5 tips for paying attention to your life

May 26, 2016 by

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What does it mean to pay attention to your life? I am contemplating that question as I sit in my quiet place listening to the birds sing and watching the mountains glow in the early morning light. Paying attention is about taking notice to ourselves, God, our neighbors and the earth on which we live.

Pay attention to your body

Taking notice of my body is first about my physical body. What are the signals that tell me I am going too fast or too slow? What are the promptings that make me aware I am not getting enough exercise or eating the right food and neglecting my health? These are the questions I contemplate as I sit and listen to my body.

Over the last few weeks I have been keeping a record of my daily steps and exercise as well as counting my calories. I realize with horror that I am far more sedentary than I thought. Sitting for long periods is not good for me — for my heart, my muscles or my bones — and I need to change.

Pay attention to your soul

I am also learning to pay better attention to my soul and the emotions that simmer beneath the surface, easily ignored in the busy priority of work and hospitality. There are currents of joy, pain, tension, quiet longings and frantic desires. They all need to be paid attention to. What gives me joy? What depresses me? What breaks my heart? What are the implications for my life, my relationship to others and to God?

Tend your spirit

My spirit also needs tending and often the condition of the space in which I sit reflects the state of my spirit. Mess means a chaotic spirit, easily distracted by bits and pieces of work projects I spread around me. Computer open first thing in the morning means social media has taken priority over God.

How close do I feel to God today? What have I done to nourish that closeness? How have I pushed God away. Creating a space for God time requires a deliberate act of placing my computer under my desk and stacking my work into a neat pile that does not distract me.

Take notice of God’s world

Celtic Christians believed that creation was translucent and the glory of God shone through. A raindrop, a ripe strawberry, even a broken branch reflect something of who God is. I know that is true but unless I take the time to look and listen and touch I don’t see that glory.

Pay attention to God’s people

All people are God’s people, made in God’s image to reflect who God is. Even the most broken people (and we are all broken people) can draw us closer to the God we love. Yet we easily listen to some and dismiss others. We pay attention to those we like or whose opinions we agree with and ignore or demonize others who think, look or worship differently. We sit in fellowship with those who make us comfortable and distance ourselves from those who make us uncomfortable.

Whom do you listen to? Who helps you relax? Whom do you ignore?

These are questions I find myself grappling with more and more. The more intentionally I take time and create space for these questions to pay attention, the more grateful I become for all the ordinary, mundane aspects of life, the closer I feel to God and the more my life becomes immersed in the awe and wonder of all God has created.

Christine Sine is executive director of Mustard Seed Associates, a small organization founded by her and her husband, Tom Sine, to assist churches and Christian organizations to engage the challenges of the 21st century. She writes at God Space, where this post originally appeared.

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