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Time off Work 

   

You are encouraged to follow the advice of your therapist in regard to the absences which you should take from your employment in order to facilitate your healing from the trauma you experienced in the past. The time taken away from work beneficial to society would doubtless be more than compensated for by the increase in effectiveness with which you will be able to perform such functions when your healing is more advanced.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to me, 22 December, 1992)

I’ve come to realize that I’ve been driven by work and activity addiction for most of my life, in order to run away from my past.  This has resulted in several major “burn-outs” and recently in total adrenal exhaustion.  In 1992, when I could see it coming, I wrote to the House of Justice, reluctant to take time off work directly related to the social and economic development of our area.  I knew I needed to take time off but I was putting my job, and service to the Faith first, before my own health.  The above quote is from the letter they sent.

I find their reassurance very comforting: that there will be positive benefits to stepping away from work and service for a period of time.  If I hadn’t taken time off in 1992, I never would have started this blog ten years ago.  If I hadn’t burned out 2 years ago, I never would have had the insights and recovery I’ve enjoyed since.

Much though I’d love to know where the story of my life ends, I realize I’m just in the middle.  God knows the ending.  My job is to let it unfold, one day at a time, letting my movement and my stillness be wholly directed by Him.

Taking time off to heal from the trauma of the past is beneficial, and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Be Happy

 

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The Need to Retreat 

In the early days of Our arrival in this land, when We discerned the signs of impending events, We decided, ere they happened, to retire. We betook Ourselves to the wilderness, and there, separated and alone, led for two years a life of complete solitude. From Our eyes there rained tears of anguish, and in Our bleeding heart there surged an ocean of agonizing pain. Many a night We had no food for suste­nance, and many a day our body found no rest . . . for in Our solitude We were unaware of the harm or benefit, the health or ailment, of any soul. Alone, We communed with Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 250-251)

As a recovering workaholic, and someone committed to recovering from childhood abuse, I sometimes burn out and need months and even years to regroup and recharge.  I used to beat myself up for this mercilessly, especially after tutoring a Ruhi Book or reading a message from the House of Justice.  Phrases such as these would intensify my self-flagellation:  “The time is short”; “there are too few workers”; “we need to make a herculean effort”; “we need to accomplish all these goals by the end of the plan” etc.  Living in an inactive cluster, I took it upon myself to do the work of those who weren’t able to and there was never enough time to do the things that were mine to do.  I felt guilty when I was in these times of pulling back from service.

This quote reminded me that there is an ebb and flow to everything.  It’s such a comfort to remember that Bahá’u’lláh took time away, where He too was “unaware of the harm or benefit, the health or ailment, of any soul”.  Maybe when I’m taking care of my own needs, I’m not being selfish after all!  Thank you God for this reminder!

Knowing I can retreat and not feel guilty, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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Avoiding Regret and Loss 

What result is forthcoming from material rest, tranquility, luxury and attachment to this corporeal world! It is evident that the man who pursues these things will in the end become afflicted with regret and loss. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 42)

As someone recovering from PTSD, adrenal fatigue and burnout, I have to be especially careful when I read this quote, to ask God if it applies to me today.  I need material rest and even tranquility to recover and yes, although this does afflict me with regret and loss, it’s still necessary for my physical and mental well-being.  If I apply it today, it will be like taking antibiotics for diabetes.  It’s an effective remedy under the right conditions, but not the right one for the disease.

I know that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also achieved great things, even though He was often desperately tired.  When I’m called on by God to rise above myself, I too can pray to be more like ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.  Too often though, I put unrealistic expectations and artificial deadlines on myself.  At those times, I’m in my will and not aligned with God’s will.  I need prayers for wisdom and discernment to know the difference and when I make a mistake, I need to rely on God’s mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

The other things are easier to understand, though.   If I’m attached to all the luxury this material world has to offer, I will be pursuing the wrong things.  I’ll be making my material life more important than my physical one.  I’ll lose the opportunity to draw closer to God and attain the virtues I’ll need in the next world.  And that is definitely an important reminder.

Knowing that attachment to this material world and it’s luxuries and comforts will lead to regret and loss, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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Retreating to Recover 

Many times when Shoghi Effendi was intensely distressed, I saw him go to bed, refusing to eat or drink, refusing to talk, rolled under his covers, unable to do anything but agonize, like someone beaten to the ground by heavy rain; this condition sometimes lasted for days, until forces within himself would adjust the balance and set him on his feet again. He would be lost in a world of his own where no one could follow.  (Rúhíyyih Rabbani, The Priceless Pearl, p. 45)

Early on in my recovery, I dealt with the overwhelming rush of emotions too big for me to handle, by retreating to my bed to find some degree of safety and comfort.  I never felt good about it though, because of the urgency I felt to serve the Faith to the exclusion of everything else.  I totally believed that if I didn’t do my part (and the parts of those who were inactive), then I personally would be responsible for delaying the Most Great Peace.  I also believed that I needed to meet the high standards of the Faith in every single area, in order to earn enough “spiritual brownie points” to guarantee me a good place in the next world.  Because I wasn’t able to achieve either of these things, I judged myself quite harshly until I found this quote.

If Shoghi Effendi could take time out from the all the pressures he was under and still accomplish great things for the Faith, maybe I could cut myself some slack for doing the same thing.  It reminds me a bit of a feral animal, when frightened or hurt, often retreats to a safe hiding spot.  Maybe this is an inborn gift from our Creator.  Maybe taking time to retreat until God is able to adjust the balance and set me on my feet again is a healthy coping strategy.

Knowing I can honor my body’s need to retreat to recover, I am grateful!

 

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies    Kindle

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The Importance of Good Self-Care

 

There are so many demands made on Bahá’ís at this time in history, when the needs of the Faith are so great and the workers so few.  Many people try to do it all, burn out, and then become inactive.  Let’s look at some ways to avoid this.

Moderation:

Baha’u’llah tells us we need to have moderation at all times, and not to overstep its bounds:

In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation. (Bahá’u’lláh, Lights of Guidance, p. 294)

Overstep not the bounds of moderation. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 235)

When our lives are out of balance, we won’t be able to exert a beneficial influence on the world.

Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 216)

Rest:

Taking care of your health is the best means to enable you to serve the Faith:

You should not neglect your health, but consider it the means which enables you to serve. It—the body—is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit, and as such should be well cared for so it can do its work! You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer meditation, but for real rest and relaxation.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 296)

Time to rest is essential or you will become weak and powerless and unable to work:

I understand you have been ill and obliged to rest; never mind, from time to time rest is essential, otherwise, like unto ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from excessive toil you will become weak and powerless and unable to work. Therefore rest a few days, it does not matter. I hope that you will be under the care and protection of the Blessed Beauty.  (Amatu’l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanúm, The Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, from a tablet to Shoghi Effendi written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

What did ‘Abdu’l-Bahá do?  Sometimes he hid from others while he recuperated!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá moved, on the 27th, to the hotel in Rue Lauriston where He had stayed before. He was very tired, and needed a few days’ rest before people learned where He resided.  (H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – The Centre of the Covenant, p. 393)

Sleep

Shoghi Effendi suggests that most of us need a minimum of 8 hours sleep each night; and tells us we should protect our health by sleeping enough:

Regarding your question: there are very few people who can get along without eight hours sleep. If you are not one of those, you should protect your health by sleeping enough. The Guardian himself finds that it impairs his working capacity if he does not try and get a minimum of seven or eight hours.  (Shoghi Effendi, Compilation of Compilations, V I, p. 459-488)

When we sleep, it should be to rest the body so we can be better teachers and servants, and when we orient ourselves in this way, the confirmations of the Holy Spirit will surely reach us, we will be able to withstand all who inhabit the earth:

If he sleep, it should not be for pleasure, but to rest the body in order to do better, to speak better, to explain more beautifully, to serve the servants of God and to prove the truths. When he remains awake, he should seek to be attentive, serve the Cause of God and sacrifice his own stations for those of God. When he attains to this station, the confirmations of the Holy Spirit will surely reach him, and man with this power can withstand all who inhabit the earth.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 384)

We Can’t Do Everything:

This is a faith of universal participation – everyone has a part to play; and one person can’t do it all:

A unity in diversity of actions is called for, a condition in which different individuals will concentrate on different activities, appreciating the salutary effect of the aggregate on the growth and development of the Faith, because each person cannot do everything and all persons cannot do the same thing. This understanding is important to the maturity which, by the many demands being made upon it, the community is being forced to attain.  (The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 80)

Conclusion:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked us to consider the human body as an example, and this was absolutely key to my understanding that the advent of the Most Great Peace was not on my shoulders alone.

In the same way consider the body of man. It must be composed of different organs, parts and members. Human beauty and perfection require the existence of the ear, the eye, the brain and even that of the nails and hair; if man were all brain, eyes or ears, it would be equivalent to imperfection. So the absence of hair, eyelashes, teeth and nails would be an absolute defect, though in comparison with the eye they are without feeling, and in this resemble the mineral and plant; but their absence in the body of man is necessarily faulty and displeasing.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 129)

I came to understand that I was just a big toenail; not the whole body.  I didn’t have to feel badly because I couldn’t see or walk, any more than the knee would expect to see; or the ear expect to walk.  But if I didn’t do my job as big toenail to the best of my ability, the whole body would suffer.

What body part best describes you?  Post your comments here: