Provision #134: Connect with God

LifeTrek Provision

There is an energy, hidden from view, which is above all things, in allthings, and among all things. I call that energy God. You may call it Love,Life, Wisdom, or Truth. Whatever you call it, and it has many names, the factremains that it is there: creating, restoring, and sustaining all things in itseternal womb.

When we connect with that energy, when we open ourselves to itseffervescent presence, life comes alive with infinite possibilities, incrediblewonder, and amazing grace. This is what I want for you today: that you connectwith God and experience the ineffable joy that comes from making thatconnection.

How do we do this? How do we embark upon this never-ending spiritualjourney? It depends somewhat upon your personality and situation in life. Whatmay work for one person at one point in time may not work for another person oreven for the same person at a different point in time. Spirituality is not onesize fits all. It’s as rich and diverse as creation itself. Nevertheless, thereare some tried and true methods that many people find useful.

Contemplative Connections. This is where you focus your attention on listeningto God. It can take place in any position. We can be still or moving around. Itcan be an individual or corporate experience. Thich Nhat Hanh practices”walking meditation.” What’s the difference between regular walking andmeditative walking? Between regular sitting and meditative sitting? The focusof your attention. When you intentionally listen for God, bracketing the noiseand distractions of life, you’re making a contemplative connection with God.

Conversational Connections. This is where you focus your attention on talkingto God. Many people connect with God by pouring out their hearts in praise,thanksgiving, petition, and confession. This can take place mentally, out loud,or in journal writing. Once again it’s a matter of attention. What are youthinking about? What are you saying? What are you writing? If it’s coming fromthe depths of your being, and if you’re offering it up to the Great One, thenyou’re making a conversational connection with God.

Callisthenic Connections. This is where you focus your attention on moving toGod. Virtually every serious runner has the experience of losing himself orherself in the run. It doesn’t happen every time. But there are moments,particularly during long runs, when the rhythms of running transcend theboundaries of space and time. Other athletes in other sports have similarexperiences. Even spectators can catch the experience. Do you remember theheroic performance of gymnast Kerri Strug at the 1996 Summer Olympics?Sometimes the body resonates like a tuning fork, making a callisthenicconnection with God.

Character Connections. This is where you focus your attention onconforming to God. God is more than spiritual energy. God is also moral andpersonal energy. When we hold ourselves to high moral standards, acting withstrong personal integrity, we make a character connection with God. We bear thefruit of the Spirit. The same applies when we discover and develop our truegift. We exercise authority and stewardship because we know who we are, why welive, and how we serve. Our witness comes through as dynamic gifts of theSpirit, making a character connection with God.

Community Connections. This is where you focus your attention oncelebrating and serving with others. There are things that we can’t do byourselves. Building cities, for example, playing symphonies, or making love.Our bodies create a sense of separation from others. But the truth is we’re allconnected in God’s eternal womb. When we gather for worship rather than war,when we hold hands rather than make fists, when we build up rather than teardown, then we’re making a community connection with God.

Neglect these five connections at great expense.Life can easily shrivel and die. Practice these connections on a regular basisand life can end up bigger and better than you ever thought possible.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

Provision #133: Imagine That

LifeTrek Provision

With this LifeTrek Provision I’m back to the mind • building those dendrites,the connections between nerve cells that help the mind to stay eternally young.While the number of brain cells decrease with age, the number of connectionsincrease as we exercise our mental faculties. The more we use our brains, themore connections are made. It’s that simple.

Five weeks ago I encouraged you to use your mind, mentioning bothcritical thinking and creative imagination. They’re both important. Criticalthinking such as problem-solving and mathematical calculating sets off anexplosion of neural activity. The harder we think the more dendrites we build.

The same goes for creative imagination. Visualize an object, a place,an odor, a condition, a sound, or an activity • capture it vividly in your mind– and the brain becomes a neural firestorm of wonder and amazement. When mychildren were younger we read to them a book about colors. After all the colorshad been introduced, it included the line, “Imagine that, a rainbow cat.”

Humans have the ability to imagine things that have never been or nevercould be as well as the ordinary and the commonplace. Albert Einstein calledthis our true genius. “Imagination,” he said, “is more important than knowledge.”The ancient Hebrew prophets would have agreed wholeheartedly.

Unfortunately most of us stop using our imaginations after childhood.Ask a young child to play a pretend game, and they’re likely to plunge in withgusto. Ask an adult and you may get a groan. We would do well to heed the wordsof Dr. Seuss. “I like nonsense,” he said, “it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasyis a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through thewrong end of a telescope. (It’s what) enables (us) to laugh at life’srealities.”

When was the last time that you woke up your brain cells with nonsense?When was the last time that you imagined, in vivid detail, the perfect day, theperfect vacation, the perfect life, the perfect world, or the perfectly impossible?It’s really not hard to do, if you give yourself permission and take the time.

Go ahead and do itnow. Here are a few suggestions to help get the juices flowing:

  • Writeout your creative visualization. Make it plain. Be specific. Describe your visionof any or all of the above.
  • Drawyour vision. Use pencils, chalks, crayons or paints. Don’t worry about notbeing an artist or it not being any good. The fun is in creating the picture.
  • Doodle.Allow your mind to wander. As pictures come to mind, observe them with interestbut don’t force them to stay or to leave. They’re gifts to be appreciated andenjoyed.
  • Recordyour dreams. A pad and pencil by the side of the bed is a necessaryprerequisite. Don’t worry if you “never remember your dreams.” The pad andpencil will change that.
  • Entertainthe impossible. Paradoxes, or two seemingly contradictory ideas or visions, canunclog the neural networks of habit and launch new pathways of mind.

Creative imagination is one of the most powerful tools we have to notonly build dendrites and keep the mind young, but to change our individual andcollective lives. Whether in sport or life, business or pleasure, we cannotmake rapid progress unless we use our mind to calculate and create a vision ofwhere we’re going. That is where it starts: in the mind. Get the vision, thetarget that beckons, and everything else will follow.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

Provision #132: Eat Right

LifeTrek Provision

I’m in the middle of a series on how to care for body,mind, and spirit in order to optimize health and well-being. There is more tolife, and I’ll come to such things as time, money, and relationships in futureseries, but caring for body, mind, and spirit is a prerequisite for everythingelse.

This week’s tip focuses on eating right. Eating right is ascritical as exercise for optimum health. It’s really not hard to do, once youbecome aware of the principles. Eating right is a matter of eating the rightquantity and quality of food in the right way. Do that and you will greatlyimprove your chances of living a rich and full life. Fail to do that and youare likely die prematurely from disease or deterioration. What will it be foryou?

The right quantity has to do with calories. The ratio ofcalories in to calories out determines whether you are maintaining, losing, orgaining weight. Forget metabolism, although it plays a role. Most men shouldeat no more than 3,000 calories per day while most women should eat no morethan 2,000 calories per day. It could be significantly less if you have asedentary lifestyle; it’s seldom significantly more unless you’re extremelytall or a professional athlete.

The right quality has to do with food type and preparation.Most of us fail to recognize that modern life expectancy has increased in spiteof rather than because of our diet and exercise. Heart disease and cancer, forexample, are most often triggered by these two factors. Here are some tips forhealthy eating:

  • Avoid fried foods, fast foods, and refined sugar.
  • Minimize intake of saturated fat (fatty meat, dairy products, eggs) and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (margarine, shortening, commercial chips, cookies, pastries, and snacks). Read labels.
  • Consume healthy fat from olive and canola oil, flaxseed, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, herring, mackerel), raw walnuts and Brazil nuts. Avoid corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, and cottonseed oils.
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you must snack, snack on fruit, not chips and crackers. Eat at least one green salad every day. Avoid overcooking vegetables.
  • Eat as many vegetarian meals as possible. Get protein from fatty fish and soybean products.
  • Eat as much fiber as possible, ideally 36–56 grams per day. Psyllium husk is a great, non-caloric source of fiber. Other good sources: oatmeal, broccoli, beans, potatoes, prunes, and whole grains.
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol. Make filtered water, and lots of it, your beverage of choice.

The right way to eat is slowly. The slower you eat the lesslikely you are to overeat and the more likely you are to enjoy your meal. Don’teat in the car as you race from point A to point B. Snack on a piece of fruit,if necessary, until you can sit and savor your next meal. Eating 5 smallermini-meals per day is better than 3 larger meals. Be sure to not skipbreakfast. Chew your food thoroughly to keep the upper digestive tract workingwell.

These simple tips are guaranteed to improve health andwell-being. It’s not that we don’t know how to eat right, but modern life worksagainst our consistently doing so. Hurry, hurry is no blessing. And many nastythings come disguised in attractive packages. Coaches assist people to slowdown, discern the truth, and take these tips seriously. Do these things, livelong, and prosper.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC