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HEALING THROUGH UNITY NEWSLETTER

September 2006

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

Volume 10, Issue No. 7, Dealing with Catastrophe

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Contents

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- Quote of the month
- From the Editor
- It's a Calamity! Or is it?
- Sample Applications
- An Affirmation
- Links for further information
- Poetry
- After a While...
- Pack Up Your Cares and Woes
- Health in the News
- New Webmaster needed
- New Webhost needed
- Updating the HTU mailing list
- Purpose of the Newsletter
- Subscription Information
- Web Site

UPCOMING THEMES

November: The Perception of Freedom and Personal Control in Health

January: Happiness and Healing

March: Fasting

April: Touch

June: Success and Health

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QUOTES OF THE MONTH

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"When such a crisis sweeps over the world no person should hope to remain intact. We belong to an organic unit and when one part of the organism suffers all the rest of the body will feel its consequences. This is in fact the reason why Baha'u'llah calls our attention to the unity of mankind."

("Lights of Guidance," p. 133)

" The second attribute of perfection is justice and impartiality. This means to have no regard for one's own personal benefits and selfish advantages, and to carry out the laws of God without the slightest concern for anything else. It means to see one's self as only one of the servants of God, the All-Possessing, and except for aspiring to spiritual distinction, never attempting to be singled out from the others. It means to consider the welfare of the community as one's own. It means, in brief, to regard humanity as a single individual, and one's own self as a member of that corporeal form, and to know of a certainty that if pain or injury afflicts any member of that body, it must inevitably result in suffering for all the rest.

('Abdu'l-Baha, "The Secret of Divine Civilization," p. 38)

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FROM THE EDITOR

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Dear Readers,

Even though having now reached an age at which I fully expected to have my act together, here I am still struggling with those moments when life doesn't go my way. Calamity, of course, comes in degrees, but you know what I mean.

Some progress has been made, though. I no longer respond the same way to breaking a dish as I would to having my air flight cancelled at the last minute, after having checked baggage which is now unretrievable. But the fact remains that I still make plans and counter-plans and backup plans as though there were some way to insure things will go smoothly to the conclusion I had in mind.

Case in point: I took on the editorship of this newsletter because I had just retired and now had time to pursue a long held goal. The family was raised, schooling finished, chores done, bills paid -- and the way was now clear for me to do something I had dreamed about for years.

Life went another way, including increased family responsibilities and that my health will no longer support the level of activity which I'm sure I remember pursuing for many years. The memory seems to be going, too. Who knew?

The result is that there just isn't enough time and energy to put out a monthly newsletter right now.

There are several ways to go: one is to find a new editor. Another is change the format, perhaps to an issue every other month. There are some other changes upcoming, as well. We need a new webmaster and a new (free) webhost. And it is probably time to consult on future directions, topics, formats and reader preferences.

Perhaps there is no longer a need for this type of newsletter. HTU is nearly ten years old, after all, and the world of electronic communications is far different from what it was in the 1990s.

Dear Readers, the fate of Healing Through Unity eNewsletter is in your hands. I hope that you will have some suggestions for the future. What would make the newsletter more useful? What topics would be most interesting, and what sort of information links would you prefer? Would another medium, such as a blog, be better?

Please share your insights! Let's consult on where we are going, and how to get there...

Cheryll Schuette, Michigan, USA

"Life is a figment of your imagination. If you don't like yours, imagine something better." (Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant, MPH, consultant on the use of humor to relieve stress, http://www.accidentalcomic.com/)

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IT'S A CALAMITY! OR IS IT?

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Psychology and philosophy agree that catastrophe is in the eye of the beholder, for the same reasons, it appears. Medical researchers have discovered that how a person responds to difficulties is critical to health, and further, that the specific response is a within the individual's control.

Much religious and philosophical teaching addresses calamity and suffering, providing explanations as a framework of meaning to assist followers to weather trials and catastrophes.

Repeatedly, religion reminds mankind that spirit is more important to happiness than material means, such as, "The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but a broken spirit who can bear?" ("Bible," Proverbs 18:14)

The Baha'i Faith makes an even stronger point that tests and difficulties are not only inevitable, but also a positive and necessary part of personal development, steps in the process of transformation to and discovery of the importance of spiritual growth. Suffering is both a reminder and a guide that stimulates change and self-improvement.

Spiritual growth is important to Baha'is because they believe this material world is only temporary, and the true nature of man is eternal spirit, not flesh.

"That which he needs in the world of the Kingdom must be obtained here.

Just as he prepared himself in the world of the [womb]...so, likewise, the indispensable forces of the divine existence must be potentially attained in this world.... In that world there is need of spirituality, faith, assurance, the knowledge and love of God. These he must attain in this world so that after his ascension from the earthly to the heavenly Kingdom he shall find all that is needful in that eternal life ready for him.... It is a world of perfections; virtues, or perfections must be acquired [here]."

('Abdu'l-Baha, "Promulgation of Universal Peace," pp. 225-226)

"This physical world is thus a place for preparation and growth; a 'workshop' in which to develop virtues such as kindness, mercy, patience and fortitude - qualities which by their nature exalt not only the individual but have a great effect on the growth and progress of civilization [as well].

"Throughout our lives we are faced by many challenges and tests, and although we cannot control most of the experiences that come to us, we *can* choose how we respond to them. Contrary to the belief that we cannot control our emotions, the Baha'i Faith teaches that through the exercise of free will we can choose most of our responses to the world around us. We choose to be patient or frustrated, accepting or angry, loving or dejected.

The more we strive to exhibit virtues, the more we develop spiritually. And even when we fail to respond appropriately to a test, we can use our failures to learn more constructive ways of coping with our trials...

"The challenge of tests is to use them to grow rather than complaining about their appearance. For if we look upon our suffering as an opportunity to grow, we transform our negative experiences into positive ones and can develop capacities and strength that we never knew existed."

(Brian Kurius, from the introduction to his compilation from the Baha'i Writings, "Fire and Gold: Benefiting from Life's Tests," p. x-xi)

So, from a Baha'i point of view, the world is just chock full of opportunities for spiritual growth! Calamities, great and small, internal or external, self-inflicted or undeserved, can assault us daily. And with the increase in communication worldwide, we can be exposed to a steady diet of other peoples' misery, as well as our own. No wonder that stress-induced health problems are on the increase.

Medical research into the processes by which stress seems to cause both mental and physical illness is making some interesting discoveries about the importance of the meaning people ascribe to their experiences. Religion is all about meaning, and this could be the beginning of strong bridges of harmony between science and religion.

Change is labeled as a major cause of stress. Life is filled with changes.

The ability to cope or not with those changes determines whether people will grow with the situation or be overcome by it, whether they flounder helplessly or have hope. Dr. Suzanne Kobasa and her colleagues have studied the differences between these two extremes.

In studies of business executives and lawyers, Kobasa found that those with a great deal of life stress could be protected from physical illness by a combination of three attitudes which describe the stress-hardy personality:

"Commitment -- an attitude of curiosity and involvement in whatever is happening. Its opposite is alienation--as seen in the children in foundling homes who have withdrawn from the world.

"Control -- the opposite of helplessness. It is the belief that we can influence events, coupled with the willingness to act on that belief rather than be a victim of circumstances.

"Challenge -- the belief that life's changes stimulate personal growth instead of threatening the status quo.

"The attitudes of hardiness lead to a kind of coping that Kobasa calls transformational. Committed people who believe they are in control and expect situations to be challenging are likely to react to stressful events by *increasing* their interaction with them--exploring, controlling, and learning from them. This attitude transforms the event into something less stressful by placing it in a broader frame of reference that revolves around continued personal growth and understanding."

(Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., "Minding the Body, Mending the Mind," p. 24)

Nobody -- not even God as recorded in religious scriptures -- ever said developing a spiritual response to life's tests would be easy, however. No matter how specific the guidance or clear the answer, applying it to personal difficulties and avoiding or ameliorating suffering will be exhausting and often less than perfectly successful.

The stress-hardy accept that the best they can do is to struggle, to be patient with themselves and with others, and to mine the experience for important insights along the road to personal development. The faithful do that, and trust that no matter how painful or what the source of the trial, they are in the care and protection of a loving God. Both believe the purpose of their lives, including the painful parts, is for their own good.

Medicine is just beginning to discover that when this meaning is applied to a world of calamities and big and little stressors, it can be good for one's health.

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TWO EXAMPLES OF APPLICATION...

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"Warning! You think about 60,000 thoughts a day. It's up to you to make sure that you don't use up 59,999 of them with negative, cynical thinking.

So next time, before you start to think something negative, just think about that... and this: Your brain has 100 billion cells -- and each of these little babies is connected to at least 20,000 other cells. The variety of potential combinations of all these is more multitudinous than the number of molecules existing in the entire universe! So, if you have that many different combinations of brain cells to choose from, why not try a new combo today?"

(Karen Salmansohn, "How to Be happy, Dammit: a Cynic's Guide to Spiritual Happiness," pp. 2-3)

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"This year my mom and I are both wearing purple for Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for things like safety during terrorism, for food and material things like that, and for the people in the circle of my life, like my mom and Sandy, the Moxes upstairs, and you. For things that God has given us, just because we are loved. Purple. Gentle breezes. Crickets. Shooting stars. Laughter. Feathers. I'm thankful that these things *are,* so while *we* are, we can have gifts every day if we just open our hearts and spirits to them."

(Words of wisdom from a dying 11-year-old, quoted in "Oprah Magazine," February 2006, p. 241)

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AN AFFIRMATION

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(Poem found inside the lid of a box of Yogi Tea: Healing Formula Stomach Ease. It would appear that more than herbs can be helpful in healing upset tummies...)

"Beholding the Perfect Lord,

I am filled with wonder.

O My Lord of All,

Delightful is the Name of the Lord

And happy is my soul on receiving it.

Night or day, my mind remains in bliss,

Oh My Lord of All,

The Lord is obtained by the greatest destiny, Ever earning spiritual treasure, I remain laughing with joy."

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LINKS FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

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* "Fire and Gold: Benefiting From Life's Tests," compiled by Brian Kurzius (George Ronald 1997). There is a study guide to this compilation from the Baha'i Writings, created by Christine and Brian Kurzius. They have given permission to share it. For a copy, cheryll@gotypist.com

* "Divine Therapy: Pearls of Wisdom from the Baha'i Writings," compiled by Annamarie Honnold. (George Ronald, 1986) Available new and used from Baha'i Faith Index at

http://www.bahaindex.com/modules.php?name=Amazon&asin=0853982376

* "Stress: An Owner's Manual: positive techniques for taking charge of your life," Arthur Rowshan. (Oneworld Publications, 1993) Lives and practices in Spain, most websites are in Spanish, but this one on smoking cessation is in

English: http://www.dejadefumarya.com/METODO/Web/Centro_en_Canada/Canada.php

* Spiritual Intelligence: a practical guide to personal happiness," Khalil A. Khavari, Ph.D. (White mountain Publications, 2000) http://www.wmpub.ca

* Oh joy: a Baha'i text research application which runs on a MAC! Costs $25, but it's worth it for those of us who can't use the free search program, Ocean, which runs only in Windows.

http://www.schoolmarmwood.org/ARCHIVEUpdates.htm

* Web page for the magazine Spirituality and Health, with a special on their email newsletter. They post reviews of many of the latest studies in the field of physical, mental and spiritual health:

http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/newsh/items/home/item_216.html

 

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POETRY: One of Those Days

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Nancy Frances, Thursday, May 11, 2006

For the last two weeks in April, and the first week of May, I've been having "Good Days".

Days where I can walk without a cane sometimes And get up from a chair without having to THINK about my balance.

The days that I can go outside and get something done.

The days my back muscles don't jump around, Quivering because I stood too long.

The days that I could carry things and not be afraid that I'd fall, Because I didn't have a free hand to steady myself.

The days I could walk across a room instead of walking near the wall , Between tables and chairs, just so I could be sure I wasn't going to fall.

I'm afraid of falling.

I have always been afraid of falling...well.

To be more precise?

I've always been afraid of landing.

Landings hurt worse than the falling.

Falling just bruises your ego.

Landings can bruise in odd places,

Depending on where you fall.

So I'm really afraid of falling and landing.

I really hate living afraid.

I know the good days will come back,

After rest or some magical combination of ...

What?

I'm not sure exactly.

I do hope they hurry back.

(visit her blog: Nancy's Garden Spot

http://nancysgardenspot.blogspot.com/)

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AFTER A WHILE...

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Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul. And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning and company doesn't mean security, and you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises, and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open, with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child, and you learn to build your roads on today, because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans, and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own Soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure, that you really are strong, and you really do have worth!

And you learn...and you learn...with every goodbye, you learn!

(From JoAnn (aka, Fairy Godmother) Oklahoma, USA)

 

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PACK UP YOUR CARES AND WOES

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A do-it-yourself gift for those of us who may have more troubles than we know what to do with -- shared some years ago on a listserve, by Marilyn, who was then living in Japan.

1. Take some memo paper and write out any questions or problems or fears that have you troubled.

2. Put the notes into a plain envelope.

3. Copy the quotations below and paste them in any pattern you prefer on the outside of the envelope. Add any other quotations and assurances that you use on a regular basis to deal with life.

4. Keep the envelope in a safe place, take it out and read the quotations on the envelope whenever you feel troubled about the 'difficulties' inside.

5. After a couple of weeks, a couple of months, or a year, reread the contents of the envelope -- and marvel at how God's grace has been at work inside you while your trouble were inside the envelope surrounded by His assurances.

SOME SAMPLE QUOTES:

"...to make a sacrifice is to receive a gift." ('Abdu'l-Baha, "Selected Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha," par. 200)

"Do all ye can to become wholly weary of self and bind yourselves to that Countenance of Splendors; once ye have reached such heights of servitude, ye will find gathered in your shadow all created things." ('Abdu'l-Baha, "Selected Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha," pp. 75-77)

"Whatever comes to pass hath issued from God's grace." ('Abdu'l-Baha, "Selected Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha," pp. 242-246)

"Hindrances ... can and should be effectively overcome through the combined and sustained power of prayer and determined and continued effort..."

(Shoghi Effendi, "Light of Divine Guidance, Vol. 1" pp. 139-141)

"Supreme happiness is man's, if he beholds the signs of God in the world and in the human soul, if he urges on the steed of high endeavor in the arena of civilization and justice." ('Abdu'l-Baha, "Secret of Divine Civilization,"

p. 4)

"... human happiness consists only in drawing closer to the Threshold of Almighty God, and in securing the peace and well-being of every individual member, high and low alike, of the human race." ('Abdu'l-Baha, "Secret of Divine Civilization," pp. 41-60)

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HEALTH IN THE NEWS

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- Exercise forYour Mind

Working out is a smart move in more ways than one, according to a new study in "Lancet Neurology." People who do moderate physical activity (such as walking), compared to their less active counterparts, at least twice a week are 52% less likely to develop dementia and 60% less likely to get Alzheimer's disease.

The study involved nearly 1,500 men and women, of whom nearly 200 developed dementia or Alzheimer's disease between the ages of 65 and 79. The researchers looked back at how physically active the study participants had been up to 21 years earlier, when they would have been in their late 40s and early 50s. Those who developed Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia were far less likely to have been active when they were middle-aged than those who remained free of dementia.

For the full "Neurology Now" article:

http://www.neurologynow.com/pt/re/neuronow/fulltext.01222928-200602010-00021.htm

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NEW WEBMASTER NEEDED!

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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 cheryll@gotypist.com

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NEW WEBHOST NEEDED

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The Healing Through Unity Newsletter information and back issues web pages need to move. If anyone can provide space or can recommend free web space, please contact the editor: cheryll@gotypist.com

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JOIN THE HEALING THROUGH UNITY FRAPPR! MAP

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We have a Frappr! map for this newsletter. This is a great way to see how many places our subscribers live around the world. Interesting to note that most of those who have joined the map so far are female.

To sign on and join the group, (it's free) access the Healing Through Unity map and at: http://www.frappr.com/healingthroughunityreaders

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

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UPDATING OUR SUBSCRIPTION LIST

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Kathy, rocketman@mwt.net, is going through the email address list to purge out all the ones that are returned addressee unknown. Notice will be placed on the web page let people know that if they were purged by mistake, or haven't received a newsletter in a while, that they can be reinstated by simply notifying her.

And many, many thanks to Kathy for her patience, persistence and outstanding attention to the process of distributing this newsletter to over 2000 people ten months out of every year!

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PURPOSE OF THE NEWSLETTER

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"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.

 

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SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

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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 rocketman@mwt.net.

 

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WEB SITE

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You can visit our Web site, obtain back issues and the Healing Through Unity Course at: http://www.healingthroughunity.org

 

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PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

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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!

WHERE TO SEND STORIES AND CORRESPONDENCE:

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: cheryll@gotypist.com.

DISCLAIMER:

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.

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HEALING THROUGH UNITY NEWSLETTER

Editor - Cheryll Schuette

Contributing Editor - Lynn Ascrizzi

Founding Editor - Frances Mezei

Circulation Assistant - Kathy Yonash

Web Master - Russ Novak

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