Faith and Spirituality

What is Faith? According to the dictionary, faith is a strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. Faith is having trust that your religious practices will bring about the promises they hold.

What is Spirituality? According to the dictionary, spirituality relates to or affects the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. Spirituality means you see everything as being connected and worthy of your love and care.

Whether you walk in faith or are guided by spirit, this page is meant to offer you insight, care, and hope.


“5 Must-Have Habits for Productive Interfaith Families.” 

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Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

By Ahmad Jenkins  

Having a strong spiritual balance is an important aspect of overall human health. Just as you would eat, sleep, and exercise to achieve better health; you must also be able to practice spiritual values for better spiritual health. There’s no more important place for improved spiritual health than in the family, and families that are interfaith (comprised of different religious faiths) are no different.  

While they come with a unique set of challenges, with the decline of religion in the US the way it is, spiritual families have to still thrive and coexist in an increasingly secular American culture. A common myth about interfaith families is that they are either agnostic or confused and unproductive environments for the spiritual development of most of the family members, especially young children. 

Mom and Dad set the structure. 

When it comes to the spiritual framework of any family it’s up to mom and dad to build the foundation. This can prove to be difficult if parents aren’t on the same page as to what the spiritual worldview of the family is. It’s something my wife and I took seriously before we got married. We wanted our family to be healthy spiritually and enjoy the benefits of having a solid value-based spiritual environment 

One where religious values are lived in every aspect of life, rather than just followed inconsistently. It also meant looking at who we are as believers and where we were in our spiritual practices being sure to address where we can improve.  

5 before 5: Secrets of success. 

  1. God is One: Both our faiths have differences that could cause conflict; however, they aren’t really sources of conflict when families sincerely agree on this one basic concept prevalent in all faiths. Putting theological differences to the side and focusing on that one foundational truth isn’t as hard as it may seem. God is beyond comparison to anything created, and it isn’t a far-off concept to embrace that He is worshipped by all people just as devoutly. This is where families can have more conversations about God and where each family member feels His guidance is moving the family. 
  1. Be open to learning from other family members. Sophia and I take the time out to learn what each other’s beliefs are. Not all Christians and Muslims believe the same, likewise; as individuals, our beliefs are just as varied. Learning more about what your partner believes and what that means to them helps the family become closer spiritually, and sharing openly is a great foundational habit. Of course,  
  1. Worshipping together: Worshipping together is another great way for interfaith families can connect spiritually. Praying together doesn’t have to be in a particular style or fashion of either religious faith, but general prayer amongst family members when they do come together for prayer.  
  1. Teaching together: When we acknowledge that the spouses are the spiritual foundation of the interfaith family, they must be able to swim in a deeper spiritual ocean of their household that comprises of two faiths. It will mean they will also have to become students if they are to instruct and guide their children in their developing spiritual worldview. Just as with praying together, interfaith families must be ready to step into some uncomfortable waters at times, but their personal spiritual convictions should never feel threatened. Learning about the personal spiritual beliefs of other family members should be just as exciting as sharing.  
  1. Seeking knowledge together:   It goes without saying that in order to guide a family spiritually, one must have knowledge. There’s no easy button here. While you don’t have to be a theologian, a little study of your spouse’s faith, along with attaining a deeper understanding of your own goes a long way in helping interfaith families come to common ground knowledge of each other spiritually. The following are a couple of books my wife and I have found to be very helpful.


aromatherapy

Aromatherapy: Good for Your Mind and Body

by Lynn DeJarnette

I’ve used aromatherapy for years to relieve stress, give me the energy to get through a 12-hour shift or just bring a warm, inviting feeling to my home.

So what is aromatherapy? Well, it’s a holistic medical treatment using natural plant extracts, or essential oils, to promote health and well-being. According to an article on Healthline.com, “Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils medicinally to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health.”

Aromatherapy works through your sense of smell or skin absorption by using products such as diffusers, lotions, oils, bath salts, and sprays or by adding essential oils to your laundry.

I recommend using a diffuser if you are just starting to use essential oils as some of them do have negative effects if you have certain health conditions or take certain medications when they are absorbed through the skin.

There are several types of diffusers available:

You have necklaces and bracelets, terra cotta diffusers, various types of mist diffusers, oil warmers, and bamboo stick diffusers are the basic types of diffusers out there but you can even use a few cotton balls in a dish if you need to. If you want to add some relaxation and excitement to the bedroom, try mixing 10 drops of lavender oil and 5 drops of ylang-ylang oil into a gallon ziplock of Epsom Salt, then put a half-cup into the washer with your sheets and wash as you normally would.

There are over 100 essential oils available for use in aromatherapy but I’m including this chart of the basic oils to get you started. I’ve always found that a combination of oils works better than a single oil, but everyone is different so you need to find the combination that works best for you. However, I would start with the basics so if you need to de-stress start with lavender, and if you need to get over the mid-day hump at work start with peppermint and then add one or two other oils that have the properties you want and that when combined have a scent you enjoy.

When buying essential oils, look for ones without any additives or synthetic ingredients; this way you know you will be getting a high-quality essential oil. I would suggest going to your local health food store or the herbal shop where they sell only natural bulks herbs, supplements, and essential oils. You can find essential oils online and even at Walmart but remember to check for unwanted ingredients before buying them.

If you decide you want to start using essential oils in your bath or in a lotion or oil, you need to research the oils you want to use so that you know you have the right oils and that you know if there are any risks associated with those oils. Your other option is to find a certified aromatherapist to help guide you on what oils to use and how best to use them, it is very important that you just don’t start experimenting with essential oils without knowing what their properties are and what their risks are because given the right circumstances those risks could be deadly.

However, lavender is one of the safest essential oils you can use so if you want to take a nice relaxing bath add 3-5 drops of lavender oil to 1/2 cup of milk, then add that to your warm bath water and enjoy.


Building Your Child’s Spiritual Insight

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Humble during attending one of her conferences with the LDS Church.

Regardless of your family’s religious affiliation, the children within your family will begin with a very natural spiritual insight that is different from the theologically based worldview of their parents. This is the case whether your family practices the same religious tradition or is an interfaith family.

Children however still need guidance and support from their parents and other family members as they begin to learn and express more of their own spiritual insight. The first step many elders in a child’s family must wrap their head around is how to best begin teaching children of different age groups spiritual lessons and ideals. The first thing for parents would be, being observable spiritual examples. In other words, they must see us pray, study, and practice our faiths so that they can grasp their own spiritual insight and practice.

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Jordyn still loves to thumb through this book, obviously it is advanced for her but she loves it because she sees me read it often.

Simply telling a child to pray, or ‘Do unto others..’ will do little for their spiritual growth. Children,  especially young children think in terms of action; and they learn that action through observing their first teachers ( i.e. you the parents/ elder family members). It is for us to not only live better spiritually connected lives for ourselves but also for the little ones that watch our every move, every day. And yes they watch us every day.

 

 

For interfaith families, this can be confusing if not stressful conversation without both parents learning to communicate and plan a spiritual family structure, and revisit that plan annually. Sophia and I did this well before we had children, and continue to do so as our children get older. Even though our faiths have differences, there are also similarities that outweigh those differences on so many levels. It’s those similarities that we stress and strive to impart on our children’s growing spiritual awareness. This is something even parents of same faith households can put into practice.

So, let’s keep the conversation going, what are some of the ways your family passes on spiritual lessons for your children? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment or email me at ahmedjenkins561@gmail.com


Meditation for Better Spiritual Health

meditation

Meditation is one tool I use to help me stay sane in these crazy times. Being stuck at home for the last six weeks or so because of the coronavirus and now with all the protests going on, it’s crazy out there and it doesn’t help that I suffer from depression and anxiety.

There is no right or wrong way to meditate, you have to find what works best for you. You should try to meditate every day for 15 minutes, but it’s totally up to you. I don’t always get in my 15 minutes a day, somedays I don’t get to meditate at all, other days I might get in several five-minute sessions throughout the day, and other days I might meditate for 30 minutes. So you see, it’s more about making meditation a habit and making it work for you than anything else.

So how do you meditate? I’m going to share with you the eight steps I used when I first started meditating. I’ll also share a video or two to help you get started.

  1. Commit to 5-30 minutes per day – Start out at five minutes a day, and work up to at least 15 minutes a day. But like I said before if you miss a day don’t worry about it just keep going.
  2. Eliminate Distractions – Find a time during the day when you have the least distractions, and find a place where you won’t be disturbed. Maybe that time is before everyone gets up in the morning, or before you go to bed at night and maybe your quiet place is in the bedroom with the door closed or the back porch. You just need to find what works for you.
  3. Relax and Get Comfortable – Find a position that you are comfortable in, whether it is sitting up or lying down (the only thing is your spine needs to be straight, and if you’re lying down make sure you don’t fall asleep). You can sit on the floor (lotus position not required) or in a chair with your feet on the floor. Rest your hands in your lap and relax; take a few deep breaths and feel your muscles relax from your head to your toes. If you have a hard time relaxing, try stretching beforehand, it may help to relax you.
  4. Focus Your Mind – Now you are ready to begin to focus your mind which is what meditation is all about, keeping your mind focused on the present moment, not on the past or on what needs to be done in the next hour. Your mind will wander, you will just simply gently bring it back to the moment. I can focus on many things during my meditation, but focusing on your breath is the easiest so that’s the best place to start. Some people like to listen to calming music while they meditate (for me it was a bit distracting). If you want to try it, give yourself time to get pretty good at focusing your mind then you can try adding some music. There are a lot of good meditation CDs out there, just find one you like and give it a try.
  5. Breath Slowly and Deeply – Begin by gently closing your eyes. Then take in a few slow deep breaths – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Don’t force your breathing, allow it to come naturally, taking full deep breaths. Now focus your mind on each breath, sense the air filling your lungs, and as it rushes past your lips. As you continue to do this, you will begin to feel calmer and more relaxed.
  6. If Your Mind Wanders Bring It Back – If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breathing. Your mind will wander and that is perfectly normal; as a matter of fact, when you first start out your mind will wander a lot but as time goes by it will wander less and less. That is what meditation is all about, being able to keep your mind in the present, focused on the here and now.
  7. Ending Your Meditation – When you’re ready to end your meditation, stand up slowly. Great work! You did it!
  8. Practice Makes Perfect – It will probably be frustrating at first but stick with it. Maybe you can only do three minutes at first, that’s okay, just keep going you’ll work up to five minutes, then 10 minutes, and then 15 minutes.

I’ve been doing this for years, trust me it works, and now I can use my meditation skills no matter where I am. I can be in a crowded, noisy room and be totally stressed, but I can shut my eyes for five minutes, focus on my breathing(shutting everything else out) and after those five minutes I’m a lot less stressed and much calmer. Getting here takes lots of practice and now is a great time to start.