I’ve Had a Revelation!

By: Bonnie
July 1, 2012

I have actually, (I’m finally ready to write that book, Helen!) but that’s not what I want to talk about. I was reading Elder Scott’s talk at the last General Conference tonight and was preparing to make my lists of activities that help improve inspiration and choices that get in the way as I aligned my thoughts for a regular Fast Sunday, when I came to this:

We will live for our appointed life span. However, we can improve both the quality of our service and our well-being by making careful, appropriate choices. It is important that our daily activities do not distract us from listening to the Spirit.

We’ve simplified our lives a great deal in our family, much of that very consciously. We don’t do lessons or sports, partly because I can’t bring myself to become slave to a schedule. I don’t feel any sense of self-righteousness about that and have great respect for others who provide abundant opportunities for their children to grow. I just can’t do it, and they’re not interested enough to push. And despite my pathological need to make charts and talk about “being productive” – I don’t enforce those consistently either, preferring for the people in my life to nurture their own productivities.

So, one plays beautifully by ear, another is a budding artist, another a gymnast, another a researcher, another an incredible homemaker, another a strategist (okay, I admit to owning gaming stuff). Today. Tomorrow it could all change. For the most part, the only thing that could be said about us is that if you call us, we’ll come help you. Not too impressive, but I’m okay with it.

So the part about our daily activities not distracting is important to me because I think the opportunities to go help are closely associated with the opportunities to feel the spirit and both are marginalized by being too busy. However, I screeched to a halt at that life span thing.

You get how long you get. I’m a bit of a health nut, and so I’ve made more than a couple of decades of choices specifically designed to lengthen and strengthen mine and my children’s timespan here. I watched my father, who died at age 68, make abysmal health choices and despite having an incredibly strong constitution, he was almost unable to move by the time a massive stroke took his life. It would have been nice to have enjoyed my Dad a bit longer, but as I chew on Elder Scott’s quote, I realize that I didn’t need longer, I needed better: improvements in both the quality of his life and his well-being.

So, of the list of “practical principles” Elder Scott shares that will improve our receipt of revelation and inspiration (eliminating anger or hurt or defensiveness, a good sense of humor, modesty in sharing inspiration received), good health practices seem very emotionally accessible, not requiring us to throw our entire bundle of bad spiritual habits away at once. Get appropriate exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and eat responsibly. Seems pretty straightforward. No superhuman charity required to become more spiritually in-tune.

I’m curious if you have noticed a difference in your sense of personal awareness, spiritual connection, or inspiration while engaging in simple health practices.

  • Do your daily activities get in the way of or support your quality of life and sense of well-being?
  • How does improving the quality of your life and your well-being improve your receptiveness?

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15 Responses to I’ve Had a Revelation!

  1. Stephen M (Ethesis) on July 1, 2012 at 3:30 AM
  2. Julia on July 1, 2012 at 5:35 AM

    (I posted this on your blog before I realized it was also going to be posted here. Thanks for starting this conversation!)

    I think this can work both ways. For about two years I had a very consistent exercise routine of walking four miles 4-6 dats a week. The first two miles were pretty consistent as far as route went. At about 2.1 miles there was a beautiful little grove of trees, that I named in my mind “the little cathedral.” I would stop for a little break and take a couple of pulls from my water bottle. After a few months I started taking a few minutes to say a prayer while I was there. I didn’t pray everytime, and given my asthma, I didn’t go walking when it was too cold, too rainy, or both. So, let’s say I prayed there about 150 times a year.

    I received quite a few promptings on those walks, both before and after my prayers. I cherished the time when my body felt good, that my mind could think through issues without interruption and my spirit had a little more quiet time to listen to promptings.

    Several times in my life I have been on extended bedrest. Some were related to pregnancies, but the latest has been from an issue with my knee that actually turned out to be an issue with a few bones and a nerve in my back. While the pain has been excruciating and the extrovert in me has been trying its best to not feel suffocated by my inability to drive, I have found that I am probably as close to the Lord as I have ever been. Despite some trials, beyind my body, that sometimes make it temptingto just give up, I feel the promptings of the Lord. While many of the promptings come in sharing a thought or experience with someone, even more of them are promptings about how I can serve someone else in a way that makes me feel less isolated and alone. I may not be able to fulfill every request for service, but I have been prompted to reach out and offer service that I can do.

    I think that the common factor from those experiences says less about how well or poorly my physical body is working, and more about whether I am spiritually in a space where, if I have time without a lot of distractions, I am ready to listen for the Savior’s knock. Sometimes the business of our lives can make the knock hard to hear, but I think that what usually is the real barrier is that we simply aren’t in tune enough to tell the difference between the Savior and something “worldly” that is competing for our attention.

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  3. Course Correction on July 1, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    Bonnie,

    What wise choices you have made. Most of us have to wait for retirement to realize the spiritual benefits of less busyness.

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  4. prometheus on July 1, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    My life is full of distractions and busy-ness and it can make it hard to be focused on what truly matters.

    I like my distractions and I don’t have the ruthlessness needed to eliminate them.

    What a paradox.

    Also, on a tangent, when you said this, Bonnie:

    “For the most part, the only thing that could be said about us is that if you call us, we’ll come help you. Not too impressive, but I’m okay with it.”

    my immediate thought was – that is actually quite impressive as it is the thing that really matters the most. :D

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  5. Howard on July 1, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    To get someone’s attention you can shout or you can whisper but whispering is much better at holding someone’s attention and it preserves agency.  The Spirit’s message is way down low in the noise of our minds and in the audible and EMI noise of daily life and we further bury this tiny signal with all kinds of life distractions, immature emotions, and entertainment.  To hear his signal clearly we must strip away these sources of interference.   Early morning hours work best because the world is quieter at that time.  Peaceful locations also help.  “Centering” or clearing our minds of worry and clutter helps.  Internal mental, emotional and spiritual conflict interferes greatly so set it aside, repent and/or go to therapy to reduce it.  Just listening instead of wanting or pleading helps.  The object of meditation is to shut down the mind so that it becomes a spiritual receiver instead of an information processor!  But that takes great discipline so most meditation focuses instead on giving the mind a simple repetitive task to do allowing the rest of the mind to idle and spiritually receive.  Be still and know that I am God!

    Live healthy and know that I am God?  Yes, this helps a lot, you are reducing physical conflict.  Exercise and eat real food: fish, less meat more plants and berries.  Contrary to popular Mormon folk wisdom alcohol an coffee in moderation does not interfere, but many drugs do.

    Mormons seem to think spiritual confirmation is the main goal, but this is simple “Yes” or no response at all is just the beginning!  If you will set aside your childish wanting, pleading and craving once you can reliably receive his signal it will become easier to hear with practice and you will eventually be custom tutored to more sophisticated methods of communication up to and including having a ongoing conversational relationship with the Spirit.  I no longer pray using the formal Mormon method as I now spend much of my day slipping in and out of some form of meditation and meditative prayer.

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  6. Julia on July 1, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Howard #5
    I think a lot of the comments in the “What Frequency are You On?” post, including yours, speak to the ideas of how prayers work in our lives. There are so many ways that prayer can be incorporated into daily thoughts, conversations and meditation.

    I see the five step prayer model is a great way to teach kids how to pray, but I think there is a reason that the manuals that have specific explanations of those five steps are almost always in primary lessons or new member Gospel Essential classes. So, for someone who hasn’t ever prayed before, or who doesn’t have a background in which prayers were more than rote repetations, I think that it is a basic place to start.

    Once primary is done, or a new member starts creating a closer relationship with Heavenly Father and Christ, I hope that they learn to extend the role of prayer in their lives. Several people in the comments threads of the other post shared several ways that people have found ways to extend their prayers beyond the “formula.”

    I guess I have come to think of deeper prayers, that are held throughout the day, as a difference similar to the difference between Gospel Principles and Gospel doctrine classes. :-)

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  7. Howard on July 1, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Julia,
    I agree with your comment. To me extending prayer beyond a formula is to approach and hopfully eventually enjoy a ongoing conversation with God instead of just leaving him an email.

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  8. Bonnie on July 1, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Stephen, I’m flattered Times columnists follow me. ;)

    Julia, I agree. We have times and seasons. I decided 2 1/2 years ago to get really fit and in about 3 months developed asthma, fasciitis, and a lymphatic condition that caused major swelling in my feet and hands. My joints ached, my digestion faltered, and I had to scale back. Funny thing was, I was trying too hard. Moderation. It’s a good thing. I still think, even when all of those practical solutions aren’t available to us, some are, and that’s an opportunity too.

    Course Correction – I’m determined not to wait to retirement to live!

    Prometheus – Maybe ruthless is too much to ask – maybe just one thing at a time, but I certainly agree that it’s easy to like our distractions.

    Howard – I appreciate your pathway, but I think it’s a bit offensive to call someone else’s yearnings “childish.” I agree that inspiration is more a way of life than a profound moment and I like your description of slipping in and out of meditation. I think simplicity offers that.

    All – I have noticed how sluggish I feel after eating pastries and wonder what your thoughts are about overindulgence.

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  9. Liz C on July 1, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    I think it makes a lot of sense to use reason, moderation, and good choices to keep our bodies operating as well as possible; fewer distractions and limitations in general, even if some remain. If I make a point of improving my sleep habits, my weight issues improve, and my asthma problems decrease. I still couldn’t jump in and help fight a wildfire, but I could be indoors with an air filter and make a vat of stew to feed those who are fighting physically. :)

    If we’re degrading ourselves to the point that we cannot spare time to think about anything other than our physical conditions, I do think we’re limiting what God can do with us, either physically or emotionally.

    (And I’m really jealous of that forest cathedral–how lovely!)

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  10. Howard on July 1, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Bonnie,
    Childish was offered as a description: Oh please mommie, please, please, please! Oh please God, please, please, please! Doesn’t this sound childish? It sounds just like my 8 year old pleading for DS (Nintendo).

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  11. Angie F on July 1, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    A few years ago I read something Emily Watts wrote about healthy habits, that we are admonished in the scriptures to arise early, to not sleep longer than is needful, etc. Arising early means we must retire early, to get sufficient rest. That simple connection struck a nerve with me. It goes against my natural biorhythms, but I’ve been trying to push myself to arise earlier and go to bed earlier and when I do, I feel better, I am able to focus more, be receptive to the Spirit better, attend to the needs of my family better.

    Being the mom of a large-ish family of crazy people, stillness is something that only really comes in the wee hours or when I’m running. I have come to crave those hours as the times when I can finally hear well enough to receive the answers I need. Being still is not easy. There’s a line in a children’s book by Jamie Lee Curtis where she talks about how hard sitting still is for a 5 yr old. I don’t think it’s any easier at my vantage point of 42, perhaps more difficult, but these health and wellness habits make it possible.

    Oh and Bonnie, when my husband and I go to one of the churrascarias we love (Brazilian all you can eat meat), he always talks about descending into his meat coma. How’s that for consequences of overindulgence?

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  12. prometheus on July 1, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    I will differ on the arising early part – my most profound times of stillness and connection with the divine tend to happen in the quiet stillness of the night. To each their own, though – every path that connects to our Parents is a good one. :D

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  13. mh on July 1, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    I think the idea that we should arise early and not sleep longer than is needful is an artifact of 19th century thinking. The fact of the matter is that Americans do notget enough sleep. There are plenty of studies that show people gain weight when they do not get enough sleep, and it is affecting our health.

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  14. Rigel Hawthorne on July 1, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    My suggestions:

    1. Stay flexible–always work toward keeping your hamstrings flexible enough to touch your toes with your knees straight. Keep your hip flexors flexible and your shoulders and chest flexible.

    2. Keep your posture. Use the mental trick of imagining you are actually 2 inches taller than you are and that you need to bring the height of your head up higher to reach that.

    3. Firm but not rigid orthotics if you are over 40 or have had plantar fascitits.

    4. Take Vitamin D daily, especially if you live at latitudes farther north than San Francisico.

    5. Facial moisturizer with built in sun screen.

    6. Don’t stay up late frequently.

    7. Eat breakfast–if you need to lose weight, then remove carbs from your breakfast.

    8. Drink water for 95 percent of your beverages.

    9. Smile and laugh every day.

    10. Work on mental health self management to the degree that you can. Use relaxation tapes and books on ‘self-hypnosis’ (which is really using imagery to accomplish relaxation) along with obtaining whatever professional help is needed.

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  15. Michelle on July 3, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    but as I chew on Elder Scott’s quote, I realize that I didn’t need longer, I needed better: improvements in both the quality of his life and his well-being.

    This. For years, with my chronic health issues, I have fretted about what my life-span will be. That worry cluttered my connection with heaven and kept me focusing more energy on ‘solutions’ in ways that distracted from my spiritual, emotional, and mental health. (Had I been inspired to find solutions, that would have been different; but I was feeling pressured to find solutions, as though health was the be-all, end-all purpose of my existence (which is the bill of goods we are often sold through pills and products and promotions).

    I’m learning to let go of the fear associated with the focus I had, and instead let God be in charge of my lifespan…and focus on trying to keep my connection with Him alive and strong on my side. The more I let go of things I really am not in control of, the more I feel His power and peace in my life.

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