A friend recently sent me a link to an article by Christian News Today entitled. “Why Mindfulness Isn’t Christian”. My response was to say, “I agree with them – mindfulness isn’t Christian.” Compassion also isn’t Christian. Morality isn’t Christian. Peace isn’t Christian. Prayer isn’t even Christian. Mindfulness also isn’t Buddhist, Hindu, or any other religion. Although the practices were adapted from these religious traditions, they are also mentioned by many religions, including Christian faiths (check out this list of 60 Bible versus referencing mindfulness). In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church includes meditation and contemplative prayer as “recollections of the heart”, expressions of the life of prayer. and methods for “coming to know God”.
Most people find that a dedicated mindfulness practice is compatible with their religious perspective. In my experience, mindfulness has increased my spirituality by helping me connect with my highest values and appreciate the unfolding mystery of something greater than myself. Greater presence and awareness often leads to increased opportunities for experiencing joy, wonder, awe, and beauty, imbuing our lives with greater meaning and purpose. In this way, I believe one can ascribe to any particular religious tradition – or to none at all – and fully enjoy the benefits of mindfulness.
There’s a lot of ownership, exclusivity and othering expressed in both the anti- and pro-mindfulness for Christians articles linked to above. Both seem to be asking, “Is this ours?” or “Are they one of us?” – as if to imply what’s ours is good, anything good must be ours, and anything other is suspicious. Too much “yours and mine” thinking leads to a lot of “us and them” and black and white thinking in general. Like the other beneficial qualities and practices I mentioned above (as well as the foundational determinants of wellbeing mindfulness supports, such as emotional regulation, attentional control, and resilience), mindfulness is an attitude, a practice, a state, a trait, or a way of living that doesn’t belong to any religion, but to humanity as a whole.
Mindfulness also isn’t about proselytizing. What attracts many to mindfulness is that practitioners are encouraged to find out for themselves what is beneficial and true. If someone doesn’t feel that mindfulness is compatible with their particular point of view, religious or otherwise, they are invited to disregard it. However, they likely have had and will continue to have moments of mindfulness all on their own with no explicit training from any tradition.
Resources for Christian Centered Mindfulness