Christian Mindfulness (Or, Of Course Christians Can Practice Mindfulness. Here’s Why.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention. Being in the present moment, attuned and aware. Neither fretting about the future, nor regretting the past. Noticing what is, right now. But, mindfulness is Buddhist, right? What is Christian mindfulness, anyway?
Mindfulness has been popularized in recent years, and for some, it seems at odds with the Christian faith. Touted by many as a Buddhist practice, it may make some nervous. Promoted as a way to manage stress relief, some may worry that mindfulness attempts to displace God.
But, mindfulness is a practice with immense value, and it is not inherently Buddhist. Being present, still, and listening is an often repeated theme in scripture. Cultivating these practices in Christian mindfulness is fundamentally grounded by our faith when applied to our lives.
Essentially, the practice of Christian mindfulness is powerful because it fosters awareness that God does the ultimate work of transforming our moments for our good. Believers do not empty their minds to fill them with their own truths. We are opening our minds to receive his truth, ways, and purposes. We trust and believe that He hears and pays attention to our focus on him. No time spent paying attention to God full awareness of each moment is wasted.
“And my God will meet all [my] needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
All that we are called to do as believers supports mindfulness. How can we trust and obey him, live without worry, or leave our cares in his care without learning first to be with him in the present moment?
So, to be sure, following Jesus is a mindful endeavor. Repeatedly, scripture directs us to pay attention, listen, be still, focus, know. These are our responsibilities. Too often we try to work beyond those tasks and become anxious or afraid.
The beauty of our faith is that we needn’t rely on ourselves for the fulfillment of our mindful practice. God reveals himself and his kingdom as we slow down, get quiet, and truly notice his presence in each moment.
He asks that we lay down our cares and join him in the here and now. “Stop scurrying around the kitchen and sit with me,” he says to us like he said to Martha long ago, or like he said to the psalmist, “Be still…”
Notice what you are carrying around inside. Is it guilt and shame from the past? Notice it, allow it. Acknowledge that you’re anxious and afraid, or that your chest feels heavy, or your throat feels tight. Mindfulness allows you the safety of the present moment in the presence of Jesus. When we are still and aware, we can experience God’s peace within us physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Focusing on the present moment brings us back into communion with our maker and his reliable care.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)
When we mentally and spiritually wander off course into the past or future we find ourselves crying out in anxious overwhelm from our own past regrets and fears of the future.
If you suffer from PTSD or anxiety, practicing being present and safe in his care moment by moment is huge, even as you seek treatment to heal the physiological and neurological impacts of trauma or anxiety. It becomes much more difficult to get lost in the scary possibilities and hypervigilance that come with feeling unsafe or unprepared for some future event.
Christian mindfulness is a powerful reminder of who God is and who we are. What a relief to simply be responsible for remaining in the moment!
God asks us to recall the past only in terms of his might, grace, and salvation. We need only thank him for his mercy and loving-kindness. Moreover, you are released from guilt and shame. You are loved and your past is covered by his desire to see you saved and focused on his purposes for you today.
God asks us to consider the future only as an acknowledgment of his protection. We can’t see around the corners along the way. He asks us to do nothing but walk confidently right now. Take this moment’s step. Don’t worry about the next. Our job is not to fret, but to trust him, being fully present because we are confident that we are in his care through whatever comes.
Now, please don’t worry if you’ve struggled to stay present. He‘s still waiting for you with open arms in this present moment. Quiet your thoughts, pay attention. You have the glory of God to reside in, the peace and protection of your Savior to rely on as you live each moment fully attuned to him.
(And, it is important to note that if you struggle with PTSD or anxiety as a Christian, this does not mean that you are failing as a Christian. The one who created your body and your nervous system knows your struggles. Working with a qualified counselor to rewire your nervous system and heal from PTSD or anxiety can help a ton, just like going to a doctor for a broken leg.)
So, is it okay for a Christian to practice mindfulness? Of course!
Most of all, the present moment is where God is waiting for you to let go of the past (working through it if needed) and release your future to his much more capable care. The present moment is where you can find Him walking alongside you, seeking to lead you.
There, too, you can live with him vibrantly, freely, and courageously in the here and now.
And there is no better place to be.