Spiritual Mindfulness Exercises

There are a lot of verses in the Bible that can be used for Mindfulness exercise. I I will provide a few here in the next few posts, but once you get used to how you like to meditate you will most likely start to see your own verses that you would like to practice with. One of your goals in these exercises might be to experience the reality of connection to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit.
There are no time limits for these exercises, but it may be that, as you first start doing them, you are unable to sit in the meditation that long. This is perfectly okay. Just let your body or your mind decide its limits. Longer periods, even 15 minutes might be a stretch at first. No Rules!
With practice of mindfulness you may find that you are reacting less intensely to stressors and not as often. You may be aware of a sense of calmness that smooths over agitating thoughts. This is your body and mind using the skills it has learned from your mindfulness exercises.

Mindfulness Exercise One Step By Step into the Light (PDF)

Mindfulness Exercise One:
Step by Step into the Light
(based on 1 John 1:7)

 

“If we walk step by step into the light, where the Father is, then we are ultimately connected to each other through the sacrifice of Jesus, His son. His blood purifies us from all our sins.”

 

1. Find a comfortable spot to sit or lay. Close your eyes and loosen arms so they rest against you in a floppy manner. You may like to put your hands palms up to remain open to the Lord.

2. Focus on your breath, breathing from your diaphragm. Deep breath in count one, slight pause, full breath out- count 1. If you find thoughts interrupting you, that’s normal. Just notice them and go back to your breath, starting again at 1. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to go back to 1, our minds are alive with chatter- that’s how God made us!

3. As your breathing calms you, stop counting it and imagine a scene where you step forward. Just one step, but you begin to feel and see light.

4. Slowly take another step and notice the light becoming a bit stronger. Know that the light is God, the Father. Bask in this with every slow step you take.

5. As you come fully into the light notice how gorgeous it is in temperature, aroma, color. You are now fully into the Light of the Father and you feel a love that you’ve never felt before. Bask in this.

6. Feel the connection to every soul around you and even farther unto the ends of the Earth. We are all connected by the blood of Jesus.

7. Thoughts and judgements may still be dropping into your mind but you move them over and allow the purification of your soul, the utter forgiveness and love that cannot be duplicated. Rest here for as long as you like.

8. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and move your body. Feel the Light as you go about your daily duties.

That’s it. Try it!

BTW: Here’s my latest Spiritual Journal page for your viewing pleasure:

Mindfulness journal page

Mindfulness Techniques- Centering Prayer

In an earlier post (God is Wise Mind Part 2) , I described the way I thought the word “Praise” as I breathe in and “Jesus” as that I thought as I breathed in and out, Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is a rote prayer – one that you don’t have to think about- and it can be a wonderful way to calm and quiet yourself and have a mindful connection with God ultimately benefitting your prayer life.
Have you ever tried to pray when you are distracted by the things that are going on around you- or all of the tasks and errands you need to do that day? According to Virginia Leito, Catholic Public Speaker and Inspirational Author, “When we can’t find the right words to communicate our feelings, rote prayers rescue us, and assist us in opening our hearts to the Lord.” She goes on to say that, “rote prayers can speak for me; that God understands my heart; my desires, regardless of how well I articulate them. After my daily prayer time, I am more at peace. Direction will come, in God’s time.”
I agree with Virginia in that being Mindful in the presence of God allows Him to see into our hearts. When Jesus told us to pray in the way of the Lord’s Prayer, I believe He was giving us a framework for prayer, but also specific words if needed to help us communicate.
In the book Jesus Calling, Sarah Young speaks in the Person of Jesus when she describes a state of Mindfulness as the following:
“This is a time in your life when you must learn to let go: of loved ones, of possessions, of control. In order to let go of something that is precious to you. You need to rest in My Presence where you are complete.”
Sarah goes on to describe something that looks a lot like a coping skill:
“Take time to bask in the light of My Love. As you relax more and more, your grasping hand gradually opens up, releasing your prized possession into my care.
You can feel secure even in the midst of cataclysmic changes. Through awareness of My continual Presence. The One who never leaves you is the same One who never changes. “I am the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) As you release more and more things into My care, remember that I never let go of your hand. Herein lies your security, which no one and no circumstance can take from you.”
Prayer, in itself, is a form of mindfulness because we are focused on God for a portion of time. I read an interesting bit of information about how Prayer changes our minds. Andrew Newburg, Professor, explains in his Book How God Changes Your Brain : Your brain actually changes when you enter into a state of Prayer! It alters the brain’s neural network and can even slow the aging process! Not to mention praying reduces stress, anxiety and depression while increasing positive feelings like love and compassion. Andrew has a nice PDF of Neurology and Spirituality on his website that you might like to read The Neurotheology Link
The DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) materials explain that Prayer can be a coping skill when you are distraught, and when we pray, we are “in the moment” with the Lord. Well, that’s precisely how Mindfulness can assist us when praying, because the techniques of Mindfulness help to isolate us with God, regardless what is going on around us or running in our minds.

God is Wise Mind- Part Two

Read Part One

The dogs and I wandered around the neighborhood and it became very clear that I was unbalanced- in Emotion Mind. There was a threat that I might have to return to a toxic environment at which I felt that I would surely relapse and then, all of the work I had been doing to deal with my grief and depression would be for nothing. But as I continued breathing, the thoughts flew as fast as I could think them. I slowed my breath even more, switching my exhale from “Wise” to “Jesus.” And my inhale from “Mind” to “Praise.”

During this centering prayer, I was reminded of a song from Casting Crowns Lifesong Album called “Praise you in the Storm”  and juggling the two leashes I managed to tap my phone and find the song.

This is one song that I clung (cling) to in the darkest hours of my grief. How could God take away my son? And even though He did, when will I get any relief from this sadness? It begins by telling God that by now, it seemed He should have come down and taken away this grief. But because we don’t know what God has in store for us, we should praise Him mightily, even while we are tormented by how the world is treating us, or the rotten deck that we’ve been dealt. It is a reminder that He is our strength in time of trouble, even if that trouble is worse than we could ever imagine.

“And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That You are who You are, no matter where I am…”

Even though this problem I was currently having was small compared to where I was when my son first died, I could hear God whisper to me and the ending verses of the song rang true to me as He helped me to see that I was jumping to conclusions and plowing many steps ahead of where I was.

“I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth”

Soon, an action plan begins to form, and the dogs pull on their leashes as I stop to make a list in my phone. Throughout the walk, I put together three or four things that I could do to get more information about the situation;
Make some calls,
Consult my Dr.
#1 Pray
#2 WAIT ON GOD.

That last one came in LOUD and CLEAR, and I am grateful that DBT helped me cope in that situation and many others. When emotions are running so hot there is a tendency to just do something to feel better. (More about this is Emotion Leveling coming soon). Lots of times those things we do can be destructive- to others and to ourselves. And when those things have been done and the dust is settled in the aftermath we can find ourselves in an even worse situation. <you can insert the self-harming behavior of your choice>. In my case, the alternative to DBT coping skills was usually alcohol- lots of it, or slot machines. Put both of those together and it was an atomic bomb. I hurt my family by spending money we didn’t have to spend, and I hurt myself and my health through abuse of alcohol.
“And so, my children, listen to me,
For all who follow my ways are joyful.
Listen to my instruction and be wise
Don’t ignore it!” Proverbs 8:32-33 NLT

God is Wise Mind- Part One

God loves to spend time with us! We can’t be Martha’s (See What is Mindfulness and Where is God in it? Posted May 26, 2018 ) and be too busy for him. Mindfulness can quiet our minds, so we can hear him speak to us. Being mindful and not multi-tasking allows us to see what God wants us to do- his opportunities for us.
Isn’t prayer spending time with God? Yes! Which is why God is telling us to be in a state of constant prayer. He gave us the Holy Spirit, so we would have Him with us always. In my mind, when I pray I am mindful and when He answers, it is God as my “Wise Mind.”

“God, all at once you turned on a floodlight for me!
You are the revelation light in my darkness,
And in your brightness, I can see the path ahead.”
Psalm 18:28 TPT

In DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy), we have three states of mind; Reasonable Mind, Emotion Mind and Wise Mind.

Wise Mind is:
The Wisdom within each person.
• Seeing the value of both emotion and reason
• Bringing the left brain and the right brain together
• The Middle Path

When in Reasonable Mind, it’s just “the facts ma’am.” The facts are in charge along with reason and logic. The great thing about Reasonable Mind is it can lead you through a “to do” list of really good ideas – as long as what you are reasonably thinking about really is FACT. Do your emotions fit the problem?

Many times, we are emotional about something that happened, and it is because we are interpreting the prompting event in a way that might be contrary to what really happened. (Read Drama!) Next time you’re upset, try to describe what happened with just the facts without judgements or assumptions and then determine if it would be helpful to review and evaluate your thoughts. Get in the habit of challenging your thoughts and emotions. Think about all the wrong decisions you might make based on assumptions or judging.

Opposite of this, Emotion Mind is when your feelings, moods and urges can lead you to do or say things. Emotion Mind works great in a lot of situations like when you are comforting a friend who is hurting. I probably don’t need to tell you when Emotion Mind can be unhelpful– I think about the teenaged drama my girls used to engage in!
You can see how the middle path, being able to see both logic and feelings, both creative and analysis can be beneficial. I believe that “The Wisdom within each person” is God. After all, God made us; every fiber and bone, every blood cell and brain cell was fashioned by him. Therefore, it is my interpretation that Wise Mind is God. When I consult Wise Mind, I am praying in a stream of consciousness.
A while ago, I got a voicemail that I wasn’t expecting. I returned the call and was told some information that immediately put me in a state of fear and unknowing. I became agitated and felt my mind click through scenario after scenario of “What ifs”, each one more disconcerting than the last. All of my thought roads leading to this one, that the progress I had been making dealing with my grief was at risk and was soon to be derailed. This might have been true but the “what if’s” (assumptions) weren’t true because they hadn’t happened yet!

I sat on the floor with closed eyes while fearful thoughts swirled around my brain. I often struggle to get my mind to calm down, so I tried to focus on my breath and by breathing with my abdomen to the center of my being. It makes sense that when feeling grief, one would be emotional. It’s to be expected. But when the emotion expands from grief, to fear, to panic, my heartrate escalates, and panic takes over, superseding every other feeling.

My mind was everywhere at once and I felt like I needed to move my body, so I decided that if I was going to ruminate, I should at least do something positive and take a walk with the wieners, Daisy and Bandit. The dogs were so happy to be out of the house now that the Summer sun shone high in the sky and birds and squirrels were everywhere! Seeing them running and nosing around the ground broke away a little of the armor of protection I had started building around myself.

I thought of a coping skill I learned to ask for help from Wise Mind (God), and I paced my breath as we walked along, thinking “Wise” in and “Mind” out. Deep breath in “Wise” -Slow breath out “Mind.”

Because, to me, trying to think in Wise Mind is like tapping into a direct line to God, searching for Wise Mind brings forth the image of my worries, grief, fear, failure bubbling up, up, up to Heaven. As they arrived in my mind, I guided each worry into its own pink bubble and sent them up. Some of the bubbles began to pop as Wise Mind began to challenge the thoughts contained within- God seemed to saying, “Now Cammie, you know that’s not true.” Or “Don’t worry about that, I’ve got it covered.” As the bubbles pop, I imagined a prism of colors of the rainbow shining in place of them and I imagined all of the room that was left in my soul for God’s opportunities and wisdom.

Part 2 Coming up!

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!