Epiphany to Easter Sculpting Project 4: Breath Prayer Week 2

Epiphany to Easter Sculpting Project 4: Breath Prayer Week 2

When we were in high school Evan and I decided to have a hiking adventure. We went to a state park near town and took off cross-country up a hill/cliff. The hike was challenging traveling up a steep slope and climbing over rocks. We had no clue what we would find at the top but it felt remote, so we anticipated a special, seldom visited location. After a few hours we arrived at the top and were greeted by a 4 lane highway. Complete with plenty of traffic. We had definitely taken the hard way up the mountain to arrive at the ‘special’ destination.

Doing Sculpting Projects takes very little time. Time is not our issue. Will-power or motivation is the issue. But will-power is the hard way up the mountain. My life is filled with good intentions but long-term follow through is quite another thing. Will-power is like a muscle. If we exercise it does get stronger. But it also gets tired. Beating ourselves up for lack of will-power is not helpful. There is an easier way up the mountain.

Habits. A large amount of our day is dictated by habit. Habits make life easy because they are automatic. No brain power needed to decide. No will-power needed to choose. Habits save mental energy.

The 3 Parts of a Habit

  1. The cue or trigger (smell of hot cookies)
  2. Behavior (locating and eating the cookie)
  3. Reward (brain chemicals that create pleasure).

These Sculpting Projects will be easier to accomplish if we use the tool of habit creation.

Here is mine for Breath Prayers:

  1. Cue Or Trigger: Walking to the kitchen sink I see a reminder note: Breath Prayer
  2. Behavior: As I do dishes I repeat my prayer in-sync with my breath.
  3. Reward: I give myself a thumbs-up when I finish.

The reward is a new experiment for me. Because prayer and breath offers its own satisfying reward I have always skipped this extrinsic reward. But I have read enough research saying that it helps our brains form new pathways so I decided to try.

For example: In one study to start a new habit of running subjects gave themselves a chocolate chip when they returned. After a while the chip was no longer needed.

Other rewards: Tell yourself ‘good job’, do a victory dance, give yourself a star, check it off a list, whatever feels like a real reward and brings you pleasure. Of course, pick a reward that feels healthy to you.

To create your own tiny habit:

  1. Select an activity that you do once a day (or more if you want to do the project more) [doing dishes]
  2. Pair the project with that activity using a reminder note. [breath prayer]
  3. Reward yourself when you are done. [thumbs-up]

Want to know more about habits?

Ted Talk (17 min) BJ Fogg Stanford teacher and creator of ‘Tiny Habits’ theory.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdKUJxjn-R8

Epiphany to Easter Sculpting Project 4: Breath Prayer Week 2

1. Select a phrase for your prayer.

2. Select a time/place you will practice your prayer.

3. Repeat your prayer for 5 minutes using your breath in-sync with the words. (Or pray-breathe for a few seconds many times a day)

4. Post us what you learn.

I have used tiny habit theory to:

  • Read more Scripture: I pared it with morning milking or grinding grain (depending  on the time of year).
  • Stretch: I do a 1-2 minute morning stretch after I get dressed.
  • Say the Jesus Prayer: Paring it with barn cleaning.

Today I’m asking myself how I can use tiny habits in more areas of my life. The easy way up the mountain sounds good.

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2 thoughts on “Epiphany to Easter Sculpting Project 4: Breath Prayer Week 2

  1. Paul Flotho

    Thank you, Sherri for this gentle challenge to pray the Jesus Prayer. I read the “Pilgrim” and have tried to do it. I seem to have difficulty with the breathing part. I will try again — smaller incriments (5min) seems more doable.You and Evan have been a great encouragement to me Blessings!

    Pablo Flotho — Wellington Co.

    Reply

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