Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Maturing Faith: Retreat Sept 26th, 2015

Image result for public domain image of a fall tree


On September 26th, I will be leading a very interesting retreat about second-half of life Christian faith at the First Congregational United Church of Christ.  That day, we'll explore some of the models of spiritual development, work through some group exercises to come up with our own model, chew on the words of saints and current authors, take time to eat together, sing, worship and play a little.

I'll be posting the order of the day here after the retreat, as well as some detailed notes about what we discovered as a group.  That way, even if you can't attend the retreat, you can follow along with our little group in Alpena, MI.  I'll also be posting some links to some great explanations of the many ways thinkers classify spiritual developmental stages.  Not sure any one of them is "right", but I have always believed that knowledge is like pure white light streaming through a stained glass window-- interpretations, even wildly different ones, can still be quite lovely and add to the whole picture of our deeper self understanding.

Here are some of the quotes I will be offering folks that day!

1.       “Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God's own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.”
― Richard RohrFalling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

2.     " In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for 'finding himself.' If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence."  Thomas Merton

3.      "As we experience this love, there is a temptation at times to become hostile to our earlier understandings, feeling embarrassed that we were so "simple" or "naive," or "brainwashed" or whatever terms arise when we haven't come to terms with our own story. These past understandings aren't to be denied or dismissed; they're to be embraced. Those experiences belong. Love demands that they belong. That's where we were at that point in our life and God met us there. Those moments were necessary for us to arrive here, at this place at this time, as we are. Love frees us to embrace all of our history, the history in which all things are being made new.”
-Rob Bell, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived

4.      “Philippians 2:5: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” The words call us up short as to what we are actually supposed to be doing on this path: not just admiring Jesus, but acquiring his consciousness.”
-Cynthia Bourgeault, Wisdom Jesus

5.       “The Christian life is not about pleasing God the finger-shaker and judge. It is not about believing now or being good now for the sake of heaven later. It is about entering a relationship in the present that begins to change everything now. Spirituality is about this process: the opening of the heart to the God who is already here.”  ― Marcus J. Borg, The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith

6.       “One must not always think so much about what one should do, but rather what one should be. Our works do not ennoble us; but we must ennoble our works.” ― Meister Eckhart

7.       “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ's compassion to the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless (people) now.” ― Teresa of Ávila

8.       We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light. --Hildegard of Bingen

9.       “You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”― Thérèse de Lisieux

   “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” --St. Francis of Assisi

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Why Practice Qigong? Some Web Resources

Image result for public domain images of qigong

Here are a few important web-based research resources that show how effectively qigong meets the challenges of depression and anxiety, chronic pain, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, bone density issues, cardiac and cancer rehab, falls and balance problems, immune function, and addiction.  

Kim teaches Qigong Monday mornings at 10:15 at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Alpena, MI

Some Research-Based Information about Qigong

This article is highly technical but if you are willing to wade through it, gives a very well researched overview of the health and psychological benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi.

Results from the Abstract Page

Seventy-seven articles met the inclusion criteria. The 9 outcome category groupings that emerged were: bone density (n=4), cardiopulmonary effects (n=19), physical function (n=16), falls and related risk factors (n=23), Quality of Life (n=17), self-efficacy (n=8), patient reported outcomes (n=13), psychological symptoms (n=27), and immune function (n=6).
Fascinating research that ranges from cancer rehab to helping kick heroin addiction.  Technical reads, but fairly accessible to the general public.
Well-known qigong instructor and therapist Ken Cohen shares some of the strong evidence that qigong is useful in fighting cancer.  Easy to access tables and commentary.
A very easy to read short article in the Wall Street Journal about the benefits of Qigong for folks suffering from depression.  Mention of a cancer study as well.
Easy to digest look at a range of issues helped by Qigong practice, including chronic pain and depression.
Highlights of recent studies include:
  • A review of clinical trials of t’ai chi and qigong in older adults reported in the March 2009 issue of the Western Journal of Nursing Research notes that qigong improves physical functioning, limits fall risk, alleviates symptoms depression and anxiety, and lowers blood pressure in older adults. Last year, that same journal reported that qigong improved the physical health of middle-aged women
  • According to the February 2009 issue of The Journal of Nursing, “evidence-based research supports the argument that qigong improves cardiovascular-respiratory function and lipid profile, decreases blood sugar, and relieves anxiety and depression.”
  • Meanwhile, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine(NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health, has funded many studies related to both practices, linking t’ai chi to improved sleep quality in older adults, increased immunity to shingles virus in older adults, and healthy bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.
  • Clinical trials are underway investigating the use of t’ai chi for fibromyalgia,osteoarthritis of the knee and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Researchers are studying t’ai chi’s benefits for cancer survivors and patients with bone lossheart disease, type 2 diabetes and other conditions.
You will find, if you peruse the web, many more sites with interesting research.  As always, if you are not sure you are a good candidate to begin Qigong, check with your health professional. It is very possible to do qigong not just on land, but also in water, and to use a chair for balance assistance.  Seated Qigong is also a lovely way to enter into this ancient martial art.