03/28/2015 12:30 pm ET Updated May 28, 2015

Recognizing the Gift Each Moment Bears is a Mindfulness Practice

by Nada Stankova Photography via Getty Images

"Appreciation of life itself, becoming suddenly aware of the miracle of being alive, on this planet, can turn what we call ordinary life into a miracle. We come awake to such a realization when we recognize our connection to a spiritual dimension." ~ Dan Wakefield

I am just now coming out of a weeklong physical challenge, having dealt with a nasty little virus that snuck up on me and really whacked me upside the head. The most startling part about this for me was that I never get sick. So, for the better part of five days, I was doing that metaphysical self-analysis thing. You know, the guilt trip, seeking the cryptic cause of the negative experience, blah, blah, blah. It's a pointless exercise in feeling rotten about feeling rotten, but it seems that on special occasions, we all have the tendency to get out the hammer and start pounding. Fortunately, my prayer partner called me and pulled me out of that nosedive. As I regained my sense of the Beloved's ever-presence, my mind began to focus on something a bit more productive, and in the process of evicting this visiting virus, I consciously invited it to be my master teacher of the moment.

However, the lesson I sought was not about what was in my consciousness to create such an experience but rather what I missed out on in my life while I was busy feeling rotten about feeling rotten. Here was my awareness: As I sat down this morning to write about these thoughts, I noticed a large vase full of beautiful roses sitting right there next to my computer monitor. My wife Diane has a talent for growing flowers, and I thought this was a lovely gift, her way of beautifying my office after a week of me hacking, drooling, spitting, and coughing all over the place. (I know, that's gross, huh? That's what she said too.) Well, I went to thank her for her thoughtfulness and told her that they would really brighten up my day! She looked at me, paused, and smiled curiously, saying, "I put those roses there four days ago, honey." Four days ago! Now, that would not be such a bad thing had I not been sitting at my computer off and on for all those days, doing much of my usual business. Granted, I was a little less focused than normal, but nonetheless, there they were, glorious roses, in full bloom right in front of my nose. Had I not been so busy feeling rotten about feeling rotten, perhaps I might have seen the roses earlier and enjoyed them even more.

Life is like that, isn't it? We can have the most glorious and beautiful gifts stuck right under our noses every day, but if we become overly preoccupied with the challenges that life is guaranteed to present, we never see the gift that lies in the moment at hand. In truth, we don't need to be stricken with the inconvenience of a virus or other more serious maladies to be oblivious to the gifts of the moment, do we? Do you ever get to feeling badly that things seem to be going poorly in some area of your life? Do you ever get so caught up in the drama of what's unfolding that you lose sight of the gifts that life is laying at your feet in every holy instant? If you do, stop and think about my roses. The gift was made long before I was ready to enjoy it; what a waste of that beauty! The beautiful gifts that life brings us every day are beyond measure, but we have to be willing to be mindfully present enough in the moment to see them. What gift has been laid at your feet today? Perhaps now would be a great time to stop, look down, and appreciate it, because as with my roses, it may not be there forever. Appreciate the gifts that life brings you in every moment. You deserve them.

This writing is an excerpt from Dennis' book, The Art of Being - 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life

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