As I write this, it’s been one head-spinning summer so far…from unprecedented political turmoil to a steady stream of shockingly bad news, it’s left many people wondering if this might just be the “worst year ever” (hint: it isn’t). Between the world’s craziness and our attempts to escape it via travel and adventure to the great outdoors, it seems all too easy to get off one’s game in the area of the contemplative.

As I’m challenged to keep my mind focused on what’s truly important in life and that which feeds me spiritually and mentally, I’m reminded once again that responding to God’s desire to commune with us isn’t an obligation or a duty, but a privilege and a joy. When I make the effort, no matter how basic or brief, to be mindful of the Divine Presence and meditate on the better way of Love and Grace, I am rewarded far more than I deserve.

David the Psalmist rightly observed:

“I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!”
Psalm 139:7

In other words, when we feel far away from God, He still feels close to us. And that, more than anything else, should encourage us to draw closer to Him no matter what the circumstance.

And now, without further ado, allow me to present to you:

Ten Tips for Cultivating Christian Mindfulness

Honor the time you spend alone with you Maker and don’t let others pull you away. And yes, that includes Netflix.

Put your Bible down! (I’ll get in trouble for saying this.) Contemplate on the Scriptures made alive in your heart and soul, not bound to the letters on the page.

It’s OK if you like relaxing music, incense, and repeating sacred words. (And it’s OK if you don’t!) Don’t let fear of judgment rob your own Christian faith of its unique spiritual personality.

Don’t blindly steal somebody else’s Contemplative practices. Experiment! Do what feels right and rewarding to you and discard what seems weird or uncomfortable.

Use your intellect regularly to make wise and Christ-centered choices in your spiritual walk, but when it’s time to meditate, tell your mind to take some much needed time off. It’s beneficial to rest and give your spirit and your body undivided attention.

Revel in the spiritual development that happens in secret.

Don’t expect God to give you the warm fuzzies every time you practice mindfulness. Some days just suck. (Yes, you may cry now. Trust me, you’ll feel better afterwards!)

Don’t obsess about time. You can meditate for five hours, or for five minutes. Either is preferable to giving up entirely…

…but on the other hand, you’re not a bad person if you don’t meditate every day. Your Heavenly Father knows your heart even before you do. (Including when you play hooky to go watch Netflix.)

God doesn’t speak English. He speaks Spirit-ish. Sometimes the Message that has been given to you must be felt and lived before it is understood.