Wrapped up in the cultural shift towards minimalism and simple living is the concept of mindfulness. It’s a buzzword receiving a lot of attention these days and for good reason—people who practice mindfulness say they’re happier and less stressed. And doesn’t everyone want to be happy?
Mindfulness’ rise in popularity makes sense to me. Practitioners are encouraged to be present in the moment, to do one thing at a time (no multitasking!), to do less and put space between activities, to worry less, to savour moments, people and things. This is in direct contrast to our current cultural climate where being busy is a status symbol, anxiety is part of daily life and people don’t rest until their bodies force them to.
In our culture, the ancient religious tradition is given a secular Western spin. Rooted in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism to varying degrees, today’s practice is more about paying attention than achieving spiritual enlightenment through meditation.
The Christian approach to mindfulness is called biblical meditation or self-examination. Second Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” And Psalm 77:6 says, “I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart, and my spirit ponders.”
When we become wrapped up in other people or activities or planning our futures, we often neglect
For me this often comes out as always striving towards my goals and not appreciating the journey. I get so focused on where I want to be in my life and career I forget about maintaining relationships (with others and with God), about taking time to celebrate small victories and about spending time reflecting and praying, making sure my heart is right.
This year, my goal has been to find balance between planning ahead and living in the moment. I’ve tried everything from blocking off time in my calendar for rest to putting sticky notes on my computer reminding me to be present and positive. I’m learning I can’t always be planning ahead but I also can’t always live in the moment—it’s a constant balancing act of building a framework but also being open to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
I’m learning to treat my plans as a road map. While I am always heading towards a destination, I need to allow room for pit stops and even detours. And I’m learning to be OK with not travelling by the fastest route because (it turns out) God’s timing ensures I’ll always arrive at the perfect moment.