In my late twenties, I did plenty of soul-searching.
Dealing with chronic pain, I was desperate for any kind of relief, which is how I came upon Buddhism. I was taking a course on religion in college and quickly gravitated toward its teachings on mindfulness, love, and enlightenment.
In fact, Buddha lived many many centuries before Christ and preached many of the same teachings on love; therefore, it seemed like a safe religion to venture into and somewhat related to my Christian roots.
So I gave it a try and found a local sect within my area. At first, it is a little unusual because all students don robes and are shoeless when in the room.
Meditation pillows are situated in a square, where all students face inward toward the teacher and gong. The gatherings always began with chanting: good karma sent to either specific people or to the world in general.
The practice concludes with a twenty-minute meditation period, where the room would be darkened and we’d sit in silence. With eyes half-closed, we’d stare upon a spot on the floor not too far in front of our seated selves.
Struggling With Silence
I remember thinking, I really have to cough right now. This place is freaky… why does that person always breathe so loudly? Dang it, my foot is falling asleep again and my back hurts sitting like this.
Ok, focus on my breathing… breathe in… breathe out… ugh! Just bang the gong already! This is so stupid- how is this helping me?!?
With a mind as active as mine, it was supremely challenging to concentrate on a single thought, feeling, or even my breath for that short amount of time. I almost became fed up entirely, wanting to quit within the first few weeks of attending.
Seeing no progress in whatever I was hoping to gain, I still managed to keep at it. I started researching outside of my college class, listening to teachings from the famous Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
He absolutely captivated me with his wisdom, patience, and unexpected humor. I also began reading books on mindfulness.
Meriam Webster’s Dictionary defines mindfulness as the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis. What began as mere curiosity and desire for relief led to complete recognition and revelation.
Dedicating myself, I consistently practiced and found that the inside chatter stilled and my emotions dissipated. I didn’t worry about the past or future, concentrating on the present and more specifically, my current state of being.
Sounding too philosophical for you? I admit that I was skeptical, but my considerable emotional pain plagued me with forgetfulness, anxiety, and depression. What I found is that all of these ailments could not exist when my mind was focused on the present moment; they were no longer an issue.
You may be thinking, Well, of course it wouldn’t exist if you are thinking about right now! But it isn’t just focusing on what you are doing or thinking right now.
Let’s say I’m mixing cake ingredients right this second. In mindfulness, I am aware of the rhythm of my breath, the smells of the batter, the sound of scraping my spoon against the metal bowl, the dog scratching his ear in the other room, the instant unlocking of the washing machine, my son beating a toy against the table, and how often my thoughts drift from this very moment to future or past moments.
Yes, there is a lot more to mindfulness than just focusing on one thing. It’s thinking in the absolute present, from second to second, minute to minute, and so on. To be so engrossed in the now is surprisingly powerful and medicinal.
So why am I no longer practicing Buddhism? I felt like God was prompting me to move onward, like a student given a new assignment.
It took me many years to realize the significance of my practicing Buddhism. I believe God was teaching me that there are many ways to connect with Him and many avenues to healing.
Just as one seeks medicine to fight illness or physical therapy for injuries, the mind greatly benefits from mindfulness.
Recovering The Mind
Rather than plan a million future tasks or fixate on past mistakes, the mind can be used as God intends it, or sadly, as Satan desires it. Though some may argue that Buddhist meditation is self-seeking instead of God-seeking, I believe this notion is based on misinformation.
I, for one, have met dedicated Buddhists that believe in God based on His presence during meditative states. The important takeaway is that Buddhist meditation promotes mindfulness, which is a state God intends for us to reside in.
Too often, our world consumes us. We are always on the move to acquire bigger and better things.
We desire to figure out our problems on our own or to have back-up plans in case God doesn’t deliver. Ingrained impatience is a disease that requires time and dedication to reverse, along with our many other ailments.
The first step, I believe, is to be aware that God heals in many ways and moreover, He connects with and speaks to us in many more. So, as a Christian, please open your mind to other forms of healing because I can truly testify that my time in Buddhism has made me a stronger and better follower of Christ.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Post Question: What thoughts distract you from the present moment and hearing God’s voice? Comment below!
*Definition of Mindfulness. (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2017, from