react to unkindness perpetrated by the host of Hate. The love offered must be completely independent of the response from the object of love.

 A life built on callousness and malice toward another must, by its nature, collapse and extirpate itself.