Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rekindling Your Creative Spirit


God is a creator. God created the Heavens and the Earth. And God created you in His own image. Doesn’t that mean that God has created you to be creative, too?

As children, our imaginations ran wild, creating new identities for ourselves and picturing new possibilities for what could be. We were cowboys, princesses, superheroes, and spies who could accomplish anything and who were adored by all. Yet, as adults, we often lose that creativity as our hearts get broken. We create a single definition of who we are: our career, our family, or our “stuff.” We lose out on the flexibility that creativity allows. Instead of staying open to what the future might bring, we get locked into a lifestyle of mediocrity. In essence, we are slaves in exile from what we are truly called to be by God.

Psalms 126:1-2 reads:
When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion,
      We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
      And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
      “The Lord has done great things for them.”

When the Israelites returned to their homeland from being in captivity, they started to dream. Laughter and joy were restored when they regained their creative spirit.

Consider your own life. Are you dreaming dreams that bring laughter and joy? Or are you trapped in exile, separated from your imagination? I hope that you may rekindle that creative spirit that God has placed within you, that you may bring your unique voice and gifts into the world.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Satisfaction and the Mindful Eater


If the last blog post made you worried that mindfulness was just a boring technique to distract you from the pleasure of eating, think again. Many people actually enjoy food more when they practice mindful eating. When you notice the subtle tastes and smells of food, eating starts to become a truly satisfying experience.

Don’t believe me? Let’s try an experiment. Grab a single raisin, if you have one available. If not, another small piece of natural food could be used, such as an almond. Now, before you place the raisin in your mouth, see what it smells like. Try to imagine the raisin hanging from a vine as a grape and how it dried up underneath the hot sun. As you place the raisin on your tongue, notice the immediate taste and try to see what bouquet of flavors emerge. Be mindful of how the raisin feels in your mouth and against your teeth. Whenever the raisin starts to lose your interest, you may swallow it but notice what it feels like as it goes down your throat and into your stomach.

Now tell me, was that a satisfying experience? Was your attention captured and your senses fully enlivened? That is how enjoyable mindful eating can be. Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend a whole minute on each bite. But by paying attention to your senses you will likely find yourself enjoying your food more. And what if you suddenly relapse into normal eating? Do not criticize yourself, you’re simply human. Just try to bring your brain back onto manual control and allow yourself to become fully aware of what you are eating once again.

Bon app├ętit!

1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating refers to the practice of remaining aware and attentive to feelings of hunger and fullness, to thoughts about food and eating, and to the sensations of smell, taste, and texture. Mindful eating does not begin when you put a bite into your mouth. It is an ongoing practice that you can do any minute of the day.

Try it right now: how does your stomach feel? Do you notice any discomfort? Any pleasure? Have you thought about food since you started reading? Do you want to eat right now?
Do you have any lingering tastes in your mouth? Can you smell any food? What does your mouth feel like?

These sorts of questions are characteristic of mindful eating but mindful eating is not about having the right answer to these questions but simply being attentive to the signals that your body is sending and whether your brain is sending a different signal. For example, many people continue to eat after they are full. They either eat too quickly for their stomachs to send the message that they are full or they simply do not pay attention to these signals. Mindful eating means paying attention to what you are sensing and feeling so that you can eat the amount of food that your body needs.

Hebrews 12:11: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dieting

Nearly everyone tries to diet at least once in their life. Some try it once a week. We hear the message so many times that we eventually break. What’s the message? Something that amounts to: “You are what you eat.” Suddenly we face an existential crisis as we worry that we are becoming a Lollipop Kid. The message can even be put in spiritual terms: treat your body like the Temple of God. Yet, the message does not convert into real change.

The problem is not that we need to learn more about how to lose weight. We have all the information that we need. Sure, sometimes we hear conflicting messages: Eggs are cholesterol bombs! Eggs are a great source of protein! But, for the most part, we know when we are eating the wrong things. Unfortunately, all that knowledge translates into very little lifestyle change. Even if we discipline ourselves and do eat a little bit healthier, we often still don’t lose any weight because we continue to eat too much.

Why do we lack discipline in our eating patterns? I think there are two psychological keys to being able to resist the temptation of unhealthy eating: (1) Having a good support system and (2) Shutting off auto-pilot eating. For right now, I want to skip the support system issue, since it is always a good idea to have support in the things you take on. Instead, I want to focus more on the second point – how to turn off the auto-pilot. In my next two blogs, I want to introduce the idea of “mindful” eating at a basic level and then I will discuss how mindful eating can actually make eating a more satisfying experience.200