Christian Science Monitor – To one person, you may be the world

Mark Swinney published an article on the Christian Science Monitor website exploring the value of selflessness that’s not simply about doing good deeds but about letting God’s love impel our actions. The article goes on to state: An active willingness to express qualities such as thoughtfulness, gentleness, forgiveness, and steadfastness helps us recognize our true […]

To one person, you may be the worldMark Swinney published an article on the Christian Science Monitor website exploring the value of selflessness that’s not simply about doing good deeds but about letting God’s love impel our actions. The article goes on to state:

An active willingness to express qualities such as thoughtfulness, gentleness, forgiveness, and steadfastness helps us recognize our true nature as God’s children, which inevitably translates into helping, and even healing, others, and so showing how much we care.

There is nothing wrong with being famous. But those who make the most difference in the lives of others are not necessarily the ones with the most accolades but the ones who take the time to love. With all of the people we meet, we can strive to follow Jesus’ example and be willing to be open to opportunities to let God’s love and care shine through us, so that we can be the “one person” that means “the world” to someone in need today. Doing so matters more than we could ever imagine. It helps others (and ourselves!) know and feel the tender, comforting presence of the divine Love that heals.

If you would like to view the entire article on https://www.csmonitor.com, please click here. 

 

The upswing of forgiveness

Canadians grappled this past weekend with something we are not accustomed to – news of a mass shooting. More often we hear of such tragic events taking place south of the border, not in a remote northern town in our Saskatchewan. “La Loche turns to forgiveness, healing in wake of shootings that killed four,” read […]

ForgiveCanadians grappled this past weekend with something we are not accustomed to – news of a mass shooting. More often we hear of such tragic events taking place south of the border, not in a remote northern town in our Saskatchewan.

“La Loche turns to forgiveness, healing in wake of shootings that killed four,” read the morning headline in our national newspaper. The small isolated town of La Loche has a population mostly made up of aboriginal peoples, a Dene community. Family of those killed asked that friends and neighbours forgive the shooter and pray for him and their loved ones.

Sadly, there are too many of these events fresh in memory – San Bernardino, Calif., and last June in Charleston, S.C. In all three instances, the overwhelming response, however, was one of asking for forgiveness for the perpetrators.

Why is it in our nature to rise to the call to forgive in the wake of such horrific acts? Because forgiveness is a spiritual God-given ability within each of us. When we are brought to our knees by human atrocities, we feel divinely and naturally impelled by our higher nature to forgive.

Finding forgiveness in our hearts can be a real challenge given the hurt and anger these acts elicit. Yet, numerous examples and some studies indicate that it brings many benefits, including a positive impact on our health.

Dr Judith Orloff, in her book “Emotional Freedom” suggests that we don’t forgive the actions, we forgive the actor. “Forgiveness is a paradigm-shifting solution for transforming anger,” she says. “Our desire to transform anger is a summoning of peace, well worth the necessary soul stretching.”

We’ve all witnessed two powerful examples of this summoning of peace of mind – a healthy mental place – in the lives of Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai.

Mandela built a nation on his insights into man’s higher nature. After 27 years of enduring terrible conditions of incarceration, as he walked out of prison, the words on his lips were ones of forgiveness and reconciliation. “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom,” he said, “I knew that if didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”Malala Nobel Prize

Malala showed the world her ability to forgive and express compassion following the brutal attack on her life, and is now better known as a campaigner for the rights of children’s education than a victim of violence.

These two Nobel Peace Prize winners refused to let anger hold them hostage. Their real-life examples of personal triumph show that forgiveness begins within; so ultimately forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. This gift frees us to live our lives without resentment, bitterness, or anguish; and, that freedom is key to our wholeness – both physical and mental.

Many spiritual thinkers through the ages have told us this.

Twentieth century author and theologian, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “One’s first lesson is to learn one’s self; having done this, one will naturally, through grace from God, forgive his brother and love his enemies.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 129) Throughout extensive persecution in her life, forgiveness and brotherly love stood at the forefront of her teaching and work.

In ‘learning one’s self’, we will find that we are all expressions of one divine, Creator, the source of all and only good. Individually, we express the qualities of His nature that include wholeness, innocence, compassion, love, and forgiveness. And, God’s nature never changes – no matter what human event occurs.

This article can be read in several Metroland Media outlets, such as Niagara This Week.

 

The Celebrity Endorsement – is there a better influence for health?

The celebrity influence is pervasive in our lives. We take our cues from celebrities on what to wear, what to watch and how to spend our money. And, we listen to their health advice. This advice spreads more easily these days with the growth of social media. After all, Katy Perry – promoter of vitamin […]

CelebrityThe celebrity influence is pervasive in our lives. We take our cues from celebrities on what to wear, what to watch and how to spend our money. And, we listen to their health advice.

This advice spreads more easily these days with the growth of social media. After all, Katy Perry – promoter of vitamin supplements – has 80 million Twitter followers; that’s 77 million more than the World Health Organization!

Studies consistently show that celebrity culture can influence extreme health-related behaviour – such as excessive screening and testing. And celebrity body shapes, often Photo-shopped, influence how we want to appear – unrealistic portrayals that give rise to unhealthy eating habits and/or elective cosmetic surgery.

If we give pause to the celebrity hype, we see it is not all reasonable. But research suggests there is an underlying rationale as to why we follow health and lifestyle advice from celebrities that have no scientific expertise in these fields.

“It makes sense to follow a model’s advice on fashion or an actor’s advice on presentation,” says Steven Hoffman, assistant professor at the McMaster school of medicine, “but celebrity status causes a “halo effect” that gives a cloak of trustworthiness which extends well beyond [the celebrities’] industry expertise.”

Canadian researcher, Alan Cassels, author of Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease, suggests we shouldn’t be too dazzled by “celebrity magnetism.” He also expresses concern that reacting to certain endorsements can be both financially costly and physically harmful.

Yet, in our sincere desire to obtain good health advice, we look for guidance that comes from expertise and with evidence that underpins the health care claim.

Jesus was considered a celebrity for his day. People talked about him; crowds followed him wherever he went; and, they listened to his every word. What drew them from miles around to see and hear this itinerant preacher? Well, the effectiveness of his divinely scientific health advice was in his healing works – from chronic to incurable, nothing was impossible to heal!J. preaching

What health advice did Jesus endorse that resulted in such healing? It was advice he had gleaned from his own experience in understanding man’s relationship to a loving Creator, God, and how that love is expressed to others.

Here are a few points from one of his most salient sermons centuries ago:
• Forgive others and you will be forgiven: today, health studies recommend forgiving those who have wronged you – it leads to a healthier heart and lower stress levels
• Be less concerned with getting than with giving: today, research shows that giving to others increases health benefits in people with chronic illness
• Treat others as you would like to be treated: today, this Golden Rule is still touted as a hallmark of a healthy, moral society

Jesus also stated that we had a similar relationship with our divine Creator as he did when he promised that we could do the same healing by following these guidelines to health. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” (John 14:12 NLT)

His teachings are relevant today because they help us understand how to accept God’s power and guidance in our lives. As he proved, the acknowledgment of our relationship as a beloved child of a loving Creator, God, ensures all our health needs are well met.

Health advice worthy of endorsement and offered by an expert in his field!

This article is published throughout Ontario in Metroland Media sites such as Durham Region news.

How do you forgive and let go of the victim stereotype?

QUESTION: How can you forgive people who hurt you?  It just seems impossible. Amy Richmond says:  I thought I was an expert on forgiveness.  I’d had so much practice. I

QUESTION:

How can you forgive people who hurt you?  It just seems impossible.

Amy Richmond Amy Richmond says:  I thought I was an expert on forgiveness.  I’d had so much practice. I forgave and forgave and forgave while trying to save my marriage.  I forgave and forgave and forgave during the divorce.

I’d get to a place where I felt unconditional love, only to get smacked down by another vivid memory of wrongs I’d suffered.  (I ignored the wrongs I inflicted, but that’s another story….)  But practice really does make perfect–things eventually smoothed out and I was feeling unconditional love pretty much all the time.

Then, on the morning of what would have been our wedding anniversary, I woke up barraged by bad memories and regrets. Out of nowhere.

I felt sorry for myself.  My body actually ached as I lay there on my bed.  It was so unfair that I had to keep paying a price for poor decisions made years ago!

God shook me awake when He told me (yes, in a loud voice), “Yeah, it seemed like Jesus paid a huge price, too—his life—because of the poor decisions of others. But he didn’t.”

It hit me that Jesus had always been safe with God. His understanding of that fact sustained him through to his resurrection and ultimate ascension. Nothing could hold him back—not even his own death.

I knew in that moment that I could resurrect in some degree too.  Like Mary Baker Eddy said of the disciples, “His resurrection was also their resurrection. It helped them to raise themselves and others from spiritual dulness and blind belief in God into the perception of infinite possibilities.”  I didn’t have to be held back.

For the first time, I let God really show me the spiritual beings He’d made, rather than imperfect humans.  I saw myself and my ex-husband from a spiritual perspective in a way that I hadn’t before.

My life changed dramatically when I finally forgave from a divine standard, instead of holding onto traces of self-righteousness while trying to see good in the mess of human emotions.  After years of making a big effort to forgive, I was now able to do so effortlessly. And then I had to learn to forgive myself….

Amy manages the web activities for TMC Youth.

What do YOU think? Add your comment below.

Forgiveness – what is our first lesson?

The word ‘forgiveness’ resounds in the media today. The almost immediate expressions of forgiveness, offered to the perpetrator by families affected by the shooting at a church in Charleston, SC, shows hope of reconciliation. Aboriginals, here in Canada, are shedding tears of healing and forgiveness at meetings, which present the Truth and Reconciliation report from […]

Forgiveness, a divine grace

Forgiveness, a divine grace

The word ‘forgiveness’ resounds in the media today.

The almost immediate expressions of forgiveness, offered to the perpetrator by families affected by the shooting at a church in Charleston, SC, shows hope of reconciliation.

Aboriginals, here in Canada, are shedding tears of healing and forgiveness at meetings, which present the Truth and Reconciliation report from the inquiry into Residential School abuse.

And, research about the health-giving power of forgiveness is on the upswing.

Both recent and past wrongs committed on individuals, communities and nations need forgiving. It isn’t easy. Many people find it a real challenge to forgive and let go, even knowing the value it will bring to their health.

Yet, from the inspiration of Mandela and Malala to the courage of Jesus, we have both modern and ancient examples of forgiveness for terrible acts against humanity.

Nelson Mandela built a nation on his insights into man’s higher nature. After 27 years of enduring terrible conditions of incarceration, as he walked out of prison, the words on his lips were ones of forgiveness and reconciliation. “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom,” he said, “I knew that if didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Malala showed the world her ability to forgive and express compassion following the brutal attack on her life, and is now better known as a campaigner for the rights of children’s education than a victim of violence.

Jesus gave us the two Great Commandments; the second asks that we love our fellow man no matter what he has done to us. He proved this to be effective when he forgave those who crucified him, which allowed him to triumph ultimately over his own death..

How does one replace the part of one’s identity that says ‘this happened to me’, with a purity that washes away such a

©GlowImages - Model for illustrative purpose only

Forgiveness begins within

history? Like Mandela, we do not want anger to hold us hostage and define our lives by how we have been hurt.

These three real-life examples of personal triumph show that forgiveness begins within; so ultimately forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. This gift frees us to live our lives without resentment, bitterness, or anguish; and, that freedom is key to our wholeness – both physical and mental.

Many spiritual thinkers through the ages knew this without evidence from biological studies.

Twentieth century author and theologian, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: ‘One’s first lesson is to learn one’s self; having done this, one will naturally, through grace from God, forgive his brother and love his enemies.’ (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 129)

For some, finding this divine grace may be a new spiritual journey. But in ‘learning one’s self’ we will find that we are all expressions of one divine, good Creator.

Over the years, I have learned that a loving God cares for all His creation. Individually, we all express the qualities of His nature that include wholeness, innocence, compassion, love, and forgiveness. And, God’s nature never changes – no matter what human event occurs.

This article appears in various Metroland news editions throughout Ontario, such as the Brampton Guardian, read here.

Depression and fatigue – arrest these partners in (health) crime!

Even as spring dares to peek from beneath the snow here in Ontario, it seems difficult for some of us to shake off the emotional darkness of our long winter chill. Perhaps this is the reason I get unhappy responses to questions such as ‘How are you?’ or ‘How are you feeling? Common replies seem […]

Arrest any thought of depression or fatigue

Arrest any thought of depression or fatigue

Even as spring dares to peek from beneath the snow here in Ontario, it seems difficult for some of us to shake off the emotional darkness of our long winter chill.

Perhaps this is the reason I get unhappy responses to questions such as ‘How are you?’ or ‘How are you feeling? Common replies seem to be ‘I’m tired’ or ‘I’m depressed.’

A European study by DEPRES, which spanned six countries, showed that depression and fatigue, like partners in crime, fuel each other in a vicious cycle. Researchers point out that regardless of how stress may affect different individuals, the two conditions seem to feed off each other.

The usual health advice is to make some lifestyle changes – modifying things such as diet, exercise, and sleep. But often when we don’t find a satisfactory solution to a health challenge, it’s time to think outside the conventional health care box.

Though it might not be thought of as the go-to book in relation to health problems, the Bible challenges us to think outside the realm of human theories in every aspect of life. It arrests the thought of hopelessness with a new view (or for some of us, review) that God is the source of health and strength.

Its promise ‘…those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength…they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary’ is as applicable today as it was centuries ago. (Isaiah 40:31)

This passage can be applied to moments of fatigue and melancholy, providing a mental shift that can bring physical renewal. One might say, we arrest the criminal thinking that wants to trap us in a limited physical view and experience and find our freedom in the inexhaustible strength and joy that our Creator has both promised and given to us.

Forgiveness heals.

Forgiveness heals.

My friend Catherine shared her story with me of her healing of fatigue and depression, which overwhelmed her at one point in her life. She had 2 small children and her husband travelled extensively for business. Her journey to wellness included a clearer recognition and appreciation that God did an amazing job in His creation, including her!

Over the next few months, she became aware that she needed to forgive a longstanding grudge against an employer. She included him in her appreciation of God’s creation and how everyone was worthy of love and consideration. The forgiveness brought Catherine a great sense of peace and she was now able to manage her responsibilities without fatigue. The depression vanished shortly after, replaced with a happy and cheerful sense.

Understanding that our strength and joy comes from our Creator frees us from feelings of fatigue or depression. We all have access to this inexhaustible divine Source of health and well-being.

Who wouldn’t like to ‘walk and not be weary’ through each day? Arrest any thought that may try to tell you otherwise.

You can read this article on Metroland news editions such as Durham Region.

Angry no more

From hurt to health through forgiveness. A lecture by Michelle Nanouche.  Explore: Healing through prayer for emotional, mental and physical issues stemming from unhealed anger.     Thursday, April 16th  7-8 pm University of Victoria Bob Wright Centre lecture hall A104 Ring Road (SE corner across from parking lot 1)

Michelle NanoucheFrom hurt to health through forgiveness.

A lecture by Michelle Nanouche.  Explore: Healing through prayer for emotional, mental and physical issues stemming from unhealed anger.

 

 

Thursday, April 16th  7-8 pm
University of Victoria
Bob Wright Centre lecture hall A104
Ring Road (SE corner across from parking lot 1)

Do we really need vitamins to be healthy?

“The latest studies on vitamins have some medical experts saying ‘case closed’ – it’s time for most consumers to stop wasting money on multivitamins and other supplements, because they have no proven benefits and some possible harms.”  This quote is from a researcher from John Hopkins School of Medicine. Canadians spend nearly $3-billion a year […]

©Glowimages Do we need vitamins to be healthy?

©Glowimages Do we need vitamins to be healthy?

“The latest studies on vitamins have some medical experts saying ‘case closed’ – it’s time for most consumers to stop wasting money on multivitamins and other supplements, because they have no proven benefits and some possible harms.”  This quote is from a researcher from John Hopkins School of Medicine.

Canadians spend nearly $3-billion a year on vitamin pills and other dietary supplements hoping they can function as a form of insurance against dietary and lifestyle lapses.

My Colleague, Kate Johnson, from the state of Maryland writes about finding another solution to skin problems than the vitamins and supplements she was taking.  She writes: ‘Because I didn’t smoke, did eat well and exercised regularly, I began to search for other ways. I knew there must be something else.’

Read Kate’s article and find out how she found a complete cure for her condition that a dermatologist had pronounced incurable.  She also shares an apropos quote from Mary Baker Eddy, who explored the spiritual nature of health and challenged “health laws” of her day: “The poor suffering heart needs its rightful nutriment, such as peace, patience in tribulation, and a priceless sense of the dear Father’s loving kindness.”

An inspiring read: Do we really need vitamins to be healthy?

 

 

Valentines Day: “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”

Tina Turner made this song famous when she recorded it in the eighties.  My answer to that yearning question is – everything! From boxes of chocolates to bouquets of roses, couples will be celebrating love and acknowledging special relationships this February 14th.  Sometimes we all need a reminder on our calendar to recognize the people […]

©Glowimages  What's Love Got To Do With It? Everything!

©Glowimages What’s Love Got To Do With It? Everything!

Tina Turner made this song famous when she recorded it in the eighties.  My answer to that yearning question is – everything!

From boxes of chocolates to bouquets of roses, couples will be celebrating love and acknowledging special relationships this February 14th.  Sometimes we all need a reminder on our calendar to recognize the people and things in our lives that we love and appreciate.

But disappointment on Valentine’s Day can lead to much heartache. It can bring on stress related to social demands or unmet expectations.

I experienced this one time when I was faced with what I felt were celebration shortcomings.  One Valentine’s Day I waited patiently for the cards and acknowledgement from spouse and children – and my expectations were poorly met.  I could not hide my hurt feelings and it made everyone feel badly about the situation.  The stress level in the household certainly raised a notch and I developed a raging headache that evening. I gave it no thought, and went to bed early – in a huff, of course. But it was still there pounding away the next morning.

I knew that I felt this way due to my ‘raging’ emotions, so I sat quietly and centered my thought – not on my disappointments, but on my relationship with a loving God, a source of calm and inspiration.  I find that a receptive, listening type of prayer impacts my well-being, and a change of thought can lead to adjustments in mental and physical health.   I prayed with the thought of ‘what should I do’? The answer came so clearly – just love. The feelings of hurt and resentment melted away.  The headache went away too. I returned to my normal happy self, expressing love to everyone.  The family responded to my change of thought and happiness won the day.

Maybe John Lennon said it best: “It matters not who you love, where you love, when you love, or how you love, it matters only that you love.”  (Sorry, Tina, but he tied no conditions to this sense of love.)

©GlowImages - the answer? 'just love'

©GlowImages – the answer? ‘just love’

So, whether we are spending time with a special someone or going solo, this occasion gives us a chance to celebrate love in a variety of forms. Practicing moments of unconditional love everyday generates within us a healthy and energizing feeling. How might we each generate more unconditional love?

Here are some tips:

  • Keep in touch with people we care about – through technology or personal visits. We all need to know that someone is thinking of us.
  • Give a smile to a stranger passing by.  You may brighten their day!
  • Share heartfelt compliments. Love is what we give not what we get.
  • Practice forgiveness – even when it is hard.
  • Practice gratitude – for friends, for loved ones and for acts of kindness by others.

So what’s love got to do with it?  Not just ‘some second hand emotion’, but an enriching, health-giving gift that keeps giving every day, not just one special day in February.

 

 

Forgiveness and reconciliation can heal individuals and nations

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) built a nation on his insights into man’s higher nature.  After 27 years of enduring terrible conditions of incarceration, as he walked out of prison, the words on his lips were ones of forgiveness and reconciliation. “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom,” he […]

Forgiveness and Reconciliation heals individuals and nations

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) built a nation on his insights into man’s higher nature.  After 27 years of enduring terrible conditions of incarceration, as he walked out of prison, the words on his lips were ones of forgiveness and reconciliation.

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom,” he said, “I knew that if didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

The world is mourning the passing of a man who conquered bitterness and hate and brought healing not only to his country, but to individuals as well.

He brought freedom and forgiveness to a country where brutal repression had reigned. As the first democratic president of South Africa, Mandela worked tirelessly to dismantle the stigma of apartheid, cherishing the ideal of a democratic society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities. He tempered revenge and bitterness in favour of the diplomacy of racial reconciliation.

In the book of ancient wisdom, the Bible, we are given the guideline for forgiveness which is not numbered (Peter’s question of seven times) – but suggested as infinite – seventy times seven.  This directive of infinite forgiveness was brought to fruition by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, under Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which was established to let grievances be aired and forgiveness sought for wrongs committed by and for all peoples of the South African nation.

To err is human; to forgive, divine.

-Alexander Pope 

There is a healing power in forgiveness. But it has to begin within; so, ultimately forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves.

Mandela was sentenced to prison in 1964 for committing acts of violence, sabotage and treason. But in the years of incarceration, he acquired the wisdom of self-discipline and self-forgiveness.  He redeemed himself by curbing revenge in favour of reconciliation.

Holding onto resentment and grievance can adversely affect our health. Studies have shown the positive effect forgiving thoughts have directly on the body. Perhaps this was the reason this man lived into his mid-90’s despite the long and harsh prison experience.

©Glowimages

©Glowimages

Nineteenth century author and Christian healer, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: ‘One’s first lesson is to learn one’s self; having done this, one will naturally, through grace from God, forgive his brother and love his enemies.’**

It may be a challenge for some people to forgive and let go, even knowing the value it will bring to their health.  However, we all have the ability to forgive.

There is a divine grace we can turn to when feelings of hurt and resentment are difficult to dissolve. I experienced this myself when an individual did a great wrong that cost me my business and livelihood.  Although I did not agree with the actions, I was not going to let the emotions become a part of me or define my character or future with bitterness or resentment. I had to ’learn myself’ – by allowing my human thinking to be influenced by the grace of the divine.

This was not an overnight release of deeply held feelings, but I persisted in turning to a divine Mind to learn freedom and forgiveness not only for myself, but also for others affected by these actions. Over the years I have found that a deeper spiritual approach to life’s events enhances my well-being and has restored me both emotionally and physically.

Mandela had 27 years to “learn himself” – to reflect on his actions and life. It seems he nurtured this higher nature within which emptied his heart of hate and freed his mind from bitterness.

The work of forgiveness is well worth the health benefit and puts one in a position of strength in terms of physical and mental health – whether you govern only your own life or carry the responsibility for a nation.

As seen by Nelson Mandela’s influence on world thought, one person at a time can bring forgiveness to the forefront, changing the course of one’s life – and even a great number of people.  May his example continue to inspire mankind to reform, forgive and let the Divine mold our character.

** Miscellaneous Writings, p. 129