Monday, September 07, 2015

Mindfulness and other problems of modern living

Last night on 60 Minutes Anderson Cooper was interviewing the guru of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn. Although I have not read any books on this subject, I am mindful of it (sorry) because a former professor in the doctoral program would have us do his exercises in breathing and being aware of one's body, etc.  I thought they were okay but that I needed much more than a pause to listen to myself breathe.

As a Christian who desires and is committed to thinking in a thoroughly Biblical (do not translate that as Western, European, American, or modern) way of thinking, I do not feel I need mindfulness training but I do need meditation, prayer, reflection, and journalling. Mindfulness strikes me as egocentric; prayer is intercessory, for others.  Meditation, Biblically, is centered on the objective word of God, not one's breathing or being.  Journaling allows us to take feelings and impressions from one level of the brain to the conscious level.  Reflection allows us to look back on an experience and derive meaning from it.  These are just beginning definitions of these vital concepts.  Mindfulness strikes me as an emptying of consciousness (which usually makes me go to sleep). 

I am not a Buddhist, nor am I a Hindu, so I don't practice mindfulness nor yoga.  These are answers that have been adopted and adapted to deal with problems that we have created because of misinterpretations of the Bible and making excuses for our own choices.  We are too busy--why? Because we are greedy (and work more than we need to), because we are self-focused (and want to spend time on our own projects), because we are trying to please and impress others, because we want to be promoted to higher positions, because we have lost focus on the glory of God, all sins in the New Testament.

I do appreciate that Kabat-Zinn said that we should not see mindfulness as just one more thing to do.  That is how Christians view the spiritual disciplines of prayer and study, as something to add to one's already busy life.  I am currently up to my neck in commitments and projects, a state which I am realizing is causing depression and paralysis.  Some will fall away soon, but a new one might come.  But I have a dear friend starting to battle cancer--where am I in her life?  Mindfulness is not about service and relationships, but about self.  Mindfulness is about awareness in the moment for the sake of awareness in the moment, and we really have a bigger vision than awareness in the moment.

It is possible that I will fight this battle called time management until senility or death.  It is also possible that I will learn some day that I do not have to fight this battle.  I already know that we do not control or manage time or circumstances; we can only control our choices, and even that some of them.  There is very little we control.

No comments:

Mindset, Passion, and Learning Revisited: Why Not To Follow Your "passion"