The Virtues of Mindfulness Meditation

In an age dominated by excessive emotional and/or psychological pressures, unhealthy stress is one of the most undiagnosed health issues facing modern society, of which the Christian church is no exception. From a Christian health perspective, practising mindfulness meditation can help reduce unhealthy pattern/s of stress, compassion fatigue, burnout or psychosomatic unwellness while prioritizing greater balance in your life.

Romans 12:2 brings to our attention how negative emotional states can reflect conformity to a default pattern/s of thinking and/or behaviour/s that easily robs the body, mind and soul of spiritual synergy and general well-being. This scripture, and many others like it, is a timely reminder for all Christians to detox from a lifestyle of busy-ness, performance-based acceptance and/or programme-driven faith.

“Don’t conform to the standards of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind.”

The transformative practice of mindfulness starts in the mind with a deliberate choice to be psychologically, relationally and spiritually balanced.

Spend some time reflecting on these statements while journaling your response. This can be a prerequisite for developing the practice of mindfulness meditation.

  • Mindfulness meditation means synchronizing breathing rhythms while becoming familiar with stillness until ease and calm envelop you.
  • Mindfulness meditation is knowing what your body, mind and soul are communicating, especially when instinct says it better than words.
  • Mindfulness meditation is the practice of emotional composure.
  • Mindfulness meditation is surrendering your will to God without judgment, justification or seeking approval from God when silence is the only invitation or reason you need.
  • Mindfulness meditation is having the spirit of acceptance and gratitude for the person God has said you have always been.
  • Mindfulness meditation is ultimately concerned with nurturing a spiritual state of a human being without the confirmation of human doing.
  • Mindfulness meditation is learning the practice of being congruent (harmony/equilibrium) between your internal and external self.
  • Mindfulness meditation is an unconditional gift of silence to God for the heart to be heard.

Identifying these elements of mindfulness meditation can be life-changing because you can easily celebrate what is meaningful to you. A way to safeguard this calming effect is spending time in the natural environment as you absorb your daily dose of serenity from nature and the God who created it.

Undertaking a recognized course or manual on mindfulness meditation is also helpful for consolidating quality outcomes especially when it incorporates nature.

“Self-awareness walking in nature is another way of experiencing mindfulness.”

David Moore

The Three Levels Of Mindfulness Practice

During each EcoQuest retreat, participants will have the opportunity to practice the three levels of mindfulness meditation.

As an introduction, try responding to each of the following meditation questions. Spend no more than two minutes on each while journaling your response.

  • When did I last experience emotional composure or being still/calm?
  • Does solitude without expectation resonate with a feeling of well-being?
  • Is it easy to stay connected to the rhythms of your breathing?
  • Does being self-aware of what your five senses are communicating reassure you about healthy or unhealthy bodily function?
  • Does finding meaning in your favourite meditation/s inspire you?
  • Does expressing gratitude have an impact on your relationships?

"I can think of no better introduction to mindfulness than being captivated by nature’s landscape design, glistening waters, curved pathways, lush vegetation, colours, texture, fragrance, height and form as it gives the eye of the soul a resting place."

David Moore

During each EcoQuest retreat, the practice of mindfulness meditation is portrayed as a complementary health virtue and exercised as a lifestyle choice. Participants are introduced to three levels of mindfulness meditation which include:

Stylised Number 1

Entry Level to Mindfulness Practice

The first stage is being comfortable with your body posture while turning into the rhythm of slow and deep breathing followed by resting in the moment or presence of being/calm.

Stylised number 2

Nurturing Mindfulness Practice

The second stage is a repeat of the first followed by somatic body scanning eg; paying attention to your physical self and/or body sensations without judgement or justification.

Stylised Number 3

Maturing Mindfulness Practice

The third stage is a repeat of stage one and two and is followed with mindfulness, gratitude and mediation of your choosing.

More details about these levels are available in the EcoQuest workbook, however becoming familiar with each level will require patience as you become more perceptively aware (spiritual discernment) about resting in the presence of human being. This natural health exercise will complement your Christian faith and practise without expending time, energy or ‘human doing’ to achieve the health benefits of emotional composure.

As time passes and the practice of mindfulness becomes commonplace in daily life, you will notice your immediate past has more peace of mind than before commencing this relaxation technique. This is reassuring in the present tense for the well-being of your immediate future.

The application of mindfulness meditation in relapse prevention can be interwoven as a recovery toolbox strategy for developing the ideal Tool-of-Choice in the face of returning to your Drug-of-Choice. It can also be adopted in a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) context where changing the mind can change our behaviour.

"Nature cannot be rushed as its rhythms are predetermined by the motion of silent growth."

David Moore

Focusing on Gratitude

Focusing on gratitude as a means of meditation requires a heartfelt connection with what appreciation means to you. This can feel counter-intuitive in a culture that focuses on acquiring more. Concentrating on blessing others is self-gratifying, as it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Mindfulness practice is a natural way of being psychologically and emotionally at peace with ourselves as we desire to be salt and light in a world of disquiet. However, developing mindfulness meditation practice can come with many internal and external distractions.
The following can help recognize hindrances that prevent soulful contemplation

 What Can Hinder Mindfulness Meditation?

  • Procrastination, self-doubt or lack of confidence
  • Fatigue, unrest or can’t relax due to distracting circumstance
  • Disjointed focusing, disinterest or becoming bored
  • Impatience, rushing the process or finding it’s not spiritual enough
  • Not familiar with stillness or non-activities that require silent concentration
  • Overthinking because trusting your healthy assertion doesn’t come easy
  • Feeling awkward or wasting time trying to make sense of how it works
  • Feeling discouraged because it’s not working for you
  • Not practical enough or too self-centred

The Simplicity of Every-Day Mindfulness

You may be surprised by how much mindfulness plays out in your daily living without realizing how self-aware you are.

Print this page, and tick the following examples for determining your level of everyday mindfulness. Spend some time meditating on these statements while journaling your response.

The more you tick, the more naturally mindful you are and the easier it will be to develop mindfulness meditation.

Tick those you agree with while circling mindfulness words of the thirteen statements.

  • I have a natural tendency to experience stillness.
  • The thought of being in nature leaves me feeling serene.
  • Compassion, happiness, laughter and friendship are enriching.
  • Being able to resist the distractions of internal and/or external clutter is empowering.
  • Valuing my place of rest and relaxation leaves me feeling grounded.
  • There is freedom in not having to justify my intentions or actions.
  • Feeling contented or living in a culture where more is less is humbling.
  • Knowing the feeling of simple trust and knowing what I don’t need to control is freeing.
  • Surrendering imperfection is accepting that goodness is good enough.
  • Feeling secure about managing emotional states while not having to compromise.
  • Gratitude and patience are easy character traits I love nurturing.
  • Love for the greater good motivates a desire to give back.
  • Whether I am at the beach, in the mountains, surrounded by bush, working in the garden or walking through the fields, there is something about being in nature that brings tranquillity.

Traditions of Christian Meditation

It is important to note that while some Christian denominations don’t practice mindfulness meditation by its contemporary name, having a meditative heart towards God has long been a Christian tradition. However, the wider Christian community is starting to recognise that to deepen one’s contemplation of God requires being at peace ourselves while having the ability to manage the common effects of psychosomatic stressors that hinder mindfulness meditation.

Depending on your Church affiliation, here are a few expressions, language and meanings of prayerful meditation which are not always expressed in silence.

  • Prayerful contemplation about adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication
  • Centering prayer or being a part of a candlelight prayer vigil
  • A regular quiet time of mindful reflection or being in a meditative state of mind
  • Quiet religious observance of the Sacraments or Holy Mass where reverence, penitence and sacrifice is expressed or made
  • An individual or congregational worshipful praise during a church service, particularly at Easter and Christmas
  • During times of prayer, fasting, intense fervour or petition
  • When mournful penitence brings freedom or during times of revival, spiritual warfare or deliverance ministry
  • Guided or unguided devotional intersession during a national crisis
    Apart from these traditional prayerful meditation practices, regular meditation can help manage and/or relieve unhealthy stress. In this context, all medical health conditions, where mindfulness is part of the treatment plan, require the guidance of your medical practitioner.

Science is Behind the Practice of Mindfulness Meditation

Today’s scientific understanding of mindfulness is known to assist in the treatment of heart disease, lower your blood pressure/hypertension and help develop a relapse prevention plan.

Mindfulness is known to reduce pain, improve sleep patterns, and offer many other health benefits. A simple online search will reveal helpful research on the health benefits of mindfulness meditation.

Apart from the spiritual implications of mindfulness meditation, the therapeutic benefits to body, mind and soul can equal the healing influence of God in your life.

Embracing the Virtues of Mindfulness, Gratitude and Meditation

  • Mindfulness meditation can help with reducing and managing anxiety
  • Mindfulness meditation can positively affect emotional states e.g., mood, anger, depression, fatigue, stress and guilt, shame, blame or fear
  • Mindfulness meditation can improve your communication and listening skills
  • Mindfulness meditation can influence cognitive function and ability
  • Mindfulness meditation improves body awareness and self-care
  • Mindfulness meditation can create relaxation, peace of mind and gratitude
  • Mindfulness meditation can develop emotional honesty in your relationships by becoming tolerant, caring, easily going or considerate
  • Mindfulness meditation can positively impact on being overtly competitive, aggressive, self-absorbed or less demanding
  • Mindfulness meditation can enhance Christian faith and practice without it becoming hijacked by performance, perfectionism or being legalistic/dogmatic
  • Mindfulness meditation can help reduce narcissistic tendency, controlling and/or manipulation of people, places or things

"Christian life, ministry, service or eco-activism needs to be aligned with the virtues of mindfulness, gratitude and meditation."

David Moore