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.”
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.
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