Monday, October 12, 2009
Lately, I’ve been working on being more mindful of what’s going on around me and within me. The concept of “mindfulness” comes from the practice of Buddhist meditation and focuses in particular on an awareness of breathing.
However, I've tried to expand the concept of mindfulness to include nearly everything I do. For, to be mindful is to pay attention to the spiritual dimension of life.
Here’s an example. I love to hike. There are several ways you can look at hiking. You can view it as exercise, especially when you are hiking uphill. You can see it as a race to get from one place to another as quickly as possible. You can understand it as a competition and try to hike faster than everyone else.
You can also understand hiking as a spiritual experience. As you hike, you can look at the beauty of the trees, the rock formations, the streams and the wildlife. You can breathe in the smell of the woods. You can notice how the sunlight filters through the trees. You can look up at the vast sky above. If you come to a vista, you can stop and look over the treetops for miles and have a sense of eternity.
While hiking, you can also notice what is going on within yourself. How hard are you breathing? How hard is your heart beating? Are you feeling tired? Are you carrying your anxieties, worries and concerns with you? Are you feeling a sense of freedom or joy?
To be mindful is to be deeply aware and it can make all the difference in how we experience an activity.
To be mindful is to be fully present in the present moment. Mindfulness places you in the here and now. It takes you from doing to being. Mindfulness is a spiritual discipline.
Frederick Buechner writes, “If God speaks to us at all... I think that he speaks to us largely through what happens to us…if we keep our hearts and minds open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, then I think we come to recognize that he [God] is speaking to us…”
So then, let us look and listen carefully to what is happening to us. For being mindful is a way of connecting with the holiness and sacredness of life; it’s a way of connecting with God.