Being aware of who and where we are
There’s a lot of talk of mindfulness nowadays. Some see it as the latest ‘new thing’, the latest way of dealing with stress. Others, though, see it as a return to ancient practices of meditation, contemplation, and monasticism.
Mindfulness has been defined as the practice of paying attention – to your thoughts, to your body, to your movements. It’s about being aware, intentionally, of who we are and where we are. Mindfulness is the very opposite of how most of us live our lives every day, immersed as we are in the constant din of alerts from our digital devices and pressures of work, home and life in general.
Similarly, meditation and contemplative prayer, can be a way of balancing our lives. The lives of those in monasteries might seem very different to our busy lives, but there is much we can learn from them. The very action of taking time out from our busyness, even a very short time, in order to reflect can be a way to calm the mind, reduce stress and create a path towards a more balanced life.
Taking ‘time out’ to be mindful, to pray and contemplate, provides a fourth dimension to the maxim that a balanced life includes ‘work, rest, and play’. The spiritual side of life is vital too.
Rabbi Dr Shmuly Yanklowitz, an Orthodox rabbi, motivational speaker, and founder of a Jewish social justice organisation once wisely said:
“We are created to work, to change the world for good. But we must not dismiss the religious and ethical value of rest and leisure for through its responsible actualization, we can truly learn to live fully in emulation of our Creator”
(in an article ‘The Religious Value of Rest and Leisure’ published in www.JewishJournal.com on 21 June 2012)
The ancient Sanskrit poem below – Listen to the Exhortation of the Dawn – and Celtic Cross are both offered as meditational tools if you wish to use them as such:
Look to this Day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the verities
And realities of your existence:
The glory of action,
The bliss of growth,
The splendour of beauty.
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today, well lived, makes
Every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this Day!
Such is the Salutation of the Dawn.
Cross image from www.christart.com