A Mindful Christian?

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Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.   Matthew 6:34, the Message.

If you are a Christian who felt an internal resistance to the title of this post and the idea of “mindfulness”, or are uncertain about what mindfulness even is, I hope you’ll stay with me while I explain how this powerful practice can deepen your relationship with Jesus and break through barriers to living in the Spirit.   Mindfulness as a secular practice has been proven to be a powerful agent against anxiety, stress and worry. Think of it this way – mindfulness merely means “being present”, or being “right here, right now”. Jesus understood being in the right now, and thought it important enough to address in his famous Sermon on the Mount.

It is so helpful to stay as close to the present moment as possible. Most of us find ourselves often consumed with things that may or may not occur in the future, and this is the root of all anxiety. We can’t possibly resolve problems that are not yet happening. A mom who picks up an automobile off her child in a moment of crisis could not have possibly planned that action in her mind ahead of time. In that moment, she has access to power, strength and creative problem solving in ways she never would have dreamed. Even current day martyrs have a supernatural, spirit filled power in that moment that they could not have accessed days, or even hours, before the experience. We have a glimpse into this when we read about Stephen in Acts 7: But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” vs. 55-56 NLT

Just like in Stephen’s case, this present moment is the only moment that I can access God’s power. I don’t yet have the strength He’ll give me tomorrow. I don’t have any remnant of what I had yesterday. But in this present moment, God is with me along with all the powers of His Kingdom. I might not like what’s happening in the present moment but if God is with me in an experience He’s allowing, then it is the safest and most productive place for me to be. You’ve heard the slogan many times – “one day at a time”. God designed this concept; he is the Maker and designer of manna. Yesterday’s manna is rotten, tomorrow’s hasn’t appeared yet, so to live on today’s manna would be your best sustenance.

I like the idea of one day at a time, but some days it might even be one moment at a time. Can you feel your next breath? What is the next right thing to do? You may not be able to think calmly about anything beyond that, but you can just do the next right thing – the next thing that aligns with your stated values. Really, Romans 12 says it best: So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. (verse 1, The Message). God is with you, right now, in this moment. Don’t waste that amazing awareness by being somewhere else.

PRACTICE: This week, take a short walk around your neighborhood. During these 15 minutes or so, commit yourself to being completely present. Hear the sounds around you. Notice the colors and the objects around you. Feel your feet hitting the ground. Feel your breath. Don’t try to control your thoughts – thoughts are fine. But if you notice your thoughts are floating off somewhere that is not your present walk, just bring them back by noticing something that IS present. When you are done with your 15 minutes, notice how your body feels. Is it calmer? Do you feel more grounded in your day? Try weaving periods of being present into your every day life – driving, making dinner and so on. Try BEING where you are. Don’t get discouraged, it’s not about being good at this – our minds are designed to wander so just gently bring yourself back to this moment whenever you notice you’ve wandered off!

*Read my comment(s). My dear friend has agreed to give her non-therapist view of my crazy ideas to get the conversation started.  Jump in!*

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3 thoughts on “A Mindful Christian?

  1. I resisted the idea of mindfulness for many years. Like many, I believed I was opening myself up to evil. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe some forms of meditation would and do open people to evil. In this particular case, I was throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    I unequivocally believe God’s word is living, true and necessary. I also believe if things don’t line up with scripture, it’s a problem. I regularly spend time in the word, memorize scripture, meditate on specific versus, pray, etc. I run to its embrace when life is challenging, this is very often, daily.

    I am prone to panic and anxiety. Both of these things can get me spinning. These are among the experiences that cause me to run toward and immerse myself in the word. Although that’s incredibly important and good, I’ve discovered implementing some of these mindfulness practices has helped me become calm and centered, sooner.

    The way I put this in practice today is, when I find myself panicking, I start to pay attention to my breathing. It usually takes awhile to remember to do this. I begin counting each breath. It may sound silly; it felt silly at first. Inhale, exhale, pay attention, focus only on breathing, and to my surprise, it works. I was a big skeptic. As my body starts to calm, I begin reaching for those versus committed to memory. I get drawn back into today, this moment, it’s okay right now.

    The other way I’ve incorporated this into my life, is much like the practice exercise at the bottom of this post. I have been described as many things, quiet is not one of them. It’s not very quiet in my head either. It’s just noisy! As Sheldon Cooper says, “I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested!”

    I often struggle to quiet my spirit and just sit with the Lord. As I shared, soaking and bathing in the word is necessary, good, and a consistent, regular part of my faith walk. But I’m so often talking, even if its good talking, reading, reciting versus, and praying. I want to listen and hear what God is saying. I’m certainly not suggesting the things I mentioned aren’t good enough, or don’t work. But, what if it could be better?

    As I have begun putting some of the practice suggestions in play, I am able to quiet my spirit more effectively. I am able to empty my mind, so to speak. Empty it so evil comes pouring in? No, exactly the opposite. It allows more space for Jesus to get in my head. It puts me in a posture to hear and listen.

    Incorporating some of these practices into my life has only strengthened and deepened the relationship I have with my Lord.

    1. I have found that mindfulness can make me more deeply aware of God’s blessings and faithfulness, and this is very calming.

  2. There have been times I have done this and it is amazing what I can remember from that moment. It’s as if the place, time, thoughts, activity, etc., are all seared into my memory and my being. When done in the Spirit, with His leading, it’s amazing how God will recall that to me when it’s just what I need from Him. The challenge is to do it more often so that He can use it in my life to bring me closer to Him.

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