(#6) Mindfulness Meditation, Thoughts, and Faith

I have been practicing mindfulness meditation for a little over a year now, and with every “sit” the benefits become more and more tangible. (If you are unfamiliar with mindfulness, you can listen to my short podcast about it here).

When I say the word benefits, here’s what I mean:

  • I’ve developed more of a “space” in my mind where I can step back and observe the narratives I’m telling myself as well as the content of my thoughts. This is especially pronounced in situations when I’m feeling upset, nervous, anxious, etc.

  • After a mindfulness sit, my mind is slower… but in a good way; I typically have much less chatter going on inside my head afterwards. I attribute this feeling to the opportunity I give my brain to spit out and sift through various thoughts during the sit.

  • Piggybacking on the bullet point above, I also have a higher sense of clarity after a sit. I typically find myself with an organized and prioritized list of what I need to do and when I need to do it with regards to really anything… podcasts, relationships, grocery lists, creative ideas, etc.

  • There’s been a tangible increase in my ability to think in terms of “truth” throughout the day. Here’s what I mean: becoming more aware of my thoughts has led me to become more aware of which ones are truth and which thoughts are lies. Here are some examples of truth that I CHOOSE to think about: “I am the beloved creation of the being who spoke the universe into existence.” “I have a wonderful family who loves me dearly.” “I am competent at what I do.” “God’s faithfulness has never failed in my life.” “There is absolutely nothing that I need to prove to anyone.”

When I started hearing all the hype about mindfulness and meditation, I really didn’t know what to think. On one hand, it was super intriguing, especially considering I was at a point in my life where I was desperate for something that could change my mind. But on the other hand, I knew that meditation had it’s roots in Eastern Buddhism, which as a Christian, scared me. I wrestled with this for a couple months at least…

Is it okay for me to practice this?… I don’t believe in Buddha or anything, but am I playing with fire here? Do I need to focus on God throughout my sit to make it okay? Should I just pray more instead? Or is that even mindfulness? Should I develop a God-centered mantra that I recite throughout my sits? Is this an idol I am creating here? How exactly do I practice mindfulness and glorify God?

I still don’t have peace with all of these thoughts, but here’s where I currently stand:

  • Mindfulness is an exercise for my brain, just like a kettlebell swing is for my body. Practicing to identify and navigate thoughts is a mental exercise that promotes positive growth.

  • Building my “mindfulness muscles” allows me to focus easier on God’s truth, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

  • My mindfulness exercises have literally zero to do with Eastern religions.

Here’s the thing… I love God and I seek to serve Him to the best of my ability. I am constantly asking him to lead me, and I wholeheartedly trust that His faithfulness will prevail. Mindfulness allows me to connect deeper with Him and with myself, and that’s all that really matters.

Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.

Much love to you all.

Nick

Nick Carlile