Christian mindfulness meditation is similar to both traditional meditation and mindfulness exercises, but also quite different.
What the world calls meditation is just a preliminary step that Christians call “recollection” exercises. It is necessary to bring our spirit into inner stillness if we want to be fully present to the Lord.
The aim of Christian mindfulness meditation is threefold:
- To make our minds familiar with the truths of God.
- To dwell on those truths.
- To apply the insights we receive to our lives.
One reason mindfulness is popular today is that research shows that it works to reduce stress and even pain. Mindfulness can release the mind from an overgeneralized state. It relieves automatic brooding and the avoidant mind. Loving kindness meditation and kindness to one’s self also help to decrease the fears that come from feeling responsible when anything goes wrong. (Being overly responsible and overfunctioning are issues I have.)
Abiding in the Lord has elements of this mindfulness, especially trying to concentrate on the present moment. It helps us to ensure that “the day’s own trouble is sufficient for the day,” as Jesus said. But it goes beyond that to recognize the God is present in the here and now. God is here. God is now.
The condition needed to receive the presence of God is emptiness. We must empty ourselves inwardly of all that is not God, including distraction, agitation, fear and nervous tension. All must give way to the flow of quiet presence.
The person who is experienced with this kind of effort is not a person whose mind does not wander. Everyone’s mind wanders. The experienced person is someone who gets very used to beginning again and again and again.
What most people call meditation is just a preliminary step that Christians call