At the corner where I turn left to go home, I drive by a house with a big window overlooking the busy street outside. I pass this house nearly every day, and on most of them, when I look through this window I see a dog sitting on the back of an overstuffed couch. I’m not a breed expert, but the dog looks like a Beagle to me. What I can say for certain is that dog loves its spot by the window—from this spot, he naps, people-watches, dog-watches, unwinds, and ponders life. Every time I notice this dog, I meander in and out of thoughts like: That looks so cozy to me, I would love to spend a day like that—taking naps, writing in my journal, reading a good book, watching the world outside.
Every time I pass this dog, I consider how important it is to take that kind of intentional time. Maybe it is not possible for us to do as often as the Beagle, but can we do it once a week? Month? A whole day? A few hours? Or 15 minutes each day? I think of Jesus and how His disciples often found Him praying, alone, on the Mount of Olives. Even He seemed to have a favorite spot.
Taking Time to Check In With God and Yourself
I know we all try to set aside time daily to read the Bible and pray, but what I am talking about is a different kind of intentionality. A kind of “check-in,” a place we can go to gauge where we are. Who we are, as we bring ourselves to our Bible and prayer, as we begin a work day, as we prepare to come home and engage our family? How can we be more present to these roles, these tasks, this life? Jesus Himself needed time away to re-focus, be alone, refuel for the tasks ahead (Luke 22:39).
Basics of Christ-Centered Mindfulness
What I want to offer here is a grounding activity, often referred to as mindfulness, which involves all our senses. God has made us unique with 6 senses to experience this world He made, these beings He made in His image. Mindfulness, according to Psychology Today, is “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.” Mindfulness practice has been known to reduce stress; foster calmness, clarity, and concentration; reduce depressive symptoms; foster ability to relate to others and one’s self with kindness, acceptance, and compassion; and in general, restore a sense of mental well-being.
- Plan to spend at least 15 minutes in this exercise. As you begin, close your eyes or soften your gaze and pay attention to your breathing. Where do you most feel your breath as it goes in and out? Your nostrils? Your chest? Your stomach?
- Relax as much as you can, in your face, your shoulders, your arms, legs. Notice how the ground or couch feels beneath you as it hold your weight. And be grateful.
- Start to hone in on your sense of sound. What do you hear around you? Continue breathing as you listen. Do five rounds of deep breathing. What a round of deep breathing looks like is: aim to make your breaths deeper and longer. So instead of feeling your chest rise and fall, feel it in your stomach, inflating fully on each inhale and deflating fully with each exhale. After each exhale, pause. Then repeat. Five times.
- Next, center your attention on what you see. Colors, textures, movements. What do you notice in your body as you look around? Do five rounds of deep breathing as you consider what you see.
- Time to notice what you smell. If you are outside, this may be smells of nature: fresh grass, the wet ground, trees around you. If you are indoors, it might be the smell of something cooking in the kitchen, the way the couch smells, or simply the scent of the air. As you consider what you smell, do five rounds of deep breathing.
- Now, what do you feel? As you sit, as you stand, as you lie down, what do you notice in your body? It may be the way your back feels leaning up against a tree, or the way you feel supported in your chair. Just pay attention to any sensations, and do five rounds of deep breathing.
- Lastly, do you taste anything particular? Some lingering flavor in your mouth. The coffee or tea you had earlier in the day, or what you ate for lunch. Just pay attention to your sense of taste and be grateful. Do five rounds of deep breathing.
Coming Down from Christ-Centered Meditation
As you finish up this mindfulness activity, notice any changes in your body, outlook, and emotions. Has your breathing slowed down and/or deepened? Do you feel any changes in your body, muscles, heart rate? Are you more relaxed, strong and able? Spend a moment or two feeling gratitude for all the senses that God has given you to experience your world and your days. Breathe in deeply one more time, saying, “Thank you.” Then exhale fully, letting go of the last bit of tension, anxiety, worry. And dedicate the rest of your day to being mindful and grateful for all that God has given you.
Increasing Your Mindfulness Through Christian Counseling
Checking in with God and yourself is a healthy practice that can allow you to develop deeper insight into your life and relationships. It may help for you to work one-to-one with a Christian counselor who can help you to foster these techniques for a healthy, lasting practice of meditation. If you would like to learn more about how you can develop your mindfulness through Christ-centered meditation, please do not hesitate to contact us. As a qualified Christian counselor, I would be delighted to help you cultivate mindfulness and meditative practices in your daily walk. Together we can use Biblical principles and therapeutic techniques to identify specific ways that you can develop your intentionality and center your faith.
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