Monday, May 25, 2009

Are You Paying Attention - or on Autopilot?

Matthew 6:34 NIV Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Message Translation Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

How often do you get "worked up" over what might happen? If you're like me and most people and you are honest, the answer is probably every day! What a total waste of time. We spend more time worrying about the future or regretting and rehashing the past than we do living in the present moment. We tend to fly through the days on autopilot. Doing things automatically and not really being present and aware. We don't pay attention! The crazy thing is the only thing we really have is this present moment and we waste more of them than we appreciate and live to the fullest.

We tend to do things "mindlessly" rather than "mindfully." You know what I mean. You can sit down with a bag of cookies and before you even realize what has happened, you've inhaled half the bag and barely even tasted one of them. The most precious resource God has gifted us with is time and we value other things so much more highly and waste this most valuable commodity. We only have a limited amount of time and number of days and living each to the fullest is a way of thanking God and appreciating His grace and generosity.

So how to do this? We can obey Jesus' words in the scripture quoted above and learn to practice mindfulness. That's simply the practice of learning to pay attention to what is happening in your life from moment to moment. Studies have shown that mindfulness can provide the following benefits:
Reduce anxiety;
Decrease stress hormones;
Boost the immune system;
Help you change negative habits;
Combat pain;
Deal with depression; and
Increase the benefits of exercise.

One great way to practice mindfulness is to replace dissatisfied thoughts about what you could or should have done or what things you wish you had with thoughts of gratitude. Focus on how much you do have and not what you don't have. Another strategy is to focus on your breathing - the rhythm of it, the way your lungs fill and empty. Pay attention to what is going on around you. How does the sun feel on your back? Look - really look - at a flower. Take time to really enjoy your food - the way it looks, how it smells, and really taste and savor it - slowly. Enjoy the feeling of you muscles moving and stretching as you walk or exercise.

These are all gifts we are blessed to get every day of our lives! Learn to pay attention and live in the moment. It is called "the present" and it really is!!

1 comment:

Matt said...

This was great. It reminds me of one of my own posts that I did a while ago. Only if a lot of people bought into this concept, then we'd really be in business!