“Mindfulness” and “meditation” are all the rage today. It seems to me that most forms of these practices are designed to seek peace in a world filled with conflict, stress, and busyness. Anxiety can ruin a day, as well as a life.
Another purpose of these practices is to focus our thoughts–our mind–on the present instead of something that happened yesterday or will happen two weeks hence. These practices have their origins in the Eastern religions like Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and Jainism. This causes some Christians to shy away from them. Yet, to my way of thinking, Christian prayer goes hand in hand with mindfulness and meditation.
Also, we should remember that Jesus taught a version of what is called mindfulness today when he said: “[D]o not worry about your life…Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life…[Do] not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matthew 6:25-34, NIV) In other words, as you live the Christian life, focus on the present.
A form of meditation I have found meaningful is Centering Prayer, a practice rooted in Christianity. It focuses on silence within. While it can be difficult to keep one’s mind from wandering as you are silent, the idea is to cleanse the mind of all thoughts so that your connection with God can be pure and deep. For any form of mediation to work, it must be routinely performed. The more you do it, the more likely you are to find the peace you seek. I’m hardly an expert on meditation, but I believe that, combined with prayer, it can help us know God and find peace.
I can’t be sure that Paul had meditation in mind when he wrote the following, but what he wrote can be incorporated, perhaps at the beginning, of whatever meditation practice we are using: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things…And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9, NIV)