Absentminded or Mindful?

by Kathleen Glavich, SND on January 9, 2013

in Blogs

The other day as I was backing out of the driveway to go to church, my purse was missing. I parked, went into the house, and looked for the purse with no luck. Then I remembered that on the way to car I dumped some recyclables into the bin. Sure enough, when I lifted the lid, there was my purse on the bottom of the green container, which is almost as tall as I am. I jerked the bin out of the ice, tilted it onto the ground, and crawled in to retrieve my purse, hoping the neighbor wasn’t watching. This incident made me realize that I need to pay more attention to what I am doing.

So often I daydream about the past or plan what I’m going to do next when it would be best to concentrate on my life right now, what spiritual writers call “attention to the present moment.” A popular saying is “The past is history, the future is a mystery, but right now is a gift. That’s why its called the present.” How more deeply (and less exasperatingly) we would live if we were fully was aware of the gifts that NOW holds. One way to do this is to exercise our five senses and be more sensitive to our surroundings: Do I notice the pattern of frost on my window? Does the fragrance of the evergreen wreath on my wall register in my mind? Do I feel the cozy Isotoner slippers cuddling my feet? Do I hear the furnace blowing warm air? Do I really taste the different flavors of my dinner?

I’m reminded of Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town. Deceased Emily returns to life on the day of her twelfth birthday, but she finds it painful. She concludes that life should be valued “every, every minute.” When Emily asks the Stage Manager whether anyone realizes life while they live it, she is told, “No. the saints and poets, maybe—they do some.” With God there is no time, no past or future. Everything is now. Living in the now on earth then must make us more Godlike.

St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man [sic] fully alive.”

If you haven’t made a New Year’s resolution yet, you might choose to live deliberately, with awareness and thought. Focusing on the present, you might be spared from doing things like losing your purse or yes, as has happened to me, finding your yellow hair curlers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator!

One trick for staying mindful that I found on the Internet is to use a frequent action to re-mind you to pay attention, for example, walking through a doorway or hearing a clock chime the hour.  Do you know any other tricks for staying mindful?




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