Crisis – by Cinda Stevens Lonsway – Jan.2013

artwork by Manon Doyle

artwork by Manon Doyle


When a child speaks, listen
When a child laughs, smile
When a child hurts, heal
When a child dreams, believe

There is a crisis happening in America.  It is suicide among our youth.  In under a year, in my children’s school district alone, two high school girls took their own lives.  Within a neighboring school district, they have lost six young men and women in the past two years.  Statistics show that suicide is one of the top three causes of death among our youth, along with car accidents and homicide.

I am not a psychologist, and I am not an expert on mental illness, bullying, loneliness, helplessness,  shame, or self loathing, but I do consider myself a spiritual practitioner and studier of the spirit (at least my own spirit) and I’d like to take a shot at the consideration of using spirituality as a part of the solution.

I am curious…. is the crisis really about self worth among our youth…. is it a feeling of being less than, or devalued in some way….  I am curious…. if we ALL truly loved ourselves, would/could our lives be saved?

I think YES.

But how do we love ourselves when things are so hard and our lives so upside down and hopeless and desperate?  How do we learn to love ourselves when we think we are so despicable and not worthy of love?  I feel the answer lies in the awakening of our inner spirit.

Awakening to our inner spirit is not easy, especially when you don’t have a relationship with your spirit yet.  But I am here to tell anyone who is willing to listen and read these words that each and every one of us has an inner spirit.  We don’t need church to connect us to it, although it can.  Nor do we need a more powerful or more spiritually connected person to show us the way, although they could guide us.  Spiritual books might help; they helped me.  There are many ways to find and connect to our inner spirit, but the only one we really need is ourselves.  You can do it right now if you want to try.

So how does one find this inner spirit?  How does a struggling, suffering, and pained individual find this inner spirit among the noise he/she is experiencing in his/her head?

I believe we have three parts of us that need attention, always.  You have heard it before, but this time, I ask that you take it to heart; it isn’t just a cliché.  These are: Our Mind, Our Body, and Our Spirit.

Our Mind:  we use it to learn and it helps us to remember.  It is our record keeper and our story teller. It can relive the past as if it happened today, and it can dwell on the future as if it already happened.  All this can and will trigger emotions – be them simple or powerful, overwhelming or trite.  Emotions, which are triggered by the words we hear from others or the words we tell ourselves, all come from the mind.  Emotions can light us up or take us down.  We can reach out to doctors to help us with our emotions, and our mind can help us relive all our experiences in order to make sense of it all and to help us heal from that which is traumatic.

Our Body:  no matter how broken or spent it might be, it has an amazing ability to heal itself.  There may be scars that remind us of the injury, but bones mend, skin seals, and bodies at rest, recover.  We can reach out to doctors to help us heal, we can eat right to nourish ourselves, and we can exercise to rebirth our cells.

Our Spirit: this is the component of what makes us, us.  It is easily overlooked… that is until you are awakened to it, introduced to it… then it can never be forgotten.  It is what brings in love, connects us to all that is beyond us and within us.  When we work on our spirit, nothing can take us down… nothing outside of us… nothing inside of us.  It is our light.  It is our power.  It is where we find our solution. Our spirit, once we find it, is what will save our lives.

But what is our spirit?  How do we know where to find it? Where does it live within us?

Our spirit is waiting, patiently waiting, for us to find it, to become aware of its existence.  Just like a suffering individual, who feels invisible, alone, and ignored, our spirit wants to be found.

Here is how you begin.  Sit quietly.  Wait.  Pay attention.  What creeps up in your mind?  Pay attention.  What is your body feeling?  This “paying attention” is your inner spirit.  Your spirit is the observer of what your mind is telling you.  Your spirit is the observer of what your body is feeling.  Stay with this for awhile…. it takes a bit of practice, but I promise you, you will begin to feel something.  Perhaps you will experience a burning in your chest, a warm feeling of peace, a sensation of energy you didn’t feel before.  This is your spirit awakening, a sensation of gratitude for your awareness of its existence (a surprising sensation when you probably assume you have nothing to be grateful for).

The mind is a tricky player.  It will play head games with our emotions and convince us of things that just aren’t true… things like how unworthy we feel…. how unloved we feel… how shameful we feel….  When we make the choice to believe what our mind is telling us, our spirit seems to take a back seat.  When our physical pain is so severe that we can’t even think straight, it seems that our spirit takes a back seat.  But I am here to tell you that your spirit will NEVER, EVER take a back seat.  Your spirit is with you always… it is always available to show you what is glorious…  your life is glorious… your joy is glorious… your connection to EVERYTHING is glorious.

Your spirit is connected to ALL that is great in this life… which means so are you.   This greatness is capable of healing your pain and your suffering.  When things feel so unbearably heavy, and you tap into your spirit, lightness envelops you.  This light brings in hope.  This light brings in peace.  This light brings in possibilities of something different, something special, something Divine.

I know our children are suffering and we need them to find their way to self-worth and self-love.  If every struggling and hurting individual could know that he/she is not alone… EVER… before he/she takes those pills, pulls that trigger, or hangs that rope…. and instead, would take the time to pay attention to that part within that is observing the struggling and hurting – that individual would be saved.   For no matter how much they are bullied, or shamed, or picked on, or belittled, if they can recognize the spirit within, it grows, it expands, it shines.  Spirit is LOVE, Spirit is peace, and Spirit is Happiness…  Your Spirit will overpower the suffering.

When our children no longer care about others’ opinions of them, when they are allowed to set their own expectations, and when they can sense the Spirit within, they will begin to experience a reward like one not felt before.  The reward is being able to walk taller, stand stronger, love life, and love themselves.   The new found relationship with Spirit will prompt them forward and not drive them backwards.  Their minds can no longer play the mental games of control and their broken bodies won’t keep them down.  When the light of the inner Spirit is shining, so is the future of a life worth living.

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