Early in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 1:35), Jesus goes off very early in the morning to a solitary place to pray. Setting out for solitude and prayer will require sustained attention from Jesus, yet, it is not long before Peter and the disciples interrupt Jesus, trying to distract him with the noise of “everyone” looking for him.
Jesus replies, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
Jesus was clear about his mission; where he was to go next. His time alone with God helped him keep ‘the main thing the main thing.’ Clarity of voice and vision guided his next steps.
So what does that mean for us?
The online oxford dictionary defines mindfulness, as “a mental state achieved by focusing one‘s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”
The image pictured on the right beautifully captures the difference between mindful presence of thought versus a mind full of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. If we want to live mindfully, we show up and pay attention to what’s happening right in front us. By doing so, we can make conscious choices about where our mind spends time.
“Mindful” living enjoys the gifts of the here and now. “Mind Full” living lands us in the whirlpool of anxieties, apprehensions, imaginations and fantasies.
Let’s practice being aware…
If you have a few moments, I invite you to grab a piece of paper and draw an empty cloud of thought, leaving plenty of room to write or draw. Using words or images, see if you can identify each element of chatter currently taking up space in your mind.
Once that is complete, draw a second cloud of thought and see if you can identify the most important experience in front of you right now and bring only that thought, concern, or experience to the paper. Take a few moments and sit with the second cloud.
As you wrap up this practice, perhaps offer a brief prayer of gratitude for the ability to focus, and ask for God’s help in keeping the main thing the main thing today and always.