If you haven’t heard of mindfulness and mindful thinking, the latest craze by our secular culture, then let me give you a very short introduction. This relatively new concept, actually not that new to Christianity, focuses on being more aware of ourselves and our current state – including our thoughts, feelings, while also recognizing these same aspects in others. This concept is sweeping across the nation as a new initiative in schools and workplaces. You may even see advertisements flood Facebook for the most recent mindful app to help us focus on ten solid minutes of mindfulness. Unfortunately, our secular world has simplified things that should be complex and overcomplicated things that should be simplified.
As Catholics, we highly believe in this concept of mindfulness, but not only in relation to ourselves. Catholics, instead, should strive each day to remain “mindful” of our presence before God in His justice and mercy. The secular definition of mindfulness is quite simple and leaves a void that cannot be filled by our own self-reflection. Striving to remain in the moment of each day, and channeling our emotions and actions for the good of ourselves and the good our neighbors, is extremely important and that is the ultimate virtue: charity. It is to desire the best for each person and to partake within our limitations to perform acts of love. Charity, however, is not allowing others to walk about this earth in a haze of selfishness and loneliness. A many people may adopt this more cognitive approach of mindfulness to their daily thinking, they are also missing the most crucial part of the equation – God.
Without God as the center of our existence, then what is the purpose of mindful thinking? Selfishness is quite prevalent in our world, but would it be as strong if God was the center of everyone’s life? It doesn’t matter how much we introduce this concept of mindfulness, if we do not give a much deeper understanding to this thought process. Without God as the center, what is the purpose to remain in the moment and recognize our feelings and thoughts, but especially, why would we focus on the feelings and thoughts of others? Without God as the center, we quickly search for selfish means.
If only those who came up with this new concept of “mindful thinking” would take a few extra moments and contemplate the missing end. Without an end purpose, the idea of being “present” for the sake of being “present” is not enough. This is the very reason such programs and initiatives take off strong and then fade into the abyss, because they do not have a lasting end. So, instead of completely finding fault in this new fade, let’s attempt to find the good from a Catholic perspective.
There are many parents who teach this “mindful” way of thinking each and every day to their children through etiquette and manners – a way of living that has recently lost validity, but is crucial to the survival of our culture. As Catholics, we can be mindful of ourselves and others through our thoughts, words, and actions, and there is no better way to show this than through manners. If we teach our children to say “please” and “thank you” or for our boys to hold open doors for women, then we are already on the path to achieve great things through our children for the love of God. We do not always know the effect of our actions, but if we live with charity towards others and teach our children to do the same, the concept of “mindfulness” will become a habit. Yet, there is an even greater gift within the Catholic’s perspective of “mindfulness” and that is the consolation in knowing that each good thought, word, and action can be offered to God as an act of love. So, there is not only the idea of being kind to others, but loving them because God created them for His glory and with the desire to love and be loved.
For Catholics, mindfulness does not end with ourselves. There is a much bigger and grander picture – the Communion of Saints. For as our love for each other is an act of love for God, we are also intertwined in more than just one moment. The way we think, act, and how we monitor our feelings will have an impact on others. There is great consolation in knowing that we are all in this together and if some of us fall, then we must all work harder to bring those souls back. If some souls succeed and achieve virtuous heights while on earth than we must all work to pray that those souls continue on such a beautiful path. For none of our actions, thoughts, or feelings should be solely for ourselves, but they are ultimately a great honor to God when performed with love – it gives Him great glory in this world and in the next.
If you choose to embrace this concept of “mindfulness” then open your souls to a much bigger belief that God is our ultimate end for all our thoughts, words, and actions. Instead of spending moments throughout the day thinking only about our presence, let’s think about our presence before God. The same God who created us, loves us, and who is just, but also merciful. If we live our days with these as our ultimate goals and transfer our love of God to our children, then we know that this world can only become a brighter and more loving place, because God is the center of our hearts and minds.
Copyright 2017 Danielle Heckenkamp