François Fénelon lived three hundred years ago (1651-1715) but his teachings are perhaps more relevant now than ever.
François Fénelon was a French Roman Catholic archbishop, theologian, poet and writer. He was appointed by Louis XIV in 1689 as educator of his grandson and potential successor, the Duc de Bourgogne. Because of this position, he gained much influence at the court. Later on though, he suffered a loss in the favor with the church of Rome, and the royals, due to his convictions.
Fénelon was called to be a representative of a movement called “quietism”. If translated to modern day language, mindfulness would be the related term. However, it is not just a technique of mindfulness, but a more profound experience of peace and safety in God. This is not to be confused with possessive experiences in which a person passively gives into inner or outer forces.
When experiencing God, Fénelon was not merely referring to an emotional experience but a deep understanding of His presence and benevolent will towards us; His desire to be a personal God to you and me.
I cannot help but thinking that the author Paul Young studied Fénelon, Young wrote the widely popular, but controvesial book, “Shack”. Shack paints a picture of God, in layman’s terms, to be easily available, profoundly accepting and constantly seeking to live in a peaceful union with His children.
Fénelon pursues the same ideas and practical steps how to live that relationship out. I intend to lay these principles out in these pages.
pic by dailyicon.net
This morning I run across a christian book that was translated to something along the lines “The most efficient 21 minutes of your day”. I have not read the book, so I cannot comment on the content, but I do find the title interesting.
Efficiency and productivity is the name of the game; maximize your time and experience, get organized and set goals.
We seem to have a love and hate relationship with this issue. On the other hand we freely admit that this lifestyle is taking a toll on us, yet at the same time we keep on tagging along. A certain level of gratification and relief keeps us going back.
For many of us, stopping has meant restlessness, uneasiness, aimless touring from room to room and frustrating browsing in the internet. Maybe you had a hammering thought: “I should be doing something else, I should be doing domething…” A sense of emptiness combined with neurotic guilt is a killer combination…and off we go, back to action again.
These painful inner experiences are mistakingly interpreted as a sense of wrongness: being wrong or doing wrong. Being safely busy silences those inner voices, but leave us exhausted and discontent.
My customers regularly are relieved, when I explain that these “nagging voices” are simply a product of an exhausted symphatetic nervous system and not to be confused as the truth.
This fight or flight system produces a sense of wrongness as it was created for that purpose, to detect danger when in crisis. However, it was created for short time use only! Yet our lifestyle keeps it, against its nature, as the dominant system, hence irritation, restlesness, negative interpretations and aroused level of alertness or hypervigilance.
Gradual downgrading is usually the key from switching successfully SNS to PNS (mellow mode). That is why I suggest “swapping” rather than going cold turkey; changing high impact activities to low impact activities. F.e changing running to walking. Instead of taking only a 30 minute lunch break to a lunch break plus 5 minute minibreakes every hour.
One effective rule is to do everything (including walking, typing, talking and breathing) 25% slowlier and avoiding chronic multitasking.
I also suggest parents taking a good look at their kids hobbies. Do they add value, downtime or do they drain the family. In the end of the day, it should be about everybody’s balance. This translates itself as a general feeling of invigoration rather than depletion.
People sometimes believe that multitude of hobbies pave a pathway to their children’s wellbeing and success in life. Reasonable amount of pleasant activities do promote good health and performance, this is well documented. However mark may be missed, if members of the family suffer from chronic lack (lack of rest, lack of time, lack of contentment, lack of connection to each other..).
Creative solitude (or boredom, if you wish) is something that mind actually requires. It is a state of being that allows the brain to rejuvenate and ultimately gain back the zest of life.
Solitude, if accepted with peace, rather than fear, allows us to get connected; with our thoughts, feelings, needs and bodily sensations.
Solitude is actually a rich source of information. It has many layers and it takes time and practise to become aware of its frequencies. Sadly many of us never take a curious look at it.
At the surface of the mind lies fuzzy waters cradled by winds of this world. This layer is your fleeting thougths or automatic thoughts that pop in and out of your mind. There are also feelings that sets the climate of your mental scenary.
At a deeper level rests the more steady currant. This level, I believe, is the solitude in which we can experience God in a way psalm 19 describes it: “There is no speech nor are there words—their voice is not heard— yet their message goes out into all the world and their words to the ends of the earth”. In this psalm the glory of God is declared without words.
For me this is simply an act of listening. I know that I have a God who desires to communicate with me in various ways, yet it takes a certain amount of discipline to quiet my busy mind to hear His gentle voice.
I find it important that I enter into His presence with faith and an expectancy of love. I trust that whatever He has to say, it is done in love. If I fail to have this attitude I find myself struggling in my own effort to be quiet or frustrated that I am not hearing of Him the way I have planned to and end up feeling disappointed at me and God.
The whole Psalm 4 has a comforting message about trusting God, but I find the following verses especially helpful: “The Lord hears when I call to him…ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.”
Prior to my illness I had many subtle but deadly misconceptions about life; mainly about priorities and His expectancies of me. Suddenly the whole picture of life became much clearer. Sort of the famous tunnel experience without physical death. Not that I understand everything, but the right perspective simplifies everything down to Him. My role was far smaller than I anticipated or feared for.
I wish you a great day, filled with His voice and peace.
Accept and commitment therapy (ACT) emphasizes being conscious about your values and seriously committed to them.
As a child of this generation, the whole idea of unshakable virtues seems a little bit too risky, yet the research on ACT is impressive. This commitment thing seems to work according to studies, in fact, it brings happiness. If we look back, all human kind appears to have lived this way for thousands of years, generally speaking.
Actually, we commit ourselves to something, all the time. The problem is when we are not conscious of the masters we serve. An apt saying is: “Where the mind goes, man follows”. In other words, the conductor of our actions are the thoughts that we constantly find ourselves fixing our minds on, and even more so, the thoughts of those things we fear!
In psychotherapy we learn a lot about our individual fears and thoughts. We realize that not all of them are real, and yet, if we agree with them, they do become our masters. Most of the time, we are not even aware of the number of things we subconsciously submit ourselves to.
I personally want to become more aware of the substance of my thought life and therefore, my values and actions. The substance of our loving God sets the foundation of my personal being. This means that whenever my mind is filled with worries and fears, I have wandered away from an atmosphere of trust.
Tommy Hellsten has beautifully stated, “where there is fear, there is no love”. He may have paraphrased that from the bible; “there is no fear in perfect love. Love casts out the fear”.
Now think, how often does society motivate us through fear? Just look at the tabloids, news and ads. Fear is a great motivator, and yet, it never builds anything lasting. Just the opposite, it destroys individuals, cities and nations.
That is why fighting against cancer cells, distorted values or whatsoever, cannot be established in fear, but trust. For some people “trust” means trusting themselves. To me, it means simply acknowledging that a trustworthy God lives within me. A God who participates with me in positive ways; a God who desires to provide me with peace and contentment, even in the midst of a perfect storm.
I leave you today with one of my favorite artist, Jack Johnson, an incredibly mellow man, an activist for green values, committed father and a professional surfer.
I never considered blogging about my personal issues before I fell ill. The diagnosis was a game changer. Suddenly I became aware of time, or more precisely, the lack of it.
I began asking myself; have I been faithful with the gifts for which I have been entrusted or, have I been afraid of sharing, just because my intentions may be misinterpreted or misunderstood?
I didn’t want to be like my cancer cells. They don’t share anything; their mandate, their only life purpose, is to be efficient and grow. They have given up on everything else to be able to do only that… to grow. They have given up their original identity, their ability to enjoy being part of the body in which they reside, and they never rest. As narcissists they progress, their life is all about themselves and in doing so, they have lost, literally, the healthy perspective.
In a sense they are analogous to zombies, endlessly replicating and invading. I kind of feel sorry for them and strangely, I can relate their mandate to this modern life.
How many of us have exhausted ourselves at the altar of continuous progression? Perhaps even to the point that we have little energy for others.
Instead of being relationship centered, we have succumbed to the belief that life’s purpose is found in an endless rat-race. In many ways, some of us are modern day slaves, serving the master of our own distorted world view.
At the end of the day, history has shown that no kingdom can survive if its members are self-serving individuals who bank on aggression or assertion. Even now, we know that the battle of these cancer cells is lost; either my body will kill them, or my body will be destroyed along with them, either way, the cancer dies.
On the other hand, I will continue to live, since the “essential” me is eternal; my physical body is just like an old dress that is discarded once it has worn out.
“I am different” states the new Nikon add. This statement of course is intended to seduce us into buying a new camera that makes us feel special, but there is a fundamental truth to it. All of us have a deep desire to be different and special; and yet, many times we feel insignificant, not measuring up, and being part of a faceless mass.
But I have good news. You were created for a purpose, you were designed to be significant, gifted and entrusted with attributes that allow you to contribute in special ways no one else can and more so, you were never meant to live this life alone. You were meant to be an object of love.
Please enjoy this ancient song fitting for this season. It dates back to 11th century.
I think most of creative people would testify that creative processes cannot be forced. This is not to say that experience, routines and professionalism doesnt kick in, if one needs to perform. However there is a price to it.
Our minds and bodies simply were not created to be chronically and constantly alarmed, interrupted, multitasking and constantly reacting rather than responding.
Creativity and chronically stimulated symphatetic nervous system (remember, the adrenalin pumped part of the nervous system that produces a fight,flight and freeze responses) do not cohabit well. In fact it creates an environment of chronic inflammation.
You see, SNS (symphatetic nervous system) was created for short term use only. It stimulates automatic and fast responses; you see a bear, you run. The problems arise when a person keep on riding it. This is what I did, for years.
In this setting, it makes perfect sense for the body to shut down all the creative juices and concentrate on just thriving. But hey, that is not life, is it?
Parasymphatetic NS is opposite to SNS. It is the “peace and love” part of the automatic nervous system. This system allows you to use your brain broadly.It allows you to submerge into complicated intellectual processes and access to imagination. It makes your body mellow and able to tackle various life problems with ease.
This setting is my new default. My “fighting against cancer” is, in fact, striving to attain peace and contentment.
May I leave you today something peaceful? The voice of this lady has captured my heart ( and certainly the man who introduces her in the video
When I stopped playing, I stopped creating. When I stopped creating, I stopped having communion. I became conscious of myself and stopped liking myself. To me, coming back to creativity, is to submerge into playfulness.
Justin Nozuka just released his new album. His music is truly beautiful. For some reason this song, to me, has the same look and feel as some of Ruyichi Sakamoto songs.