Oct 102014
 
Prayer

In Jesus’ Eyes by Fran Childress – Praying Hands by Albrecht Dürer

When you pray to the heavenly Father or to the Messiah, are there times you feel your prayer fell on deaf ears? As if you were invisible to God or you are being completely ignored?

There are reasons for that.

To begin with, let me inform you I am not an academic expert at praying and don’t claim to be (Jesus was not a scholarly man either) but in my quest, I’ve come up with four probable reasons (non-believers can skip down to the fourth reason):

Four Common Prayer Mistakes

 

First reason:

In most cases, you are correct in thinking your prayer was not heard but it’s not because God feels you are not worthy. It is more complex than that but to put it simply, prayer is a two-way, active communication system. Think of it like this; if someone was to talk your ear off, eventually you will turn her off and not listen to her anymore. The same can be applied to prayer, it works both ways. You have to actively ‘listen’ to God to have the communication reciprocal. God is not your audience and you are not giving Him a presentation.

Second reason:

What are you praying for? Do you want to win the lottery so you can quit working? Or do you want to change God’s will in favor of your own will? If the underlying request is for personal gain, it is not considered legitimate but in your sub-conscious, you already know that. God discerns what is in your heart and when your prayer consists of self-absorbed favors, chances are your prayer will not be answered.

Third reason:

Prayers are powerful. When you understand the difference between your will and God’s will, prayers can be used as a powerful weapon and yes, they do work. How they work is God gave us free will (although His will always trumps ours). But that free will is contingent on our ability to believe it will materialize. Once we believe (and understand what our prayer intentions are), that prayer will be heard. Most of you know the meaning of ‘amen’ is ‘so be it’ which we are taught to end a prayer with. The concept of ‘so be it’ is that we understand AND believe that it will come to pass. In other words, “so it will be.” We say ‘so it will be’ at the end of our prayer request. This is powerful! We all have that power if our prayers are sincere.

Fourth reason (for non-believers):

Whether you are a Christian, an atheist or pragmatic, the concept of prayer can all be considered the same. A Christian can pray, an atheist and a pragmatic can meditate, all of which renders the inner soul or spirit in a vulnerable bio-psychological state. What you want, you will make happen in believing it will happen. You are ‘willing’ it to happen. This can be thought of as a self-fulfilling prophecy. A humble example would be reading your horoscope and swearing it correctly predicted certain events. Since you were aware of the prophecy, you ‘made’ it happen or exaggerated situations to ‘fit’ that prophecy.

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There can be various other reasons why your prayer was not answered but I believe the ones I listed are the most common ones. Understanding and believing are the core components of prayer. Try it out sometime!

And remember, amen means ‘so be it.’

How to Pray

In Jesus’ Eyes

Feb 152014
 
reincarnation

Reincarnation is a controversial topic. Photo by Evgeni Dinev/freedigitalphotos.net

Reincarnation stories have surfaced about children and adults recalling ‘past life’ experiences they could not have possibly known otherwise. While these stories are convincing and intriguing, many people still struggle with the idea of reincarnation. Nevertheless, there may be an underlying scientific explanation to the reincarnation claims.

Reincarnation of James and Shanti

One popular reincarnation story is about a boy named James who alleges he is a reincarnation of a WWII pilot who perished in the Pacific Ocean. At the age of two, James began having night terrors of being trapped in a plane after it was shot down (read full reincarnation story here).

Another widely known story is about an Indian girl named Shanti Devi who claimed to be a reincarnation of a young mother who died giving birth. Her accounts were credible and accurate.

These reincarnation stories along with numerous other stories, are astonishing giving individuals the possibility of its validity.

How Reincarnation Memories Are Possible

A recent study was done on mice which suggested memories can be passed down in generations. The adult mice studied were exposed to a certain aroma while given a mild electrical shock on the foot (classical conditioning). After the mice were conditioned to be fearful of that specific aroma, they were impregnated to have offspring. These offspring were not involved in the experiment but also appeared to be fearful of the same aroma as their parents. Surprisingly, the offspring inherited the psychological fear albeit they were not participants in the study.

Therefore, the psychological experience has a biological influence within the DNA. We can understand this concept by the ‘fight or flight’ response: A sudden fear or traumatic event can promote hormones to activate within the human body. This happening links the psychological to biological factors and is empirical evidence (measurable).

Individuals can have a traumatic experience which in turn, influences biological changes that may be identified in the DNA, but what we cannot prove in humans is that these biological changes (i.e. memories) can be passed on to the next generations.

Previous ‘lives’ or deceased individuals may have subtly passed on DNA fragments through many hosts; people sneeze, cough and come in contact with many other people including strangers (think of someone sneezing while on a bus or plane). We cannot disprove this transference.

Given that I’m neither a medical professional nor a scientist, my thoughts are naïve and simplistic. Having said that, it is my personal belief the deceased person’s DNA somehow was passed down through the generations. Subsequently, these altered DNA of memories (fearful mice) can show up in future generations, see where I’m going with this?

My theory: Memories are be embedded within the DNA re-surfacing in unsuspecting individuals, hence the reincarnation beliefs.

 

Jan 262014
 
Sigmund Freud

Not everybody agrees with Sigmund Freud.

Ask most people who they think the founder of psychology is and they will answer Sigmund Freud. I have a huge problem with this. He was not the founder but a common theorist with extreme views.

I admit, I do give him credit for his theory of defensive mechanisms of denial but I disregard his other theories and I totally disregard (and laugh at) his psychosexual theories as hogwash. People actually believe this stuff?

For whatever reason, Freud had an unusual interest in sexual desires which he believed influenced social behaviors. I do not share this interest nor have I witnessed other individuals whose sexual desires trump other inner needs such as … let’s say hunger, emotional bonding and maybe shelter? It is believed (from Freud) sexual desires drive our primate yearnings which promotes our behaviors and beliefs.

While I was taking psychology classes, certain tests were given with questions regarding who is the most/best/intelligent/founding father of psychology with the most impact on our intrapersonal understandings in psychology. The correct answer on the tests was Sigmund Freud according to the professors, but I refused to answer him as such (avoiding cognitive dissonance?). I will not be brainwashed by the experts who themselves were brainwashed. I knew my answers would be marked as wrong, but I cannot agree to something I don’t believe in.

A psychology expert can tell me what the theories are and I will form my own beliefs thereof. I believe the exclusive focus on sexual behaviors and desires are overrated which may be causing damage to our present day understandings in psychology. It definitely hinders the growth in psyche understanding by leading us astray.

While we were doting on the sexual side of psychology, we lost the opportunity to delve into the more important influences of self-awareness and development. It is just one person’s thought (Freud’s)  that another person can be stuck orally from an issue in childhood resulting in fixation issues in adulthood. One person’s thought many people adopted as fact.

I proclaim ‘pleasure’ trumps ‘control’ in sexual activities, then. That’s my thought!

Freud was the first to address the controversial and taboo topic but that does not ‘in and of itself’ give it credentials. Individuals were ignorant of sexual influences back in the 1800s thus accepting his beliefs as fact, they were more or less brainwashed into thinking his thinking was normal. I totally disagree.

I am not saying we should dismiss all sexual influences but merely stating the erroneous emphasis put on it should be lessened. Therefore, if you are one of the few who is disinterested in ‘shades of grey’ ideas, don’t think you are abnormal as many individuals are right there with you. Not all people prefer sexual deviances.

By the way, it was actually Wilhelm Wundt who opened the first psychological laboratory in Germany (1879) which makes him the true founding father of psychology.

Sigmund Freud’s 5 Stages of Psychosexual Development

Jan 012014
 
Beauty

Beauty is what you are willing to see. Photo by Fran Childress

We all know the metaphor “beauty is skin deep,” but I disagree. Beauty is not skin deep. True beauty goes right to the bone.

We’ve all seen pictures of cancer patients without hair and we see them as beautiful. We’ve seen plus size models and secretly wished we were that attractive. And we’ve seen older women who could make young, sexy models feel ashamed.

What do these people have in common? Their inner beauty shines through their external skin and makes them beautiful.

Beauty versus Sexy

Beauty is more than skin deep, and it’s more than being in the “eyes of the beholder.” The beholder’s eyes may be influenced by biological needs, therefore giving in to the threshold of natural selection and innate desires. The inherent need to procreate blinds the judgment of the beholder. This judgment then feeds into the idea that being sexy must be considered beauty. So it’s our minds that fool us into believing that sexy means beauty.

The current societal norm has beauty and sexy thrown into the same definition. Being sexy is not being beautiful. Being sexy is just falling into the ideations of what others desire of us. Feeling sexy stimulates our natural hormones whilst fooling us into believing it’s beautiful. And it’s vice-versa; our hormones stimulate us into thinking we need to be beautiful to attract a partner. This deception comes from our inner core and is encouraged by misleading dogma. Yes, we are fooling ourselves with Mother Nature’s blessing.

The truth is that sexy is biological and beauty is psychological. The difference is clear once you understand the dynamics.

Women think they are beautiful only when they can appear sexy to others. Bigger lips, voluptuous breasts, smaller waists and long tresses are all attributes that attract an amorous partner for sensual pleasure. But that’s not beauty, that’s sexy.

Don’t misunderstand; the act of sex can be beautiful, but only if the idea of sexy is removed. Making love comes from the mind and is beautiful. Having sex is just that, having sex, without any beautiful meaning attached to it. Again, these are two different meanings.

Beauty can be a lot of things. It can be attitude, compassion, tolerance and patience. It can be with or without make-up, in a dress and heels or lounging around in sweat pants. It can also be bald, overweight and mature.

Beauty always comes from the soul, not the hormones.

If you want to be sexy, get botox. If you want to be beautiful, develop beauty from within.

Go out in the world and be your beautiful self.

Nov 052013
 
Inspirational messages

You are not alone if you feel guilty from all the inspirational messages portrayed in the media. Photo by Fran Childress

I am so frustrated from reading all the inspirational testimonies from people battling catastrophes! The man who has brain cancer smiles in his viral video, the woman who beat the odds and ran a triathlon race without a limb (or limbs) and all the other media sensations that is supposed to make us ‘feel good.’

Well, it doesn’t.

It actually may have the opposite effect on most of us by the subtle message it gives us. The message belittles the true, innermost feelings of most people who are experiencing struggles. We feel like we shouldn’t be sad. Our feelings of sadness are now shameful compared to ‘them’ and we should be happy no-matter-what. When we can’t be happy like them, that confounds our despair and ultimately adds to the sadness.

While these inspirational messages do give us hope, they are the exception!

To present these inspirational testimonies as a common occurrence diminishes our own feelings of despair. Like our sadness means nothing and we are wrong to feel this way. Subsequently, we start to feel guilty when we cry.

We aren’t suppose to cry, like all those other people who the media raves about who have learned to be happy with their tragedy. How come we can’t be happy when disaster strikes us? Are we the different ones who are negative? What is wrong with us?

That subliminal message is actually harmful to the majority of people facing their own struggles. It makes them feel like they are being selfish when they can’t ‘feel’ inspired.

Five Stages of Death – true inspirational message

If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, it is okay to cry. If you can’t participate in an event because of your physical limitations, it is okay to be sad. These emotions are normal, contrary to what the media portrays.

We can’t smile all the time because we hurt, we can’t do things like others because of our physical limitations. We get sad and sometimes cry.

Yes, we cry and that’s okay. Keep the inspirational testimonies in perspective.

Oct 162013
 
Depression, breaking barriers

Misdiagnosed depression causes barriers to effective treatment plans. Photo by Fran Childress

Depression is a serious medical condition. It isn’t something people choose to have.

The people with Major Depressive Disorder (depression) can’t ‘snap out of it’ or turn on a ‘happy switch.’ To suggest this is to say the condition is controlled by the person. That mentality is unrealistic at this time.

It’s feasible that in the future an effective treatment and possibly a cure for depression may materialize giving people more control of their mental health. But alas, we need more research into the causes before any such hope can be achieved.

Currently, the treatments for depression vary and many times what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. This discrepancy indicates that depression may have different causes and/or environmental triggers. To further complicate the medical diagnosis, many individuals erroneously believe that all depressive conditions are the same.

They are not all the same.

Depression is separate from other depressive conditions such as postpartum, seasonal affective disorder and bi-polar diagnoses. Even ‘situational’ depressive mental states (bereavement) are incorrectly defined as depression. The misdiagnoses of depression are what diminishes the creditability, thus hindering effective mental health treatments.

Depression

Chronic depression can be distinguished by specific symptoms. Classic depression symptoms manifest as feeling sad or melancholy for an extended period of time, for no reason. People with depression don’t know why they are melancholic, they just are. That is the distinguishable factor.

Why do people think sufferers of depression can just ‘snap out of it?’ One reason is because there are unscrupulous people who abuse the medical diagnosis to mask other underlying causes.

These people want the depression diagnosis to use as an excuse to mask other issues such as emotional immaturity or a deficit in socialization skills (i.e. they learn that by being ‘sad’ they receive the attention they need). They could have other disorders leading to these sulking behaviors indirectly caused by anger or frustrations which would mimic depression.

Not only do some patients take advantage of the depression diagnosis for selfish or ignorant reasons but the physicians do also. The physicians need to take some responsibility in the misdiagnoses, as well. These practices make it difficult for the true sufferers of depression to receive creditability for their illness.

The patient may not be able to express the symptoms accurately to the unsuspecting doctor. Unfortunately, most (if not all) general practitioners are not trained as mental health professionals thereby handing out antidepressants or mental health treatment plans for depression just to placate the patient.

To add insult to injury, the health insurance industry dictates which diagnosis receives medical coverage. Depression is usually recognized thereby financially compensated by health insurances companies whereas personality disorders are not. This financial limitation/discrimination has a direct impact on patient care. If it wasn’t for the depression diagnosis, the patients would not have any treatment at all for their mental health issues.

What does this all mean?

We have a problem in correctly identifying depression. This problem could be a factor as to why many patients are not receiving proper and effective mental health treatments.

We need accurate assessments of all mental health illnesses AND broader health care coverage, not a blanket “band aid” clumping other mental disorders into the depression category.

Sep 302013
 
Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking – April 2011. Photo by NASA/Paul Alers

Stephen Hawking is either delusional, a genius or maybe both. The renowned physicist’s recent idea to live forever with modern technology is hard to fathom, much less to take him seriously.

Stephen Hawking’s new hypothesis claims that people can live forever outside the body if the brain function is ‘copied’ via a computer.

He insinuates the human mind is trapped in a physical structure and is comparable to a computer program. Ergo, how it can be ‘copied.’

My first response was … has he lost his mind?

Then I decided to ponder his prediction without media influence. The media sources’ puns, insinuations and innuendos were clouding my rational train of thought. The media has a way to distort high-profile individual’s words (and actions) for ‘shock value.’ It can twist celebrities’ words to insinuate something totally different from what was intended.

So I tried to tap into my ‘miniscule intellect’ to come up with a feasible understanding to Hawking’s claim; thinking patterns can be predicted, therefore it is possible these predictions can be transferred into a computerized environment.

This is what I deduced:

An individual’s pattern of thought processes CAN be duplicated into a digital computer. The computer can predict the outcomes of a person’s thinking by mimicking the direction of the thought processes.

Here is an example:

People can be either emotional or apathetic. An emotional person’s thinking pattern will direct him/her into an array of emotional responses which technology can predict. The same can be predicted with an apathetic person’s although the predictive response will be dichotomous or contrary.

In other words, we know when someone is going to be emotional just by knowing his/her personality traits.

Thus, it is feasible for a computer to digitally predict a person’s pattern of thinking indefinitely. Unfortunately, much to the dismay of the media insinuations, the computer cannot ‘feel’ the emotions resulting from the thinking.

Finally, after all the profundity, energy and time I spent on Hawking’s theory, I concede to … who cares?

Ultimately, what good would it do? I cannot foresee any productive or positive outcomes from copying an individual’s brain or pattern of thinking to a computer.

Stephen Hawking Home Page

Jul 162013
 
Amy sarcastic emotions

Disconnect the emotions that bring you down. Photo by Fran Childress

Emotions play a huge role in our daily lives, albeit behind the scenes and sometimes out of our complete awareness. These emotions can direct us to positive outcomes but then … well, then there are times our emotions can stagnate us, stop us from growing and put terrible ideas in our heads. This is when we need to disconnect from our negative emotions to stop a downward spiral.

Emotions differ from feelings as they are psychologically influenced, whereas feelings can be external but expressed by the verbiage ‘feel.’ Think of being physically hot or cold, those are actual tactile feelings. So we borrow that expression (“I feel … “) to state how we feel on the inside, such as “I feel loved.” We don’t say “I emotion loved.”

Difference Between Emotions and Feelings

I’m going to use ’emotion’ and ‘feeling’ interchangeably but it’s good to know the subtle difference.

Emotions dictate not only what we are thinking about, but also our actions and behaviors. Let’s say you are angry at someone; that anger will surface when you interact with that person through words or body language. It will also surface every time you think of that person. The anger lingers in your mind.

Another example could be you may feel sad over a broken relationship and head right for the refrigerator (emotional eater). That inner emotion brings a negativity to your life.

When things don’t go our way, our emotions take over and make us do things we are not proud of. So if we can identify the negative emotions and disconnect from them, we stand a better chance at improving our mental and physical health.

Learn how to disconnect emotions

This is tricky. Each individual is different so what will work for one person may not work on another person. But the bottom line is to change your negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Instead of mulling over the painful, negative emotion(s), switch your thoughts to ideas to be more productive (or to make it better).

“Easier said than done!”

You may be thinking right about now “easier said than done.” That is a negative thought in and of itself. While it may be easier ‘said,’ it can be done. You need to be aware of the path your thoughts are taking you and redirect them in a positive way such as thinking “How can I make this better?”

I am not saying to go into denial by disconnecting emotions. Denial is not considered a healthy way to deal with issues. Disconnecting negative emotions is not suppressing them (denial), is it redirecting them so they don’t control you.

Remember; the more mad you get, the less control you have. Don’t let others control you by being their emotional puppet … but that’s another article.

Jun 122013
 
Coming out of the closet

A person has inner changes when coming out of the closet. Courtesy image by Bob Lowe/freedigitalphotos.net

When individuals make a choice to ‘come out of the closet,’ it is so much more than identifying as LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Trans). The sexual preference is only a part of the lifestyle change they will encounter. Things change, lives change and inner feelings change.

Unless you’ve been in the closet and emerged, you can’t comprehend this metamorphosis.

LGBT individuals may have lived their whole lives as an outcast. That outcast feeling could have contributed to numerous disharmonies with [outward] mendacity.

Out of the Closet

Yes, coming out of the closet will change things as it transforms the person from the inside out. It’s not just the lifestyle, but this whole persona ‘thing’ changes. It changes how the people feel about themselves and affects how they present themselves to society. Coming out of the closet has an essence of personal illumination, while baring one’s soul for others to see.

Some people will shun them while others will exaggerate the friendship to ‘prove’ they support equal rights. LBGT individuals know this. While they appreciate the ‘over-the-top’ support, patronizing is not needed. They are gay, not stupid.

They just want to be treated fairly. They want to be seen as normal.

When LGBT individuals tried to be ‘normal,’ they couldn’t be so they learned to lie … from the inside. They learned to lie to be accepted by family, friends and co-workers. This ‘lie to others and oneself’ lifestyle has a different kind cognitive dissonance than what heterosexual individuals go through. It’s deeper, more intense.

Living as a fictitious actor in your life, not as a real person.

The lying was to reduce the stress brought on by society (external influences) while concurrently the stress increased from inner falsehood (internal influences).

Once the decision to come out of the closet is made, the inner stress is lifted tremendously. No more hiding behind a facade of ‘status quo’ expectations, no more trying to be someone else to fit in societal norms and no more inner hate from lying to themselves.

The LGBT community still has a long way to go. While the need to be alert to certain ideologies from certain people may never go away, coming out of the closet allows for a complete acceptance from within, not just the sexual preference.

May 222013
 

 

Last shall be first and the first last

Jesus spoke of the parable ‘so the last shall be first and the first last’ and many don’t understand. Photo by Arvind Balaraman/freedigitalphotos.net

The Christian biblical scriptures can be diversely interpreted by individuals. So much so that this results in different beliefs, as evident in the social media world of “this is what the Lord meant when He said ‘last shall be first” quotes on all the social sites (you know, the mentality of ‘I’m obnoxious with this screen in front of me’).

The different understandings have led to numerous heated debates and arguments which can leave bitterness not only in families but also in friendships and co-workers.

Last Shall Be First and the First Last

Well, here’s another interpretation to add to the arguments: What if the scripture ‘Last shall be first and the first last’ doesn’t mean what you think it means? What if this means something different from what you assume and it’s relative to your lifestyle instead?

The universal concept (understanding) of ‘first and last’ appears obvious but how we interpret it could play a role in this message. We assume an order; a privilege of being spiritually ahead (or behind) someone, similar to a formed line of people waiting to be served.

We may visualize people standing in line with the ones in front of us being ‘more’ favored by the Lord. Then we imagine the ones ahead of us looking back at us with a narcissistic smirk and the looming “I’m better than you” look: A spiritual ascension based on our good deeds; a type of purgatory in a way.

Now let’s erase that thought and read into the scriptures’ context. Jesus’ parable was about giving a penny to each person hired to work, regardless of how long that person worked. When one worker complained about working longer than some others, he wanted more than just a penny. This is when Jesus spoke the words “so the last shall be first, and the first last: For many be called but few chosen.”

This doesn’t appear to have anything to do with standing in line.

The parable suggests it is our (prideful) idea of what we think we are worth, not who’s better than someone else. The rich are accustomed to finer things whereas the poor are used to being without. The wealthy would be humbled with less, whereas the poverty stricken would feel blessed with more.

What if the ‘less and more’ were equal in heaven, with the equal being symbolized as the penny?

In other words, wealthy individuals may expect to eat steak while the poverty stricken people expect to eat hot dogs (expectations). But in the end, they all will eat hamburgers.

The rich wouldn’t be happy with that and it would appear to them that they are ‘last’ with the poor being ‘first.’ So it’s not the idea of who’s more worthy, but the inner idea of what we expect from our prideful expectations.

Heaven is offered to all of us, so it could be what we are accustomed to, or what we believe we deserve in the spiritual sense that the last shall be first and the first last. Your purgatory may be connected to this parable, and your pride.

Many scriptures allow for this ambiguity and elusiveness. Jesus intentionally spoke in parables not for only the intelligent people to decipher, but for the people who choose to open their eyes and ears to the Word.

Something to think about …