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TeenConnect: UpFront

Are you being manipulated?

From the Christian Science Sentinel - March 23, 2018

From the teen column: UpFront - March 23, 2018


TeenConnect: Up Front

The girl in the video seemed to have it all. Flawless skin, shimmering hair, and the perfect body. She attributed her unparalleled radiance to her raw vegan diet, her first-thing-in-the-morning glass of green juice, and the “mushroom elixir” she uses daily. Those commenting on the video spoke enthusiastically of going vegan or ordering the elixir for themselves. “Life-changing,” they said.

Maybe that sounds totally absurd. I might have felt that way, too—except I saw the alarming effects this vlogger (video blogger) had on a teen girl I know. Even though the vlogger’s claims had no factual basis, it didn’t matter. My friend changed her diet and altered her behavior to match whatever this vlogger was doing.

There’s a ton of “information” coming our way that’s subtly (or not so subtly) vying for our attention and manipulating our emotions.

Now you might be thinking, “I’m smarter than that.” And yet, there’s a ton of “information” coming our way that is subtly (or not so subtly) vying for our attention and manipulating our emotions—all in an attempt to get us to buy it, or buy into it. As individuals, we are often reduced to “psychological profiles” so companies or organizations can “target” us more effectively.

I don’t know about you, but that puts me on the alert. I don’t want to be manipulated. So what can we do?

I find answers to problems like these through prayer. And often, the spiritual idea that ends up helping me is something really simple. Something that I might have heard dozens of times as a kid in the Christian Science Sunday School, but which suddenly takes on new spiritual significance. In this case, the idea that helped me is that there is only one Mind, and that Mind is God, good.

Since spiritual facts like this one are both revolutionary and powerful, it can be useful to think about what they mean. So let’s consider this idea of God being the only Mind. Christian Science stands alone on this one—not just in understanding God as Mind, but in demonstrating that God alone is Mind. That means there isn’t both some kind of supreme intelligence in the universe and a lot of little human minds. There is one Mind, and this Mind is God. And so each of us, instead of possessing a brain or mind of our own, is actually an expression of that one Mind. It may not always seem that way, but the more we understand God as the one and only Mind, the more we can choose thoughts that conform to this spiritual fact, and experience happy results.

Which brings me to the power of this idea. The daily manipulation we encounter is based on the opposite viewpoint: that we are each in possession of our own mind, which can be targeted and even controlled. It says that one mind can influence another—perhaps without the other’s knowledge, and with an unhappy result. 

The spiritual fact of one Mind is a reassurance that not one of us is in possession of a personal mind that wants to manipulate, or that’s vulnerable to manipulation.

But look how effectively the spiritual fact of one Mind cuts through all that. It’s a reassurance that not one of us is in possession of a personal mind that wants to manipulate, or that’s vulnerable to manipulation. We’re not collections of emotions, preferences, personality traits, and past experiences that can be exploited by others, or that can cause us to get sucked into thinking or acting a certain way. We are actually the evidence of one Mind—the outcome of all Mind is being. That includes everything good: intelligence, value, completeness, permanence, clarity. 

The cool thing about Christian Science is that it doesn’t just explain that God is the only Mind; it also enables us to demonstrate this. So as part of my prayers about this issue, I’ve found it helpful to live in line with what I’m understanding about the reality of one Mind. One way I’ve been doing that is by spending more time listening for Mind’s harmonious ideas—meaning that instead of formulating my own thoughts and opinions about everything, I’ve been a lot more mentally still so I can hear what God is telling me. In the best of these moments, I’ve really felt the truth of this spiritual fact: that the one Mind really is All, and all that’s being expressed in any of us.

Truly understanding God as the only Mind, our Mind, is an ongoing adventure. But it’s one I’d urge you to undertake each day. I’ve heard a lot of young Christian Scientists talk about praying with the idea of one Mind in relation to doing well in school, but the potential for this spiritual fact to benefit us, bless us, and keep us safe goes far beyond merely expressing intelligence. It’s the basis for our ability to live the kind of lives where we can be healers for the world, recognizing and facing down manipulation—both for ourselves and others.

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