Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Awareness of Surroundings

Bridge over Triagalna Gramada Stone River in B...via Wikipedia
It is possible to becomes so completely self-aware that it becomes self-absorption.  At this point a person can loose touch with the world around them.  It is also possible to become distracted in this life so as to lose touch with the important details of life.  Mindfulness requires that we become aware of the things that surround us, events, and activities.  This awareness comes to us moment by moment through our senses.  God has blessed us with 5 senses to allow awareness of the world around us.  We can cultivate mindfulness by focusing our awareness through our senses to become more keenly attune to the things around us. 

Mindful Viewing of the Night Sky

When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You set in place, Psalms 8:3 (HCSB)

Take some time to look up at the night sky while in town with ambient light surrounding you.  Then take a trip away from ambient light.  Spend time observing the Glory that David spoke of in this Psalm.  Notice the literal thousands of stars that never reach your awareness, because we fail to look up.  Thank God for this new awareness and worship Him.

Mindful Nature Walk

...the animals in the wild, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea that pass through the currents of the seas. Psalms 8:7-8 (HCSB)

Find a nature preserve or park with lots of trees.  Take a walk noticing the diversity of animal and plant life.  Soak in the beauty of God's creation.  Pay attention to the various sounds of nature.  If you are walking with someone, notice them as well.  The sounds of his/her steps, breathing, voice, etc.  If the wind is blowing note how it moves the leaves.  Be careful to note the small things as well.  Take time to notice the colors, textures, shapes of all that is around you.  Praise God for the glory of His creation. 

Mindful Walking

He keeps us alive and does not allow our feet to slip. Psalms 66:9 (HCSB)

This activity is similar to the nature walk.  In this exercise you pay attention through your senses as you walk.  Your focus is on the moment rather than the thing you are walking to (meeting, exercise, work, etc).  You pay attention to your steps.  Focus on your breathing.  If you can, notice your heart rate.  Then there is the things around you that will pass through your awareness.  Careful though you want to be aware of your walking not distracted by these things ;do not hold on to your awareness of them, just notice.  Pray as you go thanking God for life and keeping your feet steady on this walk and in life. 

Mindful Day in the Sun

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a groom coming from the  bridal chamber; it rejoices like an athlete running a course. It rises from one end of the heavens and circles to their other end; nothing is hidden from its heat.
Psalms 19:1-6 (HCSB)

This is a good practice in the early fall when the warmth of the sun is contrasted with the coolness of the air.  In this exercise you spend time taking in the warmth of the sun.  Noticing how it feels.  Paying attention to the changes in temperature that you experience as you walk in and out of the shade or as the wind blows.  Notice the rays of sun created as it passes through trees that are losing their leaves.  If there are clouds on that day look up and notice the various shapes.  We were much more mindful of the clouds when we were young now we barely notice them at all.  Except to complain about the rain or being overcast.  Allow the Heavens to declare the glory of God.  Listen as the sky proclaims the work of His hands.  Pause, listen, and worship.

Mindful Music Listening (and Making)

Praise the Lord with the lyre; make music to Him with a ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song to Him; play skillfully on the strings, with a joyful shout. Psalms 33:2-3 (HCSB)

Often with the advent of personal electronics we tend to listen to music while doing something else.  In this exercise you simply stop doing the "something else" and listen.  Appreciate the melody and harmony of the music.  Allow the lyrics to come into your awareness through active listening (not passive as we often do).  Note the tone and quality of the music.  If you have the opportunity, go listen to the music live.  If you are a making music sing (or play) a new song to Him.  Allow the Spirit of God to raise your praises to the throne room of heaven.  Focus intently on the gift of music and praise God for this wonderful gift.

Mindful Thankfulness

You answer us in righteousness, with awe-inspiring works, God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the distant seas. You establish the mountains by Your  power, robed with strength. You silence the roar of the seas, the roar of their waves, and the tumult of the nations. Those who live far away are awed by Your signs; You make east and west shout for joy.
You visit the earth and water it abundantly, enriching it greatly. God�s stream is filled with water, for You prepare the earth in this way, providing ?people? with grain. You soften it with showers and bless its growth, soaking its furrows and leveling its ridges. You crown the year with Your goodness; Your ways overflow with plenty. The wilderness pastures overflow, and the hills are robed with joy. The pastures are clothed with flocks and the valleys covered with grain. They shout in triumph; indeed, they sing. Psalms 65:5-13 (HCSB)

This passage is filled with activities of mindful thankfulness to God.  Take time to notice and then praise God for: Awe inspiring works, the powerful ocean waves, magnificent mountains, rain, streams, rivers that give precious water for life sustaining crops, green fields, flocks of animals on hills.  The list of things to be thankful for is endless.  In this activity you simply allow yourself to become aware of them and then turn it into a praise to God. 

Pushing Away Distractions to Mindfulness

Certainly, man walks about like a mere shadow. Indeed, they frantically rush around in vain, gathering possessions without knowing who will get them. Psalms 39:6 (HCSB)

This verse lists 3 things that get in the way of mindful living.  First is walking for show not in genuineness.  The side you let others see is a mere shell of the person God created you to be.  Second is busyness.  Busyness allows escape from pain and suffering, but in the process robs you of joy and life.  Third, preparing for the future, while disregarding the day.  When all your energy is spent living for a day that has not yet arrived you lose the life that God has given you today.    

These are just some ideas for practicing mindful awareness.  There are many more that perhaps I will have a chance to post.  Maybe you have some Ideas of your own.  Please feel free to post any ideas in the comment section below to share with others.  May God richly bless you and your awareness of His awe inspiring works.