Try This: Secret Kindness

This week, do some random acts of kindness in secret. Here’s some ideas:

  • Do someone else’s chore at home.
  • Pick up trash.
  • Make an anonymous donation to a good cause.
  • Leave a positive review for a podcast or small business you like.
  • Leave change in a vending machine.
  • Pay for the coffee or fast food meal of the person behind you in line.
  • Let someone go ahead of you in a store line.
  • Pay a stranger a compliment.
woman wearing grey long sleeved top photography

Try This: How Are You Like Those You Dislike?

This is a time when many Christians are appalled at others … including other Christians. Politics has overcome many of us. This Christian mindfulness exercise can help us to regain love and compassion for others.

Think of a person who you don’t like. If you are up for it, make it someone whose opinions you find obnoxious or worse. Put this person in your mind while you open with prayer and then meditate on these things:

  • This person is a human with a mind, heart and body, just as I am.
  • God loves this person, like He loves me.
  • Jesus died for this person, just like me.
  • This person has a history that I do not completely know.
  • This person has thoughts and feelings like me.
  • This person has gone through difficulties and hurts, just as I have.
  • This person is not always wrong, just as I am not always right.

Then pray for this person: for their relationship with God, for their health, for their happiness.

I developed this idea based on the Just Like Me exercise in “The Mindful Day” by Laurie J. Cameron. She considers thinking well of others as one of the central practices of mindfulness. If that is true of secular mindfulness, think how much more true it is of Christian mindfulness.

Update: What’s on Your Mind?

A frequent Christian mindfulness practice involves monitoring your thinking. Now and again, you stop to see what you are concentrating on. Or you realize that you are thinking about how the Sopranos ended. And you know that God prefers for you to think about something better.

I previously covered this in the post What to Think. Let’s do an update. Are we using Philippians 4:8 as a yardstick to measure our thought life. The verse says:

This week, let’s return to this verse when we are in a bad mood, when we want to complain and when we are waiting. These are trigger times for negative or unproductive thinking. Let me know how it’s going for you.

Try This: A 10-Minute Silent Retreat

Silent retreats are the bomb. I took a four-night silent retreat at the Abbey at Gethsemani in Kentucky last year. Afterwards, I promised myself I would do it twice a year.

Well … then came COVID-19. For many of us who have been spending an exceptional amount of time with family for months, a silent retreat sounds like the impossible dream.

So try silence in small bits. Go to a room or outdoor space where you can be alone. No kids, no spouses, no pets. Sit in silence and check in for 10 minutes. Are you anxious? Tired? Feeling pushed or rushed?

Let the silence flow over you. Feel the presence of Jesus in that silence. He loves you. He understands.

This can be a regular practice to restart the day whenever you need it. See how it feels today.

Try It: Notice Your Need for Control

The COVID pandemic has been a great teacher. I’ve learned a lot about the size of my need for control. How many times have you thought about doing something … only to realize, “No, I can’t do that.”

I can’t see my granddaughter. I can’t see my mother-in-law who is in Memory Care. I can’t go to New York. I can’t take that vacation to San Diego I’ve planned for months. Dozens of projects and wishes are all gone in a sea of “can’ts.”

This actually can be good conditioning for spiritual formation, the process in which God forms us into our best selves. The process also can be, in the words of Billy Joel, “a constant battle for the ultimate state of control.”

In “Invitation to a Journey,” M. Robert Mulholland Jr. wrote that the United States is “a do-it-yourself culture.” We are trained to use the world’s objects and people to shape the world for our own purposes.

This week, let’s mindfully watch ourselves in the area of control. As Mulholland puts it: “If you do not believe that control is a major issue in your life, study the ways you respond when something or someone disrupts your plans for the day.”

The only way to transform ourselves is to let God take the helm. Let’s take note of how hard we fight it.

Wait! Wait! Just Be There

Today’s version of waiting in line usually requires standing six feet away from the people in front of you. This makes lines seem longer, although we know they are just spaced out. This Christian mindfulness exercise helps us bring some space and calmness to our wait. We might even enjoy it.

Whenever we are waiting — in a line, in a car, in front of a computer screen — practice Christian mindfulness. Speak to the Lord and seek His presence. The Holy Spirit is standing in line with you, after all.

Notice what is around you. Who is there? Can you offer up a prayer from them? What do you hear and smell? Is there a cashier or service person who needs a word of encouragement when you get to the front of the line? wai

journal and coffee cup during journaling exercise

Reflect on These Questions

This Christian mindfulness practice came from someone else, but I have no idea who. That person created a list of profound questions for daily reflection or examen. Although I neglected to note the author back then, I’ve found answering these questions bring lots of insight.

  • Where in this day did I feel the presence of God working in my life and in the world?
  • What in this day seemed like it was a part of my leading?
  • What made me believe that?
  • How does that leading fit into my personal and spiritual life?
  • What did I do today to feed my spirit or move me ahead on my spiritual journey?

Let’s try using these questions for discernment in quiet time. They are also great for journaling.

Other good morning exercises are here.

praise god for the sun

Thank God for the Sun

This Christian mindfulness practice brings attention to something we take for granted. Yet it is essential for our life on Earth. The Sun.

Today, when you see the sun (which can be iffy where I live), thank God for this special star for all these reasons and more:

  • It creates the wind.
  • It causes evaporation, which become rain and snow.
  • It creates tides with the moon’s help.
  • It allows for the seasons.
  • It is responsible for colors.
  • Its light and heat allow life on Earth.

The sun may be just a middling-size star out of 200 million in our galaxy. But God created it just for us. Let’s be thankful.

Notice When You’re Surprised You’re Wrong

This Christian mindfulness exercise simply requires listening to our own thoughts. We’ll find out much about ourselves when we listen. But we are looking for one thought in particular: surprise when we discover that we have made a mistake, failed or done something wrong.

We each are often the only ones who are surprised. God isn’t surprised. The angels aren’t surprised. They know who we are and what we are capable of doing.

When we are surprised, we need to think about it. The situation shows an issue with humility. In reading about humility online, I found one secular article titled “How Humility Will Make You the Greatest Person Ever.” Funny. But humility is not a low opinion of ourselves. It is an accurate opinion of ourselves.

It comes when we know God is beyond understanding. And we trust Him. It seems to grow as we increase our abilities to be grateful. As Proverbs 22:4 says, “Humility is the fear of the Lord. Its wages are riches and honor and life.”

Let’s watch our thoughts and see what we really think about ourselves!

photo of person walking on desert

In God for the World

The phrase “in God for the world” reflects Christian mindfulness, walking with God step by step in the moment. It is not the way I used to be, which was “in the world for God.” I depended way too much on my own strength and knowledge, hurrying back to God when things went wrong.

Abiding in God is the answer to Christian exhaustion and fear of failure. To do it is a matter of grace and a decision to notice when you have moved your mind away. We ask God to bring us back into His presence on a continual basis. Here’s an exercise that helps:

  • Stop and take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Pray “Come, Lord Jesus” or “Come, Holy Spirit. Ask God to help you return to His presence.
  • Listen to the sounds around you, identifying them. Pray a prayer of gratitude for what you hear.
  • Open your eyes to notice the colors, shapes and movement around you. Thank God for your sight and for what you see.
  • Ask the Lord to walk alongside you in the next thing you do.

Other Christian mindfulness practices to help you abide in Jesus are here.