The best way to start your day is to practice the presence of Jesus as you wake up in bed. Here are five quick ways to bring Christian mindfulness to the first minutes of your morning.
- Choose a gentle alarm clock. For decades, I woke up to the sound of ocean waves in a sunrise simulation alarm clock similar to this one.
- Once your eyes are open, say: “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
- Breathe deeply: In to the count of three. Hold for the count of four. Exhale for the count of five. Do this as needed until you feel centered, thanking God for the gift of breath.
- If you are sleeping beside a spouse, a child or even a pet, pray a prayer of gratitude for them.
- Listen to the sounds of the house and the world outside. Again thank God for the new day.
The pandemic has made us more mindful about our hands. We take much more care about what our fingers touch. And we wash our hands more thoroughly and more often. This heightened awareness can be coupled with the following Christian mindfulness exercise.
Put something on your dominant hand, like a Band-Aid, a different ring or a mark with a pen. This will help you notice your hands more frequently during this exercise.
Then, when you touch something or someone, do it with intentional kindness. Be gentle and aware. Feel grateful for the things you touch. Feel love for the people you are touching.
Think of the kind touch of Jesus. He reached out to the leper. He created furniture and bowls from wood. He did it all with love. With His grace, we can bring more love to our daily round.
Another Christian mindfulness practice involving touch during the pandemic is here.
Walking in Christian mindfulness in the presence of Jesus looks a certain way. We are each individuals, but consistencies exist. The Bible details them.
Here’s a list of what it looks like to live in God’s presence, put together by Ken Boa and Jenny Abel in their free PDF, “A Guide to Practicing God’s Presence.”
They suggest that we start by picking one of the descriptions below. Put on a card and keep it by our beds. Meditate on this verse morning and evening, asking God to help you live it.
Here are the suggested verses:
- Abide in Jesus. (John 15:45)
- Love God and your neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-40)
- Set your mind on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5-6)
- Walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16,25)
- Set your heart on the things above. (Colossians 3:1-2)
- Rejoice always. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
- Pray continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- Give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
- Run the race of life with endurance. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
- Submit yourself to God. (Romans 12:1-2)
- Press on toward the goal. (Philippians 3:12-14)
- Dwell on whatever is excellent and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:6-8)
- Remember God. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
Other resources to support your Christian mindfulness journey are listed here.
Pretty is as pretty does. You are what you eat. You are a child of God. Who are you anyway?
Many of us see ourselves as our accomplishments, our talents, our work. This can lead to anendless effort to be better and more. Even those who create good work on God’s behalf can fall into this trap.
Charts and lists exist that outline the components of our identity in God. All very helpful, but this is something different: a quick exercise to see what you think and to invite God to comment on that.
- Take about a minute to center yourself with breathing and the Jesus prayer.
- Then ask yourself, “Who am I besides the work I do?”
- Listen to what comes up.
- Quiet yourself again and take those responses before the Lord. See if He guides you toward any thoughts.
Buzzes, bells and song fragments go off on our phones on a constant basis. Before COVID-19, I made a conscious effort to reduce my notifications, read my email once a day, and turn off the sound on my phone while otherwise engaged.
The pandemic and the demonstrations in support of racial justice have changed that for me. I look at my email when I get up. I turned on many notifications, and the sound on my phone is usually on. I also check social media more frequently. I want to know what’s going on.
The average American consumes more than 10 hours of media a day, a figure that has probably gone up in the pandemic. This level of outside noise and frequent interruption does rattle us. Eventually I plan to work to reduce my phone’s dominance in my life.
Until then, I am going to focus on training myself to take three deep breaths when a notification goes off. I will pray “Lord Jesus, I know you are present.” Then I will look at the notification or even take the call. That will reestablish the presence of Jesus around me as I learn about the latest developments.
Training to respond mindfully to a sound is also a good step in building the habit of taking a deep breath and centering ourselves when any interruption happens. (Bell or no bell.). I know this will keep me in the spirit of Christian mindfulness even more over time.
I am angry after watching the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I am angry watching a public health crisis become a political statement about “freedom.” It’s been a bad week. Prayer and Christian mindfulness are a path back to peace.
In the book “Renew Your Life,” Kai Mark Nilsen, lead pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Gahanna, Ohio, offers a practice that can help. He calls it “the daily walk.”
As a daily exercise, use each phase of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi as a lens to view your relationships and your behavior. Throughout the day, repeat the phase and find ways to demonstrate it to others. At the end of the day, think about how you have done. You can rotate through the phases or concentrate on one for a long time.
Oh Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, fear.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
The entire prayer is here. I’m concentrating on the first section. Hope this helps. Another prayer for the pandemic is here.
The world is starting to open up a little. We may see people at least six feet away with a mask on, or we see them on a computer screen. Our strange circumstances call from more Christian mindfulness than ever.
Today, remember that God has an agenda for your time. It includes who you meet. Try to see each person as a divine appointment. God has put this person on your path. You can have the intention to respond in grace.
This is tough for me this week because I inadvertently set off a storm of criticism for my decision to wear a mask on a social media channel. I became the “COVID-19 police.” People used my name “Karen” in meme vain. That ticked me off. I had to fight off encouraging these folks who refuse to wear masks because they are “free” to hug a coughing person. But the Lord kept my fingers away from the keyboard until I calmed down.
Instead, I should have remembered that I did not meet them online by accident. God put them in my pathway. God was working in them in some way, and I needed to determine how I could best show God’s love to them.
If we can practice doing this for a few days, we may find ourselves in a more pleasant world. Let’s give it a try.
As the world starts to reopen and the pandemic still continues, it’s easy to get distracted and to lose focus on the presence of Jesus.
This simple Christian mindfulness practice can move you back into the present moment and rekindle gratitude for God’s gifts to us.
Just close your eyes and breathe deeply three times. When you open your eyes, concentrate on what you see. Name the colors of things in the space around you. Thank God for each color that he created. God is the source of the color wheel, and even colors we can see. Thank Him for His creativity!
Practicing gratitude every Thursday changes our attitude all week. When we start to look for just five things to be grateful for, we can enjoy the joyful feeling of Thanksgiving all year long.
It helps to keep a list … easy to access in your day … where you write down the good things that happen as they happen. Good things do happen as long as we are on Earth and under God’s care. The sky, the sun and the stars can inspire at least three of the five things. On really bad days, it’s also OK to be grateful that the day is over.
This practice transforms our attitude into something more positive. This article from positivepsychology.com talks in depth about how gratitude impacts anxiety and other difficult issues. Particularly when we are experiencing unhappy times, it’s refreshing to look for the good all around us.
Scheduling a Thanksgiving time for every Thursday creates a special focus on gratitude that lightens up the week. As part of weekly Thanksgiving, consider sharing your gratitude list with your family or a good friend. It helps us all to see the true reality rather than just the dark clouds.
For more thoughts on gratitude, click here.
Listen very careful to the sounds around you. Even silence has sounds.
Take five minutes or more to listen. What do you hear? Beloved voices? Music you’ve been stuck with via the kids? The purr of cat or the snore of a dog?
When you listen, you can hear more. It’s also reportedly good for calming your spirit. Listening to silence brings you peace. Listening lets the Lord speak quietly to your soul.