When we first think of being controlled, we might think of despotic regimes or dystopias where we don’t have freedom to make our own choices. A negative, fearful picture.
But here I am thinking of being controlled in the sense of exercising our freedom to make our own choices, or – put another way – practicing self-control. Being self-controlled is about deciding how we want to behave and then doing so. A positive, freeing picture.
We can make a choice NOT to do or have something because we believe it will be beneficial. Some of us may make a choice to limit our food intake (to maintain or lose weight) or our screen time (to turn our attention to those around us). Recently in the season of Lent, Christians may have ‘given up’ something they enjoy. Now in the Muslim season of Ramadan, Muslims may give up food and drink between dawn and sunset. In doing this, both Christians and Muslims show their desire to draw closer to God.
We can also make a choice to do or have something. Take exercise as an example. We can practise self control when we make a choice to walk rather than get the bus or drive.
It is a positive picture of self-control – whether it is to do something or not to do something – but that doesn’t make it easy!
Look out today. Notice when you have a choice. Consider what the benefit of a particular choice would be. Would practicing self-control help you or someone else in body, mind or spirit? When we recognise the benefit – the result of – a particular choice, it will help us to be self-controlled – sometimes at least!
This is Mindful Monday on 6 May 2019.
If you live in or near Cheltenham, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on this theme of growing in self-control on Tuesday 14 May, 7.30-9 pm at the Oasis. Book your place by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org