Tag Archives: here and now

Sculpting Project: Take 5, Catch Up, or Play it again, Sam (Week 11)

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Then secondly, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31

Using our strength to sculpt our heart, soul, and mind to love God and our neighbor.

Take 5, Catch up, or Play It Again, Sam: Sculpting Week 11

We have completed five Sculpting Projects. Ten weeks of Sculpting.
This week we have three choices to pick from.

Choice 1: Take 5

How is your will-power doing?
How is your energy level for Sculpting Projects?
Will-power is like a muscle and it does get tired.
If you are feeling low on will-power and energy it is time for a break.
Take this week off from Sculpting. Guilt free.

Choice 2: Catch Up

Catch up on a project you missed when your life got crazy in a past week.

Choice 3: Play It Again, Sam

Use this week to refine your sculpting skills in one or two of the five projects (below) we have worked on.

Project 1:Three Things: List things you love.

Project 2: Here and Now for 2-10: Spend 2-10 minutes being fully here. With your surroundings, yourself and God. (This can be done on a walk, in the shower, on a porch swing, sitting in Church. . .)

Project 3: Jesus Prayer: Spend time saying (singing) the Jesus Prayer. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

Project 4: Slow Bites: Pay full attention to eating.

Project 5: Day of Kindness: Do out of the ordinary acts of kindness.

Remember to communicate by notes or conversation, or posts on-line, so your fellow sculptors don’t feel alone.


Slow Bites Sculpting Project Four Week 2

Slow Bites Project 4 Week Two

Imagine your favorite meal. What is on your plate? Pasta? Salmon? Sweet corn? Garden fresh tomatoes? Fruit salad? Sourdough bread? And what is for desert? Peach pie? Chocolate mousse? Now imagine that same favorite meal going into a blender and being poured in a bowl for your dining pleasure. If your reaction is not one of pleasure you are not alone. But isn’t it all the same thing when it comes to nutritional value?

A study cited in Marc David’s The Slow Down Diet gave a group of Thai women two versions of a favorite Thai meal. The first version was a regular full course meal fresh out of the pan. The second version was the same meal put in a blender and turned to mush before serving. The iron absorption was then measured after each meal and it was found that the women absorbed 70% less iron in the blended meal. Apparently the pleasure taken in a meal makes a real difference in our body’s ability to benefit from the nutrients in food. God built us to enjoy our food.

Benefits you may experience from Slow Bites Project:
1.Improved absorption of nutrients.
2.Increased pleasure
3.Greater ability to direct your thoughts
4.Awareness of God’s presence

You may have noticed that Slow Bites is a sub-project of Here and Now for 2-10.
We are seeking to train our minds to be here and now with what is right under our nose (or in our mouth). Being fully present with an experience like eating will increase our ability to be fully here and now with the God who is with us right here and now.

I’ve found Slow Bites to be challenging in two ways.
1.Speed eating is my natural mode. Slowing down to pay attention takes determined intention.
2.Remembering. The first week I found myself done with a meal, when I remembered, “Oh yea, I was supposed to pay attention to that meal.” After a few days I started to remember in the middle of the meal and now (after a month at it) I frequently remember at the start.

Ideas? Put a picture of Jesus on the table to remember who is dining with you. Put a sticky note in the silverware drawer or in the fridge. Set the table differently as a visual reminder.

How is it going for you? Tell someone in our sculpting group your challenges and solutions. And what you bit.

“For health and strength and daily bread we give you thanks, oh God.”

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Sculpting Project Four: Slow Bites, Week 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFully ripe, it has a little ‘give’ when I squeeze it. The juice flows out as I slice it open. The perfect peach. I have eaten many over my years. But today is different. Today I will attempt a feat I’ve seldom done. I will attempt to eat this perfect peach being fully here and now, with the peach, with my surrounding and with Jesus. My strategy: Eat slowly.

Sculpting Project #4 Slow Bites

Method 1: Each time we eat take three of the bites very slowly.

Notice the bites, notice yourself, notice your surroundings, notice God’s presence .


Method 2: Daily, eat one entire snack or meal slowly.

Give your full attention to the experience of eating and God’s presence.


Digestion Digression

God has built our bodies so that if we appreciate/ take pleasure in our food we actually get more out of it. Cephalic Phase Digestive Response is our experience of the taste, aroma, satisfaction, and over all pleasure of a meal.

When we eat with pleasure this response causes our bodies to get the most nutrition the food has to offer.

When we eat mindlessly we significantly diminish the assimilation of specific nutrients, and even calorie burning power.

When we eat with stress we create a digestive shutdown. A stressed body does not consider digestion a priority. When we are stressed enzymes in our saliva that breakdown food are reduced and blood flow to the small intestine is decreased by up to 4X. This creates poor assimilation of nutrients.

Slowing down, giving attention to our food in a spirit of gratitude will help our bodies benefit from our eating. It’s the way God built us.


Tip: I find it helpful to take a few deep breaths during a meal. It seems to signal me to relax and the extra oxygen is beneficial as well.

Summary: Slow Bites Sculpting Project

1. Eat slowly. 3 bites per meal or 1 meal/snack a day;

2. Paying attention to the food in the company of God.

3. Keep accountable: write down what you bite.

4. Communicate with others about your sculpting!

Whether, then, you eat or drink or what ever you do, do all to the Glory of God.


Sculpting Project Two: Here and Now for 2-10, Week 2

Welcome to Week Two of Here and Now for 2-10

Sculpting our heart soul and mind to love God and our neighbor.

Sculpting Notes:
Question: Why are we doing these sculpting projects, anyway?
Answer: Because it is really possible to retrain our minds to love God and others more than we do. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
‘Plasticity’ is the new word in the world of neuroscience. Plasticity means that at any age (one study was with a 92 yr. old) we have the power to grow new gray matter and change our brain’s firing patterns.
Simple projects like the ones we are doing in this sculpting group have been demonstrated to reshape our brains.

Sculpting Project Two: Here and Now for 2-10, Week 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASecond Sculpting Project Week 1

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Then secondly, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31

Using our strength to sculpt our heart, soul, and mind to love God and our neighbor.

So, here I am; sitting at my window desk in the yellow room watching tree branches sway in the wind. I’ve been here about three minutes. I can feel my muscles relaxing. I’m here, my room is here, the trees are here, surprisingly no animals are here, but most importantly God is here. I’ve stopped my activities to become aware of all that is here. Because I like to get things done, going and doing seems to be my natural inclination. Stopping to establish myself in this moment, with God, is not my natural choice. But when I do choose to stop and become aware of my surroundings remembering that God is surrounding me as well, my day becomes richer.

Our project for the next two weeks is based on an exercise developed by Archbishop Anthony Bloom. Bloom said that as we learn to pray we must learn to ‘establish ourselves in the present’, our here and now. We do this because our present here and now is where we can actually met God. (Beginning to Pray, Anthony Bloom, Paulist Press)

Here and Now for Two to Ten

In this project we will take between 2 to 10 minutes a day to become aware of our surroundings and God’s presence, here and now.
I’ve found this project to be effective using two different approaches: the ten minute and the two minute.
Ten minute: I began doing this exercise last summer by taking ten minutes right before bed and going outside to look at the stars and listen to the night noises. It was an excellent way to end the day. I noticed it often felt like one of the richest parts of the day.

Two minute: In this version I’m zooming around, weeding the garden, washing dishes, hauling rocks, when I become aware that I am tired. Ah ha. That is my reminder. When I am tired I take a two minute (or so) break. I sit down on the porch swing and look around. I watch the bees moving in the Russian Sage blossoms. I notice cloud formations. Oddly I often become aware of my feet. I sense them becoming grounded again. And I remind myself that God is here with me.
The reason I stop for two minutes rather than ten is that even when I am tired I dislike stopping. I want to keep doing. So I tell myself. “This is just a “Here and Now for two little minutes. It will be OK to stop for that long.” Often I will go for longer than the two minutes because once I get started I find it so refreshing that I want to be here with God a bit longer. Other times I just take my two minutes and get back at it. I often do this short two minute exercise 2-3 times a day.

The rules: No beating yourself up. No worrying. No planning. No prayer lists.
The only allowed topic for this two to ten minutes is your present experience of yourself, your surroundings and God. The trees swaying in the wind is an allowed topic to ponder. The fact that you should prune that dead branch is not allowed. Noticing your shoulder muscles relaxing is allowed. Grumbling at yourself for being so tense is not allowed.

You have 23 hours and 50+ minutes a day to worry, grumble, plan, pray for others, etc. This time is for being Here and Now with God.

Trouble shooting:
What to do when topics other than Here and Now come to mind?

Notice them and send them to Jesus. When they come back to your mind send them right back to Jesus and put your attention on here and now. Even noble topics, like praying for others, are not appropriate for this sculpting time. By all means pray for others. But do so at another time. When prayer concerns come in the midst of your two to ten minutes send them to Jesus to hold until you finish. Sending your thoughts to Jesus and returning to the here and now is an important part of this project.

How do we remember a 2-10 minute project?
Connect it to some regular part of your day: after a meal, right before you go to bed, before you begin washing dishes . . ..

If you choose a 10 minute sit you may want to add a cup of tea, or lemonade to your time.

Picking a place that has interesting things to notice can be helpful: A garden, a busy street

Benefits you might experience after two weeks of Here and Now, 2-10
Richer relationship with God
Improved control of mind and emotions
A sense of slowing the racing of time
Pleasurable moments/memories

Key Verse:
(Martha had invited Jesus and his friends to dinner. As soon as Jesus arrived, Mary, Martha’s sister, sat down right in front of Jesus, riveted on his every word. Martha was distracted by the dinner preparations and irritated that Mary wasn’t helping.)

Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about so many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42
(So what did Martha do then? In my dreams she sat down right by Mary and the miracle of the dinner party feeding happened.) Moral: don’t get distracted from sitting with Jesus; it may be the best part of your day.

The Second Sculpting Project Summary

Part 1: Each day sit or walk for 2 to 10 minutes paying attention to the here and now.
Notice yourself, notice your surroundings, notice that God is right here with you. When your mind leaves the Here and Now with worries, plans, etc. send the thoughts to Jesus and return to the here and now. You can talk with God about what you notice, or just sit quietly with Him.
Each day write down where you are when you do your 2 to 10 Here and Now.
Part 2: Three Things becomes One Thing
Each day write one thing that you love. A gift from God.
Part 3: Each week communicate with group members about your project joys and woos. Facebook group, blog comments, notes in my box at church, conversations.
Writing thins down can feel like an unnecessary step. But it is your tool to make your sculpting concrete. So keep a written record somewhere.
What to do when you forget to do your project for a day or more?

It happens to everyone.

Don’t kick yourself.

Just get back on your horse, give her the kick and get going again.