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4 Reason to Take a Temporary Vow of Silence.

  1. Reclaim and cultivate peace

How much noise harass us all day? I love listening to music or watching Youtube videos but there are times that I want quiet. I want to hear nothing. Doing so resets our spirits and gives us time to communicate with our creator.

As an exercise, when taking a vow of silence, write down what sounds or sensations you notice then forget them. Move past them to focus on a mental picture of an empty cavern where you gather peace lost during stressful events that day.

  1. Set intentions for the coming week

Each week has challenges we have to meet and conquer. Some of our weekends do too. All the more reason to plan how you might respond to hiccups/upsets that will happen.  Meetings, interviews, family gatherings, and other events go smoother when you preprogram how you’d prefer to respond.

For example, I have a weekly call I make to a difficult family member to keep the peace. I prepare with a moment of silence to center my already fraying patience and nerves. When we talk I’ve already made up my mind to make this time productive. If that fails, I have prepared a Plan B: put on my favorite J-Pop group to make the minutes fly by.

  1. Spend Time on A Pet Project

There are projects that make sure we eat and there are projects that feed our souls. It’s achieving balance in our life that is hard to do when constant noise and distractions never cease. It’s okay to nourish ourselves. We can’t give back to others if we have nothing to give. I’ve seen people who give of themselves after hitting zero and it’s hard to watch as they slowly dissolve into a shell.  

We are worth investing in. If we don’t feed ourselves we can’t live the lives God has for us, we can’t help anyone Just as silencing our minds makes it easier to flow into creating meaningful lives.

  1. Recharge After Work

Honking, squealing brakes, and never-ending commercials trying to sell to us it’s no wonder silence sounds so loud when we finally sit down at home. At work, phones ring and co-workers demand a portion of our time. Reports are due while more projects with stricter deadlines are piled on.  We need a mental break. We need a time of silence.

Pushing through frustrations only represses issues that spring up later. Like when we’re trying to sleep making the next day’s stress worse.  Writing in a journal helps some but sitting out outside can be just as beneficial. An easy walk around the block after dinner is a great way to enjoy the silence and get some light exercise.

Peace and Love, 

Randa 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Summer 2018 Book Recommendations​

Reading is a major part of my life and I wanted to share some fiction recommendations. You’ll notice a darker pattern but all of them had me thinking about how I don’t need to judge anyone because I don’t know their full story. I might never know their reason or reasons. Each one reminded me I just need to be kind, not think I’m entitled to understanding everything. I am called to love, not be a judge. That’s God job.

Spoilers ahead for some book content.

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

A dark twist on a classic with a wholly original character thrust into a life she never wanted because of an accident that happened in her not so distant past. Learning she was being sent away to boarding school, Jane runs into woods near a ravine. Running, she cuts her arm and her cousin follows. He takes advantage of the moment as he precedes to sexually assault her. Jane protests and threatens to tell her aunt and he stops, asking if they can be friends again. To accent her “NO!” Jane pushes him in fear he may attack again, but he slips on loose rocks falling back into the ravine killing him. Jane walks away.

I love how Jane becomes social justice vigilante as each nightmare unfolds around her. The romance is perfect! Her friendships are just as twistedly complicated as Jane is. You will love the twist with the constable that keeps finding Jane throughout the book.  I’m sorry if I didn’t describe the book as I should but give it a chance and thank me later.

Alice by Christina Henry (First in The Chronicle of Alice series)

Not sure if anyone has played Alice: Madness Returns (Dr. Bumby deserved it!), but if you did you have an idea what this book is about.  Alice teams up with Hatcher as they escape the asylum. Once escaped, Alice goes on an adventure to reclaim her memories of what happened to her along with falling somewhat in love with Hatcher. All she knows is when her family found her all those years ago she kept saying “Rabbit”. Alice brings back beloved characters like the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat, Caterpillar, and the Walrus all as mob bosses in a magical territory war.

A twisted, fun magical ride in a world that draws from the genius mind of Lewis Carrol. Fans of original Alice in Wonderland will love this fantasy adventure. Read Red Queen if you enjoy Alice to continue your journey down the rabbit hole.

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James

Set after the Great War, a nurse takes a job at a hospital for shell-shocked soldiers to discover the hospital is haunted and forms a relationship with a mysterious patient who admitted himself. As tragedy strikes the isolated hospital of the medical kind secrets of the haunting, the hospital’s former occupants, and secrets hidden by the nurse herself come to light.

I love the heart in this book most of all. The slow, steady build of friendship the nurse forms with each patient is heartbreakingly sweet. It makes you have deep sympathy for those who suffered and still do suffer as survivors of war. Near the end when the mysterious patient tells his story of how he decided to admit himself made me want to hug him. Everybody is likable and you’ll miss out if you don’t get know these amazing characters who haunt you long after you’ve put the book down.

What are some of your favorite books you’ve read this summer or summers past?

Blessing and Peace 🙂

Randa

Meditation Myths and 1 Truth

 

Your mind has to be quiet

I read somewhere that for your mind to be completely quiet you’d have to have a lobotomy. Or be dead. Our minds shouldn’t be set to quiet, instead, we should observe each thought without engaging each one. We can even learn from this flow of thoughts drifting in and out of the gray matter. To better guide wayward thoughts we can use mantras or chants’ in our meditation practice. As an example, chakras have corresponding sounds you can chant to engage each chakra if your focus is on, say, the root chakra.

There is only one way to meditate

This myth is half correct: your breath has to be a focal point for meditation to be done right. We can feel pressured to sit a certain way or that we have to chant, but you don’t. Meditate how you feel comfortable in a way you get the healing benefits of meditation. Create your own mantra, use music and images. Do whatever meets your meditation needs. I love to use yin yoga as a place of meditation since a sequence helps lessen distractions.

Mediation is easy

For those of us who have meditated, we know it is not easy. Today I sat still, breathing in and out looking at a pile of clothes I needed to hang up, cat hair on my yoga mat, and thinking about the dishes in the sink. A long to-do list filled to the brim is just one distraction mediators face. Family members interrupt just as we are settling into a peaceful state with a request or our phones ring.Mediation becomes easier as we learn to see how important self-care is to our overall health. Putting yourself first isn’t selfish when it comes to your health.

Meditation is about escape

No myth to bust here! Meditation is an escape from the general chaos of life, a place of our own making to run to or to use as preparation for the day. When we pray this is essentially what we are doing. We are pulling away from the world to seek guidance, to praise God for the blessing we have, or praying for God to help someone in our lives. Escape away my meditation friends, you’ll be better off than those knee-deep in reality with no way to reduce stress

Share with a friend who may be resisting the powerful pull of meditation and let me know in the comments how you would banish meditation myths.

Blessing and Peace-Randa:)

Top 4 Yoga Poses for Meditation

Downward Facing Dog

There’s nothing like a full body stretch to start your day or your daily meditation. Engaging your shoulders for support with the legs anchoring down creates balance to center your mind with gentle movement.  With just enough core work downward facing dog expends excess energy that can make us jittery when meditating.

How-to: Come on to all fours with wrist under shoulders and knees under hips. On an exhale raise hips to ceiling, palms firmly planted with no pressure on the wrist. Bend the knees if you need too. Don’t allow shoulders to meet with your ears, instead slide shoulder blades down.

Upward Facing Dog

Loosen and relieve tension in you back while opening your heart to all possibilities and words of wisdom God has for you as you meditate.  We sit hunched over our desks, dinner tables, and steering wheels all day closed off from the world waiting to lock ourselves away. Break out of your shell for just 5 minutes a day with an open heart and, who knows, you may find yourself overwhelmed with joy. 

How-to: Lay flat on your belly with your wrist still under your shoulders, elbows pointing back toward your hips. On an exhale, push up with your hands planted firmly into the ground. Don’t allow shoulders to meet with your ears, instead slide shoulder blades down. Don’t allow your behind to stay clenched as it will put pressure on your lower back and limit the heart opening quality of the pose.

Cat/Cow

You will be working more kinks out of the spine here, but the focus will be on linking your movement to your breath. Losing awareness of our breath in meditation allows our focus to drift from our intention. You can even do a modified version of Cat/Cow in the car and at work when you need a meditation break. 

How-to: Begin as you would for previous poses’.  With each inhale, arch your back. With each exhale, round the spine and pull in your belly for some light core work- if your up for some adventure bring your left knee in to meet your nose. Repeat on the right side to stay balanced.

Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold

Simply put, this pose is all about surrender. Surrendering our past hurts, betrayals, and whatever else to the will of a loving God. In our time with Him, we come so burdened down by life that we forgot how blessed we are. In Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold, we put our bodies into action instead of just entertaining the idea of what surrender means. Give all you are to Christ and you won’t be disappointed. Scared, yes, but not disappointed.

How-to: From a seated position, create a wide space by separating your feet in opposite directions.  With a deep inhale bring your arms above your head and lean forward leading with your heart. You can stay here or reach out to grasp your feet for a deeper hip opener.

Happy meditating!

Blessings and Peace-Randa:)

Photo is from UnSplash.com and taken by Tim Marshall

My Tattoos

Here’s a surprise: I have tattoos. Five in total with more to come in 2017. Each one has a special meaning to me so I chose to explain the top 3 that represent who and what matters to me most. Do you have any tats? If so, let me know in the comments or go to Meditated Faith on Facebook. The link is at the top of the blog homepage. I hope to see you there!

img_0106-2Anchor:  When I was thinking what I wanted to get  I wasn’t in the best of headspaces.  I’d decided to forgo finishing college,  my parent’ recent divorce, and a strained relationship with my father urged me to seek radical change. Even wanting a tattoo was my rebellion against an out of control life and throwing away old patterns of living. Images of anchors drew me in and made me recall a verse in Hebrews where it says,” This is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our soul.”  Putting a permeant reminder became the obvious choice. Making it look like the anchor was just pulled out of the water or if it was just being put in the water was noticed after it healed.  A blessing I didn’t plan for, but glad since every day I can look at my arm and take courage (pulling out of the water) or take a take a time out to reassess (being put in the water).

Fish hooks: My grandfather died on January 17th two years ago. He loved fishing. As a kid, I would marvel at all the equipment he had stacked in the garage. Bright neon lures in blue, green, red, purple, in shapes of fish, bottle caps, and plain silver fish hooks. Carbon black rods with snow white string prepped for a day on a nearby lake stored neatly on the shelves. If he wasn’t watching Gaither homecomings he watched bass fishing faithfully and read bass fishing magazines. He never got to go fishing much but he did once or twice near the end of his life- my grandmother was not thrilled he went. To honor his memory I wanted a tat to show my love, and that we were forever linked. Even to show that  I would one day be able to fish beside him in heaven.

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Mark of the Outsider: Dishonored and Dishonored 2 are in my top 10 of best games ever made! In the game, both Corvo and Emily get the Mark of the Outsider. Other major characters have this mark as well.  Just like the powers granted in-game, God has given me a purpose and abilities to accomplish this purpose.  My tattoo creates in me a feeling of not being powerless. Every day becomes a challenge to succeed and to grow- a chance to upgrade my abilities. Another reason I love this tat is because of the message of the game, at least to me, of overcoming despite what others are lead to believe and that justice will prevail. I could keep writing on the inspiration I get from Dishonored but will store those ideas away for a future post.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed. And just to pick your brains: who would like a Hogwarts houses meditations series? A total of four meditations tailored to fit each house. Let me know what you think and anything you’d like to see in any future post.

Blessing and Peace-Randa 🙂