Learning to be mindful, living in the moment with my thoughts and deeds in life. This is one of many tools Buddhist concepts have now lightly placed in my own recovery toolbox, first introduced as a helpful practice through my experience with others in group.
The teachings of The Buddha with concepts of meditative practice, along with mindfulness education and training, has made a huge difference now for me. With PTSD, Depression and Addiction all now comfortably in remission. These tools I've acquired along recovery's way serve me still in terms of maintenance.
All such practices I use today to practice wellness include those concepts adopted from Buddhism. These concepts are now adequately scientifically studied through the research fellows living in the world of neuroscience and neurobiology. I trust them, because they've been thoroughly and completely studied and are demonstrating merit in the psychological community.
It is the neuroscience community of today, that will soon be most appropriately tasked with treating mental illness in it's many human forms. To me, the souls working in these fields announce a return to the human days-of-old. In ancient times such scientists were revered as Shamans and Medicine Men. A status Western Medicine still refuses to accept. A status that likely will never be granted to them, from the Church.
These concepts remain as part of my maintenance program today, the scientifically studied concepts from Buddhism. They work more powerfully for me now, than ever before. I've held on to much in terms of the personal value of these concepts through recovery. Living mindfully and practicing daily meditation, are now solidly in play with remission from the diagnosed mental health challenges in my life. My symptoms are no longer standing in their helpful way.
Group is meant to provide those of us prone to isolation, opportunity to socialize safely again with others. Peers with like-minded battles turn up without hesitation, to speak to the reality of our individual lives in these groups. Persons with a variety of diagnosed mental illness find in group, opportunity to be real with others who completely understand empathically the personal pain our society imposes on us through stigma. Impositions on our recovery and well-being, society forces us to live with on the outside each and every day.
Stigma from the outside, is practiced against us by our fellow primates quite frankly. Stigmatization and ostracization, can be summed up with a single demonic name. Bullying is the label, most fitting to the behaviour that travels in stigma's soul. The most hideous of it's form, the inner bullying we've all learned to practice towards ourselves. Inner-bullying. The hallmark of negative self-talk driving many of us with depression to suicide. Group work allows us to vent all of the suffering inflicted into our lives through stigma's inner and outer infliction of pain.
One of the most hideous issues for all of us to battle back through, is this issue in North American society. The Others out in the world who stigmatize once we're diagnosed and our symptomatic behaviour gets in the way of our relationships. Many we once heard from (prior to our illness) with words and often deeds that painted an image for us that these people were loving, caring compassionate souls. Once our diagnose hit us. The diagnosis hits them too.
At one point in our lives, we seemed just fine in each others company. Once diagnosed, however. We who attend in groups to our own needs, all share stories that constitute abandonment from society. Our practice as primates, dominating fellow primates through stigmatization. At it's root, in full light of day. I see this as monkey acting-out against the other weak monkeys in the troop. Thoughtlessly acting out our animal nature.
Unconsciously through our forgotten and ignored animal-ism, we never see ourselves in our human mirrors, working often in a frenzy to peck at the weak chicken in the flock. We never actually consciously see ourselves, attacking anyone emotionally to a battered, spiritual ruin. This never occurs to us, until ultimately one of our fellow chickens-in-the-coop, gives up on her life. Choosing suicide and forever she physically dies. Judged as doing so, strictly by choice through her own hand.
Writing this morning, my heart is with Robin Williams. I witnessed last night, a stigma towards him that invoked such rage in me. I ended a friendship in response. I do care so deeply for my friend. I care for us both today, offering here a full apology.
Where I stand, however. Is with the inner-conviction that I can't allow stigmatization from anyone, friend or not, to rule roost in my inner chicken-coop. I no longer have the human luxury of such things living still inside of me.
I am willing to forgive. But forgiveness towards myself or returned, must first come with a full understanding of what it actually is we are forgiving. Such issues are generally for me much deeper than any examination of surface behaviour could ever attempt to explain.
Stigma from family, friends and previous peers in our work. Too common for my liking any longer in the mental health community I now serve as my friends. Stigma even tries to invoke in us even further pain than this. A lie is often preached to us. To minimize the guilt of stigmatization and the behaviours of it all.
We are often reminded by well-meaning human beings how silly it is for us to isolate from anyone. We own this truth. We are yet to hear society accept that it's practice of bullying through stigmatization and misinformation is the root cause of the inner bullying we hear inside. Leading us then to choose isolation. Far too often we bully ourselves with negative words of our own on the inside. This is truth. A circumstance for Robin Williams I'm convinced sent him now to a much too early and unnecessary grave.
This is another demon. My current remission will not allow me not to expose. A demon, whose voice (trust me) comes with the faces often of those we thought would love us through. Family, friends, close acquaintances. This is the true face of stigmatization that far too often we live through. Many live through the medical issues in our lives, damaged with the stigma the world labels mental illness and addiction.
I can only define this one way in terms of what stigma creates inside a fellow human who is mentally rather than physically ill. These words themselves are a demon worth exposing now too. The name of this hideous, inner demon in the soul of the mentally ill. We call this demon: Toxic Shame. Shame induced from life experiences of inner suffering when morality gets it's place in the human hierarchy within the psyche, over love.
One of the most painful groups of others in our communities, when it comes to stigmatization. The Christian Churches we once belonged to. Some of us once prominent members and well-respected by the group, feel full abandonment and isolation from those who once loved us in our churches. Very damaging to the soul of someone mentally ill. These Brothers and Sisters, assured us Love. As fellow Christians from our various churches walk away from us when we are ill. For a member who develops a mental illness, this is a very painful pill to swallow when the truth of stigma in humanity finally shows it's dark human face, so unexpectedly, from here.
In group , we hear so many stories of pain inflicted by the church. A situation that unfortunately amounts to nothing shy of the concept of bullying we are forced to learn about. This issue permeates our society. And, as the demon shows itself to us most often, it comes to us through the forced, frightened smiles of concern across the Christianized demon's face. A human face of our once friendly sister, staring blankly at us now not knowing what to do.
This demon has a name too. Like all the others my health of late won't allow me to stay quiet about. This is the demon of Christianized Spiritual Abuse.
The hurt and harm of spiritual abuse is rarely inflicted upon people with the intention to wound anyone. Most spiritual abuse is inflicted by Christians who are very sincere. These are people who believe they are obeying the Bible in sharing Christ with others with words. Who often believe that they are being led by the Holy Spirit, to do so. Words without loving action, often to the mentally ill. Speaks volumes in terms of the truth our abandonment feelings can conjure up inside.
Ronaldd Enroth writes to the subject, in his book Churches that Abuse:
"Do the abusers intend to inflict hurt? In most cases, probably not. They usually are unaware of what they are doing to people in the name of God. They may, in fact, be convinced that their behavior is what the Lord has mandated. What others interpret as control they may view as caring for the flock. They are usually so narcissistic or so focused on some great thing they are doing for God that they don't notice the wounds they are inflicting on their followers."
Spiritual abuse has been defined as "a kind of abuse which damages the central core of who we are. It leaves us spiritually discouraged and emotionally cut off from the healing love of God." Another definition of spiritual abuse is "the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining, or decreasing that person's spiritual empowerment." (http://www.micsem.org/pubs/counselor/frames/spiritabuse.htm).
For the most part, spiritual abuse is inflicted by those who in their minds, sincerely love their experience of knowing Jesus. They diligently practice so-called faith through intense study of the bible and are taught through their leaders, that they have a job to do.
To get out there in the world, saving souls from society and further, they are taught it is their job as persons saved themselves from hell, to ensure as many who cross their path become members of the chosen few.
Ronald Enroth points out: "these churches are doctrinally sound, conservatively Christian, thoroughly Biblical." My experience remains that these evangelical churches are nothing short of a cult. For we see within their walls, far too zealously maintained, a core group of individuals in power over the others. Often a fire and brimstone preacher at the helm of these Christianized ships. Men, generally speaking. Who love power over others, far more than they can embrace any love for the humanity in the pews they are to serve, protect from such things and lovingly represent.
The fundamentals of the Faith as the flock has learned it behind such walls. Psychologically speaking, this could easily be defined as brainwashing. So I've learned and experienced personally, there are several reasons why Christian people of good will and a sincere desire to share Jesus, fall into this unspoken trap. Like Ronald Enroth and the other authors I've studied, I needed this information to reconcile inside an issue that was spiritually killing me. Spiritual abuses of stigmatization and bullying can inflict serious harm and injury upon others in the Name of Christ. 'Forgive us all, Father. We haven't a clue what we're actually doing.'
The key element of harm, comes with the hallmark of an ego-driven, intellectualized spiritual life. When we tread through these waters of teaching, we come out the other side void of a key human tenant in the compassion taught in his day, by the man himself, Jesus Christ. The demon in this spiritual upbringing has a three-word name in my experience. I call this demon, like all others I've battled, directly by it's demon name. The name of this Culturally Created Beelzebub is this: Lack Of Empathy.
In the view of men like Ronald Enroth, and trust me my personal experience agrees, Lack of Empathy is a void left in the hearts of the evangelical cults who unwittingly, yet irresponsibly impose bullying ways. Empathy is the ability to perceive, to understand, to sense, to feel what another person is experiencing. Tenants sorely lacking in the society we all live as family in today.
Unfortunately, in witnessing for Jesus many evangelicals talk to people. Many don't know the grace of talking with people about their human lives. Guilty, as charged here. I've personally practiced, as well. These so symbolically demonic, human misguided ways.
It is impossible to truly talk with anyone about Jesus, or anything else for that matter, without a willingness towards actual human intimacy. Really, deeply knowing the other person. This is how intimacy is defined. Authentic ministry is based upon knowing a person's full heart. Another person's full soul and life experience. There is no point, as Enroth supports, in claiming that Jesus is the answer, when you have not heard or found way to ask, the question.
A physician who prescribes medicine, or a paramedic with all his skills. Without knowing the patient truthfully, these angels of mercy are likely to injure the patient and may in lacking to do so, cause irreparable human harm. In like manner, evangelicals who try to minister without knowing the sheep in an empathic manner, will most likely injure her fellow man.
In my experience with mental illness in group. The stories of spiritual abuse from evangelical well-meaning Christians we've heard. Would frankly make anyone want to turn tail and run from the inner beauty of a personal, sacred, longstanding, truly spiritual connection to all that is. It nearly caused me to run. Many times away from Christ.
The Great I Am caring for my uniquely sacred spiritual needs, never changed his face in my battle. Never once inside in my graced understanding did The Christ turn his loving back towards me. The face and words in my soul from Jesus, stayed true to me through the bitter end. The only human face that inside of myself never ostracized or turned away from me was, quite frankly, the face of Christ. That is why as a hero to me, from the inside of myself. I'll just say, I continue to Behold The Man.
Some of you reading this adjusted world view of Christianity, may feel anger towards me in these words. That's fine. Be angry. But we all know from where anger really stems. Anger towards anyone or any concepts that might challenge our current belief system, are normal when we are challenged like this.
Many who've read my own rants at the machines of humanity, know I will empathize and understand. I have no choice in the matter. Why? Because I've been there too. To not attempt to reconcile my fight with a friend last night, with a loving and forgiving reflection of it all this morning. Friends, for me to do so. This in my soul would be an ultimate hypocracy.
As with previous writings these past weeks, I only know how to state this, through the professional advice I've received along recovery's way. Dr. Carl Jung, taught me the lesson. We end all stigmatization by dissecting our own souls from the inside out.
We shake all the inner demons in our personal, inner-space, hard to the ground from every hidden tree. Stigmatization and unintended spiritual abuse. Robs us all of empathy, compassion and love from the deepest lingerings within our souls. Sadly, this happens to us all, without our even knowing it. Demons, have a way of working through us all just like that.
I'm sorry to have to tell you all, and please hear me when I say this with reasoned love. In terms of societal stigmatization directly, and as it is often currently practiced in humanity through the evangelical, Christianized church. When it comes to addressing mental illness. You are actually doing more harm, than you are good.
From where does the greatest empathic abilities towards learning full-on compassion and love towards our fellow man come? I need to leave you again, with these same words of my mentor in psychological life and care. Dr. Carl, Gustav Jung.
"Knowing YOUR OWN DARKNESS. Is the best way (the only way in fact) to know the (hidden) darkness in others." (New emphasis: Mine).
Darren Michael Gregory. August 15th, 2014. Darren Is A Community & Workplace Trauma Consultant and Educator, Living in Creston, British Columbia, Canada, Follow This Link, to Seek Service or to Book Darren For Education or Speaking Events.
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Disclaimer: These materials and resources are presented for educational purposes only. They are not a substitute for informed medical advice or training. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified health or mental health care provider. If you have concerns, contact your health care provider, mental health professional, or your community health centre.
Darren Gregory © 2014: All Rights Reserved