If someone asked me in what area I need practice, I’d have lots of answers: patience, working out, getting up when the alarm goes off. Here’s what I WOULDN’T say:
It doesn’t seem that difficult. I’m here, right? I’m present. Mission accomplished.
Being present is exactly the skill I need to practice. Although my body may be “here”, my mind is often elsewhere: pondering my latest life problem, planning tomorrow’s schedule, trying in vain to multi-task. How often am I fully engaged in the current moment without distraction? And how would doing that change my life?
Here’s what Christian psychologist Phil Monroe thinks (note that I stole my title from him):
Practice being present. Much of our lives are run on auto-pilot. When we are in that mode, it is easy to fall into rumination. Work to stay present, to be mindful and attuned to your surroundings. Notice ruminations but let them slide on out of view and bring yourself back to the present. Use your senses that God gave you to enjoy the world he made. Smells, sounds, sights, taste, and touch all give you means to enjoy that world. Start practicing staying in tune with it, a few minutes at a time and build your capacity as you go.
I read that, shut my laptop, went downstairs and flopped down beside my daughter who was pawing through a giant bin of old Legos and organizing the pink Lego Friends ones. An impressive endeavor. I pawed with her, studying the shapes she knew so well, celebrating when we found one, smiling when she smiled. I was 100% there, and it was refreshing–and a little too unpracticed.
It’s good to be all there, focusing on the exact moment God has given.
Did I mention the title of the article was “Ruminating: The Mental Health Killer?” It really rings true to me.
So let’s practice being present in the moment before us: listening, watching, tasting, laughing, engaging. All there: brain and body, for the joy of those around us, the good of our own mental health, and the enjoyment of all God has given.