Saturday, June 14, 2008

11 Sure-Fire Ways to Have a Calm and Peaceful Mind

forwarded by Mon Biticon
The fast pace of the modern world may put our mind in chaotic state. Information comes and goes, we must do this and do that. There are simply too many things that reside in our mind. While it may cause stress or even depression, at the very least it puts us away from a peaceful state of mind. But a peaceful mind is essential for our effectiveness. It keeps us calm no matter how the situation is, and it allows us to stay joyful during the day. At the end of the day, it makes us happier and more productive.
So here I’d like to share 11 ways to have a “mind like water”, a state of mind so peaceful that it’s like a calm water. Pick the ones that work for you:
1. Reduce your use of rational thinking
We need rational thinking, but we tend to overuse it in analyzing our situations and making decisions. That brings a lot of things into our mind which potentially also brings in noise. Is rational thinking really that important? I don’t think so. Even Einstein once said that “I never came upon any of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.”
2. Listen to your intuition
While you should reduce your use of rational thinking, you should increase your use of intuition. Listen to your intuition whenever you need to make decisions. Your intuition often knows more than you think. Furthermore, since intuition works instantly, it won’t bring a lot of things into your mind. Your mind will remain calm and peaceful. No wonder Einstein said that “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
3. Listen to your heart
Your heart tells you what is right to do. There is where your deepest value and principles reside. Following what your heart says helps you be true to yourself, and that has a great effect on giving you peace of mind. So learn to listen more to your heart, and do what it tells you to do.
4. Get the stuff out of your mind
This is a basic principle of Getting Things Done (GTD). In fact, the term “mind like water” comes from GTD. You should record the things you need to do or remember on an external system you trust so that they do not occupy your mind. This way your mind will be freed to focus on your current task.
5. Meditate
Meditation is one of the best ways to calm your mind and have a “mind like water”. Even if you do the other ways mentioned in this post, sometimes there is still noise left in your mind. Meditation is a good way to purify it. There are many forms of meditation to choose from.
6. Limit your information intake
Consuming more information often means introducing more noise into your mind. That’s why limiting your information intake is essential to have a calm and peaceful mind. The rule of thumb in consuming information is this: consume information no more than what is necessary. But how do you know what is necessary? Rational thinking may help you figure it out, but I believe that your heart and intuition can help you just as much - if not more.
7. Read spiritual texts
Spiritual texts are among the purest kinds of information you can possibly get. It helps you link together your mind, heart, and intuition. While generally you should limit your information intake, I believe that you can safely consume spiritual texts without introducing noise into your mind.
8. Eliminate unessential stuff
It will be easier to have a peaceful mind if you don’t have too much stuff to worry about. So always look for ways to simplify your life. Eliminate the things which are not essential so that you can focus on the essential. Elimination should be a constant part of your life.
9. Don’t think too much about yourself
We usually think about our own needs and problems most of the time. But self-centered thoughts rarely bring peace into our mind. Quite the opposite, it may make us feel stressed and frustrated. So don’t think too much about yourself; forget yourself for a while.
10. Do something for others
Instead of thinking too much of ourselves, we should think more of others. Think of what you can do for others and do it. There is joy in giving which will give you peace of mind.
11. Slow down
In whatever you do, you do not need to be in rush. Doing so may only bring you faster to the wrong direction. First of all, you need to know where is the right direction to go. Slow down so that you can clearly hear the voice of your heart and intuition.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pastoral Care Initiations: A Discipleship Commitment (excerpt from SOS Leaders Newsletter)

In the article "Initial and Full Conversion" (April 2006), we looked at what we do to help bring people to Christ. We saw that many people who begin our initiations process have an initial conversion to Christ – they accept the gospel and have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior – but they have not come to full conversion or Christian maturity. They do not keep all the commandments, often because they do not fully know what is involved in keeping them. Our initiations process is designed to bring them to full conversion, "bearing fruit in every good work" (Col 1:10).
But that is not all we try to do. We also want to make them disciples of the Lord. And if they are true disciples, they will want to give their lives to advance his kingdom. Many of us would be inclined to say that someone who is fully converted in the sense that they keep all the commandments (love of God and love of neighbor, including faith in Christ) is a disciple. But that leaves something out, something expressed most clearly in the discipleship sayings in the gospels.
Most people who identify themselves as Christians are nominal or deficient Christians. Sociological surveys tell us that the majority of people who identify themselves as Christians do not "go to church" and do not keep the commandments. These are nominal Christians. Many who go to church do not keep some or even most of the commandments. These could be termed deficient Christians. Some of those whom we meet at church, however, are good Christians. They do keep the commandments. Some of them are quite active as Christians. Most of those say that Christianity is very important to them. But do they have a discipleship commitment?
Some do. Many do not.
Teaching On Discipleship
We talk about Christian discipleship throughout our work with new people in evangelism and initiations. We make the fullest presentation in the talk "Disciples" in the Our Call talk. There we say:
Disciples are people who live for the coming of the kingdom, who are on mission to advance the kingdom, who live to do the will of their heavenly Father. (Lk 11:1–2)
Disciples are people who deny themselves and give their lives to their master, so that their lives are his and not their own (Luke 9:23).
Disciples are people who take up their cross and follow Christ, being willing to give their lives for him and his kingdom as he gave his life for us, "For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it." (Mk 10:35)
Disciples are people who live "all out" for the kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Matt 12:28)
Disciples are people who follow the Lord and live for his kingdom "with all their lives for the rest of their lives".
Disciples are people who sell all to buy the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price. (Matt 13:44–46)
The Discipleship Issue
Why are many good Christians not disciples? The answer has to do with what some people have called "the discipleship issue". The discipleship issue is first and foremost about our lives. Whose are they? Our own or the Lord’s? If we have truly given our lives to him, we approach our lives as stewards of a life that belongs to the Lord. We simply want to know what he wants to do with his life that he has given us, and we want to do whatever that is.
The discipleship issue is secondly about what we have. As modern human beings, this focuses on our time and money. Do we keep our time and contribute some to the Lord, or is it all his? Do we keep our money and contribute some to the Lord, or is it all his? If we are disciples, the time and money in our keeping is his time and his money that he has given us to steward.
For most good Christians, the Lord and his kingdom (Christianity) is one of many things in their lives. For some it is something very important. But they have the Lord and… They have the Lord and their family and their job and their friends and their music and their motorcycle and, and, and… As one Christian teacher put it, they have bought the pearl of great price (rather cheaply, it might be said) and added it to their pearl collection. Until they settle the discipleship issue, they may be good Christians, people the world around them would see as good Christians, at least if they invest enough in Christian things, but they are not yet disciples.
We do not have to stop having a family or a secular job or a bank account in order to be a disciple. As the Acts of the Apostles makes clear, the early Christians saw themselves as disciples, and yet many of them were married, with regular occupations, and with material resources. The discipleship issue is whether we have made those things over to the Lord or whether we keep some of it for ourselves and give some to the Lord.
Forming Disciples
Our initiations process is designed to bring people to a discipleship commitment. Disciples, of course, have to keep the commandments, as we saw in the write-up on full conversion. Zeal for the Lord is not a substitute for obedience. In fact, most of what we do as pastoral workers in initiations is centered on helping people keep the commandments. We are encouraging people to pray, to raise their families well, to support community life, to seek to build up their brothers and sisters in the Lord, to keep Christian sexual morality, to stay out of debt, etc., etc. These are the day-in, day-out concerns of our formative care. Nonetheless, we should not simply be trying to form law-abiding, commandment-keeping Christians. We should not even simply be trying to form faith-filled, obedient Christians. We should be trying to form law-abiding, commandment-keeping, faith-filled, obedient disciples.
One key feature of the discipleship issue concerns decisions in life. We want to help the people in our initiations process to make intelligent decisions. We want to help them use their time and money wisely, for instance, not to waste it or inadvertently throw it away. Even more, we want them to make Christian decisions. Much of the time, these will be commandment-based or obedience decisions. Very often young people who come to us have to decide to stop fornicating or not to borrow money without paying it back. These are decisions that are simply a matter of keeping the commandments – or not.
But there is a different kind of decision. For instance, some young people who come to us decide to repent of serious sin as early as the Life in the Spirit Seminars or their first retreat. But then, they need to decide to come regularly to our activities (or something similar) so that they can grow as Christians. Many do not make that decision. They want to use their time in a different way, and so they do not take the steps that will allow them to be disciples.
People farther in the Lord, people who have decided to give some of their lives to grow as disciples, continue to have further discipleship decisions. A young person may have decided to be connected to us and even enter the initiations process. He may be keeping out of sexual sin. But he may have met someone he is romantically attracted to who is not much of a Christian and who does not want to be. He may marry that person anyway. If he does, he is practically guaranteeing that he cannot live much of his life in a discipleship way, even though he may not have broken a commandment in marrying that person. He has not taken the path of a disciple.
Older people have to make similar decisions. They may be facing the need to get a new home. They may decide not to buy a house that is beyond their means or that is in a bad neighborhood for their children to be in. That is all just fine. But they may also decide to buy a house that is too far for them to be much part of the community because they like it better. Their decision may not break a commandment, but it is not a discipleship decision.
The question a basic good Christian asks is: can I keep the commandments and still do this thing I want to do? Or the less committed good Christian may in the back of his mind be asking the longer-term question: can I do this and not go to hell. But the question a disciple asks is: how I can use this life I have – this life that is the Lord’s and not my own anymore – how can I use it to live for the Lord and advance his kingdom. Which possible marriage partner will allow me to live for the Lord? Which house that I might buy will allow me to contribute most to the advancement of his kingdom?
We are, to be sure, seeking to bring people to Christian maturity, to a life of keeping the commandments. We are, however, also seeking to bring them to Christian discipleship. If those who complete our initiations process simply want to be "good enough" Christians and do not want to be disciples, we have not fully succeeded. That means that we have to regularly help the people we are working with to ask the discipleship question as they make their decisions in life – which choice will allow me to live most fully for the Lord? The answer, of course, may be "either one", and so the decision has to be made on other grounds, but we want to help them get to the point where they ask the question instinctively and approach all their decisions as disciples.
Regular Reviews
Discipleship, of course, is not just a matter of making decisions. It is a matter of living our whole life. That means that we as pastoral workers in initiations are also trying to help people to look at their lives as a whole and say, "am I using my time and money in the best way for the Lord and his kingdom?" Regular reviews of schedule and budget are very helpful in this regard. Being a disciple does not mean that we eliminate all rest and recreation or never spend any money on ourselves. We need such things to function well. But it does mean that we regularly ask the question: "am I stewarding my life and resources for the Lord in the way I use my time and money?"
Sometimes young people are afraid that if they decide to be disciples, they have to live single for the Lord. Some certainly should. But some should get married for the Lord. The discipleship question is: "how can I live in the best way for the Lord?", not "what do I most want to do?" or "what do I most deeply desire?" Most should probably get married, but, if they are disciples, they should do that because that is the best way for them to live for the Lord and advance his kingdom. But all in the course of the initiations process should ask the question how they can live best as a disciple of the Lord, someone seeking to advance his kingdom. We treat this in the course on Entering Your State in Life (Foundations Course 2 for Singles).
The decision to be a disciple can come at any time in the initiations process. For some it happens at the moment of initial conversion. When some new people come to faith in the Lord, they know he is the most important thing in life, the pearl of great price, something worth living their whole life for, and they give him their lives with no strings attached. For some becoming disciples is a gradual process. They can say the words of a discipleship commitment and mean them as far as they understand them. However, their lives stay much the same. They have the same friends and interests, the same values and priorities, the same things taking up most of their time. Only gradually do they agree to pray regularly, to be a regular part of a Christian group, to get some Christian friends, to contribute some of their money on a regular basis. If they are young, only gradually do they seriously make the Christian commitment of their prospective marriage partner an important consideration or ask how their planned occupation can fit into a Christian life. If they are older, only gradually do they make discipleship decisions about how to use the money from the raise they just got or about where to get a new house or what school to send their children to.
Those who have been raised as good Christians are often the slower ones to become disciples, at least to become disciples with "all their lives". New converts sometimes see the issues more clearly and take more decisive steps quickly. Because they are making a big change to become a Christian in the first place, they see the consequences of the step they are taking more easily. Nonetheless, those who have been raised as good Christians, if they go through the initiations process well, will step by step become disciples.
There is a simple truth here, the truth of what the scripture calls "testing". We only have made a real decision when it is put to the test. It is when we have to decide against marrying someone we are attracted to because that person will not enable us to live for the Lord that we become a disciple in the area of our marriage. It is only when we have to decide to forego a promotion, because the new job will not allow us to live as fully for the Lord that we become a disciple in the area of our occupation. We need to, in a certain way, remake our discipleship commitment constantly. We need to extend it to more and more of our life. And the Lord seems to help the process by constantly providing tests that allow us to grow in discipleship. As pastoral workers, we can be most useful when we help the people we are caring for see that they are facing a discipleship decision.
Nonetheless, whether by quick growth or slow growth, discipleship is what we are aiming at, what should characterize all the members of our communities. We want to be a band of disciples, seeking to give our lives to advance the kingdom of the Lord. And as pastoral workers in initiations, we want to help those we are caring for see the surpassing worth of the pearl of great price and constantly choose for it in small as well as in big things.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

God's servant for life

Indeed, once a Lingkod, always a Lingkod. As I am writing this, I have been in Lingkod for over 13 years! I had my Christian Life Program (CLP) in Lingkod-Makati in 1994, moved to Lingkod-Alabang in 1997 as part of its Mission Team and serving as Branch Women's Moderator (BWM). Prior to my joining the Lingkod National Office as its Fund Development Head in 2003, I was also part of the Branch Visitation Team (BVT) and I was tasked to oversee the Cebu, Mactan and Ormoc branches. Early this year, I moved to Lingkod Ormoc to continue serving in Lingkod as a married person, ably supporting my husband, Junjun Ocampo, who happens to be its current Branch Leader. At present, I am still serving the National Office as its Regional Fund Development head for the Visayas.

I would always say that "I love Lingkod!" I recognized that it is Lingkod that God will use to bring healing to my wounded past and it is through Lingkod that I will experience God's unconditional love through the brothers and sisters. True enough, it was in Lingkod Makati that God showed how faithful He is to me. The love of my action group and my other brothers and sisters helped heal the painful memories of my childhood, having been raised in a broken family.

My experience in Lingkod Makati was what convicted me to serve God faithfully through Lingkod. I was healed to help others. I have been blessed to be a blessing. So when I was asked to be part of the mission team for Lingkod Alabang, I immediately said yes. Ever since that time, my default answer every time I'm asked to serve is "Yes." My constant Yes is my way of saying thank you to God for all that He has done for me.

In one of my prayer times, God spoke very powerfully to me through Psalm 116:12 "How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?" I was certain at that time that God was calling me to be His servant at the National Office. That call came three years after a very fruitful and joyful service as Alabang's BWM.

I really wasn't sure at that time how someone from Cavite would be willing to go to Quezon City where the National Office of Lingkod is and serve as its Fundraiser, a service and work very unfamiliar to me. It was "pure grace" that I survived almost four hours travel time every time I would go to the office.

Fundraising is a service not many would volunteer doing. They say it takes a lot of guts to do it! But I realized that fundraising is not about guts —it's about believing in the mission of your organization and believing in it passionately. And I have passion for the cause of Lingkod in abundance. I've appreciated in my own life and the lives of my brothers and sisters how Lingkod has been used by God to transform ordinary single men and women to become faithful and committed men and women serving God with so much love and joy. Through fundraising, I discovered other talents and gifts God has given me. I would look back and thank God for allowing me to serve Him in that capacity. I would praise God and thank Him for sending me brothers and sisters who made serving Him a blissful experience!

A little over eight months ago, I experienced God's steadfast love once again through the sacrament of marriage. I can't thank God enough for giving me a husband/brother who is also very passionate about serving and loving the Lord. My husband Junjun Ocampo hails from Ormoc City, Leyte. And after much discernment, I decided to move to Ormoc with my husband right after the wedding.

I am certain that God called me here to Ormoc — interestingly enough, serving God here is as hectic as in Manila. Junjun and I are not only serving in Lingkod but we are also given opportunities to serve in BCBP, and other religious organizations here. Nothing really compares to the joy of serving the Lord! Our house has become the home of our brothers and sisters here — they have become part of our family budget. Thanks to the formation we received from Lingkod and Ligaya, serving each other has become our way of life! We would always say "pinagsisilbihan nga namin ang hindi namin kakilala yung isa't isa pa."

Last May, as Junjun and I agreed, I went back to work. I have been blessed to be doing something I love to do: training. Junjun is an invaluable help because most of my trainings are in Bisaya, Tagalog and English. Junjun is as equally blessed in his work. Our clients are like manna from heaven — they just come. We know very well that it is God who leads us to the right customers. Thanks be to God for continuously blessing the work of our hands.

From Makati to Alabang to Quezon City to Ormoc and wherever God will bring me, I will continue serving Him with love, zeal and gladness — the only response I know for all of God's goodness to me!
Vannie Siloterio-Ocampo

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sa Kambas ng Lipunan - In Society's Canvas

Above is an excerpt from Joey Velasco's speech at the start of his Book Launching and First Solo Exhibit in Art Asia. His book is entitled "They Have Jesus: The Stories of the Children of Hapag" and was launched on Oct. 13, 2006.

This video contains just snippets of the book "They Have Jesus" based on his obra "Hapag ng Pag-asa" (Table of Hope).

I seldom forward messages but this one is really worth your time. A sad eye-opener but has inspired me to prepare my heart for the coming of Jesus this Advent. May this video clip inspire us to give and love more!