Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Brain Wellness

I am headed to Atlanta again this week and I'm ready to explain from a different angle what I have been learning as a brain specialist and what I am bringing back to Utah with me. I already wrote a more concrete description of QNRT here.

I am delighted to work with others who are not of my faith, yet I recognize that in Utah, many of my clients will likely share similar beliefs with me. I recognize that you may have a different Higher Power than me and I honor and respect that. I want to make it clear that QNRT isn't a religion nor is it associated with religion. I am writing this to bring clarity to individuals wanting to understand more of what has personally attracted me to QNRT and why I am offering it to my clients.

This first part of what is on my mind probably isn't new to you (unless this is the very first post that you have read here). As part of God's grand design to shape us and develop us to become like Him, we left our home of perfect Love and Light. We came to this existence where we are surrounded by people who may mean well but are acclimated to this fallen world. They influenced our young or vulnerable minds in ways that left us questioning or wondering. Other individuals may have more malicious intents either consciously or subconscious and for whatever reasons specific to them, caused us hurt or harm. Sometimes we experienced deep pain, loss, and disappointment simply as part of living in a fallen world governed by the laws of this sphere. Other wounds have came as the result of our own actions. Each one of us have a unique story---a journey---both in the ways we step farther and farther away from Love, Light and Truth and also our return to Them. Although those details will be specific to God's plan for us individually, the pattern is the same. Each one of our journeys includes or will include trauma.

Trauma happens in those moments where we lose pieces of the vision of who we really are and what we have been sent to this earth to accomplish. Trauma causes us to become blinded to not only the truths of who we really are, but also who others are and the way this world "works."Another essential realization we must discover is that trauma not only leaves holes in our spirits and our minds, but it also completely rewires our bodies---especially our nervous systems and brains. Operating without the previous knowledge we had carefully accumulated before coming to this earth and the changes to our minds, bodies, and spirits can easily keep us stuck and blinded to the lies that have started to take root at these critical times.

The happiest news of all is that God not only anticipated all of this, but He prepared for it. Every aspect of this journey is by Divine design---not only collectively for God's children, but also personally for each one of us. That includes you! At the very heart of His plan is His Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life and offered a perfect sacrifice. His Atonement completely covers every experience and all aspects of those experiences we have had, are currently passing through, or will face in the future. Your Savior is calling to you. He can guide you. He knows the path you must walk to find peace and healing and He wants to show you yours. No two individuals will walk exactly the same path. More on this in a moment, but let's first explore a bit more about how mental/emotional/spiritual trauma can change the body.

Is it really far fetched to believe that what happens to us mentally or spiritually also effects our bodies? Look at the how "...Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness" (Alma 15:3, emphasis added; See also Alma chapters 14&15). How about Lehi and Sariah? " parents being stricken in years, and having suffered much grief because of their children, they were brought down, yea, even upon their sick-beds" (1 Nephi 18:17, emphasis added). President Benson said, "Sin debilitates; it affects not only the soul but the body. The scriptures are replete with examples of the physical power that can attend the righteous. On the other hand, unrepented sin can diffuse energy and lead to both mental and physical sickness. Disease, fevers, and unexpected deaths are some of the things that have been directly related to disobedience. Jesus healed a man of a physical malady and then told him in John, chapter 5, verse 14, to ‘sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.’ Galahad said that his strength was as the strength of ten because his heart was pure" (emphasis added).

Now I'm not saying that everything that "goes wrong" with our bodies or minds or spirituality is linked back to our disobedience, sin, or always related to trauma; however, consider these beautiful words from Sister Nelson. "Of course, diseases can just happen--some are hard wired.

"...Even our conversations do not go unnoticed by our cells. Have you noticed that? Have you ever had a conversation that helped you feel lighter, brighter? And conversely, have you had a conversation that gave you a headache?" (Wendy Watson Nelson, Ph. D., Purity and Passion, Spiritual Truths about Intimacy that will Strengthen Your Marriage, pgs. 24-25). Our bodies are changed by what is happening inside of us mentally and spiritually and how we process the world around us.

What about the opposite? What about our bodies having an effect on our minds or spirits? Have you ever wondered why one of the promises of keeping the Word of Wisdom is "...find[ing] wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures" (D&C 89:19)? President Benson also said, "There is no question that the health of the body affects the spirit, or the Lord would never have revealed the Word of Wisdom. God has never given any temporal commandments—that which affects our stature affects our soul." Try an experiment, maybe even right now. Notice how changing the way we breathe or the shape of our bodies changes how we feel. How do you feel inside when you become more mindful to your breath...when you choose to slow it down and take in more air with a long inhale and exhale? How is your mental or emotional state change by taking a power stance such as standing in a letter X shape with your arms and legs spread wide and head held high? Simply changing our breath and body shape can have instant or nearly instant effects on what is happening inside of us.

Christ is always our answer. Every single time. I'm not sure I can fully articulate what is in my heart, but I will try. It isn't that He can't be our direct answer as much as sometimes it's on our end of things. Sometimes we are so blinded, consumed, distracted, stuck, or buried---whatever it may be for you---that we cannot yet handle His direct light. It's impossible for it to fully penetrate through without allowing the debris from all that we have experienced to this point to first be removed. Maybe we are stuck at the physical or mental level and need some leverage there first and that is exactly where He is trying to lead us.

Comparing today with when I first started my return journey, I can hear my Savior's voice much clearer. I know how to come to Him for what I need. There isn't as much muck and overwhelming trauma to distract away from that and when things do come up, we work on them together. It's taken seeking, time, practice, and experience. Even then, He still works through means to reach me. His ways can show up in any form because He knows me and who I am right at this moment. Sometimes He speaks to me through the scriptures or other inspired words. Other times it's thoughts, impressions, or feelings during prayer or as I write in my journal. Sometimes it's through an interaction with a loved one. Sometimes it's as I move my body on my yoga mat. Other times it's in the beauty of nature. It's in moments of joy and love. Today it was the overwhelming peace as I walked up to the enter the temple. The ways I hear His voice may not be how, where, or when you hear Him. He is all around us and in everything, we simply need to practice listening for ourselves!

For my own personal journey, it meant that my Savior worked through means and called to me in multiple forms. Many of us must first peel back layers of healing in our bodies and minds before we can tolerate the deep spiritual healing. It can also make the necessary spiritual work more clear. My journey absolutely included Jesus Christ! He has not only worked with me through spiritual healing, but He has also been my constant power source and compass as I navigate through physical and mental healing, too. In addition to all the ways He has called to me spiritually through scriptures study, prayers, church attendance, and temple worship so that my faith in Jesus Christ could be deepened in order to repent, forgive, and become a new person, He also called to me to discover my own body through powerful tools and experiences. My body needed healing from the effects of trauma just as desperately as my mind and spirit and He knew that. My journey has also included the mental healing that He lead me to. That meant years of group and private therapy as well as 12-step programs and additional opportunities for training and other profound experiences. All of these means have moved me closer to Him in the right way and order for me. For most of us, even with quantum shifts, it is still a process...and one that we can approach with some tools. He always meets us where we are at. I have learned that our bodies can be an excellent starting point for many of us to begin to break through the darkness, lies, and experiences over our life times.

There are countless tools, approaches, and opportunities to progress. There are never-ending combinations of how to take our journeys back to God as we find wholeness in Christ. What is an answer for one won't be an answer for another. I am not pretending to have "the answer" because Christ is our one and only answer---yet each one of us will find Him differently. Even within the gospel of Jesus Christ there are answers to heal from trauma not only spiritually and mentally, but also physically (such as the ways the Holy Ghost interacts with our bodies or why the ordinances all include our physical bodies so much).  But maybe the skills that I have been developing this year to support the physical effects of trauma will add to your journey. If so, I am grateful for the privilege to help support you! If you are even the tiniest bit curious for more concrete details about QNRT then I invite you to check out my page HERE. However you move forward in your journey, I send you love!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Closer to Christ

President Eyring said these beautiful words, “We grow closer to the Savior as 
we, out of pure love, serve others for Him” (Source). God places individuals into our 
care (see Acts 27:24). We can be “helpers of [other’s] joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24
because as we “ another’s burdens…[we] fulfil the law of Christ” 
(Galatians 6:2). D&C 132:12 (emphasis added) helps us understand more clearly 
what the law of Christ is, “ man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my 
word, which is my law, saith the Lord.” Our ultimate goal is to point others to Christ 
because Christ can bring them back into God’s presence. As we minister, we stand
 as beacons of light. The Savior said, "...hold up your light that it may shine unto the
 world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up" (3 Nephi 18:24). We are beacons 
of Christ's light.

There is something wonderful that happens in our hearts and to our souls as we seek to gather more of God’s children into His care and do all in our power to wear out 
our lives in pointing them to Christ. By nature of sending us to the front lines of this 
battle, God blesses us with the most cutting-edge technology in terms of spiritual 
gifts and abilities to do this work with Him.  It literally changes us as our Father 
grants us this sacred privilege to reach, love, and powerfully serve His children 
on His behalf.

As the changes in us ripple out from our heart, to our families, to our wards and  stakes, to our communicates and nations, and fills the entire earth, little by little we build Zion--- a place worthy to receive our Lord and Savior. We may have the privilege of building up Zion and being there to greet Him as “...a people [prepared] to meet the Lord and Enoch’s band triumphant in the air” (HYMNS #41).   Maybe meeting our precious Savior isn’t to be at that spectacular moment of His earthly return, but at some closer date as we are able to pass through the veil. Regardless of when we see Him with our mortal eyes, it will not change that we already know Him. We have already seen Him with our spiritual eyes!  “ a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation  comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way” (Source, emphasis added). We don’t have to wait until we can kiss His wounds or be in His physical presence to know Him! “...when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (Moroni 7:48). His image is already written in our countenance.

Because of all our Savior has done to bring us back into God’s presence, not just collec-tively, but personally, one day you and I will kneel at the feet of our Maker. “Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us(Source).

That indescribable moment of joy can only be sweetened by knowing we helped to bring at least " soul" along with us (see D&C 18:15).

Previous Section HERE

Seek for and Follow Personal Revelation

My second and third suggestion are so tightly interwoven, it was difficult to 
separate them from each other.  How do we know what to do?  How do we 
know what to say?  How do we know who to reach out to and when to take 
action?  Let me offer these words by Bonnie L. Oscarson for your consideration, 
“What good does it do to save the world if we neglect the needs of those closest to
 us and those whom we love the most? How much value is there in fixing the world 
if the people around us are falling apart and we don’t notice? Heavenly Father may
 have placed those who need us closest to us, knowing that we are best suited to 
meet their needs” (Source).

I think her words can give us a good starting point, knowing that those receiving 
the most of our influence should be those closest to us such as family, those 
immediately around us, and those who we are emotionally or geographically close 
to.  When she said these words during Conference, The Spirit whispered to me that 
it means my husband and kids get the most of me, then extended family and friends, 
then those who I am serving in other ways with my business and calling, then my 
efforts with social media or to reach out to complete strangers. It isn’t always like that 
or rigidly like that, but I found it to be a good guide for me personally to sum up my 
daily living.

As we take time each day to invite The Spirit and we tell God in our prayers that 
because of our love for Him, we will be on His errand for that day, we can know 
what to do and say.  If we ask for opportunities to be lead to those who are ready to 
receive, He will direct us to cross paths with others in miraculous ways. Sometimes 
"knowing what needs to be done" may come simply as someone coming to our minds.  
Maybe God needs us to text, call, visit, or contact that person in any way. Sometimes 
it may come with specific instructions of what needs to be done or said. I have been 
on both ends of this process. Our willingness to act on what we perceive to be a 
prompting will always be a blessing. 

I had a recent tender experience from the giving end that was so prfound. I walked 
into Relief Society a few months ago and noticed a mom rocking a screaming toddler 
in the doorway. I hadn’t ever seen her before, and so I stopped to talk to her. Sure 
enough, it was her first Sunday in our ward. We chatted at the surface level and after 
I welcomed her to the ward, I left to sit by a sister I knew where we struck up a 
conversation. Suddenly in the middle of our gabbing, I heard distinctly, 

“Katy, go back and get that baby.” I started to dismiss it, telling myself that it would be 
creepy and she might think I was trying to steal her baby, but the thought persisted. 
Before I could argue with myself again, I jumped up, and walked back to the doorway. 
“Hey,” I said. “I know I just met you, but would it be okay if I took your baby out into 
the hallway? That way you can enjoy the meeting and I will stay right where you can 
see me.” I was surprised as she willing and immediately shoved him into my arms and 
turned to find a seat. I set him down and he instantly stopped crying. We had a grand 
hour together in the hallway playing and laughing together. Later, I found out that this 
same woman was actually recently divorced. She is the single-mom to not only her 
(then) 16-month-old, but also a 3-year-old. In addition to working full time and trying to 
figure out life as a single parent, she is also seeking to be re-baptized. 

Later, she asked me how I knew. I told her what had happened and that all I can say is 
that God loves her and knows her. I had no idea who she was or what was going on in 
her life, let alone the thoughts and battle going on in her head at that very moment 
that I reached out to her. She shared that a few seconds before I came back, she had 
decided that it was pointless to stay. She had already wrestled with both kids through 
Sacrament meeting and her fussy toddler through the Sunday School block. She was 
nearly convinced to not only throw in the towel for Relief Society, but also her seemingly
 bright idea to come back into full fellowship was quickly fading. I was completely 
stunned by this. This experience also blessed, taught, and reminded me how eager 
God is to help us in our efforts to support others in their journeys in drawing closer to 
Jesus Christ.

We need not fear that we will "do it wrong."  Can you see that such thoughts are from 
Satan?  If only we could step back and see that we don't have to be perfect at this.  
We don't have to come up with who, what, or how to reach on our own.  God needs
 people who are willing.  That is all.  He will take care of the rest.  If there are 
special circumstances needed or specific strengths, He will provide it.  

That brings another recent experience with this now dear friend to my mind as well. 
We had our annual Stake party at the swimming pool a few weeks ago. My family 
said our goodbyes and headed home to get our kids tucked in bed. I received a 
phone call that this same friend who had shared a beach chair with our bags was 
missing her car keys. We looked through our things and I asked our other friend 
who had been with u s to do the same. No keys. By now it was after 10 pm. It was 
dark and getting cold fast. She had wet, tired, and freezing young children. I texted 
her that I was coming right then and would at least get her home for the night and 
we would figure out what to do about her car tomorrow. I literally jumped into my car 
without my shoes (let alone my purse). 

As I was quickly zooming down the road to get back to the pool, I suddenly noticed 
flashing lights in my review mirror. They were for me. As I pulled over, rolled my window 
down, and tried to fumble with the jockey box with my shaky hands to dig for the 
information, the officer approached. He asked if I knew why I was pulled over. 
"I was probably speeding." I was...and then some.:) He had clocked me as I flew past. 
All but in tears I explained why I was in such a hurry, showed him my bare feet, and 
explained that I didn't even have my license because of how quickly and unexpectedly 
I had hopped in the car. I'm not sure if he was skeptical and trying to catch me in a lie, 
but he offered to follow me over to the pool because he had a flood light to help us 
search for her keys. (And he even generously let me off with a stern warning). :)

As we got to the pool, I helped warm the kids in my pre-heated car and kept them 
entertained. My friend decided to retrace her steps with the officer and his powerful 
spot light. She had been all over...not only the pool, but also the pavilion and the 
playground as well as the parking lot. You may guess what happened that night. With 
the assistance of the flood light, she found her keys! I am convinced that our cell phones 
were not powerful enough to do the job. Not only did I get to witness that miracle, but 
she also knew the police officer personally. It brought her comfort in that moment and 
also gave her the chance to catch up with someone who is important to her.

As I got home and finished helping Mark tuck our kids in, I shared all the excitement. 
He asked, "Are you trying to tell me that you were supposed to speed so you could get 
pulled over?" I honestly have no idea, but what I do know is that my friend had everything 
she needed that night. :) If we are willing and special circumstances are needed, God 
will find a way to get us whatever is needed.

If we stand tall and take confidence in Him rather than our own puny arm, it can help
remove that fear because look what Truth hopefully plopped right into your Belief Box.  
I promise if we take action both in starting our day seeking for opportunities, then do 
our best to act upon the personal revelation we receive as thoughts, feelings, impressions,
 or observations are brought to our attention, God will do all the rest.  He will put us in 
the right place at the right time with all we need to have or say in order to love His 
children in the ways that will help them find Christ.  

Elder Rasband spoke of being God’s first responders. “[The Holy Ghost] points us 
to opportunities to teach the gospel, to bear testimony of the Restoration and Jesus 
Christ, to offer support and concern, and to rescue one of God’s precious children.

“Think of it as being what is called a first responder. In most communities the first 
responders to a tragedy, disaster, or calamity are firefighters, police officers, 
paramedics. They arrive with lights flashing, and may I add, we are so incredibly 
grateful for them. The Lord’s way is less obvious but requires just as immediate a 
response. The Lord knows the needs of all His children—and He knows who is 
prepared to help(Source, emphasis added).

Here are some seemingly "small" things that were a lifeline during our times of struggle:

Our third child’s pregnancy was physically and mentally taxing.  We had weekly or 
every other week appointments with our doctor or specialists.  It was wearing after 
4 months! One woman in our ward wrote down the date of our next appointment 
and tracked how many weeks I was. I found out later she literally went home and 
wrote it on her calendar.  She would call me by the end of our Dr. appointment days 
if she hadn't heard from me. She would ask the next date at the end of the conversation. 

I can't exactly explain why, but it brought so much comfort to know that my struggles 
were not just mine to bear alone in silence.  Her thoughtful efforts helped me know 
that there was at least someone else who really cared cared, especially on the difficult 
Dr. appointment days!  Although we were blessed with a beautiful miracle that resulted 
in a healthy child, we had constant up’s and down’s during this pregnancy. The 
appointments up until the last few months continued to bring more and more bad news.  

8 years later, I can see God's love in this!  I know she was seeking for inspiration on 
how best to support our family.  She was on God's errand to lighten my burden and to 
help me feel God's love during this difficult and discouraging time. She wasn’t the only 
one who did this either. Looking back, it’s amazing that God answered each individual 
who sought for inspiration on my behalf as to what I needed to find Christ. Each one 
received a different answer. As our needs were many and complex, it required multiple 
individuals each doing what God needed them to do to not only meet our needs, 
but again, point us to Christ through our trials.

This same dear woman did many other things like carve a heart into the mashed 
potatoes of the shepherd's pie she brought for dinner one night.  A few weeks ago 
I "happened" to find a note she had written me of encouragement and love. I can't 
count how many notes like that arrived in the mail box or were attached to other 
things she lovingly assembled to offer when she would visit our home.  

She was one of the first visitors to come after I miscarried our twins.  She didn't 
even need to say anything as she sat at the foot of my bed that day.  I can't 
remember what we discussed, but I knew because of the front-row seat she had 
chosen to take over the years, she knew how much I was hurting that day and the 
reassurance I needed that God was over this pregnancy too.  Through the years 
of service to our family, she did so as imperceptibly as possible. So did the others 
in our ward. They never took a shred of praise or gratitude. They always directed 
us to thank God for the blessings. That made it so easy to see Him.

Many times we don't have to "fix it."  God can send us on His errand, like my dear 
friend, to simply let us know we aren't alone and that we are loved.  Our willingness 
may be that we lend a listening ear or gently offer a, “Me too. That has happened to 
me,” may be all that is needed for God to touch an individual at a critical time and 
open the door through the light of Christ for deeper discovery of our Savior personally. 
Even if the individual’s current circumstances can't be changed or quickly repaired, 
reaching as The Spirit directs will be just what is needed---even if it isn't recognized 
at the moment for what it is.  

As we listen to The Spirit, we can be directed on how to respond when we are 
privileged to the details of others struggles.  Many times we may just need to 
validate, again, responding with empathy and touching that part of us that knows 
what hurt or anger or disappointment, etc. feels like.  When I had repeat miscarriages, 
I didn't need it "fixed." Comments like "You're young---you will have more," 
"Aren't you glad that God let that deformed child pass," "You'll raise your baby in 
the millennium," etc., didn't do for me what, "I am sorry for your loss," did in terms 
of "giving me permission" to feel hurt, frustrated, angry, or grieve.  Sometimes that 
is what The Spirit may direct us to do.

Sometimes The Spirit will direct us to pray for those around us.  I have felt such 
prayers---the prayers of the righteous on my behalf (see Mormon 5:21).  Those 
who love me as God loves me, pleading according to their faith, that I would not 
only have what I needed to weather through, but also to find Christ in my struggles.  
When you have been prayed for like that, it can be difficult to put into words. It 
is something you feel. As I look back, I know that such prayers were all that held 
us together at certain times of our struggles.

As we seek to be lead by The Spirit, God knows the meaningful ways we can 
serve those around us that will best point them to Christ---for it is only in 
establishing a personal relationship with Christ that we can pass through 
these fiery trials and to be able to receive the intended refinement.

I think of our Prophet's recent words, "Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will
perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We
will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside
over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to
survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence
of the Holy Ghost.

"My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual
capacity to receive revelation." We must rise up like never before. 
We must be sharper and clearer instruments and learn how to receive personal 
revelation with accuracy and precision. 

Our Prophet also recently gave the charge to our youth to gather Israel. I was 
delighted, yet surprised. How are they (and we) to accomplish this? I believe it's 
actually a form of ministering. We gather in God's children one at a time as each 
has the individually tailored invitation to come unto Christ. We know how to offer 
that necessary invitation through personal revelation. We know what to say. We
know how to respond. We know what to do. Just like so many other things we 
have visited together in this book, learning how to the Holy Ghost speaks to you 
through personal revelation is also a process. It is one that we must improve at 
(and quickly as our prophet has warned us). :)

God knows His children!  We need not shrink in fear.  We don't have to guess 
or fumble. We simply need to ask Him to show us how to do it and He will show 
us how to reach to those in our ward and stake families in ways that will be 
meaningful, precise, in pointing them to Christ and to feel of God's love for them.  
As individuals seek to build Zion and collectively we practice this pattern in our 
ward and stake families, we can be as a lever to partner with God in lifting and 
rescuing those from places of darkness, discouragement, and overwhelm.

May God grant us the strength to do it!

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