Mindfulness: Being Present

I can time travel.

Not physically though, although I wish I could. Travelling to another time period on earth is like travelling to another country, or rather, another multiverse, where the ways and things of life are much different from now.

Anyway, I meant I can time travel… in my mind. I thought I have this mental time travel under my control until I tried to stop it. It’s hard for me to stop the time jump and stay in the present. It’s much easier to slip back into the past and project into the future.

Enjoy the present, smell the flowers, we hear life mottos like these. Or pastors preaching about being in present and not living in the regrets of the past or worries of the future, things that you have no control over. Anxiety arises from trying to control what we cannot.

Knowing I have this problem, I practise being present in the present moment.

Living in the past means I keep re-living the pain.

Living in the future means I am living in pain that might not even occur.

Fears of the future and the regrets of the past tend to magnify themselves into monstrosity in the present. They also put us in a loop where we never stop to appreciate the present until that present becomes a thing of the past. Why does time fly? Because we are running through the present moments instead of slowing down to be aware of the present.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”

Luke 12:25
Joy chilling in a cafe

I thought being present means not thinking of the past or future. Then the other day, my therapist pointed out something even deeper. Even if I am in the present moment in my mind (or so I thought), I am not fully present in my mind and body.

I find it uncomfortable to be fully present – being aware of my present body conditions, emotional state, and surroundings. Hence I drown myself in a torrent of activities and thoughts to avoid being fully present. Like to smell the roses, and not think of who I can give the roses to, and then worry if the person would like it, and so on. Or to literally feel my body sensations – head throbbing and jaws clenching – when frustrations starts piling and not feel awkward about feeling them.

Mindfulness is about being fully present, moment-to-moment awareness. According to greatergood.berkeley.edu, mindfulness is now the fastest-developing area in mental health. The clinical value of mindfulness interventions has been demonstrated for many psychological difficulties, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, substance abuse, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy

To some, mindfulness sounds like new age practice or to others, it has roots in Buddhism. I know of well-meaning Christians who warn about it. I understand where they are coming from. Mindfulness seems like emptying the mind to receive spiritual energies — the light or the dark, things of God or things of the universe — you receive according to your beliefs. So, pray and get your wisdom about this and for Christians, add Jesus into the act of mindfulness.

In fact, long before mindfulness is made popular, a retired pastor of an Anglican church gave me advice that sounded like mindfulness. A decade has passed and I still remember it. I have been practising it, although I should extend it throughout the day. Set aside some time to be silent during my daily quiet time — not praying/speaking, reading, not listening to music, but quietening the heart and mind to hear from God.

Mindfulness (some use the word grounding) is characterized by meditation and relaxation techniques. The idea is to become more self-aware. You pay attention to thoughts, feelings, and sensations in that moment — without purposefully deciding whether they’re good or bad, and without becoming overwhelmed or overly reactive. In short, you tune in to what’s real right now.

Like anything, mindfulness can be misused. However, it doesn’t automatically contradict the Christian faith. We just need to make sure we approach it in a wise, biblical way.


Be mindful. Be present.

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