Marks of Christian Mindfulness

By April 29, 2021

So what will learning to practice Christian Mindfulness do for you?

What are some of the marks of Christian Mindfulness?

How does Christian Mindfulness help us cultivate our “Fruit of the Spirit?”

Dr. Amy Oden, author and our retreat leader for the Mindfulness Mini retreat this Sunday from 2:00 – 4:00 pm via Zoom writes: “Christian Mindfulness offers many benefits, including improved mental and physical health, better discernment of God’s voice, and a deeper spiritual life.”

Mindfulness, in general, entails increasing your everyday awareness of the moment you’re in. Pop culture abounds with mindfulness exercises, from mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful movement, mindfulness breaks (stop where you are and check in with each of your senses in this moment. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you taste, what do you touch?)

But what exactly is Christian Mindfulness — and how does it relate to the church and our lives today?

“Christian Mindfulness” is prayerfully opening ourselves to God’s guidance in the moment.  It’s how we can become more aware, with “eyes to see and ears to hear” that will help us discern God’s Presence in our lives and the power of Grace in each moment.

Through the lens of what Oden describes as the “marks of Christian Mindfulness” she highlights the five areas of awareness this practice helps us nurture in order to grow in our faith and sense of God’s presence in our lives. Remembering and actively engaging in these five marks helps provide antidote and safeguard against returning to the bondage of a fast-paced and over-stimulated life. The five marks of Christian mindfulness that are particularly important in this liminal, post-pandemic time, she notes, include:

  • We Are Free
  • We Are Real
  • We Are Rooted
  • We Are Grateful
  • Our Hearts Are Open to Others

Being free, real, rooted, grateful, and openhearted for others are only some of the ways Christian mindfulness can mark our lives, Oden writes in her book, Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness.

Acknowledging that Christians use differing vocabularies as tools to help describe these marks, Oden draws an important parallel between these five marks and the “fruit of the Spirit” as described by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). Paul describes these as fruit because they grow from one’s life in God. It is through the practice of mindfulness that we can begin to recognize our real-life experiences as gifts of grace.

Why mindfulness? Why now?

Oden writes of her own mindfulness journey with her husband, Perry, who has dementia, “I gaze in awe and wonder at the beauty and mystery of life that is both fragile and whole.”

When we intentionally cultivate this sense of awe and wonder through increased and intentional awareness, we are freed to live more authentically and with resilience.  We become more open to God’s calling and the power of compassion in the moment.

In his current sermon series, Beginning Anew After the Pandemic, Pastor Adam Hamilton, Senior Pastor at Church of the Resurrection in Leewood Kansas, compares this time we’re in now to the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. Like the Israelites, we have wandered the past, pandemic year not knowing what would happen next, what dangers lay ahead, when it would end.

Dr. Len Delony

Wandering through the uncertainty of this past year, we were forced to learn to live with the unknown, the unpredictable future. Freed from the bondage of our former routines, patterns, habits, and schedules, we navigated the unpredictable landscape without map or compass — and now that we are slowly returning to a more “normal” life, we may be starting to realize that our former ways of living may no longer work, and a new way of life has yet to be established. Many of us are asking, “What now? Where were We? How do we adjust to yet another new reality?”

Anthropologist Claude Levi-Straus describes this kind of “in between time” as a “liminal phase,” in which we can be most open, most available to the awareness of God and God’s call on our life.

By cultivating the practice of Christian mindfulness in this post pandemic time, now more than ever we have the opportunity for new routines to take root and to learn how to be willing beginners.

It may be hard to think of being a “beginner” as a gift. We’re not normally wired that way.

But being a beginner means we know we don’t have anything figured out. It means we have to pay very close attention, to live in a state of watchful wonder, learning to trust our awareness of God’s presence, work in our lives, and leading us forward to begin anew.

Jesus describes this particular spiritual posture when he said, “You must become like little children” (Matthew 18:3); Christian Mindfulness offers us a new way of being in relationship with God and the world.

In other words, we become more aware… “have eyes to see and ears to hear”. We become more tuned in to God’s Presence and the power of Grace. According to Oden, it is through Christian mindfulness that we are freed to live more authentically and with resilience that opens us to God’s calling and power of compassion in the moment.

In her book, Oden concludes that “one shorthand to describe the marks of a mindful life is simply ‘abundant life,’ Jesus’s words for the life he is offering. Jesus offers us this free, real, rooted, grateful, openhearted life in every moment. Yet we miss the invitation when we are preoccupied and distracted. If we pay attention instead, we can live abundantly, loving God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves. The spiritual practice of Christian mindfulness issues in fidelity to God’s love. This is the good news of abundant life in Christ. “

What marks of mindfulness do you most long for in your life right now?

Join us Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00 pm and learn more about the difference Christian mindfulness can make in your own journey of faith toward a new normal — and a more fruitful life!

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