No new year resolutions here, just the same resolve, to seek the Lord as the one thing necessary, to grow in the experiential knowledge of his love and to be transformed in and by it, so that I become like him and share in his likeness. This is my sure Hope. Hope that is not wishful thinking, but hope that is certain because God effects it with my full co-operation and collaboration.
Increasingly, I understand and experience this as a gradual removal of the things I attach myself to in order to derive a sense of security, safety and significance. Some might call it egoic attachments, inordinate attachments or misplaced dependencies. They are the things we run to to make us feel okay, worthwhile, significant, powerful, safe and secure, but they are poor substitutes for the abiding presence of God within and without us.
What I am learning to do is practice the spiritual disciplines, particularly silence and solitude, biblical meditation and contemplation alongside the practice of mindfulness where I develop an observer of my own thoughts, feelings and behaviours so as to know my inner motivations better. In looking up and out of myself to God in silent contemplation of the greatness of his love, I have begun to change my neurochemistry because the amygdala (the part of the brain that holds emotional memory) is soothed and calmed. This is important because if it is triggered it sends me into the fight, flight or freeze response and this is not a good place to make effective decisions from.
I was interested to read on the Postive Neuroscience Web site (http://www.posneuroscience.org/research-awards.html) that science is now wanting to investigate the effect of spiritual /religious practices on neural function and behaviour as well as the nature of free will. I find this tremendously exciting, because as someone who is a believer and testifies to the power of Jesus to transform and renew the mind it would be fascinating to see what is going on in the brain. Even more exciting would be to explore this comparatively with people of other faiths, no faiths as well as secular spiritualities to see the similarities and differences of effect. As someone who is learning about neuroscience and its application to coaching, I am continually being wowed by what it is revealing because I’ve know it spiritually all along and now have another language to communicate with.
Makes me wonder what Jesus brain looked like -I’m sure he wasn’t the mass of conflicting thoughts and feelings that warred for his attention when trying to decide on a course of action. He was clear thinking in every situation, and respons-able in every situation rather than reactive. Perfectly inter-connected- I like to imagine! He also spent nights in prayer and sweated blood as he agonised to know the Fathers will and submit himself trustingly to it.
I have certainly learn’t that prayer, particularly contemplative prayer has been a key factor in enabling me to change, heal and transform, and that the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to work within us when we stop resisting! Infact even if you are resisting-start there because God can reveal to you the fearful strongholds that are in your way and you can choose to dismantle them as you grow in the security of his love.
Happy New Year Everyone, May the God of Glory show you his goodness in 2014 and may you be transformed in ever increasing measure from grace to grace and glory to glory. Go for the Goal that counts people-it’s priceless and eternal.