Because “mindfulness” (using focused reflection to achieve moment-to-moment awareness of what is happening in one’s mind with the aim of better regulating our minds) is a secular craze right now, some Christians are suspicious of it. Christian brain scientist Dr. Caroline Leaf shows that the mindfulness craze is basically an appropriation of what Christians already knew from the Bible. The following is taken from pages 171-172 of Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book Switch on Your Brain.
It’s always fun to see science catching up with the Bible, as we discussed in part 1. Focused reflection is an example of this. It is an ancient biblical principle most of us know. But it is also the current rage in neuroscience, and there are hundreds of studies with headlines like
- “Mindfulness Meditation May Relieve Chronic Inflammation”
- “Evidence Supports Health Benefits of ‘Mindfulness-Based Practices'”
- “Breast Cancer Survivors Benefit from Practicing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction”
- “Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Understanding Mindfulness Meditation”
- “Mindfulness Meditation Training Changes Brain Structure in Eight Weeks.”
You get the idea.
It Always Boils Down to One Thing
Although a lot of these studies talk about Eastern meditation techniques, what it boils down to every time is deep, intellectual, disciplined thinking with attention regulation, thinking, body awareness, emotion regulation, and a sense of self that changes the brain positively. Consequently, people gain health, happiness–and peace–exactly the instruction and consequence of Philippians 4:8: ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (NIV). In fact, throughout the book of Proverbs we are instructed to gain wisdom and meditate on knowledge until we understand.
To learn more about how mindfulness is a Christian virtue, visit my article ‘Hollowing Out the Habits of Attention (part 4).’