What is Mindfulness
Greater Good Science Center
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Mindfulness is the “moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment”. A large amount of recent research suggests that practicing mindfulness can have a wide range of physical, emotional, and social benefits. It can also foster compassion and altruism toward others, benefiting communities and workplaces.

Since the goal of mindfulness is to be more aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and surrounding environments, it can be a particularly pertinent practice for Christians. Pastors might connect the practice of mindfulness to the many scriptures that invite introspection and self-reflection, or make connections between mindfulness and sanctification, prayer, depression, and discernment.

Mindfulness: “Maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.”

“It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.”

-Jon Kabat-Zinn

What To Consider

  • In this article, the practice of mindfulness is linked to Buddhism although it is often viewed as a life-giving practice for Christians [hyperlink to CCT article, “Is Mindfulness Buddhist or Christian? http://cct.biola.edu/resources/is-mindfulness-buddhist-or-christian/]. What is the place of secular or non-Christian practices in the Christian faith? Is it okay to practice mindfulness considering its Buddhist roots? What might be the connection between current practices of mindfulness and Christian contemplative practices?
  • How does the modern practice of mindfulness connect to historic Christian practices such as Ignatius’ Examen, Lectio Divina, or the Jesus Prayer?
  • Is there a connection between introspection and loving others? Does one lead to the other? Is there a connection between introspection and loving God or receiving the love of God? How might mindfulness open you up to greater awareness and openness to the love of God and others?
  • In what ways does mindfulness prepare us to be aware of God’s work in our lives and communities?

How to Go Deeper

  • Read Psalm 139:1-18 and contemplate the deep ways that God knows each of us. Lead the congregation through praying Psalm 139:23-24 and, using the research on mindfulness, encourage the congregation to practice being mindful of their own thoughts and feelings. Reflect on the ways increasing mindfulness leads to a deeper surrender to God.
  • Read 1 Kings 19:1-15 through the lens of mindfulness. Consider the ways that Elijah was either mindful or not mindful in this situation. Focus on Elijah’s awareness as he heard God in the “sound of sheer silence” (1 Kings 19:12, NRSV). Make space at the end of the service for a time of introspection and silence, inviting the congregation to hear God’s voice in the silence and respond to God’s call.
  • Plan a special time for the congregation to practice mindfulness. This might be a retreat, special service, or small group. Try some of the suggested practices found here or work your way through one of the books listed here.

Scripture References

All references in parenthesis refer to Lectionary readings. For more information on what the Lectionary is, please click here. For additional Lectionary resources click here.

Related Research

“How Mindfulness Can Change the Brain”

“Is Mindfulness Buddhist or Christian?”

“How Do Our Minds Affect Our Health?”

“Can Neuroscience Help Tune Your Brain?”

“Power of Positive Thinking Skews Mindfulness Studies”

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About the Author:

Zach is currently a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary researching the role of leaders in congregational change. His calling in life is to train and equip pastors to faithfully lead local congregations. When not studying, he'll most likely be watching Sporting Kansas City score goals or hiking with his wife and two kids.

8 Comments

  1. AustinF May 19, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    In our culture, meditation is so often disregarded because our focus is diminishing like crazy. The Bible repeatedly emphasizes the importance of meditation, so it must have huge implications on the Christian life. Especially considering the repeated Pauline exhortations to renew the mind in order to put on the new. Good stuff.

    • matt@ncstudycenter.org July 6, 2017 at 12:42 am

      Our social media and digital technology habits have definitely impacted our diminishing focus. Felicia Song at Westmont has written some helpful things on this and Christian practices to reorient us

      • AustinF July 9, 2017 at 7:47 am

        Truly, I notice the effect on my own focus often! Sometimes a technological hiatus is super beneficial.

  2. JarrodCraw May 25, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    I wonder how Brother Lawrence would have reflected on such information. He was one who certainly knew how to be mindful.

  3. aidenkang May 29, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    I think it’s a lot more important to be aware of God’s presence & God’s thoughts rather than our own thoughts, feelings, etc.

  4. aidenkang May 29, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Scottish Pastor Robert Murray McCheyne (1813–1843) – “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.”

  5. marymact@gmail.com August 9, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    It is so important for Christians to practice focusing on hearts and minds on the Gospel rather than the craziness of the world around us.

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