What Stresses You and What Blesses You?

One of the most powerful answers to prayer I ever received came after I was hit by Post-Polio Syndrome in my early fifties. PPS involves a weakening of the muscles, painful joints and numbing fatigue, and it comes on decades after childhood polio, which I had at age eleven. I was one of the last children stricken in the polio epidemic of the 1950s, just before the discovery of the Salk vaccine.  Post-Polio Syndrome is similar to energy diseases such as Chronic Fatigue. My doctor had nothing for me. “Linda”, he said, “This is incurable, and there is nothing I can do for you. You will have to find a way through it yourself. And you need to stop spending so much time with the angels.” I didn’t know he was aware of my spiritual practices, but it turned out he was very intuitive and was a practicing Sufi! He didn’t look the part at all. He had a brush cut, and even wore bow ties.

As it turned out, his words were prophetic. My capacity for meditation faded out completely as my mind fog deepened. I felt quite bereft until one morning when I was on my knees, asking God if I should prepare to just give up. I was so breathless and weak, I could barely walk, and wondered if I would survive.  I called out, “Help me, God. I don’t know what to do!”

Suddenly a clear, strong inner voice said, “I will give you 10 Rules for health. Write them down and follow them.” This was quite shocking, because my mushy brain had prevented me from “hearing” answers to prayer for some time.  Yet, here was an amazing example of what God revealed to the prophet Jeremiah: “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and hidden things that you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

I pulled myself up off my knees into my prayer chair, grabbed my prayer journal and starting writing fast, as if taking dictation. Later, I wrote a book on the 10 Rules, called A Pace of Grace: the Virtues of a Sustainable Life. Having lived on Aitutaki in the South Pacific Cook Islands for four years now, I’ve found that people here in Paradise need these steps for health as much as anyone. Islanders often overdo to the point of stress. Some experience what I call the “FOG Syndrome”: fatigue, overwhelm and guilt. There is chronic guilt for many of us about “not getting it all done,” which is terribly pressuring. Some islanders enjoy a healthy balance in their lives, while others struggle to get through the days and weeks.

I later went to a Post-Polio specialist who was astonished by my recovery. He said it was miraculous and asked me how I did it. I showed him the Ten Rules, and he said, “This is the best recovery programme I’ve ever seen. Where did you find it?” When I told him, he just smiled knowingly. He now has A Pace of Grace on his shelf to share with other patients.

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10 Rules for Health

  1. Purity and Cleanliness
  2. Breathe (Pranha)
  3. Proper Vitamins
  4. Proactive Rest
  5. Pace Yourself
  6. Pray
  7. Pursue Peaceful Activity
  8. Play!
  9. Prioritize: Put Your First Passion First.
  10. Plan a Sustainable Life

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To prepare for a transformational program such as A Pace of Grace, take time to ask yourself, what stresses you and what blesses you. Here are some questions to reflect on and perhaps to share with someone you trust:

WHAT STRESSES ME?

When do I feel most stressed?

What fatigues me?

What conditions, activities, people and relationships in my life drain me?

What is my greatest fear?

What am I worried about?

What overwhelms me?

What triggers my guilt?

What do I want to change about the way I spend my time and energy?

What do I want less of in my life?

 

WHAT BLESSES ME?

What makes me smile?

When do I feel most peaceful?

What activities do I find most satisfying?

When do I feel most joyful and alive?

What relationships and activities restore and sustain me?

Who do I enjoy?

Who do I want to spend more time with?

What do I want more of in my life?

This is the first blog in a series on the Pace of Grace lifestyle, sharing 10 steps to health, which help to restore body and soul. “He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.” (Psalm 23:2 -3)

13 thoughts on “What Stresses You and What Blesses You?”

  1. Dear and Precious Linda
    This Blog has been the most well timed piece of writing I have read for some time. I needed to be reminded of those simple questions and to focus on Spiritual Serenity. I hope you are in continuing good health after your rough journey or perhaps in a state of more comfort now. Once again thank you for posting this Blog I will be following you in this. Naku noa na Arohanui Suzy D Rock-Evans

  2. Absolutely beautiful and so true…. These are excellent points and I need to print them out
    so that it can become more in my life, a part of my life… rather than simply passing by
    a beautiful scene on the spiritual road….
    Thank you Linda for all that you are sharing and radiating light.

  3. I am a 59 year old single mom of three. I have biological fraternal twins (son and daughter, 36 yrs) and a 14 year old adopted daughter (adopted at 6 yrs). I was my mother’s only child. She was African American, only surviving child, orphaned at 5 when her mother died and her alcoholic father abandoned her to be shuffled from one extended family member to another throughout her childhood. i was born of an affair my mother had with, a white man 19 years her senior (colleague of a family friend). My biological children were born to a affair between me and a man I’d known only 6 weeks before I married him after believing I was pregnant. We hardly knew each other; nothing in common. He was unfaithful during the first year of our marriage. primarily due to my own feelings pf growing up without a father, and my flawed understanding of Yesr of Patience, it took many years for me to completely sever ties. Ultimately he succumbed to drug addiction. He continues to be an active user of crack cocaine. i was 25 before learning who my father was. he died at 84, without me ever meeting him in person (his decision). i have identical twin sisters 15 years my senior, I have never met them either, as they deny my paternity. It’s nearly 5:30 morning Saturday here in Connecticut. I’m scheduled to work in three hours barely slept. I stumbled upon this blog. I need to spend time the words of this blog, how they make me feel, the answer to the questions you posed, and what my reflections are. I attended a summer school 35 years ago Batterwood Baha’i School in Canada – that you and your husband Dan spoke at. I’d only been a Bahá’í less than a year at the time, and still you remain one of the most authentic and impactful Bahá’í speakers I’ve encountered. I hope to try to employ your list of “dos” for healing.
    for too long, i have let the above narrative define me. I have poor sleep hygiene, I cry much too often and too quickly, i struggle with establishing and sustaining intimate relationships. I have poor relationships with my adult children, we move in and out of estrangement. my youngest child, (born to a crack addicted mother) has been diagnosed with a mood disorder, she is currently taking antipsychotic medication with horrible side effects and I feel ill equipped to nurture her to reach her full potential. my adult children resent her. it’s all a mess. I feel sad, but i must be hopeful. please pray for me. I’ve never sustained a relationship with anyone that wasn’t contentious. deep, abiding prayer escapes me. I’m going to get rid of my television tomorrow; it’s a major distraction. I’m going to work on creating a sacred space in our little apartment – centered around prayer and meditation with hopes of opening my heart and changing my life. thank you for your inspiration. ❤
    please forgive my ramble

    1. Karen, I certainly will keep you in my prayers. You sound like a courageous, persevering woman, having weathered so many tests. I hope A Pace of Grace brings you fresh hope and helpful new ways of coping and thriving.
      All the best, Linda

  4. Ah Linda always good to be reminded of these insights. Proactive rest is an almost daily practice for me. Some of the others could benefit from attention. Love you!

  5. This is a very helpful list, Linda. Thank you! It’s a bit open and vague tho. Exercise? Staying hydrated? I guess it’s up to you to figure those things out. Certainly choosing your play and activities can and should involve excercise. I always question advice handed to us by an outer, spiritual source – was it God in your case or a spirit guide? This list isn’t unique and similar ones are found in many self help books and articles. But I don’t doubt that prayer can lead us to find the guidance we need. I do question whether the advice comes from an inner or outer source. I like Jesus’ answer: “The Kingdom of God is within you.” What do you think?

    1. You did say it was an inner voice, didn’t you? The source of wisdom is difficult to understand. Wherever it comes from, you have much to share, Linda. Thanks for your blessings.

      Frank

      1. I’ve read A Pace of Grace and throughly enjoyed it, Linda. Thanks for your kind words and patience with me.

  6. Linda I am so pleased you started this new blog. I belong to a group of women here in Missoula, MT known as Sacred Journey who are a lovely group of ladies from many and varied backgrounds who come together to learn from one another and outside sources about living spiritually with purpose. Many of us suffer from devastating and life-threatening illness. I can’t wait to share your blog with them. The card at the end about hope is just beautiful. I am all about a new pattern of living for a new society and am most grateful that you have shared these 10 rules for health in a forum that is accessible to most of them. Allah’u’Abha! God Bless!

  7. Dear Linda, thank you for sharing your beautiful and moving experience; my sister Heidi Reid first told me about your book several years ago and it continues to help her with her own health issues. I just found your blog this morning and have joined the email list. I am looking forward to more of your uplifting wisdom. Erica Fotineas

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