Friday, August 30, 2013

Love and Peace

Every once in awhile, a movie will be released that touches peoples’ hearts and souls.  “The Butler” is just such a movie.  It’s a movie about the Civil Rights movement, but it is also a love story between a family and about those in our nation who came together to promote human rights.  The movie was inspired by the life of Eugene Allen, who served eight presidential terms as a White House butler.  It’s a beautiful movie, but one that was sometimes hard to watch.  Seeing what black Americans experienced during slavery times and what they had to go through to gain freedom is heart-wrenching.  But it was also heart-warming to see how people of all colors and races came together to support their freedom. 

Seeing this also made me think of what the American Indians went through with the early European settlers.  Indian children were taken from the loving arms of their parents, their hair was cut off, they weren’t permitted to speak their language or practice their spirituality, and they were forced to learn the “white man’s” ways. Many men, women, and children were slaughtered and/or forced to live on reservations just because they were “different.” 

Then we had the Holocaust.  Several million people were murdered just because they were Jewish.  Others were also slaughtered because they supported or helped hide the Jews from being caught.  Millions were held in concentration camps in the most deplorable conditions, never knowing if or when they would be sent to the gas chambers. 

Throughout history, man has committed the most horrendous atrocities against their fellow human beings.  Why?  Mostly because of the differences in beliefs, particularly religious beliefs.  Many who committed these atrocities did so saying they were doing it in the name of God. 

As we look at our history from Biblical times to the present, we’ve come a long way in realizing how much a part of each other we really are.  We are evolving, but we still have a lot of work to do.  Even today we’re seeing groups of people trying to keep others oppressed just because of a difference in beliefs and/or lifestyles.  Many are still struggling to overcome the discrimination, hate, and bigotry that is being propagated against them. 

The media only focuses on the negative and how people aren’t getting along.  But, friends, there is a much bigger picture.  People are coming together all over the world to promote love, peace, harmony, and oneness.  They’re standing up for their fellow beings with love, compassion, and kindness.  Various religions from all over the world are protecting those in other religions so that they can worship the religion of their choice.  Races are standing up for other races because they know that we are all equal in the eyes of God. And on and on it goes with humanity standing up for humanity.  There’s a grand and wonderful awakening occurring and people are starting to “get it.”  People are beginning to realize our oneness and if we are to survive in this world, then we better start getting along and learning to live with each other in peace.

I know this article strays a bit from my usual uplifting, motivational topics, but this has been on my heart and mind for some time and I felt led to share it with you.  Are we working towards love and peace, or against it?  Wherever we put our focus is what we are going to manifest.  I don’t know about you, but personally, I think it’s very sad to see religions and/or denominations fighting and arguing with each other.  We all have the same God, though we have our different beliefs as to what form or shape we believe our God to be based upon our experiences of God.  Can’t we all just find what we have in common and learn to love each other as we are which is what Jesus emphasized over and over.  “Love one another as I have loved you.  Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

The great Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” 

And Nelson Mandela said it best when he stated, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Wishing you love and peace. 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen August 30, 2013.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Our Bodies As Temples

The Bible says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; …Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)  The above Bible verse calls it a temple, but depending upon your beliefs, you may use different terms.  You may even just call it a vessel and that you are honoring life.

Since beginning my spiritual journey, I have learned that our temple is made up of mind, body, and Spirit.  In order to be totally healthy, it takes a balance in all three areas.  When one is out of balance, it throws off the balance of the whole. 

For our minds, it begins with changing any negative thoughts to those that are positive and loving, not only for ourselves, but for others.  Our thoughts are extremely powerful and we become what we think.  We also need to be careful of the thoughts we think because those thoughts will manifest into the life we create for ourselves. The mind is a delicate entity that can break at the snap of a finger, and yet it is so strong that it can survive the most traumatic events.  When we can quiet the mind, as some do through meditation and/or prayer, it helps alleviate stress and we can feel more calm and peaceful.

We also need to take care of our physical bodies.  There are so many people who are suffering from the most horrific health issues and my heart goes out to them.  If we don’t begin taking care of ourselves now, at some point, we may end up losing our own health.  To start, this means eating healthy and not putting non-nutritious foods or chemicals into our bodies.   Easier said than done; I know.  We don’t die of old age; we die of diseases and illnesses.  The body has an amazing ability to heal itself and many health issues can be overcome just by changing our diet and lifestyle.  Dr. Emmet Oz said, “Real wellness is much more than the lack of disease.  Health is about vitality and vigor and energy.  It’s about excelling at the many challenges that face humans daily.”  Besides eating healthy foods, the body needs to be exercised and moved on a consistent basis if we are able.  We don’t need to be fanatical about it, but the more we do for our bodies, the healthier we will be.

Spiritually, Jesus repeatedly said that the Kingdom of heaven is within you.  Everything we need to know is within, but sometimes we need to read other’s writings or listen to others speak so that we can remember.  We can go directly to Spirit for our answers and learn the truth of who we really are.  Being healthy spiritually also includes being loving, compassionate, kind, and having an attitude of gratitude. 

Oprah Winfrey said, “It isn’t until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you are – not necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down, the spirit within – that you can begin to take control.”  It is our right to be healthy in all three areas that make up the whole, but until we really believe the magnitude of who we really are, we will always find excuses to neglect taking good care of these earthly vessels.  It is up to us to be proactive in all areas of our health.  Regardless of our religious or belief systems, we are all living miracles and that’s pretty awe inspiring.

So many of us take our good health for granted and it is only when we lose our health that we come to the realization just how sacred our bodies really are, and then we wish we could go back and do things differently.  We only have this one body while gracing the earth with our souls.  Love it, nurture it, and strive for it to be its healthiest in mind, body, and Spirit.  You deserve to be the best that you can be!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper August 16, 2013.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Show of Respect

There are postings on Facebook that say, “If you show me respect, THEN I’ll show you respect!”  Except I think they have it backwards.  It should read, “I’ll show you respect first, and if you respect me, fine; if not, that’s okay, too.”  How many people go through life expecting others to be nice to them first, and then they’ll be nice in return?  How many times have we heard people say, “No one treats me nice, so why should I treat others nice?”  What you give, you get in return.

I enjoy Facebook because I have met and gotten to know some of the most amazing people all over the world!  Some I’ve even become close friends with even though we’ve never met.  They come from all colors, races, religions, cultures, and politics.  Even though many of us are different in so many ways, I respect them for who they are and for what they believe.  I also use Facebook to try to lift people up and maybe bring a smile to their face.  You never know when something you post will be that one positive message that someone needed at that moment. 

I don’t mind people sharing their thoughts and beliefs as long as they do so with respect and do not bash any person or group of people; nor do I like arguing and fighting over who is right or wrong.  I just don’t want that kind of energy on my page.  There have been numerous people whom I have de-friended because of their hateful, bigoted, and ignorant comments and posts.  Yet I have acquired an incredible group of friends, most being from the spiritual community all over the world; those who are promoting love, peace, kindness, compassion, and oneness. 

The great thing about Facebook is that I have control over who my friends are, what shows up on my stream, and what direction a conversation may take.  If I see something I don’t agree with, I can either ignore it, hide it, or if it’s really offensive, I can de-friend.  I don’t feel a need to go all negative on someone’s post.  It’s the same when I see something on TV or read something in the papers.  I respect other people’s right to have their own beliefs and opinions, and I have no desire to criticize, condemn, judge, or tear someone down because of any perceived differences.  (This is not to say I won’t stand up for an injustice, but I try to do so in peace.)

I take Jesus’ teachings very seriously when he said to love one another so I try to watch my words and actions carefully.  I ask myself, “Am I lifting someone up?  Or am I tearing them down?”  I’m definitely not perfect at it.  There are times when I’ll say or do something in a knee-jerk fashion.  Fortunately, it’s not often.  But when I do, I feel that loving, spiritual smack on the back of my head and I hear the words, “Karen!  This is NOT who you are!” 

When was the last time you received a compliment?  When was the last time you gave a compliment?  It seems easier to find fault and criticize.  Complimenting and saying something kind to others are gifts that keep on giving.  When you make someone else feel good, they’ll likely make someone else feel good, and on and on it can go.  Likewise, it makes us feel good for making someone else feel good!

We currently live in a world where it seems to be so much easier to be negative than it is to be positive, where the bad news gets all the press, and you see so many people just being so mean-spirited towards each other.  We feel powerless to change it.  Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  It begins with us.  We need to be very careful of our thoughts, the words we speak, and our actions because that will be the world we create around us.  Also, the way we treat others is a direct reflection on our own integrity and character, as well as the way we feel about ourselves.

Albert Einstein said, “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”  What a great concept to try to live up to!  We should ask ourselves…  When it comes to our time to leave this earth, how would we want to be remembered?  Personally, I’m hoping I can be remembered as someone who loved everyone I could, did whatever I could to lift people up, and maybe, just maybe, helped make this world a little bit better place.  But trust me…I’m a work in progress.

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper August 2, 2013.