Let’s Talk About it: Why are you a ………

In yesterday’s post I commented that I choose to be a Christian because it works for me.

That comment both confused and upset a few people. I didn’t mean that nearly as flip or me-centric as it may have sounded. And I’m sure it does pose the inevitable question of “So if it stops working does that mean you’ll try something else?”  While that is a very fair question, the answer for me is no, I am not going to go somewhere else when this doesn’t seem to be working for me. It really isn’t about me, I’m home.

The problem is though – Christianity isn’t all I’ve ever known. So for me, it was a choice. Whether that faith came from God or was passed on by my Grandmother and other witnesses is not my point of discussion for right now. I’ll get to that later, I promise.

My question for you guys though is this:

What is your faith tradition. Why are you a _______________ (Fill in the blank)

 

This blog post written by Deana O’Hara for Confessions of a Spiritual Bulimic. September 8, 2010. All Rights Reserved.   This is a friendly place, please keep all of your comments and discussion respectful of others. As owner of this blog, please note that I reserve the right to delete all comments that are snarky and/or off topic.

And the Maharishi Said Yes: The truth about Transcendental Meditation

 
(This isn’t my best writing, and I know it. Neither is it a teaching, but it’s here and for what it’s worth, I’ll leave it be for now.)
This is a blog, and only a blog. Sometimes I love this little slice of cyberspace and sometimes – like today – I feel weighed down by its constraints. Blog readers are skimmers and rarely loyal. Those of you who do read these posts, know my story and keep coming back anyway are truly appreciated. I am still apprehensive about going from reporting on our Mission Start to sharing my own personal journey in faith. Confessions of a Spiritual Bulimic seems almost narcissistic to me and yet this is the path I feel God is leading me down. So I simply write and tell the truth and trust that God is not setting me up. He doesn’t need me to defend his church or his reputation, he only asks that I share my story with truth, and kindness.   

  This particular entry is by no means exhaustive and I find myself weighed down by the fear that I’ll make the church look bad and I lose my aim for the eggshells that I’m trying to avoid. I began this particular piece of my story  under the post If the pastor doesn’t like me, can I still join?  In that post I shared that I had been to many outreach events as a kid, but was never allowed to become a member of those churches. The TM group however, was more than willing to accept my mother and I into their fold.My aim for today is not, the church didn’t want me so I joined what Christians will define as a cult instead even if that is true. Nor is my aim to slam meditation. My goal today is to shed some light on why we made the choices we made, and how those of us who dare to call ourselves Christians today can make better choices in how we treat others.   

 I don’t choose to be a Christian because the church was so wonderful and kind to me growing up —  I choose to be a Christian today, because it works for me – and yes, I really am that selfish. Now, I don’t mean that nearly as flip as it sounds and I will elaborate on that more clearly in later posts, I promise. And the real truth here is God chose me long before I ever knew him. So it really isn’t about me at all.  

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi 1957-1998


The Maharishi is dead, long live marketing Gurus.
  I’m a little frustrated with the internet right now. Everything I remember about the Maharishi and his school doesn’t match what I’m finding.  The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a very kind, intelligent, and generous man. I can say that because I’ve met him before. There is a lot that would draw you to him. He was kind, compassionate, loving and truly had a servant’s heart.  Everyday people from The Beatles to single moms like mine were drawn to him.   And yet they (his web page designers) credit him, not with religious practices, but with a relaxation technique practiced world wide.TM’s WEBPAGE  says that “The Transcendental Meditation technique is not a religion or philosophy and involves no change in lifestyle.”   

I can still remember kneeling before an altar, somewhere in Michigan, with statues that I did not recognize. My Spiritual Guide/Instructor was with me and the flowers and fruit (food for the commune I assume) that we were told to bring laid before me as an offering of some kind. My instructor placed her hands on my shoulders and started speaking in a language I know today as Sanscrit. I was being prayed over. To whom the prayers were going? I have no idea. We would go back for visits and spend time with our instructors. At each visit my teacher would ask me about me. She was genuinely interested in who I was, what I was struggling with. The teachers lived on the compound. They grew their own food, lived together, worshipped together and supported each other. And even though people like my mother and myself did not live there — we were considered part of their family. So tell me, how can something that is simply marketed today as a relaxation technique, and yet full of religious ceremonies and offerings NOT be a religion? — It used to be, before they watered it down and simplified it in order to gain the Western Dollar. Todays TM schools are not what the Marharishi set out to achieve.  

Looking back, and knowing what I know today I still believe in the benefits of meditation, I just don’t believe that TM is the answer or the proper way. TM is not mindful — my mantra was simply the word “ing” and I was instructed not to share that word with anyone else or it wouldn’t work for me any more. Also at that time, words were added to your mantra and you progressed in their program. I later learned these “meaningless” syllables were actually sanscrit prayers. So there was some deception taking place depending on who trained you and where you were trained. It’s strange what memories children hang on to.    

We eventually grew beyond this compound and began searching and exploring different areas. For me that meant Christian writings and eventually the church. For my mother?She’s been so badly abused by the church that she’ll never return. Now don’t get me wrong, my mother has an amazing faith in God, she just doesn’t like Christians.  

So, what does that experience have to do with the church? A lot.  

Some facts:

For all of their outreach efforts: community fairs, youth events, and great speakers – the churches in my neighborhood were not equipped to bring in youth as members. They had nothing to back up and support young people needing more than just a great talk or a gymnasium to play in after school. – as I’ve shared before I went to those things but when I approached the pastor’s about joining their churches they had no means for that. To be quite honest, I see the same problems in our outreach today as existed then. 
For all of our talk of a loving God, Christians can be some of the most unloving and judgemental people around — myself included here.
Meditation does have scientifically proven health benefits.

A 2007 national Government survey that asked about CAM use in a sample of 23,393 U.S. adults found that 9.4 percent of respondents (representing more than 20 million people) had used meditation in the past 12 months—compared with 7.6 percent of respondents (representing more than 15 million people) in a similar survey conducted in 2002. The 2007 survey also asked about CAM use in a sample of 9,417 children; 1 percent (representing 725,000 children) had used meditation in the past 12 months.   

People use meditation for various health problems, such as:   

  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Insomnia
  • Physical or emotional symptoms that may be associated with chronic illnesses (such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS, and cancer) and their treatment.

Meditation is also used for overall wellness.   

Taken from:  The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine .    

 Meditation is scripturally sound. Groups like TM and the way it is marketed has however given it a bad name. The marketing became mystic and told people that you can learn to levitate and other such things that just weren’t true and were not part of our original teaching.  For the Christian who is reading and questioning my blog, lets not throw the baby out with the bath water here – love or hate my experience with TM and the pieces I choose to include in my life today – the love, acceptance, and servantship – search the scriptures for yourself. Go to biblegateway.com and look up “meditate” and study those contexts.  

One last note because my readership is so broad: TM practices as taught today and the Buddhist faith, which is also meditative in nature, are nothing alike. I’m not an expert on the Buddhist faith and you’ll need to research that yourself if you want more information  — There are many techniques out there that are more productive and beneficial than TM as marketed today. The mindfulness of Buddhist meditation engages all of your senses and helps you stay focused. It lowers your blood pressure and calms your mind. There is also Tai Chi or Yoga exercises where your mind and your body are equally engaged, both of which I have done and gained great benefit from.  

   So there you have it, my short story about meeting a really nice man — and a page of opinions mixed with what I hope are helpful facts –  guaranteed to snap an egg-shell or two.  

For more information on TM you can also see these two links.  

http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_Meditation     

 http://www.maharishischool.com/TranscendentalMeditation.html     

This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart: Confessions of a Spiritual Bulimic. September 7, 2010. All rights reserved.

30 Bloggers in 30 Days: $30,000 for Water

What if THIS was the only water you had to drink. Would you drink it?

Would you give it to your children, knowing that it will probably make them sick, but without it they will die.

It’s raining outside in Broken Arrow right now. My ground is parched and some of my plants have died and the rain feels good on my skin. We may have had a dry summer, but I’m not thirsty. I have clean water to drink, to cook with and to bathe in. I’m one of the fortunate ones.

The Bayaka tribe in Central African Republic are not so fortunate. Every day they walk to dirty swamps to fill up their jugs with bacteria filled water – one man set out to make a difference. Please watch this video.

I’m joining the ranks of fellow bloggers, in a campaign called 30 Bloggers, 30 Days, $30,000. The goal is to raise $30,000 in 30 days. Here’s the list of fine folks Tyler Stanton and Bryan Allain have assembled:

Bryan Allain, Matt Appling, Trey Boden, Jason Boyett, Everett Bracken, Stephen Brewster, Burnside Writers CollectiveTripp Crosby, Greg Darley, Sam Davidson, Rachel Held Evans, Evan Forester, Chad Gibbs, Susan Isaacs, Kevin Keigley, Lacey Keigley, Wes Molebash, Scott Moore, Eric Olsen, AJ Passman, Katdish, Brad Ruggles, Rob Shepherd, Jeff Shinabarger, Shawn Smucker, Tyler Stanton, Tyler Tarver, Tyler Thigpen, Karen Spears Zacharias

 Here’s where this money will go:

  • Our goal is $30,000. This provides clean water to 1,500 people (300 families, 6 entire communities).
  • 100% of the money donated goes towards water projects. Private donors take care of all the overhead.
  • $20 provides 1 person clean water for 20 years.
  • Our money will go towards building water projects in Central African Republic.
  • If you give, charity: water will keep you up-to-date with the status of your project, provide you with GPS coordinates of exactly where the well you contributed to is being built, and take pictures and video along the way.

So, how can you help?

  • GIVE. $20 provides clean water for one person for 20 years! Go to the 30 Bloggers, 30 Days, $30,000 site and make a donation.
  • SHARE about it on Facebook and Twitter. Follow @charitywater here.
  • Blog about it.30 bloggers is simply a starting point. We would love to have more people join in and help spread the word! And if you do blog about it, please let Billy Coffey know so he  can link back to your post.

Last but not least, here’s a bunch of cool downloads, banners and twitter backgrounds you can use. Thanks for your time.

Garden Obituary #238

Some people have gardens and some people have garden cemeteries. My home is the place most plants come to die. Just calling it what it is folks.  Please join me as we bid adieu to this year’s not so lucky winners of the “Oh Dear Heaven’s Please don’t take me home” Garden list..

This summer alone I killed:

  • Six zucchini plants — got ONE stinkin zucchini before they all died. (personally, I think my boys sprayed them with Roundup, but no one is talking.)
  • Three String Bean Plants – got nada from those babies.
  • My asparagus and rhubarb never even sprouted a single blade of anything green. Maybe next year?
  • and four fir trees — okay that one makes me kinda sad, the guy swore up and down I couldn’t kill those.

The good news is I have not killed these new members to my garden cemetery; three new lilies, My sweet pea and red twig bushes, Two wisteria bushes, one lilac bush (I now have three different varieties), two trees Jeff brought home that look oddly like well, something illegal, I’ll leave it at that, but the gal at the garden show said they are flowering bushes of some kind, three tomato plants, peppers, and herbs all did well, and I still have three of the original seven evergreens remaining.

So this is a good gardening year as far as gardening years go. More plants survived my black thumb than succumbed to it. Fall is approaching and it’s time for me to harvest my seed pods. I have daisies, spirea,  coral bells, black-eyed susans, some lime green cone flowers, Holly Hocks, moon flowers, and well… a large smattering of flowers I forgot to label, all ready to be replanted next Spring.   

I’m curious: What kinds of plants do you grow in your garden?