The Art of Mindfulness

by Forrest Parkinson
October 16, 2019

A Better Way
Cultivating a prayerful mind is a worthy priority for Christians and anyone seeking a deeper peacefulness and more harmonious adjustment to the challenges of daily life.

Take a moment to reflect on the habitual workings of your mind and consider the anxieties, worries and distractions that pull you away from experiencing the fullness of your life in the moment, right now.Most people can identify about ten to twenty pressing thoughts that they process over and over with slight variations. This sort of repetitive thinking usually produces no solutions to problems but consistently distracts the mind from the immediate experience of living. Being “stuck in our head” or “distracted” is neither prayerful nor mindful. There is a better way, more realistic and more open to experiencing the presence of God.

Pay Attention to the Here and Now
Mindfulness practices resonate with the basic, God-given human impulse to pray. Prayer, defined most simply, is “the raising of the mind and heart to God.” Mindfulness is the “moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment”; as psychologist Meredith Chivers puts it, being attentive to “the here and now: the sound of the car horn that is honking behind you, the feeling of the tightness in your chest that it evokes; focusing on the sensations themselves, not what the sensations mean.” 

The Holy Spirit at Work
The sage advice “Stop and smell the roses,” is a wise call to mindful prayer that can be expanded to living more happily and embracing the spirituality God is cultivating within us. It is the Holy Spirit who stirs up prayer within our personal depths. If we even desire to respond to this holy urging, that desire itself is evidence of the Spirit’s work within us. 

In the Middle of Disturbance
The attitude of prayer *completes* the practice of mindfulness. Prayerful mindfulness practices attend to one’s “heart”, our relationship with a personal, ever-present God and gives occasion to rest in the presence of God. Let’s try a prayerful practice of mindfulness—Praying the Disturbance. Noticing when we are disturbed is a basic practice of mindfulness. Prayerfully we can reframe our disturbance as a spiritual imperative to take heart and take care. 

Take a Deep Breath
As soon as we step back from our interior disturbance, we begin to take a larger, self-observing perspective. We then compose our attitude towards our own emotions and what is happening, welcoming the influences of the Holy Spirit. In the moment of composure, our experience of what’s happening and our reaction, expands. There is moment for insight, a self-awareness in the presence of God. Now breathe! Breath is not only a need but our most powerful symbol of the Holy Spirit. Breathe in, and in the moment before you exhale, allow the Holy Spirit to give you the one word you need immediately. That word might be “mercy,” “patience,” “wisdom” or “what would Jesus do?” Let that word flow silently or quietly as your exhale. Now, in the midst of disturbance, seek God. 

By cultivating this practice of praying our disturbance, the results will deepen peace of mind in anyone’s daily walk. Experiment! In the work of the Lutheran Counseling Center, techniques of Mindfulness help our clients to reduce their anxieties, brighten their low moods, cultivate better habits and moderate their anger. 

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Pastor Parkinson counsels teens, adults and couples at our sites in Mineola, Farmingdale, and in Manhattan at our Advent site. 

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Call us at 1-800-317-1173 if we can help you attain these goals for your life.

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