I am currently taking a class on interpersonal communication, and one of this week’s readings really captured my attention. This week, we read a brief essay on the art of mindfulness.
As presented in our readings, mindfulness is a Zen Buddhist philosophy. However, do not quit reading just because it isn’t a strictly Christian concept. I believe the art of mindfulness is scattered throughout scripture. And, I believe it is an essential art if we are to live a truly abundant life.
Our western culture values multi-tasking. I know I am a HUGE multi-tasker. With the many roles I carry in this life, I don’t know how I could survive without multi-tasking. However, while reading about the art of mindfulness, the Holy Spirit began to convict my heart and speak to me about living a different way.
In a nutshell, mindfulness is the act of focusing on only one thing at a time. In our text, mindfulness was presented in the context of listening, of focusing solely on the person with whom we are conversing. Not thinking about what we are going to say next. Not wandering to our to-do list that beckons for our attention. Not what we are going to eat for dinner. But focusing solely on the words our conversation partner is speaking and the meaning behind those words.
So often, I find my mind wandering during conversation as I struggle to balance the many tasks I need to accomplish before the sun sets. It’s so easy to be distracted and miss deepening my relationship with someone I love simply because I don’t truly hear the words and meaning being spoken.
I desperately want to do better, to show those I love just how interested I am in their lives by giving them my undivided attention.
But does the art of mindfulness go beyond listening?
I think it does.
Again, mindfulness is the act of focusing on only one thing.
Does that sound familiar? If not, consider these phrases…
One thing I ask from the Lord… Psalm 27:4
One thing you lack,” he said… Mark 10:21
but few things are needed—or indeed only one [thing]… Luke 10:42
But one thing I do… Philippians 3:13
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends… 2 Peter 3:8
Over and over, scripture points out a focus on only one thing. I think God is telling us that we must focus on, concentrate on, those things that are most important in life. What things might this be?
The very broad answer is people.
My temperament is such that I have a high level of responsibility, a tendency means it’s really easy for me to become so focused on the things I need to get done that I miss the relationships which make this life worth living. My desire is to become more focused on those around me and to let some of the tasks that beckon for my attention slide.
Earlier this week, my daughter asked me to drive her around the neighborhood to find a good place to watch the sunset. I was tired. I needed to get in bed because I get up so early. I didn’t want to leave.
And I said no.
As I snuggled into bed, I heard my Father say, “Your days for enjoying these little things are short. Go with your daughter…” And so, I got out of bed and we went for a short drive to watch the beautiful Oklahoma sunset.
I will never regret those few minutes that showed my daughter her place of priority in my heart.
But it’s not just the people in my life. It’s also my relationship with God. Sometimes, I get up and read my Bible simply as a task to mark off my list for the day. That’s not what I want in my walk with Christ. I am choosing to be much more mindful in the time I spend with the Father. I am focused on the words I am reading and the message He has for me…rather than allowing my mind to wander as I rush through my daily readings. I am choosing to focus my mind on prayer and sermons as I drive and as I walk. I am choosing to be mindful of my Savior throughout my day.
I want to focus on the one thing that matters in this life.
What other scriptures come to mind when I think of mindfulness?
There’s no doubt Romans 12:2 is at the forefront as we are encouraged to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Isn’t mindfulness a part of renewing our minds?
Or there’s Philippians 4:4-9 where we are told to rejoice and think on things that are lovely and noble and true and excellent and praiseworthy. That’s definitely being mindful of the good things this life has to offer and concentrating on these things.
What about 2 Corinthians 10:5? The instructions are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Every single thought. There’s no way we can take our every thought captive without being mindful.
I don’t know about you, but I definitely see the value of the art of mindfulness. I see how it correlates with the Christian life as God has called us to live. I desperately want to retrain my brain to be mindful in all areas of life.
How about you? Where do you need to focus your attention, learn the art of mindfulness? Is this a journey you would like to take with me? If so, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear how you are going to implement mindfulness. And, I’d love to hear your results. How do your relationships with others change? How does your relationship with God change?
I believe God is calling us to mindful living. Will you join me?