Prayer and Meditation
Prayer has been in existence since the beginning of time. It entails uncomplicated communiation between man and God by requesting divine intervention. Jesus provides a demonstration on how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13 AMP by beginning with how to greet the Heavenly Father with a humble attitude:
“Pray, then, [a]in this way:
‘Our Father, who is in heaven,
[b]Hallowed be Your name.
‘[c]Your kingdom come,
Your [d]will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our [e]daily bread.
‘And forgive us our [f]debts, as we have forgiven our debtors [letting go of both the wrong and the resentment].
‘And do not [g]lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [h]evil. [i][For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’
. During prayer, the believer typicaly enters into prayer with thanksgiving by worshiping and praising God for who God is and all that God has done. Prayers can be short, or they can be long. They can be planned or unexpected. The major point is to pray and pray without ceasing. In James 5:16 AMP , it read “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) is able to accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].” God wants you to talk Him and Heback to yu whil developing a close relationship.
Diaphragmatic breathing is as old as the ancient exer‑
cises of yoga and T’ai chi ch’uan, and it is a fundamental
component of these practices. The therapeutic power of
breathing is often associated with higher consciousness
or spirituality. In fact, the word spirit in many cultures is
described as “the first breath.” Currently, diaphragmatic
breathing is itself a form of relaxation, but because of
its simplicity and compatibility, it is often incorporated
into other techniques, including progressive muscular
relaxation, autogenic training, and mental imagery, for a
combined relaxation effec
Initiaite Diaphragamtic Breathing
|1. Assume a Comfortable Position|
The beauty of this technique is its simplicity. It can
be done anywhere, at any time. To benefit most, first
learn and then practice diaphragmatic breathing in a
comfortable position, either sitting or, preferably, lying
down on your back with your eyes closed ( FIG. 18.2 ).
To enhance this position, loosen constrictive clothing
around the neck and waist. When first learning this
technique, it is suggested that you place your hands over
|your stomach and feel the rise and fall of your abdomen|
with each breath. Once the technique is practiced with
proficiency, it can be performed just about anywhere,
under any circumstances, including while driving in
heavy traffic, waiting in line at the post office, giving a
public speech, or taking a final exam.
|As with all relaxation techniques that offer respite to|
the body, diaphragmatic breathing requires focused
concentration. Concentration can easily be interrupted
by both external noises and internal thoughts. Whenever
possible, take steps to minimize external interruptions
by finding a nice quiet place to practice this technique.
When first learning this and other techniques that
require total concentration, you will notice that on oc‑
casion your mind begins to wander. This is common.
When you notice competing thoughts, allow them to
dissipate and refocus your attention on your breathing.
One suggestion is to allow these interrupting thoughts
to metaphorically escape your body as you exhale.
Normal breathing is for the most part an involuntary,
unconscious act. It is regulated by the medulla oblon‑
gata of the brain, allowing the conscious mind to focus
on other aspects of functional survival. Diaphragmatic
breathing, though, necessitates a conscious decision to
redirect your attention to this basic physiologic func‑
tion and turn off the autonomic influence that normally
controls it. One approach to deeper awareness is to
mentally follow the flow of air as it enters the body and
travels to its destination in the lower lobes of the lungs
and back out again. Sometimes a mental suggestion
can help: “Feel the air come into my nose (or mouth),
down into my lungs, and feel my stomach rise and then
descend as I exhale the air, feeling it leave my lungs,
throat, and nasal cavity.” Repeat this with each breath.
Concentration can be augmented further by focusing on
the components of each breath. Each ventilation is said
to be composed of four distinct phases:
Phase I: Inspiration, or taking the air into your lungs
through the nose or mouth
Phase II: A very slight pause before exhaling
Phase III: Exhalation, or releasing the air from your
lungs through the passage it entered
Phase IV: Another very slight pause after exhalation
before the next inhalation is initiated
These phases can be experienced to a greater extent by
exaggerating the breathing cycle, taking a very slow and
comfortable deep breath. When trying this technique,
try to isolate and recognize the four phases as they occur.
Remember not to hold your breath at any time during
each phase. Rather, learn to regulate your breathing by
controlling the pace of each phase in the breathing cycle.
Diaphragmatic breathing is not the same as hyperventila‑
tion; this style of breathing is slow, relaxed, and as deep
as feels comfortable. It is commonly agreed that the most
relaxing phase of diaphragmatic breathing is the third
phase, exhalation. At this phase, the chest and abdominal
areas relax, sending the relaxing effect throughout the
whole body. It requires no effort whatsoever. So, when
focusing on your breathing, feel how relaxed your whole
body becomes during this phase, especially your chest,
shoulders, and abdominal region.
In addition to acknowledging the four phases of each
breath, become aware of your capacity to breathe. In
the tradition of yoga, there are said to be three regions
of the lungs: the upper, middle, and lower lobes. During
normal breathing, we typically use only the upper lobes.
During the initial stages of relaxed breathing, both the
upper and middle lobes are filled with air. But in deep
breathing, all three lobes of the lungs are used. As you
monitor your breathing, become conscious of filling each
layer or region of your lungs.
To open up and disclose feelings, perceptions, opinions, and memories have always been found to be therapeutic Confessions of the mind lightening the burden of the soul. Many religions have adapted this concept for spiritual healing. This is also the cornerstone on which modern psychology is based. Although the conversation is the most common method of disclosure, writing down thoughts occupying the mind is extremely therapeutic as well, as was revealed by countless American soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan through their blogs. Therapeutic journal writing can be defined as a series of written passages that document the personal events, thoughts, feelings, memories, and perceptions in one’s
journey throughout life leading to wholeness. The practice of journal writing has proven a formidable coping technique to deal with stress. For years, it has been used by psychologists, life coaches, and health educators alike as a tool for self-exploration, soul searching, and the enhancement of personal development.
The word journal comes from the French word journée, meaning from sunrise to sunset. Journals originally started as a means of guidance on long trips, or as a record of orientation for a safe return passage. Long before there were newspapers, most news was written by people who were describing events contributing to their own life journeys.
Journal writing is perhaps the most effective coping skill available to provide profound internal vision and
enhance the self-awareness process in times of stress. Journal writing initiates the communication of self-reflection between the mind and the soul, the necessary first step in the resolution and closure of
perceived stress. Journaling, in its own way, is a vehicle for meditation. As a technique to clear the mind of thoughts (by either focusing on one particular theme or jotting down random thoughts as they surface and circulate through the conscious mind), a calming effect takes place as thoughts and feelings are transferred from the mind to the written page. Research suggests that journal writing is not only good for the soul, as a mode of catharsis to express the full range of emotions, but has proven to be good for the
body as well. In a series of studies conducted by psychology professor James Pennebaker (2004; Pennebaker and Chung, 2007), students at Southern Methodist University were asked to write about a traumatic experience for 15 minutes on 4 consecutive days. Although the immediate response to these journal entries was often hears, even unpleasant dreams, Pennebaker observed that the subjects subsequently frequented the campus health center for “illness visits” less often than the control subjects who wrote about superficial topics. When this experiment was repeated in collaboration with
J. Kiecolt-Glaser, with blood samples taken before and after the writing episodes, it was noted that those people who searched their souls to uncover latent, unresolved feelings associated with personal traumas showed “heightened immune function” of T-lymphocyte cells, when compared to those who addressed superficial topics in their journals.
Pennebaker’s work has influenced many others to research the effects of journal writing on both emotional and physical health. Here are some highlights:
■ Expressive writing has been shown to decrease elevated blood pressure (Beckwith, Greenberg,
and Gevirtz, 2005).
■ Affectionate writing has been shown to decrease cholesterol levels (Floyd, Mikkelson, Hesse, and
■ Expressive writing has been shown to decrease stress levels in college students (Opre, Coman,
Kallay, Rotaru, and Manier, 2005).
■ Expressive writing has shown beneficial health aspects for people suffering from fibromyalgia
(Broderick, Junghaenel, and Schwartz, 2005).
■ Expressive writing is revealed to help people grieving a romantic breakup (Lepore and Greenberg, 2002).
■ Emotional expression helps to cope with stressful life events (Ullrich and Lutgendorf, 2002; Baikie
and Wilhelm, 2005).
■ Expressive writing has proven to be a major cathartic release for wives of American soldiers serving in the Iraq war (Hightower and Sherer, 2007).
■ In a 2013 interview with the BBC, Pennebaker stated that although he is an advocate of the writing
process, he is not a fan of people who keep daily diaries. From his perspective, people who keep
hashing and rehashing their problems in a diary only spin their emotional wheels, reinforcing what
is wrong rather than working to release and resolve the issues of stress, trauma, and pain.
As demonstrated by poet and spoken word artist J. Ivy, prose is not the only style that is thought to be therapeutic for journal entries. Poetry is strongly suggested as a proven means to foster emotional catharsis as well. Although not all poems employ rhyme, the use of rhyme in writing poetry allows the author to make “order out of chaos,” thus giving a feeling or sense of control. In addition, poetic
license to use metaphors and similes describing personal feelings allows a deeper sense of emotional expression. Emily Dickinson credited her poetry with the ability to gain a better perspective on the expression of her own feelings. The healing process of self-expression through poetry described by Morris Morrison in his book Poetry as Therapy incorporates imagination, intuition, and the
development of personal insight—three characteristics essential in the healing process. The poems, in turn, augment the self-awareness process because each poem is first written and then read in its entirety. As with other journal entries, poems can address a whole host of issues and emotions. For this reason, poetry therapy is currently used as a therapeutic tool in the treatment of emotional disorders. Thus, this method of writing is encouraged as a complementary journal-writing style. It could even be
suggested that some rap songs are a form of poetry therapy. As a coping technique, journal writing seems to offer both immediate and long-term effects.
Short term effects: In the short term, self-expression through journal writing may serve as an emotional catharsis by getting out on paper the toxic thoughts roaming through one’s head. Journal writing allows the release of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that liberates the mind and softens or expands the walls of the ego. Journal writing has often been called a writing meditation because as old thoughts are permitted to leave, the empty space they once occupied allows for expanded awareness of one’s
internal landscape as well as expanded depth of thought. This expanded awareness is analogous to a panoramic view from a mountaintop compared to an obstructed view from the base. Increased awareness opens the door for increased understanding of ourselves in our many environments. Writing down personal thoughts gives one permission to let them go, no longer thinking about them with the intensity that may have cluttered the mind and drained energy. Release of thoughts and feelings may also act as a personal confession, an honest confrontation of one’s behaviors. And this is an initial step toward healing both one’s internal relationship and personal relationships with others. In addition, unlike
conversation or internal dialogue, use of writing as a channel of self-expression makes the writer accountable for, or allows the writer to take solid ownership of, feelings as abstract thoughts become tangible on paper.
Long term effects: Similarly, on a day-to-day basis it may prove difficult to observe
changes in personal perceptions and attitudes toward events and circumstances perceived to be stressful. All of this increased awareness is paramount to making desired behavioral changes. But by periodically retracing one’s steps, by rereading previous journal entries with a degree of objectivity, an awareness of patterns begins to emerge regarding values, attitudes, and even behaviors that inoculate against, precipitate, or perpetuate the stress response. Clues from reading between the lines may shed light on the precursors to stress: elements of anger and fear, and levels of self-esteem that make oneself vulnerable to stressors. This new awareness becomes extremely valuable when efforts are made to
change these factors. Perhaps the best phrase to sum up the long-term effects of journal writing is “personal resolution.” When thoughts are transferred to paper, the writer can begin to detach him- or herself from the scribed contents and begin to look at these as an impartial outsider would.
Journal Writing Process
Only three essential elements are needed for effective journal writing: (1) a notebook dedicated solely to the journal, (2) a pen or pencil, and, perhaps most important, (3) a quiet, uninterrupted environment to collect your thoughts and then put them down on paper. There appears to be no best time of day to write; it varies from person to person. The end of the day may seem ideal, but perhaps not convenient. Although the time of day to write may vary, the suggested frequency of entries is
more established. It is recommended that a good goal to start with is a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes for each entry, and three entries per week, to realize the benefits of this technique. Typically, people start out writing a couple of paragraphs mainly emphasizing events of the day rather than perceptions of these events. If continued, however, entries become longer, with more elements of the author’s personality.
The current school of thought suggests that there really are no rules for keeping a journal. However, as an effective coping technique, there are some things to keep in mind. A journal should include descriptions of both stressful events and positive experiences. Life is full of highs and lows, and over the course of time, your journal should reflect both sides of the emotional teeter-totter. In addition, journal writing is not limited to thoughts and feelings expressed solely in words. Drawings serve as a wonderful expression of feelings, thoughts, and memories that words often cannot fully describe. Sketches also help augment recollections of images to complement the written text. It is important for you to remember that
you write for yourself and not for the pleasure or intent of others. In fact, the best journal entries are those that are completely confidential. The premise of journal writing is to strengthen the bond of honesty from your mind to your soul. The contents of a stress-reduction journal aren’t for publication; thus they are and should remain confidential. Thoughts should be articulated, yet unedited. When this premise is acted on, thoughts and feelings become easier to articulate and the rewards of
inner peace are more substantial. Although there is no specific formula for successful
journal writing, some criteria may aid the writer to use this coping strategy to deal more effectively with
perceived stress. These include the following:
1. Try to identify those concerns and problems that cause the most frustration, grief, and tension. Identification and prioritization of stressors are essential in the self-awareness process. For the first two to three weeks, this may be all you choose to include in each journal entry. Journal entries often can best
be started by answering one or two questions, such as, How was my day today? or, What thoughts are
occupying my mind right now?
2. Ask yourself what emotions are elicited when these stressors are encountered. The two major stress emotions are anger and fear; however, there are many shades of these emotions, including impatience,
jealousy, frustration, sadness, grief, guilt, and worry. After identifying your current emotional state, the
question Why? should be pondered to identify the origins of your emotions (e.g., Why do I feel
frustrated? Why do I feel victimized?).
3. Allow the writing process to augment your creative process to further resolution. When you have begun to feel comfortable with identifying stressors and the respective emotions they produce, the next phase is to create a process of resolution for the concerns and problems. This includes searching for viable options and employing them to bring satisfying closure to the circumstances that promoted stress.
Perhaps in an effort to address the needs of people searching to use journaling as a coping technique, several books have appeared on the market in the past decade providing guidelines to the art of journal writing. The following is a compilation of tips, hints, and suggestions that appear to have the consensus of therapists who advocate this coping technique:
1. Centering: Before you begin to write, take a moment to relax. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths,
and try to unwind. Centering means to be well grounded or well connected to the here and now.
Sometimes playing soft music or sipping hot tea can help foster the centering process.
2. Labeling your journal entries: Identify each entry with day, date, and year. On occasion you will want
to review your past entries and it is much easier to recall the events surrounding the journal entry when
this information is at the top of the page.
3. Uncensorship: Write whatever comes to mind without editing your thoughts before you put them on paper. Don’t censor your thoughts as they travel from your mind to the tip of your pen. Let them flow naturally. Journaling is transcribing your conscious dialogue. Don’t be inhibited about expressing how you really feel. Also, don’t worry how your writing style appears. Neat or sloppy, it makes no difference as long as you can read it; that is all that matters.
4. Spontaneity: Let your thoughts be free-flowing. You don’t have to write in sentences and paragraphs all
the time. Often, in trying to phrase a thought just the right way, the essence of the thought becomes
diluted or lost. Get whatever thoughts you have down on paper and then sort them out however you choose. If you get a mental block when in front of a blank piece of paper, draw lines and store your ideas in separate boxes, or make lists of your thoughts. It is good to have variety in your journal entries, or the routine of writing becomes a boring chore. If words fail you, make a sketch or perhaps try writing a poem.
5. A private place: In theory, journal entries can be written anywhere, but having a designated place of
solitude lends depth to self-disclosure. Find a place you can call your own. Open spaces also provide
the opportunity for mind expansion. If the weather is conducive to sitting outdoors for a while, find a
tree, beach, mountaintop, or grassy knoll, and make this spot your own as well. Sometimes combining
this technique with music therapy allows the mind to wander more freely and emotions to surface to
a greater level of consciousness.
6. A private journal: Experts agree that, unlike a blog, your journal is for your eyes only. If you make it
a habit to share entries frequently, then the vow of honesty with yourself is compromised. If you
live with other people (i.e., roommates, girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse, parents), then it would be a good
idea to keep your journal away from wandering eyes. A journal is like Pandora’s box to anyone but
the author. You may choose to make it known that you keep a journal and specifically ask that no one
invade your privacy. If someone does, it is at his or her own risk.
7. Overcoming writer’s block: One reason people find writing in a journal challenging is that there is
the risk of pain from confronting one’s innermost thoughts. People become afraid of learning what
is below the surface of immediate thoughts. Pain arises when the premise of our thoughts and perceptions doesn’t match the ideals or expectations we set for ourselves. Fears surface with the realization of unmet expectations or a change in our current reality of ourselves. These conflicts can be painful to the ego. But with pain comes the opportunity for learning, and learning sows the seeds of personal growth and development. Remember that Frankl believed suffering to be an essential part of the
Music as a means to promote tranquility has proven itself many times over as a very popular relaxation technique for all age groups, though the types of music used certainly vary. Although music therapy is considered, for the most part, a treatment to promote relaxation, it has characteristics of a coping technique as well, the main one being to increase conscious awareness of the inner self. Listening to certain types of music is believed by several musicologists to enhance the mind’s receptivity to new ideas by accessing the less dominant right-brain thought processes. Music appreciation is thought to be a right-brain function; it is the right hemisphere of the brain that recognizes and processes auditory stimulation in the form of musical note and chord progressions. This appears especially true when music is instrumental, or without lyrics. The left cerebral hemisphere, proficient in verbal acuity,
is thought to intercept auditory stimulation of music with lyrics, if analysis of musical composition and instrumentation is initiated. For this reason, instrumentals are thought to promote a greater sense of relaxation than music combined with lyrics.
A neurological study involving subjects connected to an electroencephalograph (EEG device) while listening to slow-tempoed music revealed that the musical rhythm quickly synchronized brain rhythms to its beat, even more so with musicians than non-musicians (Bhattacharya and Petsce, 2005).
Other physiological effects of musical stimulation, including muscle tension and corticosteroid levels, have also been researched. In these cases, music was used in conjunction with other relaxation techniques such as guided mental imagery and biofeedback. In one study conducted by Mark Rider and his colleagues at Eastern Montana College in 1985, subjects listened to audiotapes of two orchestral pieces for a 3-week period. Progressive relaxation techniques were dubbed over the music track.
Results revealed decreases in cortisol levels much more pronounced than those observed when listening to relaxation techniques without a music track. Similarly, when music was integrated with biofeedback, the combined effect was even greater in reducing muscle tension than by biofeedback alone. The use of relaxing music as a sedative has also been shown to be effective in reducing stress and muscular tension associated with the process of childbirth, especially when subjects have had numerous
positive exposures to a piece of music prior to delivery.
Perhaps equal to the profound physiological effects produced by music are its apparent effects on attitudes and moods, including fear and depression. Typically, the first thing people say when they hear music they like is how good it makes them feel inside. This was the desired effect when musical recordings were played for several World War II veteran patients. Exposure to selections of music appeared to decrease symptoms of despondency and in some cases altered mood into modest expressions of joy and pleasure. The limbic system, particularly the hypothalamus (known
as “the seat of the emotions”), is believed to house the neurons that, when stimulated through auditory sensations, can alter mood or emotion. While individuals often recognize at the conscious level the influence music has on mood, auditory stimuli can also penetrate the unconscious mind and promote their own changes in perception and mood.
Initiate Music Therapy
Because of the vast array of musical compositions, it should be recognized that individuals’ tastes vary greatly with regard to this relaxation technique. Despite personal differences, however, certain factors are associated with effective music therapy as a relaxation technique (and possible coping strategy). The following suggestions will enhance its effects as a relaxation technique:
1. Musical selection: The type of music most conducive to relaxation and return to homeostasis satisfies
a. The music should be an instrumental or acoustic selection with a slow tempo. This can include
classical, improvisational jazz, New Age, or any music that falls in this domain. There are many types of classical music of varying tempo and rhythm, just as there are many types of jazz, from improvisation to fusion. Not all types of classical or improvisational jazz are slow or relaxing. Typically, classical
composers wrote three movements of varying tempos in symphonies and concertos, with the andante and adagio movements being considered by most to be calming in nature. Research conducted by Dr. Charles Schmid (1987) at the Lind Institute found that classical music sequenced in a particular
composition of pitch, tempo, and instrumentation proved most conducive to relaxation. The Baroque period was renowned for its calming musical pieces. And now New Age music has begun to integrate synthesized music and sounds of nature, including ocean waves, babbling brooks, dolphins,
and songbirds. Particular groups of instruments are credited with contributing to different components of wellness. According to musicologist H. A. Lingerman (1983), brass and percussion instruments parallel
the strengths of physical well-being; woodwinds and strings (violins) strengthen emotional well-being; strings (cello and piano) augment mental well-being; and synthesizers and harps nurture the soul.
b. The selection should be enjoyable rather than disturbing. No one piece of music will relax everyone equally. Experimentation with and an open mind to new musical compositions will lead you to a type of music that is right for you. A range of relaxation music can be found online, in special radio programs,
and in friends’ music libraries. Music that is grating or agitating to listen to will promote stress rather than reduce it. Find something you like and build on this style.
2. Listening environment: To fully enjoy the effects of music therapy, all interruptions should be minimized or eliminated so that full attention can be directed toward this special auditory stimulation, and for a sufficient length of time. In his book Sound Health, author/composer Steven Halpern states that listening environment is second in importance only to selection of music. He believes that music therapy is best practiced at home in a peaceful environment. Once comfortable with this skill, you can then transfer it to the office or other stress-producing environments.
3. Postures and cognition: There are two suggested postures for music therapy. The first and most effective one is similar to a meditative posture, where the individual either sits or reclines in a comfortable
position with eyes closed to minimize distractions. In this posture, a right-hemisphere cognitive style
is adopted; that is, you accept the music without analysis of composition or instrumentation. Simply
surround yourself with the music and let unedited thoughts appear on the mind’s screen without subjectivity or emotional attachment. The second posture is an active one where the music serves
as background sound to balance other auditory stimulation in your environment, whether you are
involved with housework, homework, or office work. This approach also calls for a right-hemisphere
cognitive style; that is, you assume an attitude of acceptance and harmony with your environment,
seeing yourself as part of the whole, not the whole. Making your own music: A more active style of
music therapy is making your own music. This can mean singing, humming or whistling a song,
or playing an instrument. It can also include programming your smartphone with selections you
want to play when you need or want to relax. As was illustrated by the monks who sang Gregorian
chants, singing a song you like can be an uplifting experience. Try it sometime when you are down
in the dumps. Playing an instrument also can be very rewarding, even if there is no audience but
yourself. And at times when you can neither sing nor play an instrument, you can always carry a
song in your heart.
Source: Read chapters 18, 21, and 22
You have a person that is being attacked from anxiety, frustration, and worrisome. They are coming to you for spiritual counseling. I need you to write down what would be your spiritual intervention for them. Please write a 500-word essay providing the following information:
1. What is stress?
2. How does it manifest?
3. How it affects the body?
4. What coping strategies can be used to help them?
5. Provide at least 3 Bible scriptures and examples of God can help them through this situation.