Cissy Brady-Rogers
Cissy Brady-Rogers Cissy Brady-Rogers Cissy Brady-Rogers

Archive for October, 2013

I’ve blogged about the dangers of use, misuse and abuse of alcohol before. A recent N.Y. Times discussion got me thinking about it again.

Studies indicate an association between binge drinking and rape on college campuses. As one of the N.Y. Times bloggers states: there’s nothing liberating or empowering about getting so drunk that you make choices to go places and do things you’d never do if you were sober!   If women think that being free to “drink like a man” is a sign of liberation, they’ve got some serious self-reflection to do on the meaning of life.

Encouraging women to drink responsibly is not about putting the blame for rape on the women, it’s about taking personal responsibility for our own welfare. Moreover, the same message should be sent to the men who rape them. I wonder about my own experience: would that man I met in the bar have raped me if he were sober? Would either of us made the choices we did if we’d met at a coffee shop instead of a bar?

Another author asks an important question about the abuse of alcohol: When did it become a social justice issue to defend anyone’s right to get so inebriated they make decisions they’d never make if they were sober?

And so the conversation continues…

In a NY Time article advocating equipping children with cognitive focusing skills, Daniel Goleman sites a study indicating that ability to manage attention is a better predictor of financial success and health than either IQ or SES of family of origin!

When it comes to physical, mental and spiritual health, regulating attention is critical.

specificity, focus, control

The physical therapist who guided my shoulder rehabilitation last year had a mantra: specificity, control, focus. It’s all about working smarter, not harder and longer. The more I focused on working my rotator cuff muscles and not compensating by using other muscles or momentum, the better my outcome. I could spend many hours mindlessly going through the routines while distracted by an audio book or watching television and not make the progress I did by spending half as much time with specificity, focus and control.

And so it is with any part of our lives: regulating attention is an essential skill, especially as opportunities to be distracted increase.

Recent studies highlight the potential of benefits of mindfulness training for treating female sexual dysfunction. For reasons beyond the scope of this blog, many women grow up in varying degrees of disconnection from our sexual awareness. Thus, disconnection from arousal or the capacity for pleasure and orgasm. Simply learning to “tune in” instead of “tune out” can make a big difference in our capacity for sexual satisfaction.

If the connection between regulating attention and sexual health intrigues you, consider joining me for the Soul & Sexuality at Eclessia church in Hollywood beginning October 20. I’ll introduce a Christ-centered form of attentional prayer as a tool for supporting sexual health.

In the coming years I suspect we will see a lot more about the implications of simple mindful awareness practices on mental and physical health, as well as success in other realms of life.

In the meantime, here’s a simple exercise to work your attention regulation muscle. Read through the exercise, then set a timer for a minute to practice. With eyes closed, take a long full inhale, followed by an even longer, slower exhale. Purse your lips like you’re blowing up a balloon to help you regulate the exhale. Then bring your full attention to your breath and just notice your breath. Notice the feeling of air as it passes into your nose, through your throat into your your lungs. Notice your chest or belly slightly expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale.

That’s it.

Doing this exercise a few times a day can be a powerful start on increasing your attention regulation capacity. Who knows, you might even improve your health!

It’s breast cancer awareness month. A wonderful opportunity to support early detection through regular self-exams, mammography and other cutting edge methods. Early detection saves thousands of lives a year – including mine back in 1992.

Sadly, like many good things, there’s a dark underside to the “Think Pink” campaigns of October. The commercialization of breast cancer awareness through sales of pink products (pins, hats, shirts, slippers, watches, water bottles, etc.) is a sneaky way for companies to pad their revenue. If you can make it in pink and sell it, it’s probably for sale by some savvy company seeking a profit.

Moreover, many of the same companies that take part in the pink ribbon campaigns also sell personal care products containing known carcinogens. At the present time only 200 of the over 80,000 chemicals used in the United States have been tested for human safety. The European Union has banned over 1300 chemicals from use in cosmetics while the US has only banned 11.

think before you pink

It’s impossible to point the finger at any one company as so many have seized the opportunity.  Everyone from department stores to makeup manufactures self-promote their supposed altruism by donating a percentage of profits to breast cancer research etc.

But seriously, do you really need a pink shirt or hat? Maybe if you like pink…but even then, how often is that pink thing something you really want, let alone need?

It’s definitely not something I want or need. While I deeply appreciate the loving intention behind those “think pink” ribbons and earrings and scarves I’ve received from friends over the years, I don’t wear them. After sitting in my possession for a few  years because I feel guilty throwing them out, they end up at the Salvation Army donation center.

How about just donating the $20 directly? No clutter in the jewelry drawer or closet and 100% of your money goes directly to support an organization you choose instead of the one the all-so-altruistic company is in cahoots with!

What can you do to support breast cancer awareness and survival?

Donate directly instead of spending money on things you and I don’t need. Organizations I support include the Cancer Support Community of Pasadena (supporting patients and their loved ones going through treatment) and Breast Cancer Action (a grassroots organization advocating for scientific research into the environmental factors in breast cancer).

Sign this petition demanding comprehensive government regulation of all chemicals that enter the marketplace and our homes and bodies.

Think before you waste your money on pink key fobs, nail polish, pants, watches, tennis shoes, bras, make up brushes and all the other gimmicks the breast cancer industry tries to sell you.

This fall we’ll work with the poses of yoga to cultivate the growth of the fruit of the spirit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

In addition to the spiritual growth fostered through praying with our bodies, other potential benefits of regular practice include: increased mobility and energy, improved balance and mood, normalized gastrointestinal functioning and much more.

I’d love to share the gifts of yoga with you.

Tuesdays at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena @ 7:30 p.m. – 8 week session begins October 8th

Contrary to what the flyer indicates, this class is open to others when it doesn’t fill with people from the Fuller community. Contact Jose at 626-584-5680 to register.

Wednesdays at Glendale Presbyterian Church @ 6:15 p.m. – meets weekly in room 202. Contact me for more information.

Both classes are open to all levels of experience.

Bring a yoga mat or towel, water and wear comfortable clothes.

I woke at 4 a.m. one morning last week on vacation with these thoughts about God’s will on my mind. One of the gifts of this vacation was a lovely balance between being and doing. The open spaces of just being–lounging in front of a roaring fire, standing in a boat on the Flathead River waiting for a fish to strike, drinking in the beauty of Glacier National Park from the Going to the Sun Road while someone else drove–each moment creating open spaces to taste and see the goodness of God. So grateful for the re-creation and renewal that comes from just being!

Mt. Glacier National Park, MT

Being and character are primary. God’s will is that I love, that I be a loving presence in the world. Who I am and how I do whatever I do is primary. When I stay aligned with God’s love, then the doing, along with what, where, and who I do it with, will follow.

I spent many years believing that God’s will was about what and where and who, about doing and circumstances — like there was/is only one right path to follow and if I missed it, or choose another path, I was screwed. Consciously I know that is not true, yet those old neural pathways can still pull me away from focusing on being a loving presence and into mental quagmires of “Is this God’s will for my life???”

One of the blessings of vacation is the freedom each day brings. No obligations or commitments, just time to love my husband, love the blustery weather of this Montana morning, and see what unfolds. A day to practice being present to each moment and let going of any attempt to find the one right or best way to spend the day.