So, at our school, in this fast-paced, filled-with-trauma world, we’re working on being mindful. “Mindfulness” has been a phrase that we’ve used a great deal in the past year. My realization? That this teacher, (wife, mom, friend, etc), can be a tad-bit distracted a lot of the time. So often I am more mindFULL than mindful. So am rethinking some things. Here are some of my thoughts:
My growing definition of mindfulness- being fully present in the moment I’m in; vested in the now; all in; aware of myself and those around me; tuned in; present in mind, heart, body, spirit; responsive to the present stimuli rather than reactive to past events or future fears; focused on the task at hand; living in the minute that I’m living.
Realization #1- It’s tough to be mindful when I have a mind FULL of past present and future goals, fears, to-dos, etc.
Realization #2- Tuning out is as important as tuning in.Being mindful takes paring down what I’m focusing on.
Realization #3 – Gotta figure what to filter in and filter out. Filters matter. Different filters are used for different things, circumstances, opportunities. Using spaghetti strainer-sized holes for a Keurig coffee filter won’t do. Will get lots of grounds in the coffee. Using a Keurig sized holes strainer for spaghetti won’t do. Water will overflow, won’t strain quick enough. Strain. Now that’s a word…’strain’. Here’s Google’s definition of strain: “a device having holes punched in it or made of crossed wires for separating solid matter from a liquid.” Separating the solid from the liquid. Separating the “what-matters” from the stuff to let go. Separating the value from the waste. Yeah, sounds like mindfulness to me.
Realization #4 – It’s a strain to strain. It takes work, determination, and willingness to fail, to filter out what’s not of value. It takes a willingness to let some things go. It takes perspective to know that the work of filtering will be worth the value of what’s left.
Realization #5 – Good things will be lost. There’s nutritive value lost in spaghetti water. Yep. And that water could be used for lots more things. Yep. And I don’t want to be wasteful. Nope. But do I value my time and mission and purpose more than making sure that the spaghetti water isn’t wasted? Yep. Am I willing to accept that things and opportunities way more important than spaghetti water will be lost or wasted? I’m working on my “yep” for that one, but definitely not all-there yet. Some things are more difficult to accept than others.
Realization #6 – The ‘what’ and the ‘who’ I set my mind on matters. Big time. It directs the course. Like a steering wheel, like a path, like a boundary, the “what” and the “who” direct my steps. As a Believer, I want my North Star to be Jesus. His truths. His Word. His Passion. Am believing that all else is spaghetti water. Am I mindFULL of that? Working on the “yep” for that one as well.
Realization #7 – Being present in the moment is greatly enhanced by the knowing that we’re just passing through, that our days are numbered. If I’m honest with myself, I know that I’m slower to complete things when there’s no deadline. Even though I have had many ‘talks’ with my kids about not procrastinating, I’m still really bad about putting things off until the ‘last minute’. But the thing is, in this gift called life, we don’t know when our ‘last minute’ will be. Our days are a gift. So our are minutes, our hours, our years. They are gifts.They are gifts to be enjoyed, to be valued and appreciated, and can be used in a way to impact those around us in beautiful and amazing ways…or not. Kind of depends on what we’re mindful (or mindFULL) of.
Realization #8 – Being mindful is a beautiful gift to myself and those around me. Period. It just is. Even if it can create friction, for friction often comes when there’s a change in patterns. But I know I’d much rather be present and less distracted and fully there for those around me for sure.
Realizations #9 Sometimes the best gifts come wrapped in discipline. Am thinking this is one of those. It takes discipline to rethink habits and patterns and pursuits. It takes discipline to put down the computer and pick up the pen. It takes discipline to sit quietly and not fill the voids when there’s an awkward awareness of the void. It takes discipline to get stronger in heart and mind and body and spirit.
Realization #10 – Voids don’t have to be filled right away. Voids get filled. Vacuums have a low pressure that make for the need for high pressure to move on in. “Vacuum” comes from the Latin word “vacant”. Empty. So many of us have our lives and minds so filled to the brim that there are ‘No vacancy’ signs hanging all over us. And here’s the thing… We miss opportunities big time when we’re filled with fillers. When there’s a space like time or quiet, how often we quickly fill the voids with noise or cell phones or activity that is just a mere filler.
Sometimes we might need to sit with someone and let the quiet seep in before we fill the void with a cell phone or song or TV show. Sometimes we might need to let the uncomfortableness of a void sit for a bit so that we wait for a good filler as opposed to something to merely quiet the quiet. And it is true in so very many things that delayed gratification gives a much greater satisfied feeling and sense when the wait is finally over. So many things are worth the wait. Being slow to fill voids with fillers is something to be mindful of…
Realization #11- Mindfulness is not a 21st century hip trend, it’s been a pursuit and directive for the ages. “As a man thinks within himself, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7). “Wherever you are, be all there.” (Jim Elliot),”Life is not a matter of milestones, but of moments.” (Rose Kennedy), and here’s my favorite: “A man paints with his brains, and not his hands.” (Michelangelo).
Though I am no Michelangelo and can only marvel at his amazing works, am thinking that we all create masterpieces in life. They are born out of who we are. We leave traces behind of who we are, what we think, what we put our time and passion into. I love how Michelangelo knew that his hands, his work, were merely extensions of his mind… Another quote by Michelangelo is “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Love that. I’m thinking that he spent a good bit of time and discipline to cultivate his gifts as painter and sculptor…that he was mindful of what he was doing at the time. Focused. Determined. I wonder what masterpieces might surface in our lives if we put our fillers down and picked up our own chisel of sorts? I wonder.
And that word…wonder. That leads me to the last little thought or realization I have this morning….( I think it’s the last anyway…)
Realization #12 Mindfulness opens my eyes to the wonder around me and doesn’t put me in the center. I don’t want a world that revolves around me and makes me, my pursuits, my hopes, dreams, accomplishments the end-all. That leads nowhere. Am thinking mindfulness only aids in helping people to see with awe the infinite wonder that is in the world around them…not only the world that is in them. Mindfulness leads not to an ego-centric view… but an “out of sight” mentality, in the hippest sense of the word. Mindfulness allows us to see that there is much that we don’t see, and to appreciate what IS, right here, here now.
The irony of being mindful is that it makes us all the more aware of the world around us as well as within us….and has an amazing way of connecting the two.
I can pray to be more mindful. I am praying and I have. But as Oswald Chambers said, “Some things go by kicking…” Am thinking this is one of those.
So there’s my list for this morning…am hoping that these realizations truly do become real…that they start surfacing in my life. I guess the first step has been made…recognizing and being mindful of what I’m shooting for.
Blessings to You and Yours~
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”