Thought for the Week – Perfectionism

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Perfectionism is rife today – our culture has commodified it -packaged it and sells it.
It tries to persuade us to conform to an established norm – the perfect woman (Miss World) – and channels all we do – it has become the story of our day – searching for the perfect partner, the perfect body, the perfect job, the perfect home,  the perfect kitchen, and reality is blocked out. The reality that life is difficult, and we are imperfect, is ignored.
And the internet has increased the problem – a hundred years ago if you were an eighteen year old man you only had a small number of men to compare yourself with. Today you measure yourself against the movie stars, athletes and supermodels you see all day on TV, Facebook and giant bill boards. Today you are a lot more likely to feel inadequate.
The most dangerous version of this perfectionism is when we impose it on our children – when we perfect our children – ‘look at my baby isn’t he/she perfect’  – ‘and I intend to keep her or him that way …make sure she is top of the class, makes the team and then on to University’.
Searching for perfection makes us ill at heart, takes us away our of ourselves, for the perfect human being does not exist – we are all unique.
Murroe Website EditorThought for the Week – Perfectionism
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Thought for the Week -Creative thinking

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Today we know more about the workings of the brain than ever before but we still don’t know the answer to big questions about how creativity works and how to make it work better.
We know our minds wander especially when we are doing things on automatic pilot.  Our minds can lead us into pleasant thoughts, or it may lead into brooding over something unpleasant. Many would still regard mind wandering as a waste of time. It is synonymous with being distracted and lost time.
Some psychologists are of the view that mind wandering is more than mental lapse. The psychologist Benjamin Baird, claims that a little mind wandering, while engaged in a focused task, boosts creative thinking and should be encouraged.
Taking oneself away from a focussed task – going for a walk – can release the mind to wander and to arrive at a solution to the problem you are working on.
Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin both worked for relatively short periods and then went for a walk. Darwin would walk both in the morning and again in the afternoon to give his mind time to wander and relax.
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Thought for the Week – Mind Wandering

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In recent weeks I have come across different views on mind wandering.
Unlike other animals, we have the ability to spend time  thinking about something other than what we are doing – either caught up in the past or wondering about the future.
Research carried out by the psychologists Matthew A Killingworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, suggest we spend up to 46.9 percent of our time mind-wandering and that this mind-wandering makes us unhappy. They claim that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind – our mental lives are pervaded, to a remarkable degree, by the non-present and this makes us unhappy.
Killingsworth and Gilbert write. “The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost”. They go on to say that, “Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness,” Killingsworth says. “In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.”
As we know, many traditions teach us to live in the now and to resist mind wandering.  Killingsworth and Gilbert note in the journal Science. “These traditions suggest that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” Their research suggests that these traditions are right.
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Thought for the Week – tyranny of time

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In his book, Full Catastrophe Living , Jon Kabat Zin outlines four ways to free ourselves from the ‘tyranny of time’ which I find helpful.
1. Remember time is a product of thought – minutes and hours are conventions so we can meet, communicate and work together. How we think about time can make all the difference as to whether we feel we have enough time, too much time or not enough time.
2. Live in the present – stop musing about the past and worrying about the future.  Be present and time will disappear. If you want to reminisce about the past or plan for the future then do that with awareness as well. Remember in the present and plan in the present.
3.   Take some time each day to step out of the flow of time – sit still or meditate – preserve some time each day for just being.
4. Simplify your life – what are you doing with your time? If you fill all your time you won’t have any and you probably won’t even be aware of why you don’t. A useful way to simply your life is to prioritise the things that you have to do, want to do and choose to do. It may also mean having to learn to say no sometimes.
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Thought for the Week – simple gesture

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Where you put your phone makes a difference.
Studies show that just the appearance of a smart phone on the table during a meal or conversation,makes a difference to the quality of meeting and the level of intimacy. If a phone is left on the table (it doesn’t have to ring!) people report that the conversation is less close, and they feel less nourished by it.
This simple gesture – placing a phone on the table between you – subtly suggests that something more important may happen  – something else might come in which is more interesting than us, something about us is not enough.
Magical things can happen when two people show up and are not distracted – the presence of a phone and the possibility of interruption means it is harder for this to happen. The moment, is to some extent, being controlled by the device sitting there promising  something else.
Let us agree to turn off our phones or at least put them out of sight when we are with someone.
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Thought for the Week – Tech addict

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Perhaps it is not yet too late for a  new Year’s resolution – one that suggests itself is to examine how I relate to technology. If the truth be told, this probably needs constant monitoring.
Nancy Colier, in her book, ‘The Power of Off, suggests that most of us are addicts at this point.  Some time ago people checked their smart phones every six minutes or 150 times a day – recent research suggests that the average person now checks their phone every five  minutes or 190 times a day. She notes, that in a survey, one in three people would give up sex with their partner rather than be separated from their smart phone and fifty percent of people would give up their sense of smell rather than their phone.
It is an addiction with a difference – other addictions make you an ‘outsider’ technological addiction makes you an insider – the more you can discuss your apps the more acceptable you are.
It is also true that we are not giving up technology any time soon – it is too useful and anyway technology is not the issue, it is how we relate to it is the issue and Colier suggests,  “we have to find freedom in technology not from technology”.
A first step in this process is to assess our level of addiction. Colier offers us some helpful questions:
Is your reliance on technology increasing?
Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when not able to use.
Are you continuing to use it despite knowing it is causing you problems at work, at home and in your social life.
Is your life revolving round technology?
Have you given up activities you used to enjoy to use technology?
Are you lying about the amount of time you spend on technology? 
If one of these is true she says it is of concern; if two then you are probably an addict if three then you are definitely an addict.
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Thought for the Week – Natility

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The message I got, especially when I was younger was that death, my mortality, was the defining moment of my life. This life was of little significance but simply a prelude to the next and it this next life that should be my focus
This preoccupation with death and the next life worked against any sense of connection with the web of life and promoted a sense of homelessness in the world. Each of us, rugged individuals, quarrying away at our own salvation…..
uncoupled from the web of life…..and the environment suffered and we suffered.
Birth is the other end of life.  Theology and philosophy have ignored it for the most part. This time of year gives us an opportunity to redress the balance and focus on birth  – birth as the defining moment of life….. to consider our natality as well as our mortality.
Our natality gives us the possibility of beginning again. It is because we are beginnings, are natals – that we can make a fresh start, be free to do things new…
Ellie Wiesel states that, ‘What God gave Adam was not forgiveness from sin; what God gave Adam was the chance to begin again’.
Natality wants us to recognise the interconnectedness of all things, wants us to recover our kinship with the earth and become people of wonder and excitement rather then of gloom and suspicion. Celebrate our lives rather then spend them all the time preparing for the next life.
Let us celebrate our birth, the actuality of living as well as recognising the inevitability of death…….recognise our natality……our capacity to be reborn…
and know that we always have this chance to ‘begin again’ in the kindness and
loving mercy of our God.
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Thought for the Week – empathy, compassion and mercy.

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We live in a world where people drive trucks into Christmas markets, where an ambassador is gunned down in cold blood in front of his wife, where refugees and migrants are pulled out of the Mediterranean, sometimes living, sometimes not. How should we respond? By building walls and saying, not my problem?

Well, the mystery we celebrate says very differently. In the words of Pope Francis, “In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we are called to cultivate a strong sense of justice. In a world of indifference which not infrequently turns cruel, we are called instead to be people filled with empathy, compassion and mercy.”  Abbot Brendan Coffey

Murroe Website EditorThought for the Week – empathy, compassion and mercy.
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Thought for the Week- The Crib – A thought from Abbot Brendan.

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Seven hundred and ninety three years ago, on the feast of Christmas 1223, Francis, the poor man of Assisi with the help of Giovanni Velita, Lord of Greccio and count of Celano, created the first crib outside the little town of Greccio, in Italy. Today, every church and many homes have a nativity scene. What is so fascinating about this nativity scene? Mary, Joseph and the infant are surrounded by the ox, the donkey, the sheep and the shepherds.

The figures in the crib were chosen carefully. The ox and the donkey come from the prophet Isaiah, “The ox knows its master, the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” The sheep and shepherds come from Ezekiel, “they were scattered because there was no shepherd.” Popular legend augmented the scene over the centuries; it is said that at midnight on Christmas Eve the animals have the gift of speech bestowed, because they gave the infant Jesus His first shelter. Cattle are said to bow to the East on this night, and bees it is said hum, the 100th Psalm in their hives, “Praise the Lord all the earth, serve the Lord with gladness, come into his presence singing for joy.” You can check that out the next crib you come across.

Murroe Website EditorThought for the Week- The Crib – A thought from Abbot Brendan.
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Thought for the Week – Engaging the senses

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If ritual is to lead us into mystical experience, it needs to engage the body and its senses.   It is not hard to understand why this is so. We are still ‘hard wired to nature’ and have not somehow jettisoned this part of ourselves, in favour of our rational minds. Our so called ‘primitive nature’ is still very much part of who we are and engaged in our daily liturgical lives.
If we don’t don’t engage the body and its senses then ritual can ossify, and religious practice become mere social habit or custom and no longer a carrier of the sacred.
It is hard to be optimistic that this will happen for the body is still effectively excluded from most ritual….“liturgical reform is afflicted by its enmity towards the body……the liturgy must win back its character as event, as an activity expressed in gestures and symbol, in short its character as a fully human act. Do we trust our liturgies any more to provide us with the ecstasy of belief?” Kunzler
Ecstasy and belief not two words I put together easily – and today the loss of spiritual ecstasy is replaced with artificial ecstasy provided by other often destructive rituals – beating music, drumming, glaring lights, drugs….and even body building is assuming ritual potency.
It is a big challenge to reintegrate the body into ritual and it requires more than simply kneeling or standing.  Engaging the senses, through the use of colour (vestments), smell (incense) sound (chant) is vital if ritual is to provide an effective five sense breakthrough in people’s lives.  We have the resources we just  need to use them.
Murroe Website EditorThought for the Week – Engaging the senses
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