allowing stillness to be a teacher

Sitting In Silence

The Dangers of a Busy Mind

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Confession: My mind is always going. From pretty much the time I wake up, to when my head hits the pillow at night. I don't fall asleep until my body is literally like, "Please stop. We're tired". I don't know when this started. I just have a micromanagement mindset during most hours of the day. This isn't always a bad thing. I feel like my life is organized chaos, and I usually like it that way.

But as my mom always says, "When you pick up a stick, you get both ends of it". That means that with a good trait, there's often a negative side that comes with it. Recently, God has been challenging me in this area of my life. Psalm 46:10, a more well-known Bible verse says, "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The Message version translates this to say, "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything."

It's a little easier to "be still" when our backs are against the wall. When I've exhausted all my options and I wave my flag of surrender to God's plans instead of my own, I find it comforting to "be still". But when I have events on my schedule, when it's wedding season, when my agenda is on the forefront of my mind, I really struggle to step out of the traffic. I like being in the middle of the party. I like having things to do and people to see. God has showing me that, while He made me with a great capacity of energy, I have to learn to sit in silence.

To me, sitting in silence is letting go, bit by bit. It's having the courage to turn off your thoughts of your own agenda and be mindful of the present moment.

Busyness can quickly become our enemy when we use it as a distraction from life's rawest moments. I'm learning that, whether or not I acknowledge it, life is happening around my task list. I can choose to live with my face in my planner and a restless mind, but I'm missing out on what's in front of me.

And if you're anything like me, you know that busyness can mask a ton of emotions. I'll be the first to say, I've been very guilty of using my schedule to divert my mind from reflecting on unpleasant feelings. This is a reminder to you and me: events will pass, days will come and go, but unresolved issues in your heart and mind will fester until they are dealt with.

In what area of your life do you need to sit in silence? Have you been allowing a busy mind to keep you from being present in your emotions? Start small. Take 10-20 to rest. Give the stillness a chance to speak to you, instead of filling every moment.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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A Glimpse Of My Adventure In Germany & Poland

This why everyone should study abroad.

Learism
Learism
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Two days ago, I arrived back in the States from a two-week study abroad trip to Germany and Poland. This trip was entitled Experiences in International Justice. On this trip, we studied the Holocaust and its consequences through the lens of criminal justice. This trip changed my life in so many ways.

Firs, I really connected with all the other students on my trip, so I know that I can find friendship and understanding in them because we shared this experience.

Secondly, I discovered a newfound respect for life and need to work towards a more just world through learning more about Adolf Hitler's Third Reich and the Holocaust. We visited three infamous concentration camps: Dachau, Sachsenhausen, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. I don't know if I can explain to you the emotions I experienced, but I would like to try since I think it is very important to share my experience with others. It was so surreal to be in a place where millions of innocent lives were taken away. Seeing where the many Jews, Roma, and many other groups slept, worked, suffered, and died really put my life into perspective.

It got me reflecting on what I have to be thankful for, and the problems that I feel are a too big deal to handle. Nothing I could ever go through can be compared to what those poor people went through. Because of this realization, I have become empowered to do what I can to help those who are suffering and who do not have anyone to stand up for them. I know I can't effect change all over the world, but I want to help others in any way I can, in my community and in my future career as a Forensic Psychologist, as well as with my friends and family.

I also have been inspired to be a torch-bearer for the memory of the victims as well as the Holocaust itself, so that something like it never happens again. Knowledge is power, and so being educated about what happened and how it happened can help us take a stand for what's right. Because not everyone has the privilege to travel to the concentration camps as I have so I have an obligation to share my experiences there with the world. I do not want the victims to disappear, from the Holocaust or any tragedy. From a criminal justice perspective, it was also very interesting to read more about the perpetrators, how normal people can be so violent and destroy fellow humans without remorse. I think it is beneficial to study them because it shows that anyone can become overwhelmed with power and let it go to their heads.

My trip to Germany and Poland was an amazing experience that expanded my mind and my world, inspired me to continue down my chosen career path, and gave me great friends. I hope that everyone has a chance to study abroad and always be curious and open-minded because it will do so much good for you.

Learism
Learism

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