Posted by: Judy Brutz | May 17, 2010

Breath Prayer and Guided Meditation Help Abuse Survivors

Survivors typically experience feelings of terror and being overwhelmed. Many experience flashbacks. I find that guided meditation and having a breath prayer helps to reduce anxiety and to center individuals suffering from trauma.

Find a safe place where you are able to pray and experience a guided meditation. Prompts for the guided meditation are included below.

1. Imagine that Jesus or a Holy Presence, who conveys love, acceptance, comfort, and welcome, is by your side. Breathe in the sacredness. It’s all right if you do not sense the presence of the sacred. Breathe in and out slowly, noticing how you breath feels. Rest. Allow yourself to relax.

2. Quietly, softly, you are asked, “What is it you want?” You know this is a spiritual question and you consider what your greatest need is. What do you say?

3. You are asked, “What name for God do you prefer to use?” You answer. What name do you say?

4. Take the name and the phrase and play with them, trying different sequencing of words until there is an easy rhythm and your Breath Prayer resonates with you. Notice how the prayer flows with your breathing.

5. Write down your prayer. Place reminders, post-its, in many places, bathroom mirror, a dot on your watch. Make it a practice to say your prayer as you go through doorways, or when you look at the time, or when you go to your computer, or when you pick up your keys. What makes sense for you?

6. Here are examples of Breath Prayers that my hospice patients formed. “God be with me always.” “Bless me, Lord.” “Jesus, heal me.”

To heal and be transformed, seek the help you need from spirituality, social workers, and other sources. You do not need to be alone, or trapped by the trauma you experienced.

Posted by: Judy Brutz | May 13, 2010

Laughing Together

She slowly opens her hand to show me tiny, sun bleached snail shells. Five children, are down on their knees searching the ground. Three girls and two boys look for these remnants from ages past. The children have black thick hair and brown eyes. Most the boys in the school have a braid down their backs. All the children are lively and inquisitive, and run, play tag, swing and become curious about what they notice on the ground during recess.

Mrs. Young blows her whistle. Recess is over at the Lillian Valley School. Thirteen children, kindergarten through second grade, run to get in line. I am here to listen to the children read one-on-one, except for the kindergartners who are excited about someone reading to them.
In 1998 the children’s school was started when the elders of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes asked for a small private Christian school to be initiated next to the tribal lands. The elders were concerned for the welfare of the children because many children live with their grandparents.

Lillian Valley, one of the elders and an Episcopal deacon went to her Idaho bishop to receive permission to start the school under diocesan sponsorship. Thus the Lillian Valley School was started. No longer under church sponsorship, the school is funded entirely by private donations. It has the capacity for thirty children, k-5.

The school is separated into two groupings. The lower level is k-2, and the upper level is 3-5th grades. Each level has one teacher and one teacher’s aide. I am there as a volunteer in the reading program two mornings per week. I go to both classrooms to listen to the children.

Coyle, not his real name, has a long thick braid down his back. He brings a chapter book to read to me. I ask the readers whether they want to alternate reading the pages with me or read all the pages by themselves. Coyle tells me, “I want to read the pages by myself so I will remember the words.”

Coyle’s chapter book is about six year olds who go to camp and are away from home the first time. They are all homesick and cry, but not Rachel, who is described as being brave.
“Coyle, are girls brave?”
“NO girls are brave!”
“You mean NO girls are brave!? Don’t you know ANY brave girls?”
“My mom is brave.”
“Was she brave when she was a girl?”
Coyle is caught up in the joke, “Okay, she’s brave and so is my grandma.”
“And Rachel is brave also,” I point out.
Coyle is laughing and he looks at my mouth, “You’ve got a gold tooth.”
He catches Larry’s attention, who is reading out loud, holding his chapter book up in front of his face as he walks in a circle around the room. “Hey, she’s got a gold tooth,” Coyle lets Larry know.

Larry stops and wants to see, but I put my hand over my mouth, and then finally show Larry. “Cool,” Larry joyfully exclaims. The three of us are laughing at our shared joke.

It is lunch time and Mrs. Young calls everybody to stop what they are doing and get ready for lunch.
Before they leave for lunch, they will pray together in the Shoshone language. All the children are English speakers. The language of their ancestors is dying out and there is an effort to bring it back before all the elders are gone. A teacher comes each week to teach the Shoshone language.
I’m thrilled to be here.

Posted by: Judy Brutz | May 1, 2010

Spiritual Practices to Empower Abuse Survivors

Abuse survivors may have a hard time believing in God or belonging to organized religion. Yet having a spiritual practice helps survivors heal. Explore practices that bring you a sense of hope and well-being.

1. Yoga. A yoga practice involves the whole body, mind, and spirit. Abuse experiences affect individuals at a cellular level. The yoga movements and positions help the body to heal at a cellular level. Practicing the deep breathing that is taught in yoga enables your whole body to receive a better supply of oxygen. At other times when flashbacks occur, doing deep breathing overcomes feelings of terror and empowers your body to move rather than to become frozen.

2. Praying. For me praying does not necessarily involve words. In fact, some of my most profound periods of praying are resting in the stillness of God’s presence. One night when I was too scared to use my own words, and I was experiencing a flashback, I stilled my sense of terror by turning to the sacred presence. At such times, it matters not whether you actually sense the presence of the Holy One, only that you turn your focus there. To my surprise the words to the Lord’s Prayer popped into my mind, but there was a difference. Word by word, phrase by phrase, with pauses in between, NEW WORDS, came. Similar experiences continued over a few years. All-in-all there were more than 75 prayers which were given to me by the Holy Spirit. These prayers profoundly influence my spirituality and my inner healing.

3. Meditate on sacred scripture. I find the Bible to be inspirational. I take a small passage and read slowly, several times, paying attention to which words draw my attention. I write the word or phrase in my journal. The following queries you may find helpful in responding to the scripture through writing  in your journal: What is the author trying to say? What is the nature of God? What do you experience?

4. Participate in worship services. Do you need to find a worshipping community in which you feel comfortable? where you feel free to worship? Perhaps you will find this in your own faith tradition. Perhaps you need to look elsewhere.

5. Walk a labyrinth. A labyrinth is a winding path that circles into the center. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no dead ends. Compose yourself at the entrance to the labyrinth. What is your intention for walking into the sacred center? Do you have a question? a prayer? Do you want to walk, and see what comes to you. In the center, stop and sit down or kneel. Listen to the presence of God. You will know when it is time to leave, then walk out slowly being thankful for blessings. Remember afterwards to write in your journal.

6. Go to a spiritual retreat for survivors. There you will experience community. You will be given opportunities to experience guided meditation, prayer, and self-affirmation.

 Abuse survivors who want to be spiritually empowered have many opportunities. In this article, I’ve only named a few. You will find that having a living spirituality will generate inner healing. I know because I’m an abuse survivor and my spirituality has saved my life.

Posted by: Judy Brutz | May 1, 2010

8 Coping Strategies for Abuse Survivors

Survivors in recovery find getting through some days more difficult than others. Having strategies for living will help you not to be stuck in the lows. I know because I am an abuse survivor.

1. Spiritual practice. Rely on your spirituality daily. Have none? Explore developing your own. Here are possibilities: praying, listening to nature, practicing yoga, belonging to a 12-step group, participating in worship services, meditating on sacred writing, or keeping a journal.

2. Self-care. Care for yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Practice good hygiene, be tender with your nutrition, have a fitness program, be self-affirming and self-forgiving.

3. Home-care. Clean and uncluttered living space contributes to a sense of self-worth. Having difficulties in this department, take one small doable task at a time.

4. Work. What work do you do to pay the bills? We are in hard economic times. Perhaps you are one of millions who lost their jobs. Temporary jobs are better than none. How is it with you?

5. Service. Volunteering is healing, and gets us out of ourselves. What might you do? Possibilities: have a neighbor who is house bound? What might you do to be helpful without being over-involved?

6. Creativity. Using your creativity helps your inner healing. Possibilities: gardening, painting, knitting, bee keeping, repairing clunkers, carving. What do you do? What are you drawn to?

7. Socialize. Don’t isolate. Get together with others. Have no one? Join a support group. Go to a yarn shop and learn to knit or crochet, and hang out there. Take a class and make the effort to talk with one or two people. Ask someone to go to coffee. What are your ideas?

8. Seek and accept support. Don’t try to go it alone. Doing that only serves to keep you in the lows, deepens depression, and worsens abuse symptoms. Take care of your medical needs. Let your provider know that you are a survivor, ask for help with depression. Seek professional counseling. There are professionals, such as therapists, social workers, or psychologists, who specialize in abuse recovery. Finding professional help may be the most important step you take in your healing journey. Join a support group.

I am an abuse survivor and these coping strategies help me to progress in my recovery. There were times in my life that I had poor hygiene and didn’t much care how I looked. I tended to isolate and depression was a constant companion. My spiritual practice and the professional care I receive supports me in healthy living. I’m well along in my healing journey. Let me know how you are doi

Posted by: Judy Brutz | April 10, 2010

Lord’s Prayer Queries on Greeting God

Lord’s Prayer Queries for Survivors: Part 1 on Greeting God
By Judy Brutz

How do you pray the Lord’s Prayer? Praying is more than saying words. If you are a survivor and don’t know where or how to begin, these four queries will help you.
1. “Our Father who is in heaven.” What name or attribute for the Divine gives you a sense of connection with God? It may be “Our Father,” but for many survivors, this name is toxic. You might try “Beloved Creator” or “Jesus” or “Divine Healer.” There are other names in the Bible for God. What makes sense for You?
2. “Hallowed be your name.” How do you honor or respect God’s name or presence? Do you stand or kneel? Your posture is not as important as the intention of your heart. Perhaps slowly walking while you pray would be helpful. Let your feet feel each word. As you walk, be aware of your breathing. Where do you walk? Outdoors may bring you refreshment while you are doing a walking prayer.
3. “Your kingdom come.” How do you invite God to be with you and in the world? Not having a choice, being subject to someone or something, strikes terror in survivors, so how might you change this “kingdom” phrase? Here is one that helps me, “As you feed the little ones, our brokenness will be healed.”
4. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” How do you join with God’s message of living a life of love, blessing, joy, peace, and justice? This query is both a spiritual intention and a prompt to carry out the intention. My prayer words may be as simple as “Guide me in living a life of blessing.” My actions have included knitting for peace, volunteering in a classroom and joining a writers group.
Do you want to learn more about praying, lord’s prayer, blessing, and forgiveness for survivors? Part 2 of Lord’s Prayer Queries for survivors will focus on spiritual work of the prayer. Visit my web site http// and my blog http//

Posted by: Judy Brutz | January 25, 2010

Afghan Children need Warm Knit/ Chrocheted Clothing

Join me in knitting sweaters for Afghan children. Their winters are very cold.