I first learned of mindfulness meditation, a Buddhist practice, from an atheist friend, whose journey of practical and provable spirituality is a source of inspiration to me.

The idea is that we don’t spend much time in the present. When faced with a problem, we look to the past for old, known solutions, and to the future for possible ramifications. And since we’re always facing problems, then our minds are never (or rarely) focused on what we’re actually doing.

When applied to Christianity, I realized that this makes us susceptible to sin. If we aren’t paying attention to what’s here and now, then how can we see the love that’s here and now? All we see is the pain of yesterday, and the anxiety of tomorrow.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”—Luke 23:34.

I don’t know what I’m doing, because my eye isn’t on the ball.

Over the past few months, I’ve developed a series of meditations that keeps me focused on the present, on the love and connection between all things—which is the practical way I think of God.

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”—I John 4:8.

My first step was to forgive every sin that I encountered.

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: / But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”—Matthew 6:14-15.

It doesn’t take theft or murder to be a sin. The little things pile up. The longer people go unforgiven in our hearts, the heavier and darker our hearts become. We have to take out the trash.

I never realized how many small, annoying sins there are.

I live in North Carolina, where they love their big pickup trucks. In my apartment parking lot, I’m ready to back out of my space, but I can’t see. The trucks are blocking my view.

This may seem like nothing, a small source of annoyance, that some people would block the view of other drivers, so that they could raise themselves higher. But it creates darkness in me; I have to get it out of there.

So I forgave the pickup drivers, and the person speeding through the parking lot, who almost hit me as I edged blindly from my space. Then I forgave the person who invented speed bumps, and those who thought it was a good idea to place them throughout my apartment complex.

I forgave the people who wouldn’t move to the inside lane, so I could merge onto the four-lane road. I certainly had to forgive whoever decided to put a blinking stoplight for a left-hand turn at a busy intersection.

All of that sounds really petty. And maybe it is. A drop of water isn’t going to drown me. But if that drop is joined by others, and I don’t allow any of it to drain, then, eventually, I will drown.

I felt silly, though, forgiving everyone of everything. But I knew those small, selfish infractions were bugging me. By facing this, I realized that my annoyance was a testament to my weakness. I’m the one who needed to be forgiven, because I judged all those people for doing what comes naturally.

“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”—Luke 6:37.

For my second step, I kept forgiving everyone, but I also forgave myself. So much forgiveness! It was overwhelming. I could barely keep track of it all. But it kept me in the moment. I felt God’s presence smiling at my audacity to acknowledge every sin, no matter how logically insignificant, beaming as I realized that I was the sinner, and urging me toward the next step.

This was how it went:

I forgive you; forgive me. I forgive you; forgive me. And so on.

The exercise taught me that we are not just connected by love, but sin as well. No matter how different we are, we all have love and sin in common.

I don’t sin much when I’m alone though. When no one is around to bug me, I’m a perfect angel. So, as I walked and prayed late at night, down the sidewalks in my apartment complex, I had no one to forgive. That’s when I took the third step in mindfulness meditation.

“…and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”—Matthew 28:20.

God is always there, no matter where we are. God was with the frog that hopped across my path, the leaf that fell, the crickets and their chorus, my heartbeat, the phase of the moon, feel of the air, etc.

I spoke that mantra for everything I saw: God is there…and there, and there—in the numbers on that license plate, the sound of my footsteps, everything. It quickly became my favorite meditation. I can do it at any time, for a few seconds, minutes, however long I need to remind myself that God is always with me, everyone, and everything. And that led me to my final (or current) steps.

I took that acknowledgement of the omnipresence of God, and applied it to other people. God is with that pickup driver, that person who invented the speed bump; and God is with me and you.

“…your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”—Matthew 6:8.

I don’t need to ask God to be with me. I don’t need to ask God for anything. All I need to do is acknowledge that God is with me, and accept the responsibility of conscience and compassion that comes with that protective presence.

I stayed in the moment, then, by acknowledging that God was everything I saw. It’s hard to hate someone, or be annoyed by them, once you realize that Heaven is in them, just as it is within you.

“…for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”—Luke 17:21.

Mindfulness meditation is acceptance of the moment, love of the present. It’s not about us asking for God’s blessing, but acknowledging that the blessing has already been given.

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