Spirit Matters by Shirley Barr: Personal Transformation – Part 1 June 3, 2012

CFN – The movie Hungry for Change was shown at Spirit Tree Yoga last month by Lisa Blanchard who offers these presentations as a monthly public service. A food collection is part of the service and is donated to a local group. About thirty people gathered to gain knowledge of a way forward out of illness and obesity. We had a lot of discussion afterward about what could be done at the local level to move people to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Featured in the movie were many health gurus who spoke about how health was much more than a combination of environment and what we eat. It’s a state of mind that is aligned with the body. Health has to do with accessing capacities deep within which give us the kind of internal strength that develops our character and makes us able to succeed. Correct eating and exercise alone cannot make us healthy – there has to be a shift in thinking to go along with any changes that are made in order to replace bad habits with good ones. Taking personal responsibility for the state of our health seems to be the key factor for permanent change. Taking responsibility is the direct opposite of being a victim of circumstances beyond our control.

It requires an intense level of self-reflection to take responsibility, and the boundaries extend beyond mere health. In fact, I would venture that taking responsibility includes every single thing that has ever happened to us, every decision we have made, every choice, every event, every intersection, every single thing…it is an intense process.

The key to looking inside for answers rather than outside for solutions may lie in developing a  spiritual practice. This practice should be simple and not adorned with a lot of expensive objects which serve as distractions. You don’t need a special outfit to meet with yourself and look within. Being mindful does not cost any money; actually. It can be done practically anywhere. The need to create a sacred space for solitude, peace, quiet and tranquility is more than ever necessary in a world that is getting more frantic and stressed. Including uplifting music, knowledge and prayer will help accelerate the benefits of a spiritual practise. There are no need to always do the same thing, establishing the ritual of daily practise is enough to help us to touch base and reconnect with ourselves. It is said that if we know ourselves, we will know God and that it is in the act of service that we know God. It’s a fulfilling circle.

There is a sweetness and steadiness that comes from spiritual practice. Worries evaporate, the mind gets calm, the heart steadies and if done correctly the brain will start to create a binaural wave, where both sides work together in harmony. Meditation and prayer can contribute to this significantly. Scientists have shown that meditation alone can relieve depression even better than drug therapy. A spiritual practice can help one conquer an addiction. Used twice daily a spiritual practice becomes a refuge for your soul. It helps to develop the qualities that can combat the lower nature. By the lower nature is meant characteristics like meanness, cruelty, impatience, violence, and rudeness. Developing a routine of reflection gives us an opportunity to grow as a human being and to access the qualities of the higher nature which are our powers: truthfulness- the foundation of all human virtues, kindness, love, equity, truthfulness, patience to name a few.

To be continued…

Shirley Barr lives and works in Cornwall, Ontario since 2010 and is a member of the Baha’i Community.



  1. Enjoyed your column this week. Good thoughts to reflect on.

  2. I really like the way you write. I like your style Ma’am, as they’d say back then…

    You reminded me of when I made the choice to accept medication as part of my strategy for dealing with a brain that is wired to include Depression. I capitalize the word, if you don’t mind….it’s to remind me who can be Boss of me if I let it.

    Meditation….yoga……spiritual journeys and learning opportunities…..I live with all that sculpting my days and have for a while now. I don’t remember who brought this way of thinking to my table, but I am sooooo glad they did. But without medication, it wasn’t enough….especially in the midst of Life’s more trying events.

    Like you, I believe many people would benefit far more from yoga then quick fix pills….and meditation should be a universal norm, eh? just wanted to add a tad for those who DO need both to appreciate a mindful Life.

    So good to see the likes of you writing out in public Ms. Shirley!!! Nice.

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