Restoring the Soul with Michael John Cusick

Episode 280 - Michael John Cusick, "Grounding and Centering: Soul Care with iCare"

September 29, 2023 Michael John Cusick Season 12 Episode 280
Restoring the Soul with Michael John Cusick
Episode 280 - Michael John Cusick, "Grounding and Centering: Soul Care with iCare"
Show Notes Transcript

"Many of us feel aimless and unable to direct our lives effectively. But fear not, iCARE will guide you to a calm and grounded state of being." - Michael John Cusick

In today's episode, we delve into the concept of "iCARE," focusing on what lies within us, including our body, mind, and emotions. Michael John Cusick explores the practice of becoming aware of our inner experiences and sensations through a body scan, allowing us to observe and notice without judgment. 

Drawing on scripture passages, he highlights the importance of self-compassion, kindness, humility, and gentleness as the foundation for loving others. He also challenges the misconception that we are fundamentally flawed or unlovable, rooted in a deeper understanding of sin and our relationship with God. We also delve into practical exercises such as figure eights, tapping, and breathing techniques to regulate emotions and cultivate a deeper connection with God. 

So, join us as we journey inward, exploring the treasures within our souls and learning to live in alignment with God's love.

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Thanks for listening!


When we pause, and we're intentional about naming these sad, hurtful losses and things that we grieve in our life, however small, we're entering into a process of lament. And lament is not the absence of faith, but it's really the reality in the presence of faith. We're saying, I'm trusting you God, and I'm, I'm trusting that it's okay to feel this and that these things will not consume me, destroy me or define me, but by facing them and feeling them that I'll be okay. Hey, everybody, welcome to the podcast, I would like to introduce to you an acronym that I have put together that I use with folks that we do intensives with here in Colorado. And this has become an important part of my work with addictions and compulsions. And it's called I care. And that is an acronym that I'll start out with capital I capital C, capital A capital R, capital E, I care. And it's a process that is a concrete practice. Someone who said that, that my gift is kind of thinking at 30,000 feet, I'm, by all accounts, a macro person. And sometimes I have difficulty and don't understand the need some time for practicality, even though I know that rationally, because we all need something to put our hands on. That's a handle that we can hold on to. So my attempt with this acronym, is to be very, very concrete. So if you're hearing things like take care of yourself, care for your soul set boundaries, make sure that you're being still this can help you do that. And I am going to offer a very short version of it, and then a longer version that will include the examine of St. Ignatius, a practice that was begun by Ignatius around the 16th century, and is written about in St. Ignatius is classic work, the spiritual exercises. But with no further ado, let me jump into this. I'll begin with a quote by Ronald Rowe Heiser, one of my favorite authors. And he said that all spirituality is about what we do with the unrest in our soul. So I tried to ask myself this question from time to time, what am I doing with the unrest in my soul? Well, I want to encourage you to think about your spirituality that your relationship with Jesus is often affected not by whether or not you had a quiet time, or whether or not you said your prayers, but by what's happening at a deep level inside you, and what do you do with them? I'll springboard to Proverbs 423. Many of us will have memorized this or heard it quoted and the traditional version of this from the modern translations is guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. And I have to confess that for me, as I heard this verse, I always heard it in terms of, there's bad stuff in your heart. And so be very, very sure that that bad stuff doesn't come out. There's, there's bad stuff, and there's sinfulness inside of you. And you'd better guarded like a century at the door, to make sure that only good things go in, and nothing bad comes out. I remember, back in the early 80s, when I became a Christian, this idea was quoted so often have garbage in garbage out when computers were still new. And therefore, you know, there's garbage inside of us. And though we carry baggage, and it may be true that we all have issues. That whole idea of garbage inside of us is a misunderstanding of sin. Sin is about our autonomy and our independence and our Declaration of Independence from God, declaring in fact that that we are self sufficient, that we can be God. And there's nowhere in the scriptures, I believe, and there's a lot of authors and thinkers and writers and theologians and pastors that would support this. But there's nothing in Scripture, that is a judgment upon our personhood. There's nothing in scripture that says that we are bad. That says that we have a black mark upon our soul that says that we are fundamentally unlovable or fundamentally flawed. What happened in the Garden of Eden that led to that sin of self sufficiency and declaring independence was really based on deception from the serpent and that deception was really around two things. First deception was, God is not trustworthy. It was Oswald Chambers who said that all sin is rooted in the suspicion that God is not good. And the serpent put into the mind of Adam and Eve that, Did God really say that, and began to confuse the truth began to muddy the waters and really brought into question, God's goodness, and whether or not Adam and Eve could trust God the way that they had. So line number one, deception number one that leads to the self sufficiency is you can't trust God, God is not trustworthy, he's not for you in the way that you think he is that as they walked with him in the cool of the day, the suggestion that, you know, God's not coming for you, God is not moving toward you to care for you in the way that you thought. And even if he is or has, you can't rely on that. The second lie was, you surely will not die. That sense that as we in our self sufficiency, and out of our fears and concerns, that as we reach for what will make our life work as we reach for that which seems to be fulfilling and, and life itself, life giving, that we can be God, that that we can be all powerful that we can meet our needs, and that we need not trust God. So the second lie is really a solution to the dilemma around this lie that you can't trust God Now why am I why am I framing it all this way? Back to Proverbs 423. Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. What if we thought about guarding our heart instead of there's bad stuff inside, and we need to lock it down like slamming shut a prison door? What if we thought of it this way, that our heart is a treasure, that our heart is a valuable diamond? That our heart is like gold, Teresa of Avila, the Spanish contemplative saint who her classic work is the interior castle. She spoke of the soul in our inmost being as a Crystal Cathedral, a castle that was filled with light. And surely in case you're wondering if I'm, if I don't believe in sin, surely capable of that self sufficiency in that Declaration of Independence. But once the soul comes to a place of faith and realization that we are united with Christ, the reality is and becomes that the soul is a glorious place. Because it's the place where God dwells. I believe it's in First Corinthians two that says, Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells within you. So proverbs 423, this idea of guarding our heart, is making sure that that treasure is not stolen, making sure that the priceless, glorious, valuable soul that is you is not in any way diminished, or marred or broken in any other ways than it already has been. And so this whole practice of eye care is a concrete way to be still and know that He is God, to guard your heart to guard the treasure inside, in a way where you can become more aware of that to be connected to that reality of the treasure inside of you. And to live out of that as you live in the gaze of God's love. One of my favorite verses is in Psalm 27. And we all probably know the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear the Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? But if you skip down to verse four, David says something that really captures my attention. And he says, one thing I ask, and as I've read that over and over and over again, whenever I see a writer saying, here's one thing that I want you to think about or focus on, you know, I've distilled it all down to this. And that's what David is saying. One thing I ask of the Lord, and this is what I seek. Okay, so think about that for a minute. Here's the focus. It's laser beam. Here's David saying, as the king, as this man who is after God's own heart, here's what it's about for me. One thing I asked the Lord, this is what I seek to gaze upon. On the beauty of the Lord, and to seek Him in His temple, and to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. Now, I'm not exactly sure what that meant for David. But I don't think that it meant that he got up from his kingly court and walked into the temple. And that he sat there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life doing that. If we take it at the literal level, that's what we might think it means. But I think David was saying that there's, there's a way that I want to live and there's a direction of my heart that this is what I want my life to be about. Now, let's look at that verse through the lens of the story of Jesus in the gospels. And this idea of the indwelling presence of Christ. One thing I ask of the Lord, and this is what I seek to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple, to dwell on the house of the Lord forever. What is the house of the Lord? What is his temple, that's, that's you and I are our soul. our very being our our body is the place where we're Christ dwells. There's this union with God, there's this, we have been crucified with Christ, and we no longer live as ourselves, but Christ lives in us. And so this one thing I asked of the Lord is to, to gaze upon his beauty within my own soul, because I am the temple, to dwell in the house of the Lord forever, my paraphrase, to dwell, to be present, to abide to live to inhabit myself, to show up inside of my own life, to show up inside of my own body, to show up inside of my own soul, my body, mind, emotions will and to be connected to my in most being. So ponder that verse. And I know this is a very, very long introduction, theologians would call this prolegomena, which is, you know, the five chapters that they write in a theology book, before they actually get to the content. But with no further ado, and I think that's at least the second time I've said no further ado, one of my spiritual gifts is that there's always more ado, when I say there's no further ado, I care I see ar e. The eye represents an inside focus. There's so much happening that we're wrestling with, it's almost like, you know, the classic clip with Lucy Lucille Ball, working on the assembly line with the chocolates. And the goal that she has is to take the chocolates off the assembly line and put them in the box and package them. But as the assembly line speeds up more and more, you know, she's got to eat the chocolate and she's got to stuffed some in her pockets in her hat. And it becomes this, this comic thing because it's so absurd. Well, that's the world that we live in. There is so much coming at us on the outside. That if it's true, as rule Heiser says that all spirituality is about what we do with the unrest in our soul, then it's essential that we begin with turning from the outside to the inside. It's not enough to just read our Bibles in 2020. It's not enough to just listen to sermons at this stage in human history. What is required is an inside look inside attentiveness. And so with the eye in eyecare, there's nothing more required than having that awareness and that this concrete practice is really about going from the outside to the inside. And as we focus on the inside, and become aware of all that's there, that we're actually empowered, that there's actually choices that we can make, that there are practices we can engage in. There's a way in which we can live where we're not simply at the mercy of all of the chaos, turmoil, distress dysregulation, difficult feelings inside of us, that we can actually begin to shape that. And as Eugene Peterson says in Galatians, five as he talks about the fruit of the Spirit, when he paraphrases or translates the word self control, he uses the phrase the ability to direct and marshal our energies wisely. And I don't know about you, and I've had several emails today already and regularly texts from people saying, Man, I feel like I'm aimless. I feel like I'm Not using my time wisely, I feel like there's nothing that is kind of pulling me along. And I certainly don't feel like I can direct myself in a wise effective way. We have that ability, even when we get off the rails and off track by being still so i Is this inside focus, the sea in eyecare is to center, our center, and I'm using that as a noun. And a verb is the physical, emotional and spiritual reference point within as a verb. Centering is the simple act of slowing down or breathing and finding that physical, emotional and spiritual center. In this place, we center ourselves by becoming grounded in our body. So taking some breaths, closing our eyes, and just paying attention. At this point, prior to the centering, I encourage people to do an action to pray. And it can be something as simple as this between the eye of eye care inside and the See, which is center, I'll usually pray something like this. OB a father opened the eyes of my heart, still my heart. And then I'll take two deep breaths slowly. While in the eyes of my heart, I'll maintain that focus. And that I'll continue to pray just slowly and interactively. Show me and reveal to me your indwelling presence, this union with you awaken my heart. And give me my whole heart back. And then I'll pause and take a couple of breaths. And you can repeat that as many times as is helpful. Abba Father opened the eyes of my heart, still my heart, breathe, breathe, reveal your indwelling presence, this union with you awaken my heart and give me my whole heart back. So I'll pray that just before this center, and centering. And again, here's what this looks like as we ground ourselves and center ourselves and become aware of this core part of us. Slow down your breathing by taking two or three long, slow, deep breaths. And it might be helpful for you as you inhale, at the top of that inhale or a full breath that you hold your breath for a count of two, three or four. And then slowly exhale. And as you slowly exhale, just be attentive to your body, settling, relaxing, allowing your body to feel heavy. It's at this point that you want to try to turn down the volume on the mental chatter or the the monkey mind as they say the the cocktail party in your head where there are all these competing and distracting voices the preoccupations that are there. Now, of course, if I say don't think about the purple elephant in a ballet to to wearing Birkenstock sandals, and a New York Yankees cap, don't think about that purple elephant. Of course, you're going to think about it. So when I say try not to have that mental chatter or preoccupation, we don't do that directly. And here's the key, we actually do it indirectly, by allowing our body to settle. And just noticing and observing and being present. As I do this breathing, I will try to imagine my breath, descending from the top of my head down to the middle of my chest, where that center is that emotional, spiritual, relational core. And in this place, you would just simply let yourself be present in this place for several moments or as long as you need without any agenda, other than just to be and this is a practice because just that centering can be frustrating. It's like a muscle that for most of us, we're not used to exercising and even if you're an introvert you might enjoy or benefit by being alone or by yourself. But sometimes, there's still that churning in those voices and distractions in our head. So the eye is inside, encouraging this prayer between inside and the See of center. And the A is attentive. This is the A, that is about attending to what's inside of us, including our body. So we pay attention and develop an awareness of sensations, perceptions, and feelings in our body. So often I'll ask people, and frequently this happens with men more than women, what are you feeling? And they may say, I don't know. And if they really don't know, and that's often the case, because of trauma, or coping strategies, or just busyness, I'll say, close your eyes, and do what I call a body scan. And this body scan is in your mind's eye or in the eyes of your heart, you take a breath, and then you gently focus your attention on the top of your head. And you visualize and scan down through your head that your temples, your jaw, your neck, your shoulders, your chest, and torso, your abdomen, your hips, your thighs, your knees, your calves, all the way down to your toes. And in this attending this A of the eye care, simply observing and noticing, are there feelings that are there that now as you observe the physical that you're aware of? Are there sensations, tightness, tickling, anxiety, knots in muscles, anything that you might not be aware of, of course, it might be a positive or pleasant sensation or experience. And that can be there just because you're pausing to do this whole practice. But the attend or attentive in the eye care acronym, is really just about this observing and noticing. And there's something powerful about that. Because we can learn to and be intentional about observing and noting what is happening in us without judgment, without having to beat ourselves up, which we so frequently do without even being aware of it. And there's a passage tucked in the middle of Colossians chapter three that I've had to be intentional about, coming back to again and again, and sometimes in the morning, I will just pray this verse over me. It's in Colossians, 312 through 14, and it says, Therefore is God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. This is the route of loving ourselves and loving ourselves. And accepting ourselves in this kind of compassionate, non judgmental way, is the key in the powerhouse and the source of loving others. And that just helps to put into perspective why a practice like this is so important, as we slow down and center and as we attend, it's actually a way to practice compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience over us. And let me just note that, as the apostle Paul writes in Colossians, those words, He's not saying first or primarily, be compassionate, kind, humble and gentle and patient to others. He's saying the starting point is you are chosen, you are holy and dearly loved. And I want you because the father of Jesus wants you to be compassionate to yourself. To be kind to yourself, to trust you with you to be gentle and patient in Oh, how the world would be a different place. Oh, how Michael Cusick would live differently, how I would be less reactive and more responsive. If I practice compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience with myself. So back to attend, I digress. In this place of attending, again, it's noticing, observing whatever's happening. And that's all you do. Now, for many people, this will be a struggle as well. It'll be like using a new muscle. It will be a practice that you may not only be familiar with, but it might be one that you feel like you can't even do or what do you mean with the eyes of my heart? So be gentle with yourself even in practice? Seeing the practice. So the eye is the inside focus, the C is center, the A is attend. And all of that might take you three minutes, it could take less, it could take more the beauty about this practice is that you adjust it as you need for yourself that are in this is regulate and to regulate is to once you've attended to what's happening in your body, let's say that you identify a knot in your chest. And going back to what I'll ask a person to do once they attend to their body. And a man who says I don't know what I feel, may identify much, much more easily as tension in his chest or not in his shoulders. And that man who has said he doesn't know what he's feeling, I'll say that knot in your chest or shoulders. If you were to give that a color, what color would it be? Oh, that's easy. It would be red? Or it would be black? No question. If you were to give that not in center of your chest or in your shoulders a texture, what what texture? Might it be? Oh, that's easy, it would be it would be rough and jagged. Like like sandpaper, you know, with, with pieces of glass coming out of it. Okay, interesting. If you were to give a voice to that, not in the center of your chest or your shoulders, like a cartoon bubble from the old Sunday funnies or a call out emoji, what would that not in your chest or shoulder say, Oh, that's easy. I am so angry, or I just want to get out of my life. Or I can't stand my boss. And then I'll go back sometimes with a smile, and the person will begin to chuckle and see where I'm going with this and say so how are you feeling? And the person will say angry, or frustrated or powerless or exhausted. So the point with all of this, the attending is that as we attend to our whole person, our body mind, emotions, will it it gives us the ability to do something about it. And the regulate is to be able to bring those sensations, perceptions and feelings back into a window of tolerance, as we have said on this program, a place where we're really okay inside, where we can be grounded, where we can be present to ourselves, where with all the normal ups and downs of life, including a pandemic, we might have stress pressing from the outside. But it allows us on the inside to be calm, peaceful, grounded present. Let me throw this in. You might have heard me talk about brother Lawrence's book, practicing the presence of God written centuries ago. And I have read that book myself multiple times. And I've talked with other people about it. And it's so frustrating, because what does it mean to practice the presence of God and I've tried to practice the presence of God. And and it just doesn't seem to last or be sustained or be that effective or meaningful. And it's kind of like, well, why do this. And I had the thought once if I struggle so profoundly, to be present to myself, to be present to whatever feelings, perceptions, sensations, experiences that I'm having on the inside. How could I be present to God, much less present to others. So this eyecare practice, may feel self indulgent, it may feel to some who come from a background that we're simply supposed to die to self and not be aware of our feelings and to diminish and minimize our wants. This may feel almost illegitimate. But the purpose here is to bring us to a place like David where the one thing that we ask to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to be in his gaze of love. That as we can do that the Christian life in our spirituality in Jesus becomes integrated. All these disparate parts, these disjointed parts, these fragmented parts of us can come together and we become whole. were broken pieces are gathered together in a place of safety and groundedness and compassion, kindness and gentleness and patience, and we become whole. This is how wholeness happens. It's virtually impossible. I would say that it is impossible to become whole, without some kind of process of connecting to what's true inside of us. And so with regulation, I talk about three, four, sometimes five different practices. And the first is breathing. And you can go to YouTube or Google breathing techniques, a dear friend of mine has created a video series on breathing, and Lectio Divina how to integrate scripture and have that get deep inside of us, as well as paying attention to our bodies. And so one of the easiest ways to regulate in this eyecare acronym is to breathe deeply to sit as you said to yourself as you attend, and to take a deep breath to hold it for a count of 311 1002 1003 1000. And as you slowly exhale, to pay attention in your mind's eye in the eyes of your heart, to your body settling to your muscles relaxing, and you exhale slowly as if you're breathing through a straw. And if you can, you can build the practice of counting to 10 As you exhale, and I'll model that breathing in deeply. Holding it for a count of 311 1002 1003 1000, and then slowly exhaling. And here's the count. One 1002 1003 1004 1005 1006 1007 1008 1009 1010. And as you exhale, that slowly and long, not only is your body settling, and you're expelling that carbon dioxide, you're letting go of the tension. But you're also slowing down the rate in the rhythm of your breathing. And as our friend Dr. Kurt Thompson talked about in recent podcasts that as you slow down, the rate of your breathing in the ideal is about six times per minute, as opposed to 15 or 20 times a minute, when we're anxious or responding to the pressure and stress of external stimuli. As you slow your breathing down to six times a minute, your heart rate calms. There's evidence that the cortisol levels in your bloodstream, and those are primarily triggering anxiety and a fight flight freeze reaction in your body, that the tranquility and calm and relaxation that happens in that breathing, literally pushes back flushes out the external stress that's become internal. And so I encourage you to experiment with this breathing. The second way of regulating is what I call resource tapping. Actually, I don't call it that. There's a psychologist by the name of Laurel Parnell, who has a book called tapping in. And she took some of the theory around Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, also known as EMDR therapy, all based on this bilateral stimulation of getting our left and right brain to talk in the presence of distressing feelings, sensations and perceptions. And so very quickly and simply, and you can google resource tapping with Laurel Parnell, and there are videos on this, you would sit in a chair, and you would put your hands palm down on your thighs about an inch behind your knees, just placing them gently there. You would in your mind's eye pull up an image of memory and event that is a peaceful, safe, calming scene from the past. And when I do this, I usually have two different ones and one of them is on a trail in Colorado. That's just one of my most peaceful memories where I'm surrounded by just glorious Colorado beauty. As I pull that image up in my mind for this tapping, I'll try to engage with as many of the senses as possible touch taste, sight, smell sound, I'll listen to the wind that's there, I'll smell the sage that's there. I will feel the warmth of the sunshine or be aware of the dryness on my skin. And as I engage in as many senses as possible, that allows my brain to say hey, I'm really in that space. And so you pull up that that safe place that place of peace, and hold that image in your mind. And then you just gently tap back and forth. Right knee, left knee, right knee, left knee, or rather, in that inch or so behind your knee. And you can experiment with the positioning of your hands, most of us have a sensitive spot, a spot where as we tap, that activates something in our body and in our brain. And some people report just doing this tapping, they can feel a release in their nervous system. And so I encourage you to do this for 20 or 30 seconds holding in your mind's eye that image and I'll model this. Okay, I've pulled up that image in my mind, I'm gently holding it there. And I just begin to tap right, left, right, left, right, left, and tapping for 20 or 30 seconds. And then pausing taking a breath, you might open your eyes, and then looking around, and then I would encourage you to consciously name and speak out loud five objects around you. And this allows your frontal cortex to come online even more strongly, because when we're dysregulated, oftentimes, it's our limbic system that will take over our nervous system. And when that happens, the limbic system dials up, and our thinking brain that frontal cortex dials down. And so it might look like this, as I'm sitting here at this microphone, I'm noticing five objects, a container of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, my iMac computer, my backpack, a pen, the window shade, and my coat rack, that might have been six instead of five. But to do that in between is a way to kind of shift from this internal focus to an external focus by naming these objects. And then coming back. And again, allowing yourself to settle taking a breath and pulling up in your mind's eye in the eyes of your heart, the safe place of peace, this place of calming in, then you begin to tap gently back and forth, right, left, right, left, right, left. And you can continue that for 20 or 30 seconds, you'd pause, you take a breath, continuing to be relaxed and calm and settled. And you might name five objects, again, five different objects. You could count backwards from 100 by twos. If you don't like to name objects, you could say 198 9694 90 to 90, or you could tap your toes, feeling your big toe, the next one over the next one over the next one over consciously attending to something specific and physical. And then you could go back again to this tapping. And I'd love to hear comments about how people experience this because it's uncanny how this has the capacity to take a level of anxiety or distress or anger, if on a scale of one to 1010 is the most disturbing. And one is there's an absence of distress and only calmness. I've seen people and I've done this myself where I'm at a 10 on that scale. And I breathe and I calm and I tap. And it brings that level down to a place where I can now be present to myself. When we're high on that scale, no matter what the emotion or the experiences, it's difficult to be present to ourselves. And it's difficult to respond to be a loving, responsible person in the moment as opposed to reacting. And so all of this is about being present. And this regulating is all about being able to get to a place where we can gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple within. There's a second version of this tapping. And rather than placing your hands palm down on your thighs behind your knees. It's referred to as butterfly tapping. And so you would cross your arms, your right hand over your left bicep, your left hand over your right bicep. You don't have to press in but just gently allow your crossed arms to rest upon your chest. And then in the similar fashion And you'd pull up that safe place or that place of peace. And you would tap on the outer edge of your bicep back and forth. Left, right, left, right, left, right. And some people will experience that butterfly tapping as more comforting, more effective, that it just feels better to them. And others report that the tapping on the thigh feels better. And so you can experiment with that. Another way of regulating and something that the late great Brennan Manning taught me. It's prayer breathing, and this is as old as the Jewish Scriptures. But you would sit feet flat on the floor, ideally, sitting in a chair, but I've done this in my car. I've done this, as I'm on the wing of a stage at a conference before I step out in front of the audience or to the microphone. And it's often best done with your eyes closed. But of course, if you're driving or operating heavy machinery that is not encouraged. But to choose a word, Yahweh, for example, and you would breathe in ya, hold it for a short moment, and then to exhale, way. Ya way. Now, you don't need to speak it out loud, you can. And if you do that, it might take some practice to breathe in and speak out at the same time. But you can say that word yah in way, in your mind's eye, in your head, you can say Jesus Ji breathing in Zus, exhale, you could say the word kindness, because love joy, peace, patience. Kindness is the fruit of the Spirit meaning, that's an aspect of who God is. And so it's not like you're, you know, just channeling an emotion, but rather you're breathing in kind, ness in kind, out Ness. And you're breathing in and experientially, in an embodied way, practicing the presence of God with that kindness. For those of us that struggle with self contempt or beating ourselves up, or other forms of ways that shame or diminishment or struggles with self esteem, play out, this kind of breathing, with certain words, around the fruit of the Spirit, are words like in Colossians, three compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, this is a great way to do this. And it can be done anywhere. And you can learn to do it throughout the day in a way that really helps you to practice the presence of God. The final way to regulate that I want to suggest to you and I won't go into a lot of detail with this, but it's also borrowed from science and trauma and in the area of learning disabilities and stress management. And I just discovered it through my own journey and work, but it's called figure eight. And you can have a piece of paper in front of you. And you simply draw the infinity sign and eight turned on its side or a figure eight. And you would start let's say in the upper left hand corner, drawing your figure eight, moving from left up over to the right and repeating this. And every third time you make the line all the way through with the figure eight, you reverse, and you reverse and suddenly, you're now on the right upper corner or the right lower corner, and you move into the left and that rhythm begins to go right to left, up and over, up and down and that figure eight and you do that three times from right to left. And then you find yourself in the upper left or lower left corner, and you reverse again. So three times one direction three times the other direction. And apparently what this does is that in the midst of a distressing feeling, and you don't even need to think about that feeling, just the focus on writing and drawing that figure eight, going from left to right and right to left. It connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain and has a remarkable ability to diminish stress. A family member was taking a course on pretest anxiety management because we all get stressed out in around exams. And one of the things they taught students to do was to do figure eight. Now you may You say, Well, I don't always have pen and paper. And so you can do this in the air. And then what I have encouraged people to do is to take your right hand and to place it on your thigh right behind your knee, and to use your fingers, two or three fingers on your thigh to make that figure eight sine, starting on the left, moving to the right, starting on the right and moving to the left, around and around three times, and then reverse directions. Now, if I close my eyes and do this, I have to confess I instantly become seasick. It's the experience of vertigo. And you can experiment with that. But these are four ways that are really quite simple, but require practice. And again, four ways to regulate to bring your body back to a place where you're in a window of tolerance in your nervous system, where your experiences, feelings, perceptions, and sensations in your body, that you can actually be present to them, which allows you to be present to others, and to be present to God. So that's I inside see center, a attend our regulate in the E. And I'm only going to do the short version of this today, though, at the program top, I started out saying that I would do a longer version, I think I want to do a whole program for next time. On the final part of this the longer version, which is the power of examine, I really want to unpack that for you folks. The short version of the examine. And by the way, this is spelled e XAME. N. That was how Ignatius spoke of it in his spiritual exercises. It's as simple as this. And again, part of this is from what Dr. Kirk Thompson talked about in his recent podcast, but it's twofold. It's to pause, and you can do this in writing, you could do it on your smartphone, you could do it just in your mind. But to take a moment, and to pay attention to grief losses, aches, emotional pain, things that just hurt things that are sad. And I've talked with so many people who have expressed losses. But it often feels that it's not okay to do that, that it's self indulgent, that we're focusing too much on ourself that, you know, there are people around the world where there's, you know, mass communities that are dying from COVID. And there's, you know, war in faraway countries, and there's child soldiers and Africa and women taken from Boko Haram that are being trafficked and used and so, you know, why should I How dare I focus on my sadness or the grief or loss? Because it matters. And, as Kurt said, that if we can't allow the small things to matter, then we won't allow the larger, bigger, really important things to matter. And if we don't allow those big and important things to matter, then nothing really matters. So there's a kind of spiritual practice in this that is simply an examine and an attending to lament. So part one of this examine, to pause at the end of this regulation. What's one thing, two, maybe three things that I feel sadness, loss or lament about. And if you want to know what lament is, just spend time in the Psalms. It's a sense of grief, loss, sorrow, but it's a sorrow that by entering into it is intentionally life giving. In Second Corinthians seven, depending on the translation, you read, it talks about a sorrow unto life or a sorrow unto death. Sorrow, that is godly sorrow or worldly sorrow. I call it sacred sorrow. When we pause, and we're intentional about naming these sad, hurtful losses and things that we grieve in our life, however small, we're entering into a process of lament. And lament is not the absence of faith, but it's really the reality in the presence of faith. We're saying, I'm trusting you God and I'm, I'm trusting that it's okay to feel this and that these things will not consume me, destroy me or define me, but by facing them and feeling them that I'll be okay. And so I'd say, Yeah, I'm feeling that in this lament. And Jesus, I just bring you this lament the sadness, this grief. This is not life or death. But I don't want the ignoring of the small losses of this real grief to bring about a death inside of me. See, if we don't feel those small grief and loss issues and experiences, then that part of us will get pushed down. It will be relegated. It'll become numb, it'll become dead. And we can't be wholehearted. And if you're listening to this podcast, there's a really good chance that one of the reasons you listen is that you want to be wholehearted. So I care, the E, this examine this could take a minute, or it could take much longer. And the examine, lament, what are the losses and the grief and to name those to speak them out? It's not essential. But if you speak those out in prayer, or even to another person that you trust, there's power in that attachment in that connection of being known. And in that receiving from the Lord or from that other person. There's a validation. Yes, that matters. Yes, you're known? Yes, I'm with you. Yes, it's actually going to be okay. That's the one side of the examine. The other side is praise, gratitude lament. Many of us are familiar with the idea of a gratitude journal, that's a big part of recovery in 12 Step programs, is cultivating a gratitude journal. And what if that journal on every page had two columns, or if you're using your smartphone, you know that there was two notes or two documents of sort, and that you began with a lament, in one column, naming the word the experience, and if you are led to do so that you unpack that, that you reflect that a little bit, in writing or otherwise. And then the other column is the gratitude, the praise, the lament, I was talking to someone recently, spring time, and they just went on and on with such enthusiasm about how the the flowers were starting to come out of the ground here. And in Colorado, that can happen in early April, but then we continue to get snow until who knows when. And so that whole process of springtime is much longer than in other parts of the country. And so just the delight, and the joy of seeing those flowers come through the ground, and little buds of purple, or white, the gratitude of that, you might be grateful or offer praise, or thanks for not having COVID virus or for having it and surviving, you might have gratitude just for being alive. For relationships, for the connection that is growing and being cultivated in you with the father of Jesus with the Trinity. But let me just review, and I'm going to sign off because this has been long, and you may be hearing this whole podcast and going okay, this is long, and I wish it was broken down. Here it is, again, I care. I'm going to focus my attention on the inside this whole concrete practice is about being present and looking in, as opposed to just being the ping pong ball that is being bounced around by external circumstances and things that I really can't control. What we can control is us so the eye inside the C center, finding that physical, emotional, spiritual point inside of us that's a reference point to our deepest self, the A to attend, to be attentive through this body scan, from head to toe, paying attention to sensations, perceptions, and feelings. The are to regulate, using different forms of breathing, including prayer breathing, including the tapping that I described, and including figure eights. And there's lots of other ways to do that, as well. And then the E the examine that is as simple as, what are the things I lament the grief, the sadness, the loss, and what are the things I'm grateful for. So that's the eyecare practice, and I encourage you to use this just to attend to your soul. For all spirituality is Raul Raul Heiser said is about what we do with the unrest In our soul, our body mind, emotions will. And so my prayer for you is that you will experience health and well being that Shalom, the shalom of Jesus, and that in that, that you would guard your heart. For it is the wellspring of life that you would guard your heart because in your heart there is treasure, and light and beauty. And there is the very, very presence of the living God. And so, friend and listener of the restoring the soul podcast, I just bless you. I am literally lifting up my hands here and just transmitting the blessing the life, the shalom over and upon you wherever you are. Thanks for listening and take good care.

Brian Beatty:

So we've wrapped up another episode of restoring the soul. We want you to know that restoring the soul is so much more than a podcast. In fact, the heart of what we have done for nearly 20 years is intensive counseling. When you can't wait months or years to get out of the rut you're in our intensive counseling programs in Colorado, allow you to experience deep change and half day blocks over two weeks. To learn more visit restoring the That's restoring the