Sunday, August 31, 2008

In the Moment

Have you ever noticed how hard it can be to be "in the moment"? Do you realize that while you are in the midst of one experience, you are already mentally preparing for the next? Do you find yourself not really listening to the person speaking to you because you are somewhere else "in your head" rather than present, attentive, engaged "in the moment"?

I think we all fall victim to this, perhaps some more than others or perhaps under some circumstances more than others. It's particularly easy to not want to be in the moment, during unpleasant moments. My focus is, rather on those everyday moments to which we could be more connected. For me, talking on the phone is a huge "not in the moment" time. I allow myself to do things while I'm on the phone, I'd never do if I was talking to you in person; check my email, read the paper, do chores, watch TV. By doing those other things, I'm dividing my attention and really likely to miss some of what you are saying, or giving minimal responses to what you are saying or even worse leaving you feeling like I wasn't really listening or giving you my attention. Because I know how big a pitfall this is for me, I'm trying to be conscious about not engaging in other things when I'm on the phone. I'm trying to bring my subconscious distraction to a more conscious level and not adding to it by doing things that I know take my attention in different directions.

Another reason I think we end up not in the moment is anxiety. We worry. We stress. We distress. We fret. We obsess. We dwell. These aren't positive, life and faith affirming behaviors and they never make things better. No situation ever improved because we worried about it. Action changes things, worry does not. We too often miss the good around us, because we are focused on the fear within us. Fear robs us of joy. Just like I have to make a conscious effort and decision not to check my email while I'm on the phone to be able to be truly present, we must also make a conscious effort and decision to stop our mind from wandering down the path of fear which leads to anxiety/worry/stress...

If something is weighing on your mind, rather than letting yourself get stuck in the vortex of distress, ask yourself, "What am I going to do about it?" Look for action you can take. Can you learn more about something (where you're traveling for the first time, a medical condition someone has been diagnosed with, etc.)? Can you speak to someone who has had a similar experience (join a support group for parents of children who have a similar need as your child, call a friend who has also tried to quit smoking, etc)? When you can come up with no action you could take, prayer is always an option. When you are thinking, "There's nothing I can do..." that should be a prompt to you to think, "I can pray about this, I can pray for them, I can trust God and turn my worries over to Him."
There is so much enjoyment, pleasure, peace, fulfillment, to be gained by really experiencing the world and people around us. We must challenge ourselves to recognize when our mind and body are in different places, and exercise the mental control to get back to the moment. When we are absorbing the good around us, we will then be so much more able to turn around and give it away. We can't do for others when we are worn out or worn down by worry.
Matthew 6:25-34 Do Not Be Anxious
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

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