Meditation or mindfulness is a practice that is gaining increasing popularity in western society. Many people find in their busy lives filled with stresses and anxieties that they need a way of experiencing peace in the midst of it all.
Mindfulness is something that I have found really beneficial personally. It is something that helps me to be centered with greater clarity and a less cluttered mental state. I love the simple joy that can be found when we understand that this moment is the only time we really have to make the most of our lives. Learning to concentrate intently on the present moment can be very liberating. If we are stressed out or overwhelmed with depression or anxiety we can learn to transcend the thoughts in our head. Our mind creates the thoughts in our head and we can take control of it through mindfulness.
Different approaches to meditation
There are different ways of approaching meditation. Most popular are the various Buddhist and Eastern practices of meditation. Another way is a purely secular scientific approach to meditation popularised by atheist neuro-scientist Sam Harris. Then there is also Christian meditation that focuses on awareness of God's presence and can be accompanied by worship music, reflecting on Scripture or other forms of devotion.
Present moment orientation is biblical. Jesus teaches us to not worry about tomorrow for each day has enough worry of its own.
About five years ago, as I was interested in meditation, I became quite interested in Buddhism and I read new age writer Eckhart Tolle's the Power of Now. Tolle is basically a mish mash of aspects of many different belief systems including Buddhism.
Tolle's philosophy is entirely based around what he calls Presence. In his understanding the purpose of our lives is to be one with this moment and one with the Universe. It is more or less a repackaged Buddhism for westerners.
For Tolle the focus of life is not what we do and our circumstances but our connection with the ever present moment or Presence. While Tolle often quotes Jesus Christ and the Bible his philosophy is far from the same thing as Christianity and he definitely doesn't do exegetical honour to the intentions of the Scriptural writers. He just takes bits and pieces and fits it into his own worldview.
There are definitely some useful insights in Buddhism and the Power of Now that helped me better understand my spiritual walk as a Christian. But Buddhism doesn't offer anything like the personal relationship with God that Christianity does. Most religions and belief systems have some truth to them but Jesus Christ is Truth with a capital T.
Buddhism emphasizes being One with an impersonal Universe. Yet our Creator is not impersonal but very personal. He is a person who loves and cares about us and we can communicate with intelligently.
Mindfulness centred around mystical union with the Universe or the One is far inferior to the relational union with a very personal God that Christianity offers. He is a God who is not distant but is active in this world: Which is why Christian mindfulness makes so much more sense than Buddhism or The Power of Now.
Dr. Mark Tronson the founder of the young writers says Christian mindfulness is troublesome for many evangelical Christians as it is a kind of a side step away from Jesus salvation.
Conor is from Adelaide, South Australia. He has a history degree from Tabor College and has a gardening business. Conor has played in Christian heavy metal band Synnove. He is involved in Operation Canaan, a ministry that prays and intercedes for the music scene. He loves God, music, reading, traveling and thinking deeply about philosophy and current events in the world.
Conor Ryan’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/conor-ryan.html