Mindful Functions


There is much talk these days — at least in the cirles I travel — about mindfulness. For me, mindfulness is the intentional practice of being present in the moment, embracing whatever that moment holds, whether it be joy, suffering or something in between. Our tendency is to be either locked in the past through regret or pain, or we are obsessed or worried about the future. What gets overlooked is the amazing gift of “now”.

In the past several months I have begun to practice mindfulness in some specific ways. Here are a few examples:

* Mindfulness of nature – paying attention to the changes in nature literally right in my back yard. This Spring I am paying attention to the budding of the trees and the amazing things that happen all around us with the changing of the seasons. Taking just a few moments each day to do this fills me with wonder and gratitude for God’s created order… and for me being a small but significant part of it.

* Mindful eating. Rather than rushing through my meal, I am taking just a few seconds to look at what is on my plate before diving in. It is amazing when I stop to think of all the things that had to happen for that food to be on my plate: farmers growing crops, people harvesting, distribution and logistical systems, cookware to prepare it, spices, etc. Chewing slowly and savoring each bite makes me mindful and thankful for the gift of food.

* Mindful functions. This one is brand new… and I warn you, it may fall into the category of TMI. But it occured to me this morning that I can even practice “mindful functions”. You see, I have a friend who is having surgery tomorrow to have his cancerous rectum removed. That’s right—removed, as in gone, not there anymore. A basic bodily function I take for granted (and often find inconvenient) will be forever different for him from that day forward. These bodies we have that digest and process what we eat without any intentionality on our part…. wow, what a miracle and what a blessing! Forgive me if you are offended by what sounds crass, but I intend to practice mindful functions from this day forward.

And…if you don’t mind, please pray for my friend, Kevin, and his family and for the doctors performing his surgery tomorrow.

**QUESTION: What intentional practices help you stay mindful of the amazing gift of “now”?**

Morning Rituals

Rituals … that’s a word that doesn’t evoke positive feelings in a lot of people. We tend to think that rituals are just dry, mechanical practices… certainly not exciting.

While rituals can become that, I also believe that they can hold tremendous power for us.

For the past season I have been experimenting with some morning rituals and I am finding that they are adding fullness to my experience of each day. Some of these won’t sound like rituals…more like habits or routines, but at least for me they are rituals.

Here’s my current morning routine:

* Get up early – Usually between 5 and 5:30AM. This requires me to go to bed earlier, too. I love BEING up early in the morning; I just don’t love GETTING up early in the morning!  I do find, though, that if I go to bed early, getting up is no problem…it’s even energizing.  I set an alarm for the latest possible time I want to wake up, but 98% of the time I wake up naturally before the alarm goes off.

* Fix a cup of coffee — “The best part of waking up…”

* Spend 10 minutes in silence — I do this differently from day to day, but I usually sit in the same place.  Sometimes I play a soundtrack of the sound of the ocean through my iphone… I love being on the beach at sunrise, and this helps put me there in my mind. Sometimes I silently repeat a prayer phrase, other times I focus on a word, other times I just sit and try my best to be still and present in the moment. This is more “successful” some days than others. Some days I feel very centered; other days I have difficulty keeping my mind from racing. I try not to judge it, though… it is what it is for that day.

* 10 minutes of reading the Scriptures – right now I’m reading through the New Testament in chronological order… in the order the books were written.  I only get through 2-3 chapters a day, but it is not a race. I try to be open to what God is saying to me in that passage. I read on my Kindle and I highlight passages that speak to me on that day. Once I have finished, I look back over the things I have highlighted. Sometimes there is a word or phrase that I carry with me throughout that day or week.

* Review my prayer list — I keep a list of people and situations I’m praying about. I look over this list and pray for each one. This, for me, is not a “formal” time of prayer in the sense most people think of it, but I consider it prayer. As I’m reading the list I am communing with God, interceding for others and seeking to be open to hear from God.

* 10 minutes of journaling – I use an electronic program for journaling that syncs across my devices so I am able to journal regardless of where I am and what device I have with me. Sometimes I reflect on the day past; other times I write about what it is ahead; many times I write about what’s going on inside me. I don’t expect it to ever be published or even read by others, but I find this to be a great blessing to me.

You’ll notice I have a lot of things that last 10 minutes… there’s nothing magical about that and I’m not legalistic about it. I do use a timer on my iphone so I’m not constantly looking at the clock. It chimes when the 10 minutes are over. I bring to closure whatever I am doing and then transition to the next thing and start the timer again.

Well, that’s what I’m doing now first thing in the morning. I don’t present it to say it is the right or only way to have some morning rituals. I’m sure I’ll continue to shake things up from time to time to keep things fresh.  At least for me, though, I find that having some rituals in the morning help me be more centered and focused throughout the remainder of the day.

For a great resource on establishing a good morning ritual, check out this podcast:


What morning rituals do you find helpful?