What do you fixate on?
We have done a lot of driving recently and the children have had their in-car DVD player on. If you turn around and watch them you get a perfect example of people transfixed. With their earphones on and the screens in front of them they are in their own world where their laughter or comments or surprises are purely related to what they are looking at.
Or you might have seen the french film Amelie and remember the scene early on in the film depicting her likes – one of which is watching her fellow cinema goers transfixed on the screen.
That sort of fixation takes you right out of your life and deep into another world. Alternatively we can fixate more internally.
One of the positives, medically/psychologically speaking, of things like mindfulness is that it aims to fix us in the present. Generally speaking, our thoughts and emotions and energies tend to run around like headless chickens scurrying around over the past and the present, the near and far, the personal and the global in a frantic, unending circuit.
To stop and breathe and be still is a wonderful contrast to this. There are lots of ways we can be more in the present. To taste what we are eating, to experience it rather than inhaling it. To go on a walk for pleasure rather than just getting from A to B. A child completely engrossed in a lego construction. A stimulating conversation. It is not so much escaping reality (as we might as we read a book or watch a film), but rather sitting in a moment of our reality and being fully there.
So the whole stopping and being present thing is definitely beneficial and I think rather neglected by most of us, but on its own it is only offering us at best a partial reality or potentially a false reality.
How, and on what, does the bible teach us to fixate, to pay careful attention to, to keep watch for, to watch out for, to be alert to?
Watching one thing intently is often at the expense of watching something else.
Watch where you are going!
Stop watching the clock.
Or is just fruitless as in:
A watched kettle never boils.
So just aiming to stop and stare – whether internally or externally is not a failsafe. Our blind, deceitful and wandering eyes need more guidance than that!
To be continued….