Sunday, March 22, 2009

We are spiritual beings living a human life

I have written about this subject before, but for most of us it needs repeating again and again. When we are born again, it means our world is turned upside down.
Most of us are familiar with the idea that we are not human beings having spiritual experiences. Instead, we are spiritual beings having human experiences.
We hear this and even though we may experience a resounding yes in our bodies, we may not take the time to really acknowledge the truth of these statements.
Integrating this idea into how we view ourselves can broaden our sense of who we are and help us appreciate ourselves as brave spirits on an important mission to learn and grow here on Earth. As spiritual beings, we are visitors in this physical realm.
The fact that we came here and lost all memory of what happened to us before we were born is one of the many reasons that it takes so much courage for a soul to incarnate on earth.
This is why spiritual inquiry so often feels like a remembering - because it is. Remembering that we are spiritual beings is part of the work that we are here on earth to do. When we operate from a place of remembering, we tap into the wisdom that our spirit accumulated even before we stepped into this lifetime.
Remembering who we are can give us the patience to persevere when we become overwhelmed or frustrated. It can give us the courage to work through the most daunting challenges and help us trust the ancient wisdom we carry that is offered to us by our intuition. We have chosen to be on earth because there is something we want to learn that can only happen by inhabiting a body. Some of us are here to repay a debt, learn about love, or teach forgiveness. Most of us are here for a combination of reasons, we carry this information in our souls, all we have to do is remember. As you go through your journey, try not to forget how brave you are, being here now. Honor yourself.
On the physical level we have to look for survival methods before we return to the true spiritual plane from which we came.
In our search to define ourselves on Earth, we often look to our job to show us our worth. Society does not judge all professions equally, however, and it is not uncommon for the individuals who hold what others may consider to be ordinary or menial jobs to feel that they themselves are ordinary or menial.
Yet, in truth, many wonderful and wise people throughout history have held what have typically been perceived as ordinary jobs, and this in no way has had any bearing on whether or not they have managed to contribute their skills and talents to the world. Whether you work in business, education, medicine, retail, or another profession, your worth is inherent to who you are and not what you do for a living. A job that you enjoy, lets you meet your needs, and allow you to live in accordance with your values will always be more gratifying than a high-status job that you dislike.
But while experiencing professional satisfaction can be a vital part of being fulfilled by your work, it is important to remember that it is possible to find happiness in any job. This is because what you do is often less important than how you do it.
Your attitude and intention can turn a mediocre job into work that fulfills you because of the way that you approach it. If you do your job well and what you do benefits others, then you are doing work that is making this world a better place. If you are happy in your current line of work and feel that it allows you to be yourself and live authentically while meeting your emotional and physical needs and allowing time for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor, then you have found a job that adds value to your life.
If you are a waitress, then be the best waitress you can, take pride in your work and others will notice your passion. You can contribute your talents and skills to this world while doing any job. It is not the kind of work you do that allows you to be of service. It is you who must choose to be of service through the work that you do.
Just last week, I received my first proof copy of my new novel. I had no idea what the publisher would use to describe me. He chose this as a blurb on the back cover, and I guess it just about sums me up.
“John Wayne Cargile lives in a rural area of Tuscaloosa, Alabama in his dream home with his wife, son and granddaughter. They have three grown children and five grandchildren. The life he lives now is exactly the way he saw his life when he was younger, living out the days in the country and writing novels.”
Remembering what I was meant to do from cradle to grave is what spurs me onward. I must have been a writer in an earlier life.
What else more is there to do, but just to be; love and be loved?

John W. Cargile, Msc.D, D.D. is a licensed pastoral psychology counselor. He is a member of the National Educational Association and Alabama Educational Association. He is the author of a new novel, The Cry of the Cuckoos www.thecryofthecuckoos.com You can contact him at jwcargile@charter.net. All conversations are confidential.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Feeling 'fenced in' can create havoc

There is a fun game on Facebook for all you social netters that allow you to see what the No. 1 Billboard song was on the date you were born.
It’s interesting. It’s like reading your horoscope. Some significance, I suppose, is attached to what the song’s title and lyrics mean to one ’s self.
Well, I played the game and invited some of my Facebook friends to play it. The feedback was compelling. Usually a song’s title has a lot to do with who you are, or that is what I think the game is all about. Is there any meaning to it?
“Don’t Fence Me In,” sung by Gene Autry, was the No. 1 song on Billboard the date I was born some time in the 40’s. I thought it was appropriate because I’m not one to be fenced in.
“Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above, Don't fence me in. Let me ride through the wide open country that I love, Don't fence me in. Let me be by myself in the evenin' breeze, And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees, Send me off forever but I ask you please, Don't fence me in.”
I’m uncertain as to the psychological and sociological impact a statement such as “Don’t Fence Me In,” has in terms of today’s modern world. During the day the song was popular, cowboys like Autry and John Wayne were filling up the movie theaters. Maybe that is one reason I was named John Wayne.
“I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses And I can't look at hovels and I can't stand fences Don't fence me in.”
It was mostly about riding the open ranges as the West was opening up for immigrants to explore the budding new frontier.
But, what does “Don’t Fence Me In,” mean today?
The most important relationship we have in our lives is with our selves. And even though we are the only ones who are present at every moment of our lives—from birth onward—this relationship can be the most difficult one to cultivate.
This may be because society places such emphasis on the importance of being in a romantic partnership, even teaching us to set aside our own needs for the needs of another.
Until we know ourselves, however, we cannot possibly choose the right relationship to support our mutual growth toward our highest potential. By allowing ourselves to be comfortable with being alone, we can become the people with whom we want to have a relationship. Perhaps at no other time in history has it been possible for people to survive, and even thrive, while living alone. We can now support ourselves financially, socially, and emotionally without needing a spouse for survival in any of these realms.
With this freedom, we can pursue our own interests and create fulfilling partnerships with friends, business partners, creative cohorts, and neighbors. Once we’ve satisfied our needs and created our support system, a mate then becomes someone with whom we can share the bounty of all we’ve created and the beauty we’ve discovered within ourselves. As we move away from tradition and fall into more natural cycles of being in the world today, we may find that there are times where being alone nourishes us and other periods in which a partnership is best for our growth.
We may need to learn to create spaces to be alone within relationships. When we can shift our expectations of our relationships with ourselves and others to opportunities for discovery, we open ourselves to forge new paths and encounter uncharted territory.
Being willing to know and love ourselves, and to find what truly makes us feel deeply and strongly, gives us the advantage of being able to attract and choose the right people with whom to share ourselves, whether those relationships fall into recognizable roles or not.
Choosing to enjoy being alone allows us to fully explore our most important relationship—the one with our true selves.
It’s also nice to have a loving relationship where one’s spouse can appreciate the alone times one needs.
Being “fenced in” can create all kinds of havoc within a relationship. If one spouse is dominating and controlling, you might feel a sense of things crowding in around you. You need your space.
Often, a person who feels “fenced in” cannot express how he/she feels, and anger and resentment will follow that relationship until someone explodes.
A case in point happened in south Alabama just last week when a young man killed 10 people and then killed himself. Authorities said he was depressed because he thought he was a failure.
In my limited knowledge of the situation, he was “fenced in,” and the only way out was to take other people’s lives. He needed help. But it didn’t happen. That’s what a deeper meaning of “fenced in” means in my book.
John W. Cargile, Msc.D, D.D. is a licensed pastoral psychology counselor. He is a member of the National Educational Association and Alabama Educational Association. He is the author of a new novel, The Cry of the Cuckoos www.thecryofthecuckoos.com You can contact him at jwcargile@charter.net. All conversations are confidential.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Taming the monkey mind

Nothing sets me on edge as much as noise.
Noisy restaurants, stadiums, malls or grocery stores are some of my hang-ups, and I have tried to deal with it the best I can. The doctor said I have a fear of crowds.
No, I don’t have a fear of crowds, just the noise they produce.
I can’t stand loud people, either. I guess my ears are too sensitive to loud noise.
In our noisy world, we often find ourselves longing for peace and searching to find it somewhere else. But searching for it elsewhere will not help you one iota.
While it’s true that there are places we can visit where we can experience peace we do not need to wait until we get to one of these places to feel at peace.
Instead, we can learn to locate the seed of peace inside ourselves and cultivate it so that it grows into a reliable source of serenity that we can always access, no matter where we are. We experience peace when we are in a state of mental calm and serenity. It might surprise you to notice how infrequently you allow yourself to be free from anxiety. Realizing this is the first step to inner peace. If you wait until all the details of your life are taken care of to allow yourself to experience peace, you will never feel peaceful because there is always something that your mind can grab onto to create anxiety.
It is important to consciously set aside your worries and make time to cultivate inner peace. Ideally, you could schedule time each day to meditate on peace and experience what it feels like to be calm and serene. It takes practice to learn how to let go of your worries, so give yourself some time. Inhale deeply, and feel your worries dissolve with every exhale. Remind yourself that soon enough you will be able to take care of everything you need to, but right now you are taking a break.
As the clutter of your thoughts and concerns clear away, you will start to feel more serene. Allow yourself to move deeper into this state with each inhale. Realize that you have the power to free yourself from anxiety simply by deciding to do so. The more you practice feeling peaceful, the easier it will be for you to feel at peace.
Maybe you have a monkey mind like me.
It’s been called the monkey mind because of the endless chattering in your head as you jump in your mind from thought to thought while you daydream, analyze your relationships, or worry over the future. Eventually, you start to feel like your thoughts are spinning in circles and you’re left totally confused. One way to tame this wild creature in your head is through meditation. Although the paradox is that when you clear your mind for meditation you actually invite the monkey in your mind to play. This is when you are given the opportunity to tame this mental beast by moving beyond thought - to become aware of a thought rather than thinking a thought. The difference is subtle, but significant.
When you are aware of your thoughts, you can let your thoughts rise and float away without letting them pull you in different directions. Being able to concentrate is one of the tools that allow you to slow down your thought process and focus on observing your thoughts. To develop your concentration, you may want to start by focusing on the breath while you meditate.
Whenever your monkey mind starts acting up, observe your thoughts and then return your focus to your breath.
Some breathing meditations call on you to focus on the rise and fall of the breath through the abdomen, while others have you concentrate on the sound of the breath.
Fire can also be mesmerizing, and focusing on a candle flame is another useful tool for harnessing the mind. Keep the gaze soft and unfocused while observing the color, shape, and movement of the flame, and try not to blink.
Close your eyes when you feel the need and continue watching the flame in your head.
However you choose to tame the monkey mind, do so with firm kindness. The next time the chattering arises, notice it and then allow it to go away. With practice, your monkey mind will become quiet and so will you.
Take 10 to 15 minutes after waking by focusing on your breath with your eyes closed, and the same thing before you lay down for sleep. You are de-cluttering that monkey mind of yours.

John W. Cargile, Msc.D, D.D. is a licensed pastoral psychology counselor. He is a member of the National Educational Association and Alabama Educational Association. He is the author of a new novel, The Cry of the Cuckoos www.thecryofthecuckoos.com You can contact him at jwcargile@charter.net. All conversations are confidential.

The Cry of the Cuckoos -- Book Review


“The Cry of the Cuckoos” is the story of a son separated from his biological mother for over sixty years. They were reunited for the first time after she becomes a suspect in the murder of his father. Donald Drummond, the main character, is a retired news reporter. Award-winning writer John Wayne Cargile incorporates similarities from his own life in this novel of
romance, murder, and intrigue.
Cargile’s character development reflects his understanding of flawed personalities. His narrative provides a related analysis of their symptoms, motivations, and resulting actions. The strength of character of the genuine religious or spiritual person is contrasted with the lip service and lifestyle of deception in those motivated by selfishness and greed. These characters become
colorful composites, expressions of idealism, reality, and deception.
I was quickly drawn into the story of “The Cry of the Cuckoos” and the theme of deceit and forgiveness.
Cargile’s writing style is crisp, direct, and engaging. While I found this directness appealing, it may be seen as too simplistic for others. Transitions
of locale or time-frame and the pacing of conflict and resolution confronted by the protagonists were well-paced, maintaining the suspense element of the story.
I felt the story ended quite quickly, somewhat abruptly; however, an “afterward” wrapped up all the loose ends and gave closure to unanswered questions. The final chapters create the possibility of a sequel.
“The Cry of the Cuckoos” by John Wayne Cargile will appeal to readers
who enjoy mystery, intrigue, and romance. Cargile’s writing is thoroughly
entertaining and highly informative.


Reviewed by Richard Blake for Reader Views (11/08)

video