I invite us to consider how we can dissolve our fears of losing our memory as we age by accepting that our mind is perfect just as it is right now. We can decide to appreciate our mind as the ever-expandable gift of our Spirit that allows us to be aware of the beauty and goodness of life in us, and around us, in every moment wherever we are. We can learn to do this through the practice of mindfulness.
We’ve all heard the word “mindfulness,” but what does it mean? Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote, “Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing,” which is another way of saying “be where your feet are,” which is another way of saying “be fully present right where you are.”
We all want to be spiritually awake. Isn’t that why we read and meditate? Isn’t that why we go out on a walk to commune with nature? We’re hoping to wipe the sleep from our human eyes so that we can truly see Life as It’s meant to be seen. Deep within us we know that being awake is essential to our being alive in the way we’re created to be alive. In the Aramaic Bible, in the Book of Ephesians, we read: “Awake, you who sleep, and arise from among the dead, and The Messiah will illuminate you.”
The Messiah—the Voice of Truth; the Christ of Love; Cosmic Consciousness—shines within our mind and illuminates us every time we are mentally present where it shines. And, It only shines in the present moment because the present moment is where all Life is happening. If we’re not fully present in the moments of our life, we’ll miss the holy happening we came here to experience.
All that is required for us to be spiritually awake is to be present mentally where our feet are physically, paying attention to what’s going on without judging how it should go, and yet being aware of what we’re doing and how we’re feeling as we go. This is the very practice of mindfulness, and mindfulness means being awake.
It may sound like a simple thing for us do, i.e., to know what we’re doing by being mentally present while we’re doing it. But if our habitual intention was to have such a mind/body awareness and connection, if we consistently chose to pay attention to what we were doing in the moment we were doing it, for one thing we’d never trip over or run into anything! But we do because it seems that despite the powerful awareness we’ve heard can be ours when we stay focused right where are, most of us aren’t mentally fully present right where we are most of the time.
It’s been said, “If you want to be happy, don’t dwell in the past, don’t worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.” We may not doubt that it is essential to the health of our mind and body, and to the expansion of our soul and spirit, for us to pay attention to our life as it’s happening. But often even without knowing it, even when we think we’re paying attention, we’re actually distracted (at least in part) by something else. Part of our attention isn’t where our feet are. Our mind is focused partially (or totally) on either a past or future thought.
Almost all of our thoughts are habitual, and because they are we’re not always aware that we’re thinking about something else. Maybe we think we’re fully present, but at the same time we’re also thinking about something that happened just a minute ago, earlier in the day, or even years ago. Or, maybe we’re thinking about something we need to do next, or at some point in the day, or at some point in our life!
Author, Mark Williams, wrote: “Now is the future that you promised yourself last year, last month, last week. Now is the only moment you’ll ever really have. Mindfulness is about waking up to this.” A good question to ask our self might be, “Am I waking up to that? How often do I feel mentally awake and alert? How often do I feel fully tapped into, and fully engaged with, the present moment by being attentive and curious? How often do I accept mental fogginess as natural, and lack of attention and curiosity as part of the aging process?”
Most likely all of us here have walked into a room and forgotten why we’re there. Most of the time we laugh about it, even when no one else is around, and then we go back where we were and start over. It’s really no big deal, right? We’ve been told it’s just one of the signs of getting older. It’s possible, even likely, we were all born mindful. As a child we were fully engaged with each moment, curious about life. We didn’t have enough past to distract us, and we didn’t worry about the future because it didn’t come to mind. When we toddled into a room, we were on a mission to have fun, and we knew we’d find something good—a toy, a pet, a parent, something fun to play with.
But our being fully present to play in each moment of our life changed as we got a little older. As a teenager we had a whole lot more to think about: a boy or girl we’d just met, homework that needed to be done. And, nowadays, with many teenagers constantly focused on their cell phones, they may not have a clue where their feet are, much less where their mind has been! Even so, when a young person walks into a room and forgets why they came into that room, they don’t worry that it’s a sign that something is wrong with their mind. They know they were simply distracted.
So here we are, at the age are now, living in a world that seems to be moving faster and faster, and words seem to come at us more quickly than ever before. How often when we can’t think of the name of a familiar person or object right away, do we start to panic just a bit, or even a lot? As we pause in anxious silence, often if someone is with us they will try to help us by offering a word that may or may not be the one we were searching for. But since we can’t find it anyway, we react with a frustrated, “no that’s not it,” or even if it wasn’t, we often feel relieved the awkward silence is over.
We try to help each other fill in a verbal pause out of love because we believe that pause is something we need to fear at our age. But maybe we don’t need to fill in the silence. Maybe it’s more helpful to each other to wait, at least a heartbeat or two, before we offer to assist. We don’t need to fear a mental pause in others or our self if we don’t see it as a sign of aging. But we panic if we lose a word here and there because we’re concerned as we age it may not be long before we lose a whole lot more them. We’re told by the medical world that for many of us memory loss is inevitable. However, author and therapist, Shannon Alder, wrote: “The true definition of mental illness is when the majority of your time is spent in the past or future, but rarely living in realism of NOW.” Mindfulness, then, is the cure, and all of us have a mind that is capable of being mindful. If we’re here now, our mind can be here now, too.
There is something we might want to consider if we’ve been accepting memory loss as just the way it goes. Is forgetfulness a sign of our aging or a sign of our lack of mindfulness? Is it a signal of inevitable mental decline or a signal that we’re not giving our full attention to what we’re doing in the moment we’re doing it? Is it an indication that we’re headed downhill or an indication of our lack of curiosity and interest in the life we living right now? In The Science of Mind we read, “Man is Birthless, Deathless, Ageless Spirit; This leaves nothing to be born, mature, decay, and die. When this thought shall be made clear in the consciousness of man, people will no longer grow old. Life cannot grow old; It is always the same.” We don’t have to mentally decline before we depart. When we’re finished with this Earth life, we can leave with our mind clear and wide open to the next adventure.
What if slowing down mentally in our life is a good thing, even part of our Divine Plan, because it’s an opportunity for us to pause right where we are and really see what’s important to see? Eckhart Tolle wrote, “In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much, and forget about the joy of just Being.” We can bring peace to our mind by keeping in mind that we are perfect just as we are, just by Being aware right where we are. Just by being alive, and taking time to live life as it’s happening, puts us in the perfect place, wherever we are, to experience the miracle of being alive.
Sadhguru said, “Every moment there are a million miracles happening around you…There is magic everywhere. If you learn how to live it, life is nothing short of a daily miracle.” That certainly seems enough incentive for us be curious and attentive to the moments of our life! We’ve been given a beautiful expandable mind capable of paying attention.
Though mindfulness can be practiced at any age, maybe we are at the perfect time in our life to practice mindfulness because we are more aware than ever before that if we’re not fully present right where we are, we’ll miss precious moments of this Earth life. Maybe we’re at the perfect time in our life to practice mindfulness because we’re more ready than ever before to allow silence between words. And, if we do, if we don’t panic but simply let our self mentally Be where our feet are, who knows what new awareness will come to our mind. All the wisdom of the Universe is available in the present moment, and all that’s required of us is to Be there to receive it.