Stressed? Mindfulness may be suggested as a way to relax. It is taught to children in public schools as a method of relaxation, used to treat chronic pain and so much more. Mindfulness has become quite popular in American culture but here is what you need to know.
When mindfulness is referenced in mental health and medical literature, it is usually based on some form of Buddhist philosophy or religion. And while there are many forms of Buddhism, there are basic tenets common to all.
While the definition of mindfulness is not anti-Christian and usually refers to self-regulation and present moment orientation, the practice of Buddhist-based mindfulness is problematic for Christians. In Buddhism, one empties the mind, meaning one is detached from all thoughts. Thoughts are not to be judged.
Yet the New Testament refers to the mind as evil (2 Cor 3:14; 2 Cor 4:4; 2Tim 3:8; Rom 1:28) in need of renewal. Our thoughts are important and will be judged as Jesus noted in Matthew 5:28. And the Apostle Paul reminds us that nothing good lives in us (Romans 7:18). In other words, our unenlightened minds are not capable of enlightenment on their own.
And while mindfulness practice may relieve stress, it does not bring wholeness to the person because it does not bring life to the spirit. True rest comes from the person of Christ (Matt 11:28) and cannot be imitated through self-effort.
For Christians, mindfulness is an active process between God and man. God is mindful of us (Psalm 8:4; Hebrews 2:6) and we are to put on the mind of Christ. To do so, we meditate on who God is and listen to Him in prayer. Daily, we renew our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us (Romans 12:2), love God with all our mind (Matt. 22:37) and implant God’s laws into our minds (Heb 8:10). Meditation is a way to connect with God, to cling to God, to listen for His voice and to align our thinking to His. This creates greater intimacy, not detachment.
“Cease striving and know that I am God” is our biblical instruction. The prescription for peace is provided in Phil 4:4-9 and needs to be taught—pray, give thanks, let our requests be known to God and meditate on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report. The result of this spiritual practice is God’s peace (v. 9).