Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

3 Reasons This World Needs a Spiritual Practice

Mass shootings seem to have become a regular occurence in our world these days. More people are buying guns to protect themselves. We have become almost numb to tragedy. People wonder why these events keep happening. Apparently the answer is not obvious to everyone but it is to me.

No, the answer isn't gun control. The answer isn't mental health treatments. These may help band-aid the problem but these solutions ignore the root cause.

People have lost their sense of  the sacredness of human life. And why is that? Because they have turned their backs on God - the most sacred One of all. He is not allowed in schools anymore. They've taken the words "In God we Trust" off our money, out of the pledge of allegiance and removed the statues that serve as reminders of the principles this country was founded on.  If we don't hold God sacred, whose precepts teach us the basics of how to be a decent human being and the difference between right and wrong, what can we expect? Chaos! Which is exactly what we have and if we don't shift our focus, the situation will only get worse.

Some people refute the existance of evil but evil does indeed exist - just take a look around.  To deny the existence of evil is to live in a polyanna state of oblivion. All is not well with the world and we were not born sinless, as some purport. Think about your most recent unkind comment, lie, rudeness, impatience. Think about when you thought badly about someone, yourself even. Think about when you look at things with lust or jealousy. None of these is from God. The bent of human beings is towards things that gratify the flesh and temporarily make us feel better about ourselves, make us feel loved, attractive, worthy. When was the last time you compared yourself to another? The truth is only God can make us feel loved, attractive and worthy. Why? Because he died for us, that's why. If that doesn't spell love, I don't know what does.

Another sign we need a spiritual path is when we indulge to excess: overeat, drink too much, have too much sex, exercise or work too much. All of these are signs of unhealthy attitudes which lead to unhealthy behaviors. Just look at the opioid crisis. People are hurting emotionally and mentally and they seek to console themselves with a dangerous and deadly habit.

Here's an illustration. I was talking with an acquaintance recently and he was telling me how many times he went dancing over the weekend. He had been every night. Then he asked me how many times I had been and I replied"None, dancing isn't everything."
"It's not?" he replied with a tone of sarcasm.
Now I have nothing against enjoying life to the full, but sometimes, we keep ourselve so busy we don't have time to think about or deal with our emotional and spiritual issues. Months later, I found out this guy was convicted of killing his wife and was out of bail when I met him.

The purpose of this post is not to judge or condemn anyone but to get us all to realize the importance of developing and working on a spiritual practice. In the same way it takes effort to exercise and eat right, it does take effort to maintain a spiritual path. But what are the alternatives? Get fat, out of shape, and live down, depressed, and hopeless or worse - take an innocent life. We are all capable of these acts if not by the grace of God.

We can each make a difference in our own part of the world. We can change ourselves and that change will ripple into the great sea of humanity. Every step we take towards becoming a more loving, caring, forgiving, truthful, person will affect how we treat others which in turn will affect how they will treat others. Just imagine what it could be like here on earth. It is true that "the kingdom of God is at hand".

If this post made you think, consider joining our blog community by entering your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly encouraging posts plus a copy of my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Stay tuned for more positive and practical wisdom to help you ignite the power within and discover YOUR destiny!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel Paz

Thursday, October 11, 2018

How a Spiritual Path Can Alleviate Chronic Pain

Are you in pain? Back pain? Arthritis? Migraine? Cancer? You're not alone. The statistics are staggering and it's getting worse as the population ages. One in ten people or 100 million Americans and 1.5 billion people world-wide suffer from chronic pain which is defined as pain lasting every day for  three months or more. Chronic pain affects more Americans than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined. 

According to author and back pain sufferer, Vidyamala Burch of the United Kingdom, there are two types of pain: primary suffering and secondary suffering. Primary suffering is the actual pain itself: the cancer, the arthritis, the migraine. Secondary suffering are the negative thoughts, feelings, emotions and memories we entertain that make the pain worse. These might include anxiety, worry, stress, depression, and feelings of hopelessness and exhaustion.

Our bodies and our minds are intricately connected. If we treat the body and not the mind we will still suffer intensely as we will not have addressed the full picture. As I have often said and truly believe, we are body, mind, and spirit and all three parts need to be tended to.

This is where a spiritual path can help. It is these thoughts that destroy our peace, steal our joy, and cause us to fall into the depths of despair. When we have a spiritual practice, we learn not only to take control of our thoughts using techniques such as mindfulness and meditation, we also learn to replace these negative thoughts with positive ones through the use of scripture reading and prayer. Our mind is where the battle takes place and pain is another opportunity to train or, in many cases, retrain our minds, to focus on what is positive, healthy, and uplifting. When the doctors have done all they can, we have no other recourse except to work on our minds, our thinking, and our faith, because ultimately, God is the source of all healing.

As a long-time sufferer, disciple of Christ, and student of spirituality in its many forms, I can testify that a spiritual path, in particular, Christianity, is the solution to many, if not all, of the physical, spiritual, emotional and relational problems we each face in this life. Christianity teaches us to focus on the power of Faith in Christ who brings healing, peace, joy and new life. No other religion or belief system can provide the miraculous healing power that Christ can.  Learn more in my book, "The Power of Faith: a journey to healing, wholeness, and harmony".

Do you have a spiritual practice? If you are interested in starting one, enter your email address and I'll send you out my free eguide, "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".  You'll also receive my bi-weekly posts to encourage, inspire, and uplift you.

I hope this post has encouraged you. Stay tuned for more positive and practical wisdom.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel Paz

Feel free to use and share my content but do acknowledge me as the source. Thank you! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

How to Strengthen Your Spiritual Muscle

Are you a person of faith or fear? Do you worry about outcomes of situations? Do you get easily overwhelmed or fearful when things get out of control?  These are opportunities to strengthen what I call our spiritual muscle, otherwise known as the power of  faith. 

When life presents us with difficult situations, these are opportunities to exercise our faith. Just like our physical muscles, our spiritual muscle needs exercise.

The Bible says each of us has been given a measure of faith (Rom 12:3). Like a muscle, we must exercise our faith for it to grow.  We must put it into practice when in our daily lives.

In order to live in peace and joy on a daily basis, it is important to learn to walk by faith and not by sight. In other words, we need to expect good outcomes from difficult situations even before we see them. Faith pleases God because it shows we trust Him to intervene in our lives.

Building our spiritual muscle takes practice. Often we try to make things happen on our own, instead of trusting God to work things out. We think we have to control every situation. As I know from experience, this is exhausting and steals our peace and our joy.

Rom 4:4 says "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." In other words, God sees us as righteous, not because of all our good works, but because of our faith and trust in Him. While I may be thinking I am pleasing God, I am saddened to realize that this does not please God at all. Scripture says that all my good works are like filthy rags (Is.64:6)

Nowadays, I expect a positive outcome even when I don't see it at the present moment. The key is to stay calm and in peace. This is a sign of trust and letting go of control. I don't have to know how God is going to work it out. All I have to do is trust that He WILL work it out. It has been a process to change my perspective since my more controlling days, but slowly but surely we can all grow our faith by learning to let go of control and keeping our peace.

Do you spend too much time and energy trying to "do" things that please God and not enough time listening, trusting, and believing?  Would you like more peace and less stress? Then it is time to strengthen YOUR SPIRITUAL MUSCLE!

Start learning the simple but concrete steps I explain in my book,  "The Power of Faith". While you're at it, order one for a friend or two.They make great Christmas gifts.

If  you enjoyed this post and would like to receive my bi-weekly posts of inspiration and personal growth, enter your email address in the box provided. I'll also send you out a copy of my free e-guide entitled" 7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". We're all on this journey together so do share it with a friend or loved one.

Until next time,  keep growing and keep looking up!

Ariel Paz

Thursday, October 4, 2018

How Faith Makes Your Brain Healthier

Did you know faith makes for a healthier brain? According to research by Dr. Andrew Newburg, author of six books and leading researcher, studies reveal the impact of a spiritual practice on brain function.  This area of research is known as "neurotheology" and demonstrates the relationship between the brain and faith. 

In his book "How God Changes Your Brain", Newberg discusses many interesting ways faith directly impacts the brain. For more details, check out this article.

Just as there are many good reasons to work out, eat right, and stay fit, there are several very tangible reasons to develop your faith and spirituality. Here are a few of the major benefits:

1) increases longevity

2) improves brain health by reducing cortisol levels

3) reduces emotional reactivity

4) increases resilience to life's challenges

People who meditate, pray, and adhere to a spiritual practice are also less likely to suffer from depression and  anxiety and have better control of their emotions. I would venture to say that spiritually-minded folk are less likely to commit heinous crimes of violence. They value peace and harmony in both their inner and outer worlds. They value connecting to God and strive to live according to the values that respect and honor human life. Look at Gandhi and Martin Luther King as examples. They changed the world thru non-violent means and were both men of faith.

In this world of so much senseless violence, it is clear people need to make developing their spirituality a priority. Spirituality is very closely linked to emotions and out-of-control emotions are often what precipitate random acts of violence.  

I hope this article has motivated you to consider making your spiritual path a priority in your life. We all have spheres of influence and when one person changes we impact others around us. Be the change you want to see in this world. We are all in it together.

If you'd like to join our community and receive my bi-weekly posts, please enter your email address in the box provided.You'll also receive a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".  I enjoy hearing from you so please post a comment below.

Stay tuned for more positive and practical wisdom to help you ignite the power within and discover YOUR destiny!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel Paz

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

8 Benefits of Cultivating a Spiritual Practice

When was the last time you felt stressed? If you're like most, stress is a part of our daily lives and it is a major factor in many health issues today. Our fast-paced lifestyle and goal-oriented society leaves little time for solitude, reflection, prayer and meditation. Yet, it is these very habits that protect us against the constant bombardment of stressors in our daily lives.

We all have 24 hours in a day and everyone seems to be so busy all the time. Yet, how often do we stop to consider if we're making time for the right things? Often, we're on auto-pilot carrying out our daily routines. What if we're not working on what would make the most difference in our lives? 

Today, I'd like us to press the pause button so we can think about that question for a few minutes. What is really most important in my life? Is it my friends? My career? My family? My finances?

All of these are important but what lies at the crux of being successful in any of these?   Maybe, just maybe, there is something more important above and beyond anything else. By far. And that is...

Developing our relationship with God. 
On a recent visit to Morocco, I happened to catch these devout Muslims worshipping at the 5 o'clock call to prayer. Speechless, I stopped in awe to observe. After, I asked a shop owner about the practice and he said people can pray anywhere. There was no need for icons or statues or candles. The faithful simply took off their shoes and dropped to their knees. Now you might not understand, agree or accept other religions, but this act of  sincere and humble worship struck me. How different would the world be if everyone stopped several times a day to acknowledge God? Think about it.

We are all spirit. As author and spiritual guru, Wayne Dyer, puts it, "We are spiritual beings having a human experience." I have studied most of the major religions and have found several principles they all have in common: compassion, faith, worship, giving to the needy to name a few.

Rather than focus on our religious differences, wouldn't the world be a better place if we focused on common ground? This is what is so great about America - freedom to worship who and what we choose. In the end, each of us will stand before God and give an accounting of our lives so let's not wait till then to meet him.

Reasons why we need a spiritual practice:

1. Helps us become more peaceful, resilient, calm. 
2. Improves our relationshipswith others. 
3. Helps us connect to ourselves.
4. Helps us connect to God. 
5. Helps us handle life's problems. 
6. Provides hope in the hard times. 
7. Gives us guidance.
8. Helps us to grow. 
9. Helps us stay positive despite negative circumstances. 

When we put our main focus and energy towards our jobs, our kids, our relationships, everything suffers because our spirit is what infuses every aspect of our lives. It affects our emotions, our moods, and our energy. When we neglect our spiritual self, we are basically ignoring the very core of who we are. Then we wonder why the world is in such a state of turmoil.

Activity vs. Connection 
Sure we go to church, pray the rosary, give our tithes, go to yoga retreats. All of these are fine and dandy, but what really matters is am I developing a relationship with my spiritual self? With God?  Just as human relationships require time and effort, so does our spiritual relationship. If we want to reap the benefits listed above, we must make time to cultivate this aspect of ourselves however that manifests itself for each one of us.

Whether we realize it or not, our relationship with our spiritual self is truly is the most important thing in life, In fact, I would go as far as to say that our human relationships can only be as healthy as we are spiritually. In fact, we can only be as healthy physically as we are spiritually.

I'm sure this post has you thinking and I would love to hear your thougths. Do you have a spiritual practice? Is it working for you? Do you consider spirituality an important part of your life? I once asked a good friend this question and her answer was "No comment".

If you'd like to join our blog community, enter your email in the box provided and you'll receive my bi-weekly posts. You'll also receive a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Have a great week and remember - keep looking up!

Ariel Paz 

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

10 Signs You Need to Strengthen Your Spiritual Muscle

You work out. You go to the gym. Do yoga. Bike. Run. Lift weights. Most of us realize we need to keep our muscles and bodies in good shape so we can handle the physical demands of daily life. What about the mental and emotional demands of life? How do we handle those? Did you know you have an invisible force to help you lift the burdens of life? I call it our "spiritual muscle".
What exactly is our spiritual muscle?

Our spiritual muscle is the mechanism or tool that provides internal strength to help us get through the trials and tribulations of life with confidence. It gives us the resilience - the bounce back - to endure the inevitable tough times life throws at us. When we have a strong spiritual muscle we are less likely to be tossed to and fro by the waves of storms that come our way.

So how do we develop our spiritual muscle?

We develop our physical muscles by lifting bigger and heavier weights, running longer distances, and putting our bodies through physical challenges. Our muscles become stronger and able to handle tougher physical tests.  In the same way we need to strengthen our physical muscles by working out, we strengthen our spiritual muscle by going through the choppy waters of life. The goal is the same - to be able to handle tougher challenges without caving in, collapsing, or giving up. When we go through tough times, it is important to remember they are helping to strengthen our spiritual muscle.

There are signs that alert us to the fact that we need some training in this area. Here are ten of them:

1.You find yourself talking a lot about your problems to other people, instead of God.
2. You use food, alcohol, exercise, overwork to ease stress and anxiety and help forget about your problems.
3. You have a hard time making decisions.
4. You can't stand to be alone and need to have the television or the radio on all the time.
5. You feel stressed and anxious much of your day.
6. You worry a lot.
7. You focus more on accumulating material possessions rather than spiritual growth.
8. You like to feel in control.
9. You are often critical and negative.
10. You lack an attitude of gratitude.

If you spot a few of these in your character, do not dismay. You were guided to this blog for a reason. We are all on a journey and our souls each have their lessons to learn. This is why we are here on this earth.

Stay tuned for more on this topic. If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our community, enter your email in the box provided. You'll get my bi-weekly posts as well as a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, leave a comment, share with a friend, and remember - keep looking up!

Ariel Paz

Feel free to use and share my content but please acknowledge me as the source. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

6 Signs You Need a Spiritual Path

Everyone is on a spiritual path, whether they know it or not. What's more, everyone needs a spiritual path, not just those who have been abused, addicted, or abandoned. We all have been wounded in some way. How can I say this? Because after years of thinking dysfunction happens only in "broken" or "alcoholic" homes, I've seen enough people from seemingly "normal" families have the same kinds of drama and issues. I'd scratch my head and ask "How did that happen? Her parents weren't divorced/alcoholic/addicts or whatever."

Until one day, it dawned on me - we are all wounded. Each of us is in need of healing of some sort. It could be physical, emotional, spiritual or all three. Author Wayne Dyer says that "there is a spiritual solution to every problem," and if we look deep enough, we will find it.

The problem is that many of us are not aware that we are on a spiritual journey, so we fail to look for spiritual solutions. We look to medications, drinking, food, activities, and relationships to console us but sooner or later we realize, we have to go deeper. The answer is not in externals.

Hence, the popularity of such groups as Alcoholics Anonymous, meditation groups, and yoga classes. Participants realize there is a spiritual struggle going on underneath the covers of the suffering they are experiencing. We are a three part entity: body, mind, and spirit. An injury to any one part affects the other parts. The Chinese have known this for centuries.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has long correlated physical ailments with emotions. For example, a few years ago, I went to an acupuncturist for treatment of an asthma condition I suddenly developed. I had never had asthma in my life so I knew something was going on.
"Asthma affects the lungs and the lungs store grief," the specialist explained.
"Have you experienced any grief lately?"
"Grief!" I exclaimed, bursting into tears.
"Yes, I have experienced grief in several very close relationships all in the same year."
The light bulb went on. My body was reacting to the emotional pain I had experienced. Once I gained awareness of all the grief I was experiencing, I was able to process it and the asthma symptoms completely went away. When we bring light to the darkness of the pain in our spirits, we can process the emotions, which then allow us to heal at the physical level as well. So how does one know if one is in need of healing?

There are probably many more signs, but the ones I am aware of I am listing below. See if any of these resonate with you.

1) Physical symptoms and pain
Diseases such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, high blood pressure, IBS, migraine, depression, addictions, and back pain may all have emotional and spiritual roots.

2) Incessant chatter 
Are your conversations self-absorbed monologues (all about you)? Do you focus on the negative circumstances in life more than the positives?

3) Fear of the future
Does anxiety about what may happen steal your peace and joy? Do you feel a need to keep up with every negative news story, gossip, or Hollywood drama? Do you make decisons out of fear?

4) Overdependence on company of others
Do you always have to be around people? Are you uncomfortable being by yourself?

5) Preoccupation with any one area of life 
Are you a workaholic? Exercise fanatic? Overly involved with your kids? Is there any area others would say you put too much time into?

6) Inability to overcome addictions 
Some addictions are overeating, alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn, and codependency. In fact, anything done to excess may be an addiction.

If any of these hit home, you are in the right place. Consider joining our community by entering your email address in the box provided. In addition to receiving my bi-weekly posts, I am offering my free eguide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". I'm not talking about religion here, so please don't confuse the two. Spirituality is very different from "organized religion" although we may find our path in church for a time and that is quite alright. When you enter your email in the box provided, I'll get it right out to you.

Stay tuned for more positive and practical wisdom on how you, too, can find healing, wholeness, and harmony so you can ignite the power within and discover YOUR destiny!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel Paz