One of my favorite Christian mindfulness techniques is what I like to call Press Pause. Here’s how it works.
I chose a short passage of Scripture to read, perhaps part of a psalm or an epistle. This morning I read a chapter of Joel, for instance. The key is to read the passage lightly, without trying to dive too deep into the meaning of the text or the particular events or activities it may be describing. Think of it as the difference between glancing at a shop window as you’re walking by and actually going into the store to look at individual items and compare prices. You want to be doing the reading equivalent of the shop window glance.
Once you’ve completed that exercise, put your Bible down, get comfortable (but not so much that you’ll fall asleep! I always fall prey to that temptation…), and clear your mind. Let your internal noise level die down. If it helps to say a word or two for mental focus, you can say “Thank you God” or “This is nice” or some other simple relational phrase. But don’t repeat it over and over like a mantra. You’re here to meditate, not bloviate!
After a while, you should become aware of an inner stillness and the peaceful silence around you. Enjoy staying in this mode for a while. If, unbidden, you should start to gain a particular insight or thought related to the passage of Scripture you read previously, excellent! That’s likely your spirit and the Holy Spirit having a dialog and your mind finally becoming aware of it. Don’t dwell on it to much or you’ll lose your meditative focus. You might want to jot it down in your journal and then let it drift away out of your concioussness and get back to your stillness.
The wonderful thing about this technique is the length of your meditation can be a few minutes long or it can be hours! (For longer sessions, you can alternate between reading some Scripture and meditation for a few cycles.) However long or short it is, you will gain a deeper appreciation for God’s presence and feel ready to start your day anew.
Heads up, old-timer Bible readers: if you’re used to praying a lot as you read the Bible or tend to switch into study mode, looking up cross-references, pulling out devotional guides, etc., STOP! The goal of mindfulness is to quiet your analytical side down so that your intuitive side can get a chance to breathe. It’s also much easier to hear what the Holy Spirit is communicating to you when your internal noise level has died down enough so that the “still small voice” of God is finally audible. Yes, it is ironic that the Creator of the Universe can’t get a word in edgewise sometimes with all our constant jibberjabber!
What do you think of this simple meditation technique? What sorts of ways do you enjoy being mindful as you spend time in God’s presence? I’d love to hear from you.