The three points of view…in spirituality?

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You probably already know that in writing and narrating there are different points of view. You might have even studied the differences between first, second and third-person point of view. But I found it interesting when I came across a magazine article stating that these points of view apply to our religious or spiritual natures as well. I wanted to share this information in a condensed, easy-to-read format for others, so following is a brief explanation of each “spiritual style”. Hopefully you will have fun reading through and deciding how you personally view things. Most of us probably lean towards one point of view, but carry aspects of the others as well. Although I myself am Christian, I tried to present the information in a way that anyone could relate to, regardless of religious beliefs. If you wish to share your own viewpoint or opinion on the matter, feel free to leave a comment!

First-person POV: Just as in writing, first-person is by far the most personal point of view. As the name implies, with the first-person spiritual POV, you tend to see God or Spirit within yourself. Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism are big on the first-person POV of God, as are many followers of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, especially the more mystical folks. People who favor the first-person POV see God living within them, whether they believe that the Spirit of God is naturally inherent in all living beings or believe that the Holy Spirit physically resides inside believers after conversion. There is often a belief in an “inner Christ”, “inner Buddha” or other spiritual presence within. Some people are really wary of the first person spiritual POV because they fear it could be seen as a type of self-worship.

Second-person POV: This POV often uses the pronoun “you” in writing. Typically in this POV you are addressing someone else. So when you think about the second-person POV in regards to spirituality, this would be the common practice of talking to God as a separate entity who is entirely outside of yourself. People who favor this POV often refer to God as “Father”, “Thee”, “Thou”, “Lord”, etc. The basis of this POV is really all about personal relationships and the need to feel connected to someone or something greater than ourselves. This is definitely the POV most used in times of emergency or hardship, when people instinctively call out for help.

Third-person POV: As in writing, the third-person POV is referring to someone or something entirely outside of yourself and normally not very intimate either. It is looking at something from a distance and being able to analyze or logically study things. Some may think that people who favor this POV aren’t spiritual at all, because they don’t necessarily “sound” spiritual or religious, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t believe in anything. These are the people who look at nature and see God or spirituality present there. They also may look at science or the arts and marvel at the wonders of design and creativity present there. Many people who crave spiritual connection but have been turned off by traditional religions tend to favor the third-person POV. Of course, even those who follow a strict religious form may still see God reflected in creation or other amazing parts of life.

So…which type do you think you favor? Personally, I think I favor the second-person POV because I crave that personal relationship with someone greater than myself. I like having someone fair, loving and all-knowing to talk to at all times. However, I do think that at least a bit of God must exist within all living beings, otherwise, they couldn’t live. I truly do believe the “breath of God” is within all that lives and that the loving Spirit of God can reside within us if we allow it. I also do see the Spirit of God reflected in creation, science and art and marvel at the creativity that exists within the creator and the creation. So as you can see, many of us are a combination of all three styles, but I still find it interesting to think about. I hope you do too.

Yes, I have autism and I am proud!

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Not too long ago, after a lengthy round of psychological testing and lots of other mind-probing activities, my psychologist broke the news to me that I do officially have autism. The autism I have is a high-functioning type called Asperger’s (or at least it used to be called that, now they are starting to just refer to it as “high-functioning autism”). So why did I even go at my age (30 years old) to be tested? Because of some of the issues I was having, especially with sensory problems and anxiety.

I have always had sensory problems. In fact, I still have to cut all of the tags out of my clothes, can’t stand the feel of many clothing materials against my skin, refuse to eat many foods due to texture and scent issues, cover my ears when I am around certain high-pitched noises and sometimes have mini panic attacks in large crowds due to the overwhelming amount of noise and movement around me. I have learned to control myself so that most people don’t notice in public, but believe me, if you lived with me, you would think I was crazy sometimes.

As for the anxiety, I always knew I had generalized anxiety and social anxiety, especially around “small talk” situations. I am fine talking at length about things that interest me and that I know a lot about. In fact, I have learned to limit how much I talk about my “obsessions” because it starts to bore others after a while. In the past, I just survived the anxiety by avoiding most social situations, but now that I am finally living my dream as an award-winning author, the last thing I want to do is give up that dream because I am afraid of discussing the weather with strangers.

So anyhow, ever since I have been diagnosed, some people seem to act like it is some big, shameful secret I should hide. Heck no. I am proud to be who I am, eccentricities and all. I do not consider myself “disabled”. At only 30, I am following my passion, have a wonderful marriage (to a very understanding husband) and have the true love and devotion of those closest to me. That is another thing, many people seem to thing being autistic means “unable to love”. Not at all. Sure, we can be harder to get to know and seem out of it and self-absorbed at times, but once we let you in and get close to you, we can be some of the most loyal people around.

So, yeah, we might rock back and forth or hum when we get nervous or get lost every time we venture more than five miles from home. We may stare off into space all the time or freak out over stuff you don’t understand. We might have weird eating habits and lots of OCD tendencies that raise eyebrows. We may collect nerdy stuff and want lots of alone time to recharge. But we have very good hearts underneath it all. And remember, just like so-called “normal people”, no two autistic people are exactly alike. Get to know us as individuals. If you take the time to do that, I truly believe that you won’t be disappointed.

Staying sane during troubled times

nasa-bird-public-domain-free-nature-2011-1024Lately things have been extremely stressful for me. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that I just feel overwhelmed and discouraged by circumstances that are somewhat out of my control, but still manage to weigh heavily on my heart and mind. I think I would have gone crazy recently if it weren’t for my spiritual connections and the support and encouragement of those who love me. Although I am not happy to be facing difficult times and circumstances, I am glad to have the reality check that helps me get back to the basics of what is really important in this life.

So now that I am (hopefully) starting to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, I would like to share the actual practices and actions that have helped me through, in the hopes that others going through the valley might find comfort and encouragement for their own battles. So here it is, a short list of lifesavers I have discovered:

  • Meditation and prayer – this is probably the one single thing that has helped me the most. I practice a combination of mindfulness and relaxation meditation, combined with prayer based on the particular Christian tradition I follow. I do breathing exercises, practice yoga, meditate to soothing music, read inspirational literature, journal and just spend time talking to God. Regardless of whether you are religious or not, there are plenty of relaxation and spiritual practices that may help you to find that inner peace and stability you need during rough times. Don’t be afraid to go within or look up for help.
  • Loved ones – this includes my husband, my family, my close friends, my pets and even Facebook friends that I have never met in person, but who have shown me great kindness and compassion throughout my troubles. One ironic thing I have found is that sometimes those who don’t even really know us show more compassion and love during hard times than some of the folks who we see on a regular basis. During times like this you find out that some people will always be there for you and other people are merely acquaintances. Although it may hurt, it is good to know who will be there when the chips are down.
  • Take care of your health – although sad and desperate times may tempt you to neglect your health, this will only make things much, much worse. Although I have had days recently where I was guilty of indulging in chocolate and caffeine fests, I find that I feel much, much better when I drag myself out to get exercise and eat what I know is good for my body. Make sure you take time to rest and sleep as well. Sometimes when all seems lost, laying down and taking a nap helps you recharge and “reset” your mind into a more positive direction.
  • Take time to play – this can be hard when you are facing tragedy and constant stressors, but it is important to try to keep life fun as much as you can. So do what brings you pleasure, even if you can only devote a few minutes a day. Read, write, draw, paint, do puzzles, dance around to your favorite music, watch cartoons, cook, shop, spend time with nature….whatever your bliss is, find time for it.

Well, that is the majority of what has worked for me. I can’t promise that what worked for me will do wonders for you too, but maybe it will if you give it a chance. It certainly can’t hurt to try.

“Who Am I?” Picture Book Review

“Who Am I?” is an inspirational picture book produced by Panda Heart Publishing, a company that focuses all of their attention on making the world better for children and helping each person, no matter how small, find the truth of who they are inside.

Written by Suzanne Mulcahy and illustrated by Patty O’Rourke, “Who Am I?” is a unique picture book.  Its main character, Yin, is an adorable panda bear who is searching for his own identity.  By asking his mother a series of profound questions, Yin comes to see that there are many parts that make up who he is, but perhaps the most important part of all is his heart.

And why is the heart so important?  Because it contains your ability to love as well as some special gifts that only you can share with the world.  By the last page, Yin is proud of who he is and all that he has to offer, a feeling that would change the lives of children all over the world if they were only allowed to see the power that lies in their own humanity.

I would definitely recommend this book for younger children, particularly those who are starting to recognize their individuality.  Books like this are great for helping children attain a healthy self-image and become more self-aware.  It should also be mentioned that the author, Suzanne Mulcahy, has been a licensed school psychologist for over 25 years, so she has a great deal of experience in helping children find their place in the world.

If you would like to find out more about this book, the author or the other products offered by Panda Heart Publishing, please visit www.pandaheartpublishing.com.