Engage Your Community

Engage your community and realize you are not alone in your journey.”[1]

This fifth key of the 7 Keys to God-centric Mental Healthwhere Thom Harrison explains the need for community engagement and the healing process, when he writes, “The EternalCore community helps strengthen your resolve for lasting healing. It also offers a safe place where you can share similar feelings, knowledge, and values.” And he says, “We are looking for connection with you.”

Community Connection

A community, according to the dictionary, is “a social, religious, occupational or other group sharing common characteristics or interests” that are “distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.” in that way we are quite unique in that ours is a community of seeking a path toward God-centered mental health.

Engaging with our community means connecting and becoming involved with other likeminded individuals. What is the reward, you may be asking?

Helga Luest, a social worker, answers: “Spending time with people—especially those with similar interests—can help to forge trusted and healing relationships. This can happen at a place of worship, a club or hobby meeting, a sport activity or game, or even in virtual spaces.”[2]

A safe virtual space is what we offer at our EternalCore Community. Here you can introduce yourself to others in our group, offer feedback to conference presenters and bloggers, join one of our mental health groups to share your mental health wins and troubles, and join in general discussions regarding God-centric mental health.

You can also make connections through recorded conferences, webinars and training courses available online. As you explore and connect you are bound to find those who have taken or share your healing path.

At the outset, I wasn’t so sure of the effectiveness of virtual connections myself, but for several months now I have belonged to a virtual intention group. Meeting online, we connect with each other though we live in Sweden, Germany, Scotland, Britain, Denver, Cedar Hills, and Provo. Together we pray and meditate as a group for half an hour twice a month. We do this on behalf of others with surprising results, proving to me that there is power in virtual connection.

Principles of Connection

Jodi Hildebrandt, the founder of ConneXions, explains that our most personal and intimate connection is an outcome, “governed by living three principles:”

  • You must be rigorously responsible
  • You must be impeccably honest, and
  • You must be vulnerably humbled.

“As you learn what those principles mean, and then you choose to live those principles, you will have the outcome of connection. It cannot be controlled.” She promised that connection is a byproduct of living in what she calls “truth.”[3]

“As you learn what those principles mean, and then you choose to live those principles, you will have the outcome of connection. It cannot be controlled.” She promised that connection is a byproduct of living in what she calls “truth… I believe that when you speak the truth, you’re connected.” [3]

Hildebrandt points to three connections that we all need. First is an honest connection with one’s self, then with others, and finally with God.

Connections With One’s Self

Meg Selig, in Psychology Today, explained that though Socrates said,

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” 

—Socrates

“But what exactly do you know when you ‘know yourself?’” she asked.  Then she recommended six building blocks to self-awareness, where she suggests taking your V I T A L S as an acronym:

V alues—“Research shows that just thinking or writing about your values can make it more likely that you take healthy actions.”
I nterests—She recommends figuring out your interests by asking yourself these questions:
“What do you pay attention to?
“What are you curious about?
“What concerns you?
“The focused mental state of being interested in something makes life vivid and may give you clues to your deepest passions.”
T emperament—Determine your temperament, again by asking questions:
“Do you restore your energy from being alone” or by being with others?
“Are you a planner or go-with-the-flow type of person?
“Do you make decisions more on the basis of feelings or thoughts and facts?
“Do you prefer details or big Ideas?
“Knowing the answers to temperament questions like these could help you gravitate toward situations in which you could flourish and avoid situations in which you could wilt.”
A round-the-Clock Activities—with respect to your biorhythms, when do you prefer daily activities?  “your daily life is more pleasant when you are in sync with your biology. In every area, it’s easier to enjoy life when you don’t waste energy pretending to be someone you aren’t.”
L ife Mission and Meaningful Goals—she suggests asking yourself: “’What have been the most meaningful events of your life?’ You may discover clues to your hidden identity, to your career, and to life satisfaction .”
S trengths— she writes, these “include not only abilities, skills, and talents, but also character strengths such as loyalty, respect for others, love of learning, emotional intelligence, fairness, and more. …Knowing your strengths is one of the foundations of self-confidence; not being able to acknowledge your own superpowers could put you on the path to low self-esteem

She ends with this: “Acting on self-knowledge will give you energy and save you energy. You’ll feel freer and stronger because you no longer conform to how you ‘should’ feel, think, or act. For example, I can remember my relief when I realized I was an introvert. How comforting it was to give myself the gift of time alone without wondering if I were a freak of nature!”[4]

Connections With Others

Thom Harrison, the founder of the EternalCore, says that our community reminds each of us that we are not alone. “You can receive constant support throughout your journey as you remember that you aren’t broken and that it’s possible to receive and maintain lasting healing.”

Others agree that connections to groups of people can be healing. Therapy for People, says that your community should foster a “true and genuine connection.” Sadly, they write, this is not always easy to find. “It requires having someone in your life who is willing to also be vulnerable enough to experience true intimacy with you. Let’s be clear, intimacy in this context is not about sex. It is about emotional connection, vulnerability, authenticity and realness.

“Letting someone see you cry, or really see you by sharing honest feelings creates profound experiences of connection. Often people experience this kind of connection in therapy. Wherever you find it, this kind of connection is critical to wellness.”[4]

Ty Dixon, CEO of Renaissance Ranch, explained this by talking of his father. “He’s one of my greatest, dearest friends.” This is someone he can openly talk with about his addictions. And he says, these days “we have emotional, honest conversations. We express our feelings. We can take feedback from each other. We respect each other. We may think differently, feel differently, but we seek to understand one another. And we work together. My relationship with my father is one of the dearest things that I hold … I think the more that we talk about things and we’re honest, the more it dispels shame, and casts out fear, and gains clarity, and allows us to connect and unify, and to work through things.”

Returning to our social worker, Helga Luest, she says, “Kind human touch with those we trust has positive effects, both psychically and physically. Even brief contact can boost oxytocin levels in the brain, which can enhance the sense of optimism, trust, and self-esteem.

“There are health benefits, too,” she continues. “When oxytocin levels are stable or elevated, this can reduce blood pressure, improve digestion, decrease intestinal inflammation, and reduce anxiety.” But she gives a strong nod toward group support saying it “is so significant that it’s often incorporated into therapy for individuals with mental health concerns or substance use disorders, and for survivors of violence and other trauma experiences.”

“EternalCore gives you the community you have been searching for—a reassurance that your feelings are valid and a platform to share your thoughts and experiences,” and Harrison promises, “You can journey with other like-minded and like-hearted people.

“In joining forces, you can further explore your sense of self while receiving guidance and research from faith-led practitioners. Contribute your knowledge and we will all learn in faith together. And we believe that patience is the ability to allow another person to experience their life journey on their own timeframe, not yours.”

“Kindness is the feeling towards another person that they are part of your own family, which, from God’s perspective, they are.”†

Connections With God

There is plenty of evidence that making God your partner in the journey toward better mental health, is a good path to follow. Dr. Jeff Levin for example, from Baylor University, reports, “The weight of evidence, on average and across studies, suggests that religion, however, assessed, is a generally protective factor for mental illness.”

Levin went on to say that in one of his recent studies, ninety percent of Americans use prayer for healing and that prayer and faith should not be seen as a “fringe activity,” but one of the “most widely used forms of medical treatment.” Naturally, he suggests using faith traditions in alongside regular medical care.

His study shows that eighty percent of Americans pray for their own health, but climbs to ninety percent when it comes to praying for others. He also reported that nearly a quarter of those survey had used “laying on hands,” to relay blessings from God.

“I think these findings cause us to re-evaluate what is normative and what is marginal. Maybe these practices are as normative as it gets, and to not participate, maybe, is marginal,” he stated in a CNN interview.6

Other Studies Showing Why You Should Connect with God

Studies like these go on and on. Harold G Koenig, MD, in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, published a list of 84 other articles. Click “Research on Religion, Spirituality, and Mental Health: A Review” to see his list.

Conclusion

Harrison writes, “There is a strong affinity in our faith-based community to give back. “Quite often it is those who stumbled along their own path of healing,” Harrison clarifies, “that turnaround and return to guide others safely along the return path to God.”

“In combining forces with other people who think and feel the same way, you can find greater power in seeing the bigger picture in life’s three-act play. You move from the ‘I’ to the ‘I am,’ you practice and share intention, and participate in new research. You add to the basis of truth, all as you connect with God in the journey towards mental health.

“Others have found these concepts motivating, powerful, and healing. As this community becomes your community, you will find strength and reassurance to persevere from others and from God. You will remember that you are worth it, your journey is important, and you are far more powerful than you can understand.

“Join us and add your voice to the conversation as you learn to speak a new language. After all, language is only needed in a community so that you can communicate to others,” Harrison concludes.

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SOURCES

1 Thom Harrison, 7 Keys to God-centric Mental Health(all remaining quotes from Harrison are taken from this source).
2 Helga Luest, Connection – The Key to Healing and Resilience, The New Social Worker
3 Jodi Hildebrandt in EternalCore Episode 5
4 Meg Selig, “Know Yourself? 6 Specific Ways to Know Who You Are,” Psychology Today, March, 2016
5 “The Seduction of More,” Therapy for People
6 Morgan Manella, 90% of Americans have prayed for healing, study finds, CNN, April 25, 2016

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