Practicing Mindfulness

Recently I went to Wakefield Elementary for my weekly reading commitment with Kindergartners. There were several days of heavy rain that week, so the playground was muddy. Still, there were a handful of teachers outside with about fifty kids, huddled together under the covered walkway. I guess any outside exposure is helpful- to teachers and kids!

Anyway, as I approached the building, I heard a teacher say to a student, "<Name>, you need to be practicing mindfulness." She did not mean meditation or some kind of transcendental thought exercise; I guess "mindfulness" is the 2018 term for "Stop messing around!"

I've been incorporating mindfulness into my prayer life recently. It helps me to stay focused. Have you ever practiced mindfulness? An intentional, prayerful time of examining your relationship with God? Most likely your answer is no. We've been taught to approach our prayer life in a grocery list sort of way- I need this, this, and this. Or most of our prayers are focused on intercession, prayer for others. Neither of these things are bad- not at all- but they are incomplete.

This week in our small group study, we began an exploration of Jesus' I AM teachings by exploring the relationship between God and Moses. God discloses the divine name, I AM, to Moses as a tool to use when folk ask him what god sent him to liberate the Hebrews from the Egyptians. "Tell them I AM sent you," God says (Exodus 3:14).

Then the study invited us to examine this. Write on a card five attributes of yourself, each beginning with "I am." My first instinct was to list hobbies or activities or personality traits. Something like this:
  • Pastor
  • Pez collector
  • STAR WARS nerd
  • Father
  • Husband 

But I did not write that list. I practiced mindfulness. I am:
  • Always becoming something more
  • Seeking and questioning
  • More than what I do
  • Called
  • Known

Next, the book asked us to write on the card five attributes of God. Here was my list. God is:
  • Perfect
  • Forgiving 
  • Gracious
  • Merciful
  • Just

Have you ever done something like this? Try it out. 

One of the most meaningful verses to me is Psalm 139:1: " O Lord, you have searched me and know me." God is searching for, and wanting to know, each of us. Exploring our relationship with Christ, and looking internally at ourselves, can be a very healing and meaningful discipline. Practicing mindfulness is not a code word for ending an annoying behavior. It is an invitation to explore and deepen our relationship with I AM.