The Mindful Revolution - A Glimpse of What is Real
by Martin Poehler
“The Mindful Revolution –The science of finding focus in a stressed-out, multitasking culture,” was the cover story for Time Magazine on February 3rd, 2014. Kate Pickert, the article’s author, says she’s the working parent of a toddler, is dealing with stress, and finds life hectic. She describes herself as “hyperconnected” – with an iPhone, a Blackberry, two desktop computers and a laptop. She says she never seems to be able to get away from the distractions these devices bring to her. She tells of joining a Mindfulness training class in New York City.
Other people in her class have challenges similar to hers. One lady in her twenties says there’s no time to pause and reset because of daily back-to-back meetings. She’s been prescribed the anti-anxiety drug Klonopin. A social worker taking the class has clients trying to get their lives back on track. She needs help dealing with stress. Another woman feels it’s a struggle to "be present" with her infant child.
The author says distraction is the pre-eminent condition of our age. We feel we need to be updated constantly by our smartphones, tablets, or computers with messages from our employers or co-workers. This is partly because we want to do our jobs well. Another part of it is that we feel we’ll lose our jobs if we don’t respond to the latest message from our employer and co-workers.
Pickert says Mindfulness gives us the skill to survive and thrive successfully in the 21st century by dealing with this stress and anxiety.
What is Mindfulness? It’s meditation helping us focus our attention on one thing at a time. It keeps people from thinking about the past and the future, and lets them “be present.” This quietness, meditation, and concentration can be about anything – your breathing, what you’re eating, people you’re seeing, the sounds you’re hearing. The goal is to set aside some time to give full attention to what you’re doing – to be focused and aware of the moment you’re in.
Pickert says there are ongoing scientific studies about Mindfulness training. Their goal is to evaluate scientifically whether this mindful behavior – setting aside time to purposefully stop and concentrate on one thing – better allows us to concentrate throughout the day on the things we face that matter. She intimates that science says there is a connection between the two. Though she doesn’t say it outright, her unspoken conclusion is that studies so far haven’t found a link between Mindfulness/meditation training and a heightened ability to focus and concentrate attention. But even though the scientific basis for it is uncertain, many people are now turning to Mindfulness training as a self-help technique as they search for restful, meaningful, and happy lives.
Pickert tells about Tim Ryan, a Democratic Congressman from Ohio. Stressed out and exhausted, he went to a Mindfulness retreat led by John Kabat-Zinn, the founder of current Mindfulness teaching. Ryan says, "My mind got so quiet, and I had the experience of my mind and my body actually being in the same place at the same time, synchronized.”
Ryan writes in his introduction to his 2012 book, “A Mindful Nation”, “If more citizens can reduce stress and increase performance - even if only by a little - they will be healthier and more resilient. They will be better equipped to face the challenges of daily life, and to arrive at creative solutions to the challenges facing our nation.”
There is something of truth in Mindfulness training helping us live free and happy lives. We do need to concentrate on what’s in front of us if our lives are to be restful and effective. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg of what’s needed for our lives to be what they were meant to be.
The truth is that you weren’t just meant to cope with all the stimuli that are around you. You were meant to flourish! You weren’t meant to eek out survival against the forces coming against you – but to bound over the obstacles! In your life you’re meant to accomplish things that nobody else can accomplish. You’re meant to live a life that nobody else will ever live.
Why is this? Because you were made in the son of the Maker of this universe. That son of the Maker is the person called Jesus of Nazareth. He lived in Palestine from 6 BC to 27 AD. His life wasn’t an ordinary one, but it was attested to by eyewitnesses -- both by ones hostile to him and by ones friendly to him -- as being a perfect life without fault. He showed that he had power over the natural world by healing people from diseases. He performed miracles over natural things like fish and bread and storms.
This Jesus was executed, then came back to life, and was seen alive again by hundreds of people. Then he left this earth for good like he said he would. He was able to use life and death and time as he pleased. He not only lived on earth in the first century AD. -- he was also alive at a place away from this earth before the creation of the universe.
The truth is that he, Jesus, is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. In him all things were made that were made. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
All things were made inside this Jesus – that includes you! You were made in the son of the Maker of the universe. He wants you to be free from anxiety and stress caused by all the distractions of your job and your electronic devices. But way beyond that, he has a fulfilling life for you to live -- that only you can live. There are things he wants you to do that only you can do. There is only one person like you, and there’s never been another person like you – and there never will be! So there are important things to accomplish on this earth that only you can accomplish.
Since you’ve been made in Jesus, he knows the things he wants you to do, and how you’re to do them. So you can see how important it is for you to find out from the son of the Maker – in whom you were created – what those are. He’s the one who gives us flowers and puppy dogs and symphonies and a beautifully-ordered world for us to appreciate and enjoy. Similarly, he knows the good things and good plan for your life where things will work out for your good. As you get to know him, only then will you find out what his plan is for you, and be able to follow his directions for your life.
Mindfulness training points out the challenge we face in our lives -- but doesn’t give the solution to it. The challenge is that we all need to concentrate on the moment we’re in and be able to handle all the distractions and difficulties we meet. But meeting that challenge is just the starting point. The lives we’re to live aren’t meant to just cope with difficulties using a self-help technique. They’re to be lives that flourish -- informed and guided by the one who made them. They’re to know the one who knows the plans he has for each one of us, and is waiting to share them with us – for our blessing and the world’s benefit.
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