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.

mindfulness: meditation hands

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.

mindfulness: lightbulb indicating thoughts and ideas

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.

Experiencing Cognizance

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.

mindfulness: one yellow step among green stair stepsSounding 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.

Understanding Mindfulness

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.

mindfulness: stopwatch

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.

busyness

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

        

16 COMMENTS

  1. For me it’s things that I feel anxious about. Dirty dishes, laundry, house in total disarray, lesson planning and so on. I am trying to be better organized to relieve some of this anxiety but it’s 1 step forward and 10 steps back. I heard something at church this morning that resonated deeply. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7

    • Thanks for sharing, Keli! I completely agree that you should give your worries to God. I can testify that when I let go and ask for His help, He manages my life better than I do! But it’s definitely hard because sometimes we don’t get the immediate assistance that we want and sometimes He requires us to restructure our lives. In my case, it was a complete restructuring. I had to spend more time with Him and less on my to-do list. But it was worth it! I became less stressed, dedicating quality time to family and God, getting a few major things accomplished in my day, and managing to enjoy my life without being overly exhausted:)

      Maybe start small and ask, “What is one thing I could change today or give over to You, God?”

  2. Even though I disagree about many ways to connect to God (1 Timothy 2:5 says that Jesus is the only way to God), I think that the mindful yielding to God in the present moment can be wonderful for abiding in Christ.

    • Susan, what I meant when I wrote ‘there are many ways to connect to God’ is that some people use solitude and silence; some people use prayer; some people use song; some people use fasting; some people use walking or sitting meditation. I believe that there are different methods to spend time with, connect, and develop one’s relationship with Him. I hope this clarifies?

  3. I use mindfulness with my therapy clients often! It’s the ability to turn down the noise of the past and the worries of the future to be able to acknowledge and focus on the current moment. For some of my clients that is the only way they can hear God. It’s not that mindfulness is the way to God but a tool to use to then be able to connect with him. It’s like if your bible is buried. You can’t read it and understand the knowledge if you can’t get to it. Taking items off of the bible isn’t connecting you to what’s inside the bible just simple allowing you access to it! I’m glad mindfulness has been beneficial for you!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this! It is such an encouragement and affirmation of what I have been trying to do in my own walk. I recently started trying to incorporate mindful meditation on God into my daily routine, and it has so helped me to stay focus, calm, and joyful all day!

  5. So glad to see another Christian talking about mindfulness. I have been told by some that contemplative prayer is of the devil. However, for me, the fruit is right from the Holy Spirit.

    • It’s a controversial subject, but I hope to open others to the idea that God heals in many ways we have yet to fathom; He just happened to lead me down this path as an example. I think it’s important, especially as Christians, to keep ourselves open and receptive to what God wants to teach us, even if it seems radical because even Jesus was seen as radical. Of course, we need to be grounded in Scripture so that we can discern His teachings versus Satan’s deceptions, but I fully believe that mindfulness is of God. Thank you, Alice, for being so receptive of the Holy Spirit’s fruit!

  6. I am often distracted by my to do list, the household clutter that is not my “normal” as we adjust to live with a newborn again, the endless chatter of my three year old, and “mom, watch this!” moments of my 6 year old. I am making a big effort these days to be more mindful and open to what God wants me to learn from each of these…. He can use every bit of it, too. <3 thanks for sharing a bit of your story

    • Thanks for sharing, Keri! I have a post coming out this next week about your exact situation; I hope you check back in to read it because I believe it would help you greatly:) I hope you can find some rest this week- I can’t imagine having three littles!

  7. The ladies in my church and I are going through the book Practical Theology for Women which essentially addresses this issue from a very different perspective arguing that faith in the attributes of God is the answer to our worries. It would take a much longer time to properly explain how related her concept is to yours but all in all I think we are commanded to meditate throughout the Scriptures. The issue is what we are meditating on. Isaiah 26:3 says “I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on me”. From my understanding that is the primary difference with Buddhist meditation. However, that doesn’t mean that God cannot redeem the practice in your life to make you better at meditating on His character because you already have practiced clearing your mind of other things. It is a difficult thing for me because my mind often reverts back to the anxiety and worry.

    • Hi, Katie! I see what you are saying, and that’s where a lot of people misunderstand Buddhist meditation. Buddhist meditation can have different intentions set during the practicing of it: you can focus on scripture, your breath, sounds, thoughts, mindfulness, or even trying to silence your mind completely of every thought. The idea is to achieve enlightenment, or in other words, wisdom and understanding from your practice. In the case of mindfulness meditation, we are training our minds to remain in the present moment with complete awareness; this does away with anxiety, stress, depression, etc. With mindfulness meditation, we are practicing self-control over our thoughts, and that honors God, just as one would exercise and eat right in order to honor God’s temple. We don’t necessarily focus on scripture while we are running on the treadmill, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing what scripture tells us to do!

  8. In reading your post, I flashed back to a friend who proclaimed to be Buddhist. He himself did not want to follow Christ and felt Buddha’s was were better. I can see how some might be open to Christ eventually but for him he was very opposed even though many of the ideas are similar.

    I do believe meditating on God’s word is important to learn and to focus on Him while doing. I have learned to be still in prayer and allow God time to answer. I’m not familiar with what contemplative prayer is so I’ll have to go look that up.

    • Thanks for commenting, Kristi! Just like with Christianity, there are varying beliefs within Buddhism; I have, however, been around many Buddhists that do believe in and meditate to spend time with God. As far as whether or not they believe in Jesus, I cannot say because I never asked them. Personally, it’s amazing to see how His sheep are everywhere!

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