by Associate, Katie Pfiffner
Fall 2019, issue of Salt
“All you need to know is that the future is wide open and you are about to create it by what you do.” —Pema Chodron
There is no denying the excitement in the air as we think about 2020. When we look to the year ahead and consider all the change coming within the congregation, within the walls of Mount Carmel, throughout the United States and the world, it’s easy to get wrapped up in something that has yet to happen, all the while missing the moment we are in.
Pausing for a deep breath can bring us out of our ruminations of the future right into the body, which can only exist in the present moment. Mindfulness—intentional present moment awareness without judgement—can help us stay tuned into our mind and heart, choosing our response, rather than getting lost in anticipation or expectation of what is to come.
There is a practice in mindfulness called S.T.O.P., and utilizing this throughout the day can lower our stress and enable us to create the space needed to be present.
S = Stop. Take a break from what you are doing and pause.
T = Take a couple breaths. This could be for a few seconds or a few minutes. Notice the air coming in and notice the air going out.
O = Observe the moment as it is. Observe what you are experiencing in this moment physically, mentally, and emotionally. Just notice, without judging it as good or bad.
P = Proceed. Proceed with a sense of gentleness and a fresh perspective of how you are receiving this moment.
In many Eastern languages, the same word is used for ‘mind’ and ‘heart.’ This awareness helps us tune into the connection between our thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the body. It is through these same connections that we influence each moment, creating the future by what we do.
As we move through the coming days, weeks, and months, can we pause, breathe, and be present to ourselves and to one another, creating a space of gentleness and compassion as we create this future together?
About the author: Katie Pfiffner is pastoral services minister for the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa. She meets with the sisters for mindfulness meditation, Praying into the Moment with chair yoga and breath practices, and other activities.