What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a cultivated way of being present to ourselves, others, God and the world around us. It includes the practice of focusing our attention and awareness on the present moment with an appreciative curiosity.

Why are people interested in mindfulness?

A large and growing body of research provides evidence that mindfulness changes both subjective and physiological states. Those who engage in mindfulness practices find feelings of anxiety and depression lessened, they experience greater self-compassion, they are less reactive, and they experience deeper satisfaction in their relationships. Not only does a sense of well-being improve, but overall health improves. Mindfulness is associated with a stronger immune system, decreased blood pressure, better sleep patterns and facilitates changes in brain activity enabling a more calm and focused state of attention.

How does one become more mindful?

There are many ways of becoming more mindful. Growing up in a healthy family, spending time in nature, exercising, patterns of prayer and meditation, and some types of therapy all can contribute to a healthy mindfulness. For those who want to develop their mindfulness muscles a bit more, the most common suggestion is to develop a pattern of meditation.

Is mindfulness Buddhist?

Mindfulness is a human characteristic that seems to characterize emotionally healthy and happy people the world over. Since some degree of mindfulness is required by many religious practices, like prayer and reading sacred scripture, you’ll find it has proponents in many faiths. In Buddhism there is a special interest in mindfulness as a strategy for skillful living, but Buddhists don’t have a corner on the market.

Do Christian spiritual practices promote mindfulness?

Yes, most definitely.  In the Christian tradition, mindfulness is a by-product of our practices and not the primarily goal. Studies have shown that contemplative Christian practices, where the person praying has the goal of simply enjoying and honoring God’s presence, actually end up making that prayerful person more mindful. These devotional practices have the same health benefits of more clinically oriented treatments when they include a mindfulness orientation. So mindfulness is not the immediate goal, but an outcome nonetheless.