Juggling Too Much?

One of our greatest challenges in modern life is our compulsive busy-ness. Our constant to-do lists, endless phone calls to answer, emails, pagers, and now the ever-present cell phone keeps us at the beck and call of just about everyone practically all of the time. We are always “on” to the demands of our lives and rarely free to just Be. We have become the servants to our modern conveniences instead of being the master of them and using them to make our lives easier not more difficult

Is there a better way? Does everyone live a frantic existence or do some people have peaceful lives even in the midst of chaos? We forget sometimes that we have choices regarding our schedule, the demands of others, and how much we are willing to do in a 24-hour time frame.

We can easily become victims to our jobs, families, and societal and personal expectations. We can have poor boundaries and fail to set priorities regarding the important versus the urgent. We can become the hamster on the veritable wheel and forget how to stop our perpetual motion.

The idea of mindfulness—being present in the moment—is one that can help us step away from our constant activity and take account of the present and help us participate in the enjoyment that it has to offer us.

Mindfulness is being aware. We can be busy and be unaware or unmindful of the present. When we are unmindful we are focused on crossing something off of our list. We are always pressing on to the next thing—barely present during the actual doing of any of it. A life lived in this manner is one that passes by unnoticed and unappreciated. One can wake up one day and be aware that life has passed them by. One can wake up in middle age or old age and wonder where it all went.

If your list of household chores includes dusting, vacuuming, and doing the laundry are you fully present and mindful during each chore? Do you stop to enjoy the scent of the soap you are using? Are you aware of the different textures of the clothes that you fold and put away? Do you use your time for vacuuming and dusting to be fully present and enjoy the process and be grateful for the things you have to dust and vacuum?

When returning phone calls and emails we are engaged with fellow travelers. How well do we see and listen to each person that crosses our path during the day? Are they just another thing to get out of the way or do we truly see and hear them? If we think our world has become impersonal, just take a look in the mirror and ask yourself how well you listen and engage others during the course of your day. If we are honest, we can see that we are frequently unmindful of our interaction with others. In other words, we are not fully present.

Meditation helps us to learn mindfulness. We tune into our breath and become aware of each moment and of the joy of being alive. Meditation is an important part of spiritual practice that is often neglected in Christian circles. We have tended to think of this as an “Eastern” philosophy and yet we have so much to learn from it.

Ultimately, we can only fulfill the mission of loving others if we are Spirit-filled ourselves. We have to begin by being aware and present of the needs in our own lives. If we have neglected our own needs and being present and aware in our own lives, how can we expect to be mindful of the lives and needs of others?

So often we wish for a magic wand to do the work of Christ in the world. God would probably be pleased if we could just learn to let Christ do his work in our own hearts teaching us to be mindful of the gift of life and the joy of being loved by the Divine. When we are thus mindful and thus filled with love we can then begin the work of being mindful and loving to others.