Every so often a word grabs attention because it seems alien to everyday speech, yet begins to appear prolifically. It begs investigation. Yesterday “mindfulness” appeared frequently in a Virtues Project workshop hosted at our church. Later in the evening, I received an unrelated invitation to complete the final phase of a survey being conducted by a university study on “mindfulness.”
So what is it? The Virtues Project describes mindfulness as “living reflectively, with conscious awareness of our actions, words and thoughts. Awake to the world around us, we fully experience our senses. We are attentive to others’ needs. We refuse to rush. Living mindfully lightens our lives by helping us to detach from our emotions. We transform anger to justice. We seek joy instead of mere desire. We cultivate our inner vision, aware of life’s lessons as they unfold. Mindfulness brings us serenity.”
This description, of course, gels well with terms that emerge from the practice of Christian meditation, such as “wakefulness”, “awareness,” and “paying attention.’
In these terms, Jesus spoke of mindfulness often and carefully cultivated it within his own calling. I think this is why he was able to differentiate a different kind of touch in the midst of a clamouring crowd (Mark 5:21-34). Of course this is not the only instance where Jesus models mindfulness. There are many more where Jesus teaches it – just survey the Sermon on the Mount!
So, if you’re a New Years Resolution sort of person, “mindfulness” might not be a bad one to aim for.