Many different ideas can come to mind when you bring up the word mindfulness and meditation. Although it's not commonly known, meditation has been a key ingredient in Christian practice for thousands of years. In modern times there has been a Revival and Eastern meditation, and it's effectiveness and helping us manage stress in our daily lives.
And now we have a new guy on the block known as mindfulness. Mindfulness has connections to Eastern meditation and striking similarities to Christian meditation. So is mindfulness compatible with Christian meditation? Can Christians today tap into the power of mindfulness without compromising their beliefs? My answer is, absolutely positively yes, and amen.
Let's deal with a few concerns before we go any further.
The first concern that usually is brought up in this discussion is that embracing modern mindfulness will contradict my Christian belief system. However, the modern practice end of mindfulness is typically devoid of any spiritual connotations. Science supports the practice of focusing awareness on our thought life, understanding negative thought patterns, and choosing positive thoughts as a way of promoting a healthy emotional and physical lifestyle.
By far the modern practice of mindfulness is aimed at one major modern epidemic issue: stress reduction.
The ramifications of excessive levels of stress cannot be understated. Stress is literally killing us.
The most obvious detrimental consequence is emotional, but lesser known evils include addictive habits, health issues, and it even reaches in and affects our finances. If that wasn’t enough, I was blown away when I learned how stressful thought patterns can even reach into the future by leaving their mark on our DNA.
“Thoughts and feelings turn sets of genes on and/or off in complex relationships. Moreover, science is discovering that, although we have a fixed set of genes in our chromosomes, it’s principally our thoughts that influence those genes which are active. “ - Dr. Caroline Leaf
This “stressidemic” costs the global business community billions of dollars every year and drugs that we spend trying to treat our condition doesn’t seem to be helping much.
Christian meditation does not differ much with other forms of meditation. However, it does not require one the use of mantras, prayer beads, or even specific postures. As with all others, it necessitates one to free the mind from too many thoughts.
Also considered as a mental prayer, Christian meditation is perhaps the most efficient way to communicate with God. The formal Christian meditation started with the monks. They would read the Bible verses slowly and reflect on the meaning and message of the Scriptures. This early form of meditation is known as the “divine reading”.
These monks were soon praying on impulse as a result of their reading the Scriptures slowly. Their prayers lead to a mental loving thought on God which they called contemplation.
The development from reading the Bible, to meditating, to praying, to loving thought for God, was described as the ladder of prayer, which was given Latin terms lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio.
There are two forms of Christian meditation during the twentieth century. One form is the Christian meditation using the mantra. Early mantra used was the Maranatha which is Aramaic for “Come, Lord”. The other form of Christian meditation is the Centering Prayer. This form uses a sacred word to convey one’s intention to be in the presence of God. Another part of this contemplative form of prayer is the individual’s detachment to his psychological problems.
The “Five R” Method of St. Theresa of Avila is a good way to fight obstacles of concentration in prayer. This method includes: Ready; Read; Reflect; Respond; Resolve.
* Ready would mean keeping in mind that you are in God’s presence. Think of your faith, trust, and love for him. Be sorry for your sins and ask for your purpose for your meditation.
* Read may mean a favorite passage from the Bible or any other spiritual book, or even just reading a copy of a favorite prayer or looking at a religious picture.
* Reflect means to focus your thoughts on the verse you were reading or the picture you were looking at and answering questions which will motivate you to contemplate deeper.
* Respond is basically the center of the meditation process. This is actually the beginning of a deeper conversation with God. When you have reached this stage, you can now talk to him more freely and openly from the inner depths of your soul.
* Resolve is the goodbye in a conversation. Close it by thanking Him for the time and finish it off with your favorite prayer.
However one chooses to do the Christian meditation, one should keep in mind that it is not as a means for salvation. Like prayer, Christian meditation is a mere form of spiritual discipline, a deeper kind of worship, and a more intimate meeting with God.
Definition of stressor
: a stimulus that causes stress
First Known Use: 1950