We live in an era of constant change. Everyday there seems to be a new gadget, app, or new way of doing something. With so many advances it is no surprise many people are looking for a way to connect themselves to God. Deep spirituality has no substitute . A deep connection with God enlightens, inspires, and refreshes the soul. It is the open door that brings into consciousness, God. Without a mindful awareness of God we can be led astray by a myriad of worldly trickery and gimmicks. The concept of mindfulness is getting quite popular these days and its popularity is causing concern among Christian believers because the origin of this concept has its roots Buddhism and in certain New Age movements.
The fact is that many Asian practices, and even European pagan concepts, are starting to become more accepted among the general population. Most Christians who have deep rooted faith in the Lord tend to avoid these practices because it conflicts with the basic premise that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Any concept beyond this view is considered evil. This precept is the solid foundation on which Christians build their life upon. The use of words like mindfulness and meditation are perceived as “evil” or “scary”, and are generally avoided because they can be unpleasant subjects. When these topics arise most Christians think of them as non-biblical subjects. So resistance and the inner defense mechanisms spring into action. However, the perception is not always correct.
Is Christian Mindfulness Biblical?
By analyzing the Bible around these specific topics, mindfulness actually arises as a recommended concept in the quest for deeper knowledge of God. Mindfulness for Christians is an activity that promotes Biblical meditation that helps release ego-centrist ideology while replacing it with the word of God. Here's what I mean.
Secular mindfulness teaches to sit quietly with eyes closed to observe ones body and mind. Without any judgment we are simply to observe the state of harmony, or disharmony, within mind and body. Once we reach a point of understanding, we are to start concentrating on the ebb and flow of the breath which will eventually brings peace and harmony to mind and body.
In John 14:23, Jesus states that we are to “keep” His word. In this verse Jesus also states that anyone who “keeps” His word will experience the manifest presence of God. The word “keep” literally means to “observe as something within”. In other words, God's word in us must be the default thought of the mind, or the psychology of our mind. Most people, even Christians, think with a worldly psychology rather than a godly psychology, and according to John 14:23 that means the vision of mind for many Christians is darkened, or without light. (also Matthew 6:22)
Obtaining the “mind of God” by retaining the Word as our thought is probably one of the most difficult things to do. Why? Because retaining the Word, as prescribed by Jesus, requires constant study and focus. According to Christian monks it takes months, even years of continual concentration for the word of God to become the thought of the mind and the ONLY psychology.
Along the journey many Christian monks describe how carnal thought is frequently encountered. It disturbs inner peace and seeks our attention sending ripples of disharmony through mind and body. A monk on his quest for divine understanding will simple observe the thought, understand it for what it is, and continue his practice of concentrating, or meditating on the Word. Eventually the worldly draw disappears, and the retained Word begins to bear fruit – Christian enlightenment (Mt 6:22).
So secular mindfulness and Christian mindfulness are completely different, but the techniques are similar. In the secular version we are to observe thought, let it go, and focus on the breath, while the Christian counterpart teaches us to observe thought, let it go, and focus on God's word. Naturally, posture, relaxing, and correct breathing are important. If anyone of these elements are out of balance, it will be difficult to concentrate.
The outcomes are also very different. With secular mindfulness mediation it's been observed that experiencing peaceful moments during meditation improves brain structures which enhance memory and increase cognitive ability. Studies also suggest that our metabolism improves, while aiding the digestive and immune systems.
Christian meditation produces the same results, actually all meditations do, but the added bonus that comes from Christian meditation is the increased presence of God, no other meditation offers that.
How To Start A Christian Meditation Practice
People who have decided to practice Christian meditation include Biblical meditative studies into their lives. In the beginning the practice can take 2 to 4 hours, or longer. This is largely due to the high volume of carnal thought. Once the mind becomes trained to focus on God's word for extended periods of time it will take very little time for the mind to get into “divine” mode.
This initial level can take 2 to 4 months depending on the length and frequency of the practice. Be forewarned, once you “taste” and “see” God, you may renounce your way of life and seek a community of like minded individuals such as monks or nuns.
Once, the mind is trained at this level you can proceed with shorter versions of your meditations, say 1 to 2 hours. If you practice this daily, the light that enlightens you in the morning will stay with you throughout the day. This will give discernment and wisdom from God.
Then it's your choice how to proceed. If you have very busy days you may opt for a 30 – 50 minute morning meditation. This type of meditation is simple to perform. All you need is a prayer which you can mentally repeat. Any name of God will work. The name of Jesus will work. Any short verse from Bible will also work, but it must be short, typically 2 to 3 words. Any longer and the mind may begin to wonder.
You can also use words with a deep spiritual meaning to you. I personally use the words, “Yes, Jesus” with a breathing technique. On the inhale mentally say “Yes”, on the exhale say “Jesus”. As you call on the name of Jesus begin to mentally accept Him into your mind and body every time you say “Yes”. If a thought arises simply understand it for what it is, a thought, and go back to mentally calling on the name of Jesus. Usually within 5 to 10 minutes (sometimes longer), your mind will start to calm down. Keep calling on Jesus. Within the next 5 – 10 you may as though you are calling on the name of Jesus with your whole body. You may feel as though your arms and legs feel heavy. Or you may feel stillness through your whole body. As you repeat your prayer you may find that it will naturally subside and that you enter into quietness with Christ Jesus.
At this point I generally tell students to let go in Jesus, or to let Jesus “be”. It is at this moment that people will “taste” and “see” the Lord. Depending on experience and station in life, contact with Jesus will be different for everyone.
For some it will be a loving encounter they've desired for years, for others it may come as a divine spark that invigorates visions and drive. Every meditation is different and will bring new meaning into your life.
With practice the results will improve and the benefits will trickle into your daily activity. It is quite natural for people who spend more time enjoying the presence of our God to be more satisfied, loving, happier, more faithful, and more steady of will, so don't be surprised if you become a positive person who radiates the love of God as you tackle life.
Other collateral effects are deeper faith, natural confidence in God, and healthy esteem for one's life.
If you are interested in Christian mindfulness you should know that it is a walk of deep faith with God. A life cultivated by deep reflective Christian meditation is how we hold hands with the Father, and how the sheep hear the voice of the Shepherd.
Its how we deeply reflect on the word of God until it becomes the thought of our mind. It is how God's mind becomes more understandable to us and its byproduct is clarity of mind, even during stressful times.
Have you decided to start a meditation practice? Do you already meditate? What's you experience like? Got any tips? Let us know in the comments below.
We love you and we're praying for you.