One day last week, I was juggling too much, which honestly is pretty much my norm. I don’t like it. But there’s not a whole lot I can do to change it in this season of life.
I was emotional because of a situation involving my daughter. I was behind schedule because I was putting everyone else’s needs first.
So when I went out to the garage to start the van and get it warmed up for an appointment that I was running late for, I left my mind inside. That’s right, I walked outside without my mind, and this is what went down:
- I opened the garage door.
- I opened the van door.
- I started the van.
- I put the van in reverse to back it out a few feet (I always do this to keep the exhaust mostly outside.)
- I backed up.
I do this every day, sometimes several times a day. But without my mind, the result was really quite different. Because steps 1-4 happened in mere seconds, step 5 had disastrous consequences.
I hit the garage door with my van. CRUNCH!!!!
It was not a soft hit. I mangled the inside panel of the garage door but worse than that, I knocked a pin out of the roller that allows the door to stay inside the track. Another panel was out of its plane and ripped into the wooden trim. The door was stuck and a crinkled. Somehow, my van was mostly OK. I was late for the appointment. I had to manually release and open the door. I had to call my husband and report the consequences of my negligence.
I have been driving for 28 years. I’ve lived in Illinois my whole life. I’ve warmed up my car on cold winter mornings — and evenings — since I’ve had children. That’s 15 years. That’s a lot of times of doing the same thing over and over again.
That’s life, isn’t it?
We do some things repeatedly. We do them so much, so often that we do them almost like out-of-body experiences. We aren’t mentally checked in. We disengage our beautiful minds from the present moment, the task at hand, because there’s so much on our minds.
Why are we surprised that we struggle to root down in the moment where we are living?
My blog headline is “That time I left my mind behind.”
I WISH it was just that time. That ONE time. Folks, it’s often most of the time. Being mindful is HARD work. To even accomplish it at all in my own life, I must be deliberate and prayerful. I can’t just expect it to happen, and I cannot do it on my own. It’s only by the power of the Holy Spirit that I can prayerfully settle into my time.
My time. Here’s another thing. It’s not really mine. The fact that I seek to control it the way I do is a symptom of a greater problem. I might be its manager, but God is the author of time. What I do with it is how I worship and glorify Him.
Does God want me to be mindful? I am sure of it.
Jesus was a perfect example of this. He went about his time with plans and intentions. Often, they were disrupted. A man in a tree. A woman touching the hem of his cloak. A complete lack of food for a massive crowd that assembled to hear him and was so engaged, they stayed.
But he didn’t pass by the tree because he was behind schedule. Or ignore the woman and go about his plans. He didn’t send the crowd away simply because there wasn’t a way to feed them.
In each instance, he slowed down. A need became apparent. He trusted God. He met the need.
When I think about what mindfulness is and isn’t, I realize what a gift it is. My body is restricted. It can only operate in the here and now. My mind is able to do so much more. It can obsess about the past, it can worry about the future, and it can operate completely in the present moment.
It’s an open door to sin. Or we can use this miraculous gift of the brain to be MINDFUL. Being mindful means I’m all-in when I’m worship. It means I hear the words of prayers. It means my time with God is intentional, and I’m present in my relationship with Him. It also means I’m checked in when I’m talking to my kids. I see distress on the face of a friend…or even a stranger. I recognize and can respond to grief. I can be a better witness for Christ by responding to real needs.
Eastern meditation tells us we should empty our minds. Friends, this is a dangerous practice. It’s the opposite of being mindful, in fact. To empty our minds is a cheap way out. It numbs us. It makes us unable to see and hear the needs of others. It doesn’t engage us in our own minds, to think, to connect. It is self-centered.
Yoga and especially Holy Yoga has brought me closer to a place of godly mindfulness than any other single practice. Learning how to pay attention to my inner experience — the way my muscles feel, the alignment of my skeletal system, the impact of my breathing on my whole self — are gifts of mindfulness.
The application is so much broader than my body. It extends to my mind because that’s where the recognition of the feelings is played out. If we are numb, we’ve lost ability to feel. If we can’t feel, quite simply we cannot heal. We are no good to ourselves or to others.
Slowing down to hear what my body is saying has taught me to be that way everywhere, including the checkout line of the grocery store. Be present, yoga has reminded me. Look at the cashier. Remember she has struggles, too. Offer her a smile, an encouraging word. Thank her. Pay attention to the harried mom in line behind you. Say hello. Talk to her little one. Be present.
And the ever important mindfulness tip: Try to make sure the garage door is up before you back out.
But when you have a bad day, extend yourself grace. Mindfulness is truly challenging. It is a discipline, and we can only live it as much as we practice it. And as much as the ability to be mindful is a miraculous gift, grace is even more so. The fact that we are able to practice both is another reminder of how much our heavenly Father loves us. Doing so truly honors Him!
Want to meditate on some great scriptures that remind us of the godliness of mindfulness? I love this list. https://www.openbible.info/topics/mindfulness