Spiritual Directors International

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Practice Challenge - Anytime Resilience

Guest Author: 
Lisa Van Allen


This practice challenge comes from SDI member and SDI webinar presenter Lisa Van Allen. She lives with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS,) a chronic condition that afflicts people with severe and relentless pain. (She's says she's not brave, but I, like others, admire her.) I share this practice here so all may benefit from her approach to embracing resilience in a time of intense and perseverating difficulty. (Lisa's original Facebook post is below for context.) I am grateful to Lisa for her permission to share it with our community. Sending you love, Lisa - Steven Crandell, SDI Content Director

Use this practice at any time, in any place, no matter how hectic or stressful or painful life is. It will help you towards balance. It will help you welcome the love that arises naturally within us. The practice is simple, but not always easy to follow. Don't chastise yourself for getting distracted. Always forgive yourself. If you feel you have lost your way and are overwhelmed with negativity, that's the perfect time to try this. Or to try it again.

Remember: the greater the difficulty you face, the more effective this practice becomes. Blessings to you all.

  1. Breathe in. And on this in-breath, acknowledge that along with air, you are "inhaling grace."
  2. Breathe out. And on the out-breath, exhale fear and uncertainty.
  3. Breathe in grace.
  4. Breathe out fear and uncertainty.
  5. Continue whenever you wish - anytime, anywhere. (For the rest of your life, if you so choose.)


Original Facebook post:

[The source of my resilience... for those who want to know...]

For the last 24 hours I've been mulling over something... The tests and interview questions at my final medical appointment for the neridronic acid clinical trial revealed that technically my condition is worse. In the last year, CRPS has spread from my ankle and foot up to about 2 inches below my knee. I continue to have intense dystonia spasms, appalling color changes from circulatory issues, dysautonomia (hot flashes, sweats, and orthostatic hypotension), dystrophic changes (dry peely skin & brittle nails), and constant intense pain with frequent flares. But in the midst of this physical assault, my mental, emotional and spiritual state has improved. I am happier, less anxious, sleeping a bit better (most of the time!), and more hopeful. When asked what was the source, I was pleased to be able to share how my faith and a sense of Divine purpose has sustained me. So many of you, my dear friends, have commented on my courage or resilience, how inspirational I am, etc. I am not brave, am not any kind of saint, and don't have any special superpower. I am simply breathing in and out, and with air I'm inhaling grace for that moment and exhaling fear and uncertainty. Surrendering ownership or control has become key. Medications and a DRG stimulator, float therapy and Mindfulness, and (when I adhere to it) an anti-inflammatory diet all help... But my true Source of resilience is faith that everything that touches my life goes through my Creator's hands, and that I have meaning and purpose for continuing on. CRPS is called the Suicide Disease because it can cause such despair, but for me it has unleashed a whole new commitment to living with Interior Freedom. I apologize for the long post, but sharing my journey and what I'm learning is good therapy.

#CRPSsucks #WatchingGodWork #FindingInteriorFreedom

Dr. Lisa Van Allen, Phd, CET, PCC is a clinical psychologist, executive coach and spiritual director with nearly 30 years in private practice. She is also an author - Your Belief Quotient. Her Christian faith and contemplative practice have supported Lisa through life’s challenges, including the development of CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). Living with chronic pain has taught Lisa the incredible value of a Sabbatical lifestyle with room for creative outlets and space for contemplation.  She frequently teaches at Orchard Hill Church, located in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where she lives with her husband Duke and their Shih-chon pup Daphne.



Lizzie's picture
Submitted by Lizzie (not verified) on

Thank you so much Dr. Lisa! My takeaways: inhaling grace, exhaling fear and anxiety. And the knowing that "everything that touches my life flows through my Creator's hands." Wow, yes, bless. Thank you!


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