My patient daughter’s voice betrays irritation as she, once again, goes over the reason why I can’t get Netflix downloads on my TV. I try, but all this new technology doesn’t stick. I may be able to remember all the characters’ names in old books and who played them in old movies but I can’t always remember how to import music to my ITunes library.
When Alice was in Wonderland, she said, “I’m running as fast as I can just to stay in place”. I sometimes feel as though I’m on the same slow treadmill as poor Alice when it comes to the technology,
I’m OK in the kitchen. Crockpots, microwaves and coffee pots are all my kissing cousins. But I’m just barely on speaking terms with some of the other devices that are supposed to be my helpers.
Technology issues abound! I can’t use my use my cell phone at home because I live in a gully but I do use it when I’m out. But I can’t get messages or redial. Nor can I automatically enter phone numbers. I don’t even dream of getting a new one with a GPS. I know change is good for me but I’m clearly resisting the 21st Century.
Compared to my contemporaries, I’m pretty adept for someone who graduated in 1956 with a ba in art education. Like most professional writers, I bought a personal computer as quickly as they came into my price range. The year was 1982 and the machine was a Kaypro.
I can be an early but I have no real interest until I see how they are useful to me. My excuse is that those computer people can’t write intelligibly. Even when I am ready to take on some new machine, I have to wait until a real person can teach me. I certainly can’t read directions on the boxes or talk over the phone to technicians who were born yesterday!
If my daughter loses her patience entirely, I’ll be just like poor Blanche DuBois in Streetcar Named Desire. I’ll just have to depend on the kindness of strangers.
Yes I do know that change is good. I don’t avoid change. I had a good year for change in 2011. I spent a lot of time teaching myself all about opera. I also spent a lot of the time in the gym. I entered the world of social media with Facebook and LnkedIn. I started this blog. I give myself a pretty high grade for embracing change.
On the other hand, I’m not sure I want to learn anything else. So many people seem to be compulsively locked into their personal machinery. When I was in the gym recently, walking in the warm water pool, there was an older man walking up and down while he read something on his Kindle. The gadget wasn’t waterproof so he held it up and walked carefully.
One young man I know brings his IPad wherever he goes and often refers to it while attempting to carry on a conversation. He needs to learn that machines are tools, not best friends or lovers. Everyone needs to be aware of balance in every area of our lives – even technology.
Corporations ae not people and neither are machines. They don’t expect or need love. I sort of loved my first computer. It was a Kaypro and it weighed more than most people can imagine today. I needed help getting it into the trunk of the car. I once took a train trip with it and had to hire a porter. That was then. This is now. Today’s computers weigh less than my coffee pot.
Despite its weight problem, I loved that Kaypro because it made me a better and faster writer. I could move the cursor when I needed to move a paragraph or delete a sentence instead of retyping the whole chapter.
My attachment to computers has remained steady but the thrill has gone. I didn’t rush into the myriad technological gadgets that were created later. Fax machines were pretty much obsolete before I learned to use them. I still use a landline telephone because I live in a gully. I hate watching movies or reading books on a small computer screen. I have absolutely no interest in reading books on a cell phone.
Truth is, I am not even running fast enough to keep up. I’ve taken to perusing the technology section of the NY Times on most days. I have a computer subscription.
This year, my visioning list includes becoming more technological. However, I plan to create a new balance, not a new addiction. I will be more accepting of personal technology but I doubt I’ll ever get beyond thinking of function first.
I don’t envision reading Shakespeare on my wrist watch. I can’t imagine giving up the comfort and joy of sitting in my recliner and holding a good book in one hand while I drink coffee with the other. I can’t imagine naming my computer Samantha or Charlie.
It is true that I need to adjust my balance a bit. On the other hand, I’m not so far behind the times. I do know enough not to drink coffee around Cleopatra’s keyboard.
Do I have an issue with technology?
Is there anything I want to change about how I handle change?
A friend called and said she liked my blog about King’s Day and she thought it was great to suggest that we pray for someone other than ourselves and our immediate concerns. I asked her what group she’d chosen to pray for and she answered, “The mentally ill – you forgot them.”
She’s right. There is much to be done for the mentally ill. Between prejudice, ignorance, shame and secrecy, to say nothing of dysfunctional laws, there is a lot improvement needed. Believe me, it is very difficult to identify the problem of mental illness and then very difficult to get effective help. It is also difficult for the loved ones of the mentally ill to help them manage their treatment. The mentally ill and their caregivers are a good group to pray for.
Generally, I have been pleased by the response to my last blog about Martin Luther King Day and the many social issues that still need to be resolved. Several people have said they would choose a group and pray for them on a regular basis. One person chose to pray for all the single mothers in this country and that is another group I left out who can use help.
Everyone who responded seemed to agree that prayer is action and that it is effective. They also seemed to be willing to pray for people they didn’t know personally. I was happy for that response because I thinks it helps us stretch our consciousness and understand that we are all One, living in a spiritiual world.
I am also pleased that everyone who responded seemed to recognize the fact that Dr. King was concerned about all the people who were less than powerful on the social scale. It is instructive that King was killed while speaking to a Union group that included blacks and whites. His last years were spent working for all poor people and against the war in Vietnam. I feel fortunate to have such informed and committed readers.
This morning, I was reading Dr. Carol Carnes’s book, The Way In and she quotes former President, Jimmy Carter who said, “Peace, like war, must be waged.”
She continues on page 136 to instruct us how to pray for others. Dr. Carol says, “There is something about seeing oneself and all people as citizens of the same universe, as the people of planet Earth, as spiritual equals and human partners, that unblocks the best of us and frees us to live on a higher level.”
When we pray for others, we need to see them as equals. We may know more about how to get along in the world than they do but we are equals in the sight of God. We need to see the people we choose to pray for as perfect, whole and complete in the eyes of God while claiming their highest and best good for them on the earthly level.
We do not pray as though we are the judges or as though we know all the answers. We simply speak to God (or Higher Power) for them and we accept the best for them. We may want to visualize them as comfortable, well fed, cared for and having peace of mind.
I have used the following prayer for someone I know who used to have trouble navigating in the world. I say, “The Light of God leads him, the Love of God surrounds and comforts him, the wisdom of God guides him on his path.” Over a period of years, this person has made tremendous strides in his life and I like to think my prayers were helpful. Since my prayers were made in love and didn’t give advice, I’m certain they were a piece of the recovery process.
Praying for another person without judgment and without trying to direct his life will be very good for you. The action of prayer works in exactly the same way that the law of attraction works in every aspect of your life. You hear it all the time, “What you give away comes back to you.” It works with money and it works with love and it works with everything else. For example, you give away a smile and a smile comes back to you.
The law of attraction works when you are praying for another person because we are all One and we are living in the Oneness of God. When you pray for peace and happiness for another person it will go to the other person in the amount and manner that he can accept. It will also come back to you.
Praying for another person must be done with a clean heart. You want to connect to God and to the people you’ve chosen to pray for with a sense of love. You cannot pray from a platform or pedestal and expect it to work. Love is the key to unlocking the creative energy of the universe. Separation slows everything down. Check your attitude before you begin. You may want to pray for yourself to open up your own heart first.
Please make sure your attitude is not “Oh, you poor dear!” See the person or persons as being the same beloved child of God that you are. Situations are different but the essence of the person is the same. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience. We are all connected in God. We are one with God and that is good news.
Can I pray for people without judgment?
Can I see God in every person?
I don’t always make changes easily. For example, we went to daylight savings time this fall, my body rhythms continued marching to the summer drummer for several days. I couldn’t stay awake past 9PM and woke at 5:30 AM. Of course, I did adjust and I loved myself even when I was off schedule. I’ve learned that much. I’ve also learned that sometimes change comes slowly.
I have spent a lot of years changing my mind, my habits, my emotions and my thoughts. I have also spent most of those years coaching or teaching others to change their thinking so they could change their lives. In that time, I have seen some remarkable changes but seldom without a bit of resistance.
Sometimes that resistance is overt. I put off losing weight for a long time because I absolutely didn’t want to change my food choices. I knew better but I went right on eating burgers and fries until I ran into big trouble.
In 12 Step programs most of the people you meet are fine folks who thought they could somehow “beat the system”. Despite the obvious trouble they are creating for themselves and their loved ones, they protect their habit. One of our favorite sayings in 12 Step programs is that we got here when we got sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Whether it is erasing a major behavior or simply adjusting to a time change that comes twice a year, my point is that if you want to change you can definitely do so. Whether change comes easily or with great struggle is up to us.
If we have difficulty with the change, it isn’t because we don’t know what to do; it is because we resist doing it. We settle for short-term gratification rather than the glorious feeling of achieving the goal.
Resistance to change is sometimes no more than simple habit. When the City of Encinitas opened up a closer road from my house to the freeway, I was happy. Nevertheless, I occasionally found myself taking the old path. I liked the new road just fine but I’d been taking the old one for about 15 years and sometimes I forgot there was a new one. I stopped making that mistake quickly and if I had not, I would have put a sign on my sun visor because it is silly to resist change that brings a five or ten minute gain in time.
We need habits to build our lives successfully but some habits need to be changed. And sometimes we do resist the obvious need to change the old road and take a new way to get what we want in life. When we resist, we are like children having tantrums.
Sometimes we are not certain the change will be of equal value but usually, we just don’t want to give up the immediate pleasure or pay off. Believe me, it is better to avoid hospitals than to eat potato chips. It is better to go to new places than to stay in the house by yourself all day long. It is better to save your money than to end up bankrupt.
Another cause of resistance is the fear of failure. We are afraid we’ll fail to stop drinking or to lose weight or to make friends or whatever. We are frightened and so we are tempted not to try. We become the fox in Aesop’s fables and say, “I didn’t want those grapes anyway, they were sour.”
It is one thing to tell us the grapes were sour if we try and fail. It is quite another to tell ourselves that we wouldn’t like them before we even try. Remember the old saying, “A coward dies a thousand deaths, a brave man dies but one.”
The truth is, we are built to grow and to expand. It is normal and wonderful to reach for the goals we want to see in our lives and most of us in New Thought get pretty good at changing for the better. Here are some tricks I have learned over the years.
I like to print little reminder signs and place them around the house and in my purse so that I am constantly aware of what I am seeking. Keeping the goal “top of the mind” really helps.
I like to keep a record of my progress and that includes some notes about my feelings as well as my hopes and dreams. A notebook that charts food choices and has a few photos of clothes I plan to purchase when I lose that next 20 pounds is something I can look at on a daily basis and that helps me renew the goal.
Finding a mentor is always a good idea. Whether it is a sponsor in a 12 step program or simply a book written by a person who has achieved a similar dream, it is inspiring to know that other people have been able to change in the direction you are choosing.
I also like to start my day with a prayer that includes gratitude for all the things I’ve achieved, so far, in my life and acceptance of the next step along the grand adventure of expansion for the better. Whether you formally pray or not, it is a great idea to remind yourself that you have changed in the past and you have the capacity for more change today.
You can do it!
What are five things I’ve changed positively in my life?
What would positive change would I like to make now?
I do the regular things – breakfast, pills, and brush teeth and then I look at my daily calendar. It’s going to be a busy one with phone calls to make, bills to pay, lunch with a friend and some time in the gym. I should be working on my book… I should be doing some errands… I should… So I start my morning with meditation, reading from a spiritual book and affirmative prayer. That first 45 minutes is precious time and I know it will be helpful to every other activity in this day.
Even for a semi-retired person like myself, the days seem to fill up quickly. One thing I’ve learned is that if I spend some time on spiritual activities early in the morning, my whole day will go better. A few minutes reading one of my favorite authors will put me in touch with the Infinite and that will put my “to-do” list in perspective. A simple prayer claiming that my day goes well will grease the wheels of life. Meditation will slow me down, balance my mind and spirit and set me up to greet whatever comes my way with joy.
Time management seems to be a persistent personal challenge for many successful people. I sometimes wonder where all the time has gone. No one seems to have enough to go around. Yet, can we really call it success if we are exhausted at the end of the day? And what ever happened to fun?
We have so many labor saving devices that it seems as though we should have plenty of time but it hasn’t worked out that way for most people. Fear, ambition and habit combine to keep a lot of people on the run and this makes for a lot of anxiety which can translate as illness.
One of these days, I expect that I will hear someone say, ”I don’t care who stole my cheese but I want the one who stole my time to bring it back.” Or he may say, “I don’t want to swim with the sharks anymore, I just want to catch up on my email.”
The pitiful part of this story is how many of us work hard so we can retire and then fill up our retirement hours with volunteer activities. Is it habit or is simply that the world demands more of our time than we have to give?
I don’t have all the answers since I am very busy myself – teaching a class, writing a blog and a book while keeping up an active social life as well as making it to the gym on a regular basis. All of these things are wholesome activities and I do not want to give any of them up. On the other hand, how much is too much?
Part of the answer is to monitor our activities and keep control of our choices. A refresher course in assertiveness training might be a good idea for some of us who truly love to “please people.” For years, I helped women set boundaries and learn to say no when other people’s demands seemed to control their lives. I still do occasional classes and talks on the subject in Wise Women gatherings. My Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues, book still sells.
Setting boundaries is important and the other important part of the answer is to have a regular spiritual practice. That quiet time we spend in meditation and prayer will slow down anxiety, clear up any negative emotions, and smooth out the day. It will help us establish a clear sense of priorities and goals. If we can’t do it all at once, we need to figure out what we want to do first.
In this busy world where we are hypnotized into thinking that the material world is the only reality, a 45 minute time period spent on spiritual matters can truly be the key to a better life. Just getting in touch with your deeper nature for a few minutes each day is renewing, rejuvenating and restful. It makes everything go better and it keeps you from feeling like an accidental leaf blowing in the wind of change.
Spiritual laws are True, Infinite, and unchangeable. They are the key to connection to a deeper truth about life itself.
What’s missing from my day?
How can I include the missing pieces?
Are there obvious time wasters I can cut?
I am looking through my old writing for ideas for this blog and I find an article that appeared in the Masters Series of Creative Thought Magazine. I think it appeared in 2008. The ideas are fresh because they are perennial truth. While the language seems to be a bit more formal, there are the usual practical suggestions for incorporating our beliefs into our daily lives.
Here’s the article. I’ve added the words in italics and questions.
Tradition tells us January is a time of new beginnings. Science of Mind teaches us that any moment, any second, is a perfect time to renew, revitalize, and begin again. We are always able to change the conditions, events, and circumstances in our lives by getting a new idea and letting it thrive in our consciousness. The challenge is to allow new ideas to take hold and establish themselves while avoiding the trap of falling back into the habits that created our old world.
January is a wonderful month to take a look at our lives and select new goals and new ideas to live by. One way to approach this practice is to imagine embracing the principles of Science of Mind completely. You may want to protest that you already believe everything Ernest Holmes taught. While this may be true on an intellectual level, we must also embody those beliefs. We need to move from the intellectual understanding and acceptance of Science of Mind to full acceptance on a feeling level.
In order to do this, we must release any old fear or anger that lurks in the shadows of our consciousness. January needs to be a month for release as well as a month of new beginnings.
We are spiritual beings, and our human journey seems to include an evolutionary search for enlightenment. Our Centers
for Spiritual Living provide the perfect community to support your search. We provide classes, Sunday services, practitioners, and books and recordings to help you on your journey. However, you must be the one who makes the decisions. You must choose to move toward the light. You must decide to let go of the old and make room for the new. Here is a simple exercise to help you embody new ideas:
Ask yourself, “What would my life look like if I truly bought the idea that there is enough to go around?” Spending a few minutes each day contemplating abundance changes many of our habitual ways of dealing with money. Use this exercise to (a) release fear and accept joy when sharing; and (b) release resentment and feel gratitude for what you have.
These two changes create a whole new chain of cause and effect. Life conforms to our new ideas when we focus–even for a short time–on a consistent basis. Remember that conscious, focused thought or treatment is much more powerful than random worry or habitual fear. There really is a Power for Good in your life, and you really can use It. Start today!
First – Can you can imagine what it feels like to be rich?
What is some of the behavior you imagine you would change when you believe there is enough to go around?
What fears or resentments do you imagine you would release when you believe you are rich?
What are you holding onto that you would give away when you are rich?
Nearly everyone has been busy making plans and resolutions lately. I think goals are fine but living in the future can be a pitfall. Times change. People change. Life changes. We might fall madly in love. We might have a health challenge. We might rethink our career. Someone will get pregnant. Someone will win the lottery. A life without surprises would be unreal.
I believe in setting goals. I also believe we can have a great deal of control over what happens to us in our private lives. But the wisest and most important thing I believe is – we must live one day at a time.
When I was younger, I daydreamed constantly and I was always trying to live in the future. I lived in a housing project and read Seventeen Magazine cover to cover; I yearned to go to college and wear pedal pushers while I hunted clams on the beaches of New England.
I did eventually move out of that housing project into the rarified air of the Eastern Establishment but I kept forgetting to enjoy the day. When I finally got to New York and Cape Cod, I was so busy pushing my career ambitions that I couldn’t taste the clams in the chowder. And pedal pushers had been out of style for thirty years.
My spiritual studies created many important blessings for me. The biggest blessing of all has been to bring me into the present tense. Before I got sober and started studying Science of Mind, I was almost never present. I spent much too much energy feeling regret for my past. I also spent way too much energy feeling restless and impatient about the future.
Learning to live in the present moment was absolutely like opening a door and walking into a new movie. I think of it as being exactly like the moment when Dorothy moves from sepia-colored Kansas into Technicolor OZ. My spiritual studies have kept me in the colorful present moment and that has been a great gift.
What about visioning? And goals? And ambition? These are all wonderful tools but they cannot be the payoff. The payoff is living in the here and now and loving every moment of it.
Daydreams are fine if they steer you in the right direction but if you forget to enjoy the journey, daydreams can be lethal. As for regretting the past – make what amends you can and move on. The past is gone forever.
This is such commonplace wisdom. We hear it all the time. How many times have you had someone tell you to stop and smell the roses or enjoy the sunset? Here’s the next question – when did you last stop and look at the sky? Or the shrubs around your house.
Want to take a test? Take a walk around your house or apartment and really look at the plant life. When you find yourself thinking about how you need to clean or prune, remind yourself this is a walking meditation. You are just looking. You can stop and smell if you want to, but you cannot turn this New Year’s walk into a chore.
If you can do a walking meditation in your own yard, you are in good shape to begin the new year. If you had trouble staying focused on the joy of growing greenery, then you might want to add a walking meditation into your New Year’s resolution to pay more attention to your spiritual practice.
Right now, take a deep breath, hug yourself and wish yourself a very happy, healthy, successful New Year. May all your dreams come true, one day at a time.
You deserve the best!
Do I need to spend more time in the present moment?
What can I do to encourage myself to be in the here and now?