The Desert Sanctuary

Spirit * Soul * Body

I used to wrestle when I was in Junior High.  The organized kind where you go to meets and sit all day to participate in bracketed competition between kids of your weight bracket.  What I loved about it was the intensity of that three minutes.  The first time I wrestled, I thought I was going to pass out from exhaustion.  I made it through the whole match but lost miserably.  I got better over the next two years, won some matches and eventually quit because it conflicted with basketball.  But, there is one match I will never forget.

There were certain people that nobody wanted to wrestle.  One of those were the Gundy boys.  Yeah, that’s right the Oklahoma State football coach was around my age and I don’t remember if I every wrestled him, but I probably would have lost that match.  The brothers had wrestled from birth and were extremely gifted.  There were a couple of others that were really good, so I secretly wished they wouldn’t be on the bracket when I surveyed my chances of victory.

This day was different!  I looked over the bracket and didn’t see any of the superstars and liked my chances of taking home the bracket.  After I won, my first and second match, I decided to figure out who was next and then I saw him.  He wasn’t all that imposing – but he was black!  I do not know why that mattered, but it did.  I was in an integrated school a couple of times before this and I remember those years to be positive, but all-of-a-sudden something was happening to me. 

I remember pacing in the hallway waiting for the semi-final match with this guy.  When, I finally made it to the mat, my adrenaline was sky high.  My mind seemed like it was in a fog and I don’t remember very much about the match except that the match ended quickly, I was crowned the winner, and the other kid was crying because I had twisted his arm a little too hard.  It was my favorite move—the bar arm—but, I went a little too far.  I still don’t know exactly why—I think I was afraid of this kid that except for the skin color was almost exactly like me. 

This wrestling match did something do me.  It started my journey AWAY from the ignorance of racism.  But, it would be many years before I would be able to interact with people of color again in any real way.  I don’t know why there were no black kids at my private Christian, Fundamentalist school.  Wait, maybe I just answered my own question.  

So, when I see four white cops sit on a black man until he basically expires, I understand what initially causes people to overreact.  It is ignorance!  It is the ignorance that I had as a junior high wrester that made my adrenaline spike and caused me to go too far just because the dude was different than me.  Maybe it is a primal thing to help protect us, but I still don’t understand when they keep going.

I do not understand why it escalates.  I do not understand why two men have to stop a guy they think is a theif and can’t stop until that guy no longer exists.  I do not understand how you can continue to sit on a person that is begging you to stop and not even feel the life draining out of him.    I do not understand how police can shoot a person at point blank even after he has been subdued.  There is something pre-meditated in that.  Please don’t quote me statistics about “more people die from…” 

In the long run, it comes from the same source.  It come from classifying people as “other.”  When we do that, we dehumanize them.  Whether it’s political, racial or tribal, when we group other people into the “other” group of people, it becomes easier to imagine that they are a special kind of evil or they are just not worth the same consideration. 

We must change this from the root!  No more! 

My adrenaline rush in the 6th grade is still not okay, but I learned from it.  We must stop excusing these things away.  As I write this, my dog just growled at the kids walking by that are not of our household.  He can’t help himself—but he’s a dog!  We can and must do much better than that!

It is time—we really can move forward!  We can learn and grow and evolve!  I hope you’re with me. 

Karl Forehand


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Katy is a spiritual coach, minister, and scholar, and it her my joy to facilitate opportunities for people to claim their own inner truth and wisdom. Get ready to unleash your spirit and become freed from all that has stopped you from moving forward until now.

Connect with Katy Valentine https://www.katyvalentine.com/


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(from the HeartConnexion Focussing page)

There really is a path to find your sense of peace in the middle of all the circumstances that confront you. While none of us can  control all the outside situations, you can learn a process to find the deep wisdom to make confident choices in the face of your reality. As Victor Frankl learned as a holocaust survivor: 

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves…. Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom. 

You can start finding your path today! 

You can easily learn the skills to stop reacting negatively or stuffing your emotions when you:

  • feel so stressed that you are ready to blow up at the next person who talks to you, 
  • feel like you are on your last nerve and anything might be too much to handle,
  • feel too emotional to even think straight,
  • feel like your patience with someone you care about has run out,
  • feel like your reactions are putting important relationships at risk, or 
  • feel like your ‘inner critic’ is berating you, your ideas or plans and robbing you of your confidence.

Focussing has helped me immensely and I have seen it work for others. The knowledge that trauma is stored in the body is a relatively new understanding. In this episode Dr. Paul talks about this idea, including his understanding of the theory and his unique way of approaching it. In the next episode, he will talk about the actual approach including some examples from my focussing session with him.

Connect with Dr. Paul Fitzgerald

Dr. Paul on Facebook

HeartConnexion Website

HeartConnexion Focussing Free Course


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Here is the link if you want to help.

If you cannot help, I appreciate your love and support

https://www.patreon.com/thedesertsanctuary

Thank you for your friendship – let’s see what the future holds!

If you have ever felt like a spiritual nomad, this virtual conference is just the ticket. It’s still only $39 for all the content – 12 speakers, 3 days and the content will contintue to be available for 30 days!

https://nomad-2020.heysummit.com/

SCHEDULE

Friday, June 5th

6:00Jason ElamSacred Encounters on the Road Away From God
7:30Round Table 1Keith Giles (MC), Karl Forehand, Jason Elam

Saturday, June 6th

9:00Kyle ButlerFinding Heavenly Peace When You’re Scared as Hell
10:30Katy ValentineLet The Power Flow: Energy and Metaphysics for Christians
12:00Round Table 2Cody & Elaine Johnston (MC), Katy V., Kyle B.
   
1:30Derrick DayLove: The Alpha and Omega
3:00PK LangleyMissing the Message: Rediscovering What Was There
4:30Round Table 3Karl Forehand (MC), Derrick Day, PK Langley
   
6:00Laura Forehand & PK LangleyConsidering a Better Way
7:30Todd VickThe Embarrassing Father
9:00Round Table 4Jason Elam (MC), Laura Forehand, PK Langley, Todd Vick

Sunday June 7th

9:00Keith GilesWorm-Free Christianity
10:30Karl ForehandInto the Mystic
12:00Round Table 5Katy Valentine (MC), Keith Giles, Karl Forehand
   
2:00Cody & Elaine JohnstonUnity Beyond Beliefs
3:30Bill ThrasherThe Ramification of a Christlike Holy Spirit
5:00Karl Forehand & Jason ElamNone Who Wander are Lost
7:00Round Table 6Derrick Day (MC), Karl F, Jason E, Bill T., Johnston’s
https://nomad-2020.heysummit.com/

https://nomad-2020.heysummit.com/

Being with My Body

We get all kinds of mixed messages from society and religion.  My tradition taught that my body was a temple, but it also stressed that it was some sort of evil machine that just thought about sex all the time and could not really control itself.  Sometimes they stressed it was like a tent to carry around the more spiritual or soulful part of me, but it was also the “flesh” that was the source of all my sin.  The body was considered something that was dying and would not last into eternity—and eternity was what mattered. 

In junior high, when I would have had sex education, we attended a Christian school that was of the mindset that we did not talk about things like that.  This sexual nature of my body I discovered soon enough on my own.  I did not have any reference points for good information, and we did not have google at that time, so I mostly got bad information.  But what I was discovering did not seemed bad.  It was good—it was incredibly good.  Occasionally, I would ponder the complexity of the bodies systems when I would learn about them in a science class or in a documentary on television.  Even a simple erection, points to a complex system of nerves and blood flow that boggles the mind to consider.  But I was not really thinking about that at the time, if you know what I mean.  Eventually, I just stopped thinking about how the body is designed because it did not seem relevant or useful at the time.

But, later as I was participating in a spiritual formation experience with a group of Sisters in Atchison, KS, I came across something unusual.  As we would sit in groups, we would take turns listening to each other.  Sometimes it is called group spiritual direction.  They taught us to listen deeply and try to experience how the Divine was interacting with all of us.  This was like when I took Spiritual Leadership Coaching classes and they taught us to listen for the Spirit.  This made sense to me and was a part of my basic beliefs.  But then the Sisters and group leaders began to teach us something else that I later learned was discovered in the 70’s (the 1970’s). 

When someone would tell a story about how they were feeling or what they wanted to examine, the director (or companion) would ask them to describe the emotion they were feeling.  Recently, I have learned to help people express this examination of emotion as “A part of me feels…”[1]  But, then they did something I did not understand.  They would say, “where in your body do you feel that.”  It would be much later that I would learn the significance of that simple statement.  Without writing another book to explain this, please allow me to simply state that our bodies store much of our trauma.  We like to think of it as a mind thing, but to me it seems like a much more organic thing.  When we can be with that part of us that hold the trauma, we can begin to heal and remove the stuck places in our experience.

This is what happened in the recliner at the hermitage.  I did not really understand what I was doing (and I still do not totally).  But, when I “focused” on the feeling that was stored there, it took me back to a current sense of what I experienced in the past.   My friend, Dr. Paul, is teaching me to be with that part of me that was once wounded and have compassion for my inner child and my inner critic as well.[2]  I have had multiple experience of being with those parts of me and even helped some others to focus and learn from our bodies. 

I wish I would have payed more attention in science class because now I am learning that a body awareness can vastly improve our experience as humans.  Eugene Gendlin talks about a physical experience we can have of bodily awareness that not only informs us but can change our lives.  When this “felt sense” of a situation changes, then our lives can change for the better.[3]  I would encourage people to consult a spiritual director or counselor that has experience with this type of therapy.  It is one of the most exciting trends I see on the horizon. 

I have learned to care for my body and to listen to it.  Ignoring anything hardly never makes it better.  Our bodies have messages for us.  When we feel anxiety in our gut, it is not always the pizza we had the night before.  Often, it is past experiences and trauma that need our attention.   We do not have to exorcise or remove the things that trouble us necessarily.  Most often we probably just need to take the role of the observer and be compassionate.  We do not need to belittle or bypass the issue, but we also do not need to beat it into submission.  We need to be with it and understand it; and then, most often, when we can be sympathetic to it, the felt sense of it shifts and our lives improve. 

Right now, we are caring for Winston, our dog.  He has a hotspot on his torso that could be from skin irritation or maybe even anxiety.  He constantly licks the inflamed area and it just continues to get worse and worse.  We had to put a neck pillow on him so he would not mess with it and we spray it with something we got from the vet.  This is obvious because we can see it, but much our trauma lies stored in our bodies.  Occasionally, it itches, and we scratch it too hard or we just try to ignore it, but maybe what it needs is some fresh air.   The analogy breaks down and it does not always make sense.  But we certainly cannot ignore it.  The things we store inside do not go away, and often they come back with a vengeance and behave in unpredictable ways.  Just like heart disease can be a silent killer, emotional trauma that is unaddressed can ruin us if we do not address it. 

I hope modern advances in science will help me even better understand body awareness like I understand other ailments.  I hope I can learn to be with my self and learn to observe with compassion what I see there.  I want to practice self-care and not feel selfish.  I want to appreciate and honor the complex, wonderful and amazing body that I have as I also nurture and care for it.  Just like I eat a plant-based diet and exercise for my health, I hope to engage in practices that help me be present and observe disruption in my body’s emotions.

With that, I wish to issue you a final challenge!


[1] Dr. Paul Fitzgerald, HCS Focusing, https://heartconnexion.thinkific.com/

[2] Dr. Paul Fitzgerald, HCS Focusing, https://heartconnexion.thinkific.com/

[3] Gendlin, E.T., (2007). Focussing, New York: Bantam Dell, 27

PK Langley was an ordained minister who was a senior pastor and involved in ministry for over thirty years. She lived in Africa and traveled extensively in the United States and abroad, hosting conferences to groups in the thousands. She left organized religion to pursue a life of faith and faithfulness.

PK Langley

Contact PK https://www.patheos.com/blogs/frustratedgrace/author/pklangley/

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Thank you for your friendship – let’s see what the future holds!

Have you ever written something and then been tenative about showing it to others. This group of writing scared me even to think about writing it. I knew it woudl be hard work to relive some of the shadow work I did a couple of years ago.

In Junuary, while I was away at a training, I decided to sit down and write it down. Then I asked my friend, Mark Karris to look over my shoulder electronically. He kept encouraging me to go deeper, so I wrote some more. Then, as I realized that I was learning something different, I began to write about being.

Being where I am (presence) and being who I am (authenticity) is definately the focus of this writing, but we it seems rather difficult to learn to be without doing the work necessary to remove roadblocks in our way. The necessary work in our emotional and spiritual lives cannot be avoided. But, when we begin to work through the trauma and find peace, then we are able to be — and that’s the end goal!

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If you cannot help, I appreciate your love and support

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Thank you for your friendship – let’s see what the future holds!

I’m so excited to tell you avout what we’ve been working on!

Do you consider yourself a spiritual NOMDAD? Do you have questions about your beliefs? Is so, this virtual conference is for you. Over a dozen speakers — and all of them are real people, not celebrities! I know you’re going to love this!

Click here for more details

I’m going to speak about “Into the Mystic” and Laura is going have a conversation during her session about being in the ministry now that we are not. I’ll do a joint session with Jason Elam called “None Who Wander are Lost.”

Click here for more details

Click here for more details


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Thank you for your friendship – let’s see what the future holds!

I’ve been writing a lot the past two years. It helps me know what I think (most writers can relate to that). When I went through my decostruction, and then began to work hard on myself and dealing with the things I struggle with, it was very helpful to be able to write.

Laura took over the mic and interviewed me for a series of episodes about the different books that those writings evolved into.

The first one is about the Tea Shop, a popular chapter in Apparent Faith, about something that happened almost two years ago that is now going to be a book, really soon!

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Support us on Patreon!

Here is the link if you want to help.

If you cannot help, I appreciate your love and support

https://www.patreon.com/thedesertsanctuary

Thank you for your friendship – let’s see what the future holds!

Rayah is another one of my new friends. She has experience with mental health and deconstruction and loves to talk about them.

Depth of Echoes website

Rayah Dickerson Facebook

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Support us on Patreon!

Here is the link if you want to help.

If you cannot help, I appreciate your love and support

https://www.patreon.com/thedesertsanctuary

Thank you for your friendship – let’s see what the future holds!