Being Present to the Present

Recently I led a retreat at Sinsinawa Mound Center entitled: Being Present to the Present: Living Mindfully with Gratitude. Whenever I prepare for a retreat I learn so much that enriches my life. The people who gathered were eager and attuned to the topic, making the retreat so spirit-filled.

My title for the retreat was inspired by the anonymous saying:  

            Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is mystery.  
            Today is gift, that's why we call it "the PRESENT."

Often we are whizzing through our days, living somewhat mindlessly. We end up looking to the past or future. We miss being in the present moment. Living mindfully with gratitude is living life fully.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, has brought mindfulness into the mainstream. However the concept is not new. This practice is an integral part of the Christian life--centering prayer, the practice of the presence of God, contemplation,  and meditation are all forms of living mindfully. Author and speaker, Jack Kornfield speaks of  it as "loving awareness."

This last retreat on mindfulness was actually the fourth time I have offered sessions on this topic. Each time I am engaged in this practice I begin with noticing my breathing. Without judgment I become aware of my body, emotions, thoughts, and spirit. I focus on the center of my body and am profoundly aware that the light of Christ is at the core of my being and that light radiates out from me. I am conscious of the Christ-light in others too.

By practicing "being present to the present" I know a greater sense of peace and joy.  I have also become less judgmental and more accepting of others and aware of God's presence in all of life. What a gift I receive daily!
Do you live in "loving awareness?" Choose to be "present to the present" and see what a gift each day is.

Mary T. Johnson, OP
Westchester, IL


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