Category Archives: Healing Perspective with Linda Ross

The Olympics and faith: Ancient wisdom, modern practice, part 2

By Blogger Linda Ross

It was late in the afternoon.  Our county wide running club had hired an Olympic coach for just one day.  The elite runners had the first group appointment at 8 a.m.  The rest of the members were assigned an hour long slot based on their average mile time from a recent 10K race.

My group, those who were the last to finish, had the final hour with the coach.

Going around the table, each asked the coach how to manage their various injuries or conditions while continuing to run.  When it was my turn, I asked how to be faster.  The coach said that first he needed to know what my injuries were, how often I ran, and my average number of miles covered per week.  I told him I ran daily, covered about 20 miles a week, and had no injuries.

He asked, “No injuries?  What are you thinking when you run?”

I told him that running is a time for me to ponder the nature of God, consider some Scripture that has touched me, pray for my children and myself.  In response he shook his head in agreement, then gave me some training ideas to increase my speed.

Our session concluded with out me having the opportunity to add that mishaps had occurred while running.  Each was healed through prayer, leaving me with complete physical freedom.  One time, lost in thought, I wasn’t paying attention to the road in front of me.  Stumbling on a pothole, I heard a snap in my foot and then fell.  At that moment, sitting on the pavement, I had a strong thought that I was not out of alignment with God.  Despite the circumstances, I felt at peace.  Then my foot was able to support my weight again and I completed the jog as usual with my running group.

The Olympic coach recognized in my experience the effect of  “athletics elevated to a spiritual plane” (see part 1 of this post).  This passage from author and spiritual pioneer Mary Baker Eddy describes my feeling that day, “You are not alone.  Love is with you watching tenderly over you by day and night; and this Love will not leave you but will sustain you and remember all thy tears, and will answer thy prayers.”

The Olympics and faith: Ancient wisdom, modern practice, part 1

By Blogger Linda Ross

Ryan Hall is a Team USA Olympic marathon contender.  He’s also a man quite open about how his faith is influencing his training and event participation.  A recent New York Times feature about Ryan, “A Runner’s Belief: God is his coach”, included interviews with a swath of experts in this field as well.

Tim Noakes, exercise physiologist at the University of Cape Town commented, “The more stable you are as a human, the better you are as an athlete, and religion is a very stabilizing force.”

Apparently, discovering a more spiritual approach to sports is not new. Doing a little research on faith in sports for this post, I came across a guide called, ‘Gods and Games’.  It states, “ancient civilizations elevated athletics to a spiritual plane…”  The prophet Isaiah, writing about 740 B.C., observed: “But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.  They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired…”

Of course faith in sports is not something only for Olympians.  Tim Tebow, Jeremy Linn, Mark Warner, and many others openly give thanks to God for guidance and inspiration during training and game day play.  And those of us who admire their perseverance, talent, and strength – cheer them on.  We’re grateful to apply in our own lives, by some measure, the lessons they’ve learned in theirs.

Misunderstandings happen, a lot!

By Blogger Linda Ross

Sometimes they are small.  For example, last summer my husband and I were returning home from Italy.  It was an early flight, 6:55am.  Sitting on the other side of me was a college coed.  She let out a deep sigh.  I asked if she was returning home from a semester abroad, having spent most of the night packing and saying goodbye.

Apparently glad we understood her situation, she began telling us about how wonderful her time in Florence had been.  My husband asked, “So did you pick up any Italian?”  She responded, “Oh, two or three but nothing really serious happened.”  There was a pause in the conversation. Then at about the same time we all laughed recognizing that the answer had nothing to do with the intended question of learning the language.

But sometimes misunderstandings are larger and more pervasive, especially when we’re not familiar with the faith of others.

In the last week, I’ve read two articles that stated incorrectly that Christian Scientists are forbidden to choose any care but prayer or that they feel suffering is a divine will.  Through the years I’ve also  heard people say about my faith – that we’re the people who don’t go to doctors. Generally, a Christian Scientist’s first choice is to rely on prayer for healing because they’ve found it successful with past difficulties.

There is no biblical or church mandate to forgo medical intervention, nor do we believe that it’s God’s will that anyone suffer or die. A decision to rely on prayer comes from an understanding of Scripture as well as experience – not blind faith in God. God’s care continues under every circumstance.

Who knew? Study shows spirituality produces healthier teeth

By Blogger Linda Ross

My dental hygienist looked puzzled during a recent routine visit.  After cleaning my teeth, she reviewed my file.  Finally she said, “Your tissue is of someone younger; your teeth are so healthy – no cavities in the four years I’ve been seeing you.  You must have great genes.”  I told her, “It’s not genes.  I do take care of my teeth, but I’m also a spiritually minded person.  Each day I endeavor to live my faith, and sincerely believe it has a good effect on my life and health.”

I became curious to see if there were any studies to back up my convictions.  What a surprise to find something so specific:

In June of this year, the Department of Community Dentistry, Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel, published a study to “explain the association between religiosity and dental caries [cavities].”  Those who identified themselves as religious had significantly fewer cavities.

While this is only one study, it is in line with numerous studies over the last few decades that indicate a regular practice of prayer and/or church attendance consistently improves health.

Perhaps Shakespeare, that great chronicler of human ways and means, also guessed at the connection between our thought and our experience. He wrote for Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

Chocolate, cookies, and the Declaration of Independence

By Blogger Linda Ross

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”  Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Last week two little brothers, neighbors aged 5 and 6, rang my doorbell.  They stop by several times a month for a wrapped chocolate from the dish on my coffee table. Then they’re off to settle on my kitchen stools for cookies, milk, and a chat.

This day one of them, full of pride, opened the conversation with, “Linda, I’m better than my brother.”  The other brother sat silent, a little sad.  I answered, “Well, God doesn’t play favorites.  He knows you both as very, very good.” With that they sat up straight, smiling as we went on to other topics.

Comparisons are great when deciding what produce to buy; awful when overlooking or not respecting another’s strengths.

Thomas Jefferson, one of our Founding Fathers and author of the Declaration of Independence, was so well versed in scripture that he published The Jefferson Bible.  I wonder if he had come across this passage from the book of Ecclesiastes: “All things come alike to all.” It’s a good spring board for the tenor of the document. For me it means celebrating freedom is not only being free to live the best in myself but also highlighting the good in all I meet.

A lay-off doesn’t mean a love-buster

By Blogger Linda Ross
Today’s guest blog is written by Benjamin Gladden, husband and father of three, who’s currently logging lots of hours in the “What makes for a good marriage and parent” department. He writes from his home in Framingham, Massachusetts.

About three years ago I got laid off from a job that I absolutely loved. I could have sat in that chair doing that work for the rest of my life and been very happy.

It hadn’t been easy managing the care of three children while my wife and I bothworked full-time, but I really loved the work. It was completely fulfilling.

But then I got laid off.

The severance package I received included a class on resume writing, job interviews, etc. The resume tips were useful, but the most helpful part of the class was a little flier in our folders that discussed the emotional state of the person who just lost their job.

This little sheet talked about the need to take care of yourself emotionally and spiritually. But it also stressed the importance of taking care of your relationships–like your marriage.

To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about how my marriage would be affected. But this little flier got me thinking, and it began a journey that continues today.

I started making more of an effort to maintain and improve my marriage. I read several extremely helpful books. (See below for a list of those books.) And, most importantly, I prayed – a lot!

A recent New York Times article discusses the stress that long-term unemployment can do to a marriage. Although the article focuses on money-related issues, it has a lot of very helpful suggestions about making your marriage better.

After 16 years of marriage, I can honestly say I’ve never been happier about the state of my marriage.

Here are a few of the things that I tried. I feel they really worked.

Communicate. I made a conscious effort to communicate more often and about more things with my wife. Whether it was where and when I was going somewhere, or what I was thinking about my job search. I just started being more communicative. It wasn’t easy at first, but I think I’m getting used to it.

One book helped a lot in this regard. It’s called The 5 Love Languages. It made a huge impact on the way that I communicated with my wife, because it helped me discover what made her feel loved and how she could best understand what I was saying. You can read the book – or at least take the online quiz to find out the best way to communicate love to your spouse.

Take time off. I made an effort to take time for my marriage and myself, instead of spending every waking moment caring for the kids and looking for work. My wife and I started taking walks at night. This eventually developed into a near weekly “date night” – when we’d get a babysitter and go out, just the two of us.

Pray. I started getting up early (like 4:30am early) to read the Bible and pray. I tried to place God and Christ at the center of my marriage. This made a huge difference in the way that I behaved, which in turn affected the way that I treated my wife. Now when I read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 4-6), I ask myself if I am treating my wife according to the guidance in these chapters. When I read St. Paul’s guidance for husbands to “love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25), I asked myself if I was properly loving my wife and giving up “myself” for her.

None of these things were easy – or are easy, since I’m still working on them. But they made a positive difference in my marriage and in my own mental health. I can’t remember a time when I’ve been happier!

What things have you prayed or done in your marriage that has improved it? How have you changed your behavior toward your spouse or changed the way you think about your spouse? I’d love to read your comments and suggestions down below.

Further reading:
“Marriage Maintenance When Money Is Tight”, NYTimes.com, accessed May 17, 2012

“Love Languages Personal Profiles”, 5LoveLanguages.com, accessed May 17, 2012

Other resources to consider
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, by Gary D. Chapman
(There’s an editions for kids and a really helpful one for teenagers!)

His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, by Willard F. Jr. Harley

Love Busters: Protecting Your Marriage from Habits That Destroy Romantic Love, by Willard F. Jr. Harley

In a season of less clothing, concerns about weight loss

By Blogger Linda Ross

Today a friend asked me for a thought to help step up her weight loss as she said, “in a season of less clothing.”  I shared with her my New Year’s post, which given the topic – is timely again:

A few years ago when my husband and I were new in town, one of the first questions a neighbor asked me was, “How do you do it?”  Seeing my puzzled look she noted that we were both grandmothers, but my figure was one of someone younger.  I struggled with my weight growing up.  As a teenager and young adult many were the diets I had tried.  Then over 30 years ago my approach changed.

Instead of trying to stop a bad habit – in this case over-eating – I focused on adding a good habit.  In response to a temptation, Jesus answered by saying it takes more than bread to sustain life.  In other words, to me the lesson was that as it is necessary to eat every day, so it is just as important to take in spirituality too.  Here was a good habit to add to my life!

Finding myself much heavier than I had ever been after the birth of my first child, I decided to adopt a daily diet of spirituality.  For me that meant in addition to a regular Bible study, I added an inspirational article.  My weight eventually normalized as did my eating habits, though that was not where I was placing my attention.

Occasionally in the decades since I have revisited this lesson when finding myself stuck in difficult circumstances or wanting to overcome negative personal tendencies that crop up.  I’ve learned that a consistent spiritual practice helps to find success in many areas – including weight loss.

 Linda Ross is a Christian Science practitioner living in Connecticut.

Life Lessons Lived – 2012 Commencement Favorites, part 1

By Blogger Linda Ross

One news item I look forward to, year after year, are the annual highlights of commencement addresses.  There are always several excerpts that resonate with me, being an ongoing student of life itself!  I actually had trouble choosing just one, so next week there will be a part 2 that includes another favorite.

Larry Lucchino, Boston Red Sox president and CEO of Bentley University told its 2012 graduates:

“Try not to let the roar of information pouring through your phones and computers deaden your intuition, overwhelm your critical judgment, or drown out the beautiful notes of your own inimitable song. Reduce Facebook. Limit the tweeting. Take off the headphones. Listen for your song. Sing it out loud.”

 Listening for one’s own song or purpose or individual work is not an easy task.

My younger daughter, an International Relations/Spanish major, graduated from college seven years ago anticipating the right job would be waiting for her.  This was not the case.  Once she moved home, I gave her about ten days to decompress from an active, successful college life.  Then noticing little effort was going into looking for work, I asked how she was going to pay for her cell phone and other bills (costs her dad and I had assumed before) now that she was no longer a full time student.

Surprise registered on her face.  I went on to say she would need to find some work immediately to tide her over until she found her dream job and handed her the phone number of an employment agency a friend owned.  My daughter called, was invited in for an interview, filled out paper work, and began work as a receptionist the following Monday.

Was she happy?  Not exactly.  But she handled her new responsibilities well, even shined while at work.  In this small company, she began to be noticed as efficient, hard working, thoughtful and pleasant.  After several months she was promoted into the Human Resources department.

One evening, discouraged, she confided to me that this was not how she had seen her life.  She had been actively pursuing leads for work along the lines of her college studies, yet did not feel any passion for what had turned up.

She had always loved the Bible, so I suggested that she read some in it each evening – hoping the assignment would give her peace and clarity.  I believe we have life because we each have a divine purpose.  Her Bible study helped silence all the distractions that had kept her from listening to the intuition guiding her through her life work.

From the beginning my daughter kept a notebook to record passages that inspired her.  For example, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he will show you which path to take.”

Several more months passed when one day she mentioned that she was thinking of going into law.

Now, six years later, my daughter has completed law school (cum laude), passed the bar exam, and is doing contract work as an attorney.  I asked her to read this post.  She commented that she is happy though her professional development continues to evolve.

To quote Mr. Lucchino, she has listened for her song and is singing it out loud.

Consider yourself spiritually centered? Better health may be yours

By Blogger Linda Ross

My work at times affords a front row seat for some interesting observations in the arenas of spirituality and health. Yesterday was one of those moments. I was included in a meeting with a Health Care consultant, an attorney experienced in the Health Care and Managed Care industry.  He commented that spiritually centered groups are the healthiest populations.

A book published last year, based on a life long study of participants, came to a similar conclusion.

The Longevity Project: surprising discoveries for health and long life” examines the landmark results of a group of 1,500 Californians first studied as children in 1921, then followed for the rest of their lives.  It reports on 8 decades of data that included a focus on religiosity.

Dr. Howard S. Friedman, a co-author of the book, said he is often asked if praying leads to better health and longer life.

In a column last year for The Huffington Post Dr. Friedman wrote about some of the findings. Here is an excerpt: “What about spirituality? We did uncover various hints of the health importance of a deeper meaning in life.  Those who developed catastrophizing, negative thought patterns were inclined to precipitous actions, injuries, accidents, suicides and related risks… You may have heard the old saw that says ‘The best of men cannot suspend their fate; the good die early, and the bad die late.’  This turned out to be myth!  Instead, we sum it all up by saying, it is the good ones who can actually help shape their fate; the bad die early, and the good do great.” 

Intrigued? You can join in an ongoing discussion Dr. Friedman has set up on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/h8NzQS.

Linda Ross is a Christian Science practitioner living in Connecticut.

Better Sleep – really!

By Blogger Linda Ross

Ever wish you’d had a better night’s sleep? 

Right now there are a number of print and web articles – as well as ads to support them – that target and try to help an apparently large number of people who have trouble falling asleep.

And there are lots of answers out there.  In an online commercial spot shown before a sleep related post could be read, Philadelphia cream cheese was promoted spread on toast – then being nibbled while in pajamas and still in bed.  Cozy and appealing, though not my tried and true method for rest which I’ll share in a moment.

My favorite post so far on the subject has been, “10 surprising things about how animals sleep”.  It chronicles the sleep habits of a number of species.  Many ready themselves for rest in a way that will insure their safety while asleep.  For example, to avoid predators, African Papio baboons sleep on their heels, perched atop trees.  I wonder how many of us share a need to feel peaceful and safe before we doze off?

Since childhood, if having trouble falling asleep, I have found success by pondering the Lord’s PrayerWhen Jesus spoke about how to pray during his only recorded sermon, he counseled prayer after this manner.  It has led me time and time again to a listening consciousness receptive of God’s messages.  I seldom finish the prayer before finding peace and then a restful night.

A passage in the book of Psalms for me is a confirmation that this habit of prayer before sleep has been around for millenniums. “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust.”

Linda Ross is a Christian Science practitioner living in Connecticut.