When I first heard about mindfulness meditation, I was immediately intrigued. Anything that promises to help me focus on what's important in life and edit out the negative garbage that fills the day is something I'm definitely interested in.
There was one small problem, though. I learned about it from secular sources who also practiced Transcendental Meditation and other New Age type spirituality. So even though I was intrigued by mindfulness, I was also skeptical.
So while I'm always looking for ways to grow daily, I also want to make sure I'm not participating in any harmful spiritual practices. I decided, however, it was worth checking out so I could at least know where I stood on it.
Does the Bible Teach Mindfulness?
After learning about mindfulness from many of the secular sources, I looked to the most important source of all to see if the goals and tactics were supported by Scripture.
Although Scripture doesn’t use the word “mindfulness,” its principles and goals are clearly taught. Scripture is full of teachings and commands telling us to be aware of God’s presence, to live in the moment, and to give thanks for the blessings he gives. In other words, Scripture commands us to be mindful.
When an expert in the Jewish Law challenged Jesus to say which commandment was the most important, Jesus responded with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, except Jesus added, “With all your mind.” Loving God with all your mind is about patterning even your thoughts after His. It’s about being intentional in how you think. is is the essence of a mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness allows us to practice being intentional and less reactive in our lives. We can follow through on the apostle Paul’s teaching in Ephesians: “Be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Getting angry is not a sin. Anger is a normal human emotion we use to react to situations that displease us. However, anger can lead us to sin if we’re not mindful of our emotions and actions.
We have a tendency to react based on our emotions in ways that are sinful. Mindfulness training helps us keep these emotions in check so we can react in a way that still demonstrates Christlike character even when we don’t feel like it.
Mindfulness helps us live in the moment. As a culture we are often so concerned with what the future holds that we don’t allow ourselves to live in the present moment. Our joy and fulfillment for the present is diminished as a result. For example, if we’re too busy looking forward to dessert, we won’t enjoy the meal. Then, when we’re eating dessert, our attention will have moved to the next thing, and we won’t enjoy dessert. When we don’t live in the present moment, and we end up chasing a satisfaction that never comes.
Jesus addressed this issue when he said, “So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
By constantly focusing on tomorrow, we demonstrate a lack of faith in the Lord’s ability to care for us. If we truly trust him to take care of us and provide for our needs, then we’ll learn to live in the moment and trust him for the next. Worrying about the next day or the next event keeps us from enjoying the blessing we have right in front of us now.
Here are just few other verses that demonstrate the need to cultivate mindfulness in your life are:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “16 Always rejoice, 17 constantly pray, 18 in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. 6 Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.”
Joshua 1:7-9: “Carefully obey all the law my servant Moses charged you to keep! Do not swerve from it to the right or to the left, so that you may be successful in all you do. 8 This law scroll must not leave your lips! You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper and be successful. 9 I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do.”
Psalm 28:7: “The Lord strengthens and protects me; I trust in him with all my heart. I am rescued and my heart is full of joy; I will sing to him in gratitude.”
Mindfulness is Key to Growing in Christ
Practicing mindfulness and gratitude helps us be less reactive to the difficult circumstances that inevitably come in life. It helps us learn to accept them for what they are and let the Holy Spirit work in us to deal with whatever happens.
Mindfulness for Christians is about walking daily in the presence of God. It’s about being aware of what God is doing around you, in you, and through you. This is the same as living life in the Spirit. And when we are walking in the Spirit, we are following Christ and becoming more like him.