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The light of mindfulness

flashlight appI had been in our Sunday school classroom only five minutes yesterday morning when—darkness. The electricity went out.

That’s one way to shake free of mindlessness. 

Mindlessness is going through the motions without even thinking. I couldn’t do that in the dark.

I was forced to be mindful.

Author Ellen Langer begins Part 2 of Mindfulness with its key qualities.

1. Creates new categories
Kids reframe things naturally—sticks become guns; blankets become hide-outs; Ken becomes Prince Charming.

But we adults sometimes lose this imaginative ability.
When the lights went out Sunday, I thought, “We can’t have class now.”
Yet with a couple of flashlight apps and later two small candles, why not? Our class without electricity carried on. 

2. Welcomes new information
There’s always more to learn, new information to let in.

Both our prayer leaders yesterday caught themselves unconsciously speaking into the microphone, even though it was dead. But once they became conscious of it, they instead stepped away from the mikes and spoke louder.

3. Considers others’ perspectives
Langer says studies show we tend to blame circumstances when we mess up, but blame others personally when they do.

That faulty attitude can stunt our potential to make useful changes in ourselves, and prevent us from being empathetic toward others.

Yesterday I tried to put myself in Allen’s shoes (our preacher). I immediately became more lenient in judging his sermon because I knew it wasn’t the one he had prepared to preach (but it was good, nonetheless).

4. Increases control over context
Football players don’t get upset when 300-pound strangers pound them. But don’t try that off the football field. Sometimes context is everything.

We typically sing at my church from the lyrics projected on screens. But without electricity to run the projectors, we had to sing from memory.

I became far more mindful of the words I was singing because I was forced to think hard what they were.

5. Values the process, not just outcome
If I were to rank our Sunday service by the outward product, it might have been low. None of the leaders were able to use what they had prepared and it showed.

But Christianity is as much journey as destination. It’s not how polished the outcome is, but how we’re growing in Christ through the process.

And this time, maybe being kicked into darkness made me see a little more light by becoming a little more mindful. 

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Linking up with other readers of Mindfulness at The High CallingMindfulnessUseitonMonday


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