WHO ARE YOU Part 2: A Taste of WHOOP—Whole Heartedly Opening Our Purpose

downloadWe are spiritual being embodied in human form living on a human earth with other spiritual being in human form living out their life on human earth!  –Barbara Banks                                                                                                                            Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well.—Psalm 139:14


WHO YOU ARE as a Human Being

How rare it is to find ourselves in human form on Earth.  Appreciate the fact that we are here as individual spirits filled with consciousness, drinking water and chopping wood.  No other life form has the consciousness of being that we are privilege to…not an ant or worm or butterfly or dog, or a hundred year old oak tree, or the thousand year old patch of ocean. We are blessed in this time and in this place to be human beings, alive in rare ways we often take for granted.
–Mark Nepo from The Book of Awakening

 

While we are created uniquely in our physical form, what makes us authentically unique from each other is our consciousness. Consciousness is

  • the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.
  • the awareness or perception of something by a person.
  • the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world.

Mindfulness, insight, intuition, and discernment are other words that describe this unique ability as humans.

Consciousness grants the ability to:

  • have and form opinions and judgments,
  • experience and feel a full spectrum of emotions from empathy, appreciation, love, joy and compassion, to apathy, ungratefulness, fear, anger and impatience
  • comprehend, gain knowledge, and apply wisdom
  • have and form passions and desires
  • be aware and relate to others

Consciousness is influenced by many factors.  Here are just a few:

  • where and how one was raised
  • authority figures: parents, teachers, preaches, bosses
  • others’ opinions and judgments
  • the world’s views of success, beauty, gender roles, etc, that come through social norms and media
  • experiences good and bad
  • friends and associates
  • groups and organizations one belongs to

We each have conscious minds that are affected by different influences.   These in turn influence our thoughts (mental processes), feelings (emotions) and behaviors (will or choices).  If you recall from last week’s post, this is the HEART of who you are—your essence of “being”.  Our ability to be conscious is thus a gift for us to use to live a more joyfilled, whole hearted, full life.


 WHO YOU ARE as a Spiritual Being

images (2)Not long ago one of my favorite Christian devotions quoted Saint Catherine of Siena which spurred me on to read about her and her writings.  One of her basic premises is that to know WHO YOU ARE, you must have self-knowledge and know who God is.  For by knowing who God is, you will discover who you are. (If you’d like to read more about this and about St. Catherine, click here.)

Quotes by St. Catherine:

“The soul is in God and God in the soul, just as the fish is in the sea and the sea in the fish.”

 

  “In your nature, eternal Godhead, I shall come to know my nature. And what is my nature, boundless Love? It is fire, because you are nothing but a fire of love. And you have given humankind a share in this nature for by the fire of love you created us.”

 

 [The eternal Father to Catherine:] “And since I in the beginning created man to my own image and likeness, and afterwards too your image on myself  by assuming human nature [Jesus], it is always my endeavor, in so far as you are fit for it, to intensify that likeness between me and you.”

 

 [The eternal Father to Catherine:] “Do you know, daughter, who you are and who I am? If you know these two things you will have beatitude within your grasp.  You are she who is not, and I AM HE WHO IS.”

 

To know WHO YOU ARE, knowing WHO GOD IS is imperative.   You are made in God’s likeness. Part of Him is in you. A part of you is in Him. Developing your spiritual life in the form of bible reading, studying, praying, journaling, meditation, contemplation, or any other form of spiritual discipline will be a powerful aspect to living whole heartedly.  To be authentic and to know WHO YOU ARE, you cannot ignore who created you, why you were created, what you were created for.   These are often the questions we ask when we are searching for the meaning of life or the personal meaning of our existence, especially when painful and soul wrenching experiences happen to us or others.

To know WHO YOU ARE self-knowledge is importantYou are unique by how you perceive, by what you are aware of, by the perceptions you have, by the opinions and passions that you hold.  These are the things that drive your BEING and DOING in the world.  What is produced in your life is an outcome of your consciousness.   Areas to look at are health, finances, self-esteem, relationships, work, and home. When our consciousness is concentrating on surviving in the world, habits, beliefs and thoughts can be negatively and falsely shaped leading to an unfulfilling and joyless life in many or all of these areas.

Your ability and gift of consciousness can bring awareness to what you are producing.   This is not to become self-focused, narcissistic, or overly self-conscious.  It is to become more aware of the choices you are making and what is influencing those choices.

Are your choices driven by outside influences or your spirit?
Are you being lead by God or what the world says you should do?
Are you hearing the heart of who you are or other people’s opinions about who you are?

There is a sweet interplay between our ability to be conscious as human beings and keeping our focus on our WHO WE ARE spiritually.   Becoming more conscious of the spiritual aspect of WHO YOU ARE will create positive outcomes in your life.  When we become more conscious spiritually, here is what we can discover:

  • past programming that isn’t serving us
  • beliefs that are untrue about who we are
  • insight into who we in fact can be
  • perceptual shifts that allow us to become more of what we truly are and long to be
  • experiences of satisfying joy and fulfillment
  • more authentic trust and intimacy
  • purpose and meaning to our life

cropped-011114_2043_selfcompass1.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

I’d love to hear your heart.  In the comment section below, tell me what is one of your ways to be more conscious about WHO YOU ARE humanly or spiritually?

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JOURNALING Part 4: A Taste of WHOOP—Whole Heartedly Opening Our Purpose

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Tell me to what you pay attention, and I will tell you who you are.  –Jose Ortega y Gassett

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.   Proverbs 3:6 NLT

I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.  –Psalm 40:8 NLT

heartbookYour journal can reveal what you are paying attention to, tell you who you are, be a quiet spot where you record the desires and directions of your heart, and can give you a way to stay focused on your passions and God’s will for your life.

Last Bits and Pieces on the Art of and Keeping a Journal

  1. Using the Circa Journal system from Levenger’s (or the Arc System from Staples) can add some depth to your journal.  By adding a blank page behind tvvvhe plastic cover it can serve as a mini Dream Board. Decorate it with pictures, words, sayings, cut outs from magazines, drawings, or colors or symbols that represents something in regards to an intention or goal for the year.   Goals are things you want to
    accomplish like a specific yoga pose, redoing a bathroom, remembering to send birthday cards, learning a new skill, taking a certain class, understanding how to be more compassionate, or reading through the bible.  Intentions are ways of being that you want to be more mindful of for the year….like being silly, looking for joy, being more grateful, or bringing more peace and relaxation into your life.   Please don’t think you have to be artistic to decorate your cover. The ideas is to have a visual reminder of what will make your year meaningful and growth producing to you.
  2. On the flip side of the decorated page, write your “word for the year,” sayings, quotes or scriptures that support your your goals and intentions for the year, and write your TOP 5 IDEAL list. Having them in the front of your journal, allows you the opportunity to take a quick scan of these when you sit down to write.  It’s like a Table of Contents for your life.  It’s your guide.   You may not look at these every time you journal, however, the act of having written them down does something for you in a subconscious way leading to a more purposeful year.   subway-art-words-of-the-year
    • What is the “WORD OF THE YEAR”? This is something I learned many years ago in regards to setting yearly goals as a business owner.   The idea is to choose one word that will guide actions and priorities for business activities that year.   This same concept can be applied to your life–choose one word to guide your goals, actions and priorities for your life this year.  Having a simple word for the year, gives you direction for your decisions. Again, this can make life have more purpose and meaning.  Some examples of words for the year:   simplicity, peace, joy, love, connection, fun, etc.   Maybe you have goals for many areas of your life. Pick a word that would guide you in all of them.  For example, let’s say you wanted to lose some weight, have more time for your family, de-clutter your house, be more organized, and get rid of some bad habits.  You might choose SPARKLE as your word of the year—have a sparkling body, eat sparkling food, make your schedule sparkle with less activities and more family time, have a sparkling house, sparkle out a drawer, closet or desk, add some sparkling new habits.  The word SPARKLE would remind you and help you make choices that lead you to your desired goals.
    • vEXTRA TIP:   I even hang my word of the year on a little chalkboard in my kitchen so I can see it everyday and be reminded.
    • What are the TOP 5 IDEALS? If you have been following along with these journaling blogs, in the Encouraging Your Whole Heartedness section, I’ve asked you to make a list to this fill-in-the-blank journaling exercise: When my life is ideal I will be/have/or be doing _____________. Then I asked you to come up with your top 5 ideals and write a juicy paragraph describing what each of those mean.   On the inside cover of your journal, I would now have you write just the list of your top 5 ideals because these are your passions. This exercise comes from The Passion Test by Janet Brey Attwood and Chris Attwood. What you have done is tapped into your heart and spirit and found what passions I-See-God-s-Heart-In-These-Clouds-god-the-creator-10268130-400-400God is laying on your heart.  Passions are the breadcrumbs to your destiny and purpose.  These top 5 ideals, like your word for the year but longer reaching, will help you know where to put your attention and energy.  They will help you know what to do when you have to make a choice, decision, or are faced with an opportunity.  You may be offered a great opportunity, but does it take you closer to your IDEAL, to your passion, to what your heart longs for, to the plan that God has for you?   I know my IDEAL list has helped me in making large decisions, like a career step, to small ones, like what kind of blankets to purchase for my bed!! Odd, interesting and true!! Keep your juicy paragraphs somewhere you can find them as you will want to read them now and then and see how they are unfolding.   Life does change and we go through various stages, retaking the passion test every year or two is a good idea.   I did this exercise for the first time 7 years ago.  Some of my ideals have been realized and replaced by others, others have been tweaked because I’ve grown, and some are still in process.  The thing is they are there to guide you.   After listing your top 5 ideals on the inside cover, underneath them write, “this or something more”.  Let God surprise and delight you with what He can do with your passions when you finally jot them down, describe them, accept them, and use them to help you move closer to what He wants for you.
  3. You commit to sit and write, you have pages and pages of journaling, how do you make the most of the time spent and the words you’ve journaled? Dr. David Jeremiah, a preacher and avid journaler, talked about harvesting journals during one of his radio programs.   He highly recommended going back and reviewing your journals on a regular basis.   How often you do this depends on how much you write.  If it takes more than one notebook a year for your journaling, you might want to harvest every quarter.

WIMG_7412hy Harvest?

  • You will gain insights about your self.
  • Looking back over your journal gives you a truer perspective. It is like seeing the LANDSCAPE of things instead of just the trees and brush. You will see a higher and longer perspective of what happened in your life during that time.
  • You will see how things are or aren’t working in your life, how God is working, and how He may have answered prayers.
  • You can see where you keep writing or praying for the same things which can give you insight into where you might need to take action or take steps of faith and trust.

Things you can ask yourself as you harvest:

  • What has gone on?
  • What have I learned about myself and/or God?
  • What are the themes?
  • What did or is God showing me through this time?
  • What am I avoiding, if anything? What is causing this avoidance?  And when is the time I will deal with this?
  • Am I following my intentions, word of the year, or passions? Do I need to tweak these or renew my focus?

cccccEXTRA TIP:  I have found it easier to harvest my journal by using annotated ruled pages.  They provide space to the side of my journaling to write a note, an insight, an “aha”, or a point I want to remember.

 

 

 

 

cropped-011114_2043_selfcompass1.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heart

  • Some inspiration from testimonies from a WHOOP participant and a friend who is an avid journaler:
    • I had recently been thinking about the WHOOP classes and how helpful they were. They encouraged me to be deliberate about WHOOP-ing. The journaling in particular made a big difference in my life.  It was like it made sense of the daily events of life.  All of a sudden I could see the narrative that was happening to me and around me.  Every single time I journaled about anything, it had an answer, a result, or a conclusion.  No matter how monumental or how trivial my thoughts were, God moved when I put it down in that journal.  I suspect He is always doing that, but the deliberate act of journaling made it plain to me.–Anne (How many of us miss God’s signs, help, and answers to us?  Love it that journaling did this for her!)
    • I was thinking about what you said in your blog that journaling song lyrics or other things that capture our attention will speak to what we like or desire to be reflected.  I am so drawn to the line from a praise song that says, “you calm the raging seas”.  My reading today was about Jesus and the storm on the Sea of Galilee. I was able to connect the song lyric attraction, the bible reading, and more–I was reminded that as a child I often thought what I wanted more than anything was peace– peace of mind.  “Calm my raging seas” is an accurate description of that desire. I was nervous and anxiety ridden as a child, always feeling like my world was out of control.  I see the connection now with my need to control my circumstances, always wanting to maintain order and “peace”. –Nancy (God is putting puzzle pieces together for her!  I wonder what that insight will do for her now and what God has for her next.)
  • I’d love to hear what you do to make journaling more meaningful for you. Do you harvest? What do you do with that?  How do you use a journal to keep your heart in God’s will and focused on what He wants for your life?

JOURNALING Part 3: A Taste of WHOOP—Whole Heartedly Opening Our Purpose

“Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.” 

― Pat ConroyMy Reading Life

“This is what you do when you journal. You are recording God’s grand, epoch-spanning redemptive story as it unfolds in your limited, temporal sphere of existence here on earth. Your journal has the potential to record the continuation of the Holy Spirit’s work in our world!”

― Adam L. FeldmanJournaling: Catalyzing Spiritual Growth Through Reflection

imagesHOW and WHAT to Journal

Giving you the HOW and WHAT to journal could take volumes, so I just want to say a few things about this and give you some resources to inspire you and get your juices flowing for writing.

The HOW…

How you journal is really whatever inspires you to do it!  If you’ve never been a journal keeper, you might be surprised to find that there is a whole world of journaling out there.   There is art journaling, spiritual journaling, guided journaling, intensive therapy journaling…and on and on!   Even scrapbooking and digital photo album making is journaling!    Journaling can be a daily record of your activities (though most avid writers would call this a diary with journaling being more about the thoughts, feelings and insights around those activities) or it can be a specific journal on something.  I have one friend who does a journal of her garden each year–what plants she grew and how they did. In it are also sketched out diagrams of her garden, so journaling doesn’t have to be just words.    I know others who have different journals for different areas that they want to write about. For example, I know several people that have different books for their dreams, another for their gratitude list, and another just for their daily thoughts or daily scripture reading insights.

 

If yoimages (2)u are new to journaling, start out simple with one book and try several different things in your journal.  Personally my journal is an “everything” journal.  I have sketches, pieces of scratch paper taped in it, hand written things, typed things, my thoughts and feelings, scripture verses with what I learned from them, cards, quotes and song lyrics with why I was drawn to them, and even photos.   The only thing that is constant, which I highly recommend you do as well, is I date every entry.
Click here to see examples of journaling pages.  I just want you to know that however you decide to create your journal the act of doing it will be of benefit.

The WHAT…

I’m going to provide links to some websites that I found had great ideas on what to journal.  There are a number of great journaling prompt books on the market as well.   HOWEVER, really, once you start writing and figuring out what you love to journal about most, you likely won’t need prompts.  Here are the resources if you need a nudge to get you going:

 

As my tag line says, I want to help individuals bring their spiritual being into their human living.  Journaling is a practice that can help you do that no matter what spiritual beliefs you have.  As a Christian, I have found journaling a great tool for processing scriptures, questions, and often the paradoxes of living a loving, Christ-like life in this human world.  To me my journals are giant prayers and conversation with God.  I am constantly amazed at the wisdom and insight God gives me when I take the time to talk and journal with Him.   I leave you with these thoughts from Ira Progoff, the creator of Intensive Journal Therapy:

Ones journal is the essence of the spiritual tenant of letting go and letting God….All of us are living out certain patterns and we need to discover what these patterns are in order to let go of those that are not serving us or others and to fulfill our true purpose in life….Journaling and meditation are two powerful methods to accomplish this….When many people work on fulfilling their true life purpose, our society improves. Individuals become more well rounded and accepting of others.  They become more interested in others developing as people and this fosters connection, love and brotherhood for others.

Encouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

  1. Last week I asked you to journal a list to this fill-in-the-blank prompt: When my life is ideal I will be/have/or be doing _____________. Take that list and come up with your top five “ideals”.  Do that by asking yourself, “would I rather have number one or number two”.  Then take the one you pick and ask for the next one, “would I rather have number ___or number 3?”   Keep doing this till you have your top 5.  Then take each of your top 5 and write a juicy paragraph being more descriptive about what that “ideal” would look like, who would be involved, maybe where it might be, etc.   Just get more specific.  We’ll do more with this next week, too!
  2. Easy ways to get you going: Set a timer and just write whatever comes to mind OR take some the journaling prompt ideas from the above sites and put them in a jar.  Pick one each day to journal during your timed period.   If you have more time, many people I know started journaling by doing “Pages” which was coined in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  Commit to journaling 3 pages everyday (if you have a notebook size journal that is 3 sides, and if you have a smaller book it would be 3 pages front and back).  Don’t worry about what you write, just write!
  3. What is your favorite way or thing to journal about. Share your journaling ideas or tips with us!  Thank you!

JOURNALING Part 2: A Taste of WHOOP—Whole Heartedly Opening Our Purpose

If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

—Vincent Van Gogh

 

OVERCOMING THE JOURNALING BLOCKS    Journal-20-May-2010

Many people won’t even attempt journaling because they think they can’t:  that they can’t write, be consistent, have anything worthwhile to say, fear someone might read it.   To that I will have to concur with Mr. Van Gogh, if you hear anything that is keeping you from journaling, then by all means journal, and that voice will be silenced!

The number of attempts I made at keeping a journal was reflected in the number of journals I had in my possession–at least a dozen!   I had numerous journals with 3-5 pages written in and then nothing!  It seems that with each new attempted, I’d buy another journal and say, “I’m really going to do it this time,” but once again there would be 3 or so entries and then nothing!!!  My good intentions were halted by these stumbling blocks:

  • I don’t have the time
  • I am so not a “writer”…everything I say is drab, uninteresting, ineloquent, and frankly it sounds like a big, fat pity party
  • I don’t know what to write about
  • I can’t write that down…what if someone reads it
  • I keep saying the same things; nothing seems to be changing or it doesn’t seem to be helping

Have you heard yourself say any of these things when attempting or even just thinking about journaling?  Let’s look at these for a minute:

  1. TIME

If you really want to start to journal and are pressed for time, set a timer to an amount of time you would like to devote to journaling…5, 10, 15 minutes…and then just write for that amount of time.  You can journal in the morning, lunch time, nap time, or before bed. Whatever time is best for you is the best time to journal.    Time is the easiest one to overcome if you really want to journal.   If you haven’t decided if journaling will benefit you at all, reread last week’s blog or check out these articles about the benefits of journaling.  I bet you will find a couple payoffs you never even knew can occur with journaling.

http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338.full  (read the grey boxes!)

http://www.appleseeds.org/100_journaling.htm

  1. I AM SO NOT A “WRITER”…everything I say is drab, uninteresting, ineloquent, and frankly it sounds like a big, fat pity party
    • First….you are a writer. If God has blessed you with the opportunity to learn to read and write, the fingers to hold a pencil or plunk at a keyboard, or the ability to speak into a machine that will write down what you are saying, then you are a writer!  All of that is a gift from God and God doesn’t give us gifts to sit unused.   Believe that you are a writer because you’ve been given that gift.
    • Second…journals aren’t necessarily meant to be novels or books or articles, so grammar, spelling, prose, and fancy words can all be thrown out the window! I say ‘necessarily’ because someday you may realize there is something worth sharing with others in your journal that can be refined.  But for day to day journaling, no editor, English teacher grading or neatness is necessary!  Be free to make as many mistakes as you wish.   Just write!
    • Third…if your journal, on many occasions, sounds like a big, fat pity party or in some other negative way that you wish it didn’t, I’ll say, “HOORAY!! You are on your way!”   In the introductory blurb to the Psalms in The Message Bible, the author says that Psalms are prayers from people being human!  (As I encouraged last week, try reading some Psalms.)  He goes on to say we tend to think prayer is what “good” people do when they are doing their best, but when you read the psalms you will note that they are pouring out their thoughts and feelings often in a very unpolished and impolite way!  We would think the psalms would be prayers by “nice” people because they are in the bible, yet when we read some of the things they pray for (smiting, send to the pits, heap with coals), we realize these are just humans crying out to God for help during their times of anger, fear, grief or lament.   So if your journal sounds like a big, fat pity party or something else negative, “Hooray”, you are being honest and human!
  2. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

Bluntly, anything and everything!  Even write “I don’t know what to write about” over and over if you need to!   There are lots of great resources about WHAT TO JOURNAL and I will share some tips, ideas and these resources in the next blog.

  1. I CAN’T WRITE THAT DOWN…WHAT IF SOMEONE READS IT

If you are using your journal to process feelings, things from your past, or any current painful situation, you probably will write things you hope no one ever reads.   If you are really concerned, tear out the page and get rid of it.  Writing out and putting what you are feeling or processing on paper is what is important.  If you rip the page out and burn it, the benefit of having written it will still be there whether the page is or not.    I have put some post-it note disclaimers on a few of my journal pages that say, “This was a really bad day”.  The only reason I didn’t toss the page is I want my daughter to know, if she ever reads it, that it is okay to have really bad days.  It is important that you feel your journal is safe, so be mindful where you leave it.  Do whatever you need to do to feel safe about keeping a journal.   You can choose to never write out your negative thoughts and feelings and have your journal be focused only on your life blessings and gratitudes.   That will produce incredible benefits, as well.

  1. I KEEP SAYING THE SAME THINGS…Nothing seems to be changing or it doesn’t seem to be helping

This comment makes me laugh because I was saying it looking at journals where I only journaled 3-5 times, then stopped, then attempted again a year or more later!   What I would tell myself now, after journaling consistently pretty much every day for the past 7 years, is trust the process, give it a chance, and give it time.   Things have shifted, insights have been gained, wounds have been healed, and many areas of my life have improved 100% due to time, consistency and dedication to journaling.  This does not mean you can’t experience a change in one journaling session, you can!  I just want you to know there are long term benefits to journaling as well.  Offer yourself the opportunity to try journaling, commit to be consistent, and jump back in if you miss a few days or weeks or months.

Encouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

  1. Still not sure about taking the time to journal and the benefits you might receive, here are a few more resources along with the ones above:

http://stress.about.com/od/generaltechniques/p/profilejournal.htm

http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/000721

http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338.full  (read the grey boxes!)

http://www.appleseeds.org/100_journaling.htm

  1. If you want to give journaling a try, treat yourself to a new journal and a really nice pen. Go shopping this week for those.
  2. Sit down and journal at least one time this week. Need something to get you started before next week’s ideas on what to journal?  Fill in the blank to this question:   When my life is ideal I will be/have/or be doing _____________.  Don’t think too much about this, just start jotting down a list!
  3. Are you still having some fears or blocks about journaling? Tell me what they are in the comment section!  Thank you!