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Deepening Change, Introduction to Workbook

by Melissa Martin  
11/24/2011 / Christian Living

Deepening Change explores in-depth meaning, spirituality, altruism, benevolence, empathy, compassion, and dialogue about life and death issues. The focus is on both inside and outside change. I share personal experiences and reflections on self-exploration, self-understanding, self-acceptance, self-love, and my journey to deepening change.

Directions and Guidance
Before you begin your journey to deeper change, I suggest you share, converse, and process the content with a friend, partner, or mentor. I invite you to covet a quiet corner while you read, reflect, and ponder. Or perhaps you prefer a blanket spread out in your backyard, on a rooftop, or by a stream. Maybe you prefer an overstuffed chair with your old raggedy blanket. When I read I put on sweats, take off my bra, and snuggle on a loveseat with a pillow, fuzzy blanket, and the cats. When I read from the laptop I lounge in my recliner. During intermission, I drink hot tea in the winter and iced tea in the summer. My mind joins in the dialogue with the author as I hyper-focus and temporarily block out the world outside my front door. I usually read with pen and pad in order to jot down ideas and insights. I consider deepening change to be an interactive workbook with questions, activities, and exercises for you to participate in along the way. Therefore before you begin to read I will ask you to answer the following questions and statements:

Describe what a deeper change means to you?
What brought you to this journey at this time in your life?
What type of change are you searching for?
How do you want your life to be enhanced?
Discuss any recent epiphanies.
Elaborate on the meaning of deep down change?
Do you consider yourself to be a self-changer? Explain.

The subject of change rings different in America and democratic countries. Imagine telling people in communist regions that they can become self-changers and follow their dreams, goals, and utmost desires. Tell that to the families whose loved ones have been kidnapped, tortured, raped, and murdered. Living with the gift of liberty and freedom shines a human rights spotlight on the opportunity to choose to make changes. Choicea word we take for granted in the United States. Some theorists proclaim that we can choose how we think, feel, and behave concerning any situation in the environment but I harbor some skepticism. What about Katrina victims, soldiers in Iraq, parents of murdered children, or cancer patients? Human beings are not flesh and blood robots. We are enmeshed in the world outside of the mind through our sensory organs. We see, smell, taste, hear, and touch. We are made up of the environment; minerals and water. Cremate a deceased body and the bones turn to blackish gray ashes. And we must eat of the environment to sustain life. Without food and water we perish. Without vitamins and minerals we succumb to illness. Our bodies are created to feel pain. Without the pain signal how would we know to seek treatment when we step on a rusty nail or when a grain of sand flies into our eye? We cannot exorcise the bodily sensations from the mind. We cannot purge the natural world from our brains. We cannot separate from nature and survive. How interesting that monks wall themselves away from the outside world to try to meditate and pray their way out of humanness and into the realm of earth otherness. The spiritual giants, Gandhi and Mother Teresa tended to the body and soul. They both desired to change the environment of suffering. Neither hid on their knees in the middle of nowhere; they walked among hurting people and aching humanity without judgmental stones and pompous egos. Using empathy, compassion, hope, and peace as vehicles they embraced the ideology of bringing change to the masses. Gandhi desired independence for India and Mother Teresa desired food, clean water, adequate shelter, medical care and medicine, and employment. However, in doing so, Mother Teresa willingly denied herself sexuality, marriage, and motherhood, and Gandhi despised his inborn desire for sexual intimacy with his wife. Can you disconnect sexuality from the soul and why would you? The seeking of physical pleasure is not a weakness, but becomes a weakness when enslaved to the exclusion of the mind and spirit.

On the other hand, we are mind, body, and spirit. The body houses the mind and the spirit. Can you disconnect one from the other? Destroy the mind and the spirit is trapped inside a comatose body. Ignore the spiritual dimension and the mind and body continue to function. Starve the body, and the mind expires and the spirit departs into an unearthly realm. Of course, this view depends upon your individual theology and philosophy of humankind and spirituality or religion. I believe we exist in a physical and spiritual universe surrounded by molecules, energy, electric waves, sound waves, light waves, and undiscovered mysteries. We are living organisms on a terrestrial orb of dirt, but we are so much more. Human beings and their environment are complex and paradoxical enigmas. However, each human being matters. I matter. YOU matter.

Our brain is a magnificent work of art with the consistency of gelatin. The brain is the basis of the mind; a circuitry composed of thinking and feeling; personality and motivation; attitude and aptitude; values and interests; and wondrous workings. Our emotions inhabit our brains in areas called amygdala and hippocampus. Our essence dwells in an astonishing domicile called the body. Where does our spirit dwell? Some
say in the soul which is a combination of the intellect, the will, and emotion; others say in the body; and some posit atheist views. A human is a miraculous creation.

What is my point? The mind, body, and spirit coexist and making changes involves all three entities. The mind, body, and spirit coexist with and in the environment and deep change involve all these elements. We can learn the tools to change how we think, feel, act, and react.

But how do we arrive at a deeper change when we hustle and bustle through our busy lives with daily hurry and scurry? And just what is a deeper change? Well, it depends on the individual's viewpoint. You, the reader, will be exposed to my postulations, theories, hypothesizes, opinions, logic, conclusions, and ideas, and you will make meaning by absorbing, rejecting, and incorporating bits and pieces into what you already know. Your brain will scan through your values, culture, subculture, religion, belief system, and a hundred other factors residing in your memory. You will use your critical thinking skills to analyze, ponder, reflect, and evaluate. You will apply your emotional system to your reasoning and finally conclude with your opinion. No doubt, you will agree and disagree with elements of my philosophy until your mind wraps around a self-made perspective. This journey is not about being right or wrong.

Perhaps you will be motivated to read scholarly textbooks on theology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology, human development, or other subjects that peaked your interest. You may decide to dive into research studies. Hopefully, you will engage others in dialogue about their perceptions of deeper change and meaning-making in order to gain feedback, bounce opinions, and exchange knowledge. As you
read; open your mind to contemplate novice information and ideas. Stretch your imagination. I am not claiming to hold the one and only "truth" about deeper change and meaning-making; I am sharing my perceptions. I am asking questions to you that I have asked of myself. Both of us possess a degree of knowledge, information, and wisdom. We are intelligent molecules of stardust and matter. We are mind, body, and spirit. I am significant and you are significant. We are. We grow. We change.

I applaud your courage and curiosity to dig deeper into meaning-making; your desire to make lifelong changes; and your motivation and inspiration to learn more about more. Reflect and answer the following then share with a friend and invite her/him to address the questions/statements.

Discuss the latest book you've read and what you learned.
Illustrate your style for knowledge-seeking and meaning-making.
Jot down some of your tidbits on wisdom.
Define knowledge and wisdom in your own words.
What inspires you to get out of bed in the mornings?
Describe your favorite drama movie and the changes the characters made.

Write your definition of truth, purpose, and meaning.
Elaborate on what baffles you about making personal changes and choices?

Melissa writes about the God and human connection and condition.

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