“The man who can articulate the movements of his inner life need no longer be a victim of himself, but is able slowly and consistently to remove the obstacles that prevent the spirit from entering.” Henri Nouwen recognized that the Spirit of God is a Presence that makes one aware of his/her inner life which, of course, parallels an awakening awareness to the outer world. Some see this “Presence” as “coming down from on high” and intruding or violating. They see it in terms of time and space. I see it as interior process beginning to unfold and making one aware of his/her heart’s machinations and subtleties. There is a verse from the New Testament (Hebrews 4:12) which recognizes this discriminating work of the Spirit, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
To be “mindful” of “the thoughts and intents of the heart” is simple awareness. It is to pay attention. It is to turn off the “automatic pilot” that we’re accustomed to operating by.
Emily Dickinson put it this way:
There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the heft
Of cathedral tunes.
Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are