Cowritten by: Drs. Yvonne & Scott Rheinschmidt Ph D LPC
“The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you.” (Mt 13:11)
Often, we are asked what is the secret to a peaceful and happy life? If we had a short answer that everyone could understand we would find ourselves among the ‘rich and famous’. Although we don’t have a short answer, fortunately we can point people in the right direction which is, faith in Jesus. In the parable of the Sower we are told that we as believers have been given the secrets to the kingdom of heaven. You would think that would be enough for us. However, we all tend to forget about the secrets we’ve been given and spend time either worrying about the future or trying to fix the past, which neither activity lends itself to feeling peaceful.
Staying present, in the here and now, is one of the ‘secrets’ to living a more peaceful and happy life. In Gestalt Therapy, we learn to be aware of what we are doing at any given time by focusing on the present moment. This is where change takes place, especially change from worrying about the future or ruminating about the past. When we start thinking thoughts like shoulda, woulda, coulda, or what if something bad happens, we are not in the present moment. The question is, how do we spend more time in the here and now?
One small, yet transforming, step to staying in or bringing ourselves back to the present is learning to breathe. In therapy, learning to breathe is not only essential but the key that opens many new experiences by helping to become more aware of the present. When we become more self-aware, we are able to become more responsible (response-able) for our thinking and behaviors versus letting automatic thoughts rule our lives. Imagine if we all said whatever comes to our minds out loud? By catching ourselves drifting to the past or future and then breathing to relax we can bring ourselves back to the present moment, adjust our thoughts, and reflect on what God has, and continues to provide, the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. This process helps us to stay in the here and now and stop worrying about the future and ruminating on the past.
Pope Francis stated during the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on June 29, 2020 that
from prayer, the disciples drew strength, from prayer came a unity more powerful than any threat. Prayer allows the Holy Spirit to intervene, opening our hearts to hope, shortening distances and holding us together at times of difficulty…It is pointless, even tedious, for Christians to waste their time complaining about the world, about society, about everything that is not right. Complaints change nothing. Complaints are the second door closed to the Holy Spirit: the first is narcissism, the second is discouragement, the third is pessimism. Narcissism leads one to continually look at oneself in the mirror, discouragement leads to complaints, pessimism [leads] to darkness, obscurity. These three attitudes close the door to the Spirit”.