Mindfulness Meditation in the Light of Scriptural Thinking:
Biblically speaking, we know that grace and peace have been multiplied to us in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:2,3). We are reminded of our character and knowledge rooted in God and especially to remember our forgiveness and root of our faith in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross (2 Peter 1:5-9), we know that we do not have to have “mindlessness” but instead have sound thinking that is transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Elsewhere in scripture we are assured that we can:
“Be still and know that I am God”- Psalm 46:10
“Cast all of our anxieties on Jesus because He cares for us”- 1 Peter 5:7
“Not have a spirit of timidity”- 2 Timothy 1:7
“Suffer but,through a spirit of soundness guarded by doctrine”- 2 Timothy 1:12-14
“Possess grace, not by works”- Romans 11:6
“Have Single-mindedness and stability” – James 1:8
“Take hold of the Lord’s patience”- 2 Peter 3:15
“Know God, be at peace and have goodness”- Job 22:21
“Stand firm”-1 Peter 5:10
“Have Peace that transcends understanding”- Philippians 4:7
In this case, Ticht Naht Hahn, a Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation teacher, may agree that our object of mindfulness is God Himself! These verses standing alone are not remedy “scripts” to prescribe necessarily but would be viewed in context of the bible story and directive counsel with the presenting problem as a functional relationship to the heart. Steadfastness and transcendence benefits include a renewal of our spirits within us, strong hearts of flesh, trusting in God, and having perfect peace in Christ Jesus.
In Christian living, we expect to suffer, while living godly lives that may find us in a persecuted state for the work of the Lord. Accepting our sufferings for the glory of God and benefit of others is a key sign of maturity in the faith. By no means am I blending the secular and Buddhist-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Biblical Counseling, but they do not cancel each other out completely, either. We have the same physiological brain and mind of the rest of the human race today, right? With a general and significant exception in faith in Christ Jesus, we can compare ourselves to our neighbors in the ACT and mindfulness professions in the areas of soundness, mindfulness, meaningless conundrum (life has no purpose) and problems that cause us to strengthen our minds, but our mind is a biological component of our body as the temple of the Spirit of God.
Our minds need constant renewal as Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. After renewal or regeneration of our spirit and mind, what do we do when our minds are prone to erroneous thinking and become stagnant? Perhaps we think we are suffering but we truly are not, we may be catastrophizing, thinking all is loss, but we are reminded that fullness can take root. In the parable of Jesus in Mark 4:26-29 we see growth, almost unknowingly and unusually slow at times:
“And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Buddhist mindfulness observes nature as well, yet the Christian sees a naturally ordained order from our Creator. Jesus’ analogies are rooted in provable truths of the universe.
Our organic hearts also can contain fullness. Ephesians 3:17 shows of the fullness as a striving in sanctifying our minds so that Christ may dwell in our hearts in faith in brokenness and maturity. Our minds are being sanctified along with the rest of us. In Dr. David Powlison’s “Cure of Souls-The Revolutionaries” (Journal of Biblical Counseling, Volume 25, Spring Issue #2, page 6) he states:
“Wise counseling recognizes that the Bible mandates development of a comprehensive pastoral theology distinctly different from prevailing cultural paradigms. A ‘biblical counseling movement’ has arisen to tackle this intellectual and educational task, and has set out to address the counseling needs of the church with the specific goods of Scripture.”
The worldly view has moments of peace and tranquility as does meditation and its use in ACT and other therapies to stay our anxieties or depression, but the Christly worldview truly lives in the present. We are reliant on direction of scripture to bring us into our worldview in the kingdom of God. In this continuum of sanctification, our future invades the present with the blessing of the “hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.” (Hebrews 6:19).
ACT lives in a world of dissatisfaction, living from gratification to gratification (although a practicing and peaceful Zen-Buddhist may disagree here) but the Biblical Counselor knows that God works in process and through godly contentment. That process is a continuum of progress emphasizing joy. We have a transformation that moves us from “glory to glory” as 2 Corinthians 3:18 confirms:
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
The kingdom with in us is blessed of God with two main expressions. First is peace, coming from an integrated mind with Jesus through the Word, keeping us in perfect peace because our minds are steadfast on Him (Isaiah 26:3). All parts of our mind are in harmony with one another, we don’t have two tracks to switch off and on, we are complete, even with in our sufferings-this is known as being single minded. Our discipline in the fruit of the Spirit is with self-control. We do not allow an ill-thought to take root when we have discerned minds that are captive to Christ’s thinking (2 Corinthians 10:5). Peace is the birthright of the believer and evidence of fruit of the Holy Spirit in their life.
Secondly, we have the expression or emotion of joy! In 2 Corinthians 13:14 we are confirmed to have obtained grace, love and fellowship with the triune God! Through obedience and “abiding”-the staying power to remain-we are given full joy (John 15:11). To have the mind of Christ is true mindfulness that gives us a blessed outlook on life in general.
We are transformed by Christ’s likeness. When we err, we ask for forgiveness and forget our past sins to move forward in the process of sanctification, even of our thoughts and anxieties. We are reliant on His Holy Spirit. The redeemed become like Jesus in His peace, with a cleared mind. When we have set-backs, we trust that God is working things out in the process for a greater good that we would not have known otherwise. We can perceive this process and progress in God conforming us to the image of Christ through our unforeseen blessings and unseen yet definable values; love, joy, and peace. Jesus, Himself, is our peace. He suffered immensely to be able to remove the sin from our lives completely. This removal process is sanctification, becoming like Jesus more and more as we grow in faith, demonstrating this soundness that comes from knowing Him.