Faith, Spiritual Growth, Uncategorized

The Art of Mindfulness

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.

Ouch.

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 saidMark 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?

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6 thoughts on “The Art of Mindfulness”

  1. When I think of mindfulness, I think of staying focused in the present moment. What is happening now! Scriptures talk a lot about not worrying (that is thinking about the future yet we can’t control the future) and to let go of the past (regrets are about thinking about what I wish I had done differently, but again I can’t go back and change it). So, what I do have control of is the present moment. I am robbing myself of what I can do when I am worrying and regretting. Mindfulness is focusing on one thing in the present moment.

  2. Love this post and in the context of our daily home and prayer life. I’m an SLP working with adult patients who have brain injury. One of the strategies I teach for base attention skills is to focus on one thing at a time and abandon the idea of multi-tasking as it only results in heightened irritability, frustration, and so many errors in our tasks. I even have a sign on my office door to be a “single-tasker” instead of a “multi-tasker.” Even though I teach this concept, it is SO HARD to actually do. Life is busy and there is so much to accomplish. Yet there is such value in learning the art of focusing on a single thing at one time. We can dive deeper into “it” (that relationship, God’s word, the food we eat, the feel of the earth in our fingers, the voice of our child, the depth of the sensations that can be found in attending to the single thing in front of us, whatever it may be). It is important to be aware that this “single-tasking” doesn’t come easily or naturally. It will take intention and effort. We have to retrain our brain to work in a different way. But the payoff is amazing.

    1. Amen!! I hadn’t thought about it in the context of SLP working with brain injuries, but I see where it’s essential. I’ve watched my relationship with my kids grow as I’ve worked on this technique. I’m a huge multi-tasked, always busy and moving, and it’s hard to slow down…but that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.

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