Christianity and Mindfulness: Becoming a More Mindful Christian

mindfulness

Achieving mindfulness is hard to do within a world that constantly wants our attention. In this article, I discuss what is mindfulness. In addition, I explain how to become a more mindful Christian. 

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a principle derived from Zen Buddhist mediation that may be defined as a meditative state in which you direct your attention internally so that you become more aware of the present. In other words, you are as mindful as you are present. Through mindfulness, you will self-examine several aspects of self that include emotions, physical sensations, feelings, and thoughts without necessarily classifying them as wrong or right. Meditative mindfulness is meant to make one live in the moment, identify their feelings and thoughts with regard to certain issues, and to have full acceptance of the self. Once a person reaches the ultimate state, mindfulness is achieved.

Going by the above definition and the key components of the essential components of mindfulness, I define mindfulness as a conscious determination to concentrate on the present moment while withholding judgment on any sensation or feeling, and then learning to act and think out of the reality presented as opposed to instinctive reactions. Mindful thinking is preferred as opposed to unproductive thinking and emotional patterns that lead to unwanted outcomes.

Being mindful is being aware. Aware of both your internal (thoughts, emotions) and external environments. When we are practicing mindfulness, we are not lost in the daydreams of our mind. Instead, we are fully present and living in the here and the now.

Practicing mindfulness is a discipline. To start, simply pay attention to the little things you do, like brushing your teeth or eating a meal. Notice if your mind is completely connected to the experience or distracted by thoughts of the past or future.

It’s almost like a game you can play, to see how mindful you can be throughout the day. If you do, expect to go in and out of mindfulness, as it is the nature of the mind to get caught up in its own stories instead of just enjoying the journey of the present moment and being alive.

Starting a regular meditation practice can also help you to stay more mindful by learning how to detach from your thoughts by observing them and then letting them go. You might be interested in learning how to do Mindful Meditation as well.

I love teaching meditation, especially Christian meditation, as I believe meditation, along with mindfulness, can transform your life.

The Benefits of Mindfulness for a Christian

While mindfulness started out as a Zen Buddhist principle, it does provide a lot of benefit for me as a believing Christian. Christ did say in Matthew 6:24, 27 that we should not worry about what to wear, what to drink, or eat as for the most part such worry is unproductive. The basis of Christian mindfulness rests on the reality that we hope for something more tangible that was promised by Christ, even in times of much struggle and hardship in the world.

1. Mindful Christians Have Better Control over their Emotions

A Christ-like worldview means that you live in the present moment by only focusing on one thing at a time rather than dragging baggage from the past or tripping on the future. This can only be achieved through a renewing of the mind as Paul advises in Romans 12:2 and set our eyes on heavenly things as advised in Colossians 3:2. The modern world is all about multitasking and doing too many things at once, to regret losing any of it and to always want more. This is not what Christians need to do as the bible says that you need to not conform to the world, but to renew the mind. This is the essence of mindfulness, which will lead to a life not guided by emotions over what others may think, or the need to have more than others or be perfect, but rather to look upon Christ.

2. Christians Who Practice Mindfulness Have Less Stress

One of my favorite verses in the bible that is so relevant to mindfulness is when Jesus told his disciples not to worry in Matthew 6:25-30. Taking the birds of the air which never lack and the lilies in the field that are clothed in the most beautiful raiment, yet are not as important as human beings. As Christians, adopting the attitude that God will always take care of us just like he has always taken care of his creatures, leads to less stressful lives.

3. Mindful Christians are More Attuned to Reality

Jesus was one of the most mindful persons to ever lived. He was always attuned to what was going on around him and responded to that reality. He would recognize the aimlessness of the people crowding around him, their hunger, and even the flow of power from his body when he was touched by the hemorrhaging woman. Just like Jesus, mindful Christians are more in tune with reality that they know how to react in many different situations and realities. Just like Christ, a Christian always strives to not attain a worldly, lofty, guru-like status that makes it impossible to relate with circumstances, people, and realities in their lives.

4. Mindful Christians Have More Peace of Mind

Jesus was mindful and single-minded in his purpose which gave him peace of mind. All he was ever concerned with was God’s righteousness and the Kingdom of God. By Christians being just like Jesus in focusing on their purpose and Christian walk, they can shut out worry, anxiety, and be open to what is happening in their Christian lives. As it says in Hebrews 10:22-23, we need to hold onto our faith without wavering, given that our father in heaven is faithful to fulfill what he has promised. By trusting that our future has been taken care of by our faith in Christ, we can be more mindful in living in the present moment.

How to Be More Mindful as a Christian and
Christian Mindfulness Techniques

1. Meditate on the Scriptures

Psalms 1:2 tells us that the Christian needs to meditate on the scriptures day and night so that he may be delivered from the ways of the scoffers, wicked men, and sinners. Such a person is what you would call a mindful Christian. The mindful Christian always begins their day with meditating on the word even if it is only for a few minutes. Starting your day with some meditation will have a lot of benefits such as better sleep, more patience, less stress, and a deeper connection with God.

2. Reading the Scriptures and Christian Literature

Reading the scriptures is one of the best ways to become a more mindful Christian as scriptures also do provide the material for meditating. In fact, Christians are encouraged to read the word of God daily and Paul in Acts 17:11 calls the mindful Christians of Berea nobler because they searched the scriptures daily. A mindful Christian also reads other Christian works apart from the bible for guidance on the Christian walk. Books that I have found to be really helpful in developing mindfulness are books written to be read as day-by-day bible study expositions.

3. Be Grateful

Being grateful for the circumstances you find yourself in and the blessing that God has wrought in your life is one of the most effective ways of developing Christian mindfulness. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are told to be thankful to God in all circumstances as this is what Christ wills. Practicing gratefulness is best done in the morning as soon as you wake up. As soon as you open your eyes say a word of prayer thanking God for anything that comes into your mind be it the loved one in bed with you, the sun that just rose, or just being alive. You also do need to have a gratitude journal, where you write down everything that you are grateful for, which is a great way to keep away all the negativity of life.

4. Be Open to Signs from God

While coincidences do happen, I tend to believe that good things happening to me are divine providence. Good things are God’s way of showing the mindful Christian that he has their back and is doing all that he can to make things go well for them. Living in this mindful mindset makes you open to positive experiences which, surprise… surprise, happen on a regular basis. For me, every sign now seems like a gift that I gladly accept.

5. How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation

Being mindful is being aware. Aware of both your internal (thoughts, emotions) and external environments. When we are practicing mindfulness, we are not lost in the daydreams of our mind. Instead, we are fully present and living in the here and the now.

Practicing mindfulness is a discipline. To start, simply pay attention to the little things you do, like brushing your teeth or eating a meal. Notice if your mind is completely connected to the experience or distracted by thoughts of the past or future.

It’s almost like a game you can play, to see how mindful you can be throughout the day. If you do, expect to go in and out of mindfulness, as it is the nature of the mind to get caught up in its own stories instead of just enjoying the journey of the present moment and being alive.

Starting a regular meditation practice can also help you to stay more mindful by learning how to detach from your thoughts by observing them and then letting them go. You might be interested in learning how to do Mindful Meditation as well.

I love teaching meditation, especially Christian meditation, as I believe meditation, along with mindfulness, can transform your life.

The key to recognizing spiritual wisdom and overcoming suffering lies in cultivating Christian Mindfulness. So how do you practice Christian mindfulness? The Buddhist tradition recommends mediation as the most important aspect that nurtures mindfulness and it’s not much different with Christian mindfulness. There are several different types of meditation that you can employ depending on what your aims are. Some will help you relax in the moment, while others will produce an altered state of mind.

Nonetheless, there are three rudimentary features that will be critical in any meditation technique: body, breath, and thoughts.

Body

1) If you are so inclined you could have your Bible and spiritual literature spread out before you. Also, make sure that you are not sitting in a room full of distractions such as the computer or TV or if they are in the room, ensure that you switch them off.
2) Find a good seat that is solid and stable with no hanging back or perch. This seat could be anything from a park bench, a meditation cushion, or a chair. Make sure that your legs are not hanging uncomfortably on the side of the seat
3) Once you have your quiet spot and appropriate seat, find a posture that is upright, but not rigid. Find the most natural posture, where your shoulders and head rest on top of the vertebrae and the spine finds its natural curvature. If you are on a cushion, cross your legs as this is the most comfortable posture.
4) Drop your chin and gaze on the floor about four to six feet in front of you or if you are in a small room and have the wall in front of you, just gaze on the wall. You will now meditate looking at the wall without really focusing on it until you can hear your breath.

Breath

5) Stay in that state of meditation for a few minutes. Relax and focus on the sensations in your body and pay attention to your breath.
6) Follow your breath and pay attention to its coming in and coming out. Feel everything from the rising and falling of your chest, the belly, and the air moving through your mouth and nose.
7) Over time you will find your attention wandering from listening to your breath. This is normal and you do not need to eliminate or block any type of thought. What works is gently returning your mind back to your breathing over a few minutes.
8) Remember to always pause from your meditation before you make any physical movements such as scratching an itch or moving your hands or feet. Alternatively, you could pick a moment to make your movements so that you are not imprisoned by the experience and get to do what you need to do.

Thoughts

9) Your mind could wander constantly not only when you are starting and this should not deter you from meditation. Rather than engaging or wrestling with such thoughts, start practicing to observe rather than react. Sit quietly and pay attention and you will soon be back to meditating. It is going to be hard to maintain concentration, but if you manage to come back to meditation over and over again without expectation or judgment, you will soon get in the zone.
10) Once you are satisfied with your meditation for the day, gently lift your gaze from the wall. Take a moment to reorient yourself back to the sounds of the world. You should feel a difference in your emotions and thoughts and your body should feel lighter. Take a few minutes for a pause and then go about your day.

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