Mindful Detox from Upsetting Words

Social distancing can result in upsetting conversations over Zoom and via social media. This is particularly true when we reach out to others who are upset, one way or the other, over systemic racism and/or the pandemic and/or everything.

Working with the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, we can detox from these conversations to return to deep inner peace. It involves, first, identifying how we are feeling. Angry? Disgusted? Sad?

Rather than running away or ignoring the feeling, accept it. Lift it up to the Holy Spirit in prayer. Gently listen to your own thoughts in Christian mindfulness, returning to deep breathing and the Jesus prayer when needed.

Next, calm your feelings. Ask Jesus to be with you as you take care of yourself like you would take care of an upset child. Be fully mindful of your own state. Remember: God is here. God is now. He is with you in your pain and sorrow.

As you calm down, release the emotion to God. As you release, listen. Do you hear a message about something you should do or not do? Did this upset come from a sin area or a false way that you see yourself or the world?

Just keep calming and releasing the problem to God, being willing to do His will. If you are listening in humility, God will be there in a transformational way.

Do We Need Inner Peace for Outer Peace?

Walking in Christian mindfulness through ongoing pandemic and racial injustice requires faith that abiding in Jesus will bring us peace. In reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Peace Is Every Step,” I found that Buddhists believe achieving inner peace is necessary to achieving a peaceful world.

In the introduction, the Dalai Lama writes: “Although attempting to bring about world peace through internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way. Wherever I go, I express this, and I am encouraged that people from many different walks of life receive it well. Peace must first be developed within an individual. And I believe that love, compassion and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace.”

As a Christian, I think we achieve true inner peace by abiding in Jesus. For me, His graces are necessary to overcoming my anxious nature. All the Christian mindfulness exercises I do … and the Buddhist exercises that I adapt … are ways to practice opening the door to God.

An explanation of the differences between Buddhist mindfulness and Christian mindfulness is here.

Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is within us. I do agree that prayer, study and Christian mindfulness practices help us all to walk left-foot, right-foot with God in love, compassion and altruism.

To expect that we cannot achieve peace until everyone is on that path is sad. But I do agree with the Buddhists that inner transformation makes outer peace easier. To be like Jesus … willing to meet people where they are in love … is the path forward.

How to Live in a Fallen World

Living in a fallen world has been especially tough this year. Anger, fear, anxiety … it’s all fallout from a time of protest and pandemic. Brokenness is all around us as well as within us.

I was feeling worried and weary recently. Then Jesus reminded me of a great truth: He wants me to be at peace and without fear. The only way I can do that in a fallen world is to keep my focus on Him.

Focusing on the presence of Jesus gives us strength to do what we need to do. Jesus wants us to live without fear, and He gives us the ability to do that. But we have to focus on Him.

That doesn’t mean that we ignore the pandemic or the issues that are causing the protests. We seek Jesus first, and He gives us all the strength, courage and wisdom we need to do what is right. And he gives us joy and peace as we abide in Him.

“The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” — Zephaniah 3:17

What Would Mr. Rogers Say?

Evil would want us to think the worst about who we are, so we would have that behind our eyes as we looked at our neighbor. Jesus would want us to see the best of who we are, so we would be able to see the best of our neighbor. You can be an accuser or an advocate. Evil would have you be an accuser in this life. Jesus would have you be an advocate for your neighbor.

Fred Rogers

Peace in the COVID-19 Storm

We are not the only ones who benefit when we practice Christian mindfulness day after day. Experiencing the presence of Jesus comforts and changes us, so we become better co-workers, neighbors, family members and friends. We become lamps on the table in a very dark place.

The world is out of control. People face uncertainty and fear. In the midst of a long-term, ongoing crisis, people notice when someone else is at peace. It is a significant witness in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Our attitudes show our trust in God.

In 2 Corinthians 1:5-7, Paul writes that those of us who experience God’s comfort are not just storehouses. We don’t just enjoy the experience. We are conduits that share that comfort with others … sometimes through purposeful ministry, sometime just in daily interactions with others.

Practicing the presence of Jesus brings peace to more than just us. It can show the world a safe path in a challenging time.

Mr. Rogers: A Portrait of Christian Mindfulness

While watching “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” I realized that Fred Rogers is a wonderful portrait of Christian mindfulness, whether he realized it or not.

Mr. Rogers walked with Jesus moment by moment. He focused all his energy on the most important thing: what was happening in the present moment. He was very intentional about how he spent his time.

By all accounts, he was a Christian who began each day with prayer and Bible study. Then he further centered by swimming laps. He worked to walk with Jesus, welcoming children into both of their presences because “of such is the kingdom of God.” Mr. Rogers listened to His Lord, loving his neighbor unconditionally.

I scanned various interviews and stories to see if Fred Rogers ever talked about Christian mindfulness specifically. He and those writing about him described it in his life, but not by name.

Nonetheless, I am certain that this ordained Presbyterian minister embodies the practice. He helped the imprisoned by working to create child-friendly spaces for visitation. He visited the sick by working alongside medical professionals to minimize trauma among child patients. He cared for those who were right in front of him, even if they were actually sitting in front of a television miles away.

Both the movie and the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” provide a vivid portrait of Christian mindfulness, practicing the presence of God moment to moment with full attention. I highly recommend both.

Angels Watching Over Us Every Step We Take

Even the hard times contain blessings as well as fear. Abiding in Jesus through the pandemic involves accepting the path as it is and moving forward. If we do this, we will learn much about God and ourselves.

The Lord promises that walking in His Presence is a well-planned and well-staffed operation. “For He shall give His angels charge of over, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone,” says Psalm 91: 11-12.

So, if we are discouraged about the impact of the pandemic on our bank accounts, our families and our dreams, we can be sure that God is with us. Look for the blessings, and pray out your gratitude. And be sure to thank God for those angels who are with you right now.

This reminds me of the Amy Grant song, “Angels.”

Under the authority of God’s word, we know we are his children, our names engraved on the palms of His hands. He knows how we feel. He knows what obstacles we face, and He will be with us.

Christian Mindfulness Resource: Abide App

The Abide app was the first recommendation I received from a friend when she discovered my interest in both Christian mindfulness and the use of apps for insomnia. I now share her enthusiasm.

Abide, which costs about $40 a year for the premium version, has a wide array of Christian meditations, teachings and stories for all times of the day. It’s reportedly the #1 Christian mediation app.

The team creating Abide is Carpenters Code, a small group of former Google employees who decided to use their abilities to serve God. Their mission is to allow the world to experience the peace of Christ through Biblical meditation.

The daily guided meditations, found on the Home screen, come in lengths of 2, 5, 10 and 15 minutes, to suit our schedules.

The home or “Today” page also offer links to meditations for sleep, anxiety and emotions. A journal is on the page as well. Under the Sleep menu, Bible stories, meditations, psalms, material for children and other non-fiction meditations are available.

The Topics menus offers a variety of materials for dealing with emotions, growing spiritually, seeking guidance, healing, praying in the morning, offering thanks and more. The guides are short courses on topics including marriage, grief, money, parenting and more.

I’ve just gotten started with Abide, but so far, I highly recommend it.

Christian Mindfulness When You Are Wearing Out

The joy of the Lord is my strength. That is something I need to remember in this phase of the pandemic, when it feels like I am running out of steam. I now have insomnia, the result of many nightmares about bad people trying to break into my house. (Very subtle, subconscious.) This tests my ability to practice Christian mindfulness, but in the end, it will strengthen it.

The Lord knows that many of us are starting to wear out. Any initial burst of adrenaline and interest in the uniqueness of the situation are gone. That can be good news.

God is our strength, always there when we are not feeling strong enough to take on a difficult challenge. This pandemic is not even in the Top 5 of bad things that I have experienced. So I know, looking back, that God gives you the strength. But we have to ask for it.

Only by connecting with the Lord in times of quiet and prayer … as well as practicing the presence of God moment to moment … will the strength and the joy flow through us. Calling on the name of Jesus hour by hour, even minute by minute, will build that connection. That is what Christian mindfulness is all about. For more on that, click here.

As Paul writes in Philippians 4:19: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Focus on the Presence of God in the Pandemic

No matter how isolated we all feel, God is with us in quarantine. This unique time in history creates an opportunity. We can choose to practice Christian mindfulness. We can feel the presence of God moment by moment during these days of pandemic.

Romans 8: 38-39 famously reminds us:

I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, no anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love go God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That’s true for a pandemic, too. God calls to us at this and every moment by our names. The quiet of quarantine gives us more of a chance to listen. As Sarah Young writes in Jesus Today:

“When world events are swirling around you and your personal world feels unsteady, don’t let your mind linger on those stressors. Tell yourself the truth: Yes this world is full of trouble, but Jesus is with me and He is in control.”

We need to move our focus from the pandemic to the presence of Jesus over and over again. “But Jesus is with me” is a good breath prayer. I use “Come Holy Spirit” repeatedly to move my mind from the present to the presence. Let’s all do this.