Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stop. Smell. Roses.

I resolve to be present. I resolve to live more in the moment.

Another word for this is mindfulness.

It's actually a key Buddhist principle, but I was first introduced to the concept by a nun.

Sister Donna was a feisty nun who taught basket weaving at a convent just north of downtown Pittsburgh. (Actually, she's probably there, though it's been close to 10 years since I took her class).

One night as I was botching my weaving, Sister Donna shared with us a little pamphlet on mindfulness. I was intrigued.

You're brushing your teeth, it explained. When was the last time you remember feeling the bristles in your mouth or the precise mint taste of your toothpaste? When was the last time you used all five senses to fully experience a moment?

Well, heck if I knew. But, it sounded like a good idea.

Life moves on, as it always does, and three kids and many responsibilities later, mindfulness has become that much more important.

And that much harder to achieve.

Mindfulness in the Buddhist tradition is described as a calm awareness of one's body functions and feelings--a sort of meditation prerequisite. Evidently, mindfulness also has many therapeutic applications in Western psychology...accepting things as they are and living now, without carrying the baggage of the past, or worrying about the future.

Makes sense.

But, Buddhism and counseling aside, what's God's take?

In my quiet times with God, when everyday concerns creep in and distract, He tells me to lift my eyes to higher things, to focus on this moment with Him.

In my daily life when all I can do is stare blindly down at the path to be trod in front of me, He tells me to lift my eyes and look around me. How much I miss when my gaze is trained on pavement, rather than the trees, sky, and the wonders of the wide world He created.

Look up, He counsels gently, look around you. Treasure what you have.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Isaiah 40:26


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Living in the Moment

Photo, Elizabeth May, Copyright 2011

We're eleven days deep into January.

If I had to guess, I'd say most people are in one of three camps when it comes to New Year's Resolutions. They're either: a. working mightily to stick to their goals, b. thinking they should probably get going on those resolutions, but already they can't quite remember what they were, or c. aren't thinking about resolutions at all, because they just didn't bother.

For me, it's "D, None of the Above" this year. I fully intend to resolve some things, um, some really important things.

You may say it's a little late, but in my book, 2011 is young, a mere newborn babe.

So, here I go:

1. I resolve to seek God daily.
2. I resolve to be present.
3. I resolve to get moving.

Number one is self-explanatory, but, nonetheless, essential.

Number two refers to my problem of letting the minuate of life exert its tyranny over me on a daily basis. Sometimes it seems like I can think of little else than a running to-do list.

I'm tired of walking around with a chant of clean-bathrooms-renew-library-books-get-to-karate-on-time-plan-dinner like some kind of fanatic domestic monk.

So I resolve to be present here, now, in this moment. To truly savor my family, nature, everything--more.

And, last, I resolve to make time to be active again. Taking walks, jogging, commiting to a workout class. Doing something that's both healthy and renewing for me.

God, I struggle mightily to do it all on my own. To keep the dishes at bay, the fridge stocked, the mail and paperwork sorted, the laundry folded, the bathrooms cleaned. And, all this with a constant stream of little voices expressing ongoing needs, questions, and demands. Help me to learn that a clean, organized, cozy home--while desirable--shouldn't be pursued above all else. Teach me that caring for my family's emotional and spiritual needs means more. Allow me to slow down and do more by doing less. Help me to give of myself and my time willingly. Amen.