What is Mindfulness and Where is God in it?

Mindfulness is based on Buddhist Principles, but it can be described without emphasizing Buddhist foundations, according to Phillip G. Monroe, PSY. D. Dr. Monroe states that, “a better process would be to develop a foundation for consciousness and awareness of one’s surroundings using Biblical principles and Christian tradition.”

I struggled with this a little bit- how to marry-up the Mindfulness state and the Bible. The first story that came to mind was the story about Martha and Jesus in Luke Chapter 10:38-41

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the LORD’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “LORD, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41″Martha, Martha,” the LORD answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary was mindful in her experience with Jesus. Here he was in her sister’s home and all she could do was sit at his feet and listen. She wanted to enjoy her time with this incredible man. This would most likely be the highlight of Mary’s life!

On the other hand, Martha was busy with everything else that went with hosting a party. I can relate to this, for whenever we have guests, I spend a lot of time preparing and throughout the party I probably spend half of my time attending to food and comfort tasks. Except Martha was angry! She was so mad that she actually went to the guest of honor, so he could put Mary in her place: back in the kitchen! Based on the verses, it sounds like Mary got a lot more out of the visit than did Martha, what with her worrying and running about.

I am like Martha as we both missed out on the conversation, the laughter, the joy of being with guests, and Jesus uses this as a lesson for all of us: Spending time with the Lord should be our Number One Priority! It doesn’t matter what is going on around us! Send all the “stuff” off with the wind and bring Jesus into your everyday life.

Recently, the pastor at the church I attend spoke about having a “Posture of Presence.” I love that! Paraphrasing, he said that we are where we should be at this moment in time. He went on to tell us that God lines up our steps just so that we can meet the opportunities He plans for us. Pastor Mark gave some examples of how he always seems to see the people who need him right at the time that they need him.

A Posture of Presence keeps us in the now- what is happening in this exact moment? If I spend my time worrying about the future or regretting my past, I miss out on the joy of the Lord in my life! And Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28 that if we come to Him, we will find rest for our souls. Part of mindfulness is to find calm and rest in the present. To be able to enjoy the moment without cares and worries. I can relax in the presence of the Lord and relish what he has for me right now.

“You have endowed him with eternal blessings and
Have given him the joy of your presence.” Psalm 21:6

What is Mindfulness?

“Breathe, just Breathe
Come and rest at my feet.
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe.”
Contemporary Christian song sung by Jonny Diaz

Everything is changing Album

I spent some years of my management career in the restaurant industry. I learned that everything needs to be done fast. Everything needs to be accomplished while doing something else, and something else, and something else! You don’t survive in that environment without being unbelievably multi-tasking! We women learn to become multi-taskers early on in motherhood. We need to feed the baby while sneaking our own bites of food between that and drawing a bath and even dressing ourselves, especially if you work and parent at the same time! I never really broke out of that mentality, so Mindfulness was a fight for me. What? Do you mean to say that I must do one thing at a time? Surely you jest!

My DBT manual describes Mindfulness this way, “the act of consciously focusing the mind, in the present moment without judgement and without attachment to the moment. A person who is mindful is aware in and of the present moment.”

One of my Docs explained Mindfulness as the base of the DBT tower of coping skills. His analogy described a skyscraper that stays solid with a firm base. With Mindfulness, we must dig deep in order to successfully go up the DBT skills tower. If you are mindful of your emotions and their cause, you can better manage them and live a happier life.

In the beginning, I thought Mindfulness was just meditating, using guidance from programs online or out of books, but now I would say it is best described as “being aware.” There are lots of options to get you started in becoming more aware; walk into a bookstore and you’ll find that books about mindfulness, mindfulness journals and coloring books abound!

Even before I started DBT, I borrowed this little book from the library called, “daily meditations for calming your anxious mind” (non-caps Author) I kept re-checking this book out until I finally gave in and bought my own copy. In this book, I found one of my favorite Mindfulness meditations simply called, “Blowing Wind”. You can do this exercise no matter your mood or state of being. I often use this to quiet my mind when I am trying to fall asleep.

Give it a try, right now as I quote directly from the book when I tell you how it works:
1. Take a comfortable position.
2. Bring mindful attention to your breath, feeling it deeply and completely in your body. Steady your focus and attention by placing attention on your breath for a few moments.
3. Relax and completely let go of trying to change anything or to make anything happen.
4. Now imagine that you are in a beautiful place in nature. Surrounded by beauty, you can feel the wind blowing around you.
5. Let all of your conscious experience – sounds, sensations, thoughts, emotions, everything—become the wind.
6. Feel all of it moving and changing, arriving, moving around and over you, and then going.
7. Notice how the wind takes on different qualities– Soft, strong, harsh gusty, gentle.
8. Relax as the wind blows around you. Let it come and go in all of its forms.
9. You remain here in calmness, abiding.

If you tried this, I hope you ended up feeling more centered. I hope your worries and troubles disintegrated into that blowing wind, even if only for a moment. Did you see the wind? Hear it, feel it? If you had trouble with this, you are not alone. Mindfulness can be difficult; it’s not easy to still the mind from its constant babbling and just focus on right now. Maybe you thought it was silly, you’re too literal for this kind of exercise. Or you never enjoyed pretending when you were a kid, why start now?

This is the type of exercise that gets easier and more effective every time it is practiced, but the difficulty leads some people who practice DBT to skip over Mindfulness altogether because they just don’t “get it.” I have seen this happen many times as new people enter my DBT class. But without mindfulness skills you may have trouble fully grasping the coping skills within the other components of DBT.

So where is God in all this? Part 2 shows you how I found Him!