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April 2006

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 10, Issue No. 4, Feed the Creative to Heal the Body and Mind
- Quote of the month
- From the Editor
- What Is Creativity?
- Recreate Yourself
- How Does One 'Get Creative?'
- Links for further information
- Make an Illustrated Discovery Journal
- Don't Worry, Be Happy!
- How to Stay Young
- Health in the News
- New Webmaster needed!
- Join our Frappr! Map
- Letters
- Purpose of the Newsletter
- Subscription Information
- Web Site


May: Nurture the Spirit for Better Health. Retreats, walks, music, poetry, prayer: what makes you feel refreshed and energized?

June: Coping with Catastrophe. Share spiritual resources.

"All art is a gift of the Holy Spirit. When this light shines through the mind of a musician, it manifests itself in beautiful harmonies. Again, shining through the mind of a poet, it is seen in fine poetry and poetic prose. When the Light of the Sun of Truth inspires the mind of a painter, he produces marvelous pictures. These gifts are fulfilling their highest purpose, when showing forth the praise of God." ('Abdu'l-Baha, quoted by Lady Blomfeld in "The Chosen Highway," p. 167)

"I rejoice to hear that thou takest pains with thine art, for in this wonderful new age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one's art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paintbrush, it is as if thou wert at prayer..." ('Abdu'l-Baha, "Compilation on the Arts," para. 33)

"The greatest secret to living a happy and fulfilled life is the realization that everything is created in our minds before it manifests itself in the outer world. We must believe it before we can see it. You have to know what you are digging for, before X marks the spot." (Sarah Ban Breathnach, "Simple Abundance, a Daybook of Comfort and Joy," January 29)

"We don't see things as *they* are. We see them as *we* are." Old Jewish tradition, quoted by Arthur A. Levine, editor, in a talk 1/14/2006 at the US Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference

Dear Readers,

I have now been editing and writing for the Healing Through Unity Newsletter for a little over a year, and in many ways, this project has been reshaping my life. I mine every book or magazine that I read -- every conversation, every experience -- looking for interesting ideas.

Even meditations on my mental, physical and spiritual health -- and what I'm learning in the process -- become fodder for new articles or topics to research further, rather than adding to my list of complaints.

The result is a blossoming of creative energy, a sharpening of discrimination and acuity, so that I'm just awash in a sea of new and interesting ideas and insights, instead of wallowing in a menopausal frustration and regret.

Most of the time, the notion of creativity is applied to the arts, or perhaps to great scientific theories, or a new advertising campaign. But in truth, we are each of us, on a daily basis, creating the world in which we live.

What we see around us isn't the absolute truth of what is there. Because perception is all in the mind, we literally decide ahead of time what our senses will tell us! People cannot see what they cannot believe exists. Or, the corollary: we will see what we want to see, find what we are looking for, even if it means ignoring facts to the contrary!

An excellent example of how perception works is the first time Carib people saw sailing ships. The fact is they didn't, or so the story goes, because they had never seen such a vessel. But they were intimately familiar with the ocean, and one day they noticed something was strange about it.

A shaman was called to study the changes in the ocean caused by Columbus's fleet sailing over the horizon. He studied these patterns for a long time, and he prayed for enlightenment. After all, their lives depended upon the ocean, and any changes had to be interpreted carefully, so that the community could respond.

Eventually, he was able to see what made those bow waves and ship wakes in the sea that day, and when he told his people, they believed him only because they were in the habit of believing his visions. It took several hours, but by the time Columbus landed, most everyone could see the ships at anchor in the bay.

So, to the extent we control our beliefs, we can change the way we perceive our world. This is where creativity really counts: reshaping our expectations and figuring out how to be happy about circumstances that aren't what we wanted.

It can be especially difficult to see the bounty in calamity, but a flexible and creative attitude can find the way.

Faith in the essential goodness of life (that whatever happens is part of a greater whole designed to assist us become better/happier people) is the basis of such a state of mind. Which of course, brings us back to the lasting value of religion in human history.

Let's get creative, and make the world a better place for all of us.

Cheryll Schuette, Michigan, USA

According to Linda Kavelin Popov in her book, "A Pace of Grace," creativity powers the imagination. "Creativity is discovering your own special talents. Dare to see things in original ways and find different ways to solve problems. Without creativity, we can bring something new into the world. spending time recreating ourselves brings joy to our lives."

She lists these signs of success on page 188: "We are practicing creativity when we discover and develop our gifts, think of new ways to make things work better, take time for dreaming, use the originality of our souls, and enjoy our recreation."

So, is creative time just another item to add to an already overflowing daily list of stuff that needs our attention?

"We have a deep need for spaciousness in our experience of time," Kavelin says. "Our souls require noncompulsory time on a regular basis -- time in which nothing is asked of us, nothing is required. We need time to just *be* every day, which is a challenge for those of us with busy lives. It comes back to the issue of valuing ourselves enough to become the architects of our time rather than at the mercy of the demands that always come to fill the time."

Baha'u'llah, Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith, laid out what His followers believe is the blueprint for physical health and spiritual happiness in this period of human history. He built some time into every day for prayer and contemplation -- once in the morning to get the day off to a good start, and once in the evening for calling oneself to account.

Many of us assume that we can continue to get along without spending our preciously short time on 'hobbies' or contemplative or spiritual pursuits. Eventually, however, we discover that an antidote for the hurried and harried lives we are leading is absolutely necessary.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh advises carving out a small portion of each day for ourselves should be a personal priority. she says, it can be simple: "Quiet time alone, contemplation, prayer, music, a centering line of thought or reading, of study or work. It can be physical or intellectual or artistic, any creative life proceeding from oneself. It need not be an enormous project or a great work. But it should be something of one's own. Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day....

"What matters is that one be for a time inwardly attentive. Today, make getting in touch with the Silence within yourself your first priority. As you do, you will be amazed at how everything else seems to find its own order."
(from "Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy," Sarah Ban Breathnach, February 25)

Instead of plopping down in front of the television as the primary way of resting, take a half hour and do something that is fun, either alone or with friends or family. The operative word here is 'do,' instead of watch.

Instead of depressing breathing and mind the way television often does, exercising the creative can result in an energy boost, especially if it provides a chance to laugh.

Laughter releases endorphins into our system, which are natural antidotes to stress, pain and depression. Like crying, laughter cleanses toxins from the blood, but it is way more fun!

"Having fun on a regular basis needn't be expensive. It is expensive not to. Fun is doing, and it is also being. It is an attitude of enthusiasm for whatever we are doing... When we weave more play into our everyday lives, it gives us a way to sustain our joy. It lightens our lives." ("A Pace of Grace," pp. 194-195)

And for those of us who always start our days with long lists of things that need doing, place the creative moments first instead of at the last, and only then, if there is any time left over. That half an hour at the piano, in the garden, knitting a baby blanket, carving a boat, tinkering with that outboard motor, or writing in a journal, will start off your day with a burst of energy. You may find that far from interfering with productivity, having fun can increase your performance.

Recreating ourselves, however, does not mean that all the delicious mystery is gone, or that we have God-like control of our world. The idea that we create everything that happens to us by our own thoughts, conscious or otherwise, is an over simplification.

Stuff still happens to us while we were planning other things! Creativity is being nimble enough to respond in positive and healthy ways when life surprises us.

Creativity is a useful tool that works best when we have faith that no matter what happens, this creation and this life were meant for our benefit. Such an outlook can be a challenge to maintain in the face of difficulties or outright calamity, which is one reason that building the habit of creative thinking and action is important.

Nurturing our creativity takes as many forms as there are people, because every person has hidden gifts. Taking the time to find those gifts -- and making time in our busy days to enjoy those gifts -- can require large amounts of creativity.

Develop a habit of de-stressing. "Only the person who is relaxed can create, and to that mind ideas flow like lightning." Cicero (quoted by Jay Williams, Ph.D., in "The 24-Hour Turnaround")

Sharpen personal awareness. "Mystics, prophets, and other spiritual leaders from various cultures and wisdom traditions say in different ways that we are ALWAYS connected with spirit, and the only thing that stands between us and the experience of that connection is our awareness," says Katherine Q. Revoir in her workbook for developing creativity, "Spiritual Doodles and Mental Leapfrogs," which uses art, reflection, meditation, and unusual or unexpected activities to "provide a guideline for consciously re-connecting with the Spirit within...."

If utilizing right brain/left brain doodling seems a bit away from your comfort zone, consider an exercise from, "Comfort Secrets for Busy Women," by Jennifer Louden.

She recommends spending some time paying attention to limits, which often are the reason for exercising creativity. "Limits do more than help you create; they give you the building blocks to create with. And the signposts. Limits are the form you pour yourself into." Denying those limits sets us up for the mental and physical health issues down the road.

One definition of insanity is to be out of touch with reality, and trying to so many things that you are leading three lives at once is definitely being out of touch! Yet, this is the way many, many people plan their days, and the toll on individual and societal health is enormous.

24 hours in a day and a finite amount of energy are examples of limits which are commonly ignored when making 'to do' lists. We can spend time and energy fussing over stuff that isn't getting done, or finding new ways to achieve our goals. Creativity is how each person chooses to perceive and respond to the limits inherent in this life.

Louden continues, "We are energetic beings. This is not spiritual rigmarole; this is science. We have to respect what our bodies are capable of. That means letting go of the stupefying unrealistic demands we put on ourselves...

"If you keep pushing and rushing to do the most you can in every moment, you will miss the life that truly fits you... The only basis for creating your life, ... is to learn your limits and create within them....

"Look at your weaknesses and your limits not as shortcomings but as guideposts to aim between...accept and cherish your...limits. You've got to say, 'I am what I am,' and love it.

"That is so difficult. Most of us immediately spring to how we are going to change or fix ourselves. But what if you loved your limits and your flaws, really showered them with love, and only then asked them to direct you?

"Of course, to do any of this will require you to stop comparing yourself to others." (Ibid, pp. 215-217)

* "Comfort Secrets for Busy Women: Finding Your Way When Your Life Is Overflowing," Jennifer Louden, Sourcebooks, Inc., 2003.

* "Spiritual Doodles & Mental Leapfrogs: A Playbook for Unleashing Spiritual Self-Expression," Katherine Q Revoir, Red Wheel, 1999.

* "The 24 Hour Turnaround," Jay Williams, Ph.D., with Debra Fulghum Bruce, Regan Books, 2001.

* "A Pace of Grace: The Virtues of a Sustainable Life," Linda Kavelin Popov, Plume, 2004.

* "Simple Abundance, a Daybook of Comfort and Joy," Sarah ban Breathnach, Warner Books, 1995.

* "Prescription for Living," Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Baha'i Publishing Trust. In print currently, or part of the free Ocean Religious Reference Library:

* "Divine Art of Living," compiled by Mabel Hyde Paine, revised by Anne Marie Scheffer, Baha'i Publishing Trust. Reprinted regularly, or part of free Ocean Religious Reference Library:

* Creative Quotations searchable website contains 50,000 inspiring quotes (and bio info) from 3,000+ famous people, indexed and sorted into special topic collections:

* Steps in the creative process, compiled and sorted into concise and useful topics:

* How to Be Creative, an article on an innovative cartoonist's blog that presents good thoughts (but too long for the Newsletter, alas). Includes links to his book, which is free on line or downloadable pdf:

* Need some help finding creative (non-TV) activities for kids? Their own site for starters: includes games, art, polls, music and stories -- but also has interactive discussion lists and a place to publish their own stories, questions and articles to share with others. Another site with logic games:

by Sarah Ban Breathnach

The key to loving how you live is knowing what it is you truly love.

One of the most pleasurable ways to start finding out your personal preferences is by creating an illustrated discovery journal. This is your explorer's log as you begin to make your way into the darkest terra incognita: your authentic inner world. We feed our imaginations and get in touch with our authenticity by gathering together beautiful images that speak to our souls.

You didn't know that the sun-drenched colors of Santa Fe called to you? Then why do they keep popping up in your pictures? You thought American country was your style but rose-covered chintz is what you're collecting on paper? Isn't that interesting. Here is an occasion when one picture speaks a thousand words. Meditating on one visual image a day can jump-start your creativity and lead to revealing insights.

Today, get a blank, black-bound artists' sketchbook at an art supply store, a pair of sharp scissors, rubber cement and your favorite magazines. Put them all in a basket and keep it by your bed. At night before you go to bed, when you're in a drowsy, relaxed, and receptive state, flip through the magazines. When you see an image you love, cut it out and paste it in your book. Don't try to arrange the pictures in any specific sort of way. Let the collages you are creating simply evolve. Soon they will give you directions about where your heart wants you to go. I have also added quotes, sketches, greeting cards, and art postcards to my discovery journal, crafting with paper what the poet W. H. Auden calls "a map of my planet."

(From "Simple Abundance, a Daybook of Comfort and Joy," January 28)

People who lead happy lives have six things in common:

1. They spend at least ten minutes each day doing what they thoroughly enjoy.
2. They find a gift in every experience.
3. They do kind acts for others.
4. They go on adventures.
5. They spend energy on fixing, not complaining.
6. They expect to enjoy the day.

(According to Judi Morin, a Sister of St. Ann, quoted in, "A Pace of Grace", p. 195)

(Sent to me by a friend, who received it from a friend, who received it from...)

1. Try everything twice. On Madame's tombstone (of late puppeteer/comedian, Wayland and Madame, the puppet), she said she wanted this epitaph: "Tried everything twice...loved it both times!"

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down. (Keep this in mind if you are one of those grouches.)

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain get idle. "An idle mind is the devil's workshop," and the devil's name is Alzheimer's!

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of time with him/her.

6. Tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with you your entire life is yourself. LIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county or to a foreign country, but NOT a guilt trip.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them -- at every opportunity.

- We needed to know this

According to Harper's Index, Oct. 1989, "The estimated amount of glucose used by an adult human brain each day, expressed in M&Ms, is 250."

- Study questions whether kids spread flu

Small children, long blamed for being little germ machines who spread colds and flu every year from nurseries and classrooms to the rest of the community, may be only a minor factor in the annual influenza epidemic, U.S. researchers said Thursday.

Working adults may be more to blame for flu's spread across the country, according to a new analysis of seasonal flu patterns in the United States.

The findings, published in the journal Science, could have implications for controlling any future influenza pandemic, as well as for trying to control annual flu outbreaks.

Cecile Viboud of the National Institutes of Health and colleagues there and at the University of Pennsylvania studied 30 years of influenza data.

"On average, interpandemic (seasonal) influenza took 5.2 weeks to spread across the lower United States during 1972 to 2002," they wrote.

In an average year, seasonal flu kills about 36,000 Americans and puts up to 200,000 in the hospital. Globally, between 250,000 and 500,000 die each year of influenza. Those rates can more than double in a pandemic, but the last pandemic was in 1968.

Viboud's team looked at flu deaths, and at data on the movement of working people from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Transportation.

"The regional spread of infection correlates more closely with rates of movement of people to and from their workplaces (workflows) than with geographical distance," they wrote.

"This is not necessarily contrary to the current consensus that children drive the local spread of influenza (within schools, households and cities in general). At the same time, the long-distance dissemination of influenza, between cities or states, is captured by movements linked to adults."

Viruses such as colds and influenza can be spread by particles when people sneeze and cough, but are also very often spread hand to mouth -- when an infected person touches his or her mouth or nose, touches a surface and leaves virus-laden material for someone else to then pick up.

Scrupulous hand-washing has been shown to greatly reduce transmission of such infections.

(Reuters, March 31, 206)

Russ Novak, who has maintained the Healing Through Unity web pages, writes:

I think the time has come for the website operation to be turned over to somebody new, so a search should be started for a new volunteer webmaster that can also handle/arrange for new hosting services. I can continue to do this until such time as a replacement can be found.

At that point I can put whoever it turns out to be in contact with the appropriate parties about transfer of the dns routing, etc.

If anyone is interested in taking on this vital task, please send an email to

We have just created a Frappr! map for this newsletter. This is a great way to see how many places our subscribers live around the world.

To sign on and join the group (it's free) access the Healing Through Unity map and at:

Check back every so often to see how many more have signed on; watch our world map blossom!

From last issue's question of the month: "My three children are the only Baha'is in their school, and elementary schools really make a big thing of Christmas and Easter and other commercialized holidays around here. How can I create an equal enthusiasm for Baha'i Holy Days? We do have a small Baha'i community, with some other kids, but they are bombarded at school and on TV by the frenzy of other holidays. Any ideas would be most welcome!" DC in Michigan, USA

- Lenore, Washington state, US answers:

This is an ongoing issue for Baha'i families. We have three kids, now 19, 15 and 10. We always emphasized that our family is Baha'i so we celebrate the Baha'i Holy Days. And, isn't it a blessing that we have Ayyam-i-Ha!

We have non-Baha'i extended family and we participate with them for Christmas gift exchanges. But, we don't do any giving between ourselves at all during the "holidays." We enjoy things like eggnog, noting that it is a drink we have in the winter. We try to have a bang-up Thanksgiving in late November and we decorate for Santas, but snowmen, moose and things like that. We have snowmen on skis and ones that light up. Fun, winter things but no Christmas symbols as such.

Right after Christmas (i.e. SALE time) we begin our Ayyam-i-Ha shopping. We don't get as elaborate as I've seen my non-Baha'i relatives get at Christmas but look for nice, useful gifts. Some years we make gifts for everyone--at least all our Baha'i friends.

We clean the house before Ayyam-i-Ha and decorate with fresh candles and flowers. We also have special lights that we put out this time of year as well as garlands of shiny beads (after Christmas shopping bargains) that we drape across the window sills. We participate in Ayyam-i-Ha parties with our local Baha'i community. But, we always have at least two special family evenings where we share a nice dinner and exchange our small gifts. We make sure that the evenings are special in some small way. The kids eagerly anticipate these times.

By reinforcing the message that we are so blessed by having Ayyam-i-Ha as our special time for sharing and gift-giving and emphasizing the sweetness of the Birth of Christ helps our kids see the difference between commemorating the birth of Christ and the seriously ugly materialism that many Christmas celebrations have become.

"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. None of the material published in this newsletter is intended to be a substitute for the advice of a physician.

You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Distribution of this newsletter is free by email. Please email requests for all new subscriptions, subscription cancellations and email address changes (please include old address along with new one) to

You can visit our Web site, obtain back issues and the Healing Through Unity Course at:

All of us have had healing experiences, as well as climbed out of low points along life's way - physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Please share your stories, tips, useful links, and quotes from the Baha'i Writings about staying healthy in a stressful world. Your articles do not have to be long - even a few paragraphs in length is fine. Baha'u'llah gave us each other as a big part of a healthy lifestyle, and sharing stories and ideas that work for you brings encouragement to others. Asking for information and support from others can bring encouragement to you!


Many thanks to all of you who share helpful ideas for the Healing Through Unity Newsletter. The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor. We welcome submissions from everyone.

Please e-mail your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to the newsletter editor, Cheryll Schuette, at:


Please specify if you do not want your full name, or any part of it, used in this newsletter, particularly for the Question of the Month. Once published in email and in the archives on the website, it is difficult if not impossible to remove with any certainty.


Editor - Cheryll Schuette
Contributing Editor - Lynn Ascrizzi
Founding Editor - Frances Mezei
Medical Reviewer - Dr. Diane Kent
Circulation Assistant - Kathy Yonash
Web Master - Russ Novak

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