Friday, February 27, 2015


I am enjoying the #lentunedited hash tag because it is simply true that we are all a mess.  No matter how much we might give the impression of having our “stuff” together, no matter how anal-retentive, organized, or fastidious we might be, we simply are a mess.  In some way, shape, or form we are cluttered: materially, emotionally, or spiritually.  The #lentunedited hash tag is giving us a chance to practice telling the truth. 

Speaking the truth about ourselves to ourselves is a key practice of lent.  The Ash Wednesday liturgy is so thoroughly clear about just how broken we are the truth becomes unavoidable.  It is a beautiful thing because the truth sets of free as it invites us to mindfulness.

It is so easy to go through the day on auto-pilot.  It is excessively simple to make the motions of contemporary life with never a thought.  Indeed the "powers that be" prefer us to be mindless.  It makes it easier for the fallen spiritual forces of this world to control us and maintain the status quo if we simply get out of bed, go to work, come home, "veg out" in front of the TV, go sleep, and repeat.  

On the other hand, when we are mindful; when we are aware of what we are doing; when we pay attention to our actions, we can then ask why we are acting and we can wonder if there are better ways to act, individually and communally.  

So how do you become mindful?  How do you wake up to the present moment?  The first step is to tell your self the truth.  You are a mess, and pretending to be otherwise is a lie.  However, you do not have to stay messed up.  Internal tidiness is possible.  Start by paying attention to your breathing.  If you think about it, breathing is the most mindless act you ever do.  It is reflexive, but it doesn't have to be.  When you pay attention to your breath, you become aware of your most mindless act.  Your awareness allows you to become more aware of your other less mindless acts.  It opens the door to being fully present in the moment. 

To become aware of your breath, simply breathe in through your nose for a slow count of four, then exhale through your mouth for a slow count of four.  Do this for three to five minutes.  At first your mind will run in 90 directions each one begging for your full attention.  That's okay, let it happen and keep returning to counting your breath.  Soon your thoughts will settle like those fake flakes in a snow globe and you'll be able to just breathe.  Mindfulness follows, then creativity, and then transformation. 

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