Today I’m excited to share an article I wrote on mindfulness for Today’s Christian Woman, a Christianity Today magazine. Follow the link at the end to read the full article.
I didn’t have time for a crisis on that particular Thursday. I had plans: oversee my fifth grader’s holiday party, stop in at my second grader’s holiday party, pick up my little ones from preschool, coordinate a tradeoff with the babysitter, and see a full list of clients at my counseling practice.
But I had a problem. I could see only out of one corner of my right eye. A freak accident a few days before involving my three-year-old and a large toy had led to multiple visits to the eye doctor. I was scheduled for a follow-up later in the week, but when I called and described my vision the doctor told me to come in immediately. The rest of the day was a blur of confusing words and experiences: detached retina, emergency surgery, total bed rest, vision gradually returning.
Losing my vision, even temporarily, has awakened me to how much I take for granted, things like peripheral vision, depth perception, driving, and reading and writing with ease. When our world comes to a screeching halt due to an illness, loss, or traumatic event, the old adage “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” feels less like a cliché and more like a grave prophecy. I wish it didn’t take a crisis to make me appreciate my beautiful, albeit ordinary and messy, life.
Proponents of the practice of mindfulness suggest it can awaken us to our lives without the stimulus of a catastrophic event. Mindfulness can be defined as the “intention to pay attention to each and every moment of our life, non-judgmentally,” in contrast to the mindless way many of us live, as if on autopilot. Our technologically driven, hyper-busy, multitasking, always-plugged-in culture sets us up to function on overdrive. It is a disembodied, task focused, numbed out, distracted, and distracting way of life.
Mindfulness is a skill that provides an alternative path—one that empowers us to live as embodied creatures in the present moment, aware of ourselves and one another instead of only the task at hand. Mindfulness enables us to acknowledge how we feel instead of numbing or distracting ourselves from it. I am reminded of the old Gaither song “Fully Alive”: “Open my eyes to miraculous Monday. . . . Keep me awake and alive while I’m here.” That’s the heart of mindfulness: learning to be awake and alive….
Please click here to read the full article.