Author: Ilona Erwin
Blog Sleep, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
The good thing about letting a blog go to sleep for a long time is that it has a chance to get clarified. Actually it is your own mind as a writer that goes through that refining process. After a good long while, you ask yourself the question, should I wake it up? Or should I let sleeping dogs lie…. ?
It isn’t as simple as that, though, if I am honest. I have asked myself the questions numerous times, in a sequence of phases.
The first phase was elimination. The things I didn’t want to write about, the topics I tired of, and the inevitable decisions about cutting out the unnecessary.
I became disgusted and tired of the political wars and polarities that could no longer be bridged. The futility of religious arguments that ran through the same old ruts, and writing about the newest and coolest became utterly boring. Cut | Cut | Cut.
I cut from my thinking and my conversation, and certainly cut from my writing.
Road To [Some Destination]
This was the second phase. Deciding the destination.
We all have choices in which way to point ourselves, and the purpose of a blog is no different. We may not have complete control over life’s conditions, but we can decide which way we will position ourselves.
I almost spoke of “acts”, but we can’t always decide that. We can, however, take a view or attitude about life’s conditions.
The Power of the Positive
This phase, for me involved the increased position of the positive. In fact, the more negatively life (and the people involved) has impacted me, the more important it has become to entertain the positive view.
This attitude shift has resulted in wanting to write different topics in different ways than the blog had previously manifested.
The destination has changed, or maybe I had detoured and am returning to the original intent? Possibly, I have discovered the intent that was buried inside the concretions of my life when first blogging.
Today, understanding rather than opining is more important to me. I used to want to be humble, and right, but now humility comes from the realization of how very wrong I could be. In mode, if not in view.
I say ” I just don’t know” so often, at this point. That would be very boring, if not for the fact that it leads me to explore more thoughtfully, now.
Creativity Needs Sleep to Survive
Something every creative person experiences is the need to rejuvenate the juices of inspiration. The body needs rest, but so does the inner man.
How many times do we experience a project bogging down, and its revival after leaving it alone for awhile? I have that regularly happen in many things: making art, writing, self-improvement, problem-solving, learning a new computer program.
I liked a lot of what went into this blog in the past. The thinking out of theology or what went on in society. Looking at family life, and roles, etc. And there have been numerous times I thought I would like to record the thoughts I am having about some of this stuff now.
What I like about putting these posts into a sleeping blog is that there is no pressure of an audience, just the pure creative desire to record the thinking process about matters of importance in my perspective at the time.
Updates Will Come
One thing I noticed when evaluating this blog is that many of the old style posts: short, sending attention to links or other blogs (many of which are defunct now) are superfluous and need culling. Eventually, re-arranging old categories and other blog housework seems in order. But mostly, I will just add posts on topics that interest me, from time to time.
Let’s see where it goes.
Family: It’s a Big Word
“Family” is the concept that looms largest in my personal horizon. I only realized it in terms of articulating it to myself in 2016. So, this is fairly new: to compose a complete view of why this idea of “family” is so central to my entire life.
I began to understand how it impacts so many of us, although in varying ways and degrees.
Why Me, and Not You?
This is the place where I began to really think, rather than simply struggle.
First, I’m a sixty- something and have lived most of my allotted years. When it comes to family, I went big- I had ten children… and endured long – stayed married for 43 years as a stay-at-home-mom.
It is not an exaggeration to say that I have struggled in one way or another all that time. I never seemed to have really settled within myself. One perennial struggle was to have a cohesive family unit- when what I actually was part of was more like a “herding cats” scenario.
The Light of Dawn
This past year, as I found myself within that familiar cycle of trying to coordinate family get-togethers while everyone else was less than enthusiastic about making plans, I asked myself “Why?”
Why is it so vital to me that we gather together and build relationship, and the others (father and children) seem so indifferent, even resistant? It used to be couched in a “what is wrong with me?”/ “what is wrong with them?” emotional whirlpool, but a different perspective dawned on me.
What is different between us?
That I find the need central, while for them it is peripheral to the rest of their concerns. What explains this conflict of priorities?
- Because I am a woman, and a mom? No, that doesn’t explain it. I know of others who aren’t like this.
- Because I made my life choices in that direction? No, desire for family was the impetus, not the outcome.
- Because I came from a broken home? Yes, that begins to explain it.
Not only did I come from a broken home, but I had no real place in my family of origin. I was a rejected black sheep. The reason is not important, but the effect was the key influence of my life. It colored everything.
My husband came from an intact family, as did my children. I believe they see that part of their life, being in a family unit, as a matter of course. It is settled for them.
My great struggle is seeing that such things aren’t settled by default, but must be grown and cultivated. I don’t apologize or dismiss the power of that insight. I do have one great flaw, however… what does such a family look like? How does it form, especially when given such poor soil?
I value family so greatly, because mine was lacking. I wanted to create family in my life.
I Don’t Have Answers, But I Get Inklings
In these big concept struggles of life, I move further from having the answers (as in “one size fits all”), but I get bigger inklings. And those help me. They create more peace and contentment, and make me much easier to get along with as they disconnect my need to fix the world from daily interactions with the people important to me.
10 Great Inklings
- We all have needs for acceptance and love, and it isn’t all about me.
- Keep trying to connect, and try to make the majority of connections loving, supportive, pleasant.
- Leave the past behind. Get to know the person that they are, now.
- Your needs, insights, and contributions are important, so are theirs. Blend, make recipes, value all the ingredients. Know when to leave certain things out of the mix.
- Be there. Be present. Be hospitable. Invite. Engage. Allow. Make clear boundaries.
- Choose to keep trying as long as fruit is possible. Know when to cut down the tree. This comes from Jesus’s parable of the fig tree. To pour yourself out into areas of life that don’t produce means that less is given to those that will. Be productive.
- Glean wisdom, but don’t compare.
- Stop the negativity habits; Encourage positive interactions, speech, attitude, gratefulness, and all things edifying.
- While oversight may be in your hands, control is not.
- You cannot change others, but you can change yourself. That may be the catalyst for circumstances or for others, but it is growth in your own life. It will result in true satisfaction.
My Contribution: A Sense that Family is Important
This lack that became driving force, struggle that became recognition, became what I contribute to the world. I gave it through defiance and by going to war against the norms of my generation. As a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), with homeschooling, home birthing, attempts at homesteading, and having a big family on one (sometimes below-average) income.
I don’t contribute the means or the goal, but the concept. That is, that a family has intrinsic value for everyone, in some way. This idea of family value is not dictated by method, numbers, or even culture.
If the value is dictated by anything, it would be a true understanding of love.
Regrets and the Future
To dwell on regrets is not useful or conducive to change. It only mires one in the past with a distorted filter. We have today, and that forms our future life… with family relationships or otherwise.
People give up on family. Too soon and too often, when it is the messy stuff of living that creates the full spectrum of being.
I believe this is why God has worded relationship with Himself in terms of family. Likewise, as human beings, there are many ways we relate to each other; but the closer we are the more we see it in familial connections.
Someone is a sister or mother to us, a father or brother, and a “significant other” is husband or wife. We can’t divorce ourselves from our need to belong. It remains, struggling and gasping for expression.
I want that expression to be a healthy one that promotes growth in each individual. I outlined what that means to me.
What is Spiritual Soaking?
Why is spiritual soaking prayer relaxing for us?
Modern interpretation of an ancient religious practice, spiritual soaking is a form of prayer and meditation. It relaxes ones mind and relieves stress as side benefits.
A Method Of Praying
There are many ways that people relax and relieve stress. If that is the primary goal, this may be one avenue, but you have many alternatives to choose from. If, however, the idea of connecting with the Lord Jesus in a way that deepens your relationship and allows the “peace that passes understanding” to infiltrate your soul is important to you, you may be interested in what many call “soaking prayer”.
Meditation can be religious or secular, and as such has been found to have health benefits; but for Christians, prayer and meditation is more than the mere practice, it has a focus.
Everyone wants to pray more, pray better, pray more effectively, it seems. Libraries of books have been written, and almost every Christian gives lip service to the value of prayer, its necessity even. But this is no essay on that topic. What I would like to present is the way this form of prayer has given me a tool to overcome the stranglehold of stress in my life.
Soaking After Services
The first time to be introduced to this form of prayer and worship was after services where people had received personal ministry through laying on of hands.
It is usual for people to lay prone on the floor quietly while restful, quiet, music is playing.
THE RESTORATIVE QUALITY OF MEDITATION
To meditate on God has always been a part of the Judeo-Christian practice. Many references are found in Psalms. Focus attention on the acts of God, His Law, His work… the Hebrew word carries the meaning of musing thoughtfully, rolling over in ones mind, studying, ruminating. (1)
Now Science is finding facts in the physical universe that shed light or in some way give support to religious practices. For a person of belief it is fascinating and confirming at the same time. In no way would I think it is proof that we should think a certain way, but for me it underscores importance of such a thing as prayer or meditation for us as whole beings.
Prayer and Meditation reduce stress, they improve our mental capacity.
Why Meditation Makes You Feel Better
Both prayer and meditation focus the mind, and I can’t say whether those who are spiritually soaking are doing that or not. I do know that the whole experience of the soothing music, the restful repose of the body, and the sense of God’s presence work together in a way that I can only describe as restorative: giving back wholeness, a healing experience.
I think all types of prayer are important, so this is only an exploration of one way that is more recent in my own walk of faith. I found it to be a key in overcoming the chronic stress I was prone to.
Soaking Is Active
It may seem paradoxical to our minds, but often what we consider a passive posture is spiritually a very active one. “Waiting on God” is full of active faith and believing, not a useless waste of time. Similarly soaking prayer, while seeming empty, is actively focused on allowing God to be more important than our efforts or needs.
IS IT NECESSARY?
I don’t know, is relaxing necessary? Rest is needed – even required. But relaxing? I would say it is beneficial. I have found certain music, quiet and rested posture, time out from everything including other forms of devotion helps me. mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Of course, being more introverted, perhaps it is my way of recovering from an overstimulated world. Still, due to the references in the Bible that encourage “confidence and quietness”, and other such mental states, I can’t help but draw a conclusion that other personality types would gain in their devotional life from incorporating some of this soaking time into their lives.
Add Some Background Music To Your Meditations
Soaking In Glory Rain – Prophetic Instrumental Worship Music
Lovely and inspiring piano and some electronic keyboard songs. Very pleasing music that gives a restful background. I would call it quietly energizing.
Meditation and Soaking Prayer Are Not Synonymous
Prayer is communication with God. Meditation are thoughts aboutGod.
Both might produce meditative states of mind.
July True – Heaven’s Embrace
Julie True Interview
One Of My Favorite Musicians Is Julie True
I had researched ways to de-stress as part of the plan to lower my blood pressure and generally improve my life (stress is the number one factor in exacerbating diseases and interferes with relationships and well being.) While doing that, I happened upon “relaxation music”. This genre of music is composed of all sorts of styles and sounds, but with the goal of calming the listener.
Julie True was one of the musicians who produced music for “soaking times”. I listened to some samples and bought an album, “Spirit to Spirit”. I now own other music of this type as well, but this is what I like to listen to when having trouble going to sleep, wanting to have a background to create, etc.
It isn’t just this album or artist, there are other interesting types of music that have the type of meditating atmosphere I wish to rest within to “re-create”.
Filled with uplifting lyrics done in Julie True’s inimitable style. I bought the CD rather than the mp3 download. But I think anyone who wants quiet, healing, background music will appreciate this album.
Almost all of us feel the effects of music. In some of us it reaches to our deepest core, and for most of us it certainly is a mood enhancer. But what has science discovered about music?
- It decreases anxiety
- Music heals
- It enhances intelligence
- Improves concentration
- Helps you to be more productive
Music produces vibration, is vibration, and the universe is full of it.
MUSIC + PRAYER + RESTING
What does string theory have to do with prayer? Not being a scientist, I can’t draw conclusions, the import of it all is that there are real reasons to engage in this kind of prayer and meditation. I am a Christian, but you don’t have to be a Christian to benefit from the way things are set up. If certain sounds and vibrations are conducive to healthy bodies and peaceful minds, we can recognize those facts and maybe gain some benefit.
If music is deliberate vibrations of a certain type, and if it can both affect us mentally and physically, I am theorizing that its inclusion in the prayer process is also aiding us spiritually. If you are a believer in the Bible, it would not take much study to find reasons to accept that idea. If not convinced about that source of spiritual information… you could go with the physical and consider the effect of “good vibrations”, or destructive ones.
What Do You Do?
Do you pray or meditate regularly?
- I often practice soaking prayer
- Meditation and prayer are often a part of life
- I meditate as a regular practice
- I don’t do either of these things
- Spiritual things are not important to me
What effect does this information have on you?
Does it make you curious to discover more about prayer, or how meditation and prayer influence your brain and general health? Are you considering practicing it in a personal way?
What about the effect of music or the use of music as a way to relieve stress? Are you interested in exploring more about that?
Are you a religious person? If so, do new ways of worship or prayer make you uncomfortable or are you interested in it?
What do you think is the answer to stress from modern life and mental distress?
Have You Stopped Asking Yourself Questions?
I was reading a post about asking yourself some big questions in the quest to find, or find again, your life purpose.
Some people have stopped asking, and among the many states that might be described, there are those who are simply stymied, mired in the march of time and the confusion of life.
I wonder if that latter state isn’t related to the part of the parable where good seed fall among weeds. It has grown, it showed promise, but the care and business of this life swallowed up all the available time and energy.
Not being able to breathe and grow, the questions just slowly stopped. Because there doesn’t seem to be any reason to keep asking. The sunlight is blocked, the root starts to wither in a dry place where no moisture of inspiration any longer can reach.
Asking Questions Begins Making Room
It makes room in your mind. It gets you looking for a way to climb out of your rut.
People today love to talk about passion. The concept has turned into a buzzword and marketers use it as a hook, because there is still hope that with this passion comes reward and renewed sensitivity to beauty and life. Sadly, the way it is used it is mostly emptied of any real meaning.
Although allowing the focus of truthful and sincere questions may direct our attention back to the essence of what we mean when we say the word “passion”.
That which we have figured out we really, and truly care about. That which we are willing to expend our selves and the currency of our lives on. Things which matter to us versus what we say matters to us.
What Are Those Questions?
The post I read gave me that author’s thoughts on them, and they were very good ones. I wouldn’t argue with their validity. At the same time it made me think that he meant them as a springboard for me to ask my own questions.
Here are mine:
- Have I put off becoming the person I want to be? Have I traded my life so far for a distant carrot of “someday”, only to wake up and find that I detoured from the road?
- If I am truly convinced that “God is the answer” (forgive this cliché, but you all know what I mean by it), why have I given Him the leftovers of my inner life? Did I really believe that all my time spent thinking selfish, foolish, bitter, angry thoughts would make room for Him and for His nature, or even a connection with God? The mantra of “forgive me” and “help me” didn’t take the place of actual repentance and the work (giving actual time, thought, and energy) of becoming friends with God.
- What can I do to become present in relationships? with God, with people, with endeavors, …. with myself?
Those are the main ones for me at this time.
I also call into question some of the ideas submitted in that article, at least as I have understood them. A big one for me is this.
Understanding that life demands sacrifice
I understood very early that there are hard things in life and disappointments. In fact, I’d say I prided myself on having persistence, endurance in the face of difficulties, or personal “grit”. I tried to pass that on to my children.
I wonder if it didn’t backfire, for them and for me. I mean I truly wonder, because I don’t know how to look at it today. I think it was a good quality, but should have been tempered with wisdom.
Rejection, criticism, failure are parts of life, yes. But I made too much of them, and then spent an awful lot of time backpedaling and trying to repair the damage that came from that imbalance.
That is enough introspection to give you an idea of where my head was at when I thought about making a small list of life “to-dos” in order to move forward.
settle the question that life has meaning.
Don’ t delay acting on your understanding it
Use Your Questions To Add Meaning
Do No Harm
A short explanation of what I mean by each of those actions.
- Humans keep struggling for it, so it is a big time and life waster to keep insisting that we live only for the moment and that there is no meaning. Or act like there is none. We will only wake up wasted and full of regret. So just settle it, like making it a basic premise: life has meaning and we have meaning within it.
- You don’t have to have everything figured out before moving forward. Life has its own momentum, and little actions add up into a force. You understand an infinitesimal piece of the puzzle? Make your action, thoughts, and direction come into harmony and alignment with that. Sometimes understanding is actually built from that, not the other way around.
- This is underestimated. Maybe because we think we have to understand the picture we see and must pass some sort of universal judgement of worthiness. Our business is to show kindness as often as we can. We cannot possibly gauge the power to change the world for the better that this one decision makes.
- So many use their questions to destroy another’s sense of meaning. Gaining a sense of meaning is so much more important, and takes so much effort in the confusion and chaos, that energy is better used building and outlining the positive. Not a mandate, just generally a good rule to pursue. Otherwise we can waste all our time destroying others and not having built anything for ourselves.
- We step on life without even thinking, so borrowing this adage from the medical profession is a reminder to value life. To understand our own power, and to use it wisely. Stop deliberately hurting others. It does not empower you. Eventually you will find this out, but you may have developed a debilitating habit by that time. As much as you can, benefit. Even those you don’t think deserve it, those you don’t like, those who seem small, or too big for their britches. You don’t have to aright the universe, you just need to nurture the little your short life will allow you.
There it is. My thoughts for the day. and should you wish to read the post that triggered this one, 7 Strange Questions