Intuitively, I knew that "mindfulness" was the most important concept that I had learned from teaching nearly 40 years of high school English. Elsewhere, I have already blogged about "living in this present moment" several times, and since my retirement in 2010, I have headed up some "workshops" on the subject.
More attention is being paid to the concept of mindfulness in our world today--more "articles," podcasts, etc., on the subject. Ironically, I think that part of the reason for this attention to mindfulness is because we live even less mindful, more mindless lives than ever before. In part because of technology--in particular because of our smart phones, tablets, etc.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible has always been that one from the Sermon of the Mount that tells us, "do not worry about tomorrow."
Unfortunately, as a child and teen in my damaged/dysfunctional family of origin (which I've also already blogged about in my memoir posts), I was taught to worry about everything! Perhaps many of us raised in the 50s and 60s were taught to be too concerned about the future. Especially if we were raised in a family with mental illnesses.
Lately, my go-to word has been "Trust." It is imprinted on my key chain, and it is the word that usually comes to my mind when my yoga instructor tells us to find a centering word.
This morning I read an interpretation of the "do not worry" verse from Deepak Chopra's book THE THIRD JESUS that tied "mindfulness" and the verse together in a way that made a lot of sense to me.
First, Chopra lets us know that this "do not worry" verse is one of Jesus's most radical injunctions to us, yet it is probably the least followed. Like everyone else, Christians worry, plan, earn a living, and amass money and possessions against some future time. And all of our society encourages us to do so. Learning to trust God's Providence (or providing) is a process that we can learn to practice everyday.
Chopra tells us that the most direct way not to worry about tomorrow is to live in the present. Only the present is real, but it can be elusive. Why? Because we spend so much of our time remembering the past and anticipating the future. The past and the future are "unreal." Thus the real and the unreal become blended--so entangled, in fact, that the present must be retrieved piecemeal.
Furthernore, Chopra gives us 7 qualities of the present to ponder and to embrace, and he further gives us their opposites to avoid:
7 qualities of mindfulness:
Openess--being free from expectations
Freshness--not being overshadowed by the past (yesterday)
Innocence--not judging (from old or past experience)
Spontaneity--allowing new impulses to come in without criticism or censorship
Fearlessness--the absence of traumas from the past
Replenishing--the capacity to renew oneself from within
Dull instead of alert
Closed off instead of open
Stale instead of fresh
Knowing instead of innocence
Planned or routine instead of spontaneous
Anxious instead of fearless
Depleting instead of replenishing (renewing)
Children--especially young children--display these 7 mindfulness qualities all the time, and all of these qualities are present inside us. So we don't have to learn them, but we have to uncover them once more. As Jesus tells us, "Let the children come to me."
Right now, the present moment is filled with memories, expectations, projected beliefs, and past conditioning. Allow yourself to fill the present moment in a different, far more real way, by practicing the 7 qualities above! Allow yourself to be free, for "the truth shall make you free." As a matter of fact, we need to be more childlike and trusting.
Retrieve the present moment by clearing out the past, which means whatever is routine, dull, knowing, calculated, anxious, and traumatic. You cannot manufacture innocence, for example, but by removing its opposite, knowingness, you leave space so that innocence can express itself once more through you.
Chopra challenges us to the following exercise: When confronted with someone you think you know very well, whose behavior is predictable, don't react at first. Leave a place for something new in this person. Ask a new kind of question, agree where you would normally disagree, withhold judgement, and see what happens. Distance yourself from past experience and expectations, leaving space for something unexpected to emerge.
This same process can be applied to every other qulaity of the present moment.
Trust the universal Spirit, ask for a change, and let this universe be transformed into a safe haven, a home for evey person, filled with life's necessities. Because it already is. If we allow it to be.
Practice the 7 qualities of mindfullness, of living in the present monment. And trust that your needs will be provided for. Chopra says that Jesus called this safe haven Providence because its purpose is to provide.
Because God or the Universe knows what you need even before you ask, I say pencil in your plans for your life ever so lightly and Trust that Life will flow through you and fill out your Living in this Eternal Present moment.