contemplative monk : Intentional Spirituality Transforms

Why Mindfulness and Christianity are Not in Conflict

sundown flowerfield yellowCreative Commons License mindfulness via Compfight

The Newly Mindful Anderson Cooper

I missed it, but somebody told me I needed to check out the 60 Minutes story: The Newly Mindful Anderson Cooper. It got me to thinking, I haven’t heard a clear Christian response to mindfulness, so I decided to write one. Whether it’s clear or not is up to you to decide, but I hope this deeply helps you.

Mindfulness: “It’s not another thing you have to add to your list of things to do. It’s just being. And you know, we’re not used to just kind of being.” ~Anderson Cooper

OK, Here’s the scoop:

You can’t enter into the presence of God without first becoming mindful or present. You will remain outside with your religious forms and structures.

Why is this, you may ask.

As ‘All roads lead to Rome,” so we must enter our spirit if we’re to experience God in more than mere shadows and forms. God is spirit.

So What Does Mindfulness Do?

Mindfulness awakens or gives precedence to our spirit. It’s the simplest and the most profound discipline I know of. It’s as simple as breathing.  There are other avenues and practices that awaken us to who we really are, our essence, and I’ll mention a few here, if I have time.

I’ve probably messed with your theology, so let me straighten things out a bit.

Let’s Clear It Up A Bit

Jesus, God incarnate, was the most present person who ever lived. He never checked out into his past or into his future. He was always awake and always aware in his spirit, fully present with everyone he was with. Even on the Cross as he talked to his mother Mary and to John. Even as he died, crying out: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And having said this he breathed his last.  Jesus never checked out. Even at the end, Jesus released his own spirit. His and your spirit is what I want you to become aware of here. We tend to lump everything into the Holy Spirit as Christians, while we tend to dwell in our souls.

Rewired by Technology

We’re all being trained and rewired by our smartphones, and our devices to be somewhere else. Just check people out at the dinner table. We’re living virtual lives, and we’re becoming more and more distracted, split, and ADD bit by bit, every day by day.

Distracted By Life

Besides this, it’s normal for us to sift through our past and prepare for our future. But it causes us to lose the capacity to be present for more than a few brief seconds out of every minute. Shoved deeper into our soul’s life, our spirituality, our center and our calm to meet our future wanes.  So we use our analytical soul to defend us. Dysfunctionally, I might add.

Mindfulness is about taking our life back.

Mindfulness is a simple breathing exercise where we move from our body (ie our breath, breathing) into our spirit. In both the Greek and the Hebrew of Scripture, our breath, and our spirit are two sides of the same coin, our being. We are all human Beings after all.

What mindfulness does is it wakes up our spirit or better yet, it wakes us up and makes us aware in our spirit. We experience our spirit, our essence, who we really are.

Where does that leave us Believers?

Where we go from this point is totally up to us. For the Believer, our next step is to open up to God’s Spirit, as with prayer, meditation, and contemplation. This is here where the Artist creates with their creator. It is here that the writer effortlessly writes with their wisdom voice.

Soul or Spirit: Which is Preeminent In Your Life?

It’s like this: Unless we first enter our spirit, our spiritual life remains the work of our soul, our ego, our fallen self. We grind and push and boast of our groups spirituality and work. It becomes a ‘us vs them’ economy of lack, our truth vs their truth. Lack and separation are the work of our soul, while abundance and unity are the work of our spirit. Subtle and Covert spiritual pride creep into the best of our soul’s fruit. It’s brokenness pretending to be whole.

Spirituality Works Inside Out

You’ve heard it, but you might not realize what it means in relationship to your spirit. This is spiritual work,  not our souls striving. The fruit (the outworking of God’s character) The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Mindfulness As A Spiritual Practice

So I hope you can see how mindfulness can be a helpful tool to shape us (as all disciplines do) into being a spirit-led person. Being spirit-centered rather than soul-centered helps position us to hear from God, rather than God having to hit us over the head, just to get our attention. Just think of it, no more screaming preachers trying to wake you up. You can actually learn to hear from God for yourself. In discerning remember: Fear drives us, while Love draws us and God is love.

Examples as Promised

OK, so here’s twenty-four examples of our spirit waking up to help prime the pump. The preacher who preaches themselves into new revelation. Praying the Rosery, speaking in tongues, Lectio Divia, the old woman who’s rocking saying, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” The Jesus Prayer, a breath prayer, the preaching cadence of an old Southern preacher, the Eucharist, shouting praises, praying the Daily Office, singing that worship chorus over and over and over again, Icons, fasting, corporate worship, devotions, The Lord’s Prayer, A Crucifix, a Proverb, prayer, prayer beads, reflection, the Beachcomber who’s bathed in the morning sunlight, the solitude of being captured by the stillness at night, and the list goes on. I’ll bet you’ve probably thought of a few too.

Every spiritual practice has the ability to wake us within our spirit into an awakened awareness. ~ Click to Tweet

 

Some practices work better than others, according to our predisposition, our training, and our season of life.

I can remember walking around in the Brownsville Revival. There was a hushed holy silence and it was like walking around in a cloud. It felt timeless and unearthly. We would sit for hours soaking in the presence of God. So I revisit this state (not Brownsville 🙂 when I walk with God in the cool of the day.

What wakes you up?

It’s like the old King James says, “It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak to you they are spirit, and they are life.” ~ Selah

Our Spirit Is The Content

My point here is that mindfulness is a content free spiritual practice, like driving a car or texting on your phone, it’s the spirit we bring to it that determines the direction we go in. With mindfulness, we gently wake up in our spirit, but let me say it again, it’s us who determine the direction we go in.

I hope you found this helpful.

 

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  • Your spirit was wide awake writing this. I feel awake all of a sudden also. Preparing for a fully engaged weekend of fellowship and interaction with a group of christians earlier today. Firstly seeked the Christ in centering prayer, then strove in my soul to read up, write notes and it felt horrible. reading your piece brings me to realise what was going on and I’m thankful.

  • Awesome Marc! I’m so glad you found it helpful.

  • Thank you, Bob, for this insightful word! Mindfulness is well described here. I’m seeking rest more this year and I think most of it means less striving, more of simply ‘being’ and listening to what God is saying to my soul. A year’s lesson in mindfulness, if you will. And He is already teaching me to see Him in ordinary, in everyday, in mundane, in simplicity and silence. Bless you for these helpful thoughts! 🙂

  • Thanks Joy! I know you get these things, and I know this is an over emphasis by design, because it’s ignored by Believers to their great loss. Most of us enter into the contemplative through one of three ways through: Great Prayer, Great Suffering or Great Love. We would like to claim prayer or love, but for most of us, I believe it’s suffering. Our lives are seriously broken and we’re looking for a place of rest.

    Joy, I love the way you put it: more rest, less striving, seeing God in the ordinary, simplicity and silence.

    Generally God has to knock me off my feet to get me to a place of surrender and entering in. This is hard fought stuff for me.

    God’s grace and peace+ clothe you in His presence!

  • Nelda Eserin

    Bob,
    I found your postings through Facebook, something that I am pretty much a newcomer at working with. Your Spirit-filled choices of postings that circulate the digital realm and inspire so many people have led me to exploring your website. I stopped here, in the midst of reading a few of the many articles you have written, to say, “Thank you”. Your writings are inspiring, and you have a unique way of explaining spiritual concepts with a clarity that is refreshing.

  • Nelda,
    That blesses and encourages my heart. Thank You!

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