Monday, June 28, 2010

Peace - Be Still

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” ~ Mark 4:39 (KJV)

Be still, and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 46:10

Those words came to mind when one member of our congregation got up after Sunday service and spoke about the many circumstances we are encountering every day with extreme situations such as political unrests, wars, tornadoes, earthquakes, oil spills, family quarrels, etc. She said: don’t shake even if the whole world is shaking. She stressed that this is the time to realign ourselves with God and become calm inside. Rather than be stressed out or get upset, be still and connect with your God.

I am very grateful for this reminder. When we face all the above situations from a human standpoint they are very unsettling. I am grateful that I know that there is a God who has solutions for all of our troubles in life. I can be the one who can stay calm and bring myself in alignment. It may not solve the world situation but I can still influence those around me and give comfort and reassurance.

These are turbulent times, and not everybody will recognize them as the Last Days. If you are not familiar with that term, it refers to the time of ending of the evil sovereignty and the beginning of the new sovereignty with the return of the Messiah. It is the time of great hope because it signals the beginning of the age of goodness.

There have been several last days throughout history. At the time of Noah, God send the flood to end the evil world. At the time of Jesus was another Last Days. Unfortunately, Jesus was killed and the age of goodness could not start at that time.

Many historians point to the years 2012/13 for the greatest changes to take place. The birth pangs of the New World have already started. Volcanoes erupting, earthquakes in many corners of the earth; lots political unrests, and especially our social breakdowns, are many signs and certainly, problems we have to find solutions for. This is definitely a good time to go inside and be calm.

How to stay calm:

--> Pray

Pray for more faith, deeper relationship with God and better relationship with others. Pray to understand more clearly about the times we are living in, and what our responsibility is at this time.

--> Meditate

Contemplate on beautiful scenes in nature. Listen to calming music; breathe in the rich aroma of a summer day with fragrances of flowers, cut grass, and BBQ’s.

--> Read scriptures

Read the psalms or any other passage in scripture to nurture your spirit.

--> Surround yourself with positive people.

Associate with friends and family who are encouraging and faithful. Avoid the complainers and naysayers. Volunteer and help others, more unfortunate than yourself. That gives a whole new perspective on life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice

Today is the first day of summer or the day of the summer solstice.  

It is the longest day with more sunlight, the further north we would go in the Northern Hemisphere. My daughter is in Sweden right now and she emailed: it gets light around 3:00AM and the sun does not go down until midnight. This same pattern is true for the US, Canada, Europe, Central America and Asia.

Sol + stice comes from the Latin word sun and to stand still. When the days get longer during June, the sun rises higher and higher and then seems to stand still in the sky.

Many places in the world are celebrating the summer solstice in June while the Southern hemisphere celebrates their summer solstice in December. The most popular place of celebration is in Stonehenge, Great Britain. This morning more than 20,000 people gathered there to greet the sun and welcomed summer. Other celebrations  are more religiously originated.

Nonetheless, the sun is our most powerful source of light and energy. Enjoy it is often and get the benefit of natural vitamin D. It does the body good and strengthens your bones. If you want to learn more about the astronomical facts of the summer solstice, you can follow that link. 

Otherwise, just enjoy summer and all its benefits of outdoors, fun and sunshine.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Putting your Reticular Activating System to work

Have you been given special tasks to your RAS lately? The RAS is an automatic mechanism inside your brain that serves as a filter between your conscious and subconscious mind bringing relevant information to your attention and it plays a vital role in your ability to achieve goals.

RAS stands for reticular activating system. It is the part of your brain, at the back of your head where the spine meets the skull. It works as a group of brain cells that sorts through all the incoming data and stimuli you encounter and gives you notice of the important things. It is like a secretary which makes you aware of all the stuff you believe are significant to you.

Do you like a red sports car? Every time you see a red sports car, your RAS will help you turn your head toward that red car.

You walk in the mall and suddenly you smell cinnamon, it reminds you of the yummy cinnamon rolls your mom used to bake for your breakfast. You start thinking of your mom.

You hear a song on the radio, a silly tune which you can’t get out of your mind. Your RAS reminds you of a time you listened to that song with a friend and immediately some emotions come up again.

The RAS filters out zillions of messages your five senses are constantly passing along and decides which ones are essential to you. Your RAS works based on the Law of Attraction, what you focus on will come to you.

Now the RAS does not distinguish between positive or negative memories. Your inborn secretary is only attached to deep felt emotions and focuses on events or stuff that is important to you.

Basically, the reticular activating system is part of the brain stem. It is believed that ADD/ADHD is caused by a problem in the reticular activating system.

1) Goals

In his classic 1960 self-help book Psychocybernetics, Dr Maxwell Maltz discusses our automatic goal seeking 'servo-mechanism'. He doesn't use the words reticular activating system, but it is the same process.

Your Reticular Activating System acts as a heat seeking missile which allows your subconscious mind to work on your goal whether you realize it or not.

"Don't concern yourself too much with how you are going to achieve your goal - leave that completely to a power greater than yourself. All you have to do is know where you're going. The answers will come to you of their own accord, and at the right time."

Earl Nightingale ~ 1921-1989, Syndicated Radio Announcer and Author

Write your goals on paper. It is not only the fact that you move your hand according to your thoughts but it also helps you visualize your goals. The RAS is connected to the subconscious mind and that subconscious mind works in pictures. Believing is seeing. The RAS works best with emotion charged expectancy.

Napoleon Hill writes in Think and Grow Rich: “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe he can achieve”.

The RAS does not distinguish between “real” and “imaginary.” That’s why it is crucial to be specific and clear with your goals.

Basically the Reticular Activation System is how the Law of Attraction works. We get what we focus on; we create what we think about and the RAS system of our brains just helps this process along.

“For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” ~ Proverbs 23:7

What if the goal writing does not work? Then we have to check our core values. If there is a discrepancy between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind, e.g. if your desires and values are not congruent with your beliefs, then the RAS does not have the clear goal to shoot for. That’s probably the greatest disappointment for many who constantly sabotage themselves. Check with your beliefs and find that clear target and you’ll achieve your goals.


It helps to reassure the RAS with affirmations  which means you repeat certain phrases over and over again. That keeps your mind focused on positive things. Affirmation can be formulated in many different ways. Try “I am healthy, happy and whole” statements or “You are beautiful” or just positive statements like: “Let go and let God” or “One day at a time.”


It is also crucial to visualize your goals continuously. The subconscious mind responds to pictures. Use all your five senses to reinforce the picture and do it in the morning and before going to sleep when the mind is most receptive to new imprints.

2) Pay Attention

Indeed, learning to live in the "now" may be critical to your success. As change expert Price Pritchett puts it, "Fast growth requires ... a strong sense of 'now-ness.'" You have to maximize the value of the moment.

Price Pritchett: "Pay attention. Consciously watch how you're spending the fleeting now, and consider the payback you'll get. Are you making a good investment of your hours and minutes? Or are you wasting these scarce resources ... spending time on stuff that offers little return ... fumbling the opportunity for fast growth?"

You need to show great respect for the now. If you fill it with right behaviors, you'll be rewarded with fast results.

Another key point is focus. In our communication oriented society with media and electronics blaring at us, it is most important to understand that paying attention sometimes needs a sacrifice. We need to shut down some or all of the channels of influences and just be quiet to have enough energy to “pay attention.”

Humans have a limited ability to cope with stimuli. When we reach that limit (about 100,000 words or 34 gigabytes), any other input results in stress. Multitasking may get you done a lot but it may be at the risk of your health and wellbeing. The other aspect is that you may not get done anything at all. Rather than staying busy all the time, take breaks or as Katy Read in a recent article in the AARP magazine suggests, “Tame your information appetite.”. In her article, she quotes: Study your habits and limit your inputs. Exercise your concentration muscles by reading books or meditating. Write a list of important tasks to yourself rather than doing all the tasks right away. Best is to take a break at times, take a walk, have a cup of coffee with a friend or play with your dog. And last but not least she suggests, let go of the impulse to knowing the answers or names of things you just can’t figure out at the moment. Relax – things will come to you naturally later.

3) Law of Attraction 

Since the movie "The Secret" came out more people are talking about the law of attraction.  Sometimes this law is also called the law of sewing and reaping.  We attract what we put out.  Everything flows out from us, if we want to be happy, we have "to be happy" first.  It comes from a state of mind.  Unfortunately, we are taught to want and get rather "to be" first.  We are human "beings" not human doings.  We are spiritual and energy not only a mechanic machine.  We attract what we focus on.

4) How Media uses RAS’s functions for advertising.

They use the law of repetition. By the very fact that commercials are repeatedly send to our televisions, will eventually make us buy the desired products. To establish any new habit or to retrain your body takes between 21-60 days. Repetition works in all aspects and we need to use some willpower to avoid being “talked” into something we don’t want to do.

The human brain evolved 500,000 years ago and in many ways is ill equipped for today’s challenges. Nonetheless, the RAS can help us focus on important tasks or desired goals. It can also help us to avoid overload, overwork and overwhelm. Because the RAS dips deep into our subconscious mind which is the storage place of all of your life’s experiences, emotions, memories, and beliefs. Let the RAS help you access this deep reservoir for your own good.

Monday, June 7, 2010

An Idea Whose Time has come …

It's been almost 50 years to the day that my family left East Germany on June 5, 1961.  I grew up in the Eastern part of Germany. In my early childhood, my family’s favorite pastime was to talk about the possibility of reuniting Germany. We would spend afternoons, talking softly about this subject, mainly because it was a crime to leave the East or to even develop a plot of escape.

The original quote came from Victor Hugo, in History of a Crime written and published in the 19th century. I am referring to the downfall of the Berlin wall and the fall of communism during the 20th century.

I like to share with you today some of the events that lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the following fall of communism.

After WWII, the allies divided Germany into four parts. The three western allies, United Stated, Great Britain and France agreed to form the Federal Republic of Germany, a democracy. The fourth ally, the Soviet Union, formed the German Democratic Republic, a communist state. The division between these two countries became known as the “Iron Curtain.”

People on the communist side tried several times to rise up against the communist rulers. The first time was in 1953, when only 50 construction workers in Berlin stated a strike. Other citizens who were also dissatisfied with the slow economy and the living circumstances marched into the streets of Berlin to revolt against their government. On June 17, 1953, Soviet tanks and soldiers crushed this revolt and several hundred people lost their lives. June 17th was from then on celebrated every year until 1990 as the day of German unity.

In the fall of 1956, in Hungary, students took to the streets of Budapest, and demonstrated against their government which became known as the Hungarian Revolution. The students demanded removal of Soviet troops, free elections, and free trade among 13 other points of national policy demands. Even though, the demonstrations continued for several days spreading throughout the country, in which the government fell. But by November 10, the Soviet regime had crushed all resistance, and more than 2,000 people lost their lives. 

Third attempt during the Cold War for democratization happened in 1968 in Prague which became known as “Prague Spring.” Reformist Alexander Dubcek, wanted to grant greater rights to the citizens of Czechoslovakia. He demanded more freedom in media, speech and travel. Again, the Soviets responded by sending troops and the only result of the demonstrations were, that the country became divided into Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Then came the fateful year of 1989. It seemed that the time had come for all the ideas and hopes for the end of the Cold war to become fruitful. The facts are that the Berlin Wall toppled; Romanian dictator Ceausecu was executed; solidarity became the trade union of choice in Poland; and throughout Eastern Europe, communism staggered and fell, while the world looked on in awe.

Looking at these external events, we have to ask ourselves, what was the cause behind these historic changes? What motivated ordinary citizens to challenge the awesome powers of dictatorship, and win?

Deteriorating economic and political situations throughout Eastern Europe put up more and more pressure on their political leaders. The people became restless, first only in whispering tones, but as more and more voices joined in, the mutterings became stronger and stronger. The cries of priests and parishioners, students and workers, intellectuals and peasants, began to be heard. Carrying only candles of peace, like the children of Israel marching around Jericho with their trumpets, the people of Eastern Europe sounded the trumpet of truth and shouting out their demands. Unarmed and disarming, bathed in the pure light of thousands of candles, the voices of many united together. Finally, the walls came tumbling down. The walls of deceit and lies that had fenced these people in for decades, the walls of rules and repression that had cut off their basic human rights and freedoms, the walls of atheistic philosophy that had imprisoned their very natures as spiritual beings. The result was that the symbol of the Communist system, the Wall itself, crumbled.

What happened? Mass demonstration happened frequently, until the head of the East German state, Erich Honecker, resigned. The new government prepared a new law to lift travel restrictions for East German citizens. In the morning of November 9, 1989, one official was asked when the new rules will come into force. He wasn’t sure, so he replied, immediately. Right away a few people pushed themselves through the border crossings, and by 10:30 PM, the borders were officially opened.

As you remember, Gorbachev initiated Perestroika and Glasnot in the Soviet Union in 1984. These reforms in the Soviet Union also had its effects on the other communist countries, especially Poland and Hungary.

Earlier in 1989 Hungary had already opened its borders to Austria, and some 13,000 East Germans fled to West Germany.

Since the days following June 17, 1956 as many as 10,000 protesters and members of the strike committees were arrested. More than 1,500 of these were given lengthy prison sentences. Despite the crackdown, the revolt quietly simmered in Eastern Europe for decades to come until the peaceful protests of 1989. Behind the scene of politics, the people’s hope didn’t die down and with prayer and perseverance heaven honored their commitment. The candle light vigils and quiet demonstrations were more powerful because an idea’s time had come. That time around the Soviet tanks stayed off the streets and within a year the Berlin Wall fell and East and West Germany were reunited.