Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fear. Keeps us safe or keeps us boring?

This is a great passage I found and wanted to share with you. It's from Donald Miller's book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years:

The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is "Do not fear." It's in there over two hundred times. That means a couple of things, if you think about it. It means we are going to be afraid, and it means we shouldn't let fear boss us around. Before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated. And I guess it serves that purpose. But fear isn't only a guide to keep us safe; it's also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.

So what did Donald Miller do to prevent a boring life from fear? He hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (an "excruciatingly" difficult trail even for seasoned veterans) despite being overweight and a novice at hiking. But he did it, and he lived to tell the tale.

I know fear has stopped me from doing a lot of things. But sometimes, I say "heck" to fear and do it anyway. My biggest fear hurdle was becoming a mom. And although it's still many years before I reach the summit and let my little girl go, it has been a wonderful journey thus far.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Oldie But Goldie by Dr. Gott

The Nevada Daily (Feb. 18, 1991)

Click on the article to read the full article

'Hungry Heart Syndrome'

Never heard it called this before. But according to a 1974 article appearing in The Ledger, a doctor believed his premature beats (PVCs) were due to his heart being "hungry." Supposedly he noticed his premature heart beats approximately one hour before meals and stopping within 10 to 15 minutes after eating. Thus, he coined the phrase "hungry heart syndrome." Interesting. Never really noticed a strong correlation between PVCs and hunger but I'm sure I've experienced this phenomenon on occasion. I like how he found that eating 6 small meals a day lessened their irregularity (something that is in vogue right now with diets), but that unfortunately he gained 10 pounds. Ha, sort of funny. But good to hear that a doctor actually felt them and didn't say it was all in his head.

Have you ever noticed a correlation between PVCs and hunger?

Hungry Heart Syndrome Article (The Ledger, Feb. 1, 1974)

Friday, October 8, 2010

What I Have in Common with Her Majesty the Queen

What do I have in common with Queen Rania of Jordan? Well, besides the fact that we're both stunning brunettes (insert smiley face), it looks like she suffers from premature ventricular contractions just like me. Imagine, a royal queen suffers from these annoying irregular heart beats. It's not just a commoners disease. On a serious note, Queen Rania had a non-surgical heart procedure at the end of Sept. in an attempt to normalize her heart's rhythm. Although the article doesn't specifically go into detail about the procedure, it sounds like it was an ablation based on the description.

Jordan's Queen Rania undergoes treatment for irregular heart rhythm

It sounds like she is recovering and doing well. May she live happily ever after.

Yoga is Not a Religion

Just thought I would address this issue and nip it in the bud since I talk a lot about meditation/yoga helping ease the symptoms of anxiety and heart palpitations.

A friend recently sent me a link to an ABC news article about a Southern Baptist leader who is calling for Christians to avoid yoga saying that "the meditative discipline is not a Christian pathway to God." And then I got on facebook today and my teenage sister-in-law had written this on her status update: "Some ppl think yoga will send you to hell but I think it brings you to a heavenly bod!"

Oh Lord, give me strength. Here's the article:

Southern Baptist Leader on Yoga: Not Christianity

Besides the utter ignorance of this Baptist leader, I believe this particular individual is spreading fear to many people who might benefit from yoga both physically and spiritually. We all know the benefits of yoga physically (flexibility, strength, posture, heart health), but it can also have great spiritual benefits. But let's be clear spirituality is different than religion. Spirituality has to do with one's inner life, the ever-evolving understanding of one's self and one's place in the cosmos—what Viktor Frankl called humankind's "search for meaning." Religion, on the other hand, can be seen as spirituality's external counterpart, the organizational structure we give to our individual and collective spiritual processes: the rituals, doctrines, prayers, chants, and ceremonies, and the congregations that come together to share them. Yoga was rejected by Hinduism because yoga would not insist that God exists. It didn't say there was no God but just wouldn't insist there was. Yoga is not a religion, but the science of religions. Yoga demands discrimination rather than faith. Where most religions teach us 'what to do', Yoga teaches us 'how to be'.

And what do some of the great yogis think?

Swami Sivananda Saraswati: "Yoga is not a religion, but an aid to the practice of the basic spiritual truths in all religions. Yoga is for all, and is universal."

Georg Feuerstein: [To practice yoga] "You need not believe in anything other than the possibility that you can transform yourself." "...some Yoga practitioners are more religious than others. But Yoga itself is simply a tool for exploring the depth of our human nature, of plumbing the mysteries of the body and the mind.

Shri Ram Sharanam Ashram: “Yoga is not a religion. it is not necessary for you to believe in a certain god or to chant certain hymns. it is spiritual and ancient science, which leads to health in the body, peace in the mind, happiness in the heart and liberation of the soul.”

Pandit Usharbudh Arya: “Yoga is not a religion or a church. It requires no belief in a doctrine, no credo. All yoga philosophy is concerned with the experience of meditation and nothing else. It does not require anyone to adhere to a belief system.”

Osho: “First, yoga is not a religion—remember that. Yoga is not Hindu, it is not Mohammedan. Yoga is a pure science just like mathematics, physics or chemistry. Physics is not Christian, physics is not Buddhist. If Christians have discovered the laws of physics, then too physics is not Christian. It is just accidental that Christians have come to discover the laws of physics. But physics remains just a science. Yoga is a science—it is just an accident that Hindus discovered it. It is not Hindu. It is a pure mathematics of the inner being. So a Mohammedan can be a yogi, a Christian can be a yogi, a Jaina, a Buddhist can be a yogi.”

When I practice yoga, I contemplate the mysteriousness of the Holy Spirit and my eye is towards Jesus in heaven. My meditations are no different than King David's prayers. Yoga renews my spirituality, but it certainly is not my religion.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Own Happiness Project

Now that I finished reading The Happiness Project (see my previous blog), I've decided to come up with some resolutions of my own. These are things that either brought or currently bring happiness to my life. And since Rubin worked on one resolution per month, I thought I would come up with at least 12. The list is in no particular order.

1) Blog regularly
2) Jog at least 3 times a week
3) Make time for yoga/meditation
4) Be musical (start playing the piano again and singing in the choir)
5) Dance
6) Laugh more
7) Keep 9 to 10 p.m. for my husband Jake
8) Mission/Volunteer
9) Pray
10) Contemplate the Heavens (remember my loved ones)
11) Read novels written in Italian
12) Renovate my kitchen

Do you have resolutions of your own? I would love to hear what some of you do to make yourselves happy! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ruby Slippers

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don't need to be helped any longer. You've always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn't you tell her before?
Glinda: She wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Scarecrow: What have you learned, Dorothy?
: Well, I—I think that it, that it wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em — and it's that — if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?
Glinda: That's all it is!
Scarecrow: But that's so easy! I should've thought of it for you -
Tin Man: I should have felt it in my heart -
Glinda: No, she had to find it out for herself. Now those magic slippers will take you home in two seconds!
Dorothy: Oh! Toto too?
Glinda: Toto too.
Dorothy: Now?
Glinda: Whenever you wish.
Glinda: Then close your eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, 'There's no place like home'.

I woke up again in the middle of the night last night. This time I was in an intense dream and woke up to a few heart palpitations. This in turn set about a physiological response and my anxiety levels rose once again. As I started into panic mode, I remembered the lesson of the ruby slippers. Perhaps, I was still on a kick about childhood memories as The Wizard of Oz had been my favorite movie to watch while growing up. I remember we didn't own a VCR back in those days so my dad would sometimes bring the VCR from his work home as a treat. It would take him a good hour to hook it up to the TV and track down a copy of the Wizard of Oz from our local Blockbuster. When it was finally time to watch and we all gathered onto the couch, I felt giddy with excitement as the opening credits rolled onto the screen. I haven't thought a lot about the movie in recent years but last night I couldn't get the dazzling ruby slippers out of my mind. I remembered Glinda telling Dorothy that she "always had the power." And when it comes to dealing with heart palpitations and anxiety, nothing could be truer. I have the power to decide whether or not I'm going to let it bother me. I have the power to accept what ever comes my way. I can choose whether or not I'm going to have a good day or a bad day. I've always had it in me. I don't need anyone else. I hold the power of the magic ruby slippers. And nobody can help me except for me. I have to believe if for myself.

And as a reminder, I'm thinking I might purchase a little reminder such as this cute one from Etsy: Wizard of Oz tile jewelry pendant

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pat the Cat

I've recently been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and although most of the book is pretty general about how to be happy (i.e. get more sleep, exercise, start laughing more, find your interests, etc.), I was struck by the reminder that "regularly having fun is a key factor in having a happy life; people who have fun are twenty times as likely to feel happy." And I wonder when I start experiencing heart palpitations (which are obviously no fun), how much fun had I been having prior to their onset? Most likely, not so much. In fact, if stress is the number one reason for my heart palpitations, how can I de-stress? Be serious about play. As Rubin explored how to have more fun, her friend posed the question to her: "What did you like to do when you were a child? What you enjoyed as a ten-year-old is probably something you'd enjoy now." As I muddled this over in my head, I tried to think of some of the things I liked to do as a ten-year-old. I loved to read books, play with friends, cuddle my cat, dance to music, draw/color, play house, and ride my bike. Some of these things I still do such as reading and obviously "playing" house. But some of these things I haven't done in a long time. When is the last time I put on the Ventures and danced to "Walk, Don't Run"? Last night, I woke up around 1 a.m. I was nervous before I fell asleep because I was afraid I might have another panic attack, and sure enough the anticipatory anxiety woke me up in the middle of the night. As I could feel my anxiety level rise, I thought about what I had enjoyed as a child. I turned myself over in bed so that my head was now at the end of the bed and my feet were on my pillow. My cat Quinn was curled up in a small ball. I started petting him and the sweet sound of his purring soothed my soul. I remembered fondly the days of petting my childhood cat, Midnight. I felt at peace, and it was so wonderful to do something childlike again. Something so simple, but something I had long neglected. I simply got to pet my cat. I fell peacefully asleep to the hum of his tiny motor.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Know Thy Limits or Suffer Thy Consequences

My little girl turned 2 last Sunday, and she is every bit of a toddler. Preparing for her party and then having something to do EVERY evening this past week, wreaked havoc for me last night. I had a panic attack that lasted for hours last night. Yep, you heard me, hours! Usually when I get a panic attack, they last a few minutes but this one was the mother of all panic attacks. For 2 hours, I contemplated going to the hospital. I would breathe well and then forget to breathe and then the panic cycle would start all over again. The reason for all of this panic? Balance. Or lack there of. When I'm feeling well and generally not experiencing heart palpitations, I tend to start taking more things on. I start feeling "normal" again and feel like I can do it all. So I stack up my calendar with one thing after the other, take on more responsibilities, and forget all my important preventative measures (like regular exercise, healthy eating, meditation, etc.). So when I woke up this morning after the horrendous night, I knew what I needed to do to prevent this acute anxiety from returning. Go back to square one. I need to re-examine my life and start finding that much needed balance. I'm off for a walk on this beautiful Fall day in Central Texas. :) And that brings peace to my soul.