While mindfulness and meditation are similar, there are a few distinct differences. In this post, we will explore the differences, while also covering what is most beneficial for your Christian walk. Often times, Christians don’t want to go down the wrong path spiritually, so it is important to inform yourself with not only the correct knowledge, but also with edifying knowledge.
What is the difference between Christian meditation and mindfulness? Christian meditation and mindfulness differ due to the fact that Christian meditation is primarily founded on the focus of Scripture, while mindfulness is primarily founded on the focus of the present moment.
We will cover an array of information concerning your questions on mindfulness, Christian meditation, the similarities and differences, and whether or not a Christian should participate in mindfulness. And if yes, what should Christians know before they start practicing.
What is Mindfulness
Mindfulness has a number of definitions because it can vary. It can look different from person to person and it can even mean different tings to different people. But we’ve found a good definition, just to give a basic understanding.
According to Mindful.org;
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.— Mindful.org
Many people today are using mindfulness to help overcome anxiety and depression, which happens to effect many people. As a result of the overwhelming accounts of anxiety and depression, mindfulness is used as a helpful tool and resource to overcome this battle that many face.
Mindfulness is all about being present and aware of our surroundings. This allows us to be fully-present. The decrease in anxiety comes from the “free of judgement” and “awareness to thoughts and feelings” aspects of mindfulness. When one is no longer judging their own thoughts or desires, and they are not getting caught up in their feelings, people then feel more safe and calm. Therefore, they feel less anxious.
Mindfulness is sometimes even considered a form of meditation, but not the classic meditation that you may be familiar with, nor the same as Christian meditation. Mindfulness is not about emptying ones more, and it is not about filling ones mind with Scripture. It is about being present, and even focusing on the present.
The Origins of Mindfulness
At its beginning, mindfulness was always linked to a religion. Primarily mindfulness was linked to Hinduism and Buddhism, while being practiced in yoga. However one source says,
It is important to include that some commentators argue that the history of mindfulness should not be reduced to Buddhism and Hinduism, as mindfulness also has roots in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.— Trousselard et al., 2014
Because mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years, and because it is not in one particular religions ancient text, it is hard to say exactly where mindfulness began. However, it is no surprise that mindfulness is often related to Hinduism and Buddhism, because these religions have practiced it the most.
It has only been practiced in the Western world for the past 40 years thanks to Jon Kabat-Zinn who published his studies on mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School during the 1970’s. Since then, mindfulness has made a drastic transition. One from spirituality to psychology.
The Goal of Mindfulness
The goal of mindfulness it participate in the practice enough that you eventually are mindful and present in your circumstances at all times. It is about coming to terms with reality, and noticing our world more and more around us. Mindfulness is about being fully aware of ourself and our surroundings.
What is Meditation
WE have completely defined Christian meditation is our post, Christian Meditation: Definition, Biblical Examples, & More, but we will give a brief overview. From this blog, we have written that, “Christian meditation is the act of filling one’s mind with Scripture, and dwelling on God and all that He offers to humanity. While the word “meditation” in the Bible has three seperate definitions, it can be summarized. It means to “mutter, speak and ponder” to oneself the words of Scripture so that we are constantly meditating on what God has spoken to us. This produces not only knowledge of the Bible, but also, a heart transformation.”
Distinct to Mindfulness
- Main focus is on the present
- Main focus is on personal thoughts, feelings, and desires
- Is not prayer, and not directly spiritual, but more about the conscience
- The goal is to be present
Commonalities Between Both
- Both mindfulness and meditation have been used to decrease stress
- Both can be used as a tool to draw closer to God
- Both have been proven to aid mental health
Distinct to Meditation
- Main focus is on God, and on His Words
- Promotes praise to God
- Founded on Scripture. One’s mind is filled with God’s Word.
- Is a form of prayer
- The goal is to be closer to God
Is Mindfulness for Christians?
Mindfulness can be non-religious. However, as a Christian, we not only want to avoid the worship of false gods, but we also want to worship God always. So, can we practice mindfulness while also worshiping God? The answer is yes.
Mindfulness is not evil and as we practice mindfulness, we can invite God into each moment of our day. We can actually be mindful within our practice of mindfulness that Jesus is always there with you, through each step of your day.
What You Should Consider First
As a Christian, before you start practicing mindfulness, there are a few things to consider. First of all, remember that only Jesus bring true peace and healing from anxiety and depression. He is in each and every moment with you. Secondly, keep in mind to always look to Jesus, and not on your own power or self. Have a vertical view. Lastly, mindfulness will not take the place of Scripture-based meditation.
Jesus is the True Source of Peace
It is important to remember Jesus words;
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?… But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’… and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.— Matthew 6:25-33
These words are so important to the believer today who is considering the practice of mindfulness. We must not turn to mindfulness as the main source and provider of peace, because God is the only one who will ultimately take care of you.
If we are turning to mindfulness as the source of peace, then we are not honoring God in the way He deserves to be honored.
A Vertical View, Rather than a Horizontal One
When you are practicing mindfulness, you should have a “vertical” view rather than a “horizontal” one. This means that you are to invite Jesus into your mindfulness, remembering the one who is the present moment with you. Jesus is personal and He is present. So we should alway be inviting Him into our current situations, but especially during mindfulness.
This Does Not Replace Meditation
Mindfulness is not focused or founded on Scripture, so it is important to still take time out of your day to meditate on God’s Word. Christine meditation is a Biblical principle and mindfulness it is not, so keep making time to dwell in God’s Word each day, aside from your mindfulness practice.