Too Many Minds

I still remember how excited my parents were to have their first “car phones” installed in their cars. Do you remember those days? When we were younger, my siblings and I would count the number of car phone antennas that we saw while we were driving around suburban Kansas City. When I finally grew old enough to drive for myself, my father purchased a “portable” phone for me to keep underneath my seat in case of emergencies. In retrospect, I’m not sure how we ever considered something like that to be portable. The phone was in a case that was almost as large as a briefcase, and it plugged into the car’s lighter port to draw power when it was in use.

My how things have changed! Today, we walk around with cell phones that are more powerful and more capable then my first commodore computer. Of course, there will always be technological advancements that make the gadgets of yester-year seem silly by comparison, but something truly remarkable happened when car phones became so common…something that changed the nature of American culture irrevocably. Within a very short period of time in America, we transitioned to a culture of 24 hour availability.

As car phones transitioned into cell phones and cell phones became smart phones privacy and personal time became a thing of the past. Unfortunately, so did focus. How many times have you been annoyed to have a conversation interrupted by a cell phone call or text, only to be further astonished when the person that you were spending time with actually takes that call or replies to that text? This part of our culture has shifted so much that it is now unfortunately even commonplace to find two people sitting next to one another, both intently focused on their own cell phones and paying absolutely no attention to one another. Like you, I am sadly also guilty of all of these shamefully inconsiderate acts at one time or another. However, as I survey the state of our culture in light of these changes, it occurs to me that we have begun to develop “too many minds.”

You see, in most Asian Martial Arts traditions, there exists some version of the saying that in order to achieve mastery over yourself, you must learn to be of “one mind;” to be fully present where you are without dividing your attention between multiple competing stimuli. Such a pursuit is difficult in our modern world. No matter where we go, there are multiple demands competing for our attention and we are increasingly expected to be available to each of them, all of the time. However, there is an element of peace that comes with slowing down enough to be fully present where you are; fully available to the people that you are with. If you want some more peace in your life, spend some time this year letting God teach you to be fully present where you are. If you slow down enough, you might just find that God is already fully present in places that you were previously too distracted to notice.

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