Friday, March 28, 2008

19. Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are.

Hi, everyone! We are without an author today, so let me just share one thought:

I think this Maxim is very closely related to the one about silence. It is impossible to be "fully present" when you have four or five pots bubbling at once (literal or figurative.) I often have to remind myself to turn away from the computer when I'm having a conversation with someone, even a phone conversation; I might technically be listening, but I'm not really paying attention. And on the flip side of that, I will often ignore the phone if it rings while I'm doing something I need to concentrate on -- teaching a student, writing a note, or even making breakfast. I don't like electronic gadgets to run my life!

As women, it's very tempting to multi-task, because for the most part we can do it quite capably. But something will be lost in each task when we try to do them all at once; all that does is erode our ability to concentrate and water down our experiences. When you are fully present, you learn things you never expected to.

What are your thoughts about this?


jocelyn said...

I have such a hard time with this as a new mom. It's so easy for me to get obsessed with completing a task while Ruthie is crying, or getting frustrated with my lack of time and trying to do too much at once. When my attention is split 5 ways, no one task gets completed in the time I think it's going to, and no one thing gets done as well as I want it to.

I think it's poor stewardship of your existence to not be fully present where you are (though I'm as guilty of that as anyone else, if not more). And being attentive and fully present where you are creates a better state of mind for yourself. I think it helps you to know the most appropriate reaction and response to a situation, since when you are fully attentive, present where you are, you are rooted in the things that are most important.

Emily said...

I love the phrase "poor stewardship of your existence." That applies to so many things! Every moment of life is such a great gift -- it really is a shame to spend it halfheartedly, instead of fully aware and participating in whatever task you have before you.

Carla said...

I like this maxim. So often we live from the anticipation of one event to the next, especially if it is something fun. But what about all of the interim moments of life that we are missing out on while we spend our energy and thought focused on what is next?

Yes, the "poor stewardship of your existence" is a good way to think about what happens when we are not living in the present moment, present to God and to one another.

Michele said...

I am the queen of multi-tasking. I used to think this was a great trait but now I realize multi-tasking can hurt me at times. I struggle with leaving that pot boiling to hug my husband too. Stop to give that little one a hug while answering an email. My heart is for my children yet in my busi-ness sometimes the ones I love get the short end of the stick with all my "doing" for them. Sometimes they just need me.

Early in my Orthodox journey I remember hearing my friend Joseph speak of being present where you are. I think of this often when I am standing before my prayer corner. Let the world go away and just concentrate on what you are doing that very moment. Stop worrying about the things of the day. I think of this as well as I look in my children's eyes. I pray God will help me not to forget it when I have to stop something I THINK is important and cherish this very moment.

The Forty Maxims

  • 1. Be always with Christ and trust God in everything.
  • 2. Pray, fast and do acts of mercy.
  • 3. Read the Scriptures regularly.
  • 4. Read good books, a little at a time.
  • 5. Practice silence, inner and outer.
  • 6. Cultivate communion with the saints.
  • 7. Be an ordinary person, one of the human race.
  • 8. Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time.
  • 9. Be honest, first of all with yourself.
  • 10. Be faithful in little things.
  • 11. Do your work, then forget it.
  • 12. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
  • 13. Face reality.
  • 14. Be grateful.
  • 15. Be cheerful.
  • 16. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
  • 17. Never bring unnecessary attention to yourself.
  • 18. Listen when people talk to you.
  • 19. Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are.
  • 20. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
  • 21. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly.
  • 22. Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis.
  • 23. Flee carnal things at their first appearance.
  • 24. Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine.
  • 25. Don’t seek or expect pity or praise.
  • 26. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
  • 27. Don’t judge anyone for anything.
  • 28. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
  • 29. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
  • 30. Be defined and bound by God, not people.
  • 31. Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully.
  • 32. Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty.
  • 33. Be strict with yourself.
  • 34. Be merciful with yourself and others.
  • 35. Do nothing for people that they can do for themselves.
  • 36. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
  • 37. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
  • 38. Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy.
  • 39. When you fall, get up immediately and start over.
  • 40. Get help when you need it, without fear or shame.