Watch out for mindfulness. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that is all the rage in psychology right now. If you’ve been to a rehab or seen a counselor in the last year, you’ve probably been introduced to mindfulness.
The central tenant of mindfulness is that our thoughts cause suffering. For example, you are driving to a class that your probation officer requires you to attend. You have the thought that you might be late. You begin to imagine all the consequences you will suffer if you are late: go back to jail, not see your kids while you are in jail, face the judgment and wrath of family. . .
It turns out you make it just in time, or you were late, but your probation officer decided not to violate your probation. But, you’ve suffered intense agony while worrying and fretting about being late.
Mindfulness practitioners would say the suffering you experienced while fretting about being late was causes by thinking and thoughts. The solution? Learn to let go of thoughts, to disconnect from them, and to question whether the thoughts are useful at this time. Be present. Be mindful.
There is probably nothing wrong with learning to take some of your thoughts with a grain of salt. Most of the worries we stress out about never actually come to pass. So, it can be a form of wisdom to avoid taking your thoughts about the future or past too seriously.
But, there are two things to keep in mind when thinking about mindfulness.
1) The bible doesn’t tell us to disconnect from our thoughts and worries; it urges us to bring them to Jesus. Our solution to worry isn’t to dismiss our thoughts; our solution to worry is an historical event: Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection.
Jesus solved every sin and situation we will face. To get comfort from this event, we don’t need to withdraw from our thoughts. Instead, we need to communicate our thoughts to Jesus. Jesus himself is kind and compassionate and will listen and comfort us with his word.
2) Mindfulness is nothing new. It’s works righteousness. For example, I’ve heard mindfulness experts extol the virtues and benefits of mindfulness, and in the next heartbeat say, “but it’s a lot of work. It takes time to develop these skills.” In fact, the experts in mindfulness who have been studied by scientists are generally Buddhist monks who devote hours a day to the “discipline” of mindfulness.
So, the “salvation” offered by mindfulness is greater for those who have the intelligence, time, and diligence to work hard at it. It is no salvation at all to people with difficulty in concentration, or whose minds are impacted by illness or exhaustion.
Fortunately, our salvation comes to us through faith. Addicts, the mentally ill, CEOs, children, rich, poor. . . they are all given the unearned gift of salvation.
When trouble comes, it may be soothing to drift away from the thoughts that harass us. But we have something better than mere detachment. We have God. He is our refuge and our strength. He is an ever-present help in trouble.
He hears us. He listens. He helps. You can rest in Jesus and his promises.