Living in the present- 3 secrets to resisting anxiety and finding joy in the ordinary moments
Most of us aren't really living in the moment.
We have busy lives, complicated relationships, conflicts and problems that leave us awake at night replaying possible solutions in our heads, trying to distract ourselves by watching instagram stories and sorting socks.
As single people we have another level of worries - who will date? Will we get married? What did the two day gap she/he left before texting back really mean?
This means that our thoughts, imagination and attention are often taken up by replaying stress from the past or imagining stress in the future.
But as followers of Jesus, I believe we are called to live in the moment and to be aware of God's presence in that moment.
'Be still and know that I am God' Psalm 46: 10
Mindfulness is actually a spiritual discipline - like praying and reading the Bible, that allows us to move away from worry and anxiety and helps us to focus on the present and God's presence in it.
Here's a few quick tips that I find helpful in moving away from stress and anxiety and living more in the present.
1. Take control of your thoughts
We sometimes thinks that, like feelings, thoughts are out of our control.
If we have a worry or stress we think we can't help but dwell on it.
The Bible tells us the opposite.
'We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.' 2 Corinthians 10:5
The more we dwell on something stressful, the more we feel the emotions that are associated with that thought - usually anxiety.
If we take thoughts captive to God we remember to only speak truth and positivity over ourselves, to imagine a hopeful, joyful future, to give ourselves and others grace for the past.
Sometimes I actually imagine the negative thought or memory like a balloon that I am letting go of. If you're a visual person this might help you.
Remember - your mind only goes where you let it.
Practise this when negative thoughts or memories creep in - speak Bible truths over yourself, distract yourself with something positive, try to let go of replaying things again and again.
2. Be aware of your breath
Breathing is a key tool in the practise of mindfulness. We're constantly doing it but we don't always notice it.
Harness this amazing physical phenomena to remind yourself that you are here in the present moment.
You are breathing in the spirit of God, you are breathing out and letting go of stress and negativity.
This helps us not only mentally but physically. Deep breaths draw in oxygen and flush out the chemicals like adrenalin which are caused by stress. If we stop and take some deeper breaths and relax the body, even just for a minute, we can actually help ourselves to feel less stressed and anxious.
There are loads of breathing exercises you can find on youtube if you'd like to try this for a more extended period.
3. Wake up to the blessings in the moment
I recently went on a mindfulness course where we sat for 5 minutes and looked at a bunch of flowers. It was quite weird I have to say... I was mainly thinking about what I needed to get from Sainsburys on the way home.
However, when I managed to focus on it I realised how revolutionary it is.
We are surrounded by beauty and blessings in every moment.
Whether it's the first coffee of the morning.
A beautiful piece of music.
The warmth of the sun on our faces.
These things are not necessary but God gives them to us to bring joy and beauty to our lives.
If we can discipline ourselves to stop in an everyday moment and really experience those things then we'll stop missing out on all the goodness and wonder of life.
I could go on and on about how transformative I have personally found this discipline but it would be a novel, not a blog. If you want to find out more read Present Perfect - finding God in the now by Gregory A Boyd or take any and every opportunity to go on Mindfulness training and see how you can apply it to your faith.
I'm praying that your day is full of moments where you can fully experience joy and peace and know that God is present in all of them.