7 suggestions for ‘Taking Five’

Sept. 14-20, 2006
7 suggestions for ‘Taking Five’
By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Father Joseph Champlin returned to St. Joseph’s in Camillus, a parish he was pastor of for six years, to speak and introduce his most recent book Take Five: One Hundred Meditations to De-Stress Your Days.
The book offers 100 five-minute meditations combining every day situations and anecdotes with a spiritual suggestion and a scriptural thought, according to the jacket.

After the presentation, attendees got in line for a signing of the book, a companion piece to A Catholic Perspective on the Purpose Driven Life.
Father Champlin began his talk by noting that the working title for the book had originally been “Step Aside and Smell the Roses.”

The publishing company, however, determined that it needed a shorter title. Finally, one employee from the company suggested Take Five. The suggestion immediately made Father Champlin think of the famous jazz musician and composer Dave Brubeck, whose most famous composition was “Take Five.” Father Champlin contacted a jazz saxophonist in Syracuse who, in turn, sent the book to Brubeck who wrote a recommendation for the book. Catholic columnist Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, and chaplain to the U.S. House of Representatives Father Daniel Coughlin also wrote recommendations on the back.

During his presentation, Father Champlin made a special mention of Brubeck, noting that the jazz composer was perhaps before the time of the 27-year-old publishing executive. “I don’t know that she had ever heard of ‘Take Five’ or Dave Brubeck but it was a marvelous coincidence,” he said, before reading Brubeck’s quote.

“Logic tells me that taking five minutes a day to focus on Father Champlin’s true stories, linked to the eternal truths of the scriptures, will surely nourish the soul. With Take Five, Father Champlin shows how to de-stress your day,” Brubeck wrote.
Father Champlin offered the attendees seven spiritual suggestions for de-stressing your day. The first suggestion was “Be Still.” Father Champlin noted that one should always set aside time for God each day saying that such a habit will reduce stress. He cited one study in particular, which showed that people who practice transcendental meditation had a noticeable reduction in the visible signs of stress.

Father Champlin’s second suggestion was regular exercise. For the past summer, Father Champlin’s exercise regimen is well known. He has been swimming for 15 minutes per day in Skaneateles Lake and, in the past, he has participated in long runs, including a marathon.

His third suggestion was for one to laugh and smile often. “When you smile and laugh, it helps reduce tension,” he said, adding that the process enables one’s body to secrete endorphins.
A fourth tactic for “de-stressing your day,” according to Father Champlin, involves the practice of “self-giving.” “Do something for someone else such as hold the door,” he said. “This takes you out of yourself – your selfish self – and puts you into your giving self.”

Number five on Father Champlin’s list was the maxim, “stop and smell the roses.” He offered a brief explanation for the phrase saying, “There is a principle of this that beauty stops us in our tracks and leads us to the transcendental but you have to take the time to do it.” Father Champlin’s sixth suggestion utilized the concept of seeing the glass either as half empty or half full. “Same reality but it’s the way you look at it,” he said.

He offered a brief anecdote to illustrate the point. Recently, Father Champlin had lost his attaché case at the airport. The case held several important notes and books along with the priest’s cell-phone charger. At first, Father Champlin was irritated with the considerable inconvenience until he stopped to consider the fact that situation had not hurt anyone and that it had not put him in any danger. Moreover, in his quest to find a new charger, Father Champlin was also able to obtain a brand-new phone. So Father Champlin determined that while the situation had caused him some inconvenience, rather than dwell on that aspect, or the “glass is half empty” approach, he chose instead to view it as positive, or “half-full.”

The seventh and final suggestion was “not to worry.” As an illustration, Father Champlin cited a quote from Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta who was asked if it bothered her to be aware of all of the abandoned children and disease victims around her.

Her response was that you can only do what you can do. Father Champlin closed his discussion by telling the St. Joseph’s parishioners, “It’s always nice to be back. This will always be a place that has my heart.”

Another book signing will be held Thursday, Sept. 14, at Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Dewitt at 7 p.m. The bookstore is located in the Raymour & Flanigan Plaza, 3454 Erie Blvd.

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